Part 19: Unexpected Guests
All was quiet in the Magic Box, as the few people present were each engrossed in their separate tasks. Dawn was firmly ensconced halfway up the stairs leading to the restricted section of the shop, idly looking around, her finished homework stacked neatly beside her. There had been a lot of studying she had had to make up for due to the whole Glory fiasco, and she had not been too keen on doing it, but she didn’t have much choice with a Vampire and Slayer breathing down her neck over the matter. The rustling of paper and the quiet murmur of a male voice made her look over to see Angel and Spike, her father and nephew respectively (according to the Powers That Be through Their Messenger Whistler). She still found it difficult to accept, and only in rare moments did she think of them in that manner. They were looking through Buffy’s will at the checkout counter, and she grimaced. She knew the Slayer had made the thing after Giles’ constant badgering finally got to her one day just to shut the Watcher up, but Dawn had hoped to never see that document...even if it was only there for a different purpose.
Speaking of said Watcher, the young woman turned her head to look towards the table wedged in the back area of the shop to see Giles and the Immortal that had come to help out with Buffy intently studying an ancient demonology book. She quietly snorted. That book was probably only a hundredth of the age of the Immortal who read it. Oh, yes, she knew who he was: Methos, oldest living Immortal, also known to the general populace as Adam Pierson. She had heard him mumbling to himself while looking through an old book in front of a bookcase next to where she had seemingly been sleeping in a chair...and had immediately discovered all she could on him after that. She hadn’t found much, and he was proving to be an enigma that she was just dying to uncover all the secrets of. He fascinated her, and his moods were as fluid as water. One could not be too sure when he was joking or not about some historical incident he said he was near or part of. Although, she thought she was starting to figure it out. There was this certain glint
he got in his eyes at times when he was talking straight-faced that she suspected was him laughing internally.
Shaking her head to dispel such thoughts, Dawn wondered what Buffy was doing at the house. Probably packing or watching television, since Giles explicitly forbade her from patrolling until after
the current situation was dealt with. She grinned. That
had been one hell of a temper tantrum the Immortal Vampire Slayer had thrown. It had taken Angel some time to calm her down and make her see reason.
Idly fiddling with the necklace she was wearing, Dawn turned to see who was entering the shop upon hearing the bell above the main door jingle. Seeing who it was, the girl rolled her eyes and huffed out a breath before leaning back, resting her arms on the steps behind her, and stretching out her legs before her while crossing them at the ankles. Show time
, she thought with vague interest as she watched Quentin Travers enter the Magic Box.
Giles, at the ringing of the bell, looked up and spotted Quentin. A frown firmly in place, the Watcher walked over to his superior. After the initial greeting and handshake, Giles asked, “Can you now tell me why you came? You did not specify your purpose over the phone.”
“Indeed,” Quentin conceded, “I did not, for a very good reason: I have brought you your new assignment.”
A heavy stillness settled over the shop, followed by Giles taking off his glasses to polish them. Looking at the head of the Watcher’s Council, he asked tensely, “A new Slayer? I thought that when a Watcher’s Slayer passed on, they would not take on such a duty again.”
Nodding his head in agreement, Quentin answered, “Normally, yes, but this is an unusual circumstance. You are, in truth, taking up an old assignment. There is no new Slayer until she has passed on.”
Dawn sat up straight in her seat, her eyes widening with realization and hope, then unease. Quickly, she glanced to Angel to see his eyes narrowed and body tense. Beside the souled vampire, Spike looked on with puzzled suspicion. She turned her attention back to the two Watchers.
Giles had returned his glasses to his face, and was gazing intently at the man before him, then said, “I thought she had been killed in prison three days ago.”
A small knowing smile appeared on the other Watcher’s face, before he said with a touch of arrogance, “No, she didn’t. We arranged her supposed death, and have, for the past few days, been making her a new identity, as well as erasing what evidence we can of her previous one.”
“And where is she,” Giles asked quietly.
“I’m right here,” said a female voice coming from the entrance to the storage room.
Everyone turned towards the one who had spoken, and saw the Slayer Faith leaning against the doorway, arms folded; but she was not as they had known her, for while her form was the same, everything else was different. Her previously long dark brown locks were now jet-black (even her eyebrows), and in a short bob cut that was ragged enough that one almost thought she had taken a knife to it in a fit of rage. The clothing she wore was still skin tight and mostly leather, but no longer were they dark. Instead, they were faded and subdued hues of red, green, brown, and gray. As well, they were well worn, and not as pristinely kept as her old clothes were. The change was startling, but no less was the difference of her eye color from a dark chocolaty brown to a vibrant green only those born with such eyes could possess. Those eyes caused the mortals in the room to have a shiver run down their spine, for they reflected the darkness of her past and the remorse she felt for her actions.
After a moment of everyone staring at her, she offered a wan smile, and then looked down, almost shyly. A second later, she looked back up, a self-deprecating grin on her lips as she said, “I know, not what ya expected.” She stepped forward, and turned in a circle before facing them again. Once she stopped, she waved, and added, “Let me introduce the new me: I’m Hope Trix, the Vampire Slayer. I’ve come to guard the Hellmouth from all the evil shit out there.”
“Language, Hope,” Quentin admonished, “you promised to cut down on the swearing. It doesn’t suit your new persona.”
The congenial and hesitant mood Faith had been exhibiting dropped suddenly, leaving in its wake one very exasperated Slayer on the verge of doing some sort of damage to somebody. Hands resting on her hips, Faith snapped out, “Listen here, buddy, I’ve taken your crap for three frickin’ days! They know me. They know my past. I don’t need to be some goody little two-shoes around them!”
“That may be so,” the head Watcher stated sternly, “but we are in a public place, where anyone could walk in.”
At this, Faith folded her arms before her angrily, and glowered mutinously at Quentin. Said Watcher just shook his head, and said to the man beside him, “With Buffy Summers gone, we knew that someone needed to be here to protect the Hellmouth. We had several options, and after some debate, we decided that having a Slayer here was the only solution.” After Giles curtly nodded his understanding, he continued, his voice firm, then filled with a dark promise at the end, “After reviewing Faith’s records, as well as the reports of those who investigated the events of our last encounter with her and what happened afterward, we decided to give her another chance. Although, if she does something wrong this time, we will
Another tense silence descended, and Dawn chanced a look at Faith to see the reformed Slayer’s reaction to those words. She was just in time to watch a small shudder run through the woman as she subtly hugged herself, and felt a brief pang of pity. As though feeling eyes on her, Faith looked over, and then down after seeing who was staring. Dawn felt her stomach clench in sympathy from the emotions she had seen in that brief glance: fear, anger, and helplessness...emotions she knew well from her stint of being kidnapped by Glory.
She knew what those emotions meant, and at last understood what Angel had been trying to explain to everyone since he arrived in Sunnydale when he brought up the subject: Faith had changed. It was a change that had started when someone had finally answered her unspoken plea for help. A change that was still going on...and would for her entire life. At that moment, Dawn made a decision that she knew would infuriate Buffy, but didn’t care. Calmly, she picked up the homework beside her and set it on her lap, and then cleared her throat so quietly that only someone with supernatural hearing could have heard it. Faith immediately looked up at her, her eyes questioning. With a small welcoming smile, Dawn patted the empty space beside her on the stair. The Slayer raised an eyebrow in surprise. Dawn raised one back in challenge, while tilting her head to one side in question. A small hesitant, yet true, smile graced the ex-rogue Slayer’s lips before she made her way over to Dawn and settled down beside the teenager.
In an obvious showing of her trust and acceptance of the one beside her, Dawn laid her head on the other’s shoulder. She was rewarded a moment later when Faith relaxed and put an arm around her, drawing her closer into a more comfortable position. Feeling someone watching her, she glanced over at the checkout counter, and saw Angel gazing at her with pride and relief. She smiled warmly at her father, and then returned her attention to the discussion still going on between the two Watchers.
“She is now your responsibility, Rupert,” Quentin was saying. “I expect an accurate accounting of her activities in your reports. I don’t want to learn that half of what I’m reading is poppycock and half-truths like you did with the other Slayer.”
His tone defensive, the resident Watcher replied sharply, “I was protecting her. You know that.”
“Yes, and you already know my views on the matter,” came the terse response.
With barely restrained anger, Giles asked succinctly, “Is there anything else we need to discuss?”
Understanding the question for what it was, Quentin answered evenly, “There is one item of business left: how goes the search for this Immortal, and what news do you have about the demon being summoned? Have you identified it yet?”
Giles took off his glasses to polish them, and said while looking down, “Not well. Even with Adam here, we haven’t been able to find the one we are looking for. As for the demon: from the clues we have gathered we are narrowing down the possibilities.”
“How long do we have until we must worry about this demon?”
“A little over a week,” Adam said from where he sat, having been silently observing all that was happening until now. “As for this Immortal, she’s proving elusive. I fear she knows I’m here and why, and is keeping a low profile because of it.”
Quentin studied the Immortal who had spoken for a long moment, then turned back to Giles, and said, “Then it seems that I’ll be staying a bit longer than I expected. I will be here each day until this problem is resolved, as well as to make sure Hope is settling in well.” He glanced at everyone for a moment, his eyes resting on Faith a little longer than on anyone else, before saying, “I will see you tomorrow, then. Farewell.”
With these words, the head of the Council of Watchers left. For close to a minute no one did anything, then Dawn stirred and muttered darkly, “Asshole.”
That got a single abrupt laugh from Faith, as Angel said sharply, “Dawn!”
Coughing to cover the dumbfounded laughter that was struggling to come out, Spike gasped out in amazement, “Bloody Hell!
That man’s even worse than what the Slayer was raving on about after the last time ‘e was ‘ere.”
Obviously fighting to curb his ire as he placed his glasses in a pocket, Giles said gruffly, “Yes, well, unfortunately, I believe that with Buffy's death, he feels that he need not adhere to the rules she set down last time he was here. I expect him to intrude on us at every opportunity until he is happy that we are properly put in our place once more. Bloody git.”
“Him being here is going to be a problem,” Adam commented. “I do not relish the thought of dodging his attention to do what I came here to do...nor will she.”
“Don’t forget that we’re also going to have to now make up stuff to show that we’re making progress on this demon/Immortal thing,” Dawn reminded the others as she stood up and walked down the steps to put her homework into her backpack. “Dawn,”
Giles reprimanded with a sharp glance at Faith where she still sat on the staircase.
“What,” the young woman responded in typical teenage fashion. “She’s going to find out anyway, and I’d rather have her helping us instead of hindering us.” She shrugged, and then said seriously over her shoulder as she zipped up her bag, “I’m just saying.”
“Nibblet’s got a point, Watcher,” Spike said in agreement. “She’s not actin’ like what I’ve heard she should act.”
“Despite what you think, Giles, she can
be trusted,” Angel added.
“Yes, well, personal past experience says otherwise, Angel,” the Watcher snapped. “HEY,”
Dawn shouted, annoyed, grabbing everyone’s attention. Once she had it, she pointed to the current subject of conversation, and said crossly, “‘She’ is right here, you know. You might want to start talking to
her, not about
With a scowl firmly in place, Giles turned to look at the one Dawn pointed to. What he saw was not what he obviously expected to see. Instead of the cruel eyes and mocking smirk of the past, there was insecurity and unease as she sat there with her head bowed. After a second, the Slayer looked up.
Drawing in a deep breath to steady herself, Faith said somberly, looking directly into her Watcher’s eyes, “I expected them to kill me when I felt B die, ya know. I didn’t think they’d give me another chance,” she grimaced, “death threats and all. I know I can’t just say ‘I’m sorry’ and everything’ll be all right again, but I’d like to try and make up for what I’ve done as much as possible.”
Dawn watched as Giles seemed to deflate from his self-righteous wrath, and sigh heavily. Slipping his glasses out of his pocket and putting them back on, the Watcher replied to Faith’s request, “The past is in the past, and cannot be changed, but the future is always shifting...despite what prophecies say. I learned that quite well by being Buffy’s Watcher. I cannot promise that I will not snap at you, nor that my judgment will be unbiased, but I will do the best I can...if you do the same.”
After a moment’s consideration, Faith gracefully rose to her feet and walked over to Giles. Her face serious, she held out her hand and said, “Deal.”
The hand that was offered was taken, and the pact sealed. Nodding her head in acknowledgment, the Slayer turned towards Dawn, and gazed at her in puzzlement, before commenting, “Ya know, I thought you’d’ve been the one to treat me the harshest, instead, you’re makin’ with the welcome wagon before anyone else.”
Dawn shrugged nonchalantly, and answered, “I could, but technically, I wasn’t around when you did all that stuff to everyone here, so I can’t really point fingers, and Angel can be pretty convincing when he wants to be.”
A weary grin on her face, Faith replied, “Got that right,” before turning to look at Angel as he came towards her. As the oldest vampire in the room reached them, the Slayer said, “Soul Man, good to see you without Plexiglas between us. Those lights at the prison did nothin’ for your coloring.”
Dawn laughed as Angel merely shook his head, then he responded, “I’m glad you’re alive. It upset me to think you had been killed.”
Faith fidgeted at those words, and looked away, a faint blush staining her cheeks, then spotted Spike lounging against the checkout counter. They stared and studied each other for a while, then Spike smirked, and said perceptively, “I know that soul. You were the one who hijacked the Slayer’s body for awhile.”
The reinstated Slayer took a startled step back, and stammered out in shock, “H-how?”
Spike shrugged, and answered, “More to being a vampire than drinkin’ blood and a long life, love.”
Shaking her head and glancing uneasily at Angel for a moment as he stared at her, Faith turned to the last member of those present, and raised an eyebrow in question, her look appraising, before asking, “And who might you be?”
“Adam Pierson,” the Immortal answered, as he, too, walked over to Faith. Offering his hand for a handshake, he added, “I’m Immortal, and am here to help out with a situation that came up.”
Taking the offered hand briefly, the Slayer said, “Huh, now I’m confused. Dawn’s saying that there’s no situation, and you’re saying there is. Which one is it?”
Smiling shrewdly, Methos answered, “Both.”
Snorting, Faith pronounced, “That don’t tell me shit.”
“Don’t expect a straight answer from him, Faith,” Dawn said knowingly. “He loves spouting off riddles for us to figure out on our own.”
“Although,” Adam admitted as he rocked back on his heels and placed his hands in his jeans pockets, “sometimes I tell you how it is exactly. It’s up to you to figure out which one is which.”
Rolling her eyes, Dawn asked Faith, “So where’re you staying?”
Shrugging one shoulder, the Slayer said indifferently, “Anywhere. Probably at a hotel until I can get somethin’ better.”
“I have a better suggestion,” Dawn announced. “Come home with me. There’s room for ya.... Well, if we put you in Mom or Buffy’s room anyway.”
Shrugging both shoulders this time, Faith said, “Fine by me.”
“Perhaps your place is not the best idea, Dawn,” Giles reminded quietly.
Placing her hands on her hips, the teenager replied irately, “Where else
is she gonna go, huh? You don’t have a spare bedroom, and I know that new place Willow and Tara got doesn’t. I’m not even gonna suggest breaking into Xander or Anya’s homes either. It’s bad enough that Adam is staying in a hotel right now.”
“Rupert,” Adam quietly admonished, “she’s making sense. It’s reasonable for me to be in a hotel, because I won’t be here long and can afford it. This Slayer, though, is meant to be a resident of this town for probably the rest of her life, or until the Hellmouth is somehow closed.”
“Fat load of chance that
ever happens,” Faith snorted as she crossed her arms, then asked and pointed out, “So, what’s the big secret you’re trying to keep from me? ‘Cause if you’re trying to keep somethin’ hidden, you’re not doin’ too good of a job.”
Everyone else looked at each other for a second, then with a sigh, Giles nodded in defeat, and said, “Very well. Dawn, Angel, take Faith home with you and show her, then explain the particulars.”
Well, this is the start of what's going to be a very long story. Maybe even longer than Heart's Desire
, 'though, don't ask me to swear to that! I hope you enjoy this new endeavor of mine. If you do: let me know. If you don't: tell me why. If you don't want to say anything: that's fine as well. Just read and enjoy. Up Next:
We get a glimpse of our villain...hehehe!