There was a flicker of candlelight in the window of her motel room, Faith paused a second to wonder at that then shrugged and headed on in anyway. Barely through the door her breath caught in her throat. The room was hardly recognisable; Xander had obviously been busy all day. He'd cleaned it to within an inch of its life and, while he couldn't exactly fix all the broken furniture in so short a time, he'd done a damn good job of disguising it. In front of the curtained window he'd set up a foldaway table laid out as if it was an expensive restaurant instead of a crappy motel room. Candlesticks on either side of two place settings and in the middle a single flower. A rose so dark it was almost black. It was perfect.
She looked around for him but he wasn't in the room, she was immediately filled with disappointment. The ache to see him was so
strong it was almost overwhelming. Stripping off the light denim jacket she'd been wearing, she restrained herself from tossing it onto
the bed. Instead she carried it over to the bathroom door and hung it carefully on the hook on the inside. Catching sight of herself in the
cracked old mirror above the sink she smiled at the reflection. Xander was definitely good for her.
There was a creak from the other room and she rushed to the door expecting to see Xander. She'd had a key cut for him the day before so that he could come in whenever he wanted, and even while she watched the guy cutting it for her, she found herself amazed at what she was doing. It seemed that Xander could make her surprise even herself.
It wasn't him; the sleaze manager was standing just inside the door that she'd been too preoccupied to lock behind her.
At the look on the sleaze's face she pulled herself up to her full height and crossed her arms in front of herself.
"What do you want?" She snapped irritably. He leered at her, and shuffled across the room swinging the door shut. Great, she thought,
he's drunk. In her experience drunks were the hardest kind of guy to get rid of, they were unpredictable and usually pretty thick skinned.
"Told you before, roommates are extra. Unless of course he's a client in which case I get a cut." She'd been called a hooker before and it had never bothered her, this time was different. The idea that someone saw Xander as nothing more than a trick cut her to the core, even if it was this worthless excuse for a human being saying it. She snapped back at him.
"Fuck you, I pay the rent, he's not a roommate or a client. You think if I was making that kind of money I'd bring them to this shithole?"
She didn't see the blow coming; he drove his fist straight into the side of her head with astonishing force. Unprepared for it, she fell
against the side of the table knocking it flying and catching her head on its corner. She saw stars and then a blackness threatened to creep into her vision. She shook her head trying to clear her sight and tried to push herself back to her feet.
Too late, he was on her, pinning her down. Even with Slayer strength on her side, he was at least double her size and had her pinned to the floor with his knees and one hand. His other hand was ripping her shirt open and pulling at her belt. She tried to fight him off, using
her teeth and knees and screaming at the top of her lungs. He slapped her across the face, causing her to see stars again, and snarled at her "Shut up, you little cock-tease. You know you've had this coming for a long time." He finally managed to tear open her jeans and
grabbed at her painfully. She tried to head butt him, squirming away from his probing fingers. He evaded her blows and slammed her head back onto the floor with a loud bang. For the first time in a long while, she was absolutely terrified, it didn't seem as if there was
anything she could do to get away from this bastard. She could feel his hand scrabbling at the top of her thighs, pulling her legs apart,
and tears began to roll down her face. Screaming until she ran out of oxygen she couldn't think, couldn't speak, couldn't do anything. Her mind began to shut down, suddenly she was twelve again and a lumbering man was threatening to kill her if she made a sound...
Abruptly there was a loud crack and his eyes widened and then went blank, he fell forward on top of her - motionless. Still screaming,
she pushed him away and scooted backwards in terror. She had no idea what had happened, all that mattered was she was free. Sobbing, she drew her legs up and hugged her knees, rocking back and forth. Over her sobs she thought she could hear something - a word of some kind - but she didn't want to look up, didn't want to see him coming at her again. Maybe if she couldn't see it, it wasn't real. "Faith." There it was again, that word meant something to her. Gradually her mind began to process things again - her name, that was it. Someone was saying her name over and over again. There was a light touch on her shoulder and she screamed again, flinching away from it. The touch didn't go, she looked at the source of it, a hand was laid gently on her shoulder. Gradually she stopped rocking and let her eyes follow the hand past the wrist, up the arm it was attached to and into the worried chocolate eyes looking straight at her. Xander.
She gave a strangled half sob and fell forward into his arms; she sat there curled against him, sobbing and letting him rock her back and
forth as he mumbled words into her hair. They made no sense to her, all that mattered was that he was there and she was safe.
After a few minutes she was shaking with the need to breathe and gradually her sobs subsided. He was stroking her hair, telling her it was okay, she was okay, he was here. She looked up into his eyes and saw something there that took her breath away again. She had no name for it, but devotion came close.
Slowly she relaxed her grip on his shirt and allowed him to help her stand. Suddenly self-conscious of her near-nakedness she grabbed the covers off the bed and wrapped herself in them tightly. It was silly she knew, they'd seen each other nude plenty by now, she could
visualise every tiny scar, every curve of muscle, every inch of his body and knew he could do the same for her. But this was different.
She felt exposed, truly naked before him. He took off his jacket and gently laid it across her shoulders. She looked up at him, unable to
speak, hoping he could see the gratitude in her eyes.
He led her to the other side of the room and gestured for her to sit down. Puzzled but not in the least bit threatened she did as he
suggested. As he turned away from her she caught sight of the motel manager still lying on the floor where he'd collapsed. Next to him lay a broken wine bottle and Faith finally understood what had happened. Xander must have come in and knocked him out with the bottle. Once again her white knight had rescued her.
The tears began to flow again as she watched him head towards the bastard on the floor. He looked back towards her and faltered when he saw her crying again. He started to take a step towards her but she shook her head. Instead she found her feet and joined him, wrapping her arms around his waist. Together they looked down at the man who had tried to rape her.
"What do you want to do?" Xander asked her gently. She looked up at him, seeing the suppressed rage at the man in front of them in his eyes. Her mouth opened and the words came out before she could stop them He just nodded, agreeing completely and without question.