Who Will Sing Me Lullabies

Pairing: Faith/Giles

Rating: NC-17. Don't read this if you don't want to know.

Timeline: Season 7 AU, diverging from Angel episode "Orpheus". This story will share some, but not all, the events of the S7/S5 Faith arc on A:tS and BTVS. For example: Caleb, yes. Xander's eye, no. It takes plot markers from the canon but also diverges significantly in places. So you're clear.

Disclaimer: The characters herein do not belong to me; they are the sole intellectual property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions, though I wouldnít say no to a naked, trussed up Spike on my doorstep, if you have connections or something.

Summary: Part 2. The Aftermath.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Mike and Manda beta-ed this for me, Erin gave me feedback and created the gorgeous graphic up top, and I blame this entire plotbunny on Lani, because I thought it up but she all but dared me to do it; she's also my beta for all things British. The full lyrics to the Kate Rusby song from which this story takes its title can be found here.

Part 2. Takes place the day of the events of "Dirty Girls".

Left you last night on the left half
Of the bed, the half that used to be mine
The way that you sleep is the image I'll keep
Always on the edge of my mind

Maybe maybe I've got a reason
For livin' even though I'm so tired
A bird in the hand is worth a bird in a cage
Is worth a bird on a telephone wire

-the Old 97's, "Bird In A Cage"

Gasping and choking, Faith woke from a dream of Angelus's tightening hands around her neck. She was in a bed that was more comfortable than she was used to. The sun was already starting to show through the windows, and Faith knew that somewhere in Sunnydale a fledgling vamp was being careless and turning into dust. What she didn't know, however, was where exactly she was. As she slowed her breathing and her heart rate down, the lump in the bed beside her stirred, turned over, and tossed an arm across her waist. Faith looked down.

Her companion was Rupert Giles, disheveled, naked and sleeping. This was his bed. Memories of the night before rushed through her mind, pushing Angelus to the back of her thoughts.

Faith wasn't upset about the way she'd spent the previous evening. It was just that she wasn't sure that Giles would feel the same way. She didn't want him to wake up and fidget and fumble for his glasses and rub them on the sheets and not meet her eyes. Faith was fairly certain that he would be less than happy about having screwed the brains out of someone he didn't like.

Because she was convinced that Giles had morals, and as the Sunnydale natives were so fond of reminding her, Faith had none. To her a fuck was a fuck.

Faith thought that it was funny, then, that this had seemed like a little more than just a fuck. Still, she wasted no time in slipping out from Rupert's grasp - when did her brain start thinking of him as Rupert, running through her mind again - as quickly and quietly as possibly without disturbing him. Wrapping the sheet around herself, Faith padded down to the living room to collect her clothing.

Once she was dressed, shoes in hand, Faith paused where she was standing near the steps. She crept back up them, against her better judgment, and then stepped quietly through the door of Rupert's bedroom. She wondered if she should leave him a note, and decided against it. If he woke up and remembered what they'd done - and the way the bed looked, Rupert surely would - without a note, he could at least pretend that the whole thing had been an expensive hallucination brought on by the empty bottle of Oban's sitting on the floor by his side of the bed.

Maybe the catlike satisfaction she felt at having burned some energy on very good sex was causing her to act unlike her image, but the longer she stood in Rupert's apartment, the more she felt an unseen pressure to not leave. It was unfamiliar. Faith, growing uncomfortable, wrapped her arms around her stomach as if to protect herself. She stared down at the sleeping ex-Watcher for a moment longer, and before she could regret doing so, she strode to the side of the bed, leaned down and kissed his forehead. As her lips touched his forehead, Giles stirred and turned his face up to hers, catching her mouth in a surprisingly passionate kiss. Faith pulled back in shock. Giles mumbled something that might have been "I love you" but also might have been "It devours" and turned over again, falling back into sleep. She noticed the phone was off the hook, beeping quietly underneath the bed, and set it hurriedly back in the cradle, but she wasn't really sure why she'd done so.

Faith fled the apartment as quickly as she could, shaken to the core of her being in a way that even Angelus's memories hadn't. She blinked as she pulled the door shut behind her, squinting at the sunlight. Somewhere in the silent moments between waking up and now, the sun had risen further, starting to turn the edges of Sunnydale into their daytime colors. Squinting, Faith put on her shoes and started the trek back to the Summers' household.

Long walks always seem longer when your life seems unfamiliar.


Faith stood on the back porch at Revello Drive, shifting anxiously and trying to remember if the back door squeaked when you opened it. The clock on the side of Sunnydale National Bank had told her it was no later than maybe 5:30 am at this point, and Faith didn't want to wake anyone with a noisy entrance. Hell, she didn't want to see anyone awake right now. She wanted to have a cup of coffee and a cigarette and try and figure out what the hell she'd gone and done the night before. Rupert Giles? What was I thinking? Thinking that I was lonely and he was something from the past. Not that I have much of a past Önot like Buffy. Not like there are ex-boyfriends, ones with names and not just fading faces, not like there are parents, not ones who cared. Not like there was even a Watcher, one who'd stuck around even when he wasn't the Watcher anymore. Wes didn't stick around. The Post bitch had been just that. And the one before that Ö the one who'd died. Faith shook her head. She'd always thought that was just an expression, shaking your head to clear your thoughts. But it helped and she put her hand down on the doorknob, turning slowly and quietly until a sleepy voice called out to her.

"It's okay, Faith. We're up. Well, some of us, at least." Faith walked through the doorway to see a disheveled Willow smiling at her over a cup of coffee. "Good patrol? Buffy just got back half an hour ago. You could still catch some sleep if you wanted."

"Thought I might catch it here; think B needs a bed partner, or is the vamp with a soul keeping her warm? Metaphorically speaking, of course." Faith didn't feel as though her attempts at covering up the bed she'd slept in the night before were going over well, but Willow didn't bat an eye. Goes to show that you can slip anything past anybody if you want, Faith thought. Even someone you once tried to kill.

"Spike's in the basement. Have some coffee? You look beat." Yeah, Faith thought, bet you wish you really knew why.

She moved towards the cabinets and was confused to find the cereal and cookies where the Summers used to keep their dishes. "Oh!" Willow said. "We moved them. I forgot you didn't know. The Buffybot kept dropping them. So we put them over the sink where she couldn't reach them and Tara set the table instead." Willow smiled, at little sadly, at Tara's memory. Faith grinned at that thought.

She found the mugs and poured herself a cup of coffee. "My other car is a broomstick? Honestly, witch, you bought a coffee mug that says that?"

"Well, it's not like I have a car -" Willow protested hotly. She smiled despite herself.

Faith waved her off. "Forget it. Your taste in coffee mugs is none of my concern, and don't try to blame that one on Xander's taste in gifts. That is all you, witch. Let me tell you about this fledgling I ran across on my way back here this morning, instead." She didn't mention that it was on her way back from Rupert Giles's apartment, rather than from the furthest cemetery across town.

Willow settled into her coffee. "Anybody I would know?" Faith snorted at the uncanny appropriateness of that question.

Drink enough coffee, Faith's inner monologue said to her, and you'll wash the taste of good Scotch and Rupert's tongue out of your mouth. Faith smirked back at it. Drink enough like Willow makes and you'll burn your taste buds right off, too. If Willow wasn't going to ask, she wasn't going to tell.

When Giles swam up to the world of the waking, a phone was ringing and a hangover was uncurling. It seemed that both were located conveniently in the base of his skull. Dear Lord. His face was plastered to his pillow with drool and something that resembled fried rice rather closely, at least when he squintered. He simultaneously managed to disengage his face from the pillow - without actually moving his aching head - and fumble for his glasses on the nightstand.

By the time he slipped them on, the phone had stopped ringing and the strident woman's voice clanging from the answering machine had stopped as well. He let his eyes focus, briefly, before his glance dropped to the floor beside the bed. An empty bottle of Oban's, he could see that without squinting. Was I drinking with Wesley? Was Wesley here? Who else would I be drinking Oban's with? The Scotch bottle was making his head throb as he tried to remember what had happened the night before, so Giles rolled over and noticed that the other half of his bed had been slept in. Unusual. Was I sleeping with Wesley?

An unfamiliar floral scent punctured the cloud of hangover. Giles sniffed the air. The windows weren't open and he couldn't discern where it was coming from.

Through the haze of hangover, Giles had the same moment of realization that Faith had suffered from earlier, only without the helpful visual of Faith, asleep in his bed.

He'd been drinking with Faith.

He'd been kissing Faith.

He'd been sleeping with Faith.

The phone started ringing again as Giles rolled onto his back and pondered what it was he'd done.

Buffy walked into the kitchen near to 11, looking exceptionally good for someone who'd patrolled all night. Willow and Faith were still at the table, still drinking coffee, a tableau that hadn't changed since Faith sat down, except for a rotating parade of Potentials, Andrew and mystical beings. "Giles is on his way over," Buffy announced. "We need to see what's going on with our new arrival. The hospital said she was ready for visitors; it's lucky you were on your way back last night, Will."

"Well, lucky for her. Not lucky for me. I made my own coffee and still can't stay awake."

Faith was confused. "What went down last night?"

"On her way back from a fact finding mission, Will found this girl on the side of the road. She's got some creepy mark on her neck and there was a Bringer's knife beside her and her near fatal stomach wound. But the Bringers have never left burns, before. So she might be able to tell us something about how she got there." Buffy paused. "Giles sounded hungover. Did either of you see him last night?"

"Nope. I patrolled the South side and offed a moron fledging who was going to get fried, anyway, on my way back. Other than that, I had a quiet night." Faith was quick to jump in.

"His phone was off the hook when I called last night," Willow offered. "Maybe he just needed some alone time." The witch nodded knowingly.

Or maybe it was because we knocked it off the bedside table that last time around, Faith thought, but she offered no further suggestions.

"Alone time's in rare supply these days," Buffy agreed. "I'd kill for more than five minutes in the bathroom these days. Specifically, I'd like to kill the First and get these girls out of my house."

"There are always vacancies at the 5 star Sunnydale motel, B" Faith cracked. "The water's always hot."

"Yeah, and I could go find a dog to give me fleas, too," Buffy shot back. Before Faith could come up with a retort, the back door was yanked open - it did squeak, Faith noticed - and a seriously rumpled Rupert Giles tumbled in the door.

"Coffee," he gasped. Willow was halfway across the kitchen, mug in her hand, before he'd even sat down. He hadn't gotten his shirt buttoned up correctly or his shoes tied, and he tossed back half the mug in a single gulp. "Water," he said, and Willow, still hovering, ran to fridge for the filter pitcher. While she poured him a glass, he finished the coffee in two swallows and rebuttoned his shirt. This glimpse of bare chest flashed memories of a surprisingly muscled chest in Faith's mind, and she blushed and turned her head.

She felt off. Sitting in the kitchen with Willow, even shooting the shit all morning with the Potentials, she'd been okay. She felt like herself then. But add Buffy and Giles to the mix and Faith felt like she was 12 again, the poor kid, the only one from a broken home. She certainly didn't feel like the cocksure, sexy person being the Slayer had made her. She waited to here what Giles had to say.

She wasn't surprised that he directed none of it at her. He sent Willow off in the hospital to collect a statement and perhaps the patient, sent Buffy off to beat some information out of Willy. He got himself another cup of coffee and looked very old, very tired. He slumped back onto his stool and rested his elbows on the table, the mug between them. Giles put his head in his hands and did not look at Faith.

She slipped out the back to do some training. She didn't recognize the feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was anger but she didn't want to kill anything. She always wanted to kill things when she was angry. Mostly now she just wanted to cry. She never wanted to cry.

When Giles heard the hinges on the back door creak shut, he took his head from his hands and stared at the spot where Faith had been moments ago. He didn't know why he'd ignored the poor girl like that. He wasn't sure what he could have said to her or vice versa; he didn't know if he wanted anything more and he assumed that she didn't. He was unused to one-night stands, though he knew Faith was no stranger to them. He didn't think he wanted it to be a one-night thing, but he didn't see how it could be anything else. Buffy would go mad and that was the last thing they needed right now.

Yet he couldn't shake the feel of Faith beneath him from his mind, and he couldn't shake the look of unconscious hurt on her face as she'd stood in the kitchen. He couldn't get her scent out of his mind.

He didn't understand what she'd done to leave him hopelessly shaken and wanting more.

Buffy was sitting on the porch stairs, staring at her fingernails, when Faith slipped out into the sunshine. She looked over her shoulder at Faith and smiled. "I'm going to go see if I can't worm some news out of Willy. Want to come?"

Faith shrugged indifferently. "If you're sure you don't want to stay here and let me whoop your ass."

"Enjoyable as that sounds," Buffy grinned, "I think I'd rather do some ass whooping of my own. Willy's got to know someone who needs his ass handed to him."

"Fair enough," Faith replied. "Let's split."

The two women ambled through downtown Sunnydale amiably. "Where'd you patrol last night?" Buffy asked. "I didn't see you."

"Out," Faith said. "Around. I needed some alone time. Well, needed to at least let loose. You know how it gets, B."

"I hope you didn't stab anyone in your exuberance?" Buffy quipped. Faith winced, and Buffy did a moment later when her comment finally penetrated her brain. "Sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just not sleeping enough."

"You said it yourself, B. We're cool." Faith shrugged again. Shrug and squint, she thought, that's all I do here. "I did some nasty things, but that doesn't mean I got to relive them."

They walked in vaguely uncomfortable silence for a while, until something began to itch at Faith's brain. Her steps ground to a halt in the middle of the street. Buffy was slowing down beside her. There were no demons on the streets, but there were no humans either. "Nobody's around," Buffy said, frowning, voicing Faith's thoughts. The tension between the two women disappeared without a whisper. "Does that seem weird to you, or is it just me?"

"Nah," Faith said. "It's definitely off. This place feels weirder than it did the day before the Ascension. Even the demons are runnin'."

"Well, hopefully Willy will know something. Or he'll know someone who knows something." Buffy made a sharp right turn and pushed the door to Willy The Snitch's bar open. As Faith's eyes adjusted the darkness, she saw that the bar was empty - and destroyed. All the tables were upended and there were demon-bodies strewn across the shattered chairs. The glass on the jukebox has been bashed in. The noise of her breath in the silence made Faith uneasy.

"Hello?" Buffy called, picking carefully over the remains over a dozen pint glasses and a Brakken demon. "Anyone here?"

"Looks like everybody split, B," Faith said. "Or were split." She toed a demon that had been cleaved in two.

"Listen," Buffy said. "Something's moving."

Faith stopped moving. She cocked an ear and heard, so quiet it was almost absent, the panicked breath of someone human. "Behind the bar," she said.

Buffy was at the cash register in a flash, Faith on her heels. Buffy leaned over the counter, resting her hands on the edge. "Look what we found, Faith," she grinned. "A snitch." She reached down and hauled Willy The Snitch over the counter. The bartender was shivering and sweaty. Buffy dumped him at Faith's feet.

Faith grinned. She liked this side of Buffy. "Let's make him talk."

After a round with Faith's boots and Buffy's fists, Willy was a little more willing to spill than usual. He looked scared, enough so that he probably would have told them what they wanted to hear before they kicked his ass. Buffy wasn't in an ask-questions-first mood today, though, so Faith was more than happy to go along with it.

"He's a preacher," Willy wheezed, holding his ribs. Buffy squatted down and leaned back on her heels, keeping her eyes on Willy. She was serious, Faith noted. Buffy had always been the serious Slayer, but she was more focused now than Faith had seen before. Buffy knew without having to ask that this new player was big. Willy hesitated, wincing. His eyes darted between Buffy and Faith, as if he wasn't sure which one to be more frightened of. Before today Faith might have said herself, but this new Buffy wasn't someone she wanted to fuck with.

"And?" Faith nudged his leg with her boot, a little harder than necessary, perhaps, but she wanted to get her point across. There was more to tell.

"He's strong," Willy muttered. "Stronger than a Slayer."

"And where did he come from?" Buffy's voice was cold and flat. She raised her face to Faith's and Faith could see the worry in her eyes. If Buffy couldn't research it, she couldn't fight it. That was the reason she was flailing in her quest to stop the first.

"He sounded Southern," Willy said. "I'd never seen him before. He's not a regular, you know I'd tell you if he was a regular, I'm not a bad guy, I swear, but there was trouble here last night, big trouble, and he said if I talked, he'd find me and he'd kill me." Willy was babbling now; even Faith knew that meant he was really shaken up. She nudged him again, but it was a little gentler than before.

"Look, Willy, we know you're scared. But we're not going to hurt you, I promise." Buffy sounded like she very much wanted to hurt Willy. "This man hurt a girl. We need to know who he is."

"He's big. Like Angel," Willy said. Faith saw a tiny internal wince from Buffy at this; she smirked. Faith hadn't known Buffy was still hung up on Old Soul Boy. "And he wears a preacher's collar, and he was spouting all this crap about women being dirty. Some vamp took offense at that, said his woman's virtue was bein' insulted and then the vamp took a shot at the guy. Got his ass kicked."

"And then?" A third nudge. Willy whimpered.

"Then he wanted to know where you were, Buffy, and it was the strangest thing, the whole room clammed up. Vamps and demons who have been talking about kicking your ass for years wouldn't talk."

"Remind me to get a list of the ones who wanted to kick my ass later," Buffy said, looking at Faith with a grin. There was still a trace of Angel-sadness in her eyes as she said this, but she also still meant business. "And then what, Willy?"

"And then he tore up the place. He tossed me against the mirror last. When I was lying back there, trying to breathe, he leaned over. He said his name was Caleb, and if I told anybody anything about him being here, he'd hie his way over from the vineyard on the edge of town and finish this job." Willy started to cry. Faith wasn't sure if it was out of pain or terror.

"Caleb. A preacher. Out at the vineyard." Buffy stood up. "I guess the First has finally gotten itself a body." She started to walk out, and Faith stopped her, feeling another unexpected burst of pity for Willy.

"He's hurt bad, B. Willow's got a car at the hospital anyway. It can't hurt anything to take him over there."

Buffy looked down at Willy with clear eyes. She hadn't really seen the man before, all thoughts of a second enemy clouding her mind. Angel was still in the forefront of her mind, his name enough to send her spiraling into the past, but she could at least see Willy was in bad shape. She rubbed her eyes and wondered idly what she would do if Angel showed up to help now. Spike or Angel, she thought to herself as she stared down at Willy. I wonder which I'd pick if their jealous vampire crap forced me to make a decision. Not that it matters; he's got his own apocalypse to deal with. She blinked several times. "I guess you're right. Help me get him up."

The two Slayers balanced Willy's form between their bodies and stalked out into the sunlight. Their minds were both on subjects other than the man between them, and both on subjects other than the end of the world.

Which, as it turned out, would be a dangerous thing.

Later that evening.

Faith was sitting on the Summers' back porch having a cigarette, when the back door creaked open into her silence. She spoke before she'd even seen the noisy offender. "No offence, B, but I'm not really in the mood for another rally the troops speech. It's cool, you and me are five by five, but I just can't deal tonight, okay? Slayers do get that break sometimes."

"Ah," said an older male voice - not Buffy's. "Yes, Slayers should get that break sometimes, though the chances to have them are rare. But I'm not Buffy. As you know by now."

Faith crushed her cigarette under her boot and turned around. Giles was furiously polishing his glasses on the tale of his shirt and wouldn't meet her eyes. She leaned back against the deck railing and watched him, waiting for him to say something else.

"I ... ah ... I came out here to see if maybe ... ah ... would like to come back to my place for dinner? A well deserved break, as it were." It took Giles two minutes to stumble over these words, and when he was finished, he slipped his glasses on and met Faith's eyes.

She thought she might have even seen some sincerity in his glance. "It's late for dinner, Rupes."

"On any other night, you would just be starting to patrol."

"On any other night, I wouldn't have just seen a teenager have her neck snapped or a Slayer get her ass kicked. Or had my own ass kicked. But sure," she said, pushing herself up and brushing herself off. "Why not? Beats fighting for the last piece of frozen pizza with Buffy's tiny army. Andrew is vicious, you know that? He stabbed me in the hand with a fork this morning over the last waffle."

Giles stared at her quizzically. She held her hand out. "See, right there. Looks like a tiny vampire bit me. Gotta watch the formerly evil ones, you know. They bite."

When that sort of statement is accompanied by a lewd wink from an attractive woman, there's not much to do but laugh.

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