Chapter the sixteenth
Ok, still don’t own them, still wish I did. Shutting up now. . .
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Faith pulled her fist back and slammed it into the closest vampire’s face. She was surrounded by a pack of five, and despite the fact that she hadn’t had even a Slayer’s night sleep (anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours) in the last seven weeks, she was completely in her element.
She kicked and punched, and blocked and ducked, feeling the full extent of her power as she rumbled solo against the pack of fledglings. All thoughts of what she’d done in the past fled as the entire world slipped away, leaving her with one simple truth: she was going to win, and they were going to lose. Nothing, nothing on Earth could drag Faith away of the near euphoric sensation that she was fulfilling her destiny. . .
Beep beep. Beep beep.
“Damn,” Faith muttered, sparing a glance to the watch on her wrist, which she’d stolen from one of her brothers. She silenced the alarm, barely missing a beat in the fight and readied her stake for the kill.
“Sorry, boys, time to go home,” she called, already dusting one.
The remaining four fell within thirty seconds and Faith took off for home at a jog. She checked the watch again as she slipped in the front door and breathed a sigh of relief. It was 2AM and she was just in time. A baby had just begun to cry down the hall.
Faith immediately went to retrieve seven-week-old Jamie from the crib and went back to the kitchen to heat up a bottle. She was surprised to find herself getting kind of good at this baby stuff, all the experience she’d ever had handling her other younger siblings at Jamie’s age was to try and mail them across the country. As she fed Jamie, she remembered she’d actually stuffed Malcolm in a crate and tried to send him to Africa. Faith was secretly very glad that, at her trial in LA, nobody from the prosecution had discovered her true identity and used her family history against her. She was also secretly disappointed that she hadn’t got away with it. Africa would’ve done Malcolm a world of good.
She was just about to return Jamie to the crib and try for a record four hours sleep when the foulest smell wafted through the kitchen. Already knowing the source, Faith looked down at Jamie.
“You’re wicked gross,” she informed her youngest sibling and quickly changed the diaper. While she was disposing of the disgustingly dirty diaper, she had to wonder, “Why the hell is it orange?”
Shrugging it off, she laid Jamie back down and went to get what precious little sleep she could. A few hours later, she sensed another presence in her room, disturbing her rest. She cracked her eyes open and jerked back with a start.
“Dammit, Dewey! You scared the death outta me,” Faith snapped, pushing herself up.
Not phased in the slightest by Faith’s outburst, Dewey perched on the side of her bed. His face was grave and serious as he announced, “I think Jamie’s a demon.”
“Why?” Faith responded. She was far too tired to argue with him, so it was better to just let him say his piece and hopefully get rid of him sooner.
“Jamie’s poop smells. It’s really bad,” Dewey explained.
Biting back a reply of ‘Everybody’s poop smells, dumbass,’ Faith rolled her eyes and waited for him to continue.
“And it tells me to do things. Bad things.”
Faith sighed. “First of all, Jamie is not ‘it’, Jamie is a baby. Second, what the hell do you mean by ‘tells you to do things’? Seven week old babies don’t talk!”
“Well not out loud!” Dewey protested, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Just in my head, so no-one else can hear it.”
“Right,” Faith conceded with a smirk. “So I guess that’s why you threw Reese’s bag into the septic tank? And you tried to play soccer with Mom’s crystal vase? And you sneaked the dirty diaper into Dad’s briefcase? And why you shaved all the hair from every cat in the street?-”
“Yes,” came a quick interruption from Dewey. He knew that if he didn’t stop his sister soon, the list of his latest crimes and misdemeanours could stretch on for another hour. “Jamie made me do it!”
Shoving him off the bed, Faith stood. She yawned, stretched, and cast one last longing glance towards her cosy-looking bed before resolutely steering Dewey into the kitchen for breakfast. The rest of the house would be up within minutes.
“Look, Dewey,” she said, pouring him some juice, “Jamie is not a demon. Jamie is a normal baby. Jamie is not in your head and telling you to do things. For God’s sake Dew, you’re not Reese! You’re smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong and you can’t keep using the baby as an excuse to try and get away with doing stupid stuff like this. If you want to get away with it, just make sure you don’t get caught doing it,” she advised sagely.
Dewey was glowering at Faith, incensed that she, the Slayer, *his* big sister, refused to believe there was an evil little demon living under their very roof trying to control him. At that moment, Lois came into the room, cradling her youngest in her arms. Dewey’s glower deepened. It seemed he would have to take care of this himself.
Malcolm, Reese and Hal came bursting into the kitchen and dived for the food Faith had set at the table. Faith, the only one of the family who did not eat breakfast, or have work or school to get to, soon found herself trying to juggle Jamie in one arm whilst gulping down a quick cup of coffee.
The phone rang. Five voices immediately shot out, “Not it!”, the words slightly muffled through mouthfuls of food. Faith was sure that if Dewey was right and babies could communicate, Jamie would have been telling her the same thing the rest of the family had just said. Miraculously, Faith added the phone receiver to the already precarious load in her arms and got it up to her face.
“Faith? Hi, it’s Francis,” Francis chattered happily down the line. “How is everything?”
“Fine,” Faith muttered distractedly as her coffee began to slip from her grasp. “Look, F, now’s really not a good time. Talk to you later, ok?”
“Bu-,” was as far as Francis got before Faith hung up, just in time to rescue her coffee. Her nose wrinkled in distaste. She looked down. Jamie stared innocently back up at her, but Faith could’ve sworn there was a mischevous smirk plastered on that baby’s face as the smell created in the diaper drifted through the kitchen.
“Oh geez, Jamie. Again?” Faith exclaimed, wondering exactly how much crap was in this kid.
“Told you,” Dewey muttered out the side of his mouth as Faith disappeared down the hall to change Jamie.
By the time Faith had managed to rid the house of yet another steaming orange diaper, the house had emptied. She settled Jamie in the bassinet and moved to clean up the monstrous mess the rest of the family had left her. A few minutes later, her Slayer senses were tingling. Something was happening outside.
Faith frowned down at Jamie, clueless as to what to do with a seven-week-old child in this situation. A sudden inspiration struck. ‘Hide it!’ she thought. ‘That’s what you do with a seven-week-old child in this situation- hide it!’
In a flash, she was in her room, Jamie cradled snugly in her arms. She looked around desparately for somewhere to stash the little bundle of smelly joy. Her gaze landed on something shoved into the top of her closet and she grinned.
Moments later, her weapons had been transferred from their bag to under the bed, and a baby was now snuggled into the weapons bag. Faith held up a finger to her lips, urging Jamie not to make a sound before sliding the bag back onto its shelf and slipping out of the room.
A split second later, the door was kicked open and a dozen figures in white suits and gas masks spilled into the house. Faith, who had settled herself into a defensive stance, eyed them warily.
“Hazard Unit!” one of the figures shouted at her. “Stand aside!”
But that was one thing Faith really did not know how to do. She stayed right where she was and yelled, “What the hell are you doing in my *house*!?”
“Ma’am, we’ve received a tip-off that there are some noxious gases coming from this home and we’re here to investigate,” the masked leader of the unit spoke again.
“Dewey,” Faith muttered, rolling her eyes. Then she held out her hands in a placating gesture and raised her voice to the unit leader. “Look- there’s nothing here. The closest thing to a chemical hazard in this house is a baby who fills up diapers faster than I can change ’em, ok?”
“Baby? I don’t see any baby,” one of the men said as they started looking around the living room and kitchen.
Faith could’ve kicked herself. Suddenly, “Oh no, I stuffed the baby in an old army duffel bag in my closet to keep it safe,” didn’t sound like such a plausible statement. Especially once she admitted what the bag usually held. Instead, Faith prayed to every God she wasn’t sure she believed in that Jamie would stay quiet long enough for her to take care of this.
“Jamie’s out with Mom now, I’m just big sister who gets to change the diapers.” She widened her chocolate eyes as far as possible, hoping the innocent look would work as well with these guys as it seemed to with Hal. Her Slayer-sharp hearing caught a tiny sob coming from her own room, a preview of what would be coming in the next sixty seconds.
She forced a smile, hoping it didn’t make her look as hysterical as she was feeling. If Jamie started crying, and the hazard unit guys found the baby stuffed in her closet, she’d be back in prison before her Mom could even chew her out for putting Jamie in there in the first place.
The leader of the unit eyed her carefully. Faith started caluclating how long it would take her to knock all twelve members of the unit out, and how long after that she’d have to make a run for it with Jamie before they came to and alerted the cops. Somehow she seriously doubted she’d make it all the way to Angel’s. She mentally shrugged. She wouldn’t want Jamie making a mess in her car, anyway.
The phone rang. Faith choked on a sigh of relief. “Do you guys mind- I gotta get that,” she gestured to the phone, glad it seemed to be drowning out the wails of the baby that were consistently getting louder with every passing moment.
The unit leader shrugged. “There’s nothing here, guys. Move out. Have a nice day, ma’am,” he added to Faith as an afterthought. The unit disappeared and Faith snatched up the phone.
In the background, Jamie started wailing for real.
“Faith? Geez, is it a good time to call yet?” Francis asked sarcastically.
“Not really,” Faith told him truthfully and hung up in his ear. She had visions of Francis throwing a tantrum on the other end of the disconnected line, but she pushed them out of her mind and went to retrieve Jamie from her weapons bag.
But there was no soothing the baby. Jamie wailed non-stop for two whole days, causing all the neighbours to call and complain about the noise. Faith was almost certain the baby’s screams had set off a couple of car alarms, as well, but with the lack of sleep she couldn’t be sure she wasn’t hallucinating by this stage.
“Reese, no!” Lois screamed, wrestling a roll of electrical tape out of his hands. “You are NOT going to tape the baby’s mouth shut!”
Hal raised his eyebrows. “Well, maybe it would shut Jamie up for two seconds,” he muttered out the side of his mouth to Malcolm.
Malcolm’s Aside: “Sometimes I think I’ve gone deaf and I’m just imagining I can hear things. Then I realise that imaginary sounds can’t cause this much pain, and I just wish I was deaf!”
Faith was on the verge of staking Jamie, and Dewey’s frequent encouragements for her to do so were becoming more and more plausibe in her ringing ears. She finally snapped and screamed out loud, not that anyone could hear it over the wails of the baby.
“That’s it! I’m gonna take care of this little monster once and for all!”
“Yay!” Dewey cheered, but was abruptly cut off by having his screaming younger sibling thrust into his unsuspecting arms.
Faith reached for the phone, which rang just as her hand was a mere inch from it. She snatched it up, lifted the receiver to her face, said “Not now F, I gotta make a call,” and hit the disconnect button. She dialled the number of a cell phone and strained to hear it ringing.
“Hello?” a chirpy voice answered.
“Red!” Faith pounced on the wicca.
“Hey, Faith, how are you? Um- are you ok, what IS that noise in the background?” Willow asked, and Faith could hear the frown in her voice.
“That’s the baby,” she explained. “Crying- for the past two days! Will, you gotta help me, I need a spell or something.”
“What type of spell?”
“What do you think- an oh my God can you get this goddam thing to shut up spell!”
Faith strained to hear whatever Willow was saying. She frowned. Was Willow laughing at her? Faith sighed and hit the disconnect button, resigned to the fact that she was never going to recover the full use of her hearing.
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