Triple Trouble (1/2)
“Wow!” Faith dropped into the booth beside him, grabbed his coke, and, after throwing him a wink, chugged half his drink down before grinning at him. “This club is really rocking!”
“Well it certainly isn’t the Bronze,” he agreed. After four days sampling LA’s many and varied sights, they’d decided to move on, figuring that staying in one place too long would increase the chances of the Council catching up with them.
So now they were in San Francisco and a club called P3. Xander glanced around, his statement of a few moments ago was dead on the money. Instead of a sweaty club filled with wildly gyrating teens dancing to the latest teenybopper bands they were in a stylish club filled with twenty and thirty somethings listening to a rock combo.
Although, Xander hid a grin, one thing hadn’t changed. His bud was still getting more than her fair share of admiring glances from most of the nightspot’s male, and many of the female, patrons. “Just like being in Sunnydale,” he muttered.
Not that he blamed them. As usual the lithe brunette looked amazing, dressed in a pair of figure hugging black jeans and matching sequined silk blouse that emphasised every curve of her alluring body. Throw in the glossiest, blackest hair he’d ever seen, framing a high-boned face containing the brownest eyes and poutiest cherry-red lips in existence, and you had a quite a package. And that was without even considering her heart, spirit, sense of humour, and loyalty.
But he didn’t have a chance. Not only had the Bostonian made it clear she didn’t back-track, she’d also made it clear that she thought it was impossible to be friends with anyone she was ‘banging’.
Given his admittedly limited experience of relationships he didn’t think that was true. All barbs aside, him and Cordy had been great friends – until he fouled that up. And maybe that was the problem, maybe Faith felt like she couldn’t trust him with her heart. And he supposed he couldn’t blame her for that.
Or maybe, Xander felt his heart tighten, it was the nightmarish spectre of Faith’s past that prevented her from seeing him like that. And if it came down to a choice of sleeping with her just the once or having her as his friend he’d take the friendship. If for no other reason than she needed a friend more than just another bedpost notch.
“Xman,” he started at Faith’s soft hand on his wrist. “You five by five there X?” the Slayer asked, her nose scrunched up in concern. “You kinda zoned out there for a moment.”
“Just thinking stuff,” he evaded.
“Oh yeah?” the sultry east coast native’s luminous eyes widened in theatrical shock. “Hold the front pages, I’ve gotta a headline for ya ‘Xander Harris Has Deep Thought’.”
“Funny,” he mock-scowled, while secretly enjoying their easy banter. “I have depths.”
Faith snorted. “Yeah sure,” she scoffed. “Heard rumours, don’t believe ‘em though.”
Xander shook his head. “There you go bolstering my ego again.”
“Hey,” Faith winked at him. “Just calling it how I see it.” Suddenly the Bostonian grinned. “I love this song. Let’s dance!”
“Oh no,” Xander felt his blood chill at the very idea. “I don’t dance remember, I’m the guy who looks like he’s been hit by a cattle prod.” He looked around the crowded club. “There’s plenty of guys who’d love to dance with -.”
“Don’t want to dance with them, just you,” the Slayer interrupted, grabbing his arm and dragging him to feet. “It’s time I taught ya.”
“No arguments!” Faith scowled. “Do as you’re told!”
* * *
“Oh boy,” Piper’s eyes narrowed as she noticed a stunning brunette drag a good-looking male onto the dance-floor. All very nice, except neither looked to be twenty-one. “Trouble,” she looked around for security.
“Don’t do it,” Leo counselled.
“What?” Piper’s temper flared. “Neither of them are twenty-one. I doubt she’s,” Piper winced as she glanced towards the girl, great not only was she breaking licensing laws, but judging from her dancing, several decency ones. “Even eighteen.”
Her guardian angel remained unmoved in the face of her outrage. “No,” Leo conceded. “But your security couldn’t handle her anyway, she’s in your line of work.”
“What?” Phoebe interrupted, her younger sister’s face confused. “She can’t be old enough to own a club, be a dancer at one, maybe.”
Leo chuckled. “No, your other line of work,” the handyman corrected. “She’s a Champion, just like you guys. She’s a Slayer.”
Piper’s mouth dropped open. She’d read about the legend of the Slayer line in The Book of Shadows. Shaking her head she stood. “I don’t care who she is, she’s under-age.”
“Wait,” Leo grabbed her forearm. “They’re just a couple of kids having fun, they won’t do any harm. Her life’s hard enough, she won’t get many chances to enjoy herself, just leave them be. For me?”
“Fine,” Piper sat down grumpily unable to resist Leo’s pleading gaze. “But if we get raided mister…” she allowed her words to trail off menacingly.
* * *
“Here X,” Faith smirked at his nervousness as she took his hands and wrapped them around her tiny waist. “Hold me,” the brunette winked. “I’m not bone china babe, I won’t shatter.” The Slayer wrapped her arms around his neck. “That feels good, uh?”
“Yeah,” he muttered as the Bostonian began to move, her body moving sensually in rhythm with the band’s pounding beat.
The east coast native tossed her coal-black hair back and chuckled. “Don’t just stand there X!” she leaned up against him, her breath hot against his face. “Just move with me, don’t worry about it X, I’ll,” the brunette giggled. “I’ll steer you round the curves. Again.”
The next few minutes were a combination of half-ecstasy\half-agony for him. Ecstasy because he was holding the girl he was crazy about in his arms, his scent filling her nose, and looking into her eyes, seeing her smile. Agony because he wasn’t crushing his lips to hers and tearing her clothes off.
Suddenly his friend pulled away, her
face tense. “What’s up? Did I stand on your foot? I’m sorry,” he babbled, “but
I told you I can’t -.”
“There’s demons outside.”
“Where?” all nervousness seeped away.
“Round the back.”
Xander nodded. “Let’s go.”
* * *
“Fuck!” Faith kicked open the fire escape door, wood splintering under the impact of her kick. She’d used more force than she actually needed. She was so pissed, she’d been having a real good time, dancing with her man, she’d figured maybe tonight was the night she got him. But now….
Her mood was far from improved by the struggle they’d had to find the back route out of the club after grabbing their weapons from the car. She knew the Bronze like the back of her hand, but this place…
Her eyes narrowed at the sight that greeted her, all other considerations leaving her. In the darkened alley a trio of beautiful brunettes battled a quintet of short demons with thick grey fur all over their muscular bodies, and gleaming red eyes. “Seems not only Sunnydale has weird shit going on,” she muttered before shaking off her shock and turning to her companion. “I’ll take the left side,” she growled before charging into the fray.
* * *
“Yes boss,” Xander fought back the urge to shake his head as he pulled out his dagger. “Plan,” he muttered. “She’s a Slayer, she doesn’t need a plan. Pity about us mere mortals.”
Hurrying forward he was confronted by one of the demons. The beast swung a shovel-sized paw at him. His eyes widening, he back-pedalled from its suddenly apparent claws. “Oh just great!”
Sidestepping towards the wall, he pulled back when the creature struck, its claws scraping against the brick surface, sending blue sparks flying and the impact knocking the monster off-balance. Grinning slightly, Xander lunged forward, thrusting the dagger hilt-deep into the monster’s trunk-like throat.
Black viscera vomited out of the gaping wound, splattering against his face. The injured demon screeched as he dragged his dagger out before it dropped face-first to the ground. Leaping over the demon’s corpse, he rushed to the next monster.
Seeing his approach, the creature charged to meet him. Leaping to the side at the last second, he thrust his dagger at the beast’s left eye, but his attack just missed, tearing through the creature’s cheek instead. Howling in pain, the creature backhanded him to the ground. Head ringing, he struggled to his feet only to be hit full on by the creature slamming into him.
The wind exploded from his body as the force of the attack flung him into the far wall. Groaning slightly at the impact he dropped to one knee and thrust his dagger upwards in an uppercut motion. This time, his attack ran true, plunging deep into the monster’s distended belly.
Even as the monster toppled forward, Xander struggled to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of the women they’d come to rescue go down under an attack. He leapt forward instantly, letting out an agonised scream as the beast spun to meet him, its claws shredding through his side. He passed out a second before his head collided with the concrete.
Triple Trouble (2/2)
The moment she’d finished speaking to Xander, Faith erupted into action, leaping into the air and into a jumping crescent kick, catching the nearest demon under its jaw with the point of her boot and knocking it on its ass. Before the monster had chance to rise, she grabbed its head and twisted, ripping it off its shoulders.
Blood racing, she dropped the beast’s head before surging onto the next, moving under its slashing claws, she herself slashed at the creature’s right leg, snapping the monster’s hamstring like a string. The demon roared before falling to its knees. Before it had time to react, she’d slit its throat. Sensing a demonic presence behind her, she shot out a back heel kick that slammed into her would-be attacker stomach, the impact of the blow jarring her leg.
Faith spun round to face the demon only to catch a backhander that sent her crashing into the wall. “Fuck!” shaking her head clear, she twisted round and thrust her dagger at the beast only to see her attack blocked and her knife sent clattering to the ground.
“Oh this just gets better,” she groused as she ducked beneath a clawed attack. Thinking quickly she executed a back flip to put some space between her and her assailant before snatching up a near-by metal trash can lid. Her eyes widened when she attempted to use the lid as a makeshift shield only for the beast’s claws to rip through the metal like a knife through butter. “Oh crap!”
Instantly she changed her plan, adjusted her grip, and thrust the lid’s newly serrated edge through the creature’s throat. A grin parting her full lips, she watched as the thrashing monster dropped to the ground.
“Sucks to be you.” Her grin died when she saw her companion’s body lying on the ground, blood pumping out of his torso wounds and, even more worryingly, his head. “XANDER!”
* * *
Phoebe hit the ground with a thud, the crashing impact driving the air from her body and sending pain shooting up her left hip. She looked up helplessly at the Gartoq demon stood over her, watching as the demon raised a claw for a downwards slash.
Suddenly the Slayer’s friend was between her and the monster. Bile rose in Phoebe’s throat as she saw the demon’s claw rip through the youth’s side, sending blood splattering across her face and the wall. Instantly the youth gasped, his legs crumpling beneath him.
Phoebe screamed as the teen hit the ground headfirst, the collision making a wet, smacking sound. Phoebe was unable to tear her eyes away from the hideous wound and the blood leaking out of it. Above her, she heard the creature bellowed triumphantly and saw it raise it claws. Her composure returning, Phoebe began to struggle to her feet. Maybe she could distract the Gartoq from her rescuer.
To her relief the demon suddenly turned and charged towards the Slayer. Phoebe looked down at the body by her feet, horror choking her throat, making it difficult to breath. He looked to be little more than a child. “Leo! Help now!”
* * *
Her inhuman scream still echoing through her ears, Faith bounded towards her crumpled friend, her eyes drawn to the viscera pooling out of his head, his blood. Her terror grew as a man appeared beside her Xander in a silvery glow. If he laid a finger on her Xander. “Miss,” one of the women they’d rescued spoke to her.
“Out of my way,” Faith screamed, her eyes widening as the man crouched down over her friend. “Get off him!” Shoving the woman aside she charged towards the newcomer and lunged to grab him.
Only for the man to disappear in another flash of light. “What the fuck!” Spinning round she saw the man standing by the women. Growling protectively, she stood astride Xander’s body. She might not be able to get her hands on the freak but there was no way was that bastard getting near Xander. “I don’t know who you are,” her gaze took in all three women and the man. “Or what’s going on here, but you’re not going to lay a damn finger on him.”
“Miss, what’s your name?” she flipped the man the finger. She knew names could give a mage power, no way she was giving hers to this asshole. The man sighed. “Miss, I’m just trying to help yo-.”
“Yeah sure you are!” she snapped. No
fucking way he was getting near her X, she might not be book-smart, but she knew
enough about the streets and you always had your bud’s back. “Why don’t you all
just fuck off?”
“Let me freeze her.”
The woman’s comment was a whisper but enough for Faith’s Slayer hearing to pick it up. “Try it and I’ll cut your throat out,” she snarled.
“Miss,” it was the woman Xander had been injured protecting. “Please, we’re the Charmed Ones,” Faith blinked, she’d heard of them, the most powerful Wiccas in the world. “And he’s,” the witch pointed at the newcomer, “Leo, our Whitelighter, our guardian angel, he can heal your friend.”
Faith looked down at the body at her feet, what should she do? What would Xander do? In her heart she knew the answer, Xander always thought the best of people, gave them a chance. “Okay,” she whispered before backing from her friend’s body, allowing her knife to clatter to the ground. God she hoped she was doing the right thing.
After a second the angel smiled at her
and hurried over to Xander. Dropping to one knee, he placed a palm on Xander’s
bloody forehead. Faith started when the man’s hand began to glow, she moved
forward, intent on getting the man away from Xander. “Wait,” the woman Xander
had rescued grabbed her arm. “It’s how Leo heals people.”
Forcing herself to take a calming breath, Faith nodded mutely, her eyes fixed on the crumpled body of her best, her only, friend. She let out a gasp as her friend’s body shuddered and he started to sit up. “X!” she started forward to hug him only to remember her audience and stopped. “Are you fucking loco or what?” she growled in an effort to conceal her relief.
“I’m hanging with you aren’t I?” Xander shot back with a wink before turning to the angel. “Thanks -?”
“Leo,” the whitelighter smiled at Xander before reaching out and helping her friend to his feet. “This is Prue, Piper, and Phoebe Halliwell. If you’d like we could go back to our place.”
Faith looked at Xander, when he came to the fighting she took the lead, but in other shit she looked to him for guidance. After a second, her friend nodded. “Give up the company of a trio of beautiful women or spend a night alone with a nag, contrary to popular belief I’m not a complete idiot,” Xander winked again.
“Bite me Harris,” Faith shot back with a grin. There couldn’t be too much wrong with her bud if he was cracking wise.
* * *
As Faith looked around her new surroundings she couldn’t help but be hit by a tidal wave of happiness and pain. Damn, it was so like Ally’s place it brought back all those memories….“Xander’s a little young to be your Watcher isn’t he?”
She turned at the angel’s voice at her shoulder and laughed, grateful at the interruption. “My Watcher?” she grinned. “X ain’t my Watcher, well maybe cept when I’m wearing my baby -,” her voice trailed off and her cheeks crimsoned as she realised what she was saying to a celestial being.
Fortunately the angel didn’t appear to take offence. “I can imagine,” he smiled at her. “Why don’t you sit down?”
“Uh thanks,” Faith dropped into the lounge seat opposite the three Wiccas. Slightly uncomfortable under their shared gaze, she turned back to the angel. “Is Xander okay?”
“I’ve given him some clean clothes to change into,” the whitelighter soothed. “He’s,” he winked. “Five by five.”
“Wicked,” Faith glanced at the carpet, drained with emotion after Xander’s close call.
“If he’s not your Watcher, what is he?”
Faith looked up at Piper’s question and shrugged. “He’s my bud.”
“Where is your Watcher?” Leo asked.
Faith nearly said ‘dead’, but in the end she shrugged again. “In Sunnydale, I left him his tweed ass behind when I found out about the Cruciamentum.”
“The what?” the question came from Piper.
“A test carried out on a Slayer’s 18th birthday where she is stripped of their powers and put in a room with a Master Vampire,” Leo explained.
The three Witches eyes all widened in horror. “That’s barbaric!”
The angel nodded at Phoebe’s cry. “Yes, the Council claims it’s to test a Slayer’s worthiness and resourcefulness, but in reality it’s to ensure they don’t get Slayers with the maturity to challenge them.”
“And the Powers allow it?” Prue demanded, her face angry.
“The Powers are far from happy about it but prefer not to interfere directly,” the heavenly being replied before turning to her, his face puzzled. “But what I don’t understand is how you found out about the test, the Council usually hide its existence from the Slayers until afterwards, on the rare occasions they survive”
Faith nodded. “Yeah but the other Slayer’s older than me and they tested her six months back so I knew -.”
“Other Slayer?” now Leo looked really confused. “But that’s impossible!”
“The Master drowned her, X gave her CPR and started the second line,” Faith explained. “He’s my only bud, so when he decided to leave town I decided to skip town with him. No way I was trusting the others to have my back, but Xander’s cool.”
* * *
Xander winced as he pulled off his shirt and inspected the shredded material. “Damn,” if not for the angel…. Realising he was shaking, he sat on the edge of the bath and took a few calming breaths. To come so close to dying…. He realised how lucky he’d been over the last few years, his worst injury had been a broken wrist and given the household he’d grown up in that wasn’t anything major.
Still, it wasn’t as if he had a choice about it. This life had chosen him as much as he’d chosen it and he couldn’t turn his back on it – and by extension his best friend. Smiling softly at the thought of Faith, he ran a bowl of water to wash his bloody scalp and dipped his head in.
* * *
“Ready?” he demanded, his eyes fixed on the demonic hordes facing them, his sword held ready. There was so many of them, how could they possibly win? He squared his shoulders and looked back to his waiting army, they had to, their world depended on it.
“Ares has the left flank, and Ashur the right,” Nacon replied.
He nodded. Ares, Ashur, and Nacon, they were all that were left of the men who’d helped him start the rebellion, the others dead. “And Artemis?”
“In position,” Nacon confirmed.
“Then,” he nodded and raised his sword skyward. “TO VICTORY!”
* * *
Xander’s head shot out of the bowl, spraying water everywhere. “What the hell was that?” after a second, the images receded and his heartbeat returned to normal. Xander shook his head and chuckled. “Okay, so maybe next time I’ll skip the Conan re-runs.” Still shaking his head, he dipped his head back underwater. He really was doing too much demon fighting.
* * *
He seethed as he watched the world through the boy’s eyes, looking through his host’s cluttered and undisciplined mind. What he’d seen of the boy’s past indicated he had potential, powerful friends too. He remembered the Slayer line, how he’d punished the meddling Shadow Men for that abomination, but the boy would need steadfast allies and the girl had loyalty and heart as well as the talents her Calling had bestowed on her. He’d been so close to gaining control, if the girl had held the angel off for just a few extra seconds, then he’d have been able to get his answer. But next time, soon.
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