Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake
BOSTON JULY 2004
People should build buildings with the infirm more in mind, Angel decided as he akwardly went the long way around to the psychiatrist’s office his appointment was scheduled to take place in.
Madolyn Madden (her name sounded like she should be Batman’s girlfriend) was mousey blonde, slender, dressed in a man’s suit like Annie Hall, in her late twenties and smiling sympathetically at him.
Angel seated himself on the chair across from her cluttered and yet somehow still tidy desk, leaning his crutches neatly against it.
“Hi, I’m Madolyn.” Madolyn picked up a silver pen and twirled it between her fingers.
“Don’t I call you Dr. Madden?” Angel wondered.
“Why, do you want to?” Madolyn firmly believed in the Socratic method of answering every question with a question.
“No, I’m Angel. I know it says on my form my first name is Liam, but I prefer to be called Angel.” Angel didn’t identify with being Liam anymore and he stopped being from his father’s clan and using his family name centuries ago. So why did it hurt having Connor being a Reilly when he should have been called… well it didn’t matter.
“Okay, Angel.” Madolyn expected she would be writing Angel a prescription for sleeping pills before the session was over. Trauma from hit and run, standard case. But she was very wrong about her first assumption.
This set up reminded him of …“This is like confession isn’t it? You can’t tell anyone what I tell you.” Angel probed. He hadn’t been to confession in a long time and couldn’t see himself managing it now. ‘Bless me, father, for I have sinned, it’s been over three hundred years since my last confession.’
“That’s right, why do you need to confess something?” Madolyn realized in myriad ways she filled the role of a priest in the twenty-first century and in many cases saying a few Hail Mary’s would be healthier for some of her patients than relying on Prozac.
“No.” Angel’s face fixed into an expression of impassive denial.
One of those patients. Madolyn guessed Angel would be a regular fixture in her office for some months to come.
“You wanna key?” Dignam asked Faith out of the blue as they painted the front porch of his house together on one of his days off. His house was a DIY dream or nightmare depending on your point of view.
“To what, the city?” Faith dipped her roller into the tray of white enamel gloss.
“No, a key to the fuckin’ pearly gates.” Dignam scoffed, applying even brush strokes to the porch railing. “I mean my house, so you don’t have to wait outside like you did last night.”
“Kinda be handy,” Faith conceded; she narrowed her eyes at a stranger coming up the path to the house. Hang on, was this old guy?
“Pops,” Dignam grinned in greeting at his father. “Glad you could come round to help. You met Faith?”
Of course he hadn’t. Faith didn’t like doing family shit, had she not made that clear enough?
The meeting could have been worse, for a retired State Trooper that arrested Faith’s maternal uncle during a crackdown on violent white supremacist groups in the early eighties, Shane Dignam wasn’t that bad.
Everyone agreed over their shared beer in the late afternoon sun after they finished painting the porch it was a fucking small world.
AUGUST, KENYA 2004
“To it being a frigging small world.” The one eyed man in his mid twenties wearing camouflage gear, toasted the safari suit wearing blonde in her late teens, with a German beer in the up-market bar they found themselves in Kenya’s capital city.
“Yeah, you’re not going to tell Buffy where I am? I don’t want her to stake me.” Harmony worried, looking out pensively over the night view of the city from the roof top bar.
“Harmony, if you have a soul, Buffy won’t hurt you.” Xander couldn’t get over it. “How come you’re not all ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ with the shock of the murders you pulled like Spike?”
“Well, geez, I feel totally bad about what I did! You always thought I was shallow and dumb, but hello, I did better on the SATS than you ever did, Harris.” Harmony protested. “And I was like really, really upset when I remembered how I killed children and all that kinky sex stuff I did with Spike, but the way I keep myself balanced is… you know the Discovery Channel?”
“Yeah, very educational and again educational,” Xander watched the sports channels for Merlin’s sake.
“Well I was like a magnificent lioness, killing cute baby gazelles for prey.” Harmony reasoned, putting down her glass of beer on the glass table top. “I couldn’t help what I did, I haven’t killed a human in over a year anyway. So I’ve looked at my image in my digital camera every day since I got my soul back three weeks ago and say ‘You’re a beautiful person, Harm. You’re okay.”
“And you can sleep with a clear conscience at day. That’s positive affirmation crap’s enough for you?” Xander seemed dubious about the long term effectiveness of Harmony’s solution to feeling bad. Who knew what evil horrible things Harmony did since she became a vampire after her high school graduation? Xander suspected the knowledge would probably make him throw up if he ever found out. “Answer me one question, Harmony. Did you murder your family after you got turned?”
“No!” Harmony hissed in outrage. Her parents grew up on the Hellmouth and regretfully but firmly told their middle daughter who showed up on their doorstep the day after her funeral that she couldn’t cross the thresh-hold but they wished her well.
Oh god, she’d killed the family dog, tied up in his kennel outside, in pique after Daddy’s rejection of her. Harmony didn’t care to dwell on Bongo’s demise.
Harmony didn’t care to dwell on a lot of things.
BOSTON NOVEMBER 2004
“I don’t fuckin’ dwell on my kid days.” Faith informed Costello guardedly.
“Well that’s a shame, because you were pretty as a fuckin’ picture in your first communion dress.” Frank Costello knew Faith’s mother in the eighties. Many men knew Faith’s mom in the biblical sense.
Faith didn’t know why Costello’s second in command French, showed up at a cemetery she was patrolling in and told her to get in his car and come with him to meet Costello in this back room of the seedy bar the mob boss conducted his business in. She felt certain her ignorance would only be a temporary state of affairs.
“I paid for that white frilly dress and yah fuckin’ new Mary Janes’, I got French here to take you to the doc's when your Mom broke your fuckin’ wrist and paid for that too. Fine lady your mother was, until she got a few drinks under her belt and then she turned into a fuckin’ psycho bitch.” Costello smiled at Faith benignly. “Can I get you
“A double whiskey on the rocks.” Faith remembered how Costello arranged for her to go to the doctors because hearing seven year old Faith sniveling with pain irritated him. Costello never did anything charitable unless it benefited him in some way.
“Therefore it fuckin’ crushes me you have this negative attitude towards me.” Costello dragged on his cigarette. “I never fiddled with your little girl parts. I leave bad touchin’ shit to the fuckin’ priests. And wasn’t …”
“What do you want?” Faith tried to avoid all trips down memory lane if she could help it.
“You’re a fuckin’ vampire slayer. I have my sources. And I have fuckin’ Dracula problems of my own.” Costello grimaced in fury.
“What Drac’ himself?” Wow. Faith couldn’t believe the most famous vampire in the world was in Boston. B. eat your heart out. Faith accepted her glass from French and knocked it back.
“No, just vampires in fuckin’ general.” Costello trembled with rage. “See the undead fuckin’ deviants got a suck for suck brothel operatin’ on the North Shore and I can ignore that, not my turf. But this undead moron thinks he can run an opium den in my area. Except it’s not opium it’s this drug called fuckin’ Orpheus. You heard of it?”
“In passin’.” Faith could still recall how the drug felt cold going into her veins.
“It’s wreckin’ a lot of young lives. Fuckin’ tragic. Put a stop to it, Faithie.” Costello came off like a concerned citizen. Faith almost burst out laughing. She was shit scared for two minutes when she first came into the bar, old habits died hard. But what the hell did she have to be afraid of? She wasn’t seven anymore. Faith was a slayer; she could snap Costello’s neck in a second if she felt so inclined. She did kind of feel inclined to snap the evil prick’s neck, but Faith didn’t kill humans no more.
Madolyn thought she finally reached the root of Angel’s problems after months of endeavoring to make the Irish-American emotional cripple open up. “You had a rocky relationship with your son’s mother, after she died you tried to bring him up the best you could. You couldn’t manage it and placed him in an open adoption. But his new family moved, now you’ve lost track of him, you worry you did the right thing by him… you miss him.”
“Yes.” Angel put his head in his hands.
Finally an emotional break through, Madolyn cheered herself internally. Way to go, Ms. Freud. Hopefully Angel would cry and release his bottled emotions. She passed the pastel tissue box on her desk suggestively to him.
Angel looked up dry-eyed but seemingly racked with pain.
Madolyn felt like banging her head on her desk with frustration. Angel wasn’t suffering emotional agony; he clearly was experiencing one of his sudden onset migraines.
***Oh it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
The Orpheus den was far more sophisticated than the place in L.A. Faith had been to with Wesley. There was piped music and separate red silk curtained booths where human and vampire co-existed peacefully in a drugged haze.
“You think vamps would musically go for something I dunno, harder.” Rona mentioned to Faith as they made their way inside, bearing stakes at the ready. “Not 50 Cent
exactly but white-boy Metal.
“They’re tacky the lot of ‘em, girlfriend. Plain freakin’ tacky.” Faith enlightened her New York counterpart, up here in New England to lend a helping hand for tonight. “Just be thankful we’re not gonna be slayin' to the soundtrack of Mystic River
“Just make sure I don’t get blown up tonight.” Rona warned the older slayer jokingly. “That’s what happened last rave you organized.”
“Screw you.” Faith smacked Rona on the arm lightly. “You wanna speech instead?”
“I wanna get down and dirty.” Rona chortled, pulling aside a curtain. “I wanna kick vamp ass.”
Rona pushed the human male aside in the cubicle and plunged a stake into the dopey vampire lying entwined beside him. It was no fun when they slept.
Rona took the left side of the cubicles, Faith the right. It was a massacre of the nosferatu defenseless at first until Rona encountered a vampire that hadn’t fed yet.
The female vampire put up the savage fight Rona sought. The commotion they made fighting in the aisle way caused the more aware vampires to emerge from their cubicles.
Faith planted her boot into a vampire’s gut in a high kick. The thrill never went away. The need to inflict pain on the undead. She slammed the male vampire’s face into the brick wall. The need -she pulled him back- to hurt a sentient life form- she slammed his face into the wall again.
She pulled him back, twisted him around to face her and staked him powerfully in the heart.
The surveillance office at the Massachusetts State Trooper headquarters was filled with sophisticated equipment, and troopers including Dignam and Captain Queenan, his boss.
They had one of their guys in undercover as a barman at the watering hole Costello conducted the majority of his business in.
Which ensured due to a bugging device they installed under a table they could hear the terse conversation taking place between Faith and Costello.“You can shove yah fuckin’ money where the sun don’t shine. I ain’t touching a dime of it.” Faith refused Costello’s generous compensation for her ‘trouble’.
“That’s your girl?” Queenan adjusted his headphones more securely. “You must be relieved she’s on the up and up.”
“Yeah, too right I fuckin’ am.” Dignam let out breath he didn’t realize he had been holding in tensely until that moment.
“And the fact she kills vampires and demons every week doesn’t bug you?” It would disturb the hell out of Queenan, his wife had been a secretary when they met. A slayer… combined with Faith’s family background - Dignam couldn’t have picked a more unsuitable candidate for a cop’s wife if he tried, apart from the fact the Lehane woman seemed to be a model citizen. And it didn’t impede Dignam making staff sergeant last week.
Dignam grinned good naturedly at one of the few people on planet Earth he respected. “That would mean I’m fuckin’ insecure, you calling me insecure?”
“Did she beat The Curse?” Queenan hunched forward in his chair, he could hear Faith leave and their barman informant come over to clear the table.
Dignam ventured this query to Faith himself at the time. “Makin’ the Sox win the Series took forces of good greater than hers apparently.”
Home sweet home, Faith returned eagerly to her abode, urgently needing a shower to wash away all trace of being in Costello’s disturbing presence.
Angel sat in the living room reading a book, listening to a golden oldies radio station on the stereo.
“I refused the moola, and there was a fuck of a lot of it on offer. Bully for me.” Faith sat on the floor, her hands around her knees. “Yah visons ain’t what yah expected are they?”
“No, they’re not like Cordy’s or Doyles.” Angel didn’t understand them. He didn’t get visions that showed innocents in danger. His vision that showed Faith being bitten by a werewolf, the one where she snapped and started torturing a human pedophile she encountered last month in a demon bar, the vision today where she accepted the money from Costello, the only things his visions seemed to have in common was showing Faith being in danger physically or of straying off the rock and thorn strewn path of redemption.
“I thought tonight, maybe it’s because we both took the Orpheus, you get to be my own personal Jiminy Cricket.” Faith couldn’t think of anything else that explained his visions.
Neither could Angel.
“You still gettin’ killer headaches?” Faith observed the way Angel rubbed his temples.
“They’re not so bad.” Angel lied.
“Cordy and that Doyle guy get them too?” Faith rested her chin on her knees.
“Sometimes,” Angel couldn’t tell her what was happening to him. She obviously needed moral help still and he was clearly meant to remain being a champion.
Until he died.
“He’s gonna die, I finally made him fess up after I found his doctors reports.” Faith accepted the ice pack from Dignam, as she sat on his kitchen table, swinging her legs in agitation.
“So what can you fuckin’ do about it?” Dignam pressed the ice pack onto Faith’s bruised cheek. He loved her passionately, not that he’d ever tell her and come across like some fag. But he hated what she did, he would only have limited time with her, she took so many risks trying to wipe out every vampire and demon in Boston, claiming she had a five year back log to clear up.
“I’m gonna quit is what I’m doin’ ‘bout it.” Faith’s eyes shone with angry tears. The hell with it, she refused to be responsible for Angel’s death. The world wouldn’t end if she stopped slaying. Not that she ever told Dignam but she went for two and a half years without slaying when she was in prison and she and the Universe survived. What was slaying anyway but the urge to kill things all the time and be violent? Screw it, that wasn’t who she was anymore and it was too hard to stay straight while she moved constantly in a world of evil.
“For real?” Dignam straightened up alert.
“Yeah, you heard me. I’m never slayin’ again.” Faith eliminated her fair share of vamps and more in the Greater Boston area. Rona could cull the rest every six months or so.
“Great, you can fuckin’ marry me then.” Dignam proposed romantically, continuing to hold the ice pack over her swollen face. “Looks like you’ll be freed up to become a fuckin’ soccer mom.”
“Yah think?” Faith jeered; she shrugged and made her mind up on the spot. “Okay, whatever, Sean.” And thus Faith agreed to enter the sacred bonds of matrimony with her one true soulmate. Not that she’d ever tell him she thought of him that way because she’d sound deficient.
Angel strode around his new apartment happily, and he could be happy without fear these days. He now worked as a cook in a diner, he always was a good chef, he just gave his first art showing at a small independent gallery last week.
He adjusted a photo frame on his side board showing Faith Dignam and her new baby son. Godfather, he was someone’s godfather. Angel was able to participate in the baptism last week without wanting to eat the priest. Why just the other day he smiled politely at an elderly nun waiting at a street crossing with him and didn’t desire to rape and mutilate her even minutely.
God! Angel clutched the sideboard in pain. Dignam’s parents’ house - it was in flames and Faith’s son would be burnt to an infant sized cinder.
He hit the speed dial on his phone and got Faith’s cell.
The fire in the cellar was easily put out. Mr. and Mrs. Dignam couldn’t stop apologizing for having flat batteries in the smoke alarm.
“Yeah, it was a fu… freakin’ miracle, Ma.” Dignam patted his weeping mother briskly on the back. “Don’t blame yahself, faulty wirin’ could happen to anyone. And you didn’t ruin Faith and my celebration dinner for me makin’ Senior Staff Sergeant, the chowder was crap anyway. We’re still gonna let you baby-sit, calm down will yah?”
“But how did you know?” Shane Dignam often thought there was something fishy about his daughter-in-law, even though she obviously completely overcame her lowlife origins through strength of character. Cop nose for bullshit.
“Maternal instinct is all.” Faith rocked her screaming son fiercely with relief. Yeah, it was a wicked bizarre miracle. Why the fuck did Angel get a vision to save her child?
AN: the fluffy prologue ends. Next chapter enter the last of the players. Dark gray players Drusilla, Charles Gunn and Colin Sullivan and light gray players Connor Reilly and Billy Costigan. Let the double crossing begin.