Title: Breaking A Man
Author: Maren
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers/Setting: Post-Sanctuary Angel Season 1
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, I don't represent the people who do own them, and I don't profit from these stories.
Summary: Faith's path to redemption. This is AR where Faith joins the AI team instead of turning herself into the police.
Notes: Written for seldear for the Faith Ficathon. Requests: Faith, Wes (pairing) and Angel (friendship). Special thanks to Kristi (bashipforever) and Rebecca (nikitangel) for their very helpful suggestions on the first draft.


Breaking A Man

No matter how many times a vampire surprised her with that one good hit that knocked her flat on her back so that the air was pushed violently out of her lungs, Faith never worried about losing the fight. Worry was reserved for people who had something to lose, and Faith didn’t consider herself a member of that group yet.

Not unless you counted a chance at redemption as something to lose.

Not unless you counted a group of people (and a vampire) who had taken you in as their pet project and in the process, made you a part of their ragtag family, as something to lose.

Not unless you counted a man whom you’d broken so much that he’d turned into the guy of your fucking dreams as something to lose.

Faith didn’t count them. She’d have to believe they were really hers to lose and they were still too new and tenuous for her to claim them.


Her new existence was so different, so unlike anything she had ever experienced before. She regarded it with suspicion and wariness at the same time that she guarded it with all of her considerable physical strength. She lived in the Hyperion now—had followed Angel and crew there after the office had been obliterated by Wolfram & Hart. That night she’d gone with Angel to see the Oracles, had watched on their return as he’d disappeared into the burning building and emerged with Wesley cradled in his arms.

That was the night she’d realized that she felt much more than contempt, residual anger, and overwhelming guilt when it came to her Watcher.

As he lay in the hospital bed, unconscious, she’d sat beside him in silence. Her thoughts, however, were anything but quiet. His pale, motionless face had mocked her, made her wish that she’d never woken from her own coma. Then she never would have had to deal with the pain and self-loathing that had settled at her very core and made itself at home in her consciousness.

They weren’t new feelings, beliefs, undenied certainties about the quality of her very being—but it was new that she let herself dwell on them. For so long she had pushed them down into the very recesses of her unconscious. When her self-hatred manifested in the losers she chose to screw or in her rejection of decent people who tried to draw her into their lives, she explained it away as something else—as freedom, as independence, but never as what it truly was. Faith knew how to call a spade a spade, had learned it very early in life, but for the longest time she refused to apply it to herself, was afraid of looking into the depths of her self-loathing and seeing the ugly, twisted, anguished truth.

Then one day she had chased Kakistos to Sunnydale and her whole carefully constructed house of cards collapsed in on itself. Suddenly her deceptions weren’t working anymore, not when she could see what she was supposed to be, what she wished she was, staring at her from hazel-green eyes at every turn.

Faith had tried. Tried to fit in, tried to adapt to this new standard of existing and for a short time she had actually believed it was working, that she could twist and turn herself into a new shape that had a place. . . a space made just for her. . . in this puzzling but seductive world of friends and laughter and love. She should have known, should have expected that it wouldn’t last. After, when she was staring at the blood that covered her hands, delivered from the pumping human heart in a flood of viscous blame, she’d felt it—felt the blinding, white-hot hatred for the weak-despite-her-strength girl who was never good enough to fit into this world and too stupid to know it—and she knew despair.

But not for long. Because if anything, Faith was an expert at denial, a master of pushing and squeezing and pummeling the hatred into a tiny fist of knowledge buried deep in her heart where it went largely unnoticed but wholly in control.

She had let that self-hatred, disguised as hedonism and megalomania, propel her into actions that were self-destruction defined until she could no longer control the revulsion that expanded and pulsed into every pore and exploded with a force that consumed every man, woman, and vampire in her wake.

Abhorrence personified as she beat her own face, slammed her own head against the church floor.

Hate expressed through broken glass cutting into warm human flesh.

Detestation exemplified by a fight to the death that only she was supposed to know was always meant to be her own.

But things never seemed to work out for her the way that she planned, and her own self-destruction was no exception. So there she had sat by Wesley’s hospital bed, broken and needy, realizing that she needed him to be okay, wanted him to wake up and look at her and show something other than fear, anger, or reluctant acceptance in his eyes.

And he had.

Later, when Angel came back with the scrolls and they all sat around Cordelia’s hospital bed as Wesley’s hoarse, grating voice intoned the words that would break her agony, Faith had stood a little to the side and watched as the two men waited with bated breath to see if she would be okay and she allowed herself to wish, for a single second, that they could feel the same about her. She was surprised at her own relief when the color returned to Cordy’s face as the pain receded.

Then they had gone to Cordy’s apartment and Faith had been reminded of the last time she’d been there, when she had pushed into the apartment and taken Wesley away for hours of demented torment. She’d hung back, trying to melt into the wall behind her, and watched in silence as Cordelia brought Wes a sandwich and Angel a glass of blood and called them family while pointedly ignoring the lost little girl in a woman’s body who was trying to shrink even further into the shadows. The longing rose up in her throat, threatening to strangle her and then Angel had reached over and squeezed her hand for just a second before letting it go and it was as though the action had released the pressure that had been building inside. The relief only lasted a moment, though . . . the pressure back when Wes turned to look at her. He held out half of his sandwich in one hand, his eyes burning into her with more feeling than she could understand or even cared to dissect in the moment.

She’d felt a wiggle of hope in that instant, a sprout of something other than defeat in the knot of her heart and Faith had given Wesley a tentative smile as she took his offering.

It was the beginning of something she’d never really thought she’d have and something she was sure she didn’t deserve.


The routine of her life was nice after so many years of chaotic existence. Every morning she would wander downstairs to find Wes, Cordy, and sometimes Gunn in the lobby, working on whatever cases they might have or sometimes just talking and laughing over coffee and donuts. Usually Faith would make her way to the kitchen and grab a piece of fruit before silently joining them, but at some point in time that she couldn’t really remember now, Cordelia had started keeping the fruit in a bowl in the lobby next to the coffee machine and had begun greeting her in the morning by absently pouring her a cup as she traded barbs with Wes or chattered with Gunn.

Breakfast was followed by yoga and meditation in the courtyard. She had laughed in Wesley’s face when he’d first suggested it as a means of training shortly after they’d moved in, hiding her terror at the thought of time dedicated to introspection in the biting incredulity in her laugh, but he had simply stared at her impassively until she stopped.

“If you want me to be your Watcher, you’ll do it,” he said, and she paused, taken aback at the quiet confidence and strength that infused his words. Faith glanced at Angel in confusion, but he shrugged before turning on his heel and retreating into the office. That’s when she realized that she did want Wes to be her Watcher.

So Faith had swallowed her laughter and fear and come downstairs the next morning dressed in work-out clothes. Now, the time spent in communion with herself was the most cherished part of her day. Wes taught her how to find her center, taught her how to use her mind and her body to find the self-hatred and doubt that existed inside her and, instead of pushing it further in, taught her how to push it out until she felt lighter and freer for a little while. The paradox of finding a reprieve from herself within herself was not lost on Faith, but she left the hows and the whys and all the other existential bullshit to Wesley. She just concentrated on first true amount of control that it allowed her after all of the years of being out-of-control.

After lunch she usually wandered around the hotel until Angel was up and ready to train with her. For a while Wesley had tried to get her to help them with research, had actually tried to start teaching her to read some ancient language that looked like nothing more than tangled, incomprehensible pictures to her. Faith had rolled her eyes at him and told him that she was the Slayer and he was the Watcher-- she was the fighter and he was the one who got to prepare her to fight. She had expected him to protest, but instead, he’d given her a long appraising look before nodding and turning silently back to his books.

Training in the basement with Angel in the afternoons was invigorating. She came to him with the skills of a street-fighter and he put them to use, taking her on in hand-to-hand combat and forcing her to sharpen her skills. Faith took a certain satisfaction in knowing that she wasn’t the only one who was learning new moves in their sessions. Weapons lessons were more challenging, both in their ability to make her feel clumsy and in their tendency to make her remember all of the weapons she’d used, ruthlessly, against the very people who had accepted her into their ranks. Target shooting with the cross-bow reminded her of movie theater roofs and arguing lovers while swords and knives reminded her of volcanoes and victims tied to chairs.

Sometimes Wes joined them for weapons training. He was good with them, more skilled than Faith but less able to cover up any lack of skill with brute force. It was a long while before she could fight with him instead of Angel, had taken both of them goading her on before she would wield a sword against him. The first time she accidentally nicked his skin with her blade she froze, watching the bright red of his blood bead to the surface of his skin. She hadn’t realized she dropped the sword until she heard it clatter to the floor, hadn’t realized that the low keening noise sounding in the room was coming from her own throat until Wesley’s arms were wrapped around her and he was making comforting shushing noises in her ear.

At night they fought the demons that preyed on the citizens of L.A. If meditation made Faith feel calm and in control of herself, fighting demons made her feel complete. It was her destiny, after all.


Fighting demons wasn’t the only thing she did at night.

Somehow, in some way that she couldn’t quite describe and didn’t really understand, she transformed from Wesley’s enemy to his lover. Faith didn’t need to understand why or how it happened to know that she felt more alive now that it had than she ever had before—and she had always been a woman who *lived*. Still, her body thrived under his attentions, in bed and out, and that spark of emotion she’d initially felt for him as she cried for both of them next to his hospital bed had been fanned into something more intense, more consuming, and infinitely more frightening to a woman who had never been safe in love.

The first time they’d kissed it hadn’t been in a garden, or in the moonlight, or bathed in the glow of a hundred flickering white candles. Faith had never had romance and as different as it was with Wes, some things were always the same. Their first kiss had been in the damp basement of the Hyperion just after he had knocked her over the head with the hilt of his sword while they were sparring. She had lain there on the mats as the blood slowly trickled down her forehead, dazed and confused nearly as much by being soundly beaten by Wes as from the concussive force of the blow. He had knelt beside her, leaning over her to check her head and she had been mesmerized by the blue-grey of his eyes as his face came closer and . . . closer. . .

Their lips met in haste, as though neither were sure they were allowed this intimacy, and Faith had thrilled at the taste of sweat and indefinable strength that was him. She nuzzled at his lips, drawing away just enough to taste them with her tongue. The hands that had been probing her for injuries were now skimming over the bare flesh of her arms, goosebumps emerging with the thrill from his delicate, transient touch.

Then he was moaning as he pulled away. Faith could see doubt warring with passion in his eyes as he stared down at her. He seemed caught in the midst of an inner struggle, his body going rigid but not retreating from hers.

“I shouldn’t. . .” he began, but she cut him off with her hand over his lips, praying that he wouldn’t stop touching her but unable or unwilling to vocalize it.

A warm tongue snaked out and licked her index finger before he pulled it slowly between his lips and gently captured it between his teeth while that same tongue continued to flick its tip. That’s when Faith realized he could read her like the books that were carefully placed on the shelves in his office, and then she stopped thinking anything at all as his tongue discovered her body for the first time.

After that they spent more nights together than not—sometimes in her room at the Hyperion, sometimes in his apartment, but always with kisses and touches that were more possessive, demanding, and at the same time, more gentle than she had ever known.

She might have been completely happy if she didn’t know the truth.

But she did. She knew that this man, this incarnation of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce that she (loved) cared for, was different than he had been before their lives collided. He was the proverbial changed man and she knew that she had been that catalyst for that change. Where he had once been afraid of his own shadow, he was now a hunter of the shadows—always aware, always vigilant, and always prepared for the attack that inevitably came. Where he had once been soft and innocent, more a lover of books and knowledge than a lover of the fight, he was now hardened and a little battle weary.

This man was of her creation, and if Faith recognized any pattern from her life, it was that everything she had ever touched turned to ash.

She had broken him, and now he was the man of her dreams. Faith loved him for the man he had become, and hated herself just a little bit more for making him.


So when a vampire or demon got in a good hit and knocked her flat on her ass, Faith didn’t worry. Things were good for her now, had been since Angel had pulled her into his protective embrace in the pouring rain those many months ago, but she wasn’t stupid enough to believe that they would stay that way. She was a killer, a breaker of things . . . of people . . . and she didn’t truly believe that this new lover, this new family, or this chance at redemption really belonged to her.

If she didn’t believe, then it wouldn’t hurt when they were taken away.