Sacrifice Par Amarth: Chapter 2
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.O o O o O o OLate October
"That's some nice leather you got goin' on - imported?"
"With your blood staining it, bitch, what does it matter?"
Grinning slyly, Faith easily avoided her opponent's next wild swipe as she danced gracefully back. "Whoa, take it easy, big guy - I ain't in no hurry," she retorted, a saucy grin lifting her painted lips as she cocked one leather-clad hip to the side. "'Sides, you're gonna have to land a hit before you can claim first blood," she added, brown eyes narrowing dangerously on the biker vamp that seethed before her.
The vampire was large and impressive looking, tattoos marring each muscled arm and a neck the size of her waist. If the Kid had been with her, she knew that Celeste would have been shaking in her little French shoes, her fear hidden behind a mask of courage. However, if the Kid was along, that would also mean that more than likely her snide French watcher, Bertrone, was along as well - and that automatically spoiled any fun that she was hoping to find. Luckily for Faith, the Kid and her watcher were over patrolling on the other side of town, paying the graveyards a visit while she got to play in the seedier end of town - her part of town.
With the strength of the slayer coursing through her veins, Faith danced on the balls of her feet as the wannabe badass took another wild swing at her head. If he had been a little bit faster, or the dark-haired slayer just a little bit slower, he could have done some serious damage with the strength he put behind his blows. Thing was, his bulk made him slow and Faith's slayer prowess made her a force to be reckoned with. Anticipating the move, the lithe slayer merely ducked beneath his swipe and then retaliated with a swift kick that sent the massive vampire skidding back on the blacktop, through a gate, and into the empty parking lot of the closed factory that dominated the skyline behind him.
Eyes glowing yellow in rage, the large vampire slowly reclaimed his feet as he wiped a trail of borrowed blood from his puckered lips. "Hmm - guess first blood is mine," Faith pointed out as she slowly and deliberately followed the vampire into the deserted parking lot. "And while this has been fun, I got plans tonight and you're not in 'em," she muttered, grinning at the large brute as she lifted a slim stake from her stash and tossed it end over end before catching it easily in one hand. "Thanks for the work out, though," she added as she threw the stake with deadly accuracy, the biker's muffled grunt echoing in the quiet night as the beast burst into ash.
Sighing softly at the loss of her plaything, Faith ran a hand through her shoulder-length brown hair, pushing the strands back into order as she checked to make sure that no ash decorated either her leather halter or pants. "Damn, do I look good tonight," she murmured as she appreciatively ran her hands over her tight curves, grinning as she thought to the night that was bound to only get better. Just a little bit longer on the patrol circuit and she'd be free to do her thing. And while she was slightly disappointed that Xander, Willow, and Tara had opted out on her little excursion, she also had enough sense to realize that the Scoobies just weren't cut out for the places she was going tonight. No Bronze action for her. Grinning, Faith crossed over to the lingering pile of ash and retrieved her stake, plucking it from the vampire's remains and tucking it back in the corner of her boot - and freezing as a flashlight was shined right in her face.
Wincing, Faith quickly lifted her hand and shielded her eyes from the harsh glare, dropping down into a defensive crouch and about to take action - only to pause once more as the light was finally lowered and she took in the security guard that stood opposite of her. Sighing, she slowly straightened as she held back an angry tirade. How could the guy know that she had just about dismembered him in a very painful way?
For a moment the two eyed each other, Faith's eyes darting down to the nightstick that the man was gripping with one hand - the hand that slowly relaxed once he deemed that the little vixen of a girl in front of him posed no threat. Erroneously decided, of course. "You won't find no rave parties here tonight," the man stated, his voice gruff as his eyes slid over the brunette's curves.
"I know - it's a few blocks down tonight," Faith replied curtly, cutting the man off as she nonchalantly gathered her hair in a handhold behind her before letting the thick tresses slip through her fingers - all the while smiling coyly at the way the man's eyes never seemed to leave her body. So the guy was old and probably had a family with tons of little kids back home - that didn't mean that she didn't enjoy his hungry stare any less. Besides, in her mind she was making the guy's night just that much brighter. But then, as always, the boredom quickly set in and Faith dropped the act and straightened. She wasn't lying when she said that she knew the rave was down the block, and while the night wasn't getting any younger, neither was she. This slayer had a party to attend and she planned on making the most of it. She wanted to feel it in the morning - in more ways than one. Turning away from the man, Faith began sauntering towards the street beyond the broken fence when the man's hesitant voice called her back.
"Hey, don't forget your... glow ball."
Confused, Faith turned back in time to have a small, glowing orb dropped in the palm of her hand. Intrigued, she lifted the small ball and admired the way it brightened the dark night, turning her skin all sorts of colors.
"What is it?"
Shrugging, Faith quickly wrapped her hand around the orb and turned back towards the street. "No clue," she admitted over one shoulder. "But I'm sure I know of a few people who might."O o O o O o O
Sighing contentedly, Buffy allowed the sound of the nearby surf to lull her into a state that was somewhere between waking and dreams, the hot sun beating down on her skin and making her want to purr like a kitten. Smiling, she rolled over on the soft blanket that was spread over the crystalline sand, green eyes dancing over to the boy that sat beside her, a look of firm concentration on his face. Curious, she pushed herself up until she was leaning on her elbow, brushing a golden wave of hair from her face as she looked at the pineapple that sat before him. A pineapple that lurched before it slowly lifted into the air and hovered a few inches above their blanket. "You're getting better," she murmured, breaking his concentration and sending the hard fruit thudding back to the blanket before him.
"I am," Harry agreed, adjusting his glasses as he smiled warmly at the girl that lay before him. She looked beautiful on their little deserted tropical beach, her skin bronzed by the sun's warmth and her smile serene. He didn't think that he had ever seen her look so relaxed or so... unburdened. Before, Buffy had always carried the weight of the world on her shoulders, but now... "How do you feel?" he asked as he slowly stretched out, muscles rippling on his back as he moved beside her, propping his elbow so that they were laying side by side, faces nearly touching.
"Stronger, faster," Buffy murmured, a small smile playing at her lips as she gently lifted her free hand to trail it lightly over his face, dropping feather light caresses on his high cheeks and smooth brow, fingers trailing over the scar that would never fade. "Not as strong as before, but I'm getting there, day by day," she added before a playful frown pulled at her lips. "Although this time, no touchy-feely-gropey with my inner core," she stated, trying to look stern and miserably failing. "Last time I felt like we were trying to fry my synapses, and I just know
that Jarod would kick my butt if I did that again."
Attempting to school his features into one of solemn acceptance, Harry slowly nodded his head. "I promise. No more 'touchy-feely-gropey' with your inner slayer core... unless there's a dark, evil wizard that needs to be conquered," he amended as his hand easily caught hers before she could smack him for his words. Smiling, he gently pulled her hand to his lips and pressed a soft kiss against her skin. She tasted of salt. Green eyes meeting green, Harry slowly pulled her hand away, his smile slipping. "Should we go back?" he asked, knowing that the question needed to be asked. "The others miss us and I'm sure that someone somewhere could use our-"
"Not yet," Buffy broke in, silencing him with a few slender fingers pressed against his lips. "It's been my experience that the apocalypses tend to come on a yearly rotation, and since we've already fulfilled this year's apocalypse quotient, we should be good to go for at least another six months," she said, her face so serious before a small smile lifted her lips. "Besides... let's just be Buffy and Harry for a little bit longer," she added as she finally closed the distance between them, sealing her softly spoken words with a kiss.
Sighing softly, Harry leaned into the kiss and allowed it to deepen before Buffy's words finally penetrated. Frowning, he slowly pulled away as his gaze turned serious once more. "But we already are Buffy and Harry - that's never changed," he stated, pointing out what he knew to be true. And while he didn't exactly know why
it was true, that didn't seem to matter. Instead, he just accepted it as one of those things he just knew and never questioned - something that he seemed to be doing a lot lately, which was almost as disturbing.
"I know," Buffy sighed, breaking through Harry's puzzled thoughts as a small frown pulled at her lips. Turning green eyes away from his questioning gaze, Buffy slowly rolled over until her back was pressed against the soft blanket, the hot sand burning through the thin covering and warming her back. "I just... I just don't want to go back yet," she admitted, lifting one slender arm to shield the bright sun's glare.
Frown deepening, Harry slowly pushed himself up until he was sitting on the blanket, his knees drawn up to his chest with the warm sun beating against his tanned skin. The strange thing was, Harry knew exactly what she was talking about because for some indefinable reason, he didn't want to go back yet either. Even if common sense was clamoring for him to do just that, something else, something more powerful than common sense, was telling him to keep going as they were.
"I didn't know that they had snowy owls in the Caribbean."
Startled from his thoughts, Harry turned and followed Buffy's puzzled gaze as a white speck dipped low over the water and hurtled in their direction. "Hedwig!" Harry gasped, opening his arms just in time to receive his beloved pet as the snowy owl tumbled into his lap. "How did you find us?" he asked, his tanned hands a stark contrast to his owl's bedraggled white feathers. "And what happened to you? You look terrible!" he murmured, a concerned frown pulling at his lips as, seemingly understanding his words, Hedwig promptly reached up and nipped at his ear far harder than normal. Wincing, Harry quickly lifted a hand to his wounded ear as Buffy snickered beside him - but both fell silent as their eyes fell on the red envelope that was tied to Hedwig's clawed foot by a piece of string.
"Harry, what's that?" Buffy asked, watching as Harry quickly untied the dirty string and gently lifted the splattered red envelope - the one that looked like it had gone through all kinds of weather to make it to their little deserted island - even as Hedwig fluttered up until she was settled in the shade of the large trees a few feet behind them.
"It's a howler - from Hermione," he murmured, his eyes easily recognizing the neat printing that adorned the envelope. "And it's addressed to both of us," he stated, grimacing as memories of past howlers and how awful they were came to mind. "I don't want to open it," he added, frowning as he hesitantly turned the envelope over and over again in his hands. But even as the words left his mouth, Harry was more than aware that the unpleasantness of the howler really had nothing to do with his desire to leave it be. Instead.... it was almost as though he feared hearing from his long-time friend.
"Then don't," Buffy quickly urged, something akin to fear entering her green eyes as she stared at the envelope as though it could physically bring harm upon their heads. "Just leave it be and send Hedwig back. She doesn't belong down here. It's too hot," she murmured, knowing that her argument was weak, but not really finding that she cared.
Sighing, Harry eyed the envelope with troubled eyes. He wanted nothing more than to do as Buffy suggested - to just forget that they had ever received the envelope and that their peace had never been interrupted. But another part of him rebelled at the very thought. After all, Hermione had never sent him a howler before, and to do so now showed just how worried the others must be. But even that thought was a passing concern as a larger part begged him to forget about the others. He had Buffy here, she was safe, and they were hidden... what more did he really need? "If... if I don't open it, it's always worse," he finally murmured as he lifted trembling fingers to the seal of the envelope.
"Harry..." Buffy murmured, her voice tinged with a longing and fear that she didn't understand. Yet while something was telling her to grab the envelope from her boyfriend and rip it up before he revealed the contents... something else was holding her hand back, struggling to keep it by her side. And the frightening part was that Buffy wasn't sure which part was really her. "Harry," she repeated, the word a strangled plea, for what, she didn't even know.
Closing his eyes, Harry stilled his hand and allowed the silence to thicken - before quickly jerking his finger beneath the seal and opening the magic of the howler. Instantly the envelope tore itself from his hand and pulled away, floating in the air before them as it rearranged itself into the form of a mouth - a very angry mouth.
"HARRY POTTER AND BUFFY SUMMERS," the letter began in the unmistakable voice of one very upset Molly Weasley, "WHAT WERE
YOU THINKING?! DISAPPEARING OFF THE FACE OF THE PLANET LIKE THAT! HOW COULD
YOU?! DO YOU KNOW HOW WORRIED
WE ALL HAVE BEEN?! AND LEAVING NOTHING BUT A LETTER! HAVE YOU BOTH GONE DAFT
"Alright, Mum, that's enough!" Ron's voice quickly cut in, his exasperation evident. "Keep that up and you'll really scare 'em away. Oh, and hey Harry! Hey Buffy!"
"Ron, really!" Hermione's voice broke in, annoyance dominating above all else as Ron and Molly's voices drifted into the background, bickering quietly. "Now, Harry, Buffy, I apologize for sending this to you in a howler, but Ron was quite insistent that this would be the one letter that you would not ignore... not saying that you have been ignoring our other letters, just that.... well, we're worried about you. Everyone is, really."
"A note! A NOTE! You disappear and leave only a NOTE?!?"
"As I was saying," Hermione's voice quickly cut in, "we're all quite worried. At first we just did as your note asked and let you two be to work out whatever it is that you needed to work out-"
"All alone and WITHOUT your friends, I might add. I mean, bloody hell, Harry-"
"-but that was over a month ago, and we haven't heard from you since," Hermione continued firmly. "All of the owls that we've sent have returned with the letters unopened - unable to find you, or so we're hoping. We're... we're really quite worried. We borrowed Hedwig from Sirius, hoping that she would be able to find-"
"I told Hermione that we should have asked Sirius for Hedwig AGES ago-"
"Which is beside the point. We just miss you both and want you to come home. It's been ages since we've talked and a lot has changed. I'm working with Giles for the Watcher's Council, doing research here in Muggle London. Ron and I even have our own flat in a wizarding neighborhood near the Weasley's-"
"Not that either of them asked for our approval, or even the approval of the Granger's before-"
"I've reopened Fred and George's joke shop in Diagon Alley!" Ron's voice cut in, his excitement evident. "Bill and Charlie each took a leave of absence from Gringott's and the dragons in order to help me get it going - for Fred and George. It's what they would have wanted. And Percy offered, but we told him that we'd curse him if he tried. I mean honestly, can you imagine Percy helping with the joke shop? Fred and George would be rolling over in their graves if they knew! Oh yeah - and Sirius said to tell you that he's going to hex you into next year if you don't contact him soon - and I'd be worried if I were you. He's back with the Aurors for the Ministry and he's promised me that he's already got a few nasty ones in mind."
"And I worry about him," Hermione continued, her voice growing somber. "He was doing alright at first, but the worry is slowly driving him mad. Not even Remus can quite get through to him - especially since even Dumbledore himself has been unable to locate you both. He's tried every spell that he can think of, and while at times he thinks he may be able to sense Harry, he keeps saying that something is getting in the way. Even Giles is starting to get frantic. He's been in touch with Buffy's friends in Sunnydale and they're all worried as well. They said that you were planning on heading there after our visit, but when you never showed up and didn't even send a note or anything... the only thing that everyone can seem to agree on is that this isn't like you. Either of you. Please... please be okay, and at least send word that you're both alright. We love you. Love, Hermione-"
"-and Mrs. Weasley."
With the message complete, Harry barely had time to duck his head before the envelope erupted into a small ball of sparks that were blown away by the warm breeze. Soon, only a thick silence remained as his friends' pleas echoed in his mind, fighting with the haze that had enveloped his thoughts of them for so long. "That letter was written over a month ago," he finally murmured, a frown pulling at his lips as he turned his green eyes to Buffy. "They must really be frantic by now. We... we should really send a letter back with Hedwig saying that we're alright."
Buffy turned away from Harry's pained expression, her own thoughts a tumultuous whirlwind. "But... they said that they were alright. We just need to keep moving-"
Surprised, Buffy felt Harry's hands fall on her shoulders and force her to turn until she was meeting his clouded gaze. "Why?" she murmured, realizing that this was the first time she had really considered the simple question. Why indeed? "Because... because we should keep moving," Buffy murmured, realizing for the first time how hollow those words sounded.
Shaking his head in muted frustration, Harry released his hold on Buffy and moved his gaze over the expanse of sandy beach, the edges of their little hut barely visible in the distance where it was hidden in the tropical jungle. "We've only been here a few days and it's perfect - our own little island," he murmured, putting the question now to himself. It wasn't as though he had ever seriously considered the small word either. Why? "Why do we need to go? We could stay here longer-" he trailed off as Buffy hugged her knees against her chest, slowly shaking her head.
"We need to keep moving," she insisted, her expression becoming haunted as she recognized the command in that simple statement. It was as though it had become a mantra for them in the past weeks... months... "Don't we?"
Frowning, Harry ran a frustrated hand through his wild hair, his eyes urgently searching out something that he couldn't see. "Something inside of me tells me that we need to keep moving.... but I don't know why."
"It feels like we're running... but from what?" Buffy asked, unsure of where to search for her answers and never realizing that the answer was hidden deep inside of her. "We haven't stayed in the same place for more than two days in the last few months.... what's wrong with us?" she murmured, her haunted green eyes finally lifting to settle on Harry's face, just as distressed as her own. Even as a nameless fear, buried deep within herself, began to make itself known, she allowed herself to be caught up in Harry's familiar embrace - his presence helping to keep the fear at bay.
"Harry, I miss my friends - I miss them all. Willow and Xander are on the Hellmouth, but the very thought of Sunnydale makes me feel cold inside," she murmured, clinging to him as she hadn't done in months. "Why haven't we contacted anyone? They're so worried and... and they don't even know that Dumbledore was wrong," she whispered, pulling away to meet his green eyes as hers widened in a flash of horror. "Harry, we've known about your magic coming back, and my strength, for weeks now! You're still a wizard and I'm still a slayer and... and we've been hiding? Harry, I'm the slayer and it's my duty
to help people! I know that right now, physically I'm not that much stronger than you are, and you have the magical capabilities of David Copperfield, but that doesn't mean anything! I mean, Xander doesn't have anything and he's-"
"Buffy, I know," Harry interrupted, placing a slender finger against her lips as a smile threatened his own. It had been a while since he'd witnessed a Buffy tirade, so very similar to a babbling Willow, or so Buffy had assured, that it helped to make things more clear in his mind. For the first time in what felt like ages, Harry felt as though his thoughts were finally clearing. "We need help and we're not going to get it here, or in any of the other places we've been traveling. We need to go back."
"But we can't go back to the Hellmouth," Buffy countered. "I know now that this feeling isn't my own, and even though I understand that I... I still can't do it. For some reason we really, really shouldn't be going to Sunnydale," she urged, frustrated by her inability to fully express her severe anxiety that the mere mention of her hometown brought about. "Not to mention the fact that we don't even know where Hermione and Ron live now - or even Giles or Sirius!"
"And we won't," Harry agreed, frowning thoughtfully as he slowly got to his feet, slipping into his sandals. "Go back to Sunnydale, that is," he clarified as he pulled Buffy to her feet and together they set to work on picking up their things before turning back towards their little hut. "But we can't stay here any longer, and as you so aptly pointed out, I'm not magically strong enough yet to navigate us through the magical world, which means that Hogwarts is out of the question."
"You know who David Copperfield is?" Buffy returned, quirking an eyebrow at her boyfriend as she grinned mischievously.
"Buffy, I may be British but that certainly doesn't mean that I was raised in a box," Harry returned dryly. "It was a cupboard, really - quite spacious," he added, grinning impishly and dodging her light slap before turning serious once more. "But if we can't go to Sunnydale and can't very well make it to Hogwarts, where do we go? The Watcher's Council in London?"
"Yeah, but where
in London?" Buffy returned. "I don't know about you, but it's not like I've ever been there before. And I really doubt that we'd be able to find it in the yellow pages."
"Well do you have any better ideas?" Harry returned - and instantly wished that he hadn't.
In response Buffy leveled Harry with her brightest grin. "I know just the place," she stated, grinning mischievously. "And from what I've been told and what little I've seen, it's quite lovely. Maybe I can even show you my old room - iron manacles and all!" she chirped before disappearing into their little hut.
"Manacles?" Harry echoed, his tan disappearing beneath a sheet of white. "Um... Buffy, we are clear on the fact that we want help, right?" he asked, his voice echoing up and down their little beach as he, too, disappeared into their little hut. They had quite a bit of packing to do if they planned on catching the next boat out of there. Out of there and hopefully to somewhere where they could finally find the answer to that one nagging question: why?O o O o O o O
Fighting back a yawn, Willow made her way sleepily down the curving stairs and into the kitchen beyond, the intoxicating smell of pancakes and yummy sausages directing her stumbling feet. It had been a quiet night which should have meant more sleep, but with mid-terms approaching, any possibility of an early night was quickly squashed beneath the heavy texts that she always had to drag to class. Then there was the fact that when you shared a house, no matter how large, with two slayers, a watcher, a wiccan and a construction worker.... well, the possibility of ever
finding a good night's sleep was pretty rare.
Fighting back another yawn, Willow lifted her eyes from her feet in time to avoid a collision with Xander, who was ladened down with dirty breakfast dishes and looking far more awake than anyone should possibly look this early in the morning - especially a Xander. Especially a well-dressed Xander, Willow noted with wide green eyes. Stopping fully in her tracks, the wiccan allowed her eyes to sweep across the lean figure of her childhood best friend.
While the studying was pretty hard core last night, she was still fairly positive that today was a Wednesday, which should
have meant that Xander would be leaving to the construction site that he worked at - equating a wardrobe which usually consisted of a pair of old jeans and a shirt with more holes in it than not. Instead she couldn't keep her jaw from hitting the floor as she took in his neatly combed dark hair, his pressed suit, and the tie that dangled loosely around his neck. "Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?" she demanded as she trailed sleepily after his lean form.
"Xander has his big interview this morning, remember?" Tara intervened, smiling softly as she placed a large plateful of steaming pancakes on the counter that ran the length of the spacious kitchen, motioning for Willow to take a seat and dig in. At Willow's continued blank expression, Tara shared a brief smile with Xander as she wiped her hands on the ridiculously frilly apron that she was sporting. "He's interviewing for the foreman-"
"The Xand-Man's got an interview?" Faith interrupted as she sauntered in through the backdoor, the wan morning sunlight causing Willow to blink blearily as she accidentally stumbled away from the plate of food that she was aiming for. "And Glenda's got her groove on," the slayer quickly noted as she intercepted Willow's path for the pancakes and settled onto the vacant stool. Grinning cheekily in the face of Willow's indignant glare, the dark-haired slayer lit into Tara's creations with relish. It paid to have at least one
person in the house who was capable of making something outside of the Easy Mac that was found in abundance in the cupboards - and when that person felt in the mood to put her vast cooking talent to use, who was she to complain? Besides, this particular slayer needed some serious sustenance after the night she had.
"G-good morning, Faith," Tara quickly greeted, stammering slightly as she always did before the slayer, even as a pink blush stained her pale cheeks. Though she had been immersed in the tight-knit circle of Willow's friends for so many months, there were a few among the small group that she still found herself unsure before - Faith being one of them. It wasn't as though she didn't like the slayer, or that she didn't trust her - it was more that she and Faith were so vastly different that at times it was difficult to find a common ground.
Frowning briefly, the wiccan quickly went about making another plate before sliding the dish next to the slayer, smiling softly at Willow as the redhead fell onto the stool beside the dark-haired girl. "A-are you just getting back from patrol now?" she asked, her smile faltering slightly as Xander made a show of sniffing disdainfully at the leather-clad slayer.
"From the distinct scent of alcohol and smoke wafting in the morning breeze," he began as he bent to allow Willow access to his dark tie, the redhead automatically going to work on the stubborn knot, "I'd guess not."
"Hey, you never know where the danger's gonna-"
"And what danger did you stumble upon that leaves such a particularly foul odor, pray tell?" a heavily accented voice interrupted.
Rolling her eyes, Faith spared a quick glance to the regal-looking man that was making his grand entrance into the kitchen, his gray suit as impeccable as always and every white hair on his head brushed until it gleamed. "Morning Bertie," she greeted dryly, watching as Willow practically spit out her mouthful of orange juice even as Xander snickered at the indignant flush that colored the older man's pale cheeks, his gray eyes narrowing and the small wrinkles creasing.
"Faith, s'il vous plait," a young girl's voice, just as equally sprinkled with the same French accent, quickly stated on her watcher's behalf as the slender slayer made her way into the crowded kitchen. "Must we go through this every morning? You know very well that you are to refer to my watcher as Monsieur Bertrone, et c'est tout!"
Fighting back the sarcastic comment that was just waiting to be unleashed, Faith caught Tara's warning look and strove to swallow her attitude. Sometimes she really had to wonder what she'd been thinking when she had invited all of these strange people into her house. Oh, that's right. She obviously hadn't
been thinking. Either that, or B really did leave her mark from the brief time she took up residence in her head. And while it seemed that too many mornings started out this way, with the French watcher's disapproving reprimands and Faith's nasty retorts, the slayer couldn't help the saucy grin that she finally leveled at the slayer with the raven-dark hair - a battle with her attitude was one that she always lost, anyway. Why should that morning be any different? "Don't worry, Kid, there's no doubt in my mind that Bertie's your
"Something I will be eternally grateful for-"
"But the fact remains," Faith continued, politely ignoring the French man's caustic words, "that as he's your
watcher, he can just back the hell off of me and my own."
Thoroughly incensed by the girl's perverse words, the old watcher drew himself up haughtily as his young slayer lay a placating hand on his shoulder. Frowning, he allowed himself to be sidetracked by Celeste's pleading blue eyes - eyes that begged with him to just let the other girl go - a very familiar plea, by now. And in the end he did what he always did at such times, and that was to swallow his pride and follow his young slayer to the counter that passed as a table in this strange house in an even stranger country - and be grateful that the brass young woman wasn't
his charge. And also to ignore the almost overwhelming desire to take advantage of the Hellmouth's interference and hit the impudent young woman with the nastiest curse his days at Beauxbatons afforded him.
Forcing a small, reassuring smile for his slayer, Bertrone murmured his thanks to young Miss Maclay in thanks for the steaming cup of coffee that was placed before him - and quickly replaced Celeste's own coffee cup with a large glass of orange juice. While the girl was already fourteen and now the newest, and oddly, for a time, the third
slayer, the fact remained that she had been in his charge for nigh on ten years - ten years of training and rearing in the proper ways of a Slayer, and after such a great length of time he was well familiar with the effects that the caffeine would have on her young system. No, orange juice was indeed far better suited for his young charge. "Non, Celeste, ne touche pas le café," he murmured, his voice soft and reproving.
"Oui, Monsieur Bertrone, je sais," Celeste quickly returned, her eyes dropping down to her lap as was expected - even as she heard Faith mutter a low oath beneath her breath - a curse so quiet that she knew none had heard save her. Sighing, the young slayer slowly shook her head at the older slayer's antics before politely accepting a plate of what the Americans deemed as breakfast, a small grimace pulling at her lips as she turned bright eyes to the young people that she was slowly coming to know. "Last night was very exciting as I was able to slay three vampires," she stated proudly, unable to stop the grin that lifted her wide lips. "With Monsieur Bertrone's guidance, of course," she quickly amended with a warm smile at her watcher.
"Of course," Willow quickly agreed, trying and failing to hide her own snicker behind her hand as she finished working on Xander's tie. After all, the Scoobies came from a line of watcher that didn't just sit back and watch, as the newest slayer's watcher seemed so fond of doing, but of helping out when the occasion called for it.
"Celeste, that's wonderful!" Tara quickly added, smiling warmly at the younger girl as Faith flashed the kid a genuine smile.
"Sounds like you had a busy night," Faith agreed, unwilling to point out that to her, killing three vamps on the Hellmouth was actually a slow night. Then again, for as much as she despised the Kid's watcher, she couldn't fault the kid herself. Once you got past the fierce protective streak that Celeste carried for the old Frenchman - a pretty common trait between slayers and watchers, or so she'd been told - the kid was pretty cool. She looked every bit of the fourteen years that she was, and while she lacked in the conviction to take on anything without her watcher's approval, the Kid certainly wasn't lacking in skills.
From what little Celeste had told them, she had been taken from her family when she was only five, the Watcher's Council having located her as a potential slayer rather young, and raised by her watcher ever since. With ten years of training to be a slayer under the Kid's belt, she was a veritable fountain of useful information and skill - if she only had the confidence to use it on her own. And while Faith had been trying her best to get the kid to open up and live a little - well, it was certainly easier said than done with Bertie always watching her like a hawk. If B only would have made her appearance as she had promised close to two months ago, Faith was sure
that they would be able to get the job done. It didn't matter if Buffy wasn't the slayer anymore and was now lacking in the slayer-skills department. In Faith's mind, Buffy would always be a slayer - and seeing as how Celeste and Faith definitely fell on opposite ends of the slayer pole, that had to mean that Buffy was somewhere in the middle. Or not, for she seemed to remember more than a few 'Buffy Gone Wild' stories from back in the day - stories that could be helpful with causing the new girl to open up... but that of course required a Buffy.
Faith quickly pushed away her cyclic train of thought and the worry that those thoughts always brought to mind. Two months was a long time to disappear for some snookie time with that boy of hers - a hell of a long time. Frowning, Faith stubbornly pushed her worries away and instead fished out the 'glow ball' that the security guard had given her the night before. "While not nearly as productive, I did manage to stumble over this," she offered, shrugging her shoulders as she placed the glowing orb on the counter before her.
Immediately a hush fell over the room as everyone stopped what they were doing to take in the soft glow that emanated from the small ball. "So... what is it?" Xander asked as he gingerly prodded the sphere with one long finger, his curiosity piqued despite his best efforts to stay away from anything that could get him beaten, captured, or dead.... or used for impregnation by large insects.
"Beats me - although it was quite the hit at the party last night," Faith added with a small grin.
"You took the freaky Hellmouth ball out on the town with you?" Xander returned before he could stop himself. "What, were you trying
to attract the badness?"
"Of course - that's what Slayer's are for," Faith returned in her best sugary-sweet smile before turning her attention back to the glowing orb, which was now in the hands of the slayer who sat beside her. The slayer who was studying the orb with a fierce concentration that was almost scary. In Faith's very limited experience, such an expression belonged solely to the race of watcher and certainly, certainly not on a slayer's face. Or maybe that was just because neither she nor B had ever really been big with the books. Nope, that was definitely a watcher thing - or it should have been.
"Celeste?" Bertrone prodded, a small frown pulling at his lips as he, too, took in his slayer's interest in the orb.
"I am sure that I have seen something like this before - an illustration, perhaps," Celeste murmured as she absently abandoned her untouched breakfast and began wandering to the stairs that would take her down into the book-infused confines of the basement. "Or not... something..." she murmured before disappearing from sight.
In the wake of her departure the silence stretched for another moment or so before the rest of the Scoobies dismissed the girl's actions and the strange ball with their usual Hellmouth indifference. "Right, so you ladies have a good, demon-free day," Xander stated as he clapped his hands together, a bright smile lifting his lips, "while I go make with the niceties and try for the big bucks."
"You go... go knock their socks off!" Willow offered as she smiled encouragingly at her best friend. "Show them what an Alexander Lavelle Harris is all-" she continued, her speech breaking off as she quickly slapped a hand over her mouth, horror evident in her wide eyes.
"Wait a minute - Lavelle?" Faith interrupted as she turned large eyes towards a Xander who was now turning a very fetching shade of red. "Your middle name is Lavelle?" she repeated as he began backing towards the door, his eyes glaring daggers in Willow's direction. "Did your parents hate you or something?"
"As a matter of fact, they did," Xander returned, daring the slayer to make something of it - before turning and fleeing through the backdoor and into the bright sunshine beyond, leaving the room once more in a state of thick silence - a silence that was broken by Faith's quiet snickering.