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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
Television > Night Heat
(Current Donor)IronbearFR1833190,3063016966,81229 Sep 0718 Oct 13Yes

Ain't gonna be pretty

Chapter 19: "It ain't gonna be pretty..."

(Day 11, Monday, December 15, 2003)

A cemetery at night, natch - when the hell else are you gonna find a Slayer in a graveyard? This one seems to stretch on for miles and miles, dead trees, shadowy movements, deep mist, and low lying fog wreathing the ground. There's headstones in haphazard rows stretching off into the limited visibility, and she can barely make out the forms of crypts off in the distance. Haphazard? Heh. S'a dream, folks. Guess the caretakers just ain't that careful in the dreamways.

Music? Huh. The long coat swirls about her as she turns and heads off between the gravestones, straining to make out the tune. Ah. There it is...

"I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nuthin' to say.
I come home in the morning, and I go to bed feeling the same way -
I ain't nuthin but tired, man I'm just tired and bored with myself,
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help..."

Springsteen? Figgers. Only in her dreams. Faith grins and heads off towards the sound, humming under her breath. Good thing it's a dream - Xander'd never let her live it down if he caught her humming a Boss tune. At least it's not fucking 'Mandy'. She snickers.

"You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark -
This gun's for hire... even if we're just dancing in the dark."

Ah well. At least it's one of the Boss' good ones. One of the ones that speaks to her...

She comes over a small rise and there's a break in the fog and mist, and through it she sees a mausoleum, and movement. The movement resolves into a slim, dark girl, with long, long hair, twisting and turning in an intricate leaping kata to the music. Dark red leather to Faith's black, and high heeled boots. Boombox on top of a headstone, that's where the music's coming from. Seems kinda disrespectful to the dead... but hey: no more so than anything else she's seen.

"Message keeps gettin' clearer, radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place.
I check my look in the mirror, I wanna change my clothes, my hair my face!
Oh man I ain't gettin' nowhere, I'm just living in a dump like this -
And there's something happenin' somewhere, baby I just know there is."

Something familiar about the black girl, but she can't place it. Faith steps and a small jump takes her to the top of a headstone where she balances squatting on the balls of her feet like a perching raven. Ghost quiet, that jump, but not silent enough - the other woman hears her and spins, takes her in with a flash of blinding white smile.

"And you can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark -
This gun's for hire... even if we're just dancing in the dark."

She spins and turns the next wheeling punch into a gesture, an invitation, and Faith laughs and nods. She launches herself from the gravestone and lands already moving, matching the other girl's rythm and studying the graceful movements. Not her style... but hey, girl's adaptable, y'know? She blends her styles into the others and the kata becomes dance. Dance of death...

"You sit around gettin' older, there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me...
I'll shake this world off my shoulders, come on baby this laugh is on me."

Other girl draws a pair of knives, and Faith's not even startled. She draws her own and they blend cold steel into the dance... flashing blades passing millimeters from skin and leather, never once in danger of touching. Faith leans back instinctively from a slash that would have taken the throat out of a non-slayer and laughs, a flash of grin meeting the laugh from the other. Nerve endings out past her skin, and she's enjoying herself here. Dancing in a place of death - and it's been a long time since she's felt more alive, she realizes...

"Stay on the streets of this town, and they'll be carving you up all right.
They say you gotta stay hungry? Hey baby I'm just about starving tonight!
I'm dying for some action, sick of sittin' 'round her tryin' to write this book -
I need a love reaction, come on now baby give me just one look."

Kicks, cuts, thrusts, and parries blend together, exhilarating. Intoxicating them both: she can feel the other slayer's blood pulsing with the beat.

"You can't start a fire sitting 'round cryin' over a broken heart
This gun's for hire - even if we're just dancing in the dark.
No you can't start a fire worryin' 'bout your little world fallin' apart -
And this gun's for hire... even if we're just dancing in the dark.
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Hey now baby!"

They break apart laughing, gravely tossing half mocking bows to each other. The other girl sheaths her blades with a flourish, and Faith matches suit. She nods appreciatively to the other, wavy hair bouncing on her shoulders.

"Caporiera, huh? And... Fillipino blade styles?" Faith gives her an inquisitive look.

"Yeah mon," the other girl bobs her head with enthusiasm. "Is good match, no? Sometink de vamps, dey not expect." It's the accent that does it for her, makes it click. She cocks her head, eyes lighting.

"Kendra," Faith states. "You're Kendra, right?"

"Kendra, de Vampire Slayer, yah." The black girl cocks her head in return, grinning. "An' you be Faith, mon. Dancer at de Dark."

Faith throws her head back, laughing. "Yup. S'me all right." She shoots a glance at the boombox and raises an eyebrow, "Springsteen?"

"Yeah mon," Kendra agrees. "Before I die, Xander he, how you say, turn me on?"

*snicker* "Yeah, mon. He did that to me once, too." Faith can't help laughing at the girl's uncomprehending look at that, "No worries. I know what you mean." She grins, "Wicked accent, girl."

Kendra shrugs, "My accent, it is what it is." She regards Faith with a critical eye. "I chose you, yes?"

"Yeah... however that works," Faith shook her head. "I'd say I'm sorry about that, but I'm kinda not, you know?"

"Is how you say... no worries?" Faith nods. "Is de way it is. One dies, another is Called."

"Well.. not these days, anyway. Back then, yeah," Faith replies.

"I know." Kendra shakes her head, "Back den, you Called in de Old Ways. I tink I chose well, no?"

"I'm not always so sure about that," Faith crossed her arms over her chest and gave her predecessor a sober look.

"Well, isn't this cozy. Past meets Present," a third voice cuts across Faith and her companion. Both of them turn, separating slightly and tensing. Faith can feel the mixture of slayer essence and vampire from the voluptuous figure perched atop the mausoleum. Cutting her eyes to the other girl, she can see Kendra register it as well.

"Elora Ménard," Faith says, without pleasure. "And you'd be the bird of ill omen we were missing. Fly away. Or, better yet... " Faith draws her aspect about herself and the Valdris blades come into her hands in a crackle of green fire. "Come on down. Join the dance." She sees Kendra start, then give an accepting nod.

"Stand easy, Slayer. I'm not here to fight," Elora remarks. "Besides... I don't believe we can kill, here."

"You might be surprised," Faith remarks. "They're just not makin' Dreams the way they usedta, y'know?" She shook her head, then, and willed the blades away. "Still... " Elora nods, and jumps down from the roof of the mausoleum to land lightly before them, several feet away.

"Nice trick. I'm impressed," she says.

"Yah. Was going to keep them a surprise, then I decided it doesn't matter." That sensual half grin came onto Faith's lips and settled there. Elora raised an eyebrow, and Faith matched it. "I'm coming for you, kiddo. Next we meet, you finish dying." The grin slid all the way across her lips, "Way I understand, it's long overdue."

"You sound awfully certain of yourself," Elora gave her a searching look.

"Am." Faith nodded. "You took me off stride at the ER. That was the last time. Both of the others... I out thought you, set you up, and took you apart. Next time I'll do the same. There won't be a next time after."

"You didn't exactly come off unscathed."

"No. Din't, did I?" Faith laughed, "But you weren't ahead on points." The blonde woman grinned back, shaking her head, but Faith noticed she didn't argue the point. She had a sudden, surprising burst of empathy for the other woman: slayer, trapped in the essence of what she was born to destroy for centuries, spiraling ever farther into the dark. Out of control. There but for something... she saw a flash of recognition in the blonde's eyes.

"My daughter is right, I tink." Kendra said, breaking the momentary connection. Elora lifted an eyebrow and gave her an inquiring look. "You are an abomination. You should have been released from this long ago." She gave the blonde woman a shrewd look, "I tink this is why you have sought her out. Darkness to darkness, seeking an ending to de long night, yes?"

"No." Elora shook her head, taking a step back. "Not even close, little girl."

"I tink so," the black girl took a step forward. "You are Killer, and yet you play games and do not kill. I see in my daughter's past dat you have had opportunity, no? And yet you strike and dance away, teasing de T'ing That Hunts, even though you of all know it is not a t'ing to be teased." She took another step and Elora raised a hand. "You know I speak de troot, and you would strike it away, yes?"

Faith put a hand on Kendra's shoulder, and drew her back, shaking her head. "Every Slayer has a death wish, Elora. I think Kendra's gots the right of it." She met the blonde's eyes and locked them, "So. Why are you here, in this place?"

"I'm not sure... " Elora shook her head. "I don't have Slayer Dreams any longer. Haven't in centuries. You drew me here, perhaps?"

"Maybe." Faith conceded the possibility. "Why me?" She knew she needn't explain the 'why'.

"We were much alike, once," the blonde said, and then looked away into the mist and the fog. "It gets lonely in the Dark. One begins to long for a Childer who knows both the darkness, and the light. And knows the sweet, hot, rush of giving oneself over to both when dealing death." She met Faith's gaze, emerald eyes to dark. "Someone to talk to through the long spans of time, a warmth against the cold." She smiled softly, "You are a Childe that's worthy of me."

Faith nodded, slowly. "Not going to happen." She shook her head, "But I do understand."

"Yes. You would, Slayer," the blonde looks away again.

"I'm sorry. And I'm going to hate myself for this," Faith chewed on her lower lip thoughtfully. Elora met her gaze again, surprised at the words or the soft tone. "Don't know much about your kind - yet. But I can't say I really disapprove of your little war. Draaken are scum, and anyone who'd take down the obscenity that was that blood factory, for whatever reasons... has a break coming from me. So... " Faith's eyes narrowed, "Begone. Leave this place... and I won't hunt you. Don't cross my path again, and don't ever harm my friends or family."

"Sorry. As you said: not going to happen," Elora sighed, and her eyes were dark.

"Yeah. Figured." Faith nodded. "Then begone from my mind, vampire. Next we meet, you die." Elora nods, and slowly fades from the cemetery, and from the dream.

"You have an interesting life, I tink, Slayer," Kendra remarked.

"Yeah. I'm all with the interesting," Faith said in a sour tone, then grinned. "So... daughter, huh?" An eyebrow quirked at the younger black girl.

"It is the way of things among us, no? Buffy Summers died and gave birth to me. I die, and you are born," Kendra grinned. "It is of the blood, mon."

"Does this mean that Drusilla is my daddy?" Faith snickered.

"Oh no," Kenrda's eyes went wide and shocked, and then she doubled over laughing. "T'at is just... wrong, it is, mon."

"Hey, one big happy dysfunctional family. Fucking insane all down the line an' shit." Faith laughed at the other girl's expression, then sobered. "I'm glad I got to meet you."

"Me too," the other girl smiled. "Be strong, Slayer. Be well." Darkness took them both as the cemetary faded around her...


Waking, Faith took out her guitar for the first time since she woke in the hospital and sat for a long time tuning and playing at it softly. Playing anything but Springsteen...



Spend part of the morning talking with Dawn. The physical therapist the hospital assigned her really doesn't have a lot to do for her, so she gets in a full, long workout instead. PT lady does have some useful tips on weight lifting and exercise though, and Faith soaks them up. Gonna learn, learn from experts. Maxed out, the weight machines here aren't even a stretch. She misses Blade's weight room... was cool to finally find a set that forced her to push. An hour long kata performed full out at near invisible speeds in a secluded corner of the gym does what the weights can't. Laps in the pool to cool down, and she climbs out onto the tiles dripping.

A quick glance around the gym as she's heading out shows that she's alone. She takes a short step and hop and launches herself up, tucking and somersaulting in place, toes almost brushing the high ceiling at apogee. Lands on the balls of her feet light and balanced, laughing. Coiled and loose and wired for sound. Damned near one hundred percent.

'Smokin' hot,' she thinks. 'One more night in this place, and tomorrow I'm gone. Time to break up the party and kill the fuck outta something.'

Grab lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Huh - they actually manage to get good food in here. So what explains the slop-on-a-tray that comes to the rooms? 'Never mind, don't answer that, self,' Faith makes a face. 'I'm sure I don't wanna know'. Comfortably stuffed after four helpings, and lots of coffee and milk. Does a body good, y'know? Call Gunn and ask him to meet her up here tomorrow morning late to help her check out, in case they want to give her a hassle. Leave a voice mail on Blade's phone to ask if he's got a place to base out of (yeah, stupid question - he's here afterall) and if King can meet her when she leaves.

Coolness. Only 16 hours or so left to not go nuts in. 'Could walk out AMA now, but not gonna. Gonna do this right, an' not leave a mess behind.' Besides, as far as hospitals go, this one's not bad once you get the doctors and nurses trained. Much better than SunnyD's coma ward or the prison infirmary.

A lot of the people are actually kinda nice here. Whoda thunk it.

.................................................................................

Detective Giambione made a big show of checking his watch when O'Brien came slouching in to the squad room. He got the dirty look for it he was expecting, too.

"Wow. It's before 2pm. The dead do walk," he remarked. Frank pushed a half box of donuts across the desk to his partner. O'Brien grunted, dropping into a chair and yawning, and grabbed a chocolate.

"Ha ha." Obie gave him a sour look. "I'll have you know I have seen daylight on occasion."

"Yeah, but usually not after working a crime scene until 5am," Giambione gave him an amused look. They'd spent the last six hours of their shift looking into a shot up South Philly bar followed by compiling reports from the various investigating detectives.

"You were out just as late," O'Brien remarked.

"Yeah... but I'm not like, ancient." Frank snickered at his partners sour look. "I have youthful resilience."

"Considering you saw forty in your rear view waving goodbye last year, I'm not impressed." Both of them swiveled to watch Stevie slouch in yawning, slam a stack of folders on her desk with a growl, and slump into a chair. They exchanged amused glances.

"Surveillance not going so well?" O'Brien asked, getting up to pour her a cup of coffee and set it on a clear spot.

"No, no - it's going fine, Obie. Just fine." Stevie downed half the cup with a grateful expression. "I love it when my subject vanishes into thin air out from under me and Colby and Carson." She gave him a malevolent look, "Leaving us sitting on our cans freezing while he's off laughing his ass off, no doubt."

"Hagerman?" Giambione raised an eyebrow.

"Yup." She nodded. "Regular locked room mystery: went into his hotel room, lights went out, and he never came back out. About noon one of the plainclothes spotted him down near the hospital and we got the manager to check his room on a pretext. Empty. Bed was never slept in."

"Slick," O'Brien said. "Don't sweat it: we already figured this guy's no amateur. You get a team in to figure out how he got out without being seen?"

"I'm no amateur either. Christine's heading it up," Stevie yawned. "I told Carson and Burns to sleep in while I did the reports. We'll pick up again tonight." She got up to refill her coffee. "So, how'd your and Frank's night go?"

"*snort* Someone shot up a clandestine bar in South Philly. Piles of ash everywhere, bullet holes, no bodies." Giambione made a disgusted face.

"Our blonde friend?" Stevie asked.

"Maybe. It's a way to bet," O'Brien said. He paused, looking thoughtful. "Silver bullets."

"Huh." Stevie had considering look, "Well, if it's like that warehouse, then it's definitely a case of scumbag kills scumbag, no humans involved."

"Literally," O'Brien nodded.

Frank glanced over at him, "So, what's up for today, Obie?"

"Why don't you go down to the local FBI branch offices and see if you can con anything out of their SAC on Hagerman?" Giambione made a face, then nodded. "I'm going to head over to the hospital for awhile, then I'll catch up with you."

Giambione smirked and exchanged amused looks with Stevie. "More father/daughter bonding time? You made her cry last time around."

"Don't even start, Frank," O'Brien warned, standing up with a groan and stretching. "Don't even start."

.................................................................................

Sam Winchester looked up when she stopped in the open door to their room, and a huge grin flashed across his face. "Hey!" He picked up the remote and shut the TV off.

"Hey yourself," Faith returned the grin. "Where's the bro?"

"Figures. All the pretty girls only say hey because they want to get to Dean," Sam made a face and Faith laughed. "They rolled him out just a bit ago for x-rays and PT. You just missed him."

Faith nodded, "No worries. And don't think I'm buying that 'I never get the girl' routine, either, tough guy."

"Damn. There goes my best line," Sam winked. "What brings you by?"

"Wanted to see how you were doing." She gave him a searching look, "You seem a lot better now?"

"Yeah. Could actually get up and walk, if they'd let me," Sam stated, frowning. "They say they want to keep me another several days to a week, though. Make sure the internal injuries are completely healed."

"Sucks. Good plan though - you don't want to be walkin' around thinking you're fine and suddenly keel over. Ruins your day," Faith said. Sam grinned, nodding. "Means you'll miss out on the festivities though."

"Festivities?" He gave her a curious look.

"I'm about as close to 100% as I'm going to get in here. Checking myself out in the morning," Faith told him. "Going to go on the prowl after, draw out vampy, and ice her."

"Ah," Sam nodded. "Smack her a couple for me, huh?"

"You don't mind not being in on it?" Faith lifted an eyebrow.

Sam gave her a thoughtful look, "I'd like to kill her myself, but I don't have to. Knowing she's dead and we don't have to watch over our shoulders is good. Just... don't get yourself killed doing it." Faith raised both eyebrows at that, and Sam grinned. "Have to apologize for my brother. He gets protective at times and it warps his judgment."

"What big brothers and sisters are for, I'm told," Faith said evenly. "And no, you don't. Only one someone needs to apologize for is themselves. Other people can't do it for them."

"Maybe." Sam's expression was dubious on that one. "I'm glad we ran into you, good and bad included. And I appreciate all the stuff you've been doing for us."

Faith ran a bemused look over the hospital beds, the IV, and Sam's bruises. "Good and bad? I'm kinda to blame for you being in here."

"You're as bad as Dean on that. Stop it," Sam shot her a glower. "You didn't do this, that blonde did. If you'd known, you'd have stopped her before she got to us." He shook his head, "If people can't apologize for other people, then they can't take responsibility for what other people do, either. Right?"

"Maybe," Faith shook her head. "We can argue about it after this is done."

"No arguments on it," Sam grinned. "Just ice the bitch so she can't do it again, and we're even."

.................................................................................

"Sometimes I feel like I'm getting kinda low
Thoughts that I'm thinkin' are the reason I know
So I try to remember, without talkin' to myself
Things that I said, or maybe things that I felt
about you... "


He found Faith sitting cross legged on her bed with her guitar on her lap when he came in following her soft, "Come on in, Five-oh,". O'Brien leaned against the door frame, studying the girl sitting eyes closed with long fingers moving across the strings. a dark wing of hair falling forward across her face.

"Just -
Sittin' in a corner of a crowded bar room
People all around me and I still feel alone
Just when I know I'm gonna break down and cry
Someone plays a tune that dries the tear from my eye..."


Not a voice that he would have expected: a soft whiskey contralto, pleasantly rough and gentle on the ears. Not a professional player, but while a bit rough in places, there was a definite skill to her playing.

"Singin' ..There goes another love song
Someone's singin about me again
And there goes another love song
Now I need more then a friend."


She shot him a flash of dark eyes from under the hair, and a softer version of that cocky half grin, then closed her eyes again bending over the strings.

"Lonesome and lonely, far from my home
Try'in to get back t'where I know I belong
Wishin' and a hopin' I was already there
I just heard a voice whispered in my ear -

"Singin' ..There goes another love song
Someone's singin about me again
There goes another love song -
Now I need more then a friend,
Now I'm needing more then a friend."


She worked her way through the closing bridge, then leaned back against the pillows as the last soft, clean, pure note trailed off, and opened her eyes.

"Nice," O'Brien observed, and she grinned, nodding.

"The voice or the guitar?"

"Both," he said. "That is a pretty elegant looking guitar, though."

"Thanks," she said, agreeing. "Dobro. Paul Beard resonator acoustic. One of the first really nice things I ever bought for myself... cost more than I had at the time." She gave him a curious glance, "You play?"

"Not me," O'Brien put his palms out, shaking his head. "And you heard Frank's views on my singing."

"Ah. Thought maybe that was one of those banter things," she laughed when O'Brien shook his head with a rueful expression. "I'm learning... a little bit at a time."

"How long have you been working at it?"

"Since a couple of months after good old Sunnyhell went down da hole," she laughed again softly at his surprised look. "Slayer gifts are good for more than picking up weapon and combat skills fast, it seems. I still have to practice a lot, but I can watch someone and pick up the movements and the chord changes. Rest is tuning what I've acquired - that takes time." Faith winked, "Helps that I have very close to perfect pitch: I can hear when the sound isn't right and work at it until it matches what's in my head."

He nodded, "That a slayer gift, also?"

"Naw. Not sure where that one came from. Born with it... " Faith's eyes went distant, then she looked down at the guitar and smiled. "She keeps me company when I'm on the road a lot. Gives me something to do when I'm not in the mood to read, patrol, or go hit a bar."

"Yeah. Could understand that," O'Brien said. "Didn't recognize the song?"

"Outlaws. Appropriate, huh?" They both laughed and she added, "I like newer faster music: metal, industrial, grunge, punk... whatever - but it doesn't translate real well to acoustic. So I started picking up the older and slower stuff to learn on... and discovered I liked a lot of it." She looked out the window, "I met a guy named Spider John at a bar out near Long Island once. He taught me a lot. Picked up more listening to classic rock and oldies stations."

"Spider John?" O'Brien gave her a blank look.

"Folk and Traditional guitarist, but he can play damned near anything. Spider John Koerner," Faith replied. "He's reinventing the twelve string, a string at a time." She looked through the wall for a bit before continuing, "I came in off the road one day and found myself at loose ends because the SO had other things to do. That was happening a lot there, near the end... So I said 'Screw this', grabbed my guitar case and bike and took off to amuse myself." She laughed, softly. "Ended up at a roadhouse where this weird looking guy was up on the stage without a mike puttin' out some of the best smoky blues you ever heard... " The dark eyes went mischievous, "Ended up sitting at a corner table doing a four day alphabetic drunk and talking guitars and music non-stop until he had to go to a gig, and I headed out again."

"Straight through?" O'Brien raised an eyebrow, "They didn't kick you out at closing time?"

"Started to. Spider talked to the owner and they ended up throwin' him the keys and said to lock up if we left before daybreak," she laughed. "We left before daybreak all right - just several days later."

"You do that a lot? Get drunk and close down bars?" O'Brien gave her a look that was more than half frown.

"With strange men?" Faith lifted an eyebrow and shook her head. "Naw. Mostly a few beers or a cold Irish Whiskey. It takes a *lot* to get me drunk.... and it's usually not worth it. By the time I'm seriously drunk, it's damned near alcohol poisoning, and recovering the next day is a bitch." She made a face, "'Sides... gettin' seriously sloshed reminds me too much of my mom. I'm not going there. No drugs and no alcoholism for this girl."

"No drugs?" O'Brien lifted an eyebrow.

"Brings the cop out in you, huh, Five-oh?" Faith snickered. "Naw. Weed before I was Called. After... it's the same as alcohol. Slayer healing burns most drugs and poisons out fast. I don't like the taste or smell of weed enough to want to smoke enough to get past that; I don't like needles or killing my sense of smell with other stuff; and the idea of damned near OD'ing on coke or whatever just for a buzz doesn't do me - even without the junkie mom association thing." That half grin drew up the corner of her lips, "On the other hand... slayer healing means that I can enjoy a decent cigar and not have to worry about lung cancer, so it's a good trade."

"Good," he nodded. "I don't care much for what the narcotics crusaders have turned drug policing into, but I've seen too many people destroy themselves with drugs to enjoy the idea. You probably have too."

"Yes, Dad," Faith grinned, nodding. Her eyes narrowed slightly, "Drug trade wouldn't exist the way it does if it wasn't for the narcotics crusaders, though. But it's not my job to deal with human monsters, no matter what side of the law they say they're on, thank the idiot gods. It's yours."

"Argument for a different time," O'Brien said, shaking his head. "That one would probably last us all week."

"Yup. And you'd lose," Faith gave him an insouciant look. "So... anything new breaking?" She changed the subject.

O'Brien sighed. "Some. Our FBI agent gave Stevie the slip and we're trying to relocate him. And someone left ashes and bullet holes all over an unlicensed bar in South Philly."

Nod. "I'll suggest to Vince to have his people keep an eye out for the guy. Ashes?" She frowned, "Blondie working her way through the vampire bars?"

"It's the way to bet, probably. Your friend Vince?" O'Brien raised an eyebrow. "Or is that another card I haven't paid to see yet?"

"Got it in one," Faith agreed. "I won't say Vince is one of the good guys, if there are any in this... but he's walking on the side of the angels lately. Don't worry - he's not a threat to your city, and you'll probably end up getting the four-one-one before we're done here."

"I'll hold you to that," O'Brien warned.

"You'll try, anyway," Faith's lips twitched and her eyes went mischievous again. "So... what can you tell me about Eastern State Prison here in Philly?"

That got her a curious look. "Why?" O'Brien asked.

"Looks like the best all around place to lure miss vampy to and deal with her, based on what I dug up on the 'net. Near South Philly, more or less. Closed, mostly abandoned, large grounds... but it's walled off and doesn't have casual bystander traffic to worry about. Lots of room and hiding places for playing tag with any minions she brings in. Rumoured to be haunted, which makes it appealing."

O'Brien gave that some thought, and nodded. He laid out what he knew about the place, and its history.

"Works," she said finally, nodding. "Think you can figure out a way arrange things to pull off what few security people there might be around there a couple or so nights from now? On the QT... ? We'll finish this there."

O'Brien considered for a bit, and she let him work it through. "Should be possible," he allowed.

"Good. I'll give you a call for when," she gave him a thoughtful look. "Make sure you can bring your squad together tomorrow night, also... armed. Whatever you err... acquired from that warehouse, and shotguns with incendiaries if you have them."

O'Brien gave her a long look, and she added, "You're already in past your eyebrows. Figure it's past time you got a look at the real underworld in this town. We're going to rattle some cages, let them know there's a new Sheriff in town, and I'm going to teach you everything I know about handling the supernatural that can be done in a few days." A wolf grin came over her lips and settled there, "And we're going to put the word out that this is a vampire free city from here on in, and I'm going to see what I can do about getting you set up to keep it that way. Sound good?"

"No." A similar grin crossed O'Brien's face and matched hers. "But it sounds satisfying."

"Yer right. There ain't nuthin' 'good' about it," Faith's eyes flashed golden for a moment. "The Thing the Darkness Fears hit your city, and your city hit back. Time I reminded them why that ain't such a smart idea." She winked, "It ain't gonna be pretty, but it's gonna be effective as all hell."

O'Brien laughed, "Kid, I gave up on 'pretty' after the first serial killing I worked. I'll settle for 'effective'." He gave her a critical once over, "Tomorrow night?"

"Yeah. I'm ready to blow this joint. I'm checking out tomorrow, one way or the other," Faith said. "Can you get your partner to drop off my hardware he said he was keeping for me, sometime tonight?"

Nod. "We'll drop it by later."

Faith nodded back. "Good deal. And... considering you're not going to arrest him, can you get Dean's car released and brought up here for him?"

"Now you're pushing it, kid," O'Brien joked, and she laughed.



- Lyrics to "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen; lyrics to "There goes another love song" by The Outlaws.
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