Chapter Nine

"She's a girl with the weight of the world on her big brown eyes
She's a girl who's been talking to herself to apologize
She'll never do it again she promised
But then she hasn't been all that honest "
-- Switchfoot, "Monday Comes Around"

In the Church, Faith (in Buffy's body) walks along the back of the hall towards the center of the aisle.

Vamp Leader: I thought I told the Cops, no one comes in here.
Faith: I'm not the cops.
Vamp Leader: Then why are you here?
Faith: I'm here to pray.
Vamp Leader: Slayer. Suit yourself. You can stay for the slaughter.
Faith: You are NOT going to hurt these people.
Vamp Leader: Yeah? And why not?
Faith: Because it's wrong.

Faith charges down the aisle, taking on the vampire minions as they come at her. She is holding herself quite well until the Vamp Leader gets a hold of her and pins her to a pew.

Vamp Leader: You can't win. Adam has shown me the way.

He leans in to bite her but disappears into a cloud of dust. Faith gasps, only to see her own face looking back at her. Buffy (in Faith's body) has found her, presumably so that she can switch bodies back.

Faith leaps forward and starts throwing blow after blow at Buffy, making contact and quickly gaining the upper hand. She throws Buffy down on the ground and pummels her face, knowing that it is her own face that she is looking at.

Faith: You think you scare me? You're nothing! Dirty, disgusting, murderous bitch! You're worthless. YOU ARE NOTHING!

As Faith goes to throw another punch, Buffy grabs her hand, activating the device that Willow had conjured for her. A bright green light envelopes the girls and throws them apart before it fades away.

Faith, now lying on the ground in her appropriate body, quickly realizes the situation and high-tails it out of the church.

Cut to Faith in the boxcar on her way out of Sunnydale, her face bruised and bloodied.

A single tear falls down her cheek, emotion about to take over her. At that moment, her eyes turn completely black and her breathing hitches.

The somber look that had covered her face has been replaced with anger, and her fists clench tightly at her sides as the "Welcome to LA" sign appears through the boxcar doors.

"Faith? Faith?!? FAITH!?! Come on, wake up, Faith! You've gotta wake up!"

Angel was leaning over Faith lightly shaking her, trying to break her out of her dream. Doctors and nurses had also surrounded her, machines and alarms going off in the background.

Having lost his patience, Angel finally took drastic measures and slapped Faith hard across the face. The nurses were looking at him like he was the antichrist, but they quickly forgot their harsh thoughts as they saw Faith rouse from her sleep, gasping and blinking her eyes.

"Faith! Are you okay? Are you with me here?" Angel asked, then turned his attention towards the doctors. "What the hell is going on here?"

"Sir, you've been here the whole time, you've witnessed the entire thing."

The tension that was building between Angel and the doctors quickly faded as they were interrupted by a weak voice.

"Angel . . . what happened?" Faith asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

The doctors and nurses didn't leave the two alone to talk this time. As Angel began to talk to Faith, there was a buzz of activity around them.

"I was down the hall in the waiting area, reading like I had been for the last two hours. All of the sudden I heard this loud shrieking noise and I realized that it was you. I ran down here as quick as I could and I found you thrashing in your sleep. The nurse was having trouble containing you, so I jumped in. You had this look on your face . . . like you were in pain. All of these alarms on the machines were going off and your heart-rate was crazy and erratic. I grabbed you and tried shaking you awake, but it didn't work. So . . . I slapped you, and uh, here we are."

Angel gave her a timid smile as he took her hand.

A doctor who was reading a print-out sheet from one of the monitors approached Angel.

"Excuse me, sir? According to this print-out, your sister was dreaming when this episode occurred. Her heart-rate increased and her brainwaves became increasingly erratic. Tell me, has she ever had sleep disturbances or disorders in the past?"

Angel stole a quick glance at Faith, who shook her head and mouthed the word 'no'.

"No, not as far as I remember," Angel replied.

"Well, we are going to have to run some more tests. She'll definitely have to remain in the infirmary so that we can monitor her continuously. In the meanwhile, I'm going to order a drug that will suppress any dreams and nightmares. I'll let you know as soon as we find anything out."

Angel nodded his head and tried to put on a brave face.

"Thank you, Doctor."

The doctor walked away but several of the nurses remained, checking Faith's IV and doing other basic testing and tasks.

After about a half hour, Angel and Faith were finally alone. He took the opportunity to question her about the episode.

"Faith, I need you to tell me what's been going on. This is getting dangerous now. If you're holding anything back from me, you better let it go and tell me now."

His voice was completely serious and stern.

"Yeah, I guess it's about time I fill you in." She paused, trying to figure out the easiest way to tell him about the problems that had been plaguing her.

A hint of fear crept over her bod, and Angel picked it up almost immediately. He tried to change the menacing look that he knew he was wearing, but he was angry, and it was too late to hide that fact right now.

Seeing the expectant and menacing look upon Angel's face, Faith continued her explanation.

"You see, I've kinda been havin' these dreams and nightmares. Not every night though, yunno? So I never really gave it too much serious thought. I just figured, you know, part of the whole rocky path gig. Some of the dreams only make me kinda queasy, while others wreak havoc on me for a while."

Angel seemed to lose his already-thin patience even a little more at this point.

"Okay, a couple of questions. One: How long have you been having these nightmares? Two: What are the nightmares of? Three: Why the hell did you wait to tell me for so long? And Four: You mean the nightmares are actually having a physical effect on you?"

His words had gotten angrier and louder as they came out of his mouth, and he spoke through clenched teeth. Faith could tell that he was genuinely pissed off.

"Well, one . . . I've been having the dreams since I came here, maybe even a little before then." She winced a little while waiting for a response, but she received none so she quickly continued.

"Two . . . the dreams aren't so much nightmares but flashbacks of my past, banging from when my Step-dad used to get rough with me to my dark days in Sunnyhell and LA. Three . . . I figured that with the whole redemption thing, I would have to deal with my past coming back to haunt me. I'm a virgin at this whole deal so I don't really know what to expect, yunno? What doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right? And, Four . . . yeah, the dreams affect me physically. Some days aren't so bad though, like I said before."

"Tell me exactly what happens to you when you wake up," Angel demanded.

"Uh, well, it varies. Mostly, my breathing is wicked messed-up. Hot sweats. Cold sweats. Tremors. Pain in my head that takes a little detour throughout my body before going away. But if I meditate for a while, like you showed me, it makes the symptoms . . . a little more bearable."

Angel just stared at her in amazement.

"You mean to tell me that not a single red-flag went up in your head when all of this went down? Faith, you should know that this isn't normal! Slayer-senses . . . my ass!"

"Yeah, that's what I said!" Faith excitedly agreed. However, she quickly sobered back up at the look she was receiving from Angel. She continued, sounding exasperated. "Aww, Angel, I don't know, man! I'm all fucked up. I'm outta my element here! My first month in prison I coulda swore I felt some kind of a supernatural presence, yunno? There are no demons OR vamps here, so I figured . . . me? Crazy. Either that or my Slayer-senses were all fucked up. I went for the latter and I just left it at that."

The two had significantly raised their voices over the last few minutes. They had attracted the attention of a few nurses who were now lingering in the area, trying to be inconspicuous as they eavesdropped.

Angel took notice and immediately tried to calm himself and act rationally. He lowered his voice to just above a whisper and directed his attention back towards Faith.

"Look, this isn't natural, and I think that we can both see that now. I think that there is something mystical at work here and we need to get to the bottom of it before . . ."

"Right . . . before," Faith cut him off, not wanting him to finish his thought.

"I'm gonna call Wes and ask him to look into this. He'll probably contact Giles . . . that is, as long as you don't mind him knowing about the situation. You don't, do you?"

"Umm, no, I guess not. I don't know if they'll be able to help, but I don't mind the effort and all. I'll tell them whatever they need to know," she conceded.

"Okay." Angel looked down at his watch and noticed the time. "Listen, Cordy is gonna be here shortly to pick me up, sunset is soon. But I'll be back first thing in the morning. I'm going to make sure that the doctors give you that medicine to suppress your dreams, and I'll tell them to contact me right away if anything else happens. Until then, sit tight and rest. I'll try to have some answers for you in the morning."

Faith nodded her head.

Angel leaned over and placed a kiss on her forehead before he turned to leave. When he got to the door, he turned and flashed her a comforting smile which she tried to return.

But her smile was fake and it was quite obvious. Faith was genuinely scared now. She wasn't sure if she was going to make it through this.

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