FIC: MC 18 Apr ’00 Past Sins (1/?)
He looked over his shoulder as he ran across the deserted parking lot, his breath visible in the cold night air. His mind reeled as he remembered the words of his pursuer ‘he must pay for the crimes of his family’. What crimes? His family had been police officers since the twenties. And how did -.
He stopped dead when the person he was fleeing from appeared in front of him. The woman was nothing much to look at, standing just over five feet tall with dreadlocked hair and grey eyes hidden behind thick lensed glasses. Gathering his courage, he lunged at the bespectacled woman, his hefty bulk looming over her. Then the woman spoke, her reedy voice nonetheless carrying considerable power. "Kakk!"
He screamed as he was engulfed by a pillar of fire. He tried to leap out of the leaping flames, but found himself stuck there, unable to move as the flesh was burnt from his melting bones. The last thing he saw as he passed shrieking from the world was the stranger’s eyes calmly inspecting him, judging him. He opened his mouth to ask judging him for what but then darkness descended.
* * *
"Momma," Faith toddled into the kitchen of her home, looking up at her mom, fag in mouth as she cooked some of that stuff that made her giggle. "Can I have a puppy?" Something to love, to hold onto when mommy was with her friends. Her mother ignored her, her attention fixed on the saucepan before her. Faith tugged on her leg. "Momma-."
"Get off me!" The back of her mother’s hand hit her cheek with such force that Faith was knocked off her feet and thrown into the cupboard opposite, her head crashing into the chipped wooden surface. "A dog?" Faith screamed when her momma slapped her again, this time catching her eye. "A fucking dog? Why the fuck would I want another useless bitch around the place? I’ve," her head snapped back with another punch from her mother, this one drawing blood, "already got you, spending every dime I earn on food and clothes for your ungrateful ass." Suddenly her mom grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to her feet, her fingers pressing into the soft baby flesh. Her mom shook her like a rag-doll, another thing she’d never had. "You think I got money to burn girlie?" her mother shrieked.
"Sorry Momma," Faith muttered as she stumbled away, eye swelling and blood leaking from her mouth. She hoped momma took her medicine real soon, she was always way nicer to Faith when she’d taken it. Still, a worthless little bitch like her was real lucky to have a mommy like hers at all.
* * *
"No! No! No!"
"It’s okay, oww-," Faith’s eyes shot open at the sound of a vaguely familiar voice beside her. She looked around. She was in a double-bed in a plush double-bed, sweat soaking her naked body. It was a dream.
Her relieved intake of breath turned to a horrified gasp when she registered her boyfriend led beside him, a graze under his left eye where she must have just hit him in her panicked thrashing. "Oh fuck X-," Faith started to cry, her body shaking with sobs, the horror of the nightmare mixing with the guilt of hitting one of her world’s two most important people. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry."
"Hey, hey," she felt Xander’s arm around her shoulders, stroking her back. "It’s okay, it’s okay. You punch like a girl." There was a pause. "A female gorilla who’s been mainlining steroids for ten years, but still, a girl."
"Goof." Faith giggled before sobering. "I’m sorry."
"It’s okay," Xander rolled onto his back, pulling her head onto his chest, and began stroke her hair. "Coming back to Boston," Faith shuddered at the mention of her hometown, "was bound to dredge up some bad memories. Maybe you should stay here while Tara and I go into Boston," her boy-friend suggested. "We can handle this on our own."
"No fucking way," Faith shook her head before nudging her boyfriend in the ribs. "I’m not letting some Boston hottie steal my man from me."
"I’m reasonably happy with the Boston hussy I’ve got right now," Xander retorted.
"Asshole!" Faith leaned over her boyfriend and kissed him on the graze she’d given him. "There ya go, stud. All better."
"You didn’t just hit me there," Xander grinned and looked under their sheets.
"Oh yeah?" Faith raised an eyebrow, a smirk playing on her lips. "You’re just a dirty little bastard ain’t ya?"
"Didn’t used to be," Xander explained. "Met this foul-mouthed brunette, led me astray."
"Oh yeah?" In an instant she was straddling her supine boyfriend’s torso, pinning him to the bed. "And what body-part did she lead you by?"
Xander’s grin widened. "I think we both know the answer to that."
Faith threw her head back and laughed, the gloomy grip of her nightmare finally loosening. "I think we do."
* * *
Quirk groaned at the approach of a pair of familiar and definitely unwelcome figures. Squaring his shoulders, he turned to face the two. "Of course," he muttered. "Because my life wasn’t complicated enough, what with internal combustions."
"Quirk, what’s going down here?" one of the men asked, a thick-set man who despite his weight moved with a certain grace and had the flattened nose of an ex boxer.
"Internal combustion, the sixth in two months," he pointed at the corpse. "According to the coroner."
"Well that’s a coherent argument for not smoking." Despite his flip comment, Quirk noted there was no amusement in the Boston PI’s eyes. He noticed that on account of being a detective. That and knowing the gumshoe in question for close to twenty years.
"Coherent? Boss man be using big words to confuse da black man," commented the black man before turning to him. "How that happen?" The PI’s African-American companion, perhaps the most dangerous person he’d ever met, asked.
"If I knew that," Quirk shot the thickly-muscled black an irritated glance, he wasn’t a man to be intimidated, not even by him, "I’d be a science geek now wouldn’t I?"
"Kinda got the look for it," the black shot back.
Quirk opened his mouth, then shook his head before turning to the African-American’s companion. Some people it just wasn’t worth arguing with. "So what’s your interest? What’s your beef with," he checked his notes, "Joel Putman? He, a client, an enemy?" The latter was unlikely, most of this guy’s enemies were either dead or inside.
"A friend," the PI’s eyes hadn’t shifted from the charred body that less than 24 hours ago had been a living, breathing human. "He worked out with us at Henry’s."
"Right," Quirk filed that piece of information away. Any one who could stay with these two stallions would most likely be of the tough persuasion. And that meant who’d ever managed to kill him was even tougher. A comforting thought for a detective pushing fifty.
The PI’s eyes narrowed and his face paled, strange, Quirk have never seen his friend act squeamish. "See those kids across the barrier?"
Quirk cast a disinterested eye across the parking-lot. His interest increased considerably at the sight of the stunning brunette and pretty honey-blonde with a tough looking boy. If he was twenty years younger. And thirty pounds lighter.
Consigning his dreams to the overflowing dustbin filled with his teenage fantasies, he turned to the gumshoe. "Nice," he commented. "But let’s try and keep our minds on the job, uh? How did you find out about this?"
* * *
"It was definitely magic," Tara reported, her face pale. "And the emotions around here."
"Shit," Xander noticed the man staring at them from the other side of the parking lot, the man with the cop. "We’ve been made. Time to leave."
* * *
He reached a shaking hand into his inner pocket. Pulling out his wallet, he opened it and retrieved a crumpled photo he hadn’t looked since her death in ’96 and inspected it. Then he looked at the leather-clad girl again through teary eyes. She looked just like her mom had at around the same age, it had to be. "Faith?"
FIC: MC 18 Apr ’00 Past Sins (2/?)
Quirk exchanged confused glances with the gumshoe’s African-American companion, seeing a flicker of concern in the former con’s usually expressionless eyes. Even as he turned back to the PI. The gumshoe was moving with a speed that belied both his age and size, discarding both the evidence scene and any cops unfortunate enough to get in the bull in the china shop’s way. "Shit," Quirk muttered as he started after his colleague and grudgingly admitted friend. Seeing one of the patrolmen drawing his gun, he let out a bellow. "If you wanna job tomorrow, holster that gun mister!"
He was relieved when the beat cop dropped his hands to his side, a look of frustration on his face. "Thanks man," came the bass comment from his running companion.
It was to his chagrin that he noticed the other man wasn’t even breathing heavy. "Figured," he wheezed, "it would save you the effort of killing him tomorrow."
His companion shot him an amused glance. "Need to get out of the office more often, officer?"
"I see why he keeps you around, sheer comedy value."
* * *
Faith shivered as her group moved through the downtown city’s streets, her chill not completely caused by either the macabre crime she’d just left, or the spring winds whipping at her. "You okay?"
She looked up at her sister and grinned at the concern she saw in her soft eyes. "Five by five," she looked behind her
Xander shivered. "I get know how you could walk around half-naked in the middle of Sunnydale winter. That was practically summer for you," her boyfriend grinned. "And that half-naked thing? So not a criticism…"
"Didn’t think it was," Faith laughed.
A jolt shot through her at the voice. Before she knew it she’d turned to see a big man in his early fifties but still fit rushing towards them. She flashed back to her childhood and that man. Suddenly tears were rolling down her face, her legs shaky beneath her, if he was alive, then her mom might be too… "No," her legs buckled, leaving Tara to catch her.
* * *
Xander glanced from his wild-eyed girlfriend to the approaching man. To judge from her terrified reaction she had to know him from her past. And that meant… Snarling, Xander stepped towards the intruder, he was going to enjoy this.
* * *
He saw the boy step in his way. Heart pounding, so many years, he had to get to her, he made to step around the boy. Seeing the kid throw a right, he shifted inside it, and barrelled into the boy, attempting to use his greater weight to bulldoze over the teen.
Instead, he was flung into the air when the boy grabbed his shoulder, twisted and threw him into the wall. Bouncing off it, he threw a right cross that caught the kid square in the forehead. The teen just shook his head while attempting a knee to the groin that he blocked on his thigh. The kid growled before drilling him hard in the gut.
It was fortunate that he hadn’t eaten yet otherwise he’d have been decorating the pavement. Lungs heaving, he threw a right cross, the kid moved inside his attack, whoever had taught him was good, and butted him square in the face. Just what he needed, he mused as he fell backwards, blood pumping down his face, another broken nose.
He was relieved when his best friend grabbed the kid from behind in a stranglehold. Maybe now, they’d be able to calm this situation down. Instead, his eyes widened at what happened next.
* * *
Quirk entered the thoroughfare the kids and his friends were in. His eyes widened at what he saw, some teen kicking the ass of the two toughest men he knew. "What the fuck?" Telling himself a SWAT team wasn’t needed, he rushed in to help. And stopped dead at what happened next.
* * *
Xander’s eyes widened when a pair of crushingly strong arms grabbed him from behind. Reacting instinctively, he ran up the wall beside the first man, using the second man’s hold as leverage. When he was parallel with the ground, he kicked off, sending his off-balance assailant crashing to the ground. Rolling up to his knees, he saw a third man charging him. Reaching out he grabbed an ankle and pulled, sending the man down.
As he reached his feet, the first man reached him, his eyes wary but far from scared. "Look son-."
Xander interrupted the man with a left hook that his opponent blocked on a beefy forearm before catching him with a straight right to the chest. Shaking the bruising blow off, Xander leapt into the air, catching his stunned opponent with a roundhouse kick to the side of the face, knocking him to the ground. Still snarling, Xander started after the man.
Feeling a strong hand on his shoulder, spinning him around, he went with the momentum, stepped into his attacker, a big, bald African-American, and drove his knee into the man’s groin.
"X!" Suddenly his girl-friend’s arms were around his waist, lifting him off the ground. "It’s okay, it’s okay," Faith whispered in his ear. "It’s my Uncle Spense."
* * *
Spenser stared in disbelief as he struggled to his feet, helped there by a pained looking Hawk. "How about," even at this moment he couldn’t but whimsically notice how much higher his friend’s voice was than normal, "explaining what’s going on here?"
For a moment he couldn’t speak, memories of the trembling girl stood in front of him as a baby. How her eyes would light up when he came to visit, how her smile would illuminate his heart. What had happened to that sweet innocent? Oh yeah, his heart tightened, his much beloved sister. "Faith," his voice broke. He tried again. "I tried to find you." The lithe teen covered the distance between them in a second, throwing hers arms around his neck.
"Always been one with the ladies," Hawk commented. "I think it’ll be the luck of the Irish." There was a pause. "Who teach you to fight boy, Bruce Lee?"
"What’s going on here?" the boy’s voice was hoarse, confused.
"I’m trying to think of a reason not to arrest you," Quirk commented as he rose. Spenser shot the policeman a look. The cop shook his head. "Fine, call it a domestic."
Spenser pulled himself away from the teen, noting uncomfortably how much she’d grown since he’d since he’d seen her last. "Maybe we should go somewhere, catch up?" he suggested with none of his usual confidence.
His heart leapt at the girl’s tentative nod. "I guess," the doe-eyed beauty glanced towards the young man. "Xan?"
The teen stared at him, his eyes promising dire consequences if he hurt Faith. Spenser wouldn’t have thought it possible for a kid his age, hell anybody, to intimidate him, but this boy managed it. "Your call Faith." The blonde stepped forward and squeezed the youth’s thick arm with an easy familiarity. Spenser’s eyes hardened suspiciously. If this kid was using his niece, he’d pay.
"I know a café near-by where we can get some coffee," he suggested. "Hawk?"
"I ain’t missing this for shit," his African-American friend commented. "Family reunions make me all teary-eyed."
Spenser rolled his eyes. He could have guessed his best friend’s response. "Quirk?"
"Much as I’d like to, duty calls. Some of us have jobs."
"The stupid amongst us," Hawk retorted.
"Let’s go," Spenser sighed. Somehow he guessed this wasn’t going to be easy.
* * *
Susan looked up as her front door opened, the smile on her face dying when she saw her lover. His face was battered, but that was far from unusual, what really concerned her was his lost expression, a look she’d never seen on her indomitable man. "Spenser," she shooed Pearl off the sofa before standing, taking his hand and leading him to the sofa. "What’s wrong?" A terrible thought hit her. That expression could only mean something had happened to one of the most important people in her man’s life. She was alright, so that could only mean… "Has something happened to Hawk?" that was ridiculous of course, nothing could ever happen to the invincible black. "Or Paul?"
The Boston gumshoe’s eyes flickered at the mention of his adopted son. "No," he shook his head but didn’t elaborate.
The clinical psychologist part of her told her to wait for him to share. The impatient lover spoke. "Then what?"
Her lover started at her softly-spoken question. "I never told you about my sister did I?"
"I never knew you had a sister," Susan admitted once the shock had washed over her.
"Yeah, she was the black sheep of our family." Her lover made a noise that at any other time might have been an amused snort. "Hard to imagine in a family also containing me." She squeezed her boyfriend’s arm, he responded with a wan smile. "She was fourteen years younger than me, beautiful, and she knew how to use it. July ’81, she got pregnant. I was away at the time, working undercover. My father, he was old school, threw her out. When I found out, I tracked her down. By the time I found her, she’d had the kid. Faith," there was a world of pain in her boyfriend’s smile. "She was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I paid her and her mom visits for a few years, paid a few bills. I had suspicions how my sister paid the rent." Susan’s stomach clenched. "But no proof. But Faith," the big man wiped at an eye. "Faith would always smile when I came round, laugh at my jokes, want me to hold her. Then one day," the man’s face darkened. "One day I went around and Faith had a bruise on her face. That was all I needed. I might not be able to protect my sister, but I could save my niece. I started custody proceedings."
"Maybe you should have mediated."
A low growl erupted in her boyfriend’s mouth and he shook his head. "I wasn’t interested in mediating, just protecting Faith. But two weeks after I started proceedings, I was shot, I was in a coma for five days, and the hospital for two weeks. When I got out, my sister and Faith were gone. I tried to track her down but nothing."
"And you found her today?" she guessed.
"Oh yeah," Spenser shook his head. "Saw her at a crime scene. Chased after her, but her boyfriend gave me," the Boston gumshoe pointed at his battered face before continuing, "this while at the same time beating up Hawk and Quirk."
"What!" Susan gaped.
"Oh it gets better," Spenser chuckled. "I’m lucky I’m still here. If Faith hadn’t lifted him off us, we’d be dead. Xander’s definitely protective of her. Although," Spenser’s eyes shadowed. "Given the life she’s had, it’s little wonder."
"And now," Susan’s voice caught. "Will I get to meet her?"
Spenser smiled, the first sincere one he’d done since he’d entered her house. "I hope so. But there’s other things I have to tell you."
FIC: MC 18 Apr ’00 Past Sins (3/?)
Xander shook his head as Faith’s uncle left the busy diner they’d spent the last two hours talking in. What a mess. "Honey," Xander looked towards the dreary door as the man left, the door bell ringing signifying his exit. "You want to get out of here?"
He turned at Tara’s troubled voice. His heart dropped as he looked towards the love of his life, noting the dullness in his girl-friend’s normally luminous eyes and the fat tears rolling down her high cheeks. "Oh hell," he looked towards a worried-looking Tara, "will you-."
"Pay the bill?" the witch nodded. "Sure."
"Thanks," placing an arm around his girl-friend’s slender shoulders, he eased her to her feet and out of the booth with its plastic covered seats. "Come on honey, I’ve got you."
"What about Tara?" Faith muttered dazedly.
"She’ll join us later," Xander replied.
* * *
"How are you feeling Faith?"
Faith started slightly at her boyfriend’s soft voice, breaking the strained silence that had existed since they’d left the diner. Looking around, she realised they’d arrived back at their hotel room and she was set on her and X’s double-bed, Tara’s arm protectively around her shoulders, and Xander stood in front of her. "H..he loves me."
Xander looked puzzled as he crouched before her, taking her smaller hands in his larger ones. "What sweetheart?"
Faith blinked back tears before replying, her voice shaking and carrying none of her normal assurance. "Uncle Spense was the nearest thing to a pop I ever had. When I was a kid, he’d come round and see me at least once a month, I always felt safe with him and he was great. One week he turned up the day after mom had beaten the shit out of me for asking for a puppy." Xan hissed, his eyes hardening. "He went ape-shit, told me to go to my room and started shouting at my mom, talking about taking me through some custard seedings."
"Custody proceedings," Tara softly supplied.
"Yeah, I didn’t understand," Faith nodded. "A week later, my mom moved me to another, even shittier place, I never saw Uncle Spense again. She told me he was bored with my whining, that I was a worthless bitch, but she was lying, he cared." Faith began to sob, her body shaking. "He cared."
"Xander," she heard Tara’s soft voice. "Maybe you should leave us for a while."
"Okay," she felt Xander gently brush her hair off her head. "I’ll be back in an hour."
* * *
"You think I look alright?"
Xander glanced at his girl-friend. As usual, she took his breath away. Faith was dressed in a slinky, knee length black dress, its v-shaped neckline cut daringly low, her face was devoid of its usual make-up, giving it a rare soft innocence and her hair tied back in a pony-tail. "You look great." He placed his hands on his girl’s slender shoulders, and smiled comfortingly. "It’ll be fine," he soothed. Pulling away, he picked up his wallet and shoved it into his jacket pocket. "Are you ready?" Faith didn’t speak, her eyes fixed on the wall behind him. "Faith," Xander tried again. "We don’t have to if you don’t want."
"No," Faith took a rattling breath and shook her head. "I wanna," Faith looked up at him, her usually courageous eyes filled with fear. "What if he’s disgusted about all the stuff I’ve done?"
"Then," Xander took Faith’s hand, picked up her purse and put it in her hand, "he can go to hell. Now, let’s get Tara."
* * *
The spacious restaurant was discreetly lit by ceiling fixed lights spaced over each of the partioned booths while leaving the space between the seating area and the bar itself in restrained darkness. Sixties soul music played through the wall-mounted speakers although not so loud as to drown out the various conversations taking place throughout the establishment. The sawdust sprinkled on the floor gave the place a twenties speakeasy feel and the air was filled with the delicious smells of various dishes wafting out from the bar kitchen.
Susan resisted the temptation to shake her head. She understood her significant other’s choice of restaurant, nice but understated, but the sawdust on the floor was a step too far in her opinion. Spenser gulped. "They’re here," her boyfriend rose, Susan quickly followed suit, her eyes following Spenser’s.
"Wow," she muttered under her breath. The trio being shown over by the maitre de were impressive. The blonde of the trio had a sort of restrained beauty and carried herself with a sort of inner peace that the mental health specialist in Susan couldn’t help but admire. The woman in Susan couldn’t help but inwardly drool at the young man of the trio, a friendly-looking boy with the sort of well-muscled yet not bulky physique of a gymnast or amateur wrestler.
And the third member of the trio, who to judge from her general fidgeting had to be her boyfriend’s niece, was a quite breath-taking brunette with lustrous black hair, a curvy body, and gorgeous face. Who looked terrified.
As the trio reached the table, Susan stepped forward and took the nervous girl’s hand. "Hello Faith, I’m Susan."
Faith looked up at her. "Hey," the girl glanced at her boy-friend. "We sitting down?"
"Sure," the powerfully-built youth nodded then looked at her boyfriend and winced. "Uh, sorry about the nose."
Spenser chuckled low in his throat. "Forget about it, kid. You did it trying to protect my niece." Spenser leaned across the table and hugged the afore-mentioned young woman. "That’s all that matters." He offered the teen his hand. After a second, the boy took it and shook it. "Now, I fancy a rare steak, you?"
* * *
Faith sat down, her heart thumping. She smiled weakly in response to Xander giving her hand a reassuring squeeze under the table. Her Uncle Spense looked wicked uptight and his girl-toy had a classiness that intimidated the hell out of her. She realised X was talking, she turned to her boyfriend. "Sorry hon?"
"What do you want to eat?"
Faith shrugged, unable to make any decisions right now. "I guess I’ll have what you are."
"So that’s two vegetarian casseroles then?" Xander asked
with raised eyebrow.
She grinned unwillingly at her boyfriend’s comment, knowing full well that Harris wouldn’t be having that. "You’re a fuck-," her voice trailed off as she remembered her uncle was sitting opposite and looked down, embarrassed. Once more an uneasy silence descended.
* * *
Susan took a sip of her wine as she observed the other diners in her group. His boy-friend’s niece was understandably tense, as were the sultry teen’s friends. Her boyfriend on the other hand was nervously euphoric, uncharacteristically babbling. "Spenser," she touched her indomitable man’s bulky shoulder. "Told me about the Slayer myth you constructed to protect yourself -."
"’Cuse me?" In a moment the nervousness had left the Bostonian’s expressive eyes, replaced by a predatory gleam. "You saying I’m nuts?" Faith’s boyfriend groaned.
"No," Susan was careful to keep her tone steady. "I’m saying it’s understandable for you to create illusions to protect you-."
"Huh, huh." Faith dropped her fork with a clatter. "Guess there’s only one way to prove it one way or another."
"No honey," Faith’s smile had all the appeal of a shark’s. "I see only one way of settling this. We best go scare up a vampire."
"But I was-."
"Come on," Faith grabbed Xander’s arm and dragged him to his feet. The proclaimed Slayer stared challengingly at her. "You too."
Five minutes later they were walking down an deserted and distinctly unfriendly street, the sound of police sirens in the distance sounding an uncomfortable world away. "Faith, honey," her boyfriend said to his niece. "This doesn’t need to happen-."
"Too late," Faith said with a confidence that had been previously lacking. "Seen one."
"Faith," Xander said. "Be careful."
"Hey, you got my back right?" Faith kissed the teen on his cheek, shot her a disdainful look and hurried across the street.
Soon the beautiful Bostonian was approaching a short, swarthy man. The man said something indistinct to the teen, the girl laughed and hit the man in the jaw, lifting him off the ground and throwing him into a car windscreen, cracking it. Susan gasped at the girl’s power and a change in the man’s face, becoming something monstrous.
His face taut, her boyfriend started forward only to be blocked by Xander. "Don’t, you’ll only get in the way."
"I.. I think he’s right," Susan gulped.
As she watched, the brunette leapt into the cold night air, executing a flawless roundhouse kick to the vampire’s face that knocked the demon onto the hard pavement. The beautiful teen landed on one knee beside the vampire, drew something out of her pocket, and slammed it into the vampire’s chest. The demon exploded into ash. In an instant, the teen was up and strutting back to them. "Well, what do ya know?" Faith smirked. "Vampires exist." The Slayer’s eyes narrowed. "What’s up Uncle Spense?"
"Nothing honey," her boyfriend grabbed his niece in a bear-hug. Susan’s heart caught when she saw the tears rolling down her boyfriend’s face. "Always remember I love you."
FIC: MC 18 Apr ’00 Past Sins (4/?)
Spenser strode into the gym he’d used for years, Hawk, his niece, and his niece’s friends with him, his heart lighter than it had been since his sister’s daughter had disappeared. Of course his happiness was tainted by her Calling, but he had her back, that was the important thing. Stopping, he looked around.
The Harbour Health Club had begun as a boxer’s gym on the waterfront, before the waterfront had gone upscale. It was owned by Henry Cimoli, a former lightweight. Myself and Hawk had once worked out there, until we too had gone upscale. He seemed to remember Hawk saying he was ‘too legit to sweat’. There had been a ring with spit buckets, skipping ropes, and heavy and speed bags.
Now the chic waterfront contained an even chicer gym, sorry health centre. Henry strolled around in white satin sweats with ‘Henry’ embroidered in gold on the top pocket, just in case anyone of the rich but none too bright clientele forgot his name. All the ergonomically engineered equipment gleamed with chrome.
But as a nod to all their youths, Henry kept a small side-room complete with a heavy bag, speed bag, and skipping rope. But no spit bucket.
As they entered, Henry was stood mixing a protein shake behind the front counter. "Kids, meet Henry," Hawk boomed. "He might be short but he’s a whole lot of man poured into a little space."
Henry glared at Hawk, his wizened face less than friendly. "Hawk, fuck off." Henry looked towards him. "If you were going to bring guests why did you have to ruin it by bringing him too?"
"You know Hawk," Spenser said affably. "Tags along everywhere with me."
"Yeah," Henry nodded. "Kinda like a bad smell."
"Exactly," Spenser agreed.
"Sometimes I wonder if I’m here at all," Hawk commented.
"Sometimes I wish you weren’t," Spenser shot back.
Hawk raised an eyebrow. "Life without my smile? You’d be crushed."
"If I was him, I’d take that chance," Henry snapped before turning back to him. "And the kids, who are they? Don’t tell me you’re recruiting members for me now?"
"No," Spenser felt pride stir as he placed an arm around Faith’s shoulder, his niece today dressed in all-too revealing for his taste black-crop top and denim shorts. "This is my niece, Faith. Xander’s her boy-friend and Tara her friend."
"Hello Miss," Henry went all deferential. Which was an unusual look for him. The old fighter offered a gnarled hand to Faith. After a second the Slayer took it. "How does a girl as pretty as you end up with such an ugly uncle?"
His niece grinned at the compliment. "Just real lucky I guess." Faith glanced hungrily over the door at the gym and then back at Henry. "Is it okay?"
"You know how to use a gym?" Henry queried. "I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself. If nothing else, Spenser would only bitch at me."
"I’ve used a few," Faith replied with a smirk.
Henry looked to him, he nodded. The former boxer smiled. "Be my guest."
"Thanks," Faith winked at the man before swaggering inside the gym.
"Ya realise her walking into there dressed like that could cause accidents?" Spenser joined Xander in glaring at the big African-American. Hawk just smiled. "I thought I had to point that out."
"Holy mother of god," Henry’s mouth dropped open. "How in the hell is she doing that?"
Spenser glanced over his shoulder. His own mouth dropped open at the sight of every man and woman in the gym staring at his niece doing one-handed chin-ups. With a 60lb dumbbell in the other hand. He heard Hawk gulp. "Now that’s just showing off," his best friend commented. "I thought you were joking but it’s true."
"What’s true?" Henry queried.
"He’ll explain later," Spenser glanced at Xander, this demon thing was way over his head. "I suppose you heard about Joel Putman?" he asked, turning back to Henry.
"Yeah," Henry scowled as he tore his gaze from Faith and back to him. "I heard. A hell of a thing."
"No arguments there," Spenser agreed. "You hear anything?"
"Like what?" Henry leaned on the counter between them, his eyes intent.
"Like anyone with enough of a grudge to do this?" Xander put in.
Henry glanced from him to Xander and back again. "You can talk in front of him," Spenser answered Henry’s silent query.
Henry raised an eyebrow. "You taking these kids into your business, now Spenser?" the boxer asked. "Never knew that you wanted it to be a family business." Henry looked towards Xander. "His work is dangerous, kid."
"Generally I hide behind Faith," Xander put in with a grin.
Spenser snorted. Given what he’d seen the previous day he somehow doubted it. "You know anything Henry?"
Henry shrugged. "He was bitching about being in to Zabro for some money."
Spenser and Hawk exchanged looks at the mention of a notorious local bookie. "How much?" Hawk put in.
"About $ 600," the trainer replied. "Said he hadn’t paid his alimony this month too."
"So it’s either a bookie going ape over $ 600 or an irritated ex-spouse," Spenser shook his head. "Doesn’t tie in. Not with the other deaths."
Henry’s eyes flickered. "There’s been other deaths. Like this?"
"Yeah," Hawk drawled. "None of them were old punch-drunks. You’re in the clear."
Henry stared at the big black man. "Remind me why I let you in here?"
"I think it’s charm," Hawk replied, apparently unaffected by the boxing trainer’s glare. "That’s my theory leastways. ‘Sides you ban me and I’ll get Brother Jesse Jackson to campaign outside here on grounds of racial discrimination. And that’s one asshole we don’t anywhere near us."
"Amen to that," Henry agreed reverently.
"Are they always like this?" Xander muttered.
"Not always. Sometimes they’re worse." Spenser opened the gym door. "Faith! We’re off, come on!"
The Slayer pouted at him in-between benching what looked like to be close to 500lbs. "Damn Uncle Spense," she groused as she racked the weight. "I was having fun."
"How does she do that?" Henry muttered again.
* * *
"What’s the word on Putman?"
Quirk looked up at Spenser. He groaned at the sight of the PI’s companions. He just hoped he didn’t have to call for SWAT. "I hope you’ve kissed and made up," he said dryly.
Spenser and the boy he seemed to remember was called Xander exchanged glances before shaking their heads. "No thanks," the boy pulled the beautiful brunette towards him, "I’ll stick with Faith."
"I’d rather kiss Pearl," Spenser countered.
"Does Susan know about you and her dog?" Quirk asked innocently before turning serious. "There is no word on Putman, nothing."
The gumshoe winced. "Nothing?"
"Nothing at all, a few debts, a pissed off wife, but nothing to cause him enemies who would want him dead."
"Well what about something linking him to the other cases?" Hawk stopped and grinned. "Damn, I sounded like a detective just then."
"Yeah, frightening," Quirk agreed. "Maybe you should hot-wire a car to get your ‘street’ back."
Hawk flashed him a smile that sent chills down his spine. "Which car is yours by the way?"
"Well, did they link?" Spenser interjected.
Quirk shook his head at Spenser’s question. "Nothing. Two women, four men, one black, five white, two young, three middle-aged, one old, two rich, three working-class, and one poor. One unmarried, two married, one widowed, two divorced. Nothing at all. Here," he quickly wrote the names down on his pad, the pencil scraping against the paper. Tearing the sheet off, he passed it to the PI. "Check them out yourself."
The PI. glanced at the sheet of paper and nodded. "Thanks, I will."
* * *
Spenser stared at the names written on the whiteboard by his office door. "Quirk’s right," Spenser concluded with a sigh. He rubbed at his eyes, they were red with lack of sleep. "There is no link. They don’t even bank at the same place."
"There is a link," Tara said. "I didn’t see it until we got this." The witch raised Jones’ wedding certificate, "but she was a Mather by birth. I know the link."
FIC: MC 18 Apr ’00 Past Sins (5/?)
Spenser turned to the shy blonde, his eyebrow raised. "Really?" he queried. "Care to share with the rest of the audience?"
The Wicca reddened at his show of scepticism, his niece glared at him. "Back off, Uncle Spense," she growled. "Tara knows her shit." The Slayer glanced at her friend. "Go on, sis," she encouraged.
The witch smiled at his niece before continuing. "It’s do with the Salem Witch Trials-."
"Say what!" Hawk raised his hands at Faith’s growl. "Sorry, go on."
"Thanks," Tara smiled nervously before continuing. "Ann Putman Jr. was the chief accuser at the Salem Witch Trials. Samuel Parris was the minister who started the Witch Trials in 1691 with his sermons against witchcraft. John Hathorne was the chief prosecutor at the trials," Spenser opened his mouth to voice his doubts, seeing his niece’s warning look, he closed it again. "Samuel Sewall was a judge at the trials. William Stoughton was Chief Justice of Massachusetts."
"And Rita Jones?" asked Xander.
"Rita Mather," Tara corrected. "Cotton Mather was the minister of Boston’s Old North church. Thirty-one people died, but only seven true witches were amongst their number."
Xander and Faith exchanged glances. "Uh, sis, the names might be coincidental," Faith said slowly. "I mean, this is a big city-."
"No, no," Tara shook her head. "When you got the list, I noticed the connection. When you were looking for a link, I was checking their genealogy."
"What’s their genitals gotta do with anything?" Faith looked puzzled.
"No," the witch shook her head. "Their family trees," Tara explained. "Each one of them links back to the Salem Witch Trials. Each one is the last of their line. And although they hung the witches at the Salem trials, in England they used to burn them at the stake."
"Someone’s wiping them out," Spenser said heavily.
"Damn," muttered Hawk before smiling at Spenser. "Why do I still get surprised at the shit you drag me into?"
Spenser chose to ignore his best friend. "Who’s doing this?" queried
"I..I don’t know," the witch admitted. "But if you gave me a local phone book, I could find out who the next target is."
"Good enough," Spenser exchanged glances with Hawk before crouching down and pulling the book out from under the desk leg. Standing, he saw the others looking at him. "Desk wobbles," he explained equably.
"Damn," he heard Faith mutter and saw her shake her head. "You’re cheap."
"Preaching to the choir, girl," Hawk agreed from his position leant against the wall.
Spenser loftily decided to ignore the commentary, he didn’t win many arguments with Hawk. And he had the feeling he’d win even less with the fierce warrior woman his sweet little niece had grown into. Instead, he passed the book to the quiet, reserved Wicca while wondering all the while why his niece couldn’t be more respectful like her. "Thank you," whispered the honey-blonde before placing the book on the desk. The witch muttered a few words in an ancient-sounding language. Spenser exchanged shocked looks with Hawk when the phone book opened on its own, flicking quickly through its pages only to stop and then a pen levitated off the desk and underlined a name. The witch looked up. "The next target is a Jayne Griggs."
Spenser smiled at the witch. "Well done, let’s go."
* * *
Hawk resisted temptation to shake his head as he watched the others hurry out. First there was Spenser, attracting and chasing after every lost cause in the state. Then his niece arrives, one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen and certainly the only one who’d be able to put him down. And then a witch and a kid apparently possessed by a warrior-god. Finally there was some serial killer wiping out the descendants of the instigators of the Salem Witch Trials.
His life had gotten complicated since Spenser had re-awakened his conscience. "Yo Hawk!" He looked up to see his best friend’s niece in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest and an impatient look on her face. "You coming with?"
After a second he nodded at the Slayer. "Sure, hon. I got your back."
Because after all, that’s what you did for family.
* * *
"Who is this Jayne Griggs anyhow?" Spenser asked as they pulled up outside of the address Tara had found. "You know, just for reference."
"She’s the last descendant of Doctor William Griggs. Griggs was the doctor who couldn’t diagnose some girls’ illnesses so he put it down to ‘Witchcraft’, contributing to the hysteria and causing the arrests of the first three witches, the slave Tituba, and Sarah Osburne, and Sarah Good."
Spenser glanced over his shoulder at the Witch sat in the back, wedged between his niece and her boyfriend. "You seem awfully well-informed about this," he commented.
"This is like the holocaust was to Jews. It’s important to wiccas, we all know about it."
Spenser nodded. Yeah, that made sense. He returned to watching the storefront, night falling. "I got a question," Hawk paused. When none of them spoke, his friend continued. "Don’t you all stampede me at once. How do we know our murderer’s going to hit here any time soon?"
"My good Watson," Spenser drawled. "Were you not paying attention to the facts? The time between each murder is shortening, it was three days between the last two, the murderer’s increasing their pace. Tsk," he shook his head. "They don’t make sidekicks like they used to."
"Word," agreed Faith.
"Two of them," Hawk groaned. "I thought my life sucked before."
"I hear you," Xander concurred.
"She’s moving," Tara’s tight voice broke into their light-hearted conversation.
Spenser glanced across the lamp-lit road to see a leggy blonde leaving the second-hand bookstore. "Uh, uh," he reached to start up the engine.
"STOP!" Tara’s scream made him jump, his heart missing enough beats to have him proclaimed dead. "That’s the witch!" the Wicca pointed towards a diminutive book-worm type hurrying towards the blonde.
* * *
"You must pay for your blood’s crimes."
Jayne looked up from her perusal of the Boston Globe’s wanted ads, she loved her job but had to get a better paid one, to see herself being approached by a small woman with a slightly crazed look in her eyes. "Sorry?"
Suddenly she was hit side-on by a brunette thunderbolt, knocking her to the ground even as something, her eyes told her it was a fireball but that was impossible, flew through the air, just passing where she’d been stood. "Sorry about this, hon," drawled her assailant, her accent placing her as being from one of her hometown’s less salubrious areas. "But she’s really got a hurting on for you."
The small woman continued to approach. "My people scream out for justice."
"Stop!" Suddenly another girl, a blonde, was between them. "This is not the Wicca way."
The book-worm snarled. "It’s my way."
Jayne’s eyes widened as the blonde screamed as she was enveloped by a red glow. What was going on here? "W….we do not kill," the blonde gasped, forcing the light away. "It is against Hecate’s teachings."
"Then you’re a fool." The bookworm pushed the red glow back towards the blonde.
Jayne gasped when one side of the bookworm’s head exploded in a mist of blood. The bookworm’s face had an almost comical look of surprise before her legs buckled under her, sending her corpse crashing to the ground. "Lead poisoning equals one dead crazy," said a huge black man with a smoking gun.
"Did you have to do that?" commented a scary looking white man in his middle age.
"We couldn’t just hand her over to the police could we? Hello officer, here’s the witch who’s been setting people on fire?" the black man queried as he went through the woman’s handbag. "She’s a Louise Pudeator. Mean anything Tara?"
The blonde who was now vomiting on the ground nodded. "Her ancestor Ann was hung on Gallows Hill in September of 1692."
"Here," the girl who’d bundled her to the ground now helped her to her feet. "Let me help you up.
For a long second, Jayne stared at her rescuer, an impossibly beautiful brunette. "What just happened?" she finally gasped.
"Oh boy," commented a young man’s voice. "The explanation part. This is always fun."
FIC: MC 18 Apr '00 Past Sins (6/6)
After they’d dropped off a shaken Jayne Griggs at her home, Xander glanced at Spenser and Hawk. "Uh, could we guys go somewhere to talk? I’ve got something we need to talk about."
"Sure," Spenser nodded, the PI’s expression curious. "I know a bar near-by," Spenser looked to Hawk. "You in?"
Hawk smiled knowingly. "Night’s still young. Besides, these kids make life interesting."
Faith glanced at him from the backseat, her face troubled. "You sure about this, hon?" Xander nodded. Faith sighed. "I guess, you’re the boss." Faith looked towards Hawk, brow furrowed. "Hell, I just realised something. Ya really look like a character in one of those geek sci-fi programs that X watches."
After a long stare at the big black man, Xander shook his head. He couldn’t see who she meant.
* * *
"This is the place," Spenser announced as he pulled up outside one of Boston’s many bars, while all the time wondering about Xander’s mysterious words. Getting out, he led his companions across the street, following a fat middle-aged business type towards the bar, walking beneath the white sign that announced the bar had been established in 1895. As the fat man entered the bar, the customers let out a collective bellow.
"Hey everybody! It’s Norm!"
* * *
Xander smiled approvingly as they entered the dark, traditional bar. Beside him, Faith sniffed. "Place looks like a morgue."
Xander chuckled. Faith might think this place looked boring, but he was tired of bars where he couldn’t hear himself thinking because of pounding music or worse, having to fight off boisterous jocks harassing one or both of his girls. "I’ll get them in," Spenser announced.
They followed them over to the bar tended by a tall, good-looking guy with suspicious hair in his mid-forties and a younger guy. The guy’s eyes lit up at the sight of Faith. "Hey, beautiful."
"Back off, Sam," Spenser growled. "This is my niece."
"And my girl-friend," Xander said.
The bartender swallowed. Faith grinned. "Relax boys, I like my men older," his girl-friend paused. "But not that much older."
Hawk laughed at the look on Sam’s face. "Two beers. And three cokes, Sam."
"Hey! What about us-," his girl-friend’s voice trailed off at the Boston’s gumshoe’s disapproving look. "Fine," she pouted.
As they turned away, the younger bartender spoke. "What did she mean, too old, Sam?"
"Shut up Woody."
"We’re gonna go over here Xan," Faith said, "I got some stuff I gotta talk to Tara about."
"Sure," he nodded as he followed the two older men over to an empty table, his ears ringing to the sound of a highly pompous guy sat at the bar prattling on about ‘the use of myths to make the demons of real life seem somehow less’. After sitting down he took a sip of his coke, finding is slightly tepid.
* * *
"What did you want to speak to us about?" Spenser prompted.
"Yeah," the kid looked nervous, but then he could hardly blame him, asking the uncle of the girl you were dating for something had to be intimidating. "When I met you, I told you about the demon organisation I’m setting up. I’d like you to run the Boston branch for me."
"Huh, huh," he exchanged glances with Hawk. "We’re not exactly demon hunters, kid," his best friend commented.
"No, but you both are guys who can handle yourself and you’ve got contacts throughout the area, and I can supply contact details for other demon hunters and Wiccas in the area. I’ve also got other resources."
"Talk," Spenser prompted.
"Okay," Xander took a breath and started to talk.
When the youth had finished, Spenser looked across at Hawk. His best friend shrugged and smiled. "I was getting bored with beating up thugs anyhow, feel like a new challenge."
After a second Spenser nodded. "We’re in." The boy’s smile dissipated at his next words. "Hawk, could you go get a round of drinks in. I’d like to talk to Xander about his relationship with my niece."
"Oh crap," the boy muttered, his eyes growing wide with fear.
Hawk chuckled. "Only if you promise to tell me exactly what he says." The big black stood and looked at the teen. "Good luck kid, you’ll need it."
* * *
The moment the African-American had left, Spenser turned his attention towards him. "Now about my Faith, I love that girl like the daughter I never had," Spenser leaned over the table and stared at him. "That little girl means the world to me." Little girl, Faith was a little girl? Xander wondered why he couldn’t keep up with these developments? "I’m trusting my blood with you, son. So if you ever disrespect or hurt her in any way and warrior-god or not, you’ll regret it. You understand?"
Xander gulped at the PI’s forbidding expression. "Yes sir, I love her, I’d never hurt her."
The Boston gumshoe nodded, but his face didn’t relax. "I know Faith’s this Slayer thing and Tara’s a witch," the gumshoe shook his head as if not believing his own words. "But I’m an old fashioned guy, something I don’t make any apologies for. I expect a man to look after the women in his life. You understand what I’m saying."
"Yes sir. I’ll protect them with my life."
"Of course you will," the private detective’s face relaxed into a smile. "I wouldn’t expect any less from you." The Boston tough-guy peered over Xander’s shoulder, a curious expression on his face. "What do you think those two are talking about?"
Xander craned his neck to look over his shoulder to see the two girls pointing and whispering furiously at one another. "Don’t know, looks important though."
"It does, doesn’t it?" Spenser commented.
Hearing a deep snort, he looked around to see Hawk expertly holding their beers. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask when the big man was going to put on his waitress’ apron but swallowed the temptation by reminding himself the coldness with which the black man had blown the witch’s brains out. Definitely not a man to piss off. "You’d be surprised," Hawk said as he put the drinks down.
* * *
Tara couldn’t believe what she was hearing. "Let’s re-cap," she whispered. "You want me to remove a curse." Faith nodded eagerly. "A curse on a sports team?" Faith nodded again. "Are you completely nuts?"
"The Curse Of The Bambino is real," her sister insisted. "In 1918 the Red Sox won their 5th World Series, the most by any club at that time. One of the stars of the Boston championship franchise was a young pitcher by the name of George Herman Ruth, aka The Babe or The Bambino. In 1920, the Red Sox owner needed money to finance his girlfriend's play, so he sold Babe Ruth's contract to the New York Yankees for $100,000. Since then, the Yankees, who had never won a World Championship before getting Ruth, have won over 20, and we’ve only made it to four World Series, losing it every time in game seven"
Tara looked around at the rustic bar around her. "Why me, why me," she muttered. "Look, I can’t do it. The curse isn’t-."
Faith sighed, her face disappointed. "Look, if you don’t have the power -."
Tara saw red. "Don’t have the power," her hiss was enough to cause her normally nonchalant sister to recoil. "This Bambino Curse does not exist!"
"Well I was-."
"And furthermore," she continued on her rant. "Do you think witches have nothing better to do than put silly curses on sports teams? It’s just a stupid superstition, the sort Wiccas have put up with for centuries!" Angry now, she stood and turned to the restroom. "I’ll be a minute!"
* * *
"Jesus!" Faith muttered dazedly as her sister stormed to the toilet, long skirt whistling as she charged out. "Someone stuck a cactus up her ass! I was only asking."
* * *
Faith stared across the room at her Uncle, the others having left them alone to say their good-byes. The stifling silence was finally broken by her uncle’s whisper. "I’m proud of you."
Faith forced back a tear before nodding. "Yeah, having these powers is kickass."
"No," her uncle placed his big hands on her shoulders. "That’s what not I meant. I’m proud of you for having such amazing friends, for your loyalty, for your bravery, and kind heart." A fat tear rolled down her uncle’s face. Suddenly he threw his arms around her and pulled her into a hug. "I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you, I’m so sorry."
"It’s okay," she whispered. "It’s okay."
After a minute her uncle pulled away, a slightly embarrassed look on his face as he cupped her face in his hands. "You stay safe, understand?" She nodded obediently. "And look after your boy and Tara."
"I will," she whispered.
"Good girl," her uncle smiled painfully at her. "And you promise to come and visit?"
"Yeah," she replied meekly.
"Good," after a kiss on her forehead, her uncle enveloped her in another hug. "’Cause I’m not losing you again, you hear?"
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