Willow bounced into the kitchen of the small apartment she shared with Xander. “So, hard hat roomie, ready to start the working week?”
“Readier than you to start your first day of classes, you’re still in your pajamas, Will, and I’m leaving now.” Xander gulped down the last of his coffee, glancing puzzled at her black pajamas, worn with boots.
“These are my clothes, doofus.” Willow snatched the car keys off the hook on the wall, pulling on a jacket. She grabbed her duffle bag. “It’s called the Boho look.”
“Uh huh, I call it the slumber party look. Hey bring as many co-eds as you want home for study group don’t forget.” Xander waggled his eyebrows at her significantly. He unlatched the front door, walking briskly out onto the street.
The two Californians shared a basement apartment in a block of six. They climbed the brick steps up to the sidewalk, ready to hit Monday at full speed.
“Car’s still here and unvandalized, we’re on a roll here, Ms Blue Stocking.” Xander unlocked the car doors.
“Yep, it’s rolly polly city from here on in.” Willow slid into the driver’s seat. Her eyes sparkled with excitement at the thought of the lectures she would attend that day. New start, new degree. Willow was majoring in computer science at M.I.T. she always made the grades to do so.
Loyalty to Buffy had kept her in Sunnydale. But now Buffy was heading off to Spain this month, to spend a year with her Dad and travel Europe. So question, why did Willow want to attend Sunnydale U. and run into ex girlfriend Tara, the love of her life, every day at the student cafeteria? Answer, Willow didn’t.
“I heard folks round here call this Metropolis, Boston.” Xander did up his seat belt. “Are we ever gonna hook up with Faith in person do you think? We’ve been playing telephone tag with her for a week now.”
“Why the desirage to reunite with Ms. Cleavagey Slut Bomb?” Willow started the ignition. “Do you wanna stake you some vamps?” Willow put on a fake cowboy accent. “Be part of the mojoing mystical action again? Or do you want other action, pardner?”
“Not with Faith Lehane.” Xander chuckled ruefully, wondering if Willow never had been that big on Faith because she and Faith had nothing in common, or because Willow felt her friendship with Buffy threatened by Buffy and Faith having too much in common. Willow could be insecure when she was in high school.
Xander explained why he wasn’t over keen to meet Faith again.“Once was enough, believe me. She threw me out of her motel room right after we had sex, before I had time to get dressed. It’s taken me four years to be able to laugh about it. Hear me chuckle now, heh heh.” Xander reflected Faith made Anya look romantic in comparison and that was saying something. Xander hadn’t seen Faith since 1999 but he couldn’t see her having developed a soft side at all.
Chuck Sullivan opened his eyes in his bedroom. The light was too bright. Holy shit, he’d slept in. The bed was empty beside him. His mom was staying at her sister’s in Chicago this week, and accordingly Faith had stayed the night at his place.
“Fuck Faith!” He called out to his girlfriend, falling out of bed in his haste to get to work. “How could you let me sleep in? How come the alarm didn’t go off?”
Faith came into his room bearing a breakfast tray. “Get back in bed, moron. I rang up your boss and arranged for you to have the freaking morning off work. Happy twenty sixth birthday. Want some spanks to help you grow? I could use your mom’s favorite frying pan to add to the impact. ”
“You’re fuckin' filthy sometimes, bitch. I almost had a heart attack thinkin' I'd slept in.” Chuck grinned at her. Looking with pleasure at the steaming pancakes she had made for him. “This is very sweet of you.”
“Yeah I know.” Faith sat beside him on the bed, she waited until he finished eating hungrily, her eyes twinkling. “I got you a present too.”
“Well fuck me speechless.” Chuck caught the largish gift wrapped present she retrieved from her overnight bag and threw casually to him.
“Later, if you’re good, pal.” Faith wriggled with excitement. Purchasing a guy a birthday present was something she reserved for Kanno and Wes solely up till now.
Chuck knew Faith was a slayer. She’d rescued him from a vampire when he was clubbing one night. He’d not only retained the presence of mind to thank her afterwards, many shell shocked victims didn’t thank Faith, he’d then asked for her telephone number. And he’d taken her out to dinner on their first date to a real fancy restaurant because he wanted to impress her. And Faith had been impressed, because he’d put himself out for her.
Chuck carefully untied the ribbon. “A purple ribbon, you obviously think I’m some kind of fag.”
“Yeah, yeah. So do you like it?” Faith bit her bottom lip in apprehension. She had put a lot of thought into his birthday present.
“A Patriots, Mike Haynes Replica Jersey and you got it autographed? How the hell did you manage that?” Chuck carefully put aside the emptied breakfast tray and pulled her down on the bed beside him. Chuck loved his widowed mother, God, his country, the Patriots and the Red Sox, his friends, his siblings and possibly Faith, in an ever changing Pantheon of importance, depending on the situation.
“Contacts, baby.” Faith put her chin in the middle of his bare chest. She taught a guy at the dojo, who lived next door to Mike Hayne's best friend. It had taken her a month to arrange it. And all the while she’d gone to the trouble, she knew in her heart she and Chuck would still be together today on his birthday in early September.
“You are the fuckin' best girlfriend in the world, Faithie.” Chuck hugged her hard, he grew fonder of her every day. “You’re fuckin' romantic too.”
Oz carried his pile of books precariously in the Beacon Hill Community College Library. Two more steps and he would reach the issue desk safely.
“Well I’ll be damned, Osbourne?” The cultured English voice behind Oz sounded familiar.
“Pryce?” Oz successfully deposited his books on the issuing counter unspilled. “What are you doing here?”
“I work here part time in the romance languages department.” Wesley picked up one of Oz’s books. “A biography of Mozart - taking a music diploma? Or history?”
“Music.” Oz informed him. “Probably end up teaching it in high school. But I think Sting from Police started out that way too. I’m writing music and trying to sell it.”
“Good for you.” Wes raised his eyebrows. “So how are you finding the full moons in Boston?” Wesley and Faith kept a large supply of stock piled silver bullets in their weapons cache.
The librarian scanning Oz’s books stared at them. What a weird thing to say.
“I find them non eventful, courtesy of some relaxation techniques I picked up in Paris.” Oz began to pile the books into his carry bag. “You can get sick of feeling caged in, you know?”
The librarian wondered if this was some new pick up line in Boston’s gay community she was unaware of.
Skylar Hunting stood with the rest of the new interns in a briefing room at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Her long black hair was tied back in a bun, her pale blue coveralls, crisp and clean. This was it, they were letting her loose on people, and in the Emergency Room no less.
Skylar had moved back to the Boston metropolitan area for her husband Will’s sake, although he didn’t know it. She would be working long hours, even more than when she had attended Stanford Medical School.
Will worked from home, writing complicated Algebra theory books, but he needed company and his childhood friends were here. Some people referred to Will’s Southie friends as retarded gorillas in their younger days. But Skylar knew that Morgan O’Mally, Billy McBride and Chuckie Sullivan, would take a bullet for Will without flinching, and now her too, for sheer virtue of being Will’s ‘old lady’.
English Skylar preferred Boston to San Francisco herself. She was looking forward to a white Christmas once more hopefully.
She smiled at the guy sitting beside her, who was shaking his pen in horror as he realized it was out of ink.
“Here, use my mine.” Skylar handed over the spare pen she always carried. “Skylar Hunting.” She introduced herself cheerfully.
“Thanks.” The young dark haired man accepted her pen gratefully, to fill in the unexpected form the interns had suddenly been presented with. “Ben Wilkinson.”
“‘Aboot’ here.” Julie O’Hara, ‘the bitch’ of the freshman year at St Mary’s High School for Girls, taunted the new kid, Bridgette Fitzgerald, about her Canadian accent.
Ginger Fitzgerald scowled at Julie. “Lay the hell off my sister or I’ll ‘pahk’ my fist in your face, shit for brains.”
Dawn watched the encounter on the school hockey field with interest. The Fitzgerald sisters were fresh from Toronto, Canada. Dawn had become friendly with dark haired Bridgette as they struggled over their math lessons together in study period.
She and Bridgette shared a lot in common: they were both quiet types and their big sisters were aggro sluts who were over-protective of them.
“You’re dead meat, you Canack ho, no one talks to me like that.” Julie checked the coach was looking the other way, and knocked painfully against auburn haired Ginger’s legs with Julie's hockey stick.
“So stupid.” Ginger knocked Julie to the ground and began to punch her in the face. Julie’s friends sprang to her aid.
Ginger seemed to have the strength of the possessed as she rearranged Julie’s good looking face, so she didn’t really need help. But Bridgette intervened, and Dawn was kinda Bridgette’s friend by now, plus Dawn was a fighting Lehane. Besides, Dawn didn’t get to put her martial arts training into practice that often. Dawn leaped into the brawl with fists flying.
Faith arrived at the vice principal’s office by two pm. Fortunately Kanno could take over instructing Faith’s early afternoon classes at the Dojo.
Dawn was waiting sulkily in the office, slouched in a chair, sporting a swollen lip.
“Sit up! Show your teacher some freaking respect.” Faith instructed her sister curtly. She shook hands with the vice principal. “Faith Lehane.”
“Robin Wood.” The Afro-American in his early thirties, gestured for Faith to take a chair. “I wish we were meeting at the parent teacher interviews next week, Miss Lehane.”
“Yeah, me too.” Faith sat down carefully in her unaccustomed black skirt, the one she kept for funerals and court appearances, it didn’t get much wear.
“As I explained to you on the phone, St Mary’s has a zero tolerance policy for violence. So Dawn is suspended for two weeks starting from now.” Robin explained. He obviously was not from Boston, it sounded like he came from New York.
“Only two weeks? Thank Christ for that.” Faith blurted out relieved. She’d been terrified Dawn would be permanently suspended.
“Your sister was not the instigator of the fight, twelve other girls have been suspended today too.” Robin shuffled some papers on his desk. “I mentioned parent teacher interviews, because I wanted to talk to you about your sister’s Algebra assignment she handed in. She’s way behind the other girls. I think you need to consider getting her a tutor.”
“Yeah, oh course.” Faith agreed, shit how were they going to afford that? “Me and her other guardian Mr. Kanno, really want Dawn to do well here. We know what a great opportunity it is for her to be at St Mary’s. I can’t believe she’s wasting it getting involved in a fight, in her first month at school.” Faith glared at Dawn angrily.
Dawn rolled her eyes in contempt. Faith must be the biggest freaking hypocrite alive. Faith got suspended for fighting when she was at high school.
Faith wanted to shake Dawn until her teeth rattled.
“Shut up, I don’t wanna hear another lame excuse.” Faith told her sister as they walked up their front steps together. “What I did… you’ve had a good life these past few years, Dawn. Kanno has done everything he could to help you. You’ve had a roof over your head, good food on the table. You’re a spoiled little bitch is yah freakin' problem.”
“Ooh so what are yah gonna do? Send me to my room?” Dawn sneered walking into the house. “I’d like to see you try, Faith. Gonna hit me like Mom?”
“Well you’re big on punch ups today, why the hell not?” Faith threw her car keys down on the passageway table angrily. “Kanno leaves for Japan tonight. Just get your act together and clean yourself up for god’s sake, you look like shit. Try not to shame him at the airport. Feel bad you’ve let down him, even if you don’t give a crap about what I think.”
“I didn’t let anyone down, not even myself, like that touchy, feely, jerk Wood suggested.” Dawn went up the stairs to her bedroom.
“Wood was an okay guy, for a teacher anyway.” Faith thought Wood had been real nice about everything, not an asshole in the slightest.
“Yeah, he wore pants, of course you’d think he was okay.” Dawn went into her room and slammed the door.
“I’ll fuckin' kill her.” Faith mentioned to Kanno as she walked into the living room. “I'm serious, I’m gonna murder the little brat one of these days.”
“Faith, I’m annoyed at her too. But what is the problem with you and Dawn? You’re at each others throats every day the past month.” Kanno flicked through the mail Faith brought into the house.
“I dunno, she’s just getting on my nerves like never before. She’s so damn ungrateful, you know?” Faith glanced over the letter Kanno passed her. “Like here’s my credit card statement. Her fees get paid for, but her school uniform may as well have been Prada. I’m just balancing my check account and no, you’ve done enough for us. I won’t let you pay for anything to do with Miss Uncongeniality’s schooling. I have to find her a math tutor. How much is that gonna cost I wonder?”
“Too much.” Kanno shook his head. “I almost wish I wasn’t going home at the moment, I could help her for free. Mathematics was badly taught at her last school. But Algebra has never been my friend either.”
“Hey, you've been looking forward to your big family catch up vacation, back in The Land Of The Rising Sun for months.” Faith slapped him playfully with her credit card statement. “It’s cool, I’ll think of something.”
“You girls are my family.” Kanno confessed to Faith. “I don’t know how I’ll cope without the dulcet sounds of you and Dawnie screaming at each other, for the next three months.”
The Departure Room at Logan International Airport was always full of weeping people.
“Here.” Wes handed Dawn a clean tissue. Dawn snatched it from him and wiped her eyes.
“Don’t cry for god’s sake, you’re embarrassing him.” Faith hissed at her sister impatiently, annoyed because Faith was worried her eyes might be shining wetly too. “Sensei’s coming back for Christmas.”
“It’s alright, Faith.” Kanno hugged Dawn tenderly and kissed her on the forehead. “Now for once you mind your big sister, young lady. I’m counting on you.”
“You can.” Dawn smiled feebly. The only person who gave a shit about her was disappearing for three months to the other side of the planet. Faith was useless.
Chuck would be spending his every free second at their place now, Dawn predicted. He lived with his mother, and he and Faith found it hard to find to get bed time together. And she, Dawn, would be ignored like she always was by Faith, unless Faith thought Dawn was doing something wrong.
Kanno shook hands with Wes and kissed Faith on the cheek, with a wave, the man who meant so much to the Lehane girls went through the departure gate.
“Well, I’ll drop you home, Dawn, and then we can check out that new club in Lansdowne Street, Faith.” Wesley suggested as the three made their way back to Wesley’s car. “It seems a hot bed of vampire activity.”
“Are you gonna wear ear plugs? I know how paranoid you are about yah hearing. Or are you gonna try and get laid on the side tonight? I realize these night club sits are a golden opportunity for you to pick up peroxide blonds while I do all the grunt work.” Faith knew this wasn’t true, but she enjoyed teasing him, ever since she found out he got a one night stand out of them investigating a bar frequented by vamps once.
Faith paused for a procession of men to pass in front of her. They were arrivals judging from their suitcases. There were about thirty of them. They all had short haircuts and seemed military - Euro from the looks of them. They had strange tattoos on their faces.
“Who the hell are they?” Dawn wondered curiously. “A soccer team?”
“No, some of them are too old.” Wes stared after them, interested too.
“What like you?” Dawn felt her spirits begin to rise again at the familiarity of baiting Pryce.
“I see being suspended hasn’t caused you to pull your socks up in any way.” Wes retorted back. Most slayers seemed to be only children for some mysterious reason, he wished Faith were. Dawn could be most tiresome.
Faith didn’t get why the ex-potential in front of her volunteered to fill in for Kanno while he was away in Japan. Kennedy was a trust fund loaded Harvard attendee. But Kanno had instructed her in Martial Arts two years ago and the chick was good.
“So you’re sure you can fit this job in around your studies?” Faith checked, after showing her around the Dojo once more that morning. The guy Kanno arranged to fill in for him broke his leg the previous weekend.
“Yeah, I’m only going part time to get Dad off my back. I mean come on, sitting still all day, listening to middle aged professors’ jerk off about their pet topic? Boring.” Kennedy idly swung a punching bag.
“You’re doing Fine Arts not Math?” Faith inquired one more hopeful time.
“Yeah.” Kennedy slammed her foot against the bag experimentally. “Why?”
“I need a math tutor.” Faith scratched her chin. Oh where, oh where, was she gonna get Dawn a cheap good one? “Anyways you take the elementary classes after they get out from school. I have enough little brats in my life.”
“I like my half sister.” Kennedy volunteered. “But I can see how come you think Dawn is a whiny brat.”
“I like mine too. I wasn’t talking about Dawn.” Faith lied defensively. “And she isn’t a whiny brat.”
Dawn appeared in her pajamas in the training room. “Faith, we’re out of freaking milk. Chuckie used it all on his cereal this morning. Are you gonna go to the store anytime soon or what?”