He got better...
Chapter 14: "Yeah he was, but he got better... "
"What the fuck
, over?!?" was all that Faith could manage in response to that one. At first she'd just looked at Gunn, incredulous, then slowly registered that he was serious and not yanking her chain. "How the hell did that happen? I saw him... ok, I didn't see him, but... B said he was... "
"Yeah, he was." Gunn shook his head, "He got better." He made a shrugging motion.
"Well... fuck me." She leaned back to process that one for a bit before giving him a hard look. "How the... No, wait. More important: does Buffy know about this?"
"No. He doesn't want anyone to say anything about it to her," Gunn shook his head. "And he's not completely 'back', I guess. He's incorporeal at the moment." She raised an eyebrow and he spread his hands apart, "Hey - magic, what can I say? You know that amulet?" Faith nodded, biting her lower lip. "It was mailed back to Wolfram and Hart, to Angel, and Spike's... ghost, I guess, came out of it. He's been wandering around bitching ever since while we try to figure out how to rematerialize him."
*snicker* "I can picture that - the bitching and all," Faith shook her head again. "When?"
"Not long after Wes came back from Jersey City."
"Wes didn't say anything... " Faith felt an inexplicable pang go through her at that. Wes still didn't trust her completely, it seemed.
"Spike didn't want anyone knowing about this, Faith. Not you, not Buffy, not Dawn." Gunn shook his head, "Angel and Wes were the ones that decided to tell you anyway, regardless of Spike's say-so." He grinned, "Gather that fang boy and Wesley aren't completely concerned with what Spike does or doesn't want." He gave her a serious look, "But keep it under your hat?"
Faith mimed pulling her non-existent hat brim down. "Secret's safe with me, Gunn. Considering I'm not a part of the IWC any more, I don't have any reason to tell them everything
I discover." She made a sour face, "Besides... I don't think Buffy and I are on speaking terms at the moment. Our last conversation didn't go so well."
Gunn made a sympathetic face, "Should I offer condolences?"
"When I figure that out, I'll let you know." Faith gave him a rueful look, then considered for a moment. "It's too bad that that has to extend to Dawn, though. I'm not sure how she feels about Spike after all that insanity from the First, but she'd probably want to at least know so that she can figure it out."
"Maybe." Gunn looked doubtful. He didn't really know either Summers all that well, except for the brief period they'd stayed at the Hyperion following Sunnydale's collapse into the earth. "Why not let us find out if we can figure out how to make him corporeal first, and then let Spike figure out what he wants to do."
"Yeah, I suppose," Faith looked considering. "But after that... if he doesn't do the right thing, I may kick his ass - hard
- and then tell Dawn myself. She's been hurt enough: she doesn't need to be crapped on any more." With an effort, she dismissed that from her considerations and looked thoughtful, "Are you sure this isn't some holdover or plan from the First Evil?"
Gunn shrugged. "Or a Wolfram and Hart thing? What's 'sure'? Hell no, we're not." He shook his head, "We're checking into it as best we can."
"Damn." Faith gave the wall a dark look, thinking. "I've thought a *lot* about that whole mess afterwards. There's always been a lot of parts of that business with the First that... bugged me. Parts of that, like that hidden temple, and that Scythe - supposedly the thing we needed to hurt the First - being right there, always seemed too... convenient, y'know?" Gunn nodded. "I'd hate to think we really didn't put paid to that. That came too close to killing all of us - did
kill a lot of us."
"Yeah," Gunn said. "If it helps any?" Faith gave him a sharp look. "That occurred to Angel, as well. Wolfram and Hart didn't want the First ending the world, either - it would have disrupted their Apocalypse plans. We've checked as deeply as we can, and haven't found any indication the First Evil's ability to manifest survived Sunnydale."
"Yeah sure... that's what they say
, but you know what they say about trusting evil lawyers," Faith snickered. "Present company excepted, of course."
"Of course," Gunn smirked. Faith worried at it for awhile, then shook her head.
"Not going to figure it out now and from here, I guess. And I have a more pressing problem, anyway," she sighed. "Hand me my laptop from over there? I want to see what Wes sent." She gestured at the other chair and her computer. Gunn handed it to her, and she slid the CD into the drive after opening it up, and began browsing the disk, starting with the 'Faith: Read first' file......................................................."Faith -
Except for the breed data we've already discussed (and that I've already forwarded to you), I wasn't able to find out very much about your 'Death Dealer' Elora through the usual channels.
However. We do have other resources at our disposal at the moment. Considering what those resources are, you should probably take anything from those with a grain of salt, as do I. Still... Wolfram and Hart does have access to other-dimensional copies of books and volumes that are missing or incomplete in our dimension. This fact has come in handy for us before, such as during that business with The Beast and his Master.
A perusal of those resources has netted me a number of interesting discoveries, including copies of the Watcher's Journals that were destroyed by the First Evil and its minions, as well as copies of Journals from periods where there were large gaps in the Chronicles for various reasons in this reality.
A set of lost Journals covering one of those gaps concerns the period from the mid-1100's, where there was a rather vicious internecine struggle for political dominance between various factions and branches of the Watcher's Council. A large number of volumes and tomes were lost or destroyed during that period, not just Journals, before the various factions fought themselves out and the survivors rebuilt the Council out of the wreckage. (Yes, I am aware that you're probably more interested in the pertinent details rather than the background, however bear with me please - the background is important here as well)
I believe that you were finally made aware that you were not the first Slayer to have inadvertently killed a human being or innocent bystander (Yes, I'm aware that there's some doubt as to Alan Finch's innocence, but never the less. I still have my regrets that Giles and myself didn't make you aware of that at the time... ). What you may not have been made aware of is that Buffy Summers is not the first Slayer to have died and been brought back before her death became final, while still retaining her slayer abilities after the slayer essence passed on to her successor. This is something that isn't widely known even within the ranks of the Watchers, so your first Watcher, Diana may not have been aware. Kendra, and then yourself, were not the first Slayers to be Awakened while their predecessor was still living... "
"Huh." Faith paused, thinking furiously. She wasn't even aware that she'd spoken aloud, or of Gunn's questioning look. She went back to the screen..."... It is not certain exactly whom was the first Slayer to which this occurred, however it had to be rare given the state of medical science prior to the early 20th century. Until now, it was believed that the earliest instance was in the early 1940's - and that slayer did not long survive her resurrection. I believe that now, if these records are reliable, that I know of a much earlier one.
If indeed this is reliable, then in 1156 there was a young woman named Elora Ménard, a young lesser noblewoman of French and English extraction, who was Called at the age of seventeen in the Traditional manner. Her Watcher's journals, as well as those of her predecessors - and her successors - didn't survive the turmoil surrounding the Watcher's Council's small internal war, and went unrecorded. She was apparently slain - hurled up against a stone wall and her heart stopped - in a battle with several Familiars led by a powerful dhampir of Draaken extraction. She was not drained, and the Familiars were slain by swordsmen in the employ of the Watchers Council and the dhampir (who's name is unrecorded, unfortunately) driven off. While the fight was occurring, her Watcher - who evidently possessed more than a bit of practical magical ability - was able to reach and revive her via healing magics before her death became irrevocable. Not, however before the Slayer essence moved on to Call the next Potential in line...
There are some indications within these Journals that the unusual circumstances of having two Slayers at their disposal was what led to the tensions between the various Council factions to flare up into outright warfare. And unfortunately, young Miss Ménard's Watcher was highly ambitious and politically motivated as a member of the lesser faction. He... there is no delicate way to put this... he used his charge as a fighter and an assassin against the members of the rival council factions. Successfully, I might add: she was a highly skilled and rather arrogant young woman before her death and resurrection, and she became even deadlier afterwards. According to the Journals recording the observations of other contemporary Watchers, she became increasingly erratic as a result of her use as a tool of warfare. (I know that this is going to be an extremely uncomfortable parallel for you Faith - I don't see any way around it, nor to cushion you from it, under the circumstances. My apologies.)
Numerous attempts were made to eliminate her by the Council's hunter teams. None were successful. As a final resort, an attempt was made to have her killed by the second Slayer.
It also was unsuccessful. Elora killed her successor in battle, and then went on to almost completely wipe out the members of her Watcher's rival faction. The Slayer that was Called afterwards was called far away, from a Potential in Russia, and was not discovered immediately.
Elora survived well into her late twenties, until she encountered and was seduced and Embraced by a Kindrel elder named Lorien, sending her completely over into darkness - not that she hadn't given herself over to it almost completely already by that point. It is suspected that her Watcher was either embraced as well, or else was Ghouled, however this is unknown. His diaries and journal entries cease beyond that point, and none of his contemporaries Journals record what occurred to him. It is entirely possible that Lorien killed him, or perhaps even Elora herself.
What became of Elora Ménard beyond that point is also a mystery. She turns up in none of the later Watcher's Journals that have survived, nor in any other supernatural texts. If indeed she survived - and Kindrel can be very long lived - she managed to successfully avoid the notice of both Slayers and the members of the Watchers Council in the centuries afterward. There are no mentions of her in vampire lore, either, however that is perhaps unsurprising: there are a number of Death Dealers and assassins mentioned in that lore, but very few are known by name. According to Angel, Angelus never encountered her, nor did he ever hear a mention of her by name from his Sire, Darla.
Do be careful, Faith, and take every precaution. Assuming that these documents are accurate - and Fred and I have taken pains to verify them as thoroughly as possible - then this is something that very few other Slayers have encountered: an embraced Slayer. This is not a mere 240 year old Kaineron Master such as Angelus you are dealing with - not to denigrate the dangers that Angelus is capable of presenting. This is a woman who was successful enough as a Slayer to have survived almost to the age of thirty in a highly combat intensive environment, fighting almost constantly. Further... she was a highly trained and highly skilled Slayer before she was corrupted.
If this is indeed the same woman, she is quite possibly what you might have become had the Mayor survived and you had continued in his employ, or if you had not turned away from the blackness following your awakening from your coma.
It also explains her fascination with you and her stalking of you as well as her repeated mentions of Embracing you. It is entirely possible that she sees you as a challenge, not to kill, but to turn to her path as Lorien did her, long ago.
You'll find copies of the missing Watcher's Journals that Fred scanned in on the rest of the CD. I hope that you find information in them that is useful to you.
We are currently embroiled deeply in several rather touchy cases here at the moment, unfortunately. However - Gunn is extremely skilled and experienced, and he's stated that he'll remain in Philadelphia as long as you need him. Do send word by way of Gunn if you wish additional backup: Angel and myself *will* drop what we are doing and come to you if you call.
Good fortune and good hunting to you, Faith. Do attempt to not die.
Wesley Wyndam Price"......................................................
"Huh," Faith said again. She looked up at Gunn's somber expression. "Well... fuck me. She's a freaking Slayer
, to boot? Jeeze."
"Apparently so," Gunn nodded. "Wes and Fred were at it for a long time, in between work on other cases, attempting to verify all of that." He gestured at the laptop. "As near as they can tell, it checks out. Pretty fucked, huh?"
"Huh. Explains a lot. I thought there was something... odd about her to my vampire sense. I couldn't put my finger on it... " She crossed her arms, laptop apparently forgotten on the bed in front of her, staring through a spot on the wall with an odd expression. Gunn started to say something else, then, watching the play of emotions across her face as whatever thoughts she had worked their way through her mind, he decided to hold his peace. They stayed like that for some minutes, until Faith gave herself a little shake and came back from wherever she'd gone...
Faith looked back to the screen and Gunn was incredulous and slightly chilled to realize that rather than being depressed by the information... she was grinning like a wolf. "Cool." She met his eyes again and noticed his expression, "Not to worry, Gunn. I can use this against her: I know for a fact what killing humans does to a Slayers mindset, and where her head was probably at by the time she was Embraced. That, combined the fact that even the most tightly wrapped vampire has to constantly fight against their bloodlust and rage for control of their rationality, gives any number of handles on her that can be used."
"If you say so," Gunn looked dubious. She shot him that disconcerting grin again and waved him off, turning back to the laptop.
"Shoo. Go take care of your business with the Winchesters. Looks like I have some reading and thinking to do.... " Gunn shook his head and decided to leave her to it. Her voice stopped him in the doorway on his way out, "Oh, and Gunn? Watch your ass when you leave here. Don't get killed on me.".................................................................................
It was turning into a busy day already, despite the lack of physical activity. Faith would have much preferred to be up and around rather than reading and researching... but her internal sense was telling her that she still needed the healing time. While it was healing, her shoulder was still tender and hurt when she moved it beyond certain limits. Her head still shot through with sudden sharp pains when she turned it too fast or attempted to sit up too abruptly. Her ribs still ached, even though she could feel the bones knitting when she focused her inner awareness on them.
That worried her: Jasmine's Beast and Angelus hadn't damaged her as badly in her first encounter with them, and the blonde vampire had done all of this with two real strikes and one toss into a lamp-post. Admittedly... Angelus had been toying with her, and the Beast hadn't been exerting himself, whereas Elora had been going full out. Also admittedly, she had been more badly damaged at the time than she had shown to Wesley: that shower in his apartment hadn't recovered her nearly as fully as she'd put on. (In all fairness, she doubted he'd been fooled completely by her "all squeaky clean now - five-by-five" routine. The pressures of the moment hadn't allowed for lengthy recovery time. She hadn't really been fully healed from all of that until several days later in Sunnydale.) If the blonde had damaged her this badly with only slight contact... she couldn't afford to go toe to toe with her again for an extended fight.
It was unsettling to realize that a combination of the blonde's innate arrogance and Faith's being able to hurt her badly enough in the first few moments to push her into almost unthinking frenzy had been the only thing that had saved her and O'Brien. At least this time she'd only been out for three days, rather than eight months...
Then again... that arrogance had worked against Elora, not once, but twice. In both encounters after the one in the ER, Faith had been able to set her up and out think her, using that arrogance against her just as she and Wesley had used the same trait against Angelus. The blonde had come close.... but this wasn't horseshoes. The wolf's grin came back over Faith's lips and stayed there as she read.
So... another two, maybe three days of allowing the hospital to provide her a place to rest while her own healing abilities took care of the damage enough so that she could deal with the rest with food and exercise. Not a fun proposition, but she could deal.
Then it'd be time to go on the hunt.
Rubbing her eyes, Faith took a break from the computer screen. One thing she could say about the old Watchers: what they did record, they were complete about. There was more information about the politics of the Watchers in the 12th century in these scanned Journal entries than she probably really wanted to know. Setting her reading aside for the moment, she grabbed her cell phone and checked her messages. Several voice mails from Dawn, as she'd expected, all of them increasingly concerned. Several from Abby, ditto. A number of missed calls that came up "No ID available" on the list.
She picked Dawn's number off of the contacts and dialed it, only to get Dawn's voice mail picking up after several rings. Figures. She hoped that didn't mean that Dawn had hit panic mode and was on her way down here with half the IWC to find out what happened. She left a voice mail of her own and decided to try again later.
A quick email to Giles took care of her obligations there for the moment: she really didn't feel up to an extended conversation with him. They'd have one soon enough, she figured, but for now... a short "I've found the Awakened slayer, and am working on making a change to talk to her and give her the Speech. Sticky situation: she's a police officer and I'm having to take this slowly. I'll be in touch." was going to have to do. It would probably raise more questions than it would answer for him, but if they were going to do this... he was going to have to learn to trust her judgment on a contract he gave her or else they needed to find out now if he couldn't.
If Faith was going to be real honest with herself... she needed to find out if her judgment could be trusted as well.
She sent Wes and Angel longer emails that explained the high points of what happened, and that she'd call soon... Thinking on that, she dialed Perditions and asked the big bartender if he could get a message to Vince to call her when B'yarj picked up the phone. That left her with little to do except continue her reading and think. Oh joy.
A bright spot in the afternoon and one that provided a welcome change from examining the inside of her head came with the arrival of the healer, Angela Bassett. Faith was surprised to find herself taking an instant liking to the older woman shortly after Giambione had shown her in. She asked the detective to make sure that no one else disturbed them and managed to only be partly surprised when Frank cheerfully agreed.
The healer listened carefully to Faith's explanation of what they were dealing with, nodding or asking pertinent questions at the appropriate points. Bassett's visual and magical examination of both Faith's injuries and the room was thorough and reassuringly professional. It was also surprisingly free of chanting and magical paraphernalia. Faith remarked on that after she'd finished her examination of Faith's injuries.
"A slightly different type of magic. Not Wiccan, I'm a Mage," Angela remarked. "Chants, incantations, spell components and designs are a focus, not the spell itself - spellcasting itself is an act of Will that involves channeling and shaping Power." She paused, considering, "I've worked with Wiccans and Witches. Even there, the ritual and component elements are a method of aiding in the focus: they set mood and enhance the proper mindset for shaping power and visualizing the end result. It is possible to do without them."
"Ah," Faith shrugged carefully, favoring her healing shoulder a bit. "Don't think I've ever had that explained to me before."
"It's possible that a number of practitioners you've met may not even be aware of this. Quite a large number of spell casters are technicians rather than artists," the other woman smiled. She had an odd accent that Faith couldn't quite place. "I think that I'm ready to begin attempting to aid your recovery a bit, if you are?"
"Definitely," Faith grinned. "Quicker I can get out of here, the quicker I can go out and get half-killed again."
"Let's hope not." The healer smiled, shaking her head reprovingly, and then concentrated for several minutes and moved her hands slowly along Faith's body, just over the surface. She paused over the places where Faith's inner sense had told her that the damage was worst, then moved on to the next.
Faith felt a relaxing warmth go into her as the woman's hands moved across her without touching, the residual aches slowly seeping out to be replaced by a comfortable painlessness.
"Done," Angela stepped back and surveyed her before nodding finally. "You've healed quickly already, given the extent of your injuries."
"Comes with the territory," Faith stated.
"Yes. I've worked with slayers on occasion," she replied. "This should help to augment your bodies natural healing. I redirected your body's energies to taking care of a few areas that were beginning to have a possibility of healing misaligned, so that you shouldn't experience any future difficulties from them." Angela glanced around, "Would you like me to ward your room now, as well?"
"Yes, please," Faith nodded, reveling in the fact that the motion no longer sent a dull spike through her temples. "I was going to use a charm that I have, but it wouldn't bother me to be able to save those for future use."
Angela nodded. "A charm? May I see it?"
"Yeah." Faith moved her laptop to the bedside table and pointed, "If you could bring that box over here and set it on the bedside?"
The healer went over to the indicated pile of items and picked up the large leather covered box, bringing it over and setting it where Faith'd wanted it. She rubbed her hand over the smooth surface sensually, not quite touching it, but fractions of an inch above the actual wood and leather. "Excellent craftswomanship," she remarked. "A great deal of thought and power went into this."
"Yeah. A... hrmm. Calling her a friend would be stretching things a bit. An acquaintance I've known a long time did the spellwork," Faith said. "A custom maker did the box itself." She opened a drawer and took out the charms she'd been going to use and passed them over to Angela. "The same person that enchanted the box made the charms: Willow Rosenburg."
"Ah. A very powerful practitioner. These are very well done," Angela nodded. She handed them back to Faith.
"Yeah, well, Red does good work," Faith nodded.
Nod. "I believe that for what I understand that you're dealing with, we should be able to do with a greater warding, if you wish to save those for an occassion when you don't have a practicioner available?" Faith nodded, and she continued. "It should suffice to keep out anything short of a major demon unless they're invited in by the resident, or the wards are broken. Inclusive of things or people who've been tainted by such, such as a Familiar, Thrall, or Ghoul." At Faith's request she set the box back in its place and returned to the bed, removing a large jewel from a soft pouch within her bag.
"Thought this didn't require paraphernalia?" At Faith's raised eyebrow, Angela chuckled.
"A powerstone. Stored mystical energy to be drawn upon for a casting," she indicated the jewel. "No paraphernalia, but it does require energy to be channeled and shaped, either my own or outside energy - and this location is too low in mystical energy for there to be enough to draw upon from outside." Faith nodded, and she continued, "For the healing.. your body provides the energy: your body wants to heal, it is just a matter of refocusing where it can do the most good. For this, the energies have to come from elsewhere."
She concentrated again, walking about the room and making odd gestures over the door and windows, then standing in the center of the room with eyes closed and head thrown back for several long minutes. Faith felt at first an odd tingling, then a sensation that felt almost like a static charge building - a charge that was suddenly dispersed and that she could almost feel flowing into the walls and entrances to the room.'What the fuck? I don't remember ever being able to sense magical energies before?'
she wondered. 'I remember Wesley saying that Slayer senses and abilities increase as we get older... Or is this something else left over from the Pit, like the hellblades that bonded themselves to me, or Morgaine's sword?'
"And Done," the healer said, opening her eyes.
"Cool," Faith said, pushing the questions on what she'd sensed to the back of her mind for now. "Will I be able to play the piano again?"
Angela suppressed a grin. "Only if you could before now."
"Ratz. No, just the guitar. And only if you're real loose on your definition of 'play'," Faith grinned. "Thanks, Doc... We need to figure out what I owe you for all this."
"Yes, but not a pressing issue at the moment," Angela said. "I shall provide you with an invoice on my next visit. If you have questions about it, feel free to come by my shop after you leave the hospital and we can negotiate it." She smiled and gave Faith a reassuring look, "If needs be, we can make arrangements for payments."
Faith waved that off, "No worries. I have medical for the hospital, but I doubt that we want to deal with insurance for this. I'll cover it out of my accounts."
If the older woman was surprised by Faith's offhand admittance that she wasn't hard up for money, she didn't show it. Angela merely nodded and said, "As you wish. I'll go look in on my other two patients now, unless there's something else?"
Faith shook her head, thanking her. After the healer left, she leaned back against her pillows, lost enough in thought that she barely registered Giambione coming back in to resume his magazines and chair.