Exaggeration and Blank Verse
The Agony Of Redemption (And The Thrill Of Leather Pants)
Home
Battlestar Galactica
Horatio Hornblower
Firefly
Crossovers
Essays
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

Angel and Faith. Faith and Angel. The Other Slayer and Buffy’s Boyfriend (tm). What does this ship have to offer that you can’t get down at the 7-11?

The characters were kind enough to say it for me:
"You and me, Faith, we're a lot alike."- Angel, BtVS 3.15, "Consequences"

"I'm not gonna kill him, Wesley... Angel's the only one in my life who's never given up on me. There's no way I'm giving up on— " Faith, AtS 4.13, "Salvage"

“It hurts.”
“I know. I know." Faith and Angel, AtS 4.15, "Orpheus"


The basis of any ship is a string of moments, isolated scenes that fit together with that special secret blend of writing and acting and chemistry that makes the viewer smile and go "Yeah." Like other justthisclose to canon ships (such as Giles/Anya, and, it’s often argued, Xander/Spike), Faith and Angel have a handful of great moments where the subtext just about breaks the surface.

Think back:
* The glorious double-cross in "Enemies."
* Faith’s breakdown in the rain in "Five by Five."
* The sweet little grace note of Angel’s visit at the end of "Judgment."
* Faith leaping up out of her coma (check your disbelief at the door in this 'verse, people!) to save Angel from staking in "Orpheus."

Sure, their last scene together (also in "Orpheus") revolves around pointedly not hugging. But then, the first time they met, she did try to kill him...

Onscreen
Faith first met Angel in "Revelations." With a little help from Xander and her non-Watcher Gwendolyn Post, she thought Angel was evil and trying to get the power of the Glove of Plot Device Myhnegon. She races into the mansion as he’s fighting Ms. Post and promptly tries to stake him. Of course, Buffy can’t allow that. In the whole melee that follows, I’m not sure Angel ever bothers to find out who this person is, and they don’t interact again until "Consequences."

After the unfortunate demise of Deputy Mayor Finch, Buffy decides to have Angel, who, let’s reiterate, has not interacted with Faith since she tried to kill him, try to talk Faith back onto the path of the righteous. He does this by knocking her out and chaining her to a wall, then attempting to play Yoda to her Pissed-Off Skywalker. Clearly, this plan needed some work. But he’s almost gotten through to her, in a nice little speech that uses the above quote, when Wesley bursts in with his Council minions and RUINS EVERYTHING. (We forgive him for this later, when he moves to the other show and develops a personality.)

Our only canon Faith/Angel moments of lust are in "Enemies," and the big twist of that episode is that it’s a fabulous series of scams. He does the Yoda routine again, she tries to seduce him, she pulls in the heavy magical artillery...and because this is the point in Faith’s arc when we need to know that she’s EVIL, she uses that magic to bring back Angelus, our most recently departed Big Bad.

Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re interested enough to read this, you’ve seen "Enemies." If not, go watch it now. No, really, I’ll wait. Okay. Now, did you notice something about their interaction? They have chemistry! Sure, Eliza Dushku’s about fourteen years old and David Boreanaz is wearing the Magic Eyeliner of Angelus. Doesn’t matter. They bounce off each other well- pun intended, when it comes to the scenes like this:

ANGEL: (chuckles) I should have known you'd like it on top.
FAITH: You want to listen or you want to die?
ANGEL: As long as you're there, I mostly want you to wriggle.


And of course, we have the Big Reveal at the end, where we learn one of the similarities that I’ll highlight in the next section:

FAITH: What can I say? I'm the world's best actor.
ANGEL: Second best.


The two of them don’t interact again on Buffy, aside from her shooting him with the poisoned crossbow bolt in "Graduation Day." Although Buffy’s more than willing to feed Faith to Angel to save him, they don’t actually meet up again until "Five by Five," (AtS 1.18) a year later on another series.

Again, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the episode if you’re reading this. If not, I truly do recommend seeing this one. It’s one of my personal favorite Angel episodes. Faith is sexy and anguished and falling apart. Everyone else, from Wesley to Lilah Morgan, sees her as a psychotic weapon, one that you have to aim and fire quickly so it won’t blow up in your face. Angel doesn’t see that; he sees a broken girl who’s in a kind of pain that he understands. And he steps up with his new mission to help the helpless, even after she tortures his friend. Amid broken glass and falling rain, she begs him to kill her. Instead, he holds her while she cries.

Then, in "Sanctuary" (AtS 1.19), he chooses her over Buffy. I’ll say that again. He chooses her- her needs, her pain, her healing- over his Big Love (to borrow a term from Cordelia). That means something. They also acknowledge each other’s strength and the burden they’re now sharing:

FAITH: Right. And you've been doing this for a hundred years! I'm not gonna make it through the next ten minutes.
ANGEL: So make it through the next five, the next minute.
FAITH: I don't think I can.
ANGEL: Yes, you can.
FAITH: God, it hurts! I hate that it hurts like this!
ANGEL: Oh well, it's supposed to hurt. All that pain, all that suffering you've caused is coming back on you. Feel it! Deal with it! Then maybe you've got a shot at being free.


At the end of the episode, she turns herself in and goes off to prison, where Angel visits her in "Judgment" (AtS 2.1). It’s implied that these visits are a regular thing, and the scene is very sweet, with smiling and a few jokes about monotonous diets amid acknowledgement of the heavy weight of redemption.

And then no one even mentions Faith for two and a half years.

When she comes back, though, it’s with a bang. Wesley breaks her out of prison- well, more accurately, she breaks herself out with a super-cool leap through a pane of glass- after the Angel Investigations crew admits they made a big oopsie by bringing Angelus back. Faith’s three-episode arc (AtS 4.13-4.15) is all about the bond between them and the pain they share.

Like in "Enemies," the actual interaction is Faith/Angelus, except for the drug-induced head trip in "Orpheus." The creators helpfully acknowledge The Pretty:

ANGELUS: Hey, Faith. Nice to see you again. Mmm. You're looking choice as ever. Oh, that's right. We've never really met, have we?
FAITH: So, what are you waiting for? Come out and gimme a kiss.
ANGELUS: No, no, no. You come to me. That's it. Getting warmer. Warmer...warmer. You're smoking hot. AtS 4.13, "Salvage"


In the end, of course, Faith and Wes outwit, outlast, and outplay Angelus at his own manipulative games and, with Willow’s (only slightly out of character) assistance, get our souled hero back. Their last canon scene together is on the Hyperion balcony, and, like the visiting-room scene in "Judgment," it’s lovely and relaxed. They smile at each other, they laugh, they’re comfortable. They get each other.

Which is the perfect segue into our next section.

What could they build a relationship off of?
* Well, for starters, angst and pain. One of the problems often offered up for Buffy/Angel in the long term is his dark past versus her shiny heroism. Could she ever really accept the things he’s done? With Faith, that’s definitely not a problem. As several of the quotes scattered through here mention, they’re a lot alike and they’re walking down the same tough road. They’re both terrified of screwing up and losing everything they’ve managed to gain. And so they wouldn’t be afraid to call each other on self-delusions and slipups- don’t you think that if anyone had bothered to go tell her, Faith would’ve been out of prison in season two, getting all up in Beige Angel’s face?

This has plenty of potential for season five AUs or post- "Not Fade Away" stories. Whether or not you believe Andrew’s assertion in "Damage" that the rest of the Scoobies have written Angel off completely, I can’t believe that Faith wouldn’t be on her way to LA as soon as she could to get him back on the path again.

Since Angel was her "sponsor" of sorts (she calls him that once, sarcastically, in "Sanctuary"), Faith puts him up on a pedestal, but that only lasts through the end of "Salvage." After Angelus beats the crap out of her, she’s ready to play on his terms. And by the time they get Angel back in "Orpheus," he’s lost some of the glow in her eyes. She’s seen his slipups, both in person and in the flashbacks. I think that post- "Orpheus," they would be meeting more as equals. He can’t play the Yoda card anymore.

On a purely shallow note, they wouldn’t have to hold back physically, either. As Spike and Buffy helpfully illustrated in season six, Slayer/vampire sex can be as rough as the Slayer and vampire involved want it to be. Concerns about hurting Nina and Robin weren’t expressed on-screen, as I recall, but in fanfic (aka the Kingdom of Porn), mystical healing abilities aren’t a bad thing to have.

* Lone wolf syndrome. Both of these two put up walls to keep other people away. They like to wallow in their pain, and you can’t wallow in a crowd. Faith doesn’t bother to hide that this is to protect herself ("I’m on my side, and that's enough." BtVS 3.7 "Revelations"), while Angel frequently claims it’s to protect everyone around him. But wolves run in pairs, too. (Wow, I’m really stretching this metaphor.) They could be alone together.

Again, they could call each other on their bullshit. The quote from "Enemies" about being the world’s best actors plays into this; who better to call Angel on his deluded performances than someone who does them herself? I don’t think Faith would’ve put up with the depressed, isolated Angel of season five for very long. (And here I will digress briefly to let you in on a little fantasy of mine: a world where Tru Calling wasn’t picked up and Faith was the newbie for s5 instead of Spike. Or we could’ve had both of them. I’m not picky.)

* The delicious kinkiness of the people between them. Angel spells it out in "Release":

"It's never just between you and me, Faith. Wes'll always be in the middle."

This is even good for post- "Not Fade Away," as their matching guilt over what they did to Wesley could come into play. (Angel did give the order that sent him to his death, even though Wesley chose to agree; and his loyalty to Angel is what lead to that choice.) But even more than Wesley, someone else is between them.

One Miss Buffy Anne Summers.

I personally didn’t see it (but then I’m frequently slash-blind), but it’s generally accepted as near-canon that part of Faith’s descent into darkness in BtVS season three was because of unrequited lust for Buffy. Even if you don’t agree that she wanted Buffy’s body (sexually; we do have to acknowledge "Who Are You?" and "This Year’s Girl," after all), she certainly wanted Buffy’s life, Buffy’s place in the world, Buffy’s circle of family, friends, and love. Right up to "The Girl In Question," it was clear that Angel, or at least the last shreds of innocence and hope left in him, still wanted to be with Buffy. By screwing each other, the Other Slayer and the Ex-Boyfriend can screw Buffy’s ghost. How delightfully twisted and sad.

This often comes up, and works really well, in post- "The Gift" fic.

* And finally...the pretty.

Hey, so they don’t have the nice blond/dark contrasts of Spike/Drusilla or Buffy/Angel. Neither did Spike/Buffy, and that didn’t slow any shippers down. Faith and Angel are brunet hotness.

And also, their love is so done by the same stylist. White tank tops. Black leather- for pants and jackets, thank you. Occasional cringeworthy jaunts into the frilly and fluffy- for her, the dress the Mayor buys in "Graduation Day;" for him, that awful yellow-striped shirt from "Shiny Happy People." Or the Hawaiian shirt from "Sense and Sensitivity." Or that orange thing from "Life of the Party." Okay, the man has bad taste in clothes.

In conclusion...when everyone else they know would walk away from them for the things they’ve done, Faith and Angel wouldn’t give up on each other. They understand each other. They support each other. And they look really, really good in eyeliner and leather.

That’s close enough to true love for me.

Recs and resources
Fair warning- this pairing doesn’t lend itself to shiny, happy fluff.

Echoes, by Kita. Beautiful, aching post- "The Gift"/Angel season 2.

Ishmael Sings of the White Whale, by Liz Marcs. Post- "Not Fade Away." Long (three parts; this link is to the first section), and sad and beautiful.

Under the Water, by Jennifer-Oksana. This is pure, post-series angst and pain. Short but gorgeous, and all the broken side of Faith and Angel.

The BtVS Writer’s Guild has a Faith/Angel zone. It includes plenty of resources as well as an archive. Predators.

Back to the Essays page

Feedback me.