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Life is a Road...

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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)IronbearFR1833190,3063016865,80529 Sep 0718 Oct 13Yes

"Faith the human pincushion..."

Chapter 7: "Faith the human pincushion..."

It was hours later and she was standing by Dean Winchester's bedside, careful of the tubes and IV, when he groaned loudly. His eyes opened suddenly, wild and unfocused, and she leaned over him taking his hand.

"Hey," she tried to capture his eyes and get him to focus on her. "It's ok - you're all right."

"Faith?" He gripped her hand hard, and tried to sit up, then groaned again and fell back. She put her hand on his chest. "What... where?"

"Easy there, tough guy. Hospital. ICU." She smiled at him. "You got kind of beat up on."

"Christ! I remember... blonde bitch kicked in our door," his eyes got wild again and he whipped his head around, searching. "Sam?"

"Easy. Sam's ok more or less - he's a few beds over. Hasn't woke up yet," Faith told him. She looked down at him worriedly. "Don't try to sit up yet. I wasn't joking when I said you'd been beat up on."

"Yeah. I feel like hammered shit." He winced. "Thirsty... "

"I'll bet," she laughed softly. "Give me a minute, and I'll get a nurse. They're gonna want to know that you're awake."

"How long... ?" He nodded, then groaned again. "Ow. Movement is not a good idea... "

"Yeah. About two days. Maybe three... ? I kinda lost track," she paused. "And no, moving around's probably not a good idea. If I remember right about what a nurse said... you had a concussion, broken and cracked ribs, dislocated shoulder, and massive bruising."

"Sam?" His eyes were worried.

"Same, only worse. All of the above, and internal injuries too," she said, wincing at the look in his eyes. "Getting better, but slowly."

"You're sure he's going to be ok?"

"According to what I overhear from the staff," she shook her head. "I'm no doc, Dean. I'll get a nurse - they can tell you more." He nodded, and she paused again, frowning slightly. "There's a cop name of O'Brien who's going to want to talk to you, also, as soon as he hears you're awake."

Dean frowned. "Cop? What have you told him?"

"Not much," she made a face. "O'Brien seems ok. He runs the Major Cases division here. And he seems to know a lot more about the supernatural than he's letting on. Tell him whatever you decide to - I'll deal." When he nodded, she shrugged and looked for a way to signal a nurse. Not seeing anything she immediately recognized as a call button, she gave up and went to the door and told the plainclothes cop there that Dean was awake and they needed a nurse.

When the ICU nurse arrived, she was chased out of the ICU and she leaned against the wall across from the plainclothes cop, waiting and fretting.

They seemed to take a long time in there, to her. Not surprising maybe, considering how badly the Winchesters had been injured and how long Dean had been out. When the nurses left finally, she wandered back in. Back at Dean's bedside she nodded to him and stood looking down at him, suddenly uncomfortable.

"Hey," Dean smiled up at her.

"Hey yourself," she looked him over. "Any better?"

"They gave me something for the pain," he nodded. "Waiting for a doctor now." He glanced across at the other bed, frowning slightly, "They said you gave blood for Sam?"

"Pincushion detail, that's me." Faith nodded. "Hope it helped."

"Thanks," Dean gave her a serious look. "Seems to have. The nurse said he's getting better, slowly. Have to wait for the doc for any more information." He paused, "Any idea what happened to our stuff?"

"Not really. Your motel was all over cops when I got there - I didn't go in," he nodded and she continued. "I think O'Brien has your weapons - you may have some hassles over those. Your car's probably in impound. Sort it out when you get better?"

"Have to," he agreed. His eyes searched her face. "I'm surprised you stuck around?"

"So am I, kinda." Faith smiled at him, "I... don't like things hurting people I like. I didn't want to give her another crack at your while you were out of it. Or have you wake up by yourself in a strange place... " She shrugged, trailing off.

"I'm glad you stayed," he said. Her turn to search his face, this time. Not finding any hidden meanings there, she nodded.

"Really? Wasn't sure... " she hesitated. "Kind of my fault you and your brother got hurt. Bitch is after me, and used you to get my attention."

"Looks like it worked," he said. She laughed softly and nodded as he said, "It happens. We're in that kind of a lifestyle."

"Shouldn't happen, Dean." Faith gave him a bleak look. "It's ok if they come after us because of something we did - we're hunting them, so it's only fair. Going after bystanders to get to us isn't ok." She shook her head, "They need to learn that that's not allowed."

"Like our family demon going after you?" He looked at her with a wry expression, "You'll have your work cut out for you teaching them that."

"Hey - someone has to," the corner of her mouth quirked up in a half-grin. "Who better?" They were both quiet for a long time after that, Faith standing by the bedside holding Dean's hand until the night shift doctor came in and chased her out of ICU again.

"Don't go too far," he admonished. "I'd like to draw some more blood from you a bit later for Sam Winchester."

"Faith the human pincushion, yup." She nodded. "Don't worry, I'll be around. Not planning on leaving just yet."

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

O'Brien and his partner came in before they called her over to draw blood again - evidently the hospital called him as soon as they knew the Winchesters were awake. O'Brien gave her a brusque nod as he went by; his partner giving her a friendlier one as they went into the ICU. She'd loved to have been able to overhear whatever conversation they were going to have with Dean, but figured it'd be pushing her luck to follow them into the Intensive Care ward. As it was... she heard the doctor stop them near the doors to warn them they only had a few minutes and to not exhaust his patient. Or his patience, either, most likely.

An ICU nurse came over to lead her off to a side room to draw blood while the cops were still in with Dean. It left her with nothing to do but brood for a bit after it was drawn and she was unhooked and left to recover.

After she'd had all the 'recovery' she could tolerate and got up to leave the side room AMA, she took up her post outside of the ICU again - just about the time that the two detectives were either finishing up or being chased out by the doctor. No doc following and berating them, so probably the former.

"You seem to be a fixture here lately, LeHane," O'Brien noted as they came out.

"Yup." She made a flapping motion with her elbows. "If this were the outside of the building you could colour me gray and call me a gargoyle."

"Ha," he gave her a saturnine grin at that one. "Oh well. It keeps you where I can find you if I want to, so all to the good. Winchester wanted to see you if you were out here when we got done. Might as well go on in." O'Brien jerked his thumb at the ICU doors. Giambione gave her another nod and the two of them left as she went in.

"Hey again," Dean said as she came up.

"Hey yourself." She nodded. "So... five-oh put the thumbscrews to ya?" She gave him a critical once over. Dean looked drained and exhausted compared to when he;d first woken up.

"Not too bad, surprisingly," Dean said. "The older one... O'Brien?" Faith nodded. "Was careful to let me know they had that trunk full of weaponry of ours as a possible charge. He didn't seem too interested in reading me my rights though, oddly enough - almost sounded like he mentioned it as an afterthought in case I was thinking about being uncooperative."

"Typical," Faith agreed. "Bet he's not really interested in the weapons so much as having a potential charge over you for leverage."

"Yeah... doubt we'll get them back though, even if we don't end up in jail."

"We'll see about the jail thing," Faith said. "I asked a friend of mine about getting you a lawyer to help out with that stuff."

Dean looked at her, surprised. "Not that I'm not grateful, but... why are you doing all this for us?"

"I ever bump into your old man again, I don't want to have to explain to him why I got his kids into a jam and then left them hanging?" Faith tried, then shook her head. "No... " She shrugged. "Honest? I don't know. Not usually my style." She had her usual casual and defiant air, but Dean could tell she was uncomfortable by the wariness in the back of her eyes.

"Ok. You ever figure it out, let me know?" She bit her lip, then nodded, finally. "Meanwhile - thanks," he said.

"Yah. No big." His eyes disagreed with her. She changed the subject, "So what'd O'Brien and Giambione ask?"

"Details on what happened to us. Description of the attacker. If we knew why she attacked us. If we'd made or had any enemies of that description. Usual stuff - repeated several times in variations." He looked down at himself and gave a sour laugh, "Oh - and a warning to stay in Philly until this was resolved." Faith laughed as well - not like they were going anywhere real soon.

"See what we can do about that," she said, making a mental note to call Wesley again.

"Good deal," Dean groaned, closed his eyes for a moment. "I better go back to sleep soon. The doctor gave me something for pain, and it's making me woozy." He opened his eyes again and looked at her, "Said that if I was still getting better by morning, they'd have me moved up to a room and off the critical list."

"Good bad thing? Easier to talk to you, harder to keep an eye on you and Sam," Faith said. "Good though - means you're gettin' better."

"Yeah," he agreed. "I'm starting to fade out. See you if you're still here when I wake up?"

"I'll be sticking around until daylight," Faith stated. "Be back tomorrow evening after I wake up, if you don't wake up before then."

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

After Dean fell back asleep, she stayed by his bed until she was certain he'd fallen asleep rather than back into unconciousness. (To be honest, she stayed until an ICU nurse chased her out - but she was doing her best to avoid noticing that or thinking about it. Same way she was avoiding thinking about the 'Why are you doing all this?' question: not ready to deal with it at the moment.)

Back in her chair in the tiny waiting area, she settled in with a view of the ICU doors again and sprawled back into her chair, one leg crossed over her knee. After giving it some thought, she pulled out her cell and dialed Wes. Wesley's personal number, not his office one.

"Hello?"

"Heya, Wes?"

"Faith. Good morning," Wes' voice was dry.

"Oopsie. Did I wake you up?"

"No, no. Haven't gone to bed yet. What's up?" Faith paused a few moments, sorting things out in her mind. "Faith?"

"Still here, Watcher-man. Just thinking things out before I answer that," she said. "And don't say 'that's a first' or nuthin', hear?"

"Wouldn't dream of it," Wesley chuckled. "What's on your mind?"

"Hrrm. Couple of things... " Faith frowned to herself. "One: hate to even ask, but I am going to need that lawyer for my friends."

"All right. I'll get Angel to start things working as soon as possible. What are your friend's names and where can they be located? In jail?"

"No: Philadelphia General," she gave him the room number. "And their names are Dean and Sam Winchester. Local Major Crimes detective named O'Brien is interested in them for weapons charges: seems they had a pretty good sized arsenal in their trunk - boot - when they got themselves trashed and the cops got called in." She scowled again, glad Wes couldn't see it. She'd wanted to keep Sam and Dean's names out of both Wolfram and Hart's and the IWC's interest. Now it looked like she wasn't going to be able to manage that.

"All right," she heard keys clicking while she related the information. "Any idea what sort of weapons charges?"

"No idea: O'Brien didn't say, and Dean was still groggy when he came out of it briefly. It matter?"

"It could," Wesley mused. "Local charges are a lot easier to deal with than if it becomes a BATFE matter. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives," he elaborated for Faith's benefit.

"Yeah, the BATFU. I'm familiar with the term, Wes." Faith snickered. "No idea. Probably local: I think O'Brien's more interested in having leverage to get them to talk to him if needed than in sending them to the crowbars."

"Ah. That may make a difference. I'll make sure that whoever is contracted knows to tread carefully," Wes stated.

"Yah. O'Brien seems to be a good guy basically - and you can't believe how weird it sounds to hear myself saying that about a cop - but my read is that he can be a major hard ass if someone puts his back up." Faith paused, "Please don't piss him off too much. I'm going to have to deal with him, if nothing else. Gonna be a lot easier if he's not an enemy."

"Yes, quite." Wesley cleared his throat, and she heard drinking sounds over the connection. "I'll make sure whoever comes is briefed on that. The other thing?"

"Think I have a line on my assassin, if the idiot that gave it to me wasn't lying." At Wes' curious noise Faith described the fight outside the parking garage and related the information she'd gleaned.

"Hrrm. Nice work," Wesley said in a distracted tone. Obviously thinking.

"Not nice enough. I don't think I iced the bitch," Faith stated.

"You did survive the encounter, however."

"Naw. She wasn't trying. She wanted me dead, the first bolt would have killed me, instincts or no." Faith said, "She was getting my attention again. Gettin' old, Wes, but I hope she keeps working on that theme: I can use it against her." She paused, "Her name ring any bells for you?"

"Hrrm. No... that's what I was thinking about. I'll have to check into it," he said. "Sorry... but we haven't had a real reason to pay much attention to that breed of vampire. They're no more common in LA than they were at the Hellmouth."

"S'allright. Let me know if you find anything? I'll run it past a couple of my other contacts also - quietly."

"Of course. Hrrmm... Winchester, you said?" Wesley's voice was thoughtful, "Any relation to a 'John Winchester', by chance?"

Faith paused for a moment, debating, then said, "Sons of. You know about the Winchesters?"

"Yes. John Winchester is/was a private demon hunter and amateur supernatural scholar of some repute, before he vanished following his wife's death. The old Watcher's Council attempted to recruit him at one time... however, they were turned down by him." Wesley said. "I believe they'd had intentions of attempting to recruit the sons when they came of age, however... "

"However, the First Evil blew the Old Council all to the lower hells where they belonged before they got around to it," Faith's voice was dry. "And people say that no good ever comes of Pure Evil," she snickered.

"Now... I know that you of all people have no reason to be charitable towards the Council, Faith. However... they weren't all unmitigated bastards." Wesley said. Considering that Wes knew exactly why Faith had no love lost for the old Watchers - and had even been a part of some of the reasons - she had to give him props for having a pair. And for having the ethics to defend the few of them that had been worth a damn, in spite of knowing her feelings on it.

"Wes... even the few that were worth a shit, like you, Giles, and Diana knew what unmitigated bastards the rest were, and what they were doing - and you all looked the other way." Faith didn't mention that Wes had gone along with the Council's snatch-and-wetworks team's attempt to kidnap her back to England to be terminated. Old and bloody ground between them, and Wesley had more than made up for past sins when he'd helped defend her against another wetwork's team even after she'd tortured him. All debts put paid to, and it was done and did.

"Yes. And there's not a day that goes by that I don't regret being a part to those things, or regret looking away... " his voice was quiet, and he seemed to be searching for more words when it trailed off.

"I know," her voice was soft. "It's done and did, Wes. Tell you what: I'll try and not dance on their graves in front of you. You try and overlook the fact that I ain't gonna shed one single tear over them being blown to hell. Deal?"

"Ha. Deal."

"Good." Faith nodded, even knowing he couldn't see the gesture. "It's done past, and I don't want it between us, Watcher-man."

"It isn't. Not on my part, anyway." Wesley cleared his throat and changed the subject, "Are you going to bring the Winchester boys to the attentions of the New Council?"

"Hrrrm. There's a thought," Faith frowned. "Hadn't thought about it, really... " She paused. "Maybe. Giles could use people like them to rebuild with. Question is: do Dean and Sam need the New Council and some of their politics in their lives? Dunno.. " Faith trailed off.

"Well, that's not a decision I have to make, thank gods." Wesley chuckled. Faith knew that he'd turned down Giles' offer to be a part of helping to rebuild the Council. She'd never asked him why. "I'm quite certain you'll think it through and make the right decision."

"Really?" Her voice sounded surprised, even to herself.

"Yes, really." Wesley didn't elaborate.

"Maybe. Thanks." Faith shook her head, "Think I'll suggest it to Dean and Sam when they're better - if they survive this - and let them choose. Not my business to choose for them."

"See? I knew you'd make the right choices. I had Faith." Wes' voice was amused.

"Smart ass." She said, snickering, and he laughed. "Let's worry about surviving this, and let the rest fall where it will, hey?"

"Quite."

They chatted for a bit longer, and then she clicked off and closed her phone and put it away. She spent the rest of the night alternating between watching the ICU doorways, catnapping in her chair, hospital patrols, and looking down at Dean in his sleep, thinking. It was just after daylight when she left and she left the hospital by a different exit than she'd entered it, took a different route back to her hotel, and parked in a different location.

It didn't take long for her to fall asleep in spite of the circles her mind kept wandering in.

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

At Rimbault's bar late that night, O'Brien flipped through the transcripts of what had been gleaned from analysis of the ER security tapes. Full squad was there tonight, plus Hogan and Kirkwood: along with the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit detectives, Christine and Stevie had finally put 'Closed' to the serial rapist case they'd been working and Major Cases had had a small celebration for them earlier. That it had been put closed to with the death of the rapist didn't exactly bother anyone on the squad, nor in SVU.

Giambione read through a section of his copy of the transcript and smirked, "Brilliant of Stevie to come up with the idea of getting a lip reader in to consult on those tapes, eh wot, Holmes?"

Detective Brody snickered. "Actually it was your idea, Frank. But I *will* take the credit for it and the resulting promotion."

"Hey! O'Brien promised me that promotion," Giambione sulked, then grinned. "Still, good work. You were the one that followed up on it."

Lieutenant Hogan ignored the byplay and looked at the blonde detective, "Looks like this confirms your read on the situation, Christine. Those two are definitely not friends, and it looks like LeHane was moving to put herself between Obie and Frank and the blonde."

"Gaps there where the mouths weren't visible or were at the wrong angles, but... yeah." Christine nodded.

"So... " O'Brien pursed his lips and scowled. "We have a contract killer - apparently an inhumanly strong and fast one - with a hardon for LeHane who used the Winchester brothers to get her attention, according to this."

"If you want to buy what blondie is reportedly saying there, we do," Colby Burns threw in.

"Think she's lying?" Frank raised his eyebrows.

"Huh. Can't see any reason for her to. Can't rule it out." Colby shook his head.

"Well... if you want to assume she figured that you might transcribe the conversation off the tapes, she could have planted it whole cloth," Kirkwood threw in, then frowned. "That's getting pretty Machiavellian."

"Serial killers have been known to get just that clever and elaborate," O'Brien observed, making a face.

"Some of this other stuff... " Carson was shaking his head. "Slayer? Death Dealer? Ghouls, thralls... familiars? Vampire? Sounds insane enough. What the hell do we have on our hands here?"

"Heh. Insane compared to a blonde fast enough to disappear visually, strong enough to trash two people and a motel room, and fanged bite wounds on people's necks?" Giambione snickered. Carson balled up a napkin and threw it at him, then shot him the finger, laughing.

"Don't know," O'Brien said, "But I think it'll get more so before it gets less insane. Just a hunch."

"So. In the interests of gathering information for the future column on this that I'll never write and the Eagle will never publish," Tom Kirkwood paused a moment for the snickering to die down, "Is LeHane a good guy or a bad guy in this?"

"Both? Neither? Quien sabe?" O'Brien shrugged. "Maybe not a 'Good Guy' quote unquote, but my read is still not the Bad Guy. I don't think the Winchester brothers are either - although I am going to throw the fear of O'Brien into them for being stupid enough to run around the country with an illegal arsenal in their trunk. I'm going to run with that instinct until proven otherwise, anyway."

Hogan nodded at him, "All right. What's your plans?"

"Still the same," O'Brien shrugged. "The known trustworthy members of Patrol and Traffic we've distributed the stills of the blonde to haven't spotted her anywhere. So we cover the Winchesters as best we can in case she tries again. Watch LeHane and see what she does - and try to keep her alive, if we can. Wait and watch until something breaks, and hope the 'something' that gets broken isn't us."

"Works," Hogan nodded again, looking thoughtful. "Speaking of watch and wait, did you get anything on that cop that was asking about the Winchesters? The one that LeHane called out to Colby?"

O'Brien made a sour face, "He's an FBI agent. That's about it - he pulled the Feebie 'FBI business is not your jurisdiction' routine on me and Frank when we braced him. Special Agent Hagerman."

"What's the local Bureau have to say on him?" Hogan gave him a sharp look, his curiosity aroused.

"Nadda, zip, nadda," Frank stated. "They just reiterated the 'The Agency prefers not to discuss ongoing agency business with yata yata' bit."

Colby Burns gave Giambione an amused look, "Think maybe they still irritated that you threw one of their agents off of a roof two years ago?"

"Hey! It was only a one story roof!"

"Yeah, but he landed on his head, Frank," Stevie observed.

"I was being nice." Giambione smirked, "I aimed him so he wouldn't damage any vital organs." Stevie snickered.

O'Brien hid a smile and shook his head, "Hagerman hasn't been around again that we've seen, not since Frank and I braced him. Too bad - I'd like to see him step over the lines in my precinct so we could shake him real hard and see what falls out."

"Have Frank throw him off of a roof?" Kirkwood asked.

"Not a low one," O'Brien said, grinning. "Hagerman annoys me."

"All right people," Hogan broke up the discussion there. "Run with it for now. Don't let it get in the way of the regular case load."

Hogan stayed behind after the meeting broke up, ostensibly to help O'Brien clean up after themselves before Nikki came in in the morning. "How sure are you about this girl, Obie? You seem to be taking a lot on faith there, pardon the pun."

"How sure am I that she's not playing me? Or that I'm not reading something there that isn't?" O'Brien gave his old friend a shrug. "I'm not certain at all. It's the risk you run."

"Yeah... " Hogan shook his head. "You know she could be feeding you what you want to hear. I know that you're as frustrated as everyone else with the various 'weird' killings that have been stacking up in this city and looking hard for a solution."

"It'd be a bit hard for her to do that, Paul, considering that I don't have any 'what I want to hear'," O'Brien's voice was amused. He looked seriously at his friend and former partner. "I'm not going by her record, I'm going by what I see and what she says and does now, and my instincts."

Hogan snorted, shaking his head. "Her record's not influencing at all? Maybe it should, Obie."

"Maybe. Maybe not." O'Brien leaned against the bar. "If you looked hard at my record and didn't know me as well as you do, would it tell you that on three occasions in the past five years I've deliberately provoked known bad guys into drawing on me so I could kill them, knowing that they were guilty and that we couldn't convict them for it? Four in twenty if you count that gun smuggler back in the late 80's." O'Brien grinned. "All righteous shoots according to IAD. But you and I both know that it was judge, jury, and street execution. I set them up and pushed them into pulling a gun so I could kill them legally because they were dirty, stone killers, and the courts would never do it. By any 'rules' you care to name, that makes me a murderer four times over." He shook his head, "The records don't show you what someone is. They don't even show you what they've done always. You know it as well as I do."

"Yeah," Hogan looked away. "Be damned careful you don't ever say what you just did anywhere outside of Nikki's. Or to anyone except me or Frank."

"Ha. I'm not stupid enough to want to spend my retirement in Maximum Security," O'Brien laughed. "Point is... I'm not reading LeHane as a bad guy, and I've got thirty plus years on the force to draw on to judge by. Maybe she was one once... but she doesn't come off that way now."

He paused, gathering his thoughts to try and articulate them, then added, "I do read her as someone who'll go beyond the rules and do whatever it takes to get something done if she thinks it's right. 'Legal' be damned. And that may be just what we need to get a handle on this city again so we don't have to flush it down the toilet."

Hogan made an exasperated sound. "Hope you're right, Obie. I don't want to have to find you tortured to death with broken glass, eh?"

"I'm kind of not looking forward to that either. I'll watch my back."



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