A/N: Thanks for the idea, Maria. Hope I do it justice.
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (1/?)
22nd April, Toledo, Ohio
Faith whistled cheerfully as she sauntered to the car, smirking at Xís poorly-veiled look of impatience. Man, she loved to press his buttons. Mind you, her grin widened, heíd definitely pressed hers last night. "Man," she muttered. "Did he ever."
Opening the back passenger door, she leapt in beside Tara and tossed her the can of Mountain Dew and packet of rice cakes before slamming the door shut. "Hey X," Faith reached up and gently ran her hands through Xanderís hair before flicking his ear. "What ya waiting for, drive!" She laughed at Xís glare over his shoulder.
Turning her attention to Tara, she wrinkled her nose. "Man," she looked at the rice cakes, "how can you eat that crap?"
Taraís answering glare bounced off her. "Some of us donít have your metabolism," her sis stiffly replied.
Faith shrugged. "Hey, part of the Slayer package."
"Part of being a pig," Tara accused.
"That too," she equably agreed before opening and offering her packet of chips to her friend. "Want one?" she asked, a look of innocence on her face.
* * *
"Oh bloody hell, yes!" Barrington Jeffers smirked as the target approached, looking down from the top of the verge he was laid upon and through the sniper scope he judged it wouldnít be long before they were in range.
For months his team had been hunting the runaway Slayer and her companions, missing out on catching up with their targets on a number of occasions. The Councilís best team, recruited from Englandís special forces vets, given the run-around by a gang of kids. It was bloody humiliating, that was what is was.
But it ended now. Aiming, he squeezed the trigger of his Barrett M82, the worldís finest rifle.
* * *
Faith jumped as the car swerved suddenly. Looking over the edge of the ravine, she swallowed at the deep gorge beneath them. "Stop messing about X," she grimaced at her slight tremble in her voice. "Iím a thrillseeker but this is being fucking stupid!"
"Iím not," Xanderís face tightened as he twisted the steering wheel, "the front right tireís gone-," Xander paled. "And the back left, weíre being shot at!"
Faith joined Tara in screaming as the car plunged into the gorge. They could do nothing but hold on and pray.
* * *
"Theyíve gone into the gorge," Clifford Clement spoke into his earpiece, relaying his report to the sniper. "That was exceptional shooting, well done."
As a former 2 Para colonel, heíd worked for the Council for seven years hunting demons all over the world, but this was the first time heíd chased a young girl for them. Swallowing the bile in his mouth, he turned to the three men with him, all likewise fastened to ropes. "Letís get going," he ordered. "And remember, the girl might look like a beauty queen but sheís dangerous."
* * *
"Oww!" Faith groaned as she regained her consciousness. She felt like hamburgered shit, she had a concussion; sprained or maybe broken left ankle; bloodied nose, shattered right wrist, and her left shoulder felt like it had been dislocated. Fighting against nausea, she turned her head to see how Tar was.
"Nooo," she croaked, blood filling her mouth, her pain forgotten next to the horror of the top of her best friendís skull smashed in and her head hanging at an impossible angle. Tears filling her eyes, she turned her attention to her man.
"Heís alive," she looked out of the shattered near window to see a quartet of heavily-armed men surrounding the crashed car.
"Not any more."
Faith screamed wordlessly as one of the men pressed the muzzle of a Desert Eagle to her boyfriendís head and pulled the trigger. Her ears pounded with the gunís retort, her eyes helplessly fixed to the terrible sight of her loverís brains splattering onto the shattered windscreen. Then she felt a needle prick her neck, propelling her into soothing darkness.
* * *
"And another thing! Van Winden! Pfaffmann! You havenít cleaned my shoes properly! Again!"
Travers glared at the two idiots he employed as his Ďpersonal assistantsí were complete incompetents, incapable of completing the simplest task to his satisfaction. "But thatís what one gets when one employs a Dutchman and a German," he muttered before raising his voice. "This is the last time-."
"Sir, sir!" the door crashed open and one of the fresh-faced, recently qualified Watchers charged in. "I have -."
"DOES NO-ONE KNOCK ANYMORE!" he thundered, a vein throbbing wildly in his forehead.
The junior Watcher blanched at his anger. "SÖsorry sir, but I have good news. The Hart Slayer has been captured, secured, and drugged."
"Excellent!" Instantly his bad mood dissipated, replaced by a sense of elation. "And Harris and the Maclay girl?"
"Both dead, sir."
Better and better. "And Hart is en-route?"
"In our diplomatic plane, sir. She should be here in," the youth glanced at his watch, "five hours."
"Call the Forum," he smirked. "Weíll have to ready ourselves for a trial. Council justice must be seen to be done."
And a stain on his reign eliminated.
* * *
Faith groaned as she awoke, her body still aching. And then it hit. Her man and her sis, dead. The only family sheíd ever had, murdered.
Forcing her tears away, she looked around her surroundings. She was sat on a small wooden bench in a small, featureless cell, the only light from a dim yellow bulb hanging from the ceiling. She was fastened in shackles fastened to her wrists and ankles, a chain connecting her restraints. And even she hadnít been secured, she felt so weak, her powers were gone.
"Well look whoís awake," she glanced at the doorway to see a tall, middle-aged guy sneering at her. "The rogue Slayer herself."
That snooty voice, he had to be a Watcher. "You murdered X and Tar! Iím going to rip your fucking heart out!"
The man chuckled at her rage. "And how do you intend to do that my dear? Now that your powers have gone?" The manís face hardened. "Iím Quentin Travers, the Council head, youíll be trialled in two days for your dereliction of duty. And then," the man smiled again, "youíll die."
* * *
Travers smirked as he looked around the makeshift court room. Everything was just about perfect, he decided.
He and the other four members of the Forum, the Councilís ruling body, were seated on a raised stone podium sat behind a varnished mahogany table. To their right sat the massed ranks of the top twenty or so potentials and their Watchers, ready to see the Councilís inexorable justice in action.
And in front sat the dull-eyed Slayer, flanked by her two powerfully-built custodians, her shackles still secured. Her unkempt hair hanging down over her bruised face, her gaze fixed on the stone ground. Utterly broken, just as it should be. He just hoped the next Slayer wouldnít be another bloody yank, more trouble than they were worth the lot of them. Clearing his throat, he opened his mouth to speak.
The door at the back of the hall crashed open and snarling figure stalked in. "You murdering bastard! You killed Xander!" the wild-eyed intruderís elbow connected with the nearest guardís jaw knocking him into the wall. "You canít bloody execute her! Sheís a sodding child!"
A second guard stepped in front of the interloper and attempted to restrain him but received a headbutt to the face for his pains. But then another two of the guards arrayed around the council hall grabbed the man and wrestled him to the ground. "Get him out of here," he loftily ordered. "Weíll deal with him later."
He could barely contain his glee as the two men dragged the violently struggling man out. Better and better, after that outburst it would now be a simple matter to influence the Forum into having Gilesí passport revoked, stranding him in this country. Then theyíd have to send another incompetent like Wyndham-Pryce to Summers and with luck sheíd soon be dead, another embarrassment removed. Turning his head back to the youngest of the two Slayers, he spoke again. "On the 12th June of the year 1999, you deserted your post, for this dereliction of duty you are sentenced to death. Any objections?" When the hush in the hall remained unbroken, he smiled. "Sentence will be carried out at dusk tonight."
* * *
Travers struggled to hide a smirk as the listless Slayer was led into the guillotine room, the shocked potentials looking on. The only thing that would make it better was if the Slayer would beg or curse, but she appeared to be in shock.
Shoving aside that slight disappointment, he spoke. "For dereliction of duty and desertion, Faith Hart has been sentenced to death. Do you have anything to say?" again he was frustrated when the Slayer just stared glass-eyed at him. He looked at the two men flanking her and nodded. Immediately they roughly propelled the unresisting girl into a kneeling position, her head shoved into the guillotine. A smile on his face, he walked over to the execution instrument and grabbed hold of the blade, pulling it up over her head before turning to look at the hushed crowd. "This is the fate of all who defy the council," he intoned before releasing the rope.
He smiled as the guillotineís blade plunged down, severing the brunetteís neck in a single slash. Finally, things were returning to the way they should be.
* * *
Shaking his head, he looked down upon his dominion, grimacing as he saw the future stretched out in front of him. Those arrogant fools, theyíd condemned the entire world in their blind pursuit of power. "No," he shook his head. "This wonít do at all."
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (2/?)
His friend looked up at his shout. "Raph," he greeted. "Theyíre showing a repeat of Knight Rider in a minute. Want to take some -."
"No time for that," he interrupted. "Thereís an emergency. Father needs us now!"
Gabriel languidly rose and stretched. "Whatís the situation?"
"You like the TV," Raphael shot the set a contemptuous look. "The humans still use the term ĎDefcon 1?"
Gabe paled. "Oh cra-," his brother looked up. "Sorry father."
"You coming then?" he snapped impatiently.
* * *
He smiled as his two sons entered his palace room. They were good boys, not like their wayward brother. His mood darkening at the memories, he nodded. "Sit," he ordered. "Gabriel, Raphael, are you both well?"
"Yes, father," the boys chorused.
"And how are admissions going?"
"Peter is still letting them in, sir," Raphael replied.
"Excellent," he nodded. Sometimes Peter was a little strict, but better that than too lax. Reminding himself heíd have to make an appearance there some time soon, he turned back to his boys.
"Please, sit down." Once his children had obeyed, he continued. "We have a crisis-."
His sons exchanged worried glances. "A crisis, father?" queried Gabriel. "We havenít one of those since-."
"6th August 1945," he interrupted with an impatient nod. "Yes, I know. But we have one now." He waved a hand at the wall to his boysí left. "Watch this," he instructed.
"Come on then you fucking assholes!" he hid a smile at his childrenís winces at the brunette beautyís sulphurous language even as she tore into her enemies.
Gabriel turned back towards him, his face pale and eyes wide. "She is the crisis?"
"No," he shook his head. "Her death is. She was recently murdered. Her, and even more importantly, her companions," he waved his hands again, causing a tall young man and pretty blonde to appear on the picture, "will condemn the world to hell."
"But her language-."
He barked out a laugh and shook his head. "Raphael," he reproved, "how many times do I have to tell you? Judge not the personís words but their actions."
Raphael and Gabriel bowed their heads. "Sorry father," they said in unison.
"So many years and yet you havenít learnt the simplest lessons?" he shook his head. "Sometimes I despair of you."
"Why are they so important, sir?" Raphael queried.
"He is the human avatar of a warrior demi-god who will lead an army in a battle for earth. The blonde is an exceptionally powerful witch who will be pivotal in the upcoming battle."
"And the brunette?" Gabriel asked.
"The current Slayer and the glue that brought them together," he replied.
"What happened, sir?" Gabriel asked.
Sighing slightly, he waved his hand again. They watched in silence as the wall cleared and they watched the Slayer being snatched and her friends executed. "Who were those people?" Raphael put in as the picture dissolved.
"The Council," he replied, his flat tone leaving his subordinates in no doubt about his disapproval of that supposedly august body.
"The Council?" Raphael looked aghast. "But werenít they set up to help the Slayer?"
"Originally, yes," Gabriel beat him to the punch. "When the Council was set up in 3,600 BC.," his child nodded respectfully at him, "four hundred years after the first Slayer was Called, thatís what they did. But around 2,000 years ago they forgot their duties and became enthralled with the power and prestige."
"B..but to kill a Slayer?" Raphael glanced from him to Gabriel. "Why?"
"You have heard of the Cruicatmen?" he grimaced at his subordinatesí nods. He had little love for such barbarity, but he had given humans free will. "She found out about it," he smiled, "and ran together with her friend, soon-to-be boy-friend and warrior-god avatar. They met up with the Witch and formed-."
"Theyíre the founders of the Mithras Brotherhood!" Raphael exploded. Eyes widening, his servant stared at him. "But that means-."
"Precisely," he nodded.
"But you canít interfere," Gabriel pointed out. "It would-."
"Rip the universe apart," he nodded. "I know. But the First Rule is I canít Ďdirectlyí interfere. There are people who can turn time back."
"You intend to use the 7 Days program?"
He grimaced. Of all the possible candidates, Frank Parker was the most qualified to deal with a team of trained killers, but there were problems with choosing him. Finally he shook his head. "The government are already attempting to track these children down, I donít want to give them any leads."
"Then who do you intend to use? Tru Davies?"
"No," he shook his head at Gabrielís question. "Itís not her time yet, sheís too young for this."
"Sheís the same age as these children," Gabriel pointed out.
"True, but other than her time-travel power she doesnít have anything to match the physical abilities of the Slayer and the companions. In fact she doesnít even match the physical skills of the other time travellers. And giving her this mission as her first might be a stretch too far."
"You could pull Jack Logan from the future?" Raphael suggested.
"No, I canít," he corrected. "According to what happens in 2004, the world ends three years before the Timecop program begins. In effect, it never happens."
A long silence followed his pronouncement. "Who then?" Gabriel finally said.
His children exchanged uneasy glances. "Uh, isnít he retired?" Raphael hesitantly commented.
"He is," he admitted with a nod. "Itís just a question of sending the right messenger."
"Oh, and who do you intend to send?" asked Gabriel.
"The balance demon?" Gabriel queried. "But he -."
"Made an almighty cock-up with the vampire," God nodded. "He needs to prove himself. Heíll be motivated. Good choice. Use him."
* * *
Cokeburg, Pennsylvania, August 8th 1953
"As good a beer as always, Al," Sam took a contented sip.
The portly barman smiled at him. "What do you expect?" The manís face turned serious. "Oh, you have a guest."
Skin prickling, Sam glanced around the mine town bar, eyes searching the shadows. His stomach hollowed as he saw a basset-hound faced man wearing a brown leather jacket and a battered homburg walking towards him. "No," he said as the man reached him. "Iím not interested," he shook his head, panic filling him, twisting his stomach. "Iíve done my time, I wonít go back."
The man blinked, clearly surprised by his astuteness. "Man, they said you were a smart one," the man looked at him with his sad eyes. "Itís just an one-time job."
"Until the next time."
"No," his companion shook his head. "This oneís important. Real important. Look," the man held out a hand, "Iím Whistler."
He just stared at the man. "I told you," he said through gritted teeth. "Iím not interested. Get someone else."
"Youíre the only one." The man continued to talk, ignoring or oblivious to his growing anger. "Itís a real bittersweet story. There was this girl you see," Whistler tilted his head to one side, the hat he was wearing appearing to be in danger of falling off, "there always is in the best stories. And she was the prettiest, sweetest little thing." Whistler dropped a photo on the counter that Sam staunchly refused to look at. "But her mom," the man sighed, his face growing even more mournful, "she was a selfish bitch, saw her kid as nothing more than an inconvenience and a punch-bag. So this kid, she grew up hard, built these walls around her."
Whistler picked up his beer and took an uninvited sip. "Nice," Al glowered at the man, Whistler paled before turning back to him and speaking. "The girl, she was heading for a bad end, a real bad end. But she got lucky," Al snorted. "In a manner of speaking. This kid, she had a destiny, so this woman, she adopted her, and gradually, got the girl to trust and love her. Then this girl got some powers-."
"Powers?" Sam interrupted, enthralled despite himself.
"Not important," Whistler shook his head. "Youíll find out later." Somehow, Sam doubted that. "And she knew that no-one push her around ever again. Except," the man looked down at the wooden floor, "they did, killing the only person she ever loved. The girl broke, the pain too much for her to handle, the walls came up again, except this time even higher, and she ran."
Whistler reached for his beer. Al shoved a fresh one into Samís hand, he nodded gratefully. "The girl, she started to act like sheíd done before this woman had entered her life, using guys before they could use her. Not that there were any complaints, sheís a beauty. Well, except this one guy." A picture joined that of the brunetteís on the counter. "He thought they could have something, something special, but the girl put up her walls again."
"Is this going somewhere?" he interrupted testily.
"But this boy," Whistler shook his head. "He was different. Like the girl heíd been hurt by those who should look after him. But he reacted different, instead of putting up walls, he let people in, and he knew this girl had suffered like him. This kid, he didnít have any powers or anything, all he had was heart. But he had a hell-."
Whistler looked at the bartender, his face chagrined. "Sorry." Whistlerís gaze returned to him. "Heck-." Al coughed again. Whistler groaned. "I canít work under these conditions. A massive heart. The girl kept pushing him away, but he kept on coming. Then he saved the girl from making the biggest mistake of her life, risking his own life to do so. The girl fell for him and they ran away together. Then they met another kid, another kid whoíd been hurt like them, and she joined their group." Al dropped another picture onto the bar.
"Weíll be closing in a few hours."
Whistler blinked at Alís oblique hint to hurry up. "Cut a long story short, this boy without any powers, got a sh-," Whistler glanced at Al, "ton of resources. And now, he and these two girls are all that stand between the world ending in four years time. But you know," he shook his head. "To me thatís not the tragedy, not by a long shot. Thereís three kids whoíve had to struggle for love their entire lives finally finding it and getting killed way before their times. You," the man pointed at him, "could change that."
Sam stared at the man, a suspicion slowly forming. "Youíre not human are you?"
"Not important," Whistler shook his head. "Are you going to do it?"
Sam turned to the bartender. "Why arenít you forcing me?"
"You know why," Al replied. "Free will. Well?"
Sam licked his lips. "Iíll do it," he finally decided.
The last thing he heard as he was consumed by a familiar white light was Alís voice. "You wonít remember anything that Whistler told you, itís against the rules."
* * *
"Oh god! Oh god!"
Sam looked down at the perspiring man lead beneath her. His hands on her very nice breasts.
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (3/?)
"Oh god! Oh god! Oh boy!"
Xander blinked as his girl-friend suddenly reared back, a look of horror flickering across her face, before jumping off him as if scalded. Heíd been enjoying that. "Faith," he queried as he looked at his girl-friend stood in the middle of their apartment room. "Whatís wrong? Did I hurt you?"
The beautiful Bostonian glanced from left to right, her eyes wide with almost-panic. "N..no," his eyes widened at the tremble in Faithís voice. The only time heíd heard her sound that scared was...
Which was ridiculous, the bastard was dead. Rising, he started over to the Slayer.
And stopped when she darted away from him and into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. "Women," he muttered in half-confusion, half-concern, "canít live without them, havenít a hope in hell of understanding them." Shaking his head, he followed.
* * *
"Oh god! Oh god! Oh fuck!" Faith shrieked as she hit the cold floor. Looking up, she peered around her surroundings in confusion. Where was X? Not more than ten seconds ago, sheíd been boning her honey, and now she was where?
Looking around, it appeared she was in a completely white room. She was also, she gaped as she looked down at her body, a man. It was impossible, but sheíd seen enough naked men to know the differences. "How in the hell?" she muttered before coming to a decision. Either sheíd been taken away from her family by some spell or she was in a drug or magic induced coma of some sort and was having the weirdest dream in history.
Either way, she set her jaw, her temper beginning to burn, whoever was screwing with her was making the worst and last mistake of their life. Unmindful of his\her nudity, whatever the hell she was, Faith strode to the roomís door and kicked it.
"OHHH FUCK!" Faith hopped around the room, holding her throbbing foot even as her glare burned a hole in the resisting door, dented but unbowed by her attack. Steel, tricky bastards. Looking up at the ceiling, she let out a defiant yell. "Let me out now and Iíll quickly kill you fucking demons! If you donít Iíll do it slowly!"
* * *
Sam quickly locked the door behind him in, heart pounding. "IÖIíll just be a minute," he quickly babbled. God, he hated jumped into women, and jumping into one in the middle of sex. He shuddered and looked into the bathroomís full-length wall mirror.
He was now an exceptionally attractive brunette in her mid to late teens with shoulder-length hair, pool-like eyes, and a rosebud shaped mouth. Not to mention a body to die -.
"Hubba, hubba, you remind me of my prom date."
"AHHHH!" Sam jumped. Spinning around, he glared at Al, dressed in a eye-blinding yellow suit. Seeing Al dressed, however revoltingly, reminded him of his own nakedness and he quickly covered his chest and groin area. "Stop leering!" he hissed.
His best friend smirked. "Hey, Iím only human. Quite a package.""
"Faith, honey are you alright?"
Sam glanced at the bathroom door. "Uh, Iím fine."
"You sure," the boy pressed from outside the door. "Only I can get Tara if you want me to?"
"Tara?" Sam withdrew the question even as he asked it. "No, Iím okay. I, um, donít feel too well."
"Really? It wasnít anything I did," the kid sounded worried, "only I didnít think Slayers got ill."
"No," shooting Al a confused glance he grabbed a red kimono-style robe hanging behind the door and quickly slid it on. "Just womanís things."
"Oh right," he could practically hear the recoil in the youthís voice, the defence heíd used on countless previous leaps working perfectly. "Well, if you need to talk or anything, Iíll be here."
"Thanks!" Sam called out before turning to Al. "Who am I?"
His best friend grimaced. "We have a slight problem with that."
"Oh no," Sam shook his head. "Tell me you know who I am."
Al hesitated for a moment. "Well her ID says sheís a Faith Spenser."
"Iím sensing a but there," Sam commented.
"Oh, the biggest," Al nodded. "Her IDís a fake, a good one, but a fake. But hereís where it gets complicated." Sam groaned, and he thought things were bad enough now. "The IDís good, real good. But whatís even better is the electronic trail behind it."
"What do you mean?"
"Itís close to perfect, someone with major resources had to do it. Someone with real pull."
"Like the government?" Sam theorised.
"Yeah, but," Al shook his head. "Sheís too young to be a deep-cover agent for anybody. Whateverís sheís lying about sheís still only a kid."
Sam thought for a second. "Witness Protection re-location, maybe?"
"Itís a possibility," Alís face brightened. "Iíll get Ziggy to look into it."
"I know itís really obvious, but has anyone thought to ask her?"
Al winced. "That wouldnít be a good idea. The girlís borderline psychotic and Russian weight-lifter strong. Sheís different from anyone Iíve seen before, raving on about us being demons. Sending someone in there would be a bad idea."
"Okay," Sam tapped his foot on the ground as he thought. "Then have you any idea why I am here?"
Again his contact and best friend winced. "Ah, until we
know who she is we canít run the figures."
"Damn it Al!" Samís temper began to slip. "I need something, anything. Thereís got to be something you can tell me. Whatís the date? You must know that!"
If anything his best friendís face fell still further. "Yeah," the rear admiral nodded slowly. "We know that."
"Well!" he demanded.
"Well, things are a little ka, ka," Al licked his lips. "20th April í00."
Alís words hit him like a thunderbolt. For a strained second, he stared at the hologram. "TÖthatís impossible." He shook his head. "The Quantum Accelerator can only take me backwards in time, not forwards. I first leapt in í99, so thatís impossible."
"I know," Al shrugged. "Weíre working on it. Best guess is act of god."
"Best guess is all youíve got so far!" Sam was past confused and heading into terrified. What little control heíd always had over his jumps appeared to be gone. "Give me some answers damn it!"
His best friend reached out to touch him, the instinctively comforting gesture wasted when the hand passed through his shoulder. "Just hang in there, okay?" Al looked over his shoulder as the shimmering door back to his dimension appeared behind him.
"Just bring me, something," he begged. As his friend turned to leave, inspiration struck. "Try and look up that Slayer thing!"
Al stopped at the doorway and nodded. "I will," his friend promised.
* * *
Xander let out a relieved sigh when the bathroom door swung open and Faith came back into the bedroom. Sitting up in the bed, he forced a smile before speaking. "Hey honey," Faith smiled wanly but didnít reply. He threw the sheets and tried again. "You wanna get in?"
Faith blanched before nodding. "I guess," the lithe brunette swallowed. "But no hanky panky, Iíve got a headache."
Xander blinked. Shaking off the shock of Faith saying hanky panky, he nodded numbly. "Sure baby, whatever you want." He blinked again when Faith pulled off her robe and grabbed her t-shirt from the ground and hurriedly put it on, Faith never wore anything to sleep in. Pushing the worry aside, he kissed the Slayer on her forehead as she got into the bed beside him.
His heart tightened at her slight flinch. "Hey," as usual he joked to hide his hurt, "what youíre scared of? Remember youíre the super-strong one?"
The teen smiled uncertainly. "Sorry, just donít want to be touched, sore."
"Okay," he noticed the slight space she kept between them and sighed inwardly. It seemed the old walls were coming up again. How long before she dumped him?
* * *
"Ah, how sweet."
"Gah!" Sam shrieked as he awoke. His eyes widened as the boy beside him awoke instantly, seemingly pulling a gun out of nowhere.
"Faith," the youth looked at him, in confusion. "What was that for?"
"Nightmare," he said between shooting Al a glare. He looked towards the gleaming automatic and swallowed. "You sure you know what youíre doing with that?"
The boyís eyes narrowed. "Of course I do, Faith what is wrong?"
"Donít push him Sam," Al counselled. "Trust me on this one."
"Nothing," he shook his head. "Just need the bathroom." Leaping up, he hurried to into the room in question. Closing the door, he watched as Al walked through the wall. "I need information and fast."
"Iíve got some," Al looked grim, beyond grim actually. "And itís all bad."
"Great," Sam nodded. "Go on."
"Girlís real name is Faith Spenser, born 14th April 1982, but the name sheís used for most of her life is Faith Hart. Kid is a real hardcase, but then with a mom whoís a hooker who can blame her?" Al pressed a button on the handlink. "Age fourteen, her mother and her monís pimp are murdered. The girl disappeared, was thought to be the murderer herself, until the crime was tied to a turf war. For the next two years, she was involved in grand theft auto, muggings, and various acts of vandalism. Then the kid got adopted by an Englishwoman and for a while, no trouble. Then her guardian was murdered and she disappeared again. That was twenty-two months ago."
"And whatís the mission?" Sam queried.
Al scowled. "Hereís the thing. In twenty-eight hours from now, the girl and her companions will be killed, the tyres of their car shot out by persons unknown. The bodies of Xander Harris, her boy-friend, and Tara McClay, her best friend, will be found in the car. Faith Spenser will never be seen again."
"How can you know this?" Sam asked. "This is the future?"
Al paused. "Itís not my future, itís my past Iím from 2003."
That hit him like a blow to the gut, heíd been gone four years. Four years of his life that heíd never get back. "Okay," his voice was hoarse with pain. "So who wants her dead?"
Al hit the handlink again. "Hereís the thing, we donít know." Sam groaned. "But we have a theory. Remember that ĎSlayer thing you mentioned?" he nodded. "Well, Ziggy did some checking and found articles by Drs. Lara Croft and Dr. Sydney Fox referencing a Slayer myth. The one girl in the world with the powers to fight vampires."
"Youíre not," Samís voice trailed off as he remembered something. "Xander said, said I was super-strong."
"If this is true, then the girl will have enemies. Weíre checking into her past, seeing if we can find anything," Al reported before hesitating. "Thereís more."
"Hit me with it."
"If these kids die," Al licked his lips, "thereís a 99.999999999% chance the world ends 17th June 2004."
"Wow," Sam slumped down on the toilet, his suddenly rubbery legs incapable of supporting him. "And if they survive?"
Al hit his handlink before grimacing. "Ziggy says the world still has a 99.99% chance of ending on 17th June 2004."
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (4/?)
"Whoa," for a second the world appeared to tilt around him. "So if I save them the world has a one in ten thousand chance of not ending? But if I donít, the world has a 1 in one hundred billion chance of not ending?"
Al shrugged. "Thatís about it."
"Oh boy, with those odds Iíd really give some thought to playing the lottery." Sam looked up. "Who wants her dead?"
"We donít know."
"She has no idea?" Sam exclaimed. "She must have some!"
"Uh, itís not that," Al paused, "sheís sort of difficult to talk to."
"You havenít asked her yet!" Sam exploded.
"You havenít seen her," Sam raised an eyebrow. "Alright, technically youíve seen her," Al allowed. "If she is this Slayer thing, sheís super strong. And her behaviour is border-line psychotic-."
"And Iím on a timetable here!"
Al sighed. "Iíll give it a try." The jump door appeared behind his best friend. "Iíll be back, soon."
* * *
"How is he?"
Al glanced at the short, fat man beside him, wincing at his bad breath. "Not good, Gooshie," he admitted. "Heís not doing well at all." Not that he blamed his long-time best friend. Everything about this jump stunk. A leap after all this time, a leap into his future, and the supernatural elements, none of it made any sense. Add to that the world ending if they screwed up and theyíd never quite had a leap like this before.
"What are we going to do next?" his friend shuffled nervously from foot to foot.
"Iím," he glanced at the observation screen displaying the pacing figure inside the holding cell. He winced at the language he lip-read the young woman wearing Samís body was coming out with. He had to admire her inventiveness if nothing else. "Iím going in to see her."
"Are you sure about that?" Gooshie queried.
"On a scale of one to ten, Iíd have to give it a heck no, but Sam needs me to," Al squared his shoulders. "Wish me luck." The girlís eyes snapped to him as the door opened. "He-."
He grunted as the girl lunged at him at an incredible speed, grabbing him by the back of his head, her other arm pressing into his neck as she slammed him into the wall. "Where the fuck am I! Who the hell are you! What have you done to my body! And," the girlís eyes blazed even hotter. "What have you done with Tar and Xander!"
"Canít," he gasped. His hands flailed at the manís arm but it was like trying to shift iron. The writings about Slayers were obviously based on fact. "Breathe."
The girl raised an eyebrow. "And I should worry why?"
"Explain," he wheezed, dots appearing before his eyes.
"Five by five." The girl released her grip, sending him crashing to the ground. "Talk!"
He took a few gulping breaths before speaking, eyes glancing up warily at the teen stood above him. "On your side."
"Sure you are," the Slayer chuckled. There was precious little amusement in the sound. "Thatís why Iíve got a tripod and stubble, Ďcause youíre my buds."
"Look," he started to rise.
"Uh, uh," the woman shook her head. "Stay there."
"Look," he tried again. "I work for the government-."
"You work for the man?" Faith shook her head. "Not filling me with any confidence, bud."
"My friend created the Quantum Leap Accelerator," seeing the girlís impatient expression, Al hurried on. "A machine that allowed him to travel into the past, but only his past."
He ignored the girlís disbelief in favour of continuing. "Unfortunately, when Sam used the machine for the first time it screwed up. Sam was thrown into another personís body, now heís forced to travel from time to time in his own lifetime, righting wrongs. Once heís helped a person, he leaps into another body, and the person leaps from here and back into their body."
"You expect me to believe this crap?" Faith snorted.
"See that table?" he pointed towards the mirrored table in the centre of the room. "Look into it."
The Slayer shot him a suspicious look before stalking over to the table. Her mouth dropped open, the look on her face almost comical. "Well, fuck me." The Slayer shook her head before stalking back to him and pulling him to his feet. "First you get me something to wear, then weíll talk."
* * *
Tara yawned as she awoke to the sound of muffled knocking on the door. "Tara, open up, I need a word!"
Tara scowled at the worry in Xanderís muttered voice. Leaping up, she hurried to the door, flinging it open. "Whatís wrong?"
Xander reddened and looked away. "Couldnít you put a robe over that nightie?"
"You sleep with a naked girl every night of the week," Tara pointed out as she pulled on a dressing grown.
"Said girl and I are dating," Xander replied, his gaze still averted.
"Prude," Tara remonstrated. "Iím dressed."
"Thank god," Xander turned back to her and hurried into her room.
"Whatís the problem?" she queried, noting her friendís worried expression.
"Itís Faith, thereís something wrong with her."
Taraís heart caught. "What?"
Xander grimaced. "Thatís it I donít know. Sheís not acting Faithlike."
"Sheís selling copies of the Watchtower?" Xander glared at her. "Sorry, but what is she doing?"
Xander shrugged. "Itís like she doesnít even know me. I mentioned you and it was like she didnít know who you were."
"How about this, take her down to the diner, Iíll look at her aura. And Iíll go down as soon as Iím dressed, see if she recognises me," Tara suggested.
Xander smiled weakly. "That sounds like a plan."
* * *
Xander closed the door behind him as he crept back into his bedroom. Heíd barely made it half-way across the room when the toilet door swung open. "Hey," he said uncertainly.
His girl-friend nodded at him, the wary look on her face matching his own feelings. "Where have you been Xander?"
"Just stretching my legs," he quickly lied. "I was thinking we could go down to the diner on the corner?"
After a second Faith nodded. "Sounds like a good idea, Iím hungry myself. Just give me a minute to dress."
"Sur-," he blinked when Faith picked up her clothes and hurried into the bathroom. Modesty, not normally a Faith trait, something was definitely up.
* * *
Sam looked around as he entered the busy diner. "You want your usual, Faith?" her companion asked.
"Yes," he answered, all the while wondering what Faithís usual was.
"Okay," Xander smiled at him. Sam couldnít help but smile back. If nothing else the kid had a good heart, he sensed that. "Why donít you sit with Tara while I get our order?"
"Okay," Sam grimaced as the youth turned away. The question was who was Tara? Looking around, he only saw four people sat on their own. Two were men, while one was a woman in her mid-fifties. The other was a pretty blonde around Faithís age. "Gotta be her," she muttered. Crossing her fingers, she moved over to the blonde, all the while wondering how his host managed to breathe in such tight clothing. "Mind if I sit down?"
The girl looked up from her plate of half-eaten pancakes, a brief look of confusion on her face. "Sure, are you alright?"
"Yes, Iím fine." She sat down.
"Hey, how are my two favourite girls," Sam looked up to see Xander carrying her breakfast, a trio revoltingly greasy bacon sandwiches. Sam almost shook his head. Faith stayed slim eating that?
Tara glanced from him to Xander. "Everything seems fine, Xander."
"Oh yeah," Xander smiled uncertainly at the blonde before sitting down beside him.
"Sam," Sam started when Al walked through the wall beside him, a worried look on the Rear Admiralís face, "we need to talk now."
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (5/?)
"FAITH!" Xander shouted as his girl-friend jumped in her seat, bumping into his elbow, knocking a cup of scalding coffee into his lap.
Faithís head shot towards him. "Sorry," the brunette babbled as she stood, passing him some napkins before skirting out of the booth. "Got to go to the toilet!"
"Fai-," his voice trailed off as his girl-friend rushed off. Sighing, he began to wipe his lap clean even as he stared at his remaining companion. "Howís her aura, Tara?"
The witch looked troubled. "Normal, I thought for a second there was something wrong, then it cleared."
"Sheís not acting normal," he pointed out.
"No, sheís not," Tara agreed with a worried nod.
* * *
"Wrong door, Sam."
Sam turned to the hologram. "WÖwhat?"
The rear admiral pointed at the door ahead of him. "Menís you need the womenís."
"Oh right," Sam shook his head as he looked up at the ĎMení sign over the door-frame. This jump had him seriously freaked out. "Sorry," turning, he walked over to the womanís toilet door and walked in. Quickly nodding to the two women stood talking by the washbasins, he hurried into one of the cubicles, closing the door behind him. "I hope youíve got something to tell me this time."
"Oh, I have," Al tilted his head back, "see that bruise?" Sam winced at the livid discolouring on his best friendís throat. "The Slayer thingís real, and the package comes complete with a heck of a temper."
"But sheís talking to you?"
"Yeah, I used the Calavicci charm on her-."
"No wonder she strangled you."
Al glared at his mutter. "Funny guy. Hereís the thing, the girl and her companions have a lot of enemies Ė the Vatican, the Council Of Watchers, and most of the worldís governments appear to have an interest in Miss. Spenser and her companions."
Samís shoulders slumped. "So, you have no idea whoís doing that?"
"I didnít say that," Al blew out a smoke-ring, Sam absently wondered if it was possible for him to suffer passive smoking from a hologram. "Ziggyís doing a search, seeing if thereís any record of these organisations taking credit," Al winced at the word Ďcredití, "for killing these kids."
"Whatís she like?"
Al grinned. "Short-tempered, but has bigger balls than any guy Iíve ever met. If even half what sheís told me is true, this group of kids have done a hell of a lot of good." His best friend shook his head, a disbelieving look in his eyes. "Theyíre amazing kids."
"Okay," Sam unlocked the cubicle door. "I best get back out there. Call me when youíve got any information."
"Okay," Al nodded, his grin widening. "And Faith says to watch X and Tarís backs, they canít tie their own laces without her apparently."
"Iíll bear that in mind," Sam dryly replied.
* * *
Xander gingerly rose as Faith returned, wincing at the pain in his groin. Faith glanced at him and winced. "Uh, sorry about that," his girl-friend apologised.
"Donít worry about it," he forced a grin. "The skin grafts will take. Eventually."
"Iíll do a spell later," Tara promised.
Faith shot her best friend an almost disbelieving look. "Uh, thanks."
Yeah, Xander decided there was definitely something up. Shaking it off, he continued. "I figure we spend the day walking around Toledo, doing the tourist thing, do a quick patrol tonight, and leave in the morning. Anywhere in particular you ladies would like to go?"
"Thereís the Centre of Science and Industry," Faith commented. "Iíve always wanted to go there."
Xander laughed nervously. "Yeah, good one, Faith. Seriously?"
"Thereís a casino," Tara eagerly put in.
Xander grinned at his friend. "Youíre seriously turning into a slot machine junkie, Tara, what do you think, Faith?" His girl-friend shrugged and smiled wanly, her expression non-committal. Xander sighed inwardly. He hated confrontations, but heíd have to talk to Faith.
* * *
"Faith," Sam turned towards the youth as he closed their hotel room door behind him, having dropped Tara off at her room, scant moments ago. "Have I done something wrong, only you seem a little off?"
"Iím fine," Sam forced a smile. "Just got a killer of a headache."
"Oh," Xander looked concerned. "For a Slayer to get ill it must be serious. Maybe you should stay inside today?"
"Uh, no." Sam shook his head, inwardly cursing this Slayer thing. The girl sounded like super-woman for crying out loud. "I think itís best to walk if off. Get some fresh air."
"Okay," the teenís smile definitely had a forced quality to it. "But if you want something, just say, okay?"
"I will," Sam promised.
* * *
"So thatís everything?" Al sighed as he puffed on his Havana.
Gooshie nodded. "Itís all there. According to records, Faithís," the programmer glanced towards the girl wearing Samís body, "execution was carried out on the 26th April in England."
Al sighed. "I better go see her. Tell her the good news. This is going to be fun."
"Donít forget to duck."
Al smiled wryly at the programmer. "Iíll keep that in mind." Faith rose when he entered the Waiting Room. "Yo, Al! Tell your bud not to pour coffee on my boyís equipment. I kinda need it!"
"Iíll bear that in mind." Al chuckled. He liked the kid, he really did, talking to her had changed his interest from his usual lecherous to something more fatherly. He sensed there was a real sweet kid beneath all her bravado, the girl had a hell of a heart. Turning serious, he looked down at the notes, wondering how exactly to tell the Slayer what heíd found out. "Faith-."
* * *
"You have got to be fucking kidding me!" Faith exploded as the rear admiral finished his explanation. Seeing Al take a wary step back, she took a calming breath and shook her head. "Relax, Al, I ainít pissed at you. Itís them," betrayed again, why was she even surprised? "Theyíre supposed to be on our fucking side!"
"You never explained why they would want you dead?" Al paused. "Or who they even are?"
"Yeah," Faith sighed. "Take a load off," she nodded towards the seat opposite. "This is gonna take a while."
* * *
"Are you sure youíre ready for patrol?" Xander queried.
After a second, Sam nodded. If he didnít go, Xander and Tara would only go on their own, and distracted by her absence they might get into trouble. Besides, he was a trained martial artist, how hard could this be? "Iím fine thanks."
"Great," Xander smiled at her before pulling his jacket on, hurrying over to him and helping him into her jacket. The guy definitely doted on his girl-friend. "In that case," Sam managed not to flinch when the youth kissed the nape of his neck, "letís go."
Samís skin crawled as they stalked through Toledoís streets. Tonight the shadows seemed somehow menacing, almost as they were reaching towards him, trying to tear into his person. Sam shook himself, pushing the fear away. It was ridiculous, vampires -.
Sam glanced at Xander, startled by the youthís suddenly cold tone. "Whoís-." His blood chilled at the sound of growling to his left. His heart skipped a beat as he turned his head to see a trio of yellow-eyed, fanged monsters racing towards them from across the park.
It was impossible, and yet there they were.
* * *
"Fucking bastards," Faith growled before shaking her head. Faith casually glanced down at the mirrored table, wondering what her guy and the others were up to. Her eyes widened at what she saw. "AL! Get to Sam, now!"
FIC: MC 20 Apr í00 Leap Of Faith (6/6)
Shaking off his mouth-drying fear, Sam gathered his wits and threw a spin kick at the demon nearest to him, a short, black spark-plug of a man. The monster grabbed his leading foot out of the cold night air and threw him back.
Sam groaned as his back smashed into a tree and he slid to the floor. Forcing his throbbing head up, he glanced desperately at his companions. Finding they were engaged in fights of their own, Sam struggled to his feet.
Drawing his stake, he thrust at the demonís heart only for the vampire to laughingly snatch hold of his wrist and twist. Sam gasped as pain blazed through his wrist, forcing him to drop his weapon, the wooden implement clattering to the grass. Before he had time to react, the vampire had him by his throat, the demonís crushing grip making it impossible for him to breathe as he was lifted off the ground.
The vampire laughed as he flailed desperately at its arm. "You," his blood froze at the demonís croak, "I think Iím gonna keep you."
"Iím afraid Iím rather partial to him."
"AHH!" the demon screamed when Al appeared by his shoulder. Eyes widening, the demon dropped him to the ground and stumbled backwards. "What the hell!" Taking his chance, Sam rolled up to his knees, desperate eyes searching the darkness for the stake. Finally he found the weapon and grabbed it.
Feeling a pair of hands on his shoulders, he stabbed upwards. "Whoa cowgirl!" Xander leapt backwards, stake narrowly missing impaling him. "Last time I save your life."
"Uh, sorry." Sam climbed to his feet, wiping his leather pants clean of the dirt that had accumulated in his falls. After a brief look around, he turned back to Faithís concerned-looking boyfriend. "Theyíre all dead?" the young man nodded. "Well, thanks."
"Faith," the youth demanded, his face flickering between worried and angry. "Will you tell what is wrong?"
Sam shrugged. "I donít know," he lied.
The youthís eyes hardened and his mouth opened. "Donít," Tara interrupted, her hand resting on the youthís shoulders. "Every oneís okay. Thatís the important thing. Letís just go back."
Xander looked like he was about to argue before grudgingly nodding. "Fine. Letís go," the teen snapped before storming off.
* * *
"Iím going to the bathroom," Sam proclaimed as they reached their room.
"Yeah," Xander grunted. "Big surprise, you seem to live in
there right now."
"Xander," Tara reproved.
Closing the door behind the bickering duo, Sam hurried over to the toilet and sat down, his rubbery legs no longer capable of supporting him. After a few seconds collecting his composure, he looked up at his best friend. "You saw that right?" he queried. "You saw that vam-." Suddenly it was all too much and he was off the toilet and dry-heaving into it, the terror of his earlier experience overwhelming him.
Once heíd finished he looked up shame-facedly at Al. "Sorry about that."
His best friend smiled and shook his head. "Nothing to apologise for," he soothed. "Post traumatic stress syndrome, seen it in many a veteran over the years," Alís eyes saddened for a second, obviously thinking of victims of it heíd known. "Hardly surprising after seeing a vampire."
Sam nodded. "Thanks for the save. How did you manage it?"
"The kid figured it out." Al chuckled. "Sheís a smart one. Weíve spent most of the day sharing war stories. Her telling me about Slaying, me telling her about jumps. One time, an angel saw me," Al looked at him for a second before shaking his head. "Which you donít remember. Anyhow, she figured that if an angel could see me, then maybe a demon could too. So, when she saw you Ďgetting your ass handed to youí were how she put it." Al chuckled at his reddening cheeks. "She figured if I jumped in, the demon would see me too and be distracted for long enough."
"Well it worked." Sam commented before turning his attention to the matter in hand. "Have you worked out whoís doing the hit?"
"Yeah." Alís expression sobered. "Ziggy checked out all the records, hacked into a few databases, and we found on the 26th April, Faithís executed on order of Quentin Travers, head of The Council Of Watchers."
"Who are these Watchers?" Sam interrupted. "Iíve heard of the other groups youíve mentioned but these are complete strangers to me."
Al shrugged. "Faith doesnít know much about them except theyíre meant to train and guide the Slayers."
"So why are they after her?"
Sam was briefly rocked by the fire in his best friendís eyes. "She found out that when she turned 18, theyíd take her powers and throw her in a room with a vampire. If she survived sheís still the Slayer, if not," Al shrugged, his eyes still blazing, "another Slayer will always be Called. Rather than face that, she ran away with Xander when he was leaving his hometown."
"Thatís -," words failed Sam.
"Inhuman?" Al nodded. "Iíve heard and seen some things in my time, but that beats them all. My guess, a girl and especially a Slayer dies hard at the hands of a vampire."
"Okay," Sam took a second to pull his jumbled thoughts together. "Do we know who the shooters are and were they are in the city?"
Al tapped at his handlink before replying. "Yeah, theyíre staying at the Starlight Inn on 24 Mountfield road. According to Council records, theyíre a team of five under the command of Clifford Clement. And Sam," now Alís eyes were deadly serious, "theyíre all former special forces soldiers. Ziggy says if you go up against them, you have less than 10% chance of succeeding. Even with Xander and Tara backing you up, with them thinking youíre Faith, your chances are something around 20%." And that was without the complexity of explaining how heíd found out about them, Sam silently added, lips pursed in thought. He smiled suddenly. "Thought of something?"
Sam nodded slowly at Alís query. "Maybe." He looked at Al. "Does Ziggy know if these guys have got gun licences?"
Alís brow furrowed at his question. "Why-," the rear admiral shook his head. "Never mind." He tapped on the handlink before shaking his head again. "Nothing."
"Great." Sam licked his lips. "What if the police got a call from a scared girl saying sheíd seen a bunch of guys with guns talking about knocking over a local bank?"
"Wouldnít stop them," Al shook his head. "These guys have got power. A lawyer would have them out in no time."
"But not soon enough to catch up with us?" Sam pressed.
Al tapped on the handlink. "Ziggy say your plan has a 50% chance of succeeding."
"Good enough," Sam leapt to his feet. Rising, he hurried out of the toilet. "Iím going out," he muttered as he rushed past an open-mouthed Xander. "Wonít be long!"
Ignoring Faithís boyfriend, he rushed out of the hotel. Entering the dark streets, he looked left and right before crossing over. "For the record, Faithís not loving how youíre handling Xander."
Sam shuddered inwardly at the inadvertent images Alís words gave him. "For the record Iíve no intention of putting my hands any where near Xander. Iím more concerned about keeping them alive to save the world rather than helping your new-found friend get some."
Al chuckled. "I see your point." His friend shook his head as he stopped at a phone booth. "Not this one, further away. And have you got something to put around your hand?" Sam shot Al a confused look. "Like I said, our girlís had a colourful past."
"I have a handkerchief," he offered.
"Good enough," Al agreed as they passed a second booth. "Keep going."
And so they continued on, Al saying no to every phone they passed, either they were too close to either the hotel or a police station, too visible, or just out of order even as his best friend instructed him in the unlikely event they actually found a phone. Just at the point Sam was beginning to consider giving up, Al spoke. "How about that one?" Al pointed across the road to a phone by the entrance to a locked up mall. "No CCTV cameras, a good thirty minutes away from the hotel."
"Looks good," Sam eagerly agreed.
"You know what to say?" Al queried.
"Youíve told me enough times," Sam retorted before putting the handkerchief around his hand and entering the booth, closing the door behind him.
He sighed as his friend walked through the door, not getting the hint the closed door represented. "Remember -."
"Donít give them the time to get out here. Ninety seconds on the phone at most."
* * *
"Come on, hurry!" Sam paced outside the car, feet scuffling up dust with every impatient step. "Weíre going to be late."
"You worried about puntucality?" Xander shook his head as he walked out of the hotel entrance and to the car. "You are ill."
"Funny," Sam forced a smile. He knew from Al the police had raided the hotel and arrested the Englishmen. But he also knew their lawyer had arrived an hour ago. "Letís get going."
Xander shook his head. "Canít, Taraís freshening up remember?" Sam sighed. The next ten minutes seemed to take an interminable eternity to pass, but finally they were in the car and heading out of town.
Sam looked down at his hands, noting the beads of sweat as the car rushed down the road, towards the ambush site. He started at the sound of Al in his left ear. "Theyíre still in jail, their lawyerís only just managed to spring -."
Sam smiled as he felt the familiar tug of a beginning leap. "I know," he whispered.
* * *
Sam blinked as he appeared back in the mine town bar. "You did good, kid."
He glanced to his left at Whistlerís voice. He saw the maybe-man and Bartender Al stood towards the left of the bar counter, sipping at a pair of beers. Ducking through the crowd, he made his way over to the two men. "It worked?" he queried, eager for confirmation.
"Yes," Bartender Al nodded. "The rest is down to them now."
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