A/N: Thanks to Mike Curl for his help in developing this episode.
Faith: The Series Season 5 Episode 1
He looked up at the jingle of his shop’s front doorbell. The newcomer was a diminutive, wan-faced youth, but many years in the magic store business had taught him not to judge one’s power by their appearance. Why, once he’d met a Trallax who’d made his toes curl with a look. Really curl, not just literally.
Mindful of his hard-learnt caution, he nodded respectfully. "Hello young sir and welcome to Reinhart’s Lair Of The Occult."
The apparent youth sniffed at his greeting. "I haven’t time for chit-chat,"
the boy self-importantly replied. "I’m on earth-shaking business. And I need
He nodded. "Of course, sir."
* * *
Faith yawned and stretched fluidly as she glanced around the hotel lobby, her friends’ cheerful chatter providing background noise. Business had been slow since ADAM’s demise a month and change ago, just the occasional vampire to slay or minor evil to thwart. At first it had been cool, getting time to kick back after all the shit that had gone down with the demonic cyborg, but now it was getting real boring.
Faith half-rose at the sound of the front door crashing open only to slump back in her seat, disappointed, when she realised it wasn’t a customer, just Wesley. Her eyes narrowed. A very flustered-looking Wesley. "What’s up Wes?" she queried.
"An apocalypse!" the wild-eyed Englishman looked around. "Life as we know it is in great peril!"
* * *
"Another one?" Giles muttered. "I can just see the travel brochures now –
‘Travel to the Hellmouth, fight the forces of darkness." Raising his voice, he
spoke to his fellow countryman. "What sort of threat exactly? Prophesised
Hellmouth opening? Rumoured arrival of a master vampire? Rising of a demonic
cult? All powerful sorcerer?"
The younger man’s expression changed from urgent to shameful. "Ah, I didn’t
exactly stay around long enough to get details. I rushed straight back here as
soon as I heard the rumour."
"Doh!" Xander slapped his forehead.
"Oh Wesley," Giles shook his head and sighed. Sometimes he despaired of his junior. His erstwhile subordinate occasionally showed real flashes of potential, but all too often he utterly messed up.
Still, his heart was in the right place and that was important. Thinking quickly, Giles turned to the expectantly waiting others. "Faith, Xander come with me. The rest of you are with Wesley. Hunt down every lead on this blasted apocalypse." He glanced around impatiently. "I wasn’t talking for the good of my health you know, get on with it."
Wesley moved up to him as the others began to empty the weapons cabinet, a
chagrined expression on his face. "I’m terribly sorr-."
"Hush," Giles waved away the younger man’s apology. "To err is human. The
trick is learning from one’s mistakes. And," he slapped the Watcher on the
shoulder, "rectifying them."
* * *
"They’ll learn! Oh yes! Oh yes!" He looked around his attic, chest puffing out with pride at what he saw.
The pentagram painted on the bare floor-boards was of-course immaculate and the spell components placed in the bubbling cauldron were of course brilliantly chosen. All he had to do now was perform the summonsing ritual and all those who’d doubted or laughed at him would pay.
His cackle echoed around the dusty, low-beamed room. Oh they’d pay.
* * *
"Okay," Faith’s whisper echoed back at her as the three of them edged down
the narrow, winding tunnel, "so why are we chasing after an egg smuggler?"
"Faith," Giles glanced over his shoulder to shoot her his sniffy ‘young lady when will you listen’ look, "a number of demonic races hatch from eggs. If this smuggler has amassed a horde of any one of perhaps twenty species, he could easily devastate Sunnydale."
"K," Faith nodded. "Guess that makes sense."
"So glad you approve," Giles sniffed.
"Your voice carries in these tunnels, my dear."
"Oh." Faith clamped her mouth shut while also shooting a venomous look at her boyfriend stood chuckling beside her.
Finally Giles came to a stop beside a door with peeling black paint. "27 Skylight Avenue," the Watcher shook his head as he looked at the crumpled piece of paper in his hand and then up at the grey tunnel ceiling, "how apt." The Englishman looked towards her. "Faith, could you get the door?"
"All you had to do was ask." Faith smirked at her surrogate father before stepping forward and heel kicking the door at the handle.
The door swung open, its rusty lock no obstacle to a Slayer. Waving away her Watcher’s muttered thanks, Faith strode into the domicile.
She was disappointed to find a long, bland cavern, the light swinging from its ceiling helpfully illuminating the twenty or so eggs stacked against the far wall.
Faith spun to face a door swinging open to her right. Her foot flashed up to crash into her probable would-be assailant’s spindly throat, knocking him into the dusty wall behind.
"Damn." Faith’s nose wrinkled in self-disgust. Five fun years spent demon-fighting had taught her not to judge from appearances, but surely a bespectacled, feathered, three legged, two armed demon whose beak was roughly level with her chest wasn’t much of a threat?
Swallowing her repulsion at what seemed very close to bullying to her, she called out to the others. "I’ve got the demon end of things covered," she shot her trembling captive a warning look. "You get with the Hulk smash."
"Ignoring the terrible cultural reference, thank you Faith." Her Watcher
stepped by her and strode to the back of the cavern. "Oh dear."
"Oh dear?" Faith groaned. "G, I’ve told you how much I hate your ‘oh dears’."
"It would appear," the Englishman crouched down by the carefully stacked eggs, "these eggs aren’t demonic after all."
"What are they then?" Xander beat her to the punch by a half-second.
The middle-aged man licked his lips, an embarrassed look on his face. "It
would appear they’re ostrich eggs."
"Say what?" Faith’s eyes snapped towards the Englishman. "You’re sure?"
"My dear," her father’s shoulders bristled, "I am an ornithologist of some considerable repute."
"A what?" Xander queried.
"He’s into watching birds," Faith translated.
"R…right," Xander shot Giles a speculative look. "Does Kate know? ‘Cause if
she doesn’t, I could be persuaded not to tell her. And it would only cost twenty
"Very amusing," Giles glared at the Sunnydaler, "my sides are in dire need of medical care, I’m laughing so much. Faith was of course referring to the feathered variety."
"Of course," Xander grinned.
"When you two have finished," Faith felt the throbbing beginnings of a world-class headache. "Why the hell does he," Faith impaled the downed demon with a glare, "have all these eggs?"
"Ah," Giles walked up to her, a still chortling Xander trailing in his wake, "this gentlemen," Giles nodded towards the crumpled demon, "is a Bester. His people regard newly hatched ostriches as a delicacy."
"Gross," Faith shuddered.
"Yes, our demon friend must be a smuggler of ostrich eggs, not demonic." Giles turned towards the demon. "I can only apologise for the mis-underst-."
"Forget this!" Faith’s temper snapped. "We’ve an apocalypse to find!"
Snatching a hold of Giles’ shoulder, she dragged him outside.
"Faith!" Giles pulled loose, an angry expression on his face. "There’s always time for manners!"
"Mad dogs and fucking Englishmen," she muttered with a shake of the head, feet determinedly carrying her to the exit.
"I heard that!"
"Good." She only hoped the others were doing better.
* * *
"Remember," Tara felt a thrill run through her at Wesley’s hushed tone as the Englishman briefed them, "my informant tells me some of the major players in the underworld are through there. Be on your guard."
Tara nodded grimly as she looked towards the building in question. It was a wooden shack connected to a particularly noisy bar in a seedy part of Sunnydale,
"Yeah, yeah." Gunn on the other hand looked unimpressed as he hefted his
gleaming double-ax. "’Nuff talkin’. Let’s get it on."
Wesley shot the African-American an irritated look. "Det. Lockley, I’d like you to enter with me. Miss Rosenberg, you and Miss McClay come in next. Gunn, there’s a back door, I’d like you and Miss Chase to take care of that."
The former gangland leader nodded. "Sounds like a plan."
"Okay," the Watcher swallowed, "be ready for anything."
"Now see here-," Wesley’s voice trailed off. "Just what is going on here!"
Tara fought back a gasp at the crew of horrors sat around the room’s lice-ridden table. Most fearsome amongst them was a hulking saggy white-skinned demon who took it upon himself to wave at them. "Hi, I’m Clem, pleased to meet-." The demon gulped when the other demons glared at him. "I mean what are you doing here!" the demon meekly demanded.
"I’m afraid I’m," Clem gulped when Wesley placed his sabre’s point at his throat, "the one asking the questions. And the first one is," Wesley’s brow furrowed, "what is a basket of kittens doing in the middle of the table?"
Clem gulped. "We’re playing kitty poker."
"Kitty poker?" Willow trilled. "What’s that?"
"W….we play poker with kittens as stakes," the demon gulped.
"Stakes?" Tara whispered. "But why?"
Clem stared guilelessly at her. "Have you ever tasted a nice pussy cat?"
A blushing Tara was saved from answering by Gunn. "The kittens are coming with us," the African-American raised his weapon at the demons’ protesting mutterings. "Anyone who thinks different can discuss it with my axe." The black shot Wesley a scornful look. "Dangerous demons, huh?"
* * *
"Owww!" he yanked his painfully bleeding hand out of his mouth after biting down on it to prevent a triumphant laugh from escaping. Gathering himself he watched from the shadows as people obliviously trooped past him and into the theatre of his impending dazzling victory. Not only would he have his revenge on all those who’d doubted or thwarted in the past, there’d be witnesses to his devilish genius to spread word of his power.
* * *
"I. Do. Not. Believe. It." Faith stared open-mouthed at the demon before her. It wasn’t the first one she’d seen wearing an Armani suit, she’d staked plenty of vampires with a taste for expensive threads, but it was definitely the first she’d seen with a shark’s head peeking out of the jacket’s collar. Gathering herself, she growled out a question. "Who or what the hell are you?"
The demon tried and failed to straighten his suit. Although to be fair, it was probably difficult to do with her boot firmly pressing down on his chest. "Allow me to introduce myself, Miss Giles. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance by the way," the demon half-lisped. "I’m Mr. Teeth of Gleaming Debt Collections Agency."
Faith stared blankly at the demon for a second before turning her head to a choking with laughter Xander. "What’s so damn funny?"
It was a peeved-looking Giles who answered. "It would appear Mr. Teeth is," her father paused and sighed, "a loan shark."
Faith looked from G to Xan and then to Mr. Teeth. Suddenly she was beside Xander, her boyfriend and her propping one another up as they shook with mirth, tears of laughter rolling down their faces. "A loan shark!" she gasped, ribs hurting. "A loan shark!"
"Yes," Mr. Teeth wheezed. "Very amusing." The demon started to rise. "Well it was an honour to meet you Miss Giles, but I’ve got clients to-."
"Hold it right there." Faith stiffened as she glared warningly at the creature. "Any of your clients human?"
"Why of course not!" Mr Teeth seemed horrified by the very thought. "I prefer
to stick to the shadows. Humans are so visible."
"In that case," Faith gestured with her head, "git."
"Faith!" Giles protested as Mr. Teeth got. "You can’t just-."
"He kills demons who don’t pay up," Faith watched the monster rush into the darkness. "I don’t see a problem with that." Faith shook her head and sighed. "Wesley better be right about this apocalypse or I’ll use him as a piñata."
* * *
"What do you mean bursting in here!"
"Oh sit down, Syd," moaned the second of the almost identical demons sat in the lounge of the apartment they’d burst into. "It’s not like you’d have killed the slime," Gunn grimaced as a gooey lump rolled down his left arm, "demon yourself. Not with your fear of sputum."
"I do not have a fear of sputum, Monica," the apparent male of the duo stood and glared at them. "And another thing, there’s no chance I’m paying you for this! It’s not like I ever hired you!"
"Cheapskate," the female demon muttered.
"Of course not, sir," squirmed Wesley. In Gunn’s opinion no one did squirm like Wesley. "It was a complete accident-."
"I mean really," the female trilled, her voice growing in volume, "in my opinion workmen should be paid fairly for a good job-."
"Oh no, ma’am," an increasingly wide-eyed Wesley started to back towards the door, "we expect no payment. It was only providence that brought us here."
"I don’t know who this Providence is," Monica interrupted. "But did he tell you my husband squeezes a buck until it screams for mercy?"
"Listen to the man," the male demon interrupted, "I mean you never listen to me."
"Like you have anything interesting to say."
"I should have listened to my dear old father," moaned the male demon, "he said you were a harridan."
"And you can stop looking at her," the female demon pointed at Cordelia who immediately scooted behind him, "why she’s a twentieth of your age."
The demon leered. "You’re only as old as the woman you feel."
Seconds later, they managed to stumble out into the hall, leaving the couple’s incessant bickering behind. "Ah, that was sweet," cooed Tara. "They’re so in love."
Gunn raised an eyebrow. Clearly the lesbian witch was either more perceptive than him. Or completely gah-gah.
* * *
"Okay Merl!" Faith grabbed the scrawny demon’s collar and yanked him out of his chair. "Talk!"
"Slayer, I’m trying to do business, -oww!"
The demon squealed when she slammed him headfirst into a support beam. "And I’m trying real hard not to ask just what that business is. Now talk."
"Well seeing as you asked so nicely," the demon’s drawn smile faded at her glower. "What do you want to know?"
Faith calmed herself. "Me and the gang," she cast a glance to her friends strategically placed throughout the dusty bar, "have been chasing our tails following lead after about some rumoured apocalypse. And then I thought, which low-life snitch has his nose pressed to the ground?"
"Hey!" Merl protested.
"Just tell me what you know," Faith warned.
"All I know it’s tonight," the demon wheezed, "and at the new school." Faith dropped the snitch back in his seat and started for the door. "Hey Slayer, don’t mention it."
Faith smirked. "I won’t."
"The school? But they’re showing Othello!" Giles gasped. "What sort of diabolical fiend would interrupt the Bard’s work?"
* * *
He cackled as he looked on at the unaware gathering. So many victims to pay the price for his hurts, to redress justice’s balance. All it would take was a single word. He smiled as it uttered it.
* * *
Faith enjoyed the others' pantings as they trailed behind her. She herself breathed easily through her nose as she raced towards the high school assembly hall. "There’s three entrances. G, I want you and X with me at the front. Wes, take Kate and Tar to the left. Gunn, you, Cor, and Will cover the fire exit. I’ll phone you each on the cell when we’re going in, k?"
Two minutes later and they were outside the hall’s double-doors. Faith resisted the urge to shudder at the shouts and screams coming from within the hall. Finally she couldn’t stand it any longer. Snatching at her cell, she rasped into it. "Now!"
Shoving the door open, she started inside. And stopped dead at what she saw. "Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore," she muttered.
The hall was in complete chaos, but not the world-ending sort. Instead the place was filled with winged monkeys. They were everywhere, pulling at the hair of members of the screaming audience, ripping at the costumes of cast members, and turning over parts of the set. Girls were wailing and crying, jocks were trying to impress them by running around and catching the flying simians, and the principal, a Snyder clone if she’d ever seen one, was stood on the stage bellowing for order.
"This is the apocalypse?" Faith slumped against the wall, shoulders shaking as she started to laugh.
And then a monkey threw a bucket full of water at her. "Jesus!" Faith shivered as the icy liquid hit her, drenching her from head to foot.
"Oh goody, you win the wet T-shirt contest for sure."
Faith shot Xander a wilting glare before looking around, furiously searching for the culprit. Her eyes caught a glimpse of a cowled figure in the shadows to the stage’s left.
A half-second later and she was sliding through the crowd, effortlessly avoiding getting entangled in the confusion. The cowled figure turned to run, but fell over his ankle-length black robe, crashing to the ground. As the stunned magician attempted to struggle upright, Faith grabbed his shoulder and yanked his hood back. "Andrew Wells!" she gasped as she recognised the youthful wizard. Gathering her wits, she scowled at the struggling mage. "End this spell now!"
"You don’t scare me -, owww!" the teen mischief-maker squealed as she squeezed down on his shoulder. "I’ll do it!" The winged monkeys instantly disappeared.
"Good," Faith looked down at the quaking youths and then up at her approaching friends. "Someone grab me a chair, there’s gonna be a whupping!"
* * *
Gunn watched open-mouthed as the soaked Slayer led them out into the darkened parking lot, carrying a chair in one hand and a squealing Andrew in the other. Then the brunette placed the chair on the asphalt and sat on it, draping her captive across her knee. "Magic ain’t a toy," she announced before starting to tan the would-be sorcerer’s ass.
"Is it wrong I’m turned on by this?" Gunn muttered as Cordelia moved in beside him.
"Gross!" Cordelia gasped. "You want to be spanked by Faith?"
Gunn hid a grin as his trap was sprung. "Well it wasn’t my butt I visualised Faith’s hand on." His comment was rewarded by a speechless Cordelia. He’d pay for this later, but it would be fun while it lasted.
* * *
Holland Manners smiled as he entered the long boarding room to see his two protégés sat at its pristinely varnished table. "Lindsey, Lillah," he nodded at both of them in turn. "This is a fine office isn’t it?"
"It is, sir," Lillah spoke a second before Lindsey had chance. At W&H competition was encouraged, even speaking first could be regarded as a minor victory. "But I’m a little confused why we moved from LA to this backwater."
"Backwater?" Holland chuckled. "This is the Hellmouth, the nexus of supernatural activity! Why I can feel the power!"
"But our clients?" Lindsey persisted.
"Our clients will keep their accounts with us," he replied. "You both know we offer certain services that no other law firm can or will." He paused before opening his plastic folder and giving a glossy photograph to Lindsey and Lillah. "As joint heads of our Special Projects Division, that little lady is your new top priority."
Lindsey looked from the photograph to him. "She’s the Slayer?"
"I’ve read her file," Lillah put in. "She’s racked up an impressive record."
"She’s the most successful Slayer in at least six centuries," Holland replied. "She can’t be allowed to interfere in our apocalypse. The senior partners want her corrupt or dead."
Faith: The Series Season 5 Episode 2
"It can’t be true!" Heart twisting, Giles tore the paper out of the notebook and angrily flung it into the over-flowing wire wastebasket. That accomplished, he stared impotently at the thick hard-backed volume before him.
He’d picked the book up for a song at the garage sale of an occultist anxious to depart the Hellmouth. And now he wished he’d never seen the thrice-cursed tome.
At first he’d set to work translating the book as a purely intellectual excuse, a way of off-setting the slaying of brain cells caused by Faith and her friends’ discussions about what they laughingly called music. But then he’d found a passage that could only relate to his girl.
‘And lo, a mighty Slayer shall straddle the millennium; aided by her friends, unknowing that one amongst their number will not be human.’
Giles rubbed at his forehead. No matter how many times he tried to re-translate the passage it came out the same. It wasn’t his translation skills that were flawed, everything else translated perfectly. And the book’s validity couldn’t be seriously doubted. Not only was its author a long-dead soothsayer of considerable repute, but Giles had already translated close to a score of fulfilled prophecies spanning the past thousand years in its crinkled pages. And so a myriad of different questions assailed him.
Which one of them was it? There was a dozen different demon species that could ‘pass’ for human, where there any tests to find which of them it was? Was it perhaps a spirit possessing a person? For what reason was the demon hiding out in their group? What was their plan? Did the demon even know it was a demon? And most worryingly, was he unknowingly the demon?
Conscious of the time, Giles rose. And then with heavy heart sat back down, eyes fixed on the book before him. It had to be wrong, it just had to be. And if it wasn’t, there must be some clues within the book as to who or what the demon was.
* * *
"Pops! There’s a convertible pulling up outside!"
Pops looked up at his son’s shout. Groaning slightly, he rose from his seat and stumbled outside, rubbing his eyes at the mid-day sun. "Boy," he growled, "quit gawping and get on with your chores. Those cows won’t milk themselves."
Even as his son hurried back to work, a tall figure climbed out of the car and started up the muddy path. After a second he started down to meet the interloper.
His eyes widened as he realised the executive suited figure was in fact a woman. Quite a looker too, although with a sort of uptight, arrogant air that just begged for a man to take her in hand and teach her her place.
Although there was something in the beautiful woman’s eyes that suggested such a man had best come prepared for a fight. He stopped in front of the mystery suit and spat on the ground. "You lost?"
"Why no," there was nothing warm or friendly in the woman’s smile, "but I believe you’ve lost one of your flock. Your daughter I believe?"
Pops’ heart quickened. "You know where my Tara is?"
"You might want to take to a trip to a small town in California, a little coastal municipality by the name of Sunnydale, she’s attending college there."
The woman turned to leave. "Miss!" the woman glanced back at him. "Why you tellin’ me this?"
* * *
Lillah smiled. "Putting families back together just fills me with the warm fuzzies." Several hundred dollar high heels squelching in the mud underfoot, she tottered back to her car and her waiting driver, Lindsey with a typically tortured expression on his face. Probably brooding about how similar their current surroundings were to the hovel he grew up in.
Opening the car door, she slid in beside her fellow division leader. "Let’s get out of this dump."
Lindsey nodded before starting up the engine. "I really don’t see the point of this."
Lillah smiled mischievously. "At the least it creates trouble for Faith and her gang, and trouble for them is good for us."
* * *
"Man!" Faith exulted as she, Xander, Cor, Gunn, Will, and Tar exited Sunnydale’s multiplex. "’Gone In 60 Seconds’ was a blast!" Faith spun to face her friends, an expectant look on her face. "That was great, right?"
"Definitely!" Xander agreed. "The cars were awesome."
Gunn shook his head disapprovingly. "It had a stupid plot, poor dialogue, and silly characterisation."
Faith flashed the black a dimpled smile. "You loved it?"
The black broke out into a smile. "Absolutely."
"Huh," Cordelia sniffed. "All you," the former Sunnydale High queen glared at her boy-friend, "was interested in was Angelina’s surgically enhanced chest."
"What?" A look of feigned innocence on her face, Faith made a show of examining her best friend’s bosom. "You mean yours isn’t?"
Cordelia flushed. "Why you-."
Faith spun to face Tara and Willow, hair dancing at the movement. "What did you think?"
"I…it was very violent," whispered Tara.
"Ah," Faith winked at the shy New Mexican, "you’re not telling me you wouldn’t like to wake up to AJ’s head on the pillow next to you?" Tara blushed. Faith winked at her friend again and punched her gently on the arm. "Yeah, that’s what I figured. You dirty dawg." Laughing slightly at the witch’s deepening blush, she looked around. "Anyone for a drink?"
* * *
Tara reluctantly pulled away from her third kiss with Willow. "I…I should go home."
"You could," Willow glanced behind her, "stay over?"
Tara blushed, it would be far from the first time in the last month that she had, but tonight she couldn’t. "I can’t," she shook her head, "I’ve got a lecture first thing in the morning and all my books at home."
Willow pouted. "That wouldn’t be a problem if you moved in here," her girl-friend wheedled.
"I…it’s not that simple," Tara stared quietly at her friend. Her place with Kate was the first real, the first safe, home she’d ever had. Not only was she reluctant about leaving that behind, she’d feel as if she was betraying Kate who’d looked after her like an older sister if she left.
Willow nodded reluctantly. "Well if you change your mind." Willow sighed. "tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow." Tara nodded.
"Night then," Willow smiled before closing the door.
Tara stared at the door, placing her hand on its rough wood surface before sighing, turning and walking out of the dorm. Mindful of the potential vampire activity, she paused in the well-lit lobby to check she had her stake before stepping out into the cooling night.
She’d turned into the street leading back to the apartment she shared with Kate when a shape moved in the darkness before her. Heart thumping, she reared back, eyes widening. "Oh Tara," her heart beat even quicker as she recognised the rough voice, "aren’t you pleased to see your old dad?"
* * *
Pops laughed at his daughter’s fear. The girl turned to run, but already her brother and cousins were behind her, penning her in. Breath coming in scared pants, the teen turned back towards him.
And right into his backhander, the blow catching her right under her left eye and knocking her to the ground. "I feed you. Clothe you. Put up with your whining. And what thanks do you show me?" he asked conversationally. "First chance you get you run off." He shook his head. "That’s gratitude for you. When I get you home, I’ll strap some respect into you."
"You can’t make –ooof."
His daughter’s wavering protest was ended by a boot into the ribs. "I’m your pa, girl, you belong to me ‘til I find a man desperate enough to marry you." Reaching down, he grabbed a handful of blonde hair, and yanked his daughter’s head up. "And it will be a man, none of this weird dyke stuff." He tutted and shook his head. "You leave home for a year and fall into all these ungodly habits. You need your pa’s steadying hand, girl." He crouched down and whispered into his daughter’s ear. "We’re leaving tomorrow night," he shoved a piece of paper with the address of their motel on it, "and you best be there to join us, eight sharp mind. And if you’re thinking of not turning up," he lowered his voice to a whisper, "well your friends seem like a right nice lot. We’ll have to introduce ourselves to them, maybe we’ll start with that purty red-head?"
"Nooooo," his daughter gasped, tears rolling down her face.
"The choice is yours, girl," he warned before straightening, stretching cramped back muscles. "Make the right one if you don’t want your friends to pay the price." He turned to the others. "Come on boys, I saw a nice looking bar just down the road." He walked off, his daughter’s sobs dwindling into the distance.
"Pop, why didn’t we just take her now?"
Pop looked towards Donny, disgust in his eyes. "Boy, I swear you ain’t got a lick of sense. Throw your sis in the back, hog-tied and all, and what happens? We get pulled up by the smokey, and they end up doing us for kidnapping. I don’t fancy doing 20 in a maximum security prison for your sister’s worthless carcass. No," he shook his head and smirked, "that girl will come with us willingly. Or her friends will pay the price."
* * *
"Hey Tar!" Faith’s welcoming smile faded as she registered the welted bruise underneath the witch’s left eye and the haunted look on her face. Leaping up, she strode across the lobby floor and to her friend. "Who the hell hit you and where do they live?"
"N…nobody," the witch recoiled at her hard tone. "I just fell and hit my face."
"Right," Faith didn’t believe the New Mexican for a second. "Why don’t you join the others?" Faith watched as the witch shuffled past her, eyes narrowing as she noted how she favoured her right side. Then she turned to the silently watching Watchers. "G, Wes, I need your opinions on my essay ‘The Importance of Shakespeare In Western Culture."
The moment the three of them entered the office, Wes started. "Well I don’t see how you can overstate the importanc-."
"Yeah, yawn, yawn," Faith turned towards the two Englishmen. "There ain’t no such essay-."
"Oh marvellous English," muttered Wesley. "I can see Shakespeare’s influence has passed you right on by. Strunk and White’s too I shouldn’t wonder."
Faith shot the younger of the two Watchers a ferocious glare before speaking. "I just used that excuse to get you two of you on your own. Tara’s lying, she didn’t fell, someone hit her."
"Goodness gracious. You’re sure?" queried Wesley.
"I’m sure," Faith grimly nodded. Enough of her mom’s boyfriends had been free with their hands to know just exactly how beatings looked and the sort of fear they caused, the fear she’d seen in Tara’s eyes this morning.
"I concur," Giles nodded grimly. "The question that troubles me is what would
intimidate Tara so that she wouldn’t feel confident enough to confide in us?"
"Yeah," Faith nodded. "So, if Tara’s too scared to ask for our help, we’re gonna have to find a way to give it to her anyhow. I want you to tell the others, the moment she leaves here, I want her followed, no matter where she goes, we’re her shadows until we find out what happened and who did this. Got it?"
"Gotcha." Faith turned to a suddenly shame-faced Wesley. "I thought I’d try an Americanism, I supposed it didn’t really work. Sorry."
* * *
Tara rubbed at her burning eyes even as she stared at the motel room door. There wasn’t anything she wanted to do less in the world than knock on this door, but if she didn’t, Willow, Faith, all these people who’d taken her in and befriended her would be in danger because of her and she couldn’t allow that.
Finally she knocked on the door. The door swung open to reveal her smirking father. "You’re late, girl."
She quailed under her father’s stare. "Sorry, sir."
"We’ll talk about it when we get home. You made the right decision though." Her father glanced back into the room. "Donny, Jimmy Ray, Cyrus, she’s here. Let’s be going."
"See," the moment her father, brother, and cousins had stepped out of the motel, Faith stepped out of the shadows, "I’m sure she doesn’t want to go with you. So she stays."
* * *
Pops leered at the coal-eyed brunette. "One of Tara’s stripper friends came along to say good-bye, well I’m sure we know how to show our appreciation."
"Yeah?" the girl cocked her head to one side. "And I brought some friends to the good-bye party." Suddenly a quartet of grim-faced men stepped out of the shadows. "Wes, you’re on Tara watch. The rest of you, don’t be gentle."
Pops shoved Tara to the ground. "You made a big mistake bringing your friends, girl."
"Oh no," a tall foreign-sounding man stepped forward, "you’re the one who made a big mistake."
* * *
Giles looked at his opponent, weighing him up. They were, he decided, roughly the same age, Tara’s father was bigger and probably stronger, but he was definitely fitter and quicker.
Giles smirked. He might not be able to solve a translation puzzle, but he could deal with a bully with a predilection for hitting women.
"You think this is funny?" Pops charged in, leading with a right cross.
"Actually," Giles ducked under the blow, and retaliated with a hook to the man’s over-stuffed gut, "no." He blocked a left hook on his shoulder and drove his head into the bigger man’s chest. "But I am going to enjoy this."
"Oh yeah?" The New Mexican caught him with a jarring left to the temple. "Not as much as I’m going to enjoy destroying you and your friends."
Giles’ temper exploded. Suddenly he was a whirlwind, hitting the bigger man with a blurring combination of knees, kicks, punches, and elbows that his opponent had no answer for. Finally the bully crumpled and crashed to the floor, his face a bloody mess. But Giles hadn’t finished.
* * *
"See," Faith winced as her father put the boot into Tara’s dad in a spectacular way, the other members of Tara’s family long since subdued, "it’s times like this I’m really glad I’m such a good girl. ‘Cause my pops, he don’t fight fair."
"Yeah?" Xander nodded. "I bet Giles is too, because otherwise you could be real trouble."
Faith sighed. "I suppose you and Gunn should pull G off before he kills that asshole."
"What about them?" Xander glanced towards Tara’s other relatives.
Faith snorted and shook her head. "You seriously think they could cause me problems? I’m insulted." Faith looked towards the one-sided brawl. "Get to it, X."
* * *
"Get off me you pillocks!" Giles roared as Gunn and Xander pulled him off. "I hadn’t finished!"
"I think he is," Gunn commented.
"You can’t stop me, she’s my daughter," the pummelled farmer looked up, his face swollen and bruised. "And everyone of you is going to regret-."
"You’ll hurt nobody!" Giles pulled himself loose and leapt forward, snatching a hold of the New Mexican’s hair, yanking his head back. "And if I ever see you again, I’ll
skin you and use it as a furniture covering! Understand?"
The man whimpered. "Understand."
* * *
"Rupert!" Heart thumping in terror, Wesley rushed into his fellow Watcher’s office.
"Do you bloody mind!" Mindful of what he’d seen his countryman do the previous night, Wesley took a backwards step at the man’s explosive anger. "I’m sorry," Wesley noticed how strained his fellow country-man looked. Giles shook his head and shoved some papers into a folder before looking at him. "You just surprised me, I was working on something."
"Anything I can help you with?"
"No, just a private project," Giles smiled wearily. "You seemed to be quite fraught?"
"Yes," Wesley took a breath. "I was at the bar tonight, when I overheard a couple of suits talking." He paused. "It would appear that Wolfram & Hart have taken up residence in town."
His fellow Watcher’s face fell. "Oh bloody hell."
FIC: Faith The Series Season 5 Ep 3
"So," Faith put her feet on the desk and laughed at the news that her Watchers had called her and the others together to hear, "this law firm wants to challenge us? You know what I say?" Faith grinned as she recalled the movie that her dirty-minded boyfriend had dragged her to the last weekend. "Bring it on!"
She’d have to remember to dig out her uniform from try-outs junior-year. It would be a little tighter now, but that would just add to the fun.
"Faith," G shook his head, "this is no ordinary law firm, Wolfram & Hart are a pan dimensional law firm."
"Any translation for us in the cheap seats?" Xander asked.
"Huh," Cordelia sniffed, "from what Faith tells me you’re always in the cheap seats."
"Before we descend into kindergarten bickering," Giles reproved, "Wolfram & Hart’s business interests and client list span a number of dimensions."
"According to some papers found in the Mayor’s offices after we dealt with him, they represented him, and he is far from the worst person that they’ve ever worked for," Wesley added.
"Kay," Faith started to feel a little more uneasy, "fill in some names."
"Caligula, Genghis Khan, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe," Giles paused, eyes grave, "many of history’s foulest figures are indebted to Wolfram & Hart for their rise to power. In addition, they also represent the major figures in organised crime, large corporations, corrupt politicians, and the most powerful figures in the demonic world. They do not operate within the laws of man."
"Yeah, can see that," Faith sobered. "So what do we do about them?"
"We make operating in this city as uncomfortable as possible for them," Wesley replied.
"That’s it?" Xander protested.
"Oh come on!" Gunn threw in. "No way!"
"What you fail to understand is just how powerful they are," Giles snapped. "They are the foremost force of evil in this dimension!"
Faith scowled. "All the more reason we shouldn’t be showing them any -."
"Client," Willow interrupted.
* * *
Momentarily banishing the worrying thought of just what to do about Wolfram & Hart, Giles hurried over to the man, a pudgy harried-looking man in his late forties. "Hello, sir," he forced a smile, "Watcher Securities, how may I help you? Cordelia?"
"Yes," the former cheerleader hurried to his side, shooting the man the dazzling smile that worked so well at putting customers at ease and was, aside from her being Faith’s best friend, the only reason for her continuing employment, "can we offer you a beverage?"
"No," the man shook his head, "I..I’m fine." The man dabbed at his eyes. "Well, I don’t want a drink anyway."
"Please, sir," Wesley spoke up from behind him. "We can only help if you tell us what’s wrong."
"M…my daughter’s missing," the man paused. "Well not missing exactly, I know she’s in town, but she’s in with a bad crowd. And I can’t get her out."
"Why don’t you give us some details?" Giles gently suggested.
"My Tina, she’s from out of state like me, thought California would be the dream, but she fell in with a bad crowd, this guy," the man reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card, "I tried to collect her, but his goons beat me up. I’ve just got out of hospital after three days."
* * *
"We need to find out more about this Russell Winters fellow who’s been bothering the gentleman’s daughter," Giles decided the moment their new client had left.
"I could go undercover!" Cordelia excitedly suggested. "I’m sure I could con my way into working in his offices."
"Well," Faith’s lips quirked up at Wes’ mutter, "she certainly cons us into giving her a pay-check for working in this office every week."
"Yeah," Faith said, "and I’ll see about talking to this Tina at her workplace."
"I’ll come with," Xander volunteered.
"Thanks hon," Faith shook her head, "but this gal might be leery of guys given her recent history, best sit this one out."
* * *
Faith supped at her coffee as she watched the target, a pretty but defeated-looking blonde talk to her boss. With a sigh the blonde started towards her. "How late are you open?"
"Are you talking to me?" The blonde turned towards her, in the process knocking a full coffee cup off the table she is standing next to. Faith shot out a hand, catching the cup without spilling a drop. "Wow," the waitress stared at her. "Great reflexes." Faith winked as she set the cup back down. "Well, thanks, these come out of my pay check."
"Seeing as you owe me one," Faith stood. "What time do you get off?"
"W…what?" the blonde flushed.
Faith chuckled. "Nothing like that, I’m here on business, I work for a detective agency here in town. Your dad hired us, he was looking for you, but some guys warned him off." The blonde paled, Faith hurried on. "Here," Faith reached into her jacket and pulled out her card, "here’s.." She stopped as she noticed the girl staring at her. "What’s -," she groaned as she noticed Winters’ card had fallen out of her pocket and onto the table. "Tina-."
"H…his card," the girl paled and backed out of the coffee shop’s rear entrance, unconscious that her scream had everyone looking at her, "you work for him. Tell him to stay away from me!"
"Tina!" Shaking her head, Faith started after the girl, racing into a stairwell joining it to the underground car park. Sensing a figure lurking in the shadows to her right, she shot out an elbow, catching the intruder with the point and knocking him back into the wall.
"Mr. Winters doesn’t like people interfering in his business," Faith groaned as two slab shouldered, granite-faced thugs came through the door leading to the car park. "Anyone who does has to be taught a lesson."
"Yeah?" Faith smirked. "My pop says I’m a wicked slow learner." The left of the duo reached for her, she grabbed his wrist and twisted, flipping the man into the recovering body to the right. Surprise in his muddy-brown eyes, the other thug threw a right cross, Faith ducked the blow and delivered one of her own to the man’s chest, the force of the blow lifting the man from his feet and propelling over the stair well. "That has gotta-," Faith grunted when the first thug wrapped an arm around her neck. Reaching up, she grabbed the man’s arm, bent forward at the waist, and flung him after his companion. "Hurt," she finished what she’d been about to say as she hurried out into the under-ground car park. "Fuck!" she cussed as she realised that Tina had gone.
* * *
"Hello, Wesley Whyn-."
"Hey Wes," Faith interrupted, voice taut. "I met up with Tina."
"Oh, and how did the meeting go?"
"Not well," Faith grimaced. "Winters’ card fell out of my pocket as I was talking to her."
"’Bout sums it up," Faith scowled. "Where’s Cor?"
"I believe she started work as evening receptionist at Winters’ office tonight," Wesley replied.
Faith grimaced again. "At least one of us is getting somewhere with this case."
* * *
Tina sobbed as she packed her bag, shoulders shaking. Russell’s games got even sicker, using her father against her. She had to get out -. "Hello Tina."
Her skin prickled, reaching for the revolver in her open drawer, she spun around and raised it at the intruder. "Russell."
The interloper smiled. "I’ve been looking everywhere for you. And here you are right under my nose. Oh, I own the building, most of the block. Are you going to point that gun at me all day?"
"What did you do to my daddy?" she sobbed.
"Nothing." Russell shook his head.
"I want the truth, Russell."
Russell smiled. "I’ve never even met the man, I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman."
"I met a girl, she said you had thugs scare him," Tina said, she was conscious how much the gun was shaking.
"Thugs?" Russell laughed softly. "I’m a businessman not a gangster. Look, we both know that I live outside of the box, but I don’t go around having people beaten up! I only want to help you." Russell gently took the gun from her. "Just tell me what you want."
Tina looked down, tears leaking from her eyes: "I want to go home."
"Done." She felt Russell’s hand on her cheek. "Now about this girl-."
"S…she said she worked for a PI’s," Tina’s heart chilled as she looked up to see Russell’s face hideously distort. And then the thing had her by her shoulders and was dragging her towards him.
* * *
"You lost her?"
Faith glared at her incredulous-looking best friend. "Look, I was jumped by three thugs," she defended. "The twenty seconds it took me to deal with them was enough for her to get to her car and get away."
"A car we neither have a make or licence plate for," Giles commented.
Faith turned her glare on her Watcher. "Rub it in why don’t you?"
"It’s a good point though," Xander took his life into his own hands to agree with Giles," The Coffee Spot was the only place we knew Tina went to. After you scared her, she’s not going back there. We have no idea where she lives or hangs out or anything."
"While you’re trying to track her down I’ll continue at Mr. Winters’ office," Cordelia said.
"Are you sure that is judicious?" Giles sighed when the others bar Wesley all looked blankly at him. "Are you sure it is wise?"
Cordelia shrugged. "He’s just a businessman with some shady connections, what is he gonna do?"
* * *
"Mr. Winters," Lindsey swallowed his instinctive fear as he entered his client’s office. "The Eltron merger is a go. They caved on everything after you negotiated personally with their CFO. We’ll bring the papers by your office tomorrow."
"Yes," Russell waved distractedly at him, his attention fixed on some pictures of a blonde at a party. "She had something, didn’t she?" I was sorry to kill her so soon."
Lindsey smiled. "Actually, you haven’t seen her in several weeks.. You were in a conference yesterday with your contract lawyers when the unfortunate incident occurred. And we’ve located a witness that is telling police that saw a dark complexioned man with blood on his hands fleeing the scene."
Russel nodded.: "Impressive."
Lindsey felt his smirk widen. "Wolfram & Hart is a full service law firm, Mr. Winters. It is our job to see to it that our clients' lives run more smoothly."
Russell traced his fingers over the picture of his newest employee, hired three days earlier by personnel. "A fresh face. I think we should meet."
Lindsey didn’t even bother to look. "Should I alert the firm that this young lady may constitute another long-term investment?"
It was his client’s turn to smile. "I don’t think so. I just want something to eat."
* * *
"Oh dear," Wesley hung up the phone, a concerned look on his face. "That was Kate, a corpse matching Tina’s description has been discovered in a local tip."
Faith’s heart dropped, she’d really fucked up. Then an even more alarming thought struck. "Cor!" Faith looked towards the younger of the two Watchers. "If Winters might be a killer she needs to get out of there!"
It was Giles who answered. "I’ll try her cell." Two minutes later, her guardian hung up the phone with a shake of his head. "No answer."
"Fuck!" With a frustrated sweep of her arm Faith knocked a pile of books stood on Wes’ desk to the ground.
"Faith!" Wesley hastened to reassure her. "We don’t know it’s Tina, and even if it is, we don’t know that Winters killed her. This is Sunnydale after all, pretty young girls are practically shark bait around here." Faith glared at the Watcher. Wesley gulped. "What I meant in my clumsy and yet charming way is we can’t jump to conclusions."
"I’m leaping all over the freakin’ place," Faith looked towards Willow. "Red, do that hacker thing, find Winters’ home address."
The witch nodded. "Can I have the card with his number on, I’ll track him through that?"
"Makes sense," Faith dropped the card onto the computer desk. "But hurry, I’ve gotta bad feelin’ about this."
* * *
"Hello dear," Cordelia gasped as a middle-aged, prosperous looking guy entered the office she’d been unceremoniously brought to, "how are you?"
"Who are you? Why was I dragged here after work?" She looked around, panic growing. There was something wrong with this place. "What am I doing here?"
"I’m Russell Winters," the man smiled. "Your employer."
"Oh, god. I’m sorry! " Cordelia thought quickly as she rose and looked around, seeking anything she could use as a weapon. After all, this guy could be a major league thug. But if not, well he paid way more than Watcher Securities. "I should check my make-," her voice trailed off as she realised there was no mirror but plenty of thick closed drapes. Oh great, her boss wasn’t just a thug, he was a vampire. Why didn’t people tell her things? "You’re a vampire!"
Russell reared back, face contorting with shock. "What? I’m not!"
"Are too!" she snapped. "I’ve been hunting them for long enough to know when I’m trapped in one’s fortress-like home." Cordy groaned, this was one of the times she should have kept her mouth shut. "Oh crap."
"Truth is, I’m glad you know. It means we can skip the formalities," the vampire lunged at her.
Cordelia dropped into a forward roll, sliding past him and to the office door. Flinging it open, she ran onto the balcony, conscious of the snarling vampire behind her. "I don’t know how, but I just know this is Harris’ fault!" The vampire snatched hold of her left arm, she retaliated with a right elbow only for it also to be grabbed and her thrown to the floor.
Suddenly the lights went out and window to their right shattered, a slight figure leaping though it. "Russell Winters." Cordelia grinned as she recognised the husky voice. ""I have a message for you from Tina."
"You made a very big mistake coming here," the vampire growled.
Cordelia laughed, this was so good. "You don’t know who she is, do you? Oh, boy! You are about to get your ass kicked!"
* * *
Faith saw her friend lying on the floor, growled and leapt forward, ducking beneath a right cross to deliver a left knee to the stomach. The demon stumbled backwards before retorting with a left hook she blocked on her forearm before head-butting the demon in the face. The demon grunted before grabbing her with a hand under her jaw and flinging her away from him.
The vampire came in fast, leading with a left-legged leaping thrust kick that she dropped onto one knee to avoid, the demon flying over her tucked in head. Springing up, she spun around and lunged at the demon only to catch an elbow to the forehead. Stunned, she stumbled backwards. The vampire leapt at her, she leaned away, grabbed his hand, pulled him towards her, and went in for the stake.
"Faith!" Cordelia screamed. "Look out!"
Faith glanced over the demon’s shoulder to see two bodyguards with drawn guns charging up the stairs. "Shit!" Eschewing her plan to stake the demon, she threw it into the two bodyguards, knocking the three downstairs. "Move it!" grabbing her friend’s hand she hurried to the shattered window she’d entered through.
"This is a new suit!" her friend protested. "No way am I jump-."
"Wanna stay here?" Faith snapped. When Cordelia didn’t reply, Faith nodded. "Good answer!"
Cordy screamed as the Slayer yanked her through the window.
* * *
Lindsey smiled as he looked towards the client sat the other side of his desk. "The Eltron mutual trust binder is ready for your signature. As to the intruder that broke into your home last night, she is apparently the Slayer. The young lady you picked up is apparently one of her friends – a Miss Cordelia Chase-." Lindsey gasped as the doors flew open and the Slayer walked in, flanked by her boy-friend and the African-American. Rising, he hurried to block the Slayer’s route to his client. "I’m with Wolfram & Hart. Mr. Winters has never been accused and shall never be convicted of any crime. Ever." He smirked. "Should you continue to harass our client, we will be forced to bring you to the attention of the police. And I understand you already have quite a record."
"Xander?" The Slayer chuckled as she stared up fearlessly at him.
Lindsey gasped as the Slayer’s boy-friend grabbed him by the shoulders, and judo tossed him to the ground. "Be careful who you threaten bud."
Lindsey watched helplessly as the Slayer walked up to his client. Winters stared up fearlessly at the girl, not bothering to rise. "Faith isn’t it? You don’t understand how the rich and powerful work do you?"
The Slayer looked down at the sat vampire. "Educate me."
"I’d be glad to dear," Russell smiled. "I’m not like those vampires you slay in graveyards. I pay my taxes. I keep my name out of the paper, and I don’t make waves. And in return I can do anything I want!"
"Thanks for the lesson." Faith put a foot on the chair between the vampire’s legs and lent forward. "Can you fly?" The vampire gasped as the Slayer kicked the chair backwards and through the curtained windows behind him. The screaming vampire crashed through the glass, exploding into dust instantaneously. "Let’s go gang."
The African-American looked down at him as he passed. "If I was you, I’d hire a better class of security."
FIC: Faith The Series Season 5 Episode 4
"Oh, I’m going to be late," she gasped as she hurried through the dimly-lit neighbourhood, eyes warily searching the darkness for any possible trouble. "Ooof!" she gasped as she bumped into someone, knocking the cardboard box in her hands to the pavement.
"Oh dear me," a studiously-handsome bespectacled Englishman perhaps 12 – 15 years her senior crouched down beside her and began gathering up the clothes that had spilt out of the cardboard box. "I can only apologise for my errant clumsiness."
Anne couldn’t help but smile at the foreigner’s charming way of talking. "No it was me. I didn’t hurt you, did I?"
"I should say not," the crouched man smiled at her, "Wesley Whyndham-Pryce at your service."
Anne smiled even as she continued "I just... I couldn't see over
the box. I was rushing. I'm late for work."
The man held up a garishly coloured shirt, eyebrow raised. "You do clown
Anne threw her head back and laughed. "No. Just some old clothes that got donated."
"To the East Hills Teen Centre." Anne stared at the foreigner. "It's on the box."
"Of course," Anne rose, box in hands.
"You forgot your purse."
The Englishman smiled as he passed her back her purse. "No problem."
"They're for the kids," Anne continued. "We close in a couple of hours and
there’s always a feeding frenzy when a new batch comes in."
"You work with runaways?" the Englishman queried.
"Some of them. Some are from around here; just don't have anywhere to go. We give 'em food, clothes, somewhere to stay if they need it."
"That's good... It's good that someone cares." The Englishman smiled. "Sometimes, people get forgotten, they’re an uncomfortable reminder of society’s inequalities and injustices." Wesley smiled. "Sorry, I know I tend to get wordy as my American friends put it."
Anne smiled. "Well, I'm late." She turned to go and then looked over
her shoulder. "See you around."
Wesley smiled. "I certainly hope so."
* * *
"I’ve met her," Wesley announced as he walked into the offices. "And I’m convinced whatever that Wolfram & Hart have planned; Anne isn’t a part of it."
"Yeah?" Faith chortled as she sat with the others in the middle of the Watcher Securities’ reception area. "You see a hottie and immediately you assume she can’t be evil, that how it is, Wes?"
Wesley glared at the Slayer. "Hardly, Faith. It is just that Anne appears very committed to her children. I cannot see her doing anything that would hurt them." He paused, unable to allow the moment go without a snippy retort. "And Faith, I would ask you to bear in mind that not all of us are so ruled by our crotches as to only make decisions based on them."
Faith’s eyes widened. "Why you-."
"Please," Giles spoke up, a weary look on his face. Wesley was rather worried by his fellow Watcher’s worn expression; it appeared his countryman hadn’t been sleeping well for weeks. "No bickering." The older man rubbed at his eyes before continuing. "What we do know is that two months ago, Anne almost lost the lease on the place. Wolfram and Hart stepped in and cleared it all up pro bono. If Anne isn’t involved then I would suggest that the shelter is being used for a front for something."
"But what?" Wesley asked.
"If Anne is unaware of what’s happening," Kate put in, "you can bet someone working there is. We need someone to go in undercover."
"Looks like I’m up," Faith rose sinuously. "Chuck, wanna ride shotgun?"
"Always, Slayer." The African-American rose.
"And I will go back to see if I can pump Anne for some more information," Wesley ignored Faith’s unladylike snort and muttered comment ‘about just pumping her’ to look around the room, a malicious smirk on his face. "Unfortunately I’ll need a prop for this visit."
"A prop?" Xander queried.
"Yes, the shelter runs on donations," Wesley paused. "I’ll take your old clothes." His smile widened at Faith’s groan and Cordelia’s whimper. Sometimes it was good being him.
* * *
"Faith, can we talk?"
Faith glanced at her boy-friend, brow furrowing as she noticed the perplexed almost hurt look on his face. "Sure hon."
Xander looked around the busy reception area, the other members of their team talking. "Upstairs."
"Sure hon," Faith repeated, confusion deepening.
The moment they reached the door to Xander’s room. Xander spun to face her.
"Why do you want Gunn to be your back-up and not me?"
"Hell, hon," Faith shook her head. "It ain’t nothing to do with you, well not in the way you think. I don’t trust him more or think he’s the better fighter." Maybe Gunn was, but she wouldn’t want to have live on the difference. "It’s just he’s street, like me. We’ll fit in better."
"Oh," Xander’s fraught face relaxed slightly. "But I’m not exactly from Beverly Hills. I mean you’ve met my dad."
"Yeah," Faith’s nose wrinkled at the memory. "Kinda wish I hadn’t though," she candidly admitted. "But you’ve never slept rough, I have. When I was a kid, when one of mom’s boy-friends or my foster ‘rents figured to make a try for me, I’d bail -."
"But you were," angry disgust filled Xander’s eyes. "You were only fourteen when G-Man adopted you."
"What can I say, world’s full of louses," she replied with a shrug.
"Oh, I’m sorry I brought it up," Xander looked down. "It’s just we seem to be drifting apart."
"No we ain’t!" Faith hotly denied. "Hon it’s just," Faith shrugged. "This law firm, they seem to freak out G a little and if something worries him, it worries me. Ain’t you."
"We’re still -."
"Five by five," Faith smiled before standing on her tiptoes and kissing Xander on his cheek. "Always, stud."
* * *
"Hey," Anne opened the shelter’s door to find a devastatingly beautiful biker chick and a hulking black stood in the doorway. Not recognising either of the duo, she gave the usual first-timer warning. "No-one with drink or drugs is allowed in, no exceptions."
"Nothing but good intentions," the brunette husked with a wink. "In or out?"
"In," she decided.
The moment the couple had hurried past her there was another knock on the door. Anne turned back, eyes widening at the figure stood there. "Hey! Guy I ran over."
Wesley smiled. "Hey. Girl who ran over me."
Anne smiled. "Just call me Anne. It's shorter."
* * *
Wesley offered the youth worker a box of clothes. "Um, I brought some... I don't know if they're any good."
"That's great!" Anne’s beam briefly dazzled him. The blonde carried them over
to the hallway’s table. "Whoa. Now let’s see. What have you got?"
Anne’s mouth widened as she pulled out a tiny midriff top that had been
grudgingly donated by Faith. "Well, that's - not what I expected. What's
the matter, it doesn't fit you anymore?"
"It was tight across the bust." Wesley smiled. "Actually it was tight across
the previous owner’s bust, although I believe it was rather the point."
Wes shuddered at the thought of dating Faith. Oh the headaches, the ulcers. "Good gracious, no. I haven’t the nerve or the patience."
Anne stared at him. "Well, I really appreciate... *we* really appreciate this. Every little bit helps, you know?"
"I just wish I could do more." Wesley was surprised just heart-felt the words sounded.
"Well, if you're not in a hurry. You up for a tour?" Anne looked around.
"I’d be honoured," Wesley bowed slightly.
Once the tour had finished, Anne stepped into her office: "And here is
the vibrant nerve centre of our massive corporation."
Wesley looked around the cramped office. "It's uh..."
"Small," Anne finished for him. "But I'm hardly ever in here. So, what
do you think?"
Wesley smiled. "Amazing. - You said it runs on donations?"
"Every last penny," the social worker confirmed.
"Got to be tough - trying to stay ahead."
"It is." Anne agreed. "Thankfully we have a guardian angel."
"Oh really?" Wesley allowed the young woman to feed him whatever information she was comfortable with.
"Wolfram and Hart. It's a law firm. They've been a godsend in the
last couple of months. Bailed us out of an eviction, defended a couple of
"They sound like saints," Wesley commented.
"As far as I'm concerned. They're the ones that came up with the idea
for the big hold up."
Wesley’s brow furrowed. "Hold up?"
Anne’s cheeks coloured. "Charity ball. It's a fundraiser for the centre. Big TV-celebrities go around and pretend to rob the guests of their donations. Wild West theme. It's gonna be big."
"And Wolfram and Hart's picking up the tab?" Wesley queried.
Anne nodded. "They're donating everything, from the music to the food - plus they have connections to all the TV stars."
Wes licked his lips, a bitter taste forming in his mouth. "You’re right, they sound like angels." He took a breath, really hating what he was about to say but also knowing it was unavoidable. "Anne, I think you should know, our meeting last night was deliberately engineered." The blonde stared blankly and more than a little fearfully at him. "The agency I work for was tipped off about your involvement with Wolfram and Hart. They're not saints, Anne. They don't care about you or your shelter. According to what we know about your benefactors’ method of operation, they'll use your charity for good publicity. Offer to throw you a big fund raiser, money starts rolling in... but wait! You're not the one counting it. So who knows how much they're keeping back right from the start. Next they'll give you a list of expenses, all very proper and necessary, but what do you know? After a certain number of miscellaneous, untraceable fees, you're left with five percent, tops."
"You follow me. Lie to me about who you are," Anne’s expression added anger to the fear. "What makes you think I'll believe anything you say?"
Wesley winced, this was going even worse than he’d imagined. "Wolfram and Hart are not what they say they are. They show the world one face but it's not the truth. - I can prove it. Everything they say is a lie."
Anne sniffed. "Guess you have something in common, huh?" The blonde’s face cleared.
The lawyer pushed past him to stand by Anne’s side, eyes concerned. "Are you
Anne swallowed then nodded. "Fine. I..."
Lindsey: interrupted. "He didn't hurt you, did he? Believe me, if I'd known this man was in contact with you, I'd come sooner. I'm just thankful that I got here in time."
Wesley forced a smile. "Hardly Olivier standard, old boy. Maybe if you worked on that look of concern."
"This man works for an anarchist organisation, intent on blackening my firm’s name. Fortunately one of my agents informed me he’d been in contact." Lindsey’s smile widened. "We’ll," a trio of heavy-set men entered, "deal with him now."
"I have proof," Wesley bluffed, heart sinking. "Hurting me won’t solve your problems."
"And it definitely won’t be good for your health."
* * *
The moment the nearest of the men began turning, Faith punched him in the small of the back. Leaping over the crumpling man, she caught the second with an elbow to the jaw, knocking him into the wall. The third managed to throw a right cross that she glided underneath before kicking him in his over-stuffed belly, grabbing his wrist, and flinging the thug over her shoulder and into the two suits rising behind. She smiled sweetly at the suddenly pale-faced Lindsey before turning to Wes. "Lucky I insisted on doing an undercover recon, huh?"
"Get your friends and get out of here!" Anne snapped.
"Gee who got her panties-," Faith threw up her hands at Wesley’s scowl. "Okay, okay. Jeez, have you heard of gratitude?"
* * *
Lillah’s heart dropped as they walked down Sunnydale, security discreetly
following behind. "They’ve got proof?"
Her companion shrugged. "Maybe."
"That's what he said." Lillah pressed. "Watcher Securities have proof."
Lindsey shrugged. "Everything is gonna be okay."
Lilah sniffed disdainfully. "Sure it is. I mean, all we did was
to oversee a scheme to steal two million dollars from a teen homeless shelter.
How did this happen?"
"If they’ve got proof it came from you," Lindsey defended.
Lilah’s eyes snapped incredulously to her companion. "Me?!"
"Yeah, you. You opened your mouth to someone, and now they’ve got it on
Lilah shook her head. "No, you're not laying this one on me. How do I know it wasn’t you?"
"Because the only person I ever talked to about it was you. Always in
my office, which is swept for bugs three times a day! I never discussed
stealing the money in public."
Lilah folded her arms and looked around. "Until now. They got us. The bastards just got us on tape. What are they gonna do with it?"
Lindsey groaned. "What do you think? They’re gonna use it to humiliate us."
Lilah closed her eyes. "The news. They’re gonna send it to the
news, aren’t they? National coverage..."
"No. It's not personal enough for them." Lindsey shook his head. "To see us swing, that's why - with the bosses there watching." Lindsey yanked out his cell. "It's me. I want security at the charity ball doubled."
* * *
"Anne," she jumped at the voice and turned to find a worn-looking Wesley stood by the doorway. "There is blood on that money, Anne. Are you the person who can ignore that? Have you become that yet? I don't think you have."
Anne shook her head. "You don't know what it takes to run a
"Help me. Get me into the party." Wesley pulled a video tape out of his
pocket. "If I put this on, the world sees a whole new side of Wolfram and Hart."
"Why should I?"
"Because it's right. In the long run, it's better."
Anne shook her head. "Most of my kids don't have a long run. No. I'm saying no."
* * *
Lillah’s mouth was dry and her heart lodged firmly in her throat as she gazed around the ball. The sprawling hall was filled with the wealthy, dressed immaculately in the latest fashions, a sumptuous buffet at the hall’s far end, beneath an over-hanging balcony and just to the left of a wide-screen TV upon which a number of celebrities were pledging their support to the East Hill Teen Centre in the hopes of paying off their unpaid Wolfram & Hart bills. Not only food was catered for of course, suited waiters glided through the massed throng, carrying silver trays filled with sparkling champagne.
"Good evening, sir." Lillah spun to face Holland.
"Things progressing nicely?"
Lilah forced a smile, remembering they’d decided not to confide their problems to Holland. "Well, it's a pretty simple formula. Rich people pay to touch famous people. Cameras catch all the not quite prostitutional action. Pretty profitable and it all goes into the public consciousness as a good deed courtesy of Wolfram and Hart. It's really true - charity gives you this warm glow. Anne!" she called to the shelter runner. "Anne. I'd like you to meet one of my bosses at Wolfram and Hart, Holland Manners. Mister Manners this is Anne."
Holland shook Anne's hand: "So this is the young woman whose dedication and hard work brings us together tonight."
Anne smiled weakly. "Well, I - try to help - where I can. Thank you for
Holland smiled. "I like to think of my job as underlining the 'heart' in
Wolfram and Hart."
Lilah added. "Remember, save some time for interviews tonight.
Now, whether you like it or not, you are the public face of this charity."
"And what a face it is." Holland was clearly in a charming mood tonight, Lillah only hoped it lasted.
The moment the last of the celebrity debtors have finished their speech, Lilah made her way to the podium at the front of the hall. "Now lets get started, but not with a plea for money. No, no. No, we're not here to ask you for money, we're here to take at gunpoint." Laughter followed her remarks. "Please welcome our celebrity bandits, from the hit show 'Life Lessons' Serena Tate, Holden Rayne, C.J. McCard, and Jordan Johns!" The crowd applauded as the celebrity bandits rush into the crowd, wielding guns and carpet bags to collect the donations. Soon, the employees at the table were putting the cash they removed from the envelopes into one bag. "Once again I'd like to thank our wonderful stars from 'Life Lessons' for giving so generously of their time." Applause sounded as the stars smiled and waved. "And to you, our benefactors, let me just say that we really *can* change the world. With your support we can make it a safer place for all our children." Applause, which gave way to talk as everyone's attention is drawn to a fight on the upper level. A scream rang out as one figure, Lillah smirked as she recognised it as the Slayer, flew off the level.
And then there was a disturbance at the entrance, Lillah saw the security being flung aside as Wesley, Xander, and Gunn made their entrance. Two guards snatched a hold of the Slayer. Lindsey strode over to her, a sneer on his face. "Did you really think we weren't gonna be ready for you? Where is the tape? Where is it? Where is the tape?"
Faith smirked. "Did you think one of your goons could throw me off the balcony? Please. G," the east coast native looked up to the balcony, "and me took out your security, easy. Then I took a fall off the balcony, Red cushioned it for me using the mojo. And while you’re looking at me."
Lillah paled as her head snapped back to see Anne hurrying over to the video machine. After a look to Lindsey, they started through the confused crowd. "Get her!" Even as she let out a scream the picture changed.
"The rat bastard," Faith breathed. "Wes gave her a tape of me singing karaoke. I’ll kill him."
Suddenly there was a husky, mocking voice in her ear. "Hey, while you’re watching me sing, and damn I didn’t realise just how good I was, G’s been taking off with your money."
"No," Lillah gulped as she spun back to the table where the money was stored.
Suddenly she and Lindsey were running to the table to find their employees
knocked unconscious and the money gone.
"Damn!" Lindsey looked around. "They’ve gone, the Slayer, all of them."
* * *
Anne looked up as a bag dropped onto her desk. Eyes widening as she recognised the intruder into her office, she rose and slapped him across the face. "How dare you? I risked everything in there. I risked my kids. You never even planned to expose the scheme."
Wesley flinched as her blow hit home. "They would have covered it up. I just wanted to shake them up a bit. - It's not much, but it's a start. Here’s the money, little bit more than five percent."
"Thanks now get out," Anne reached into the bag and pulled out bundles of cash.
"If Wolfram and Hart find out that you have that money..."
"I can find a way to hide it." Anne glared at the man. "Are you still here?"
* * *
Wesley closed the door to his apartment. He stood there for a long moment before sighing mournfully and turning the hall light on. Still he didn’t move into the lounge or kitchen. His cheek didn’t hurt from where Anne had slapped him, he’d been hit far harder in the past, but his heart….
Sighing slightly, Wesley strode through into his apartment and sat down, eyes staring sightlessly at the far wall. Being around the others, seeing them in their happy, involved, chaotic relationships only served to underscore just how alone he was. With Anne, he’d felt something. It had only been a spark, nothing more, but a spark could be fanned into something greater.
But that was never going to happen now.
FIC: Faith The Series Season 5 Episode 5
(..Previously On Faith The Series…)
Wesley let out one of his long-suffering sighs. Hey, Faith shrugged, fighting was her thing, being a geeky bookworm was Wes’. "This," the Watcher held the locket aloft again, "was given to Xia, the vampire you battled, by Bolit Smyert, her sire and lover, and the 600 year old vampire king of Russia some two hundred years ago. He’s an exceptionally vicious vampire."
* * *
"Ummmm," Faith moaned deep in her throat as she and Xander made out before reluctantly pulling away. "Nope," she laughed throatily. "I’m not doing it in a graveyard." Xander’ mouth opened, she pressed a finger to his mouth. "Down tiger, patrol now, fun later."
"Didn’t have you down as a prude," her boy-friend teased.
"Prude nothing," she defended as she straightened her clothes. "just good sense. We get naked in any other town’s graveyard, chances are worst thing that’ll find us is a pig. Here it could be a vamp, and no way are they seeing my goodies."
"No one gets to see my girl’s goodies ‘cept me," Xander agreed.
Faith smirked, his girl, four years on and hearing him say that still gave her a buzz. "Gonna have to get a new lock for the bathroom door, ‘cause G is getting’ to the age where sometimes, he just can’t wai-." Her voice trailed off as she realised Xander was staring off into the west. Her hand nudged instinctively into her jacket. "What’s the sitch?"
"That monastery, have you ever seen it before?" Xander whispered.
"Can’t say I have," she replied to her boyfriend’s question. The monastery looked like one of those medieval monasteries in G’s history books, the ones she secretly read unwilling to allow anyone know just how intriguing she found the past – probably ‘cause hers was so shitty. "Let’s investigate."
"Maybe we should call the others-."
"And you said we never did anything on our own anymore," Faith chided as she started towards the monastery, eyes flitting left and right in case of any danger.
"This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind," Xander retorted as he hurried by her side.
"Ah, honey you know how horny I get after a good fight."
"What are we waiting for?"
Faith chuckle died on her lips as they neared the monastery and slid through its half-open, iron-grille gates. All over the ground there lay crumpled and broken monks’ bodies, some with limbs missing, others lying in pools of blood, but all dead. "Okay, maybe we should call for help."
"On it," Xander had his cell to his ear as they half-crept, half-rushed up the three-stepped stone entrance and through the half-open double-doors.
After a nervous swallow, Faith stepped inside. The hall beyond was Spartan in both design and furnishings, and what little furniture there was had been broken, blood-soaked corpses crumpled throughout. Two men stood centre and to the back of the hall.
The first of the two looked like a genial old man with grey hair and a long, lined face. Except genial old men didn’t exactly make a habit of hanging around murder, make that massacre, scenes.
But it was the second, a tall, lean sleazy looking sob that got her attention. She’d only seen him once, but that was enough. "Rack," she growled, blood boiling as she remembered Amy’s death and Willow’s near break-down. "We owe you."
The dark mage’s eyes widened. "Slayer!" he gasped before raising a palm. "No!"
"Shit!" Sheer instinct had shove Xander to the ground at the same time she flung herself in the opposite direction. Behind her the door exploded into firewood, the concussive force of whatever spell Rack had flung at her flattening it. Head ringing, she struggled to her feet to find that the mage and his ally had fled.
Figuring the mage must have run out of power and taken his chance to take a powder, she hurried over to Xander and helped him up. Her eyes widened as she saw a bloodied monk trying to move, breath coming in rattling gasps, his face a crushed ruin. "X, find some bandages or something, I’ll see if he can tell us about Rack and his running bud." Xander nodded and hurried off, Faith made her way to the man. "Hey," she greeted.
"My journey's done, I think," the monk rattled.
"Don't talk bullshit," Faith clumsily comforted as she eased the mortally-wounded man into a seated position, cradling him in her arms. "A few days and you’ll be five by five."
"You are the Slayer, yes?"
Faith blinked and gaped in quick succession. "How in the hell-."
"You have to... the Key," the monk rattled. "You must protect the Key."
"Fine." Faith nodded. Just what was the crazy asshole babbling on about? "Home security is very important."
"Many more die if you don't keep it safe," the monk moaned as pain raged through him.
Faith found herself getting more and more worried. The monk was fading quickly, his blood soaked her leather jacket, but the fervour in his eyes remained undimmed. "What is this key?"
"The Key is energy. It's a portal. It opens the door..."
"Keys usually do," Faith commented.
"The key to other dimensions. Demonic dimensions." The monk shook his head. "For centuries it had no form at all. My brethren, its only keepers. Then the abomination found us. We had to hide the Key, gave it form, moulded it flesh... made it human and sent it to you."
Faith stared at the man. "One of my friends?" She paused as realisation sunk in. "Which one?" She opened and closed her mouth as she realised the monk had stopped breathing. "Which one!"
"I found some dressings-."
"He’s dead," Faith’s head snapped towards Xander. And then she looked up at the suddenly shaking ceiling, dust falling on them. "Let’s get out of here!"
* * *
"We have a problem, people." Lindsey cringed inwardly as Holland strode into the office after keeping him and Lillah waiting for over an hour. "This Slayer is beginning to become an annoyance, first Mr. Winters’ unfortunate demise and then the fiasco with the teen shelter. The senior partners are not happy. Something has to be done, she has to be eliminated!"
"Um," Lindsey raised a tentative hand, "I hate to be a pooper, but this Slayer has a tendency to get out of any situation. She’s killed Lothos, the Master, Kakitosis, and Penn, beaten a rogue Slayer-."
"I called the Order. When I told them I was contracting them for a hit on her, they hung up," Lillah added.
Lindsey scowled at the interruption before continuing. "Defeated the Mayor, another client of ours, slain the Judge, thwarted the Sisterhood of Jhe’s attempts at world annihilation, destroyed a cybernetic demon," he paused, "or was is it a demonic cyborg?"
"No-body will voluntarily go near her," Lillah finished his point for him.
Holland shook his head disapprovingly. "Now where’s your initiative? We don’t pay you the big bucks for defeatist thinking! Have you heard of Bolit Smyert?"
Lindsey cursed as Lillah answered a half-second before him. "Isn’t he the sire and mate of a vampire Faith killed last year?"
"Yes," Holland’s creased face broke into a smile.
"But even so," Lindsey commented, "isn’t he just another vampire? He’s old, but Lothos, the Master, and Kaktosis were older."
"They didn’t have his advantage," Holland’s smile widened. "Bolit has agreed to have a few improvements done."
* * *
"Faith, what’s wrong?" Xander stared worriedly at his girl-friend. Usually Thursday afternoon was their make-out time. But today Faith was sat listlessly on the office’s couch, rather than upstairs in his room where they could have some privacy –making out was kind of hard to do with Giles glaring down on you. Actually, make that impossible.
Faith shrugged, cupid lips opening.
And then the door crashed open, and a tall, barrel-chested man with a scar down the left side of his face and a pointed, greying goatee. "You killed Xia!" he roared, the building echoing to his bellow.
"Sir!" Giles opened the office door, face furious. "Do you mind!"
"G!" Faith yelled as she leapt to her feet, eyes alight with alarm. "Behind me! He’s a vamp!"
Giles shot the Slayer an amused look. "What wearing sun-tan? Only it’s rather bright-," Giles gurgled as the entering demon’s eyes flashed yellow, "my mistake!"
Faith leapt over the couch and into a free-flowing dropkick that caught the demon full in the chest and flung him back out of the door. "K!" Faith looked towards the Englishman. "Why isn’t he char-grill?"
"I can only hazard a guess," Giles began.
"Hazard quicker!" Xander yelled. "He’s getting up!"
"There are certain procedures that can be done that can make a demon immune from its usual weaknesses," Giles began.
"And you mention it now?" Faith snapped.
"However the effects are only temporary," Giles added. "And they come with a
"Really?" Faith gulped as the vampire re-entered. "Not seeing it!"
"When the effects wear off, the vampire dusts!" G exclaimed as the demon threw a right at Faith.
Faith blocked the punch on her forearm, stepped inside her opponent’s guard and drove the top of her head into his mouth. The demon stumbled backwards and tried a leaping roundhouse kick that Faith dropped into a crouch to avoid. "How long?"
"Without knowing when exactly he had the procedure done, I couldn’t say!" Giles responded.
"I don’t suppose," Xander snatched up the fire extinguisher and crashed it into the back of the demon’s head, "you think he’d tell us?"
"Doubtful," Giles responded even as the demon caught Xander with a crushing back heel to the gut. Winded he fell to his knees, blood roaring in his ears.
"You took what I loved away from me," the vampire grinned at him as Giles hurried to his side, "I’ll take what you loved away from you."
"Oh dear," Giles muttered.
"I’m pretty sure," Xander groaned at the damage done to his ribs, "he was looking at you when he said that."
"Ain’t gonna happen," Faith moved from her crouch into a leg sweep that the vampire promptly jumped over en-route to crashing a kick into her jaw, knocking her onto her back.
"Isn’t it?" the demon laughed as he stepped over his girl-friend’s dazed body.
"I hope I’m alive to regret this in the morning," Giles muttered before leaping onto the demon’s broad back. An elbow caught the Watcher on the jaw, flinging him into the doorway.
"In for a penny," Xander surged to his feet and thrust a stake through the demon’s back, "in for a-," he groaned as the demon didn’t explode, "oh crap." He ducked the backhanded slap but was grabbed around the throat and flung on top of a rising Giles.
* * *
Faith rose, eyes gleaming. Mysterious keys she couldn’t fight, but some toothy asshole with an aching for blood, she could. Raising her hand, she tilted her head to one side and beckoned the demon on. "You want me?" she smirked. "Come get some."
The vampire let out an enraged roar before charging her. Faith waited until the last second before leaping feet-first into the wall and spring boarding off it into a flying forearm that smashed into the side of the vampire’s head, knocking him over the couch. "’Kay," Faith sprang up from the crouch she’d landed in and hurried to her friends by the door, yanking them to their feet, "I say we leave him to his anger management issues."
"Montgomery himself would be proud of such strategic thinking," Giles agreed.
Once outside, Faith looked left and right. "Where the hell are your cars?"
"Oh," G shrugged. "I felt like a walk."
"Gunn’s is in the shop, I lent him mine," Xander replied.
"Great!" Faith shook her head. "Bus!" She hurried towards the bus, her friends trailing in her wake. Once aboard, they slumped in the seats. "Well," Faith groaned, "at least this is over wi-."
Xander gulped as he looked and pointed up. "You were saying?"
Faith followed her boyfriend’s pointed finger to see that the demon had torn the bus’ roof away directly over them. "Oh shi-." Faith didn’t have time to finish her curse before the vampire dropped onto her.
Hitting the dirty floor on her back, the manically screaming demon on top of her, Faith covered up as it rained punch after punch on her, figuring when it was hitting her, G and Xan were safe. Suddenly there was a respite. Looking up she saw Xander and G trying to pull the bulging-muscled vampire off her and took the opportunity to slam a hard right into its nose, shattering it across its face.
The demon howled in pain before snatching a hold of her hair, almost ripping it off her scalp, and driving the back of her head against the bus floor. "Fuck!" Faith gasped as she drove a knee into the beast’s thickly muscled chest. If that spell didn’t wear off and soon, she was toast.
Xander climbed onto the seat behind and leapt feet first into the creature’s back, knocking it to the ground beside her. Finally free of its grip, Faith grabbed a hold of the seat and pulled herself upright, kicking at the demon as she did so.
The demon threw Xander off and into an advancing Giles before bounding to its feet, yellow eyes gleaming. "Your friends are going to die because of you, Slayer. They’re going to die screaming. You took from me, now I take from you."
"No," Faith shook her head, "you don’t." The monk’s words had taken enough from her. No one was taking anything or anyone else from her. Her fist smashed into the demon’s face even as she left her feet, snatched a hold of a pole and swung feet-first into the demon, the momentum of her attack flinging the demon over two sets of seats.
"The bus has stopped Faith!" Giles yelled. "Let’s get off."
"No," she shook her head as she looked at the rising vampire. "Me and him have got some business to-." She slumped against the wall as the demon exploded into dust. It was over. She glanced up as Giles and Xander hurried towards her.
No, she realised, it was never over for her.
* * *
"Come out, Faith."
Faith forced a smile. "Love to babe, but that vamp got some bad ass blows in, I need to recuperate, ya know." She closed the door behind her protesting boyfriend and started through her house, feet seeming to move in slow-motion. Her breath caught as she peered into G’s study, her Watcher bent over his desk as he read. After a second she’d gained the nerve to speak. "You know how I said the monk didn’t regain consciousness?" Giles looked up and nodded at her rhetorical question. She swallowed. "I lied."
"Oh really?" Her father and Watcher put his pen down, patient eyes staring intently at her. "Why is that?"
"He said that the monks had this key to other dimensions made into a person and sent to me to protect it. One of my friends."
"Oh good lord," G had turned ashen. "The prophecy. I must have mistranslated, not demon but non-human."
Faith stared at her Watcher. "Prophecy?" she croaked.
"A few weeks ago I found a book that said the Slayer of the millennium would have friends, one who would be non-human," G chuckled weakly, a sick look on his face. "It seems that not only you were keeping secrets."
Faith licked her lips, not wanting to and yet unable to ask the question that had been haunting her since the previous night. "Is it you? Are you the Key"
Her Watcher stared sadly at her before finally, slowly, shaking his head. "I just don’t know."
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