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This story is No. 4 in the series "Oh, the people she knows...". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Looking into her birth records takes Faith not to Boston, but to Philly, of all places. A chance encounter leads to more mystery and deadly dangers... (Update to add cover art)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Faith-Centered
Marvel Universe > Blade > Faith-Centered
Television > Night Heat
(Recent Donor)IronbearFR1833190,3063117067,58929 Sep 0718 Oct 13Yes

"Don't noise it around..."

Chapter 17: "Don't noise it around..."

O'Brien was leaning against the door with his arms crossed over his chest when she came back out finally, staring morosely at the birthday cake. By himself this time - she'd heard him chase the rest of them out when she return after a short time.

"I don't think it's going to attack you. Seems to be just me it doesn't like," she leaned against the wall near the bathroom door with her hands behind her. She gave him a wan smile, "But I'll leave the path to the bathroom open just in case."

"Guess the Manual was wrong, huh?"

Faith gave him a startled look, then shook her head. "No... I like chocolate," she shrugged, then trailed off, looking at the floor. "Guess I screwed that up, huh?"

"My fault, I think." The corner of Faith's mouth curled up slightly and she shook her head again, still looking at the floor. "Easy to see you as some sort of superhero after that parking lot. Makes it hard to remember there's a girl in there somewhere," O'Brien said.

"Hey - need someone to beat the crap out of a vampire? I'm your gal," Faith laughed, harshly. "Need a birthday cake wrestled into submission? Try down the road and six blocks over."

"Want to talk about it?" She looked up, found nothing except curious sympathy in his gaze.

"No. Yeah. Dunno," Faith wandered over and sat on the bed again, and started picking idly at the covers. She looked out the window to see that it had started snowing again at some point while she was locked in the john. She gave her head a small shake and looked sidelong at O'Brien. "Thanks. It was nice... the cake I mean."

O'Brien nodded, studying her quietly. Not pressing... something she was grateful for.

"You don't look like a cop when you do that," she said, quietly. Faith studied him back. He gave her an inquiring look."You look like I picture a parent looks. Got many kids?"

He shook his head. "Nope. Not of my own." O'Brien looked out the window and was quiet for a time. Then, "Nikki, my ex... lady friend, has a son. Used to spend a lot of time with him while we were together."

"Ah," she nodded and went back to watching the snow. "What happened?"

"She decided that she couldn't handle being involved with a cop," O'Brien's voice was soft. "Not knowing whether I was going to come home at night, or if she'd get a late night phone call and a car from the precinct with someone in a dress uniform out to offer condolences the next morning."

"Yeah. Makes it rough." Faith was quiet for a time, watching the snowfall. "I never knew my dad. My mom said she couldn't remember his name."

'Ouch,' O'Brien thought to himself, shaking his head.

"You still see her?" Faith's soft voice jerked him back from wherever his head had gone thinking about her last statement.

"Yeah, all the time. She owns Rimbault's Bar where Major Cases hangs out after shifts," he said, voice equally soft. "We're still pretty good friends. Just... not dating or living together."

Faith nodded slowly and took a deep breath. She turned around to kneel up on the bed and picked up the cake cutter. Biting her lower lip she carefully cut a thick slice of cake and placed it on one of the paper plates and handed it to him, not looking up. Then she cut one for herself and sat back down, picking at it with a fork after a bit.

O'Brien poured her a cup of coffee from a carafe that she hadn't noticed anyone bringing in. She wasn't surprised - Giambione and his box, and Sam had absorbed most of her attention at the time. She accepted it and took a sip. Still hot, mostly. He poured himself a cup.

"Good cake," she said after a few minutes, sounding surprised. She took another bite and glanced up at him, "Sorry. I guess I don't do 'normal' real well."

"I should have figured that out, if I had thought about it for a bit," O'Brien sounded apologetic.

"No reason you should have," Faith shook her head. "All sorts of people do birthdays ok, right?"

"Usually." O'Brien said with a careful nod. "Not all of them, though," he added.

"I ran away from home when my mom's boyfriends started thinking that maybe the kid was more interesting than she was," Faith said in a flat tone, looking out the window again. "Ran the streets until I got caught and put into foster care. Kept running away when I found out foster 'dads' had a lot of the same ideas that mom's loser boyfriends had."

"Christ," O'Brien muttered under his breath. He forgot how sharp LeHane's ears were. She flashed him a quick grin.

"Not exactly the words I've used... " Faith shook her head, then gave him a more sober look. "Did she?"

"Beg pardon?" O'Brien blinked at the sudden switch in topics.

"Ever get any late night calls? I mean... obviously she didn't get a honor guard visit saying you were dead." She gave him a suspicious look. Unless you're a real well disguised vampire."

He gave a sharp startled bark of laughter in spite of himself, and looked out the window. "Yeah. Three times."

Faith nodded, and took another bite of her cake. She stared into her coffee for a bit. "Missed my last two birthdays. Spent them in prison. Angel didn't even come to visit... " She shook her head. "Before that... I don't think I ever told anyone what day it was when I got to Sunnydale. And it all started falling apart, then... " There was a long silence, filled with both of them watching the snow. "Spent the next birthday in a coma. Don't remember the last time that someone gave me a birthday thing. Diana - my first Watcher after I was called... was nice, but I don't think she ever thought about it."

O'Brien nodded carefully and made an encouraging sound. LeHane shot him another quick flash of grin.

"You're a good interrogator, Five-oh. You get all sympathetic looking and make appropriate noises and listen carefully," she snickered at his expression. She became quiet again for a time... "Diana may have done something if she'd lived long enough. She was killed before too long... by a vampire. After he killed and turned my last foster-mom and former boyfriend and sent them after me so that I had to stake them." The flat, matter of fact tone made chills run down O'Brien's spine. "Running... I don't think I slowed down much after that... " She gave him a long look, "You guys kind of caught me by surprise here."

"I kind of figured," he said in a dry voice.

That quick grin flashed again. "Showed, huh?"

"Could say that," he replied neutrally.

"Ha. Tough girl, that Faith LeHane. Nothing gets to her. Murderer, torturer... She hunts monsters for a living." She shook her head, hit the covers lightly with her fist, "And I broke apart over a stupid card and a store bought cake." She gave him a dark look, "I could hate you for that."

"I hope you don't," O'Brien replied.

"Naw. Better things to hate you for," she stated. "Damn you," the look Faith gave him had wet eyes and she was blinking furiously. "O'Brien... where the hell were you and people like your partner for the first fifteen years of my life? Where the hell were you when Diana was killed and I had to run to Sunnyhell? Instead of Southie cops who used to beat up and take out favors from street girls when they caught them like their damned badges entitled them to it?"

"In Philly, most likely," his voice was flat. "Faith... you shouldn't have had to go through that. No one should. And I wish I could say that we don't have street cops like that here in Philly, but we do." He paused, thinking back. "Don't give me too much credit. I've killed people myself and it wasn't always what society or IAD would consider righteous, even if I haven't sunk as low as some of the badge wearing scum we have around." O'Brien handed her his napkin and looked away while she took care of the runny eye problem. He gave her a long look, "Besides... would you have given anyone a chance, really, when you were fifteen? Or fourteen? Before you'd gone through the last four or five years, self-destructed, and then rebuilt yourself?"

"No... probably not," she looked away, and he nodded. "I didn't give anyone much of a chance until I fell apart on Angel. Only one in Sunnydale who tried, I almost strangled."

"Right," O'Brien shrugged. "We're where we're at, now, with what it took to get here. It leaves scars that take a long time to get past."

"Right," Faith looked out the window again. "Angel says that you don't ever get past it, that we don't ever really make up for all the bad we did. I've always figured that Angel is an idiot in a lot of ways. Good man, one of the best considering, but an idiot." She was quiet for a time, "I think that there has to be a point where you're no longer defined by what you once did, and what once happened to you, where you've done enough and the new things you do start to define you instead." Faith cut him a sidelong glance, "Is there? Or am I talking out my ass on that."

O'Brien was quiet for a long time himself, considering. He poured both of them some more coffee, and said finally, "You're asking the wrong person. I've done so much, been so many things in the last thirty years, good and bad, that I don't know any longer what defines me." He gave her a considering look, "I know that I'm not the same man I was at twenty, or at thirty. I don't do the same things I did then, regret the same things. Don't believe in the same things I did then." He sipped his coffee and made a face, "Don't know if that helps."

"Maybe," she replied after a long time. "If I live to see thirty - which is kind of long odds for a Slayer, maybe I'll look back and find I've become something else along the way."

"I don't have a referent for the monster hunting and the horrors you've seen there and what its done to you," he stated. "But on the rest... you may not have paid what a lot of cops would consider your dues for those things, but according to everyone I've spoken with, you worked real hard at becoming something other than that fifteen year old borderline psychotic you were when you hit Sunnydale. You don't seem to have gone back to it after getting your convictions reversed. That earns you at least a benefit of the doubt with me."

"Thanks... "

O'Brien nodded. A thought occurred to him and he asked, "Your last name?"

She gave him a blank look, then nodded and flashed that half-grin again. "Don't know where my mom got that from. On my birth certificate it says 'Unknown' in the daddy space." She paused, added, "I went by 'Faith Wilkins' for awhile, after the Mayor of Sunnyhell adopted me." She was quiet for a bit. "Went back to LeHane officially later - it didn't seem right to stay with Wilkins after I started trying to become something different. Changed the way it was written to distance myself a bit from my mom and whoever she got it from... but it's mine and I wanted to keep it."

O'Brien smiled slightly, nodding. "A link to where you came from?"

"Heh. Yah, kind of." Faith considered. "And more than a bit of 'whuts mine is mine' there I think." She put her empty plate on the bedside tray, surprised that she'd finished the cake at some point and hadn't realized it. Faith looked at the card and cake and shot him an impish look, "You auditioning, Five-oh?"

O'Brien laughed out loud at that and gave her a look back. "Want me to? Have to warn you: I'm too old to set a second job in order to feed you in the amounts to which you've become accustomed."

"You forget: I have that independently wealthy thing going. I can feed myself," the corner of Faith's mouth quirked up lazily. "You may have to resort to canned catfood in your dotage though. I'm not real nurturing."

"I think my retirement pension will at least buy the gourmet catfood," he observed sourly, and they both laughed.

"Or maybe Frank? I err... kinda assumed that this was your idea?" Faith gestured at the cake and card.

"You assumed right. Mostly mine, although Frank picked out the card." He shook his head, "I didn't expect that it would get the reaction it did."

"Made an impression, huh? No worries," Faith shook her head back at him. "Bound to happen from something. I've been kind of tottery lately since I broke off from the IWC." She gave the window a reflective look, "Probably a good thing it happened here instead of when I was out in mid death-battle..."

"Can't have that," he agreed.

"Nope. Been told in no uncertain terms I'm not allowed to die." Faith nodded, "Have it on good authority that bad things will result." They fell into a more comfortable silence over the rest of the coffee.

After awhile, O'Brien gave a start and slapped at his jacket pocket. Faith gave him a curious look.

"Something bite you?"

"No. Almost forgot in all the leakage," he grinned. "Colby, Carson, and Stevie caught someone breaking into your former hotel room to sneak a look around. They had this on them," he pulled out a photo of the tattoo and handed it to her along with copies of the face/profile mugshots.

"Wicked. Professional diversion," Faith grinned and shot him a wink. "Not that I mind and all, but I think we've had enough of the sharing of the feelings type stuff." She gave him a dark look, "That always leads to hugging and neither of us are ready for that."

O'Brien laughed, "No, guess not. I'd get uncomfortable, at least." Faith nodded furiously. "So," he said, "Recognize it? Or him?"

"No.... " Faith bit her lip, studying the photos. "Almost but not quite familiar... like I've seen something similar or read about it somewhere, but I can't place it." She frowned, "Not a Familiar tattoo. Too large, and too prominent, from what... a friend's described to me. Who is he?"

"Claims to be an FBI agent. Same guy that you pointed out to Colby at the ER who was asking about the Winchesters."

"Hrmmm... "

"Hrrrm?" O'Brien gave her an inquiring look. Faith shook her head.

"It's the sound of rusty gears in my head trying to turn after some idiot cop with a birthday cake derailed them," Faith said, tapping a fingernail on the photos. "That doesn't look like a Familiar tat I don't think, but it does look mystical in a way. FBI agent?"

"So he says," O'Brien nodded. "Quantico records confirm that he went through the academy there and works for the bureau."

"But you're not satisfied," Faith remarked. O'Brien raised his eyebrows. "You had your 'cop face' on saying that. Practically screams 'And I have Arizona beachfront for sale if you buy that one'," she grinned. O'Brien snorted, but didn't disagree with her.

"No. There's something hinky about him, and about his records," he shook his head. "Not sure what, but it's setting off my instincts in a big way."

Faith nodded. "Can I have a copy of these?" She looked up at him.

"Sure. Keep those: I had Christine print off spares," O'Brien said.

"Cool," Faith said, looking pensive. She really needed to figure out a way to get the blonde detective off to one side for a talk. She was also getting increasingly uncomfortable with keeping something like that from O'Brien - for one thing, he was too sharp to not notice or have suspicions, and for two, he really deserved to know that someone in his squad was likely to become a vampire and demon magnet, assuming she hadn't already. But it wasn't Faith's secret to tell... She shook her head: deal with one thing at a time, LeHane. "Copy on disk? I know someone to ask, but it'd be faster to send him a copy via computer than to have someone courier it over." She looked up at him.

"Hrrm." O'Brien shot her a look, "Now you have me doing that, dammit." Faith laughed. He thought for a moment and said, "Computer age. I'm sure there's a scanner somewhere in this hospital we can use."

"Good point," Faith slid out of bed and grabbed her laptop case off the floor by one of the chairs. She removed a small USB drive from a pocket and said, "I'll go with - make sure you remember to erase the scan from their system after we grab it." She shot him a grin, "I know how you dinosaurs are about modern technology." O'Brien snickered and shook his head.

"I noticed they unplugged you and let you up," he remarked.

"They didn't let me anything," she said. "I unplugged me and said I was getting showered and dressed. And sicked Gunn on them when they wanted more tests." The corner of her mouth quirked up, and she worked her shoulder easily. "I need a couple more days, but it's a couple more days I really need to spend in the hospital gym making sure my arm and back are healing in good shape. Not hooked up to an IV getting prodded."

O'Brien raised an eyebrow, but merely nodded and turned to the door.

Faith's eyes fell on the cake again as she was coming around the bed and she frowned. "Hey - O'Brien." He paused and gave her an inquiring look. "Thanks for the cake and all. It was... nice." She flashed him a grin, "I'm kinda sorry I wrecked the party. I'm really not usually a 'burst into tears and flee' kinda girl." That last came out in a bit of a rush in spite of the grin...

"Don't worry about it." He saw the bleak look behind the grin and added, "Look. Given the lives we lead, it's to be expected that after awhile we take the horrors in stride and deal with them. They're 'normal' for us." He gave her a sober look, "It's the things that other people take for granted as 'normal' that we have a hard time with. It hits us outside of our experience where we don't have any road maps." He watched her absorb that and think about it for a minute, then she nodded.

"Yeah. Way outside, sometimes. Thanks."


Some time later Faith and O'Brien were back in her room joking comfortably and working their way through a bag of cheeseburgers that O'Brien had sent one of his plainclothesmen out to get. In between trading wisecracks, Faith was sorting out the information she'd gleaned so far from Wes' CD by laying it out along with her conjectures for O'Brien - she was finding that bouncing it off of him and answering his questions helped to clarify things in her own mind. That, and killing time waiting for Wesley to return the call she'd made to him after they'd found a scanner for the photos.

A short knock at the door made both of them look up, O'Brien's hand going to the submachine gun next to him, Faith's going under the covers to the big Keith revolver. Catching each others instinctive movement, they exchanged rueful looks and grinned at each other.

"Yeah?" Faith called out, half expecting Dean or O'Brien's partner to answer. No - Giambione would have just rapped, said 'It's me' and walked in...

"You left a message for me to get in contact ASAP," came a familiar voice back, and Faith's eyebrows lifted. O'Brien paused on his way to the door and looked back at her inquiringly.

"Vince?" She nodded to O'Brien and he moved to one side to pull the door open.

"The one and only." Faith didn't recognize the figure standing in the opened doorway, but that didn't matter - her slayer senses did, picking up on the demon essence despite the human looking form. Vince shot her a grin with too many teeth in it for a real normal human, and gave a short nod to the tall detective, glancing approvingly at the firearm and O'Brien's caution.

"Come on in," Faith said to ease him past the wards, grinning. Vince shrugged and wandered over to the bedside, hands in his pockets, looking her over. She looked at O'Brien, "Can we finish this later? Need to talk to the man here."

"Sure. I need to head back up to the precinct for awhile anyway," O'Brien gave her a look that communicated 'Are you sure?' as certainly as if he'd spelled it out and she nodded. He inclined his head back and pulled the door shut behind him as he left.

"Slayer," Vince glanced at the cop as the door closed on him and shook his head in mock disapproval.

"Hey Thug," Faith grinned. "You looked a lot scalier the last time I saw you."

Vince dropped his human appearance for a moment, chuckling. "Makes it easier to not freak out the mundanes, kiddo." He shook his head with a sad expression, "Cops? You keep hanging out with lowlifes and I'll have to rethink our relationship. I have standards, you know."

*snicker* "Yeah yeah. Says the demon who hangs out with slayers and the Daywalker."

"Ok, I didn't say they were high standards," he grinned. "You look pretty good for someone who supposedly came in through ER unconscious."

"Should of seen me a few days ago, Thug." Faith gave him a considering look, "Not that I'm not glad an' all, so don't take this the wrong way, but.. what the fuck are you doing here, Thug?"

"Visiting someone in the hospital," Vince grinned, ignoring the implicit 'smart ass' in the look he got back. "You stopped answering your phone. Trailed along behind the Daywalker to see what was up."

"Thought you warned me off of bringing my playmate down on you?" Faith raised an eyebrow.

"Said I didn't want my bar trashed, Slayer. Never said I was going to let you face a Death Dealer all on your lonesome," Vince gave her a hard look. "Can't let people put out contracts on your friends. It's bad for business."

"Friends, huh?" Faith lifted an eyebrow and the corner of her mouth quirked into a half smile.

"Don't noise it around. Gots an image to maintain," Vince winked. "Besides, it gives me a chance to catch up on some business opportunities down here." He met her eyes evenly, "Lay out the situation for me, Slayer."

"Kay-oh," Faith nodded. "First though, what about things back in Jersey?"

"No worries. My second and B'yarj know the score and what to do. They'll cover what we discussed."

"All right." Faith nodded and then began to lay out what she had along with events leading up to this point...


O'Brien headed the unmarked Crown Victoria to the bar where he was Giambione, thinking hard. After they'd hunted up a scanner and made their copies, Faith had given him a long, thorough look, then quirked that insouciant half grin and suggested he come with her for a few minutes. It raised his curiosity enough that he'd made an 'after you' gesture and trailed along after her...

They'd ended up down in the weight room of the hospital's Physical Therapy wing. Faith had given him another long look, shrugged almost to herself, and then walked over to one of the weight machines and made a few adjustments to it. After which she'd turned back to him, placed one hand on the lifting bar - her uninjured side, he'd noticed - and without taking so much as a deep breath raised her arm easily and lifted the entire stack of weights to the machine's fullest extent. Then held them there for a long five minutes without strain, and just as easily lowered them.

She'd gestured for him to take a look at it afterwards. O'Brien wasn't able to budge the stack with both hands and his full weight. He'd taken a look at the settings: it was set for the full 650 pounds. With one hand.

Then she'd flipped him her lighter and asked him to balance it upright on his palm and watch it. When he had, without looking away from his eyes, her hand flickered almost invisibly and then she was stepping back casually tossing the lighter in the air and grinning.

She took a casual seat on the weight machine's bench, one foot propped up on it and her hands clasped loosely around her knee looking at him with her head cocked and her eyes serious. "Now you know," she said.

O'Brien nodded, "I knew part of it from what you'd told me earlier. And from the fight at the parking lot."

"Yeah. You saw the dent that blonde made hitting the side of that SUV," Faith nodded. "And that light pole after she threw me into it." The dark eyes went distant for a moment until she shook it away and smiled, "I wasn't sure that you'd put all the bits and pieces together."

"I wasn't completely certain I'd put them together properly," he said. "Why are you showing off to me?"

She cocked her head again and grinned. "Not 'showing off', showing." O'Brien nodded with a wry twist of the lips, acknowledging the distinction. "Seem to recall telling you at the restaurant that there's things your badge doesn't entitle you to, because there's things that aren't my secrets?"

"Ah." He nodded again, "Things that can hurt other people for no good reason."

"Right." She looked way, then back to him. "Taking a big leap here, Five-oh. I no longer think that you're the type to use something like this to do harm, unless there's good cause, right?"

"Depends," he met that dark gaze evenly. "If it's a danger to other people? Yeah. In a heartbeat. Just to close a case or score a promotion or brownie points?" O'Brien snorted. "No."

"Right. Good cause, not frivolous ones." Faith nodded, "I'm a Slayer. One of two, where for longer than recorded history there was one at a time." She paused, looking away. "Then awhile back, Sunnydale California fell into a hole in the ground and because of something that a bunch of scared to death twenty year olds did to save our asses from something we were afraid couldn't be stopped... there's hundreds. Maybe thousands - I don't keep track."

"Who does?" He asked.

"You haven't paid to see those cards yet, O'Brien," the voice was soft, and there wasn't any sting in the words or the dark eyes. "The thing is, you're a sharp man, and a pretty good detective. Your people are sharp, and they're motivated. Vampires, slayers, demons... my abilities, my history and files... you have enough information to add two plus two and come up with a lot of things. If you put it together wrong, and do the wrong thing with it - people get hurt." She quirked that half grin, "Maybe even you, and I don't want to see that happen. Kinda gotten used to you."

"Heh." He snorted, "Thanks. I've kind of gotten used to me too." She acknowledged that with a flash of the dark eyes.

"Hundreds of young women, maybe more. Fourteen, twenty, seventeen, sixteen... some older, a few younger. Girls that can bench press the front end of a pickup truck, and move almost faster than your eye can see. Not superheroes. Heroes in some cases... or villains. I was once. Been both. Girls, or in some cases, women." She paused and said, "Think it through," and then waited while he did so. He nodded.

"Care to lay out for me what all it entails?" O'Brien made a gesture at the weight machine, "Other than strength and speed?"

"Short version? The long one takes awhile," Faith said. O'Brien nodded, and she gave him the brief version of slayer abilities and how it worked, as well as an explanation of some of the costs...

She watched him work it through, considering it, and saw when the various implications clicked behind his eyes.

"Yeah. Like I said, sharp man," that quick grin flashed again. "Strong and fast, but you've already seen that I'm not invulnerable. A high powered rifle with a scope can take me out. Or a 12ga from a car window... I know you've seen a lot of the worst that people will do to each other for a little bit of money, or a little bit of power. Girls have families. Think about what kinds of leverage a criminal, or some politician could use to get themselves a super powered assassin. Or what kind of psychological crap could be used to take a 12 to 16 year old street kid or orphan and bend her around, no matter how strong or fast she was."

He did, and shivered a bit thinking about it. He met her eyes again, "Like the mayor of Sunnydale did with you?" He didn't like the dark, pain filled flash that went through her eyes.

"Yeah, like that," her voice went soft. "Sad thing is, he really did care: you could see it in all the little things. That's what made it work so damned well."

O'Brien nodded, his eyes distant. "It always is. Those types are the worst kind." He met her eyes again, "Again, why?"

She cocked her head again, eyes bright. "Because if you really want to get a handle on this thing, and keep it when I leave, I'm going to have to put you in touch with some people. You need to know what you're dealing with." Faith smiled slightly, "And you need to think through what you can and can't do."

O'Brien nodded, quiet for several minutes. "Yeah. It's going to take some thinking through."

"Yeah. But you're a sharp man." Faith studied him carefully, "You'll come to the right conclusions, hey?" She paused and her eyes went distant again, "Little girls and women. You deal with the garbage that humans do to each other. They go out into the night and fight monsters, and die, so regular people don't have to. Not that much different."

She uncoiled off the bench and stood easily. "Ready to head back up so I can start putting things together before I get out of here? Lotta work to do so we're ready to flush blondie out and put paid to the bitch."

"Sure," he said. Faith nodded and ambled off for the doorway.

"I like you, O'Brien. But there's something you need to remember," she paused and turned slightly, looking up at him under a dark wing of hair. "If I'm wrong and you're playing me... if I ever find out that this little demo led to girls getting used or killed, slayer type girls... " She paused a second, "Then I'll come back here with friends to help me hide the bodies, y'hear?"

A lot to think about. And not the implicit threat in the final words - that was something he'd have said, and meant, in the same position. He didn't take it lightly, but it didn't concern him very much, either. He also wasn't concerned that the little demo had been Faith's way of reasserting her toughness to him. O'Brien had been a pretty damned good student of body language and of reading people for most of his life, and a cop for over thirty years. He just wasn't reading that off of the girl.

It had bothered her that she'd had what she would consider a moment of weakness and broken down, and that other people had seen it... but she was also sharp enough to know that he'd seen the other side of her, the killer side and the cold professional, and proud enough to not need to show off to make herself bigger again. He figured she'd deal with what she'd consider her momentary lapse in private, and alone. Or she'd hide it behind sarcasm or self deprecating humor, or both.

What did concern him were the various pieces clicking together in his head as he added up things he'd observed over several months. A blonde detective of his who'd suddenly gotten much better at martial arts, and developed an almost sixth sense for picking up minuscule clues that other, trained detectives missed. One who could pick up flickering images from a video where other eyes saw nothing at all.

Detective Second Class Christine Meadows, thirty two year old newly awakened Slayer, and a member of his squad for the past ten years.

A newly awakened slayer who hadn't told the rest of her squad or her Lieutenant what had happened and what was going on with her. And now O'Brien had to figure out what to do with that, if anything. And whether or not he wanted to do anything at all with it...

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