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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

"One of the good guys?"

Chapter 3: "One of the good guys?"

(Day 2; Saturday, December 6, 2003)

Dean elaborated on his and Sam's and their family's history with the Demon, as they called it, over breakfast the next morning. Late morning - closer to noon - and well after noon when they finished talking and eating. Breakfast following a much better shower after they'd gotten out of bed, with no demon interruptions and the two of them sharing it.

"Ok... " Faith had a thoughtful furrow between her eyebrows. "So it just possesses people, uses their bodies, and kills them. And it can only be killed with this ancient revolver."

"Right. Which will actually kill just about anything known, supposedly. We've been searching for it... haven't tracked it down yet."

"Huh. Never heard of a demon like this," Faith remarked. "Not that that means much... I haven't really had a Watcher or much access to one since mine was murdered. Wesley's been filling in, but that's not quite the same." She'd covered a somewhat more filled in version of the slayer and her own history as well, in between listening to his. She'd left out a lot of the prison stuff, but otherwise had been reasonably complete.

"Yeah, well... I've never heard of 'The Slayer', either. And now supposedly there's hundreds of you," Dean grinned. He'd had to borrow one of Faith's spare concert tees to come down in since his shirt was shredded.

Faith laughed and jabbed her fork in his direction, "No, only one of me. Hundreds of slayers."

"Ok," he held his hands up in mock surrender. "Two of you then. Your twin."

"Point." She took a bit of waffle and chewed thoughtfully, frowning a bit. "I can run the description past Wes, if you don't mind. Leaving your family stuff out of it?" He nodded. "I need to ask him about some other stuff I've been running across lately, anyway, next time we talk. No promises... he may not have anything either."

"I can deal with a long shot. Every little bit helps."

"Knowledge is power, right. And what you don't know kills you," she nodded. "I can ask Wes and another friend to check for any leads on that Colt, too... " she paused, thinking, and then her eyes narrowed. "Crap. No I can't, either."

Dean gave her a look. "Why not?"

"Mystical revolver that can kill almost anything supernatural? I like Wes, and I trust him, but... he is a professional demon hunter working with another group of demon hunters." She frowned, "Damned thing would be priceless. Same goes for the New Watcher's Council: they'd want it for their use. And you'd play hell getting it from them."

"Ah." Dean cocked his head, "What about you?"

"You've got first claim, as far as I'm concerned. Not going to make it a contest with you," Faith stated. "Got weapons. Don't need another one so bad I'll fight another hunter for one that they already have a claim on."

Dean studied her curiously, getting a flat look in return. Over the space of moments, she'd gone from friendly and relaxed to prickly and wary, with a look in her eyes that stated flatly that challenging her word on that wasn't a good idea. Not that doing so would start a fight - there wasn't anything of the sort in her body language. More a sense that not taking her word at face value would end with her simply getting up... and walking out. After a time, Dean nodded and she relaxed slightly.

Faith cocked her head slightly, "I hope you guys find your dad ok. You have a lead in New York to chase down?"

Dean shook his head, accepting the proffered change of subject. "No, not really. There was a rumor of a lot of disturbances up there recently, so we figured we'd go up and poke around. We were on our way up to Ohio to check into something when we heard about it, so we decided to hit New York first." He shrugged, "It's as good a direction as any right now... if there was a big supernatural disturbance, it's possible our dad may show up there looking into it also."

"Errr... oopsie?" Faith's eyes crinkled at him and she looked slightly embarrassed. "I see I forgot to mention the last few weeks of the Faith LeHane story." She raised her hand, "That would have been me."

"YOU created a massive demonic disturbance?" He stared at her.

"Wellllll... yeah, kinda." She laughed at his expression. "More like: ended one, and roiled things up all over Jersey City in the process It was a bit of a mess... " She shook her head, sighed, and launched into the tale of her and Robin's breakup, her leaving the IWC, and the week or so after that ending up with her running into him and Sam in Philly. It took awhile, especially with excited or incredulous interruptions from him for questions.

"Christ," Dean leaned back in his seat and stared at her, shaking his head. "I was picked up by a one woman demonic Arnie movie."

Faith laughed, eyes dancing, "Dear sirs. I never believed any of the stories in your magazine until one happened to me... " He spit coffee almost across the table, laughing.

"Yeah. Kind of like that." Dean shook his head again, "I'm almost in awe. I'm not sure if I should edge carefully away protecting my noogies, or grab you and keep you as a bodyguard."

Faith cocked her head, considering. "When in doubt, protect the noogies." They both laughed again.

"So, if Sam and I run across one of these demon bars and walk in and say 'We're friends of the Dark Slayer', are they going to run like hell or kill us slowly?"

"Depends on the bar. Vince will probably give you beer on the house," she laughed, "Other places... do the words 'dying slowly and in great pain' mean anything to you?"

"Yeah. Avoid if at all possible. I intend to live forever or die trying," He laughed. "That does make me kind of want to look up this Robin Wood and kick the crap out of him though. As long as we're in the neighborhood and all."

"Wow." She studied his face, "You really mean that. Not just something to say to impress the babe." She leaned back, looking at him oddly. He shrugged, slightly uncomfortable. "No worries, it's already been done. He's past history now."

"Yeah, well... " Dean changed the subject, "So this twin you're looking for is an image from the Dreamways experience?" She nodded. "How can you be sure you're... "

"Not chasing a chimera?" Faith shrugged, frowning. "No idea. Just feel it. Everyone else in that group are real people - people in my slayer dreams usually are. I'll find out, I guess."

"Good luck," he said, and meant it. "Does that mean that trying to convince you to change directions and hook up travels with us - me - is a lost cause?" His voice was light, but the eyes were serious.

She gave him a startled look. "Damn. You keep surprising me this morning." She thought for a long time, looking at him, then shook her head. "No. For the same reason I'm not going to ask you to drop your hunt and throw in with me: we both have a direction, and it wouldn't work. And the directions aren't the same." She grinned, "Doesn't mean I'm not going to try like hell to convince you and Sam to extend your stay in Philly for a few more days, though."

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

They spent part of the afternoon together and decided to meet up later along with his brother to discuss things. She dropped Dean off at the motel Sam had rented for them, got his cell number, and headed back to her own after a few brief stops along the way.

Fed, rested, and comfortably relaxed, in spite of the demon episode. She took her guitar out of its case, tuned it, and nattered around at things on it for a short time until she grew bored with practicing. Her eyes fell on her bag, finally, and she remembered the two packages Hannibal King had pressed on her just before she left New Jersey along with an 'Open them somewhere safe when you get a chance'. Time to stop putting it off, she decided, and went to her bag to draw them out. Her life wasn't going to get much safer anywhere. She set them out on the bed and settled in where she could open them, hesitating. Opening them was going to kill the enjoyment of anticipation and speculating on them that had been one of her major reasons for putting it off.

'Oh well. That's kind of stupid anyway,' she thought. 'Can't trade the anticipation in on the enjoyment of what's in them until I do.'

Nodding decisively, she reached and unlocked the first and popped the latches. Going for the briefcase sized wooden one first, remembering King's admonition. Her breath caught in her throat when she lifted the lid, and she picked up the folded note lying on top of the contents to read, almost absently.

"Faith -

Here you go. Blade made some suggestions, but I made the choices based on what you liked and seemed to have an affinity for out of our armory. These should do the job on anything you really want to shoot with a handgun, with the right loads. Enjoy.

The smaller case has an assortment of rounds from what I had on hand, mostly silver, but some sundogs and incendiaries as well. You can get factory ammunition for practice: I kept the caliber choices fairly standard for that. I'm going to suggest that you find a range wherever you end up for anything more than a day or two and get in as much practice as possible - at least a few hundred rounds at a time or more. Remember the drill: accuracy first, let speed follow after.

I've included cards for LFI and Gunsite in the smaller case, along with those of a few competent gunsmiths across the US. I definitely recommend signing up for courses at both as we'd discussed after you gain more basic competency. You'll want to add a decent rifle and shotgun for Gunsite as well... you already know my recommendations based on what you hunt. Also suggest strongly getting a residence in one of the more gun-friendly states and getting a concealed carry permit. They come in handy, even if not having one won't be any more of a bar than it is for carrying all of the steel when you need to. You'll need leather gear also: there's some recommendations in the second case as well.

Let us know when you have a shipping address, and I'll send along additional specialized rounds as I get them worked out and made up. The other special items can be recharged if you recover them, but have no idea what the recharge life is like: we usually don't recover them.

Take care, and stay in touch,
- King"


Nestled into black felt recesses inside the main case were four handguns, with a row of sixteen UV-grenades in slots above and below them. The big, engraved Wildey semi-auto she'd liked, the LAR Grizzly semi-auto, and a Kimber 1911. With an elegant five-and-a-half inch barreled single action nestled in at the second row with the Kimber. Not the big Ruger she'd used in training and practice there, but a different one. She picked it up out of the case and did a practice spin after checking the cylinder to make sure it was empty. A Texas Longhorn Arms Keith Model Grover No. 5 in .454 Cashull, it said along the barrel and edges of the cylinder. With a second cylinder marked in .45 Winchester Magnum

She looked at the others: all in .45 Winchester Magnum as well, except for the Kimber which was in 10mm Auto. She leaned back against the pillows and headboard, eyes soft and distant, doing gunfighter twirls with the Keith and remembering...

They'd discovered that she wasn't recoil shy in pretty short order, once she got used to the noise, and moved up from the .22's and light .38's. She emptied the big revolver, switched to the semi-auto and finished the firing string. Reloaded both as she'd been shown, King's eyes watching the deft movements of her hands. Emptied both pistols again, and stepped back, setting them on the bench.

"Ok, so we know slayer gift's not much for guns," she said, pulling down her hearing protectors. Faith gave a rueful look at the 18" group on the target seven yards away. "I may as well stick to rocks," she gave Hannibal a lopsided grin.

"Heh. Fewer moving parts?" He quipped, and she laughed.

"Yup. Beat, rend, kill." She snickered, "Hulkette smash."

"Naw." He shook his head. "You picked up the mechanics faster than anyone I've ever seen: sights, cocking and firing, reloading," he nodded at the bench. "You fire and reload that single action faster than most 'experts' can a double action revolver."

He looked at the target and reeled it in to change it, "Just doesn't seem to help on the accuracy thing."

She shook her head and laughed, agreeing. Regarded him regarding her while he considered, absently picking up the big single action and doing gunfighter spins while she waited. Unloaded - she checked it again first, anyway: that had already been drilled in until it was reflex: 'Guns have a limited mentality. You're going to play with them, make damned sure they know you're playing. No such thing as a safe firearm.'

"Just means you need to slow down, and work at accuracy until it's second nature, since the slayer-thing doesn't seem to help with that. It's an acquired skill: practice, practice, practice. Add speed after." He watched the sure movements, raised an eyebrow. "Hannie Caulder. Didn't know you were 'gunfighter girl'."

She looked down, puzzled for a moment and then laughed when she saw what her hands were doing and shrugged. "Feels natural."

"Looks damned natural, too," he grinned.

"Dude," she responded. "Rio Bravo," she elaborated, when his eyes stayed blank and the other eyebrow went up. "Dean Martin's character: recovering drunk gunfighter with magic hands. And other roles. He could make a Colt look alive."

"Ah." He looked her over. "Never figured you for a westerns girl."

"Ha. Shows you." She grinned. "I loved those things when I was a kid. Watched all of them. Major contrast with South Boston and the dump we lived in." Faith leaned back against the divider post, looking through King. "Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Commancheros, The Cowboys, Broken Arrow, Shootist, Pale Rider, Jose Wales, Red Sun, Magnificent Seven... " She smiled, "True Grit, Big Jake, Quigley Down Under... Horses, guns, wide open range, and codes of honor."

"Mostly John Wayne?"

She nodded, eyes distant. "Yeah. I used to fantasize that Wayne was my dad, since I never knew my real one. Big gruff man, hard as nails, but gentle... someone to beat the fuck out of my mom's 'boyfriends'. Big brother like Dean-o."

Hannibal shook his head slightly as she continued, "My mom dumped cold water on that. She didn't think cap guns and chaps were for 'little girls'. Barbies and crap. Not like she ever gave enough of a shit to buy any of those..." Faith snorted, "Had a beat up Crossman single-action that didn't work, I found somewhere. Use to practice the moves til it disappeared.."

"Mom made it go away?" Hannibal's voice was quiet.

"Maybe," Faith seemed to focus on him again. "Or one of her one nighters grabbed it and pawned it." She shrugged.

"Crap," he winced slightly.

"Yeah." She did another short spin with the big pistol, looking down at it. "Would have been kind of hard, considering I found out Wayne died long before I was born. Still... the losers didn't look so tough compared to the real thing."

Hannibal gave a slight snort, "Real thing who made movies about World War II, but never went, while a lot of his friends did?"

Faith shot him a glance, eyes narrowed slightly. "And felt horrible about it and beat hell out of himself over it for decades? You never failed your image, and then kicked yourself for falling short? Too late to go back?"

He opened his mouth, shut it, and considered. Nodded. "Smart ass."

"Yup," She laughed, softly. "Yeah, I read the biographies. And the whiny tell-alls by the kid Waynes. No illusions." She snorted, "Like they knew what 'having it rough' was like."

Hannibal nodded, "Still... "

"Hey - the real thing. Wayne, Stewart, Bronson, Mitchum. They did real shit and made real mistakes and had real regrets. Had real lives." She shrugged, "Not like the whingey pretty boys Hollywood calls actors these days."

"No arguments there."

"Yeah. You're an authentic bad ass, and Blade too. You know the difference." She grinned, "You've both done shit and bled over it." She looked distant again... "The punks my mom used to drag in would have shit themselves if they had to raise a family, provide, and earn a real living. Sweat for their kids and be there. Or handle the responsibilities we do. Don't have to go to war to be the real thing... "

Dark eyes met King's and the corner of her mouth quirked up in a sour smile, "What. Me bitter? Naw.... " She snickered.

He gave a lopsided smile. 'I'd say you have reason,' he thought. Instead, he said, "Ready to do some more practice, Gunfighter Gal?"

"Sure thing, Tex. Roll 'em out." She put on the hearing protectors and began loading the handguns, hands fast and certain on the movements. "Slower this time, huh?"


The leather case was filled with plastic fifty round ammunition boxes, a charger for the UV-grenades, and extra clips for the various semi-autos. 'Magazines', she corrected herself, not clips. The cards he'd mentioned were tucked into pockets at the top of the case, with manuals and additional instructions in the bigger pocket in the lid. Details on the ammo and loads, what to use for practice ammo, cartridges the big revolver would take in addition, and suggestions on what was available in standard factory ammunition. A list of websites of manufacturers of various rifles and shotguns...

'King, you bastard,' she thought, 'I'm never going to be able to pay this back. Have to figure out a way to pay it forward, I guess... ' Have to love a man who gives you weapons went through her mind, and one who knows how to show a girl a good time. She laughed, eyes bright, 'One of these days people are going to stop surprising me. I hope I never live long enough to see that.'

It was a lot different from the ways people used to surprise her. Until the point where she quit being surprised by them and started expecting it...

She found a better place in the carrier box to store the handgun and ammunition case, but kept the big single action out to examine and hold for a time.

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

Flashing lights, yellow crime scene tape, uniforms, a Best Western motel, and an ambulance pulling away. Detective Kevin O'Brien, Major Cases Task Force of the Philadelphia Major Crimes Division, pulled the unmarked Crown Victoria into the nearest empty area by the police barricades.

"Looks like we beat Tommy here for once," his partner, Detective Frank Giambione remarked.

"Yeah. Let's go find out what we beat him to, shall we?" O'Brien reached up and pulled the unmarked's dome light off and set it inside on the dash before getting out. Frank was already opening his door and climbing out to stand waiting for him at the front of the car.

Not much chance that what they had was a 'simple' rape, homicide, or robbery, not if Major Cases had been called in for it. That made it pretty much a sure bet that it was going to be odd in some fashion, especially these days. Also a given that as soon as they finished getting the preliminaries, the two Violent Crimes plain clothesmen currently on the scene were going to have it taken off their hands. Major Cases technically handled the cities serial killers, serial and repeat rapes, bizarre assaults, and just about anything else that didn't fit into one of the neat little division boxes of robbery, homicide, burglary, violent crimes, or organized crimes.

These days, it seemed like it was also almost a certainty it would fit into the department's unofficial 'weird crimes' classification. Crimes that technically didn't exist, and never showed up on the blotters.

Detective Beltzer from Violent waved them over with a relieved look as he saw them coming under the tape at the edge of the lot. His partner, Detective Higgs, merely gave them a bored look and took out his case notebook as they came up.

"Higgs, Beltz," O'Brien nodded to them. "Whatta we have here?"

"Obie," The slender black detective shook his head, and after checking his notes flipped his book shut. "Two white males, ages nineteen to early twenties. IDs name them as Sam and Dean Winchester, respectively. Someone crashed into their room and beat pure hell out of both of them approximately an hour after dark." He looked out to the street, "Ambulance took them away just before you got here."

"Any witnesses?" Giambione asked. Beltzer shook his head.

"Naw. Rooms next door either side empty. Couple two rooms over heard shouting and crashing sounds, and called it in," Beltzer said. "Uniforms are canvassing the area now to see if anyone saw anything."

"Well, maybe," Higgs added. "Couple that called it in said when they looked out their window, they saw a blond white woman walking across the parking lot toward the street. Guy said and I quote 'one hot looking babe' end quote. You probably don't want to know what his female companion had to say about that."

"Ha. I can probably fill it in verbatim," O'Brien smirked. "What makes it one of ours?"

"You'll see when you get the crime scene photos and talk to the EMTs," Higgs said. Beltzer rolled his eyes and made a casual gesture with two forked fingers at the side of his neck. Giambione gave him a disgusted look and O'Brien shook his head.

"Anything else?" O'Brien didn't roll his eyes, but he gave an inward sigh. Another crime scene that would never be officially listed as solved, and that lately it seemed a number of the brass would rather wasn't looked into too deeply 'unofficially', either.

Beltzer shrugged, "Forensics team's on the way, ME's done the prelim on the room and vicinity, and the crime scene photog's already taken his pics." He not only looked bored, he also looked more than ready to turn it over to Major Cases and get on with his and his partner's shift. Elsewhere.

"Pretty much," Biggs said. "One weapon found in the room: silver Colt 1911 with engravings, looks to be at least semi-custom. Uniforms recovered and bagged and tagged it, you can get it from the crime lab people after they finish with it. We didn't step into the evidence chain on it since this looked to be going to your squad."

"Gun?" Giambione frowned. "Not used?"

"No shots heard, doesn't seem to have been. Uniform said it didn't smell fired." Biggs shrugged, "We passed on to the EMTs to test for residue on the victims."

Beltzer shook his head, "Whoever the perp was, it had to be one strong mutha. Both vics were pretty well beaten all to hell, and both of them were pretty husky kids, well built and in good condition. At least before this, anyway."

"Get a statement from the desk clerk?" O'Brien

"Uniforms talked to him. He didn't check them in, they came in last night on his off night," Higgs said. "No one's located last night's clerk for us yet." He made a face: "They had a damned arsenal in the trunk of their car, too. It's all in the evidence list and reports. Have fun." He tapped his pen on the notebook, "We done yet?"

"Not yet," O'Brien gave him a sardonic grin. "Fill out your reports, full details, sign them, and send them over to Major Cases. Including transcripts of any witnesses and uniforms you interviewed. Then you're done."

"Oh, crap, O'Brien," Beltzer made a disgusted face.

"Ah. Don't start," O'Brien warned. "I know you'd rather just shelve all that. But - until this has been round filed and officially made unofficial, it's an actual case. We're gonna treat it like one, and that means reports, signatures, evidence chains, and the full nine yards."

"Yeah," Giambione smirked. "You never know when Mulder and Scully are going to drop in on one of these and demand jurisdiction. We don't want to look like amateurs when the feebies want to audit our local procedures, right?" O'Brien shot him a sour grin. The FBI's paranormal case division reportedly didn't bear any resemblance to the fictional 'X-Files' series, but it did exist, and did on occasion take jurisdiction over some of the more bizarre cases. Not likely, but it happened - and with the number of odd crimes Philly'd seen in the past five plus years, they might even be overdue.

O'Brien waved off the two plainclothes cops with another admonition to get their paperwork to him, and then he and Giambione went over to talk to the uniformed officers that had been first on the scene. The older, Hispanic officer nodded as they came up. "Detectives," he said.

"Officer Montoya? You and your partner were the first on the scene?" O'Brien nodded back to them. "What you got for us?"

Montoya and his female partner filled them in concisely on what they'd found on arrival, and on the actions they'd taken after calling for an ambulance and calling it in. "Pretty messed up," Montoya finished, "Looked like those two boys went twelve rounds with a three hundred and fifty pound heavyweight. Both unconscious - as far as we could tell, they opened the door to the perp, it crashed in on the first one, and then whoever it was followed it in and walked all over them."

Giambione shook his head, "Any luck with the parking lot camera tapes?"

Montoya gave him a disgusted look. "No way. Surveillance camera's busted on this side - night man says they've been reporting it to get it repaired for weeks."

"Figures," O'Brien snorted. "Any additional witnesses yet?"

"One possible," Montoya's partner said. "One guy said he saw an 'expensive looking blonde' crossing the parking lot toward the stairs while he was on his way back to his room. This would have been about five to ten minutes or so before he heard the crashing and shouting sounds from up above. He said he didn't look out after that."

"Gotta love people who mind their own business," O'Brien remarked. "You get any better description than 'an expensive looking blonde'?"

"From the neck down, anyway," Montoya laughed. "We wrote it all down with what the couple that phoned it in had to say, it's on our reports. Manager's name and the name of the evening clerk who checked them in last night is on there also."

"List of all the room occupants on this side from the desk as well? Names and details?" Giambione asked.

"Got it from the clerk," Montoya nodded. "Everything we saw or noticed is in there."

"Good job. All right... sign off on it, and make sure a copy of those reports and notes get to Major Cases," O'Brien said. "You can go back on patrol after you finish filing your paperwork. Where'd the ambulance take the victims?"

"Philadelphia General," the female uniform said.

"Our next stop then, after we finish up here," Giambione said. "Guess we'll pick up the canvassing and follow ups from here after forensics gets done."

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

She killed part of the afternoon with a movie on cable she'd been wanting to see. Her lifestyle the past several months, hell, years really, had kind of left her out of the popular entertainment loop. There were movies made in the late-90s that she still hadn't seen...

A workout, a swim, and a shower followed by a snack in the Marriott's restaurant finished off the rest of the afternoon, and hunting websites for pistol belts and holster gear via her laptop and the hotel's wifi service took her well into the evening.

Finished with her online window shopping, she took to browsing the various weird news sites looking for tips on things that might bear having a slayer's eyes look into them, concentrating on items and tidbits between Philly and Oklahoma City. No full time Watcher. Not-a-computer-geek or no, she'd better get used to doing her own research. Some time later, she glanced at the room's window, frowning as she realized that it had gotten well past dark on her at some point.

Past dark, and no phone call from Dean suggesting they hook up somewhere, as they'd agreed on...

'Ok, so maybe they got tied up in something. No big, Faith,' she thought. But Dean hadn't sounded like they'd had anything in Philly to get tied up with, other than heading out north to New York City today. 'So maybe Sam didn't agree to stay over, and they left, then.' And didn't call to say. Faith was startled at the hurt feeling that shot through her as that went through her mind. And no big, still. No commitments, right? And guys do the 'get some, get gone' thing too, even seemingly nice ones...

She wasn't going to call, she decided. Not going to call, like some needy little girl trailing after the guy. An hour later, she switched off the TV she hadn't been watching and she still wasn't going to call. Nope, definitely not. She was getting up to start getting her gear together to load on the bike and check out in preparation for blowing on down south. She packed the single action away, not wanting to carry it on the road. Stood for a long time looking into the open pistol case and holding King's folded note in her hand, eyes distant...

Listening to Dean's cell phone ring and thinking 'Yeah, you've definitely got this not calling thing five-by-five, Faith. You may wanna work on that, some, yanno?' Frowning as the cell rang and rang and then went into voice mail. She left one absently, barely aware of what it was, with 'Ok, so he's got it switched off, no big,' going through her head.

Two more calls and an hour later, no more voice mails left, and she had the big bike in gear heading toward Sam and Dean's motel some eight blocks away.

Definitely not of the good. Cruisers, unmarked cars, flares, police tape, and flashing lights everywhere at the front and side of the Best Western she'd dropped Dean off at this afternoon. Wrong side of the Best Western - right side for their room, wrong side to ease the sick feeling in her gut when she saw the flashers. She cruised on past and parked a couple of blocks away, walking back casually along the sidewalk to join the small crowd of curious onlookers and bystanders watching the cops do police and forensics type stuff.

Breath fogging in the early night chill, she caught the eye of a twenty something black guy checking her out while she watched the show. "Any idea what happened?" She asked him.

"Dunno," he shrugged. "Couple white guys got themselves killed, I think." He shifted from one foot to the other. Not that cold, but colder than his light jacket was good for, "I'm just waitin' for the po-po to finish up so I can get to my room, y'know?"

She nodded, and started to turn back to watching, trying to figure out how to get to where she could see what room was being investigated.

"Naw. Not killed," another man put in, evidently overhearing the exchange. Business looking type, or dressed as one.

"Really?" She lifted an eyebrow and gave him an inquiring look.

"Yeah. Saw the ambulance taking them out. They don't go that fast when they're just hauling bodies." He looked her over, "You have a room here too?"

"Staying with my boyfriend," she nodded. "You know what room's involved?"

The black guy shrugged, "Heard one of the uniforms say something 'bout room 204, why?"

"Not far from ours. Damn - going to be awhile before we can get back in then," Faith made a disgusted face. A couple of uniformed cops came out and started moving back people who'd gotten too close to the police lines, and began edging back into the crowd while everyone was distracted. She saw a crime scene reporter for one of the Philly papers talking with a pair of the plain clothes types as she made her way out of the crowd and up the block before crossing, taking a less than direct route back to her bike.

Two-oh-four. Sam and Dean's room. Crap. Well... that explained the unanswered cell, anyway. She wondered if it had been ringing in front of some detective who was logging the calls and number in his little notebook. Or vibrating away in a box at an ER's admissions desk. Which ER? Something close, and something city or county, probably. She needed a phone book with one of those little locater maps. She changed directions again and went hunting for a nearby restaurant that might have one...

Easy enough to find. She jotted down hospital names and numbers on a receipt back she dug out of her coat pocket, rather than ripping the page out. A couple of quick calls on her cell managed to net her the information that yes, one of them did have a Sam and Dean Winchester admitted to ER a couple of hours ago, from a bored and harried sounding ER desk nurse. Different hospital from the one she'd done her family research at. She avoided questions as to whether she was family with the expedient of hanging up, and looked up the place on the locater map. Not too far away, but farther than she'd hoped. She did grab the locater map page as she headed out and for her bike.

The hospital wasn't too hard to find, even for someone not all that familiar with Philadelphia, and the nice thing about a motorcycle is that it's not hard to find a place to park if you don't care much about whether you have to walk a bit to get somewhere.

She leaned on the ER desk at the window watching the woman manning it until she attracted notice finally. Busy night, it looked like... and not even a weekend.

"Can I help you?"

"Yeah. I'm looking for a Dean Winchester and his brother?" She smiled, "I was told on the phone they'd been admitted a few hours back."

The woman frowned and checked her systems, "They're in ICU. Visitors are limited to family for critical patients, are you a family member?"

"Dean's fiance," Faith lied glibly, hand fisted under her other one to hide the lack of a ring. "As close as you're going to get to family here in this city."

The woman was distracted by some intern coming up while Faith was trying to get the location of ICU out of her, telling Faith to wait, and Faith slipped away while they were wrapped up in discussion over charts. ICU couldn't be that hard to find, and it wasn't... not if you walked like you had business there, followed signs, and asked the occasional intern or janitor. She drifted through like a ghost, attracting no attention in the busy hospital, and leaving no signs of her passing aside from the occasional harried intern who might remember the pretty dark haired girl in leather and long coat who'd asked for directions.

Tubes and bandages and IV units. Various monitors and equipment. Unconscious And a patch taped over the junction of neck and shoulder at the left side... Faith stood over Dean Winchester's ICU bed and noted bruises and contused areas with a professional's eye for applied violence. Someone had done a thorough job of working him over for maximum pain and damage. Non-lethal damage - this looked to have been calculated not to kill, short of accident. And she'd have bet money that the patch covered a pair of puncture type wounds over the jugular or carotid. Beaten and drained, both stopping well short of death. Likewise for younger brother Sam, a few beds over.

'Death is my Gift, and it follows me around like a puppy,' she thought. 'I'm getting tired of this shit.'

Not dead, so they hadn't been turned. No way of telling now if they'd been made to drink in an attempt to make them familiars. She wondered if the ER staff had checked for blood in the mouths, knowing what to look for even as they hid it behind careful euphemisms the way the Sunnydale hospitals had. Wondered if the crime scene reporter would write it up as a strange BBQ fork assault, assuming it made the papers at all.

'Hard to be an active familiar if the vamp that blooded you is dead,' went through her mind in a distant fashion. 'Seek, hunt, kill.' Maybe if she'd gone hunting during her first nights here, cleaned out the areas in a radius around her hotel... too late, now. Have to settle for killing every vamp in a twelve or so block radius around the Winchester brother's place. You don't let this type of thing go - they don't get anyone for free.

She wasn't sure how long she stood by the bed holding Dean's hand, willing him to live and get well. Wasn't certain when she made the decision to leave for now to hunt, and come back later. She was only aware that time had passed and a nurse was giving her a curious look, coming over to check the IV and the charts and dressings. She stroked the hand she was holding and laid it on the covers, murmuring that she'd be back and left, giving the curious nurse a distracted smile and a nod.

She was halfway down the hall and moving with purpose when she became aware that she'd heard hurried footsteps after her and a voice saying, "Miss. Hold up. Hey - hold up there." Realized that that was the second time it'd called out to her. Male voice, two sets of footsteps.

She turned lazily, stopping. Older man, saturnine features, wiry hair and kind of grizzled looking. Tall... maybe six foot plus a bit. Late forties. Wearing a trench coat over a rumpled suit. 'Cop,' the back of her mind supplied. Somewhat younger one wearing a three piece and a trench coat, better cut and quality. Long, knobbly kind of face, light curly hair, and a good natured smirk. Cute, if you liked cops. Faith gave them a flat and incurious look as they caught up to her.

"Detective Kevin O'Brien, Major Crimes. This is my partner Detective Frank Giambione." the older one said, showing her his badge and ID folder. "We saw you come out of the ICU ward just now, like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind."

Faith felt the lazy grin come over her, "If I mind, does that mean you won't ask me a few questions?" The younger cop snickered, and his partner shot him an annoyed look.

"Means I'd have to wonder why you mind, young lady," O'Brien snapped. "I'd like to see some ID, please."

"At least you said the Magic Word," Faith looked him over, bemused. Still distant from the whole thing, mind elsewhere. "Is that a 'like', or a 'requirement', Detective?"

O'Brien frowned. There wasn't a bit of the usual nervousness that most citizens had on being questioned by plain clothes police in the young woman. Her expression was amused, if anything, and the look she was giving them was appraising, incurious. A predators look, went through his mind, glancing over lesser predators. His partners equally amused expression wasn't helping his mood, not after the strange crime scene they'd come here from. "Requirement, Miss." He nodded at the motorcycle helmet dangling by its strap from one of her arms. "You're required to carry it, and required to show it if asked by a police officer engaged in his duties. Now." He held out his hand.

She firmly reined in her inner smartass, and nodded. Not firmly enough, evidently, because as she was fishing her wallet out of her coat pocket, what came out of her mouth was, "Thought that 'your papers please' was an Eastern Europe requirement, not an American one." She pulled out her drivers license, and her passport folder and handed both of them over to him, passport opened.

"Things changed after 9/11, miss," the younger one supplied, still smiling slightly. The blue eyes weren't smiling any more though, she noticed.

"So they keep telling me," Faith nodded. "I haven't noticed. They just seem to have gotten more so." She smiled, "It's 'Miss LeHane'. Faith LeHane," she told the younger one. She thought she saw a flicker of something - recognition perhaps? - at the name in the older cop's eyes.

O'Brien looked over the license and the other, noted the passport stamps. She watched as he handed his partner the license and passport and motioned with his head. The younger detective nodded to her, and moved off to what he probably thought was out of earshot, pulling a cell phone from his pocket.

"You were visiting the bedside of a patient we're interested in who was the victim of an assault earlier," O'Brien stated. "Are you an acquaintance of Mr. Winchester and his brother?"

Faith shook her head and laughed softly, "I'm tempted to say no, I just wander the hospital district holding the hands of various ICU patients. It's a fetish." She held her hand up, palm out in a surrender gesture as he glared and started to say something, "I said 'tempted'. I'm trying to stifle my inner smartass today. Yes, Detective O'Brien, I'm acquainted with Dean and his brother Sam. I met them last night, we had hamburgers at a diner in town, and then I went back to my hotel with Dean and we spent the night there. We spent the day together until around early or mid afternoon, when I dropped him off at where he and his brother were staying." Her eyes crinkled at the corners, "That's an acquaintanceship if you care to define it. Be interesting to see what you put in your report."

"Short acquaintance. Can you prove any of that?" O'Brien wasn't amused, obviously.

"Nah. I didn't check in as 'Faith LeHane and guest', and I didn't bother to tell the front desk I brought a friend in to stay the night."

"You told the ER desk that you were Dean Winchester's fiance, correct?"

"Yeah. They said only family members could come back," Faith nodded. "I'm surprised she remembered that."

"It jogged her memory when we asked if anyone had been trying to see him. A badge does that sometimes," O'Brien said in a dry voice.

"Handy," Faith agreed. "Helps with fishing expeditions." Her expression was still bemused, and O'Brien's was definitely not amused. She made a mental note to rein in harder: was going to be difficult to hunt from inside a holding cell if she pissed him off too much. Besides, he had a job to do that wasn't all that different from hers. Not his fault that their respective jurisdictions were incompatible. His partner, Giambone folded his cell phone up and put it away, and came back over. He jerked his head to O'Brien in a decidedly 'we need to talk' manner. O'Brien nodded and gave her a hard look.

"Wait right here, Miss. Don't go anywhere." He and Giambone moved up the hall aways, but not out of sight, the younger one still holding her ID. She found a spot on the wall nearby and leaned back out of the way of passing orderlies and nurses, arms folded and feet crossed at the ankles in front of her, watching them.

She wasn't going to point out that they needed to move much farther away if they wanted to be out of earshot. She listened to Giambione filling in his partner on what the mid-south computers had coughed up regarding her, along with the FBI database, NICS or something. Made for interesting listening, if you weren't already intimately familiar with it. She was glad she'd left the majority of her hardware in her bag... O'Brien shot a raised eyebrow look at her as Giambione filled him in. A pity that her previous records hadn't been sealed when her convictions were reversed and she was cleared, only the actual hearings. O'Brien shook his head, and they came back over to her. She noticed that this time, the younger detective stood a bit to one side as she unfolded from the wall and nodded at his partner.

"After you dropped off Dean Winchester at his motel, what did you do for the rest of the afternoon and evening, Miss LeHane?" Bored tone to O'Brien's voice, but the eyes were anything except bored.

"Went back to the Marriott," Faith shrugged. "Watched a movie on Pay-per-View... something with Nicolas Cage that I don't recall the name of at the moment. It wasn't very good. Watched 'Wormhole Xtreme' reruns on Sci-fi for a bit. Started another movie until I got bored and left it on for background noise. Let's see... used the room's wifi to browse the internet for awhile. Ate, had a shower, a swim, and a workout somewhere in there."

"Until when?" The younger one asked. He'd stopped checking her out, she noticed. Was looking at her as a potential suspect now, not potential hot girl.

"Few hours after dark? Didn't notice the time," Faith frowned, "Let's see... gets dark around six here in November, so... around eightish or nineish, maybe?"

"Can you verify any of that?" O'Brien gave her a curious look.

"Maybe, some? Room records should show the PPV, and they probably log access time so they can bill you for the wifi use. Have to sign in at the gym... " She thought, shook her head, "Other than that, depends on if anyone at the restaurant remembers me, or the pool."

"How did you end up here posing as Dean Winchester's fiance?" the younger one asked. Bored expression. Nice 'cop look' on that one, Faith thought.

"Dean was supposed to come by with his brother so the three of us could have dinner together," Faith said. "It got late, they didn't, I got worried. No answer on his cell phone other than voice mail, so I finally went over to their motel and found the police circus. And here we are."

"How did you find them here," he pressed.

"Hah. Easy enough: asked people in the crowd out front of the motel what happened, listened a lot to the gossip. If you don't want information to get around, remind your uniforms to not talk in front of the bystanders," Faith saw O'Brien's expression definitely get annoyed at that. "Called hospitals til I found one that had a Winchester in it, and came here." She gave O'Brien a level look, and asked, "Are we done now? May I go?"

"Not just yet, Miss," he shook his head. "Your last residence of record is New York City, a school on the outside of Manhattan. What are you doing in Philadelphia?"

Faith frowned, "That's verging on 'none of your business', but I'll answer it anyway: I came here to do some research into my family background and attempt to find and talk to the doc that delivered me."

"Mamn," the younger detective put in, "We're engaged in an assault and attempted homicide investigation. What you're doing in our city very much *is* our business."

"Transient," She said, flatly. "Passin' through on my way south. Next?"

"Am I to understand that you're now refusing to cooperate with our questioning, Miss LeHane?" O'Brien asked, mildly. Nothing really mild there, Faith noted. Steel under the tone.

Faith cocked her head and gave him a curious look, "Straight questions, Detective: am I a suspect in your investigation? And am I about to be arrested and charged with something?"

"We have a violent assault, two men in the hospital who were almost beaten to death, both of whom have some odd wounds," O'Brien replied. He did 'hard look' and 'flat voice' very well, Faith noted. "And we have you: someone who is acquainted with both of them, posing as a fiance to gain access to the victims, and who has a decided history of violent assault as we say in the business. I'd say that gives us the right to a bit of curiosity, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, it does," Faith nodded. "That doesn't include the right to have that curiosity satisfied, and that wasn't an answer to my questions."

"Now look here," O'Brien moved up, crowding her space. "I would prefer to do this informally. I'm trying very hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, because if your whereabouts check out, then it's very unlikely that you were at that motel while these two men were being beaten. However - your past record from LA tells me that you give a bad odor to all of this. I can and will finish this interview downtown if you'd rather."

"Then I'm not under arrest and I'm not being charged and read my rights, correct?" She held his eyes until he nodded, looked at the younger one until she saw confirmation there. "Cool. I'm all for settling this informally. I didn't put Dean and Sam in the hospital, and I want the same thing you do: to know who did and see them taken care of. But if we're going to do 'informal', then back off on the hostility, please. Or I can and will let you arrest and charge me, and then I'll sit downtown with my mouth firmly shut until my attorneys get here and you can question them to your heart's content, because I'll have reached the end of my tolerance for 'voluntary' cooperation that isn't voluntary."

Both detectives gave her hard looks, studying her until it was apparent that she wasn't going to fold or look away from O'Brien's flat stare. Faith added in an even tone, "Look, Detective O'Brien, I'm aware that you and your squad are among what are probably the handful of very few clean cops in a city with one of the most corrupt departments this side of Chicago or Detroit. You're one of the good guys as far as I'm aware, and I'm not one of the bad guys. I'm really not your enemy, and I'd rather you weren't mine."

Finally, O'Brien nodded and stepped back, saying in a somewhat milder tone, "All right, we'll try informal for now." He gave her a curious look, "One of the good guys?"

"Hey - I read a LOT of online news, especially on places I'm planning to visit. Your name comes up here and there. And Tom Kirkwood's Night Heat column is a favorite of mine. He seems to think pretty highly of you and your squad." She cocked her head, "When it's winter coming on, does he change it to Night Chills?" Giambione shook his head, hiding a smile, and O'Brien shrugged. "Yeah, I have a 'history of violence' as you say. Your records search probably also turned up that my convictions were reversed and I was cleared six or seven months ago. I'm a legal citizen now, and I'm not a criminal."

"All right, let's go with that for now,' O'Brien nodded. "What can you tell us?"

"Not a hell of a lot. I met Dean last night, liked him and his brother, spent the night and part of the day with him. Got concerned when they stood me up and it got late, because he didn't seem like the boff-n-run type. Went looking, found the police circus, came here." She shrugged, "I really am here trying to find information on my family background - what I had was sketchy. If you check with Philadelphia General, you'll find I spent the majority of the past several days there from early until late asking questions and filling out forms for information."

"Do you have any idea who might have wanted to beat up the two of them and put them in the hospital, or the morgue?" Giambione asked.

"No. They didn't mention any enemies, and I doubt they've been here long enough to make any," She frowned inwardly, but kept it from her face. She doubted that any of their playmates from the bar would have been involved: more than human strength did a lot of the visible damage she'd seen.

"You certain about that?" Damn, O'Brien's eyes were sharper than she thought, or her poker face needed work.

"Not unless Dean has enemies he didn't mention to me. And I'm having a hard time picturing him or Sam making one capable of doing that kind of damage in the short time he said they've been here," She shrugged.

"You reportedly crashed through a reinforced bulletproof window and then jumped out of a upper story window onto a parked car without injury on your escape from prison," O'Brien observed. Hah - he did follow national news then, she doubted that tidbit would have made any official database reports. "They know at least one person capable." Giambione gave him a curious look.

"We seem to have established that if my hotel records check, then I probably didn't do it," Faith remarked. She gave him an amused look, "Is Tom Kirkwood going to write this up as a BBQ fork incident for his column?"

"BBQ fork? What the... ?" Giambione gave her an odd look. O'Brien had no expression.

"I spent time in Sunnydale, California, detective. Some of it in the hospital, some of it not. Check news reports and police records from that town that survived the collapse: you'll find a lot of interesting terms used to describe injuries and assaults." She met O'Brien's eyes. "If we go back into that ICU ward, and I raise up the dressing on Dean's throat, will we find four puncture wounds that are spaced just about the right distance apart for long human incisors? And on Sam's?"

O'Brien's look gave her nothing. Giambione's was definitely curious as he studied her. "We could have your two friends on a weapons charge," O'Brien stated. "Would you know anything about that?"

"Nope," Faith shook her head. "What kind of weapons?"

"Pretty good variety in the trunk of their car," Giambione said, professional curiosity sharpened again. LeHane hadn't looked like she'd had any knowledge of the Winchester brother's traveling arsenal, but she hadn't looked surprised either.

"No idea. You'll have to ask them when they come around," Faith shrugged.

"If I asked if you had any firearms, what would you say?" O'Brien asked.

"I'd say that if you want to check," Faith looked at him, "We need to go off informal and you're going to need a warrant to go through my stuff to not find any."

"Why would you request a warrant if you don't have anything to be found?" Giambione gave every appearance of being amused.

"Because at that point, I'd be annoyed and interested in spreading the joy and annoying the two of you as well," Faith grinned. "Make it a home game: fun for the entire family."

"You don't like the police very much, do you?" he asked her curiously. Seeming honestly interested.

"Depends on the police, Detective Giambione. My experiences with them haven't been very good," She gave him an honest answer, and a straightforward look. "However, I kinda take 'em on an individual basis, unlike the way most police seem to take civvies. I like the two of you so far." Faith gave O'Brien a curious look, "We done yet?"

"In a hurry?" He returned in a mild tone. "Yeah yeah. For now." He gave her a card, along with her license and passport back. "If you think of anything else that could help us, give me a call at that number. Give me your cell number if you have one, hotel and room number, and if we have any more questions, I'll call and ask you to come in." She nodded, and pointed at his pen and asked for another card.

"I don't suppose I need to say this, but I will anyway," he said accepting the card and pen back. "Don't leave the city without calling me until we finish the immediate investigation and I tell you you're clear."

"Not planning to leave, Detective. I'm going to stick around until I'm sure my friends are going to be ok." Her turn to give him a hard look, "I'm as curious as you are about what happened. Be nice if you'd find out. And don't let anything else happen to them - I'd be annoyed."



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