Angel had called hours before he should be awake, and Faith didn’t waste time asking about why he needed her. She entered Oz’s house to find Angel alone and bleeding, and looking more abashed about it than scared or angry. “The hell is this?” she asked.
He was rummaging through a first aid kit, and she took it from him and found the rest of what she needed in the kitchen and bathroom. As she cleaned his wounds -- mostly shallow ones, thankfully, though he was decorated with a few ugly bruises too -- he explained that he’d been sleeping when the intruders came in, and that they had used their numbers, and the sunlight, to their advantage. “Plus I didn’t want to hurt them,” he added, which made more sense when he told her who they were.
As Faith dabbed at a cut in his chest, he winced, and she looked up to roll her eyes at him. “Come on, it doesn’t sting that bad.”
“It’s not that. I’m just not ready to explain this to Buffy, and she’s at the door.” He pulled on a shirt, then touched his face. “Is this still visible?”
“Your lip is split wide open, dumbass.” Faith closed up the kit and went out to meet Buffy and Oz, and Angel, apparently resigned to his fate, followed.
“Angel, we’ve got a situation with Nina, we need to -- oh hi Faith, what are you doing here?” Buffy didn’t give her time to reply; she had just seen Angel, and her reaction was probably just what he had feared. “Oh my God, what have you been doing? We’ve only been gone for like an hour!” She rushed over and put her fingers lightly to his cheek, and he smiled and pressed her hand there with his own.
“He can’t hog all the blame,” said Faith wearily, washing her hands in the kitchen sink. “Bunch of pups busted in, went for Howell.”
“Howell?” asked Oz. “Is he okay?”
Angel took up the explanation himself. “He’s not hurt but he’s not here. I think they thought they were doing a jailbreak. Didn’t give him a chance to say his piece, and I guess he just got swept up in it and left with them.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, Oz. I would have put up a better defense of your home, but I didn’t think you would want me using force against your pack.”
Oz nodded pensively and turned back to the door, but only to inspect the knob. “They didn’t break in. They had a key. Means Jordan was with them.”
Jordan was Oz’s cousin, though Faith knew Angel wouldn’t have recognized him by sight or smell. She grimaced, and saw her own sympathy mirrored on Buffy’s and Angel’s faces. Oz had dealt with enough already without his own family turning on him. “The hysteria in town over werewolves,” Angel suggested. “It must be hard on the young ones.”
“How would they even know about Howell, though?” Faith asked. “Who do they think he is?”
Buffy was leaning back against Angel, but now she stiffened with a sudden thought. “They don’t know,” she said. “Someone sent them. Someone who’s gathering support from the Cleveland werewolves.”
In a startling display of anger, Oz’s fist pounded into the door. Over the next ten minutes, he and Buffy shared a disturbing story of their meeting with Nina, one which all but confirmed that she was the Wolf. Faith could barely process the idea. Since she had moved to Cleveland, Nina had become one of her best friends. They hadn’t seen each other as much now that they were both involved in complicated romantic relationships, but Faith felt that if something this horribly, horribly wrong had been happening, she should have known.
“What now?” she asked as they all sat down together and Buffy fussed over Angel’s shrinking injuries.
Buffy was first to answer, her voice hard. “We grill.”
“Grill whom?” Angel replied around the icepack that she had insisted he hold to his lip.
“Burgers,” she said. “Hotdogs. We have to go to Nina’s cookout tomorrow, like we planned. It’s the only way to see if she’s up to anything while she’s transformed. Faith, have they invited you?”
Faith gave a bitter laugh that wasn’t altogether voluntary. “I'm bringing a fruit salad.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Oh no, I didn’t think of that.” She looked at Angel. “Should we bring something too?”
“We can pick up some bottled drinks,” he assured her, then resumed a business tone. “You two should go together. Spike and I will come after dark and take a walk around the enclosures to check things out from the ground. Act normal, but keep your eyes open. We need to find out who would stay loyal to Nina if it came to that.”
“You mean like her boyfriend?” said Oz. His voice betrayed no emotion, but Faith sensed sarcasm. Then he added something that got everyone’s attention: “Or like me?”
Angel gave him a long look, kneading the icepack in his hands. “I know this is personal for you,” he said. “It is for me too. We have to figure out how to keep everyone out of danger, but we have to do it without fooling ourselves about what the infected people have become.”
Oz lowered his gaze. “I get that. Not everyone will.” He stood up. “I’ll talk to E.”
“I’ll do some research on Satellite 3,” said Buffy. “Maybe I can find some stats on Dameon Wolfe, or there’s something special about the building itself.”
“I’ll help,” said Angel, and the two of them smiled at each other.
Faith was reminded of the Scooby Gang, dividing up jobs at the end of a meeting. It wasn’t nostalgic; mostly she had to wonder if they had always been as flippant about mortal danger as they were now, as they had been during the brief period that she was one of them. She got to her feet. “I’ll go buy fruit.”