contains drinking, swearing, and a discussion on predjudice.
main characters: Faith, Magneto
disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to Faith (of BtVS/A:tS) or Magneto (of Marvel Comics/Marvel Entertainment).
distribution: Twisting, quickfics, Paula, Wic
note: response to the TNL Scenario # 18. set post season 7, contains general spoilers.
18) An Irish character -- e.g, Angel, Doyle, Faith (if you wanna stretch a point, since she's from South Boston, a very Irish neighborhood) -- celebrates St. Patrick's Day by getting well and truly sloshed with someone
Faith sighed, closing her eyes in an effort to calm her nerves. Since they had been finding so many new Slayers, Giles had decided that they should split up, with several groups going to different places to find and train Slayers, and to minimize trouble. The fact that their group had swollen to almost forty by that decision had meant that almost everyone had agreed, probably hoping for elbow room, hot showers, and a little bit of privacy.
They'd decided to split into four groups, and had ended up drawing straws, using some of those plastic drinking straws as lots. Pink, blue, green and yellow, counted out into equal numbers and put into an empty Pringles can in groups of four, to make certain the colors were mixed. They'd all grabbed a straw without being able to see the color, and had separated according to those divisions. Wood had drawn a yellow straw, while hers had been green - so much for that relationship that could have been.
The green group, which had included Willow the organizing wonder witch, had gone to New England. Partly to put space between them and everyone else, and partly because the area was at least a little familiar to Faith. It wasn't until they were on their way, and getting set up in a building that Willow had bought with some of the money from accounts of the old Watcher's Council that it started to sink in what this really meant. She was responsible for helping guide and shape people, to help them figure out what to do after they'd learned that monsters were real. It was the most stressful concept that she'd ever had to face.
Of course, they'd ended up well organized, and hadn't messed with that outdated concept that a Slayer couldn't have friends and family to care. There was very little visible outside to mark this small apartment building as different from any other. The training facilities inside were set up, and enough of the new Slayers were either still living with their parents or had boyfriends, husbands, or girlfriends, sometimes even children, that there was a normal seeming balance of people. Faith wasn't certain how they would manage without other people around to manage some of the practical things. As it was, things were stressful and frustrating. Who was she to be a role model? She'd killed people, been in prison, broke rules all the time... But she was one of two Senior Slayers, which was how she and Buffy had started to be described.
Which had all contributed to her being here. 'Here' was a bar, one of the many pseudo-Irish pubs that littered cities, although this one had decent drinks and was fairly clean. She'd taken a stool along the bar, and had been settled there quietly for almost fifteen minutes when he came in. He didn't quite match the other people here, although it would be hard for most people to explain why. He was just an old man, white hair, wrinkles, a sort of big nose. He was dressed in basic, ordinary dark clothing, and had the sort of slight slump to his shoulders that hinted at exhaustion. But he had this confidence to him, and there was this difference in the air around him. It felt like the air during a lightning storm, not the air in a pub, if that made sense. He also felt... well, he registered as something powerful, and maybe dangerous to her Slayer senses.
He settled at the stool beside her, and ordered a shot of whiskey. There was a faint something in the way he formed his words that suggested English wasn't his first language. He glanced over at her while waiting for his drink, and while he did look at her, it was more of a measuring look, like something from a fighter, rather than the look of someone mentally undressing her, or wondering what the hell a chick was doing at a bar if she wasn't trying to pick up a guy. But apparently, he wasn't about to press her about it. The only comment he made to her then was a slightly ironic "Happy Saint Patrick’s?"
The guy's first toast, muttered to himself as he raised his shot glass was 'For Charles' dream. Optimist that he is.' The soft toasts continued as he drank, some obviously to old acquaintances no longer with him, and one to his mother. As he kept drinking, his accent thickened, and it was obvious that this guy had a lot of emotional baggage.
"You don't seem to be very happy yourself." She'd had a few drinks, and couldn't quite remember at the moment why she didn't need to ask about anyone else's problems.
"Why should I be joyful? This country... the whole world is repeating the failures of the past. Dooming uncounted numbers to misery and fear. So much for his dream... the debates are not looking very good." He scowled at his glass, as if the whiskey could fix the problems in the world.
"So your drinking. Wait, those debates over the mutant question? What's that got to do with you feeling miserable?" Faith blinked, wondering if this guy still had all his marbles.
He looked at her, his eyes full of pain and old memories. "What do you think of the mutant issue? Of mutants? The rulers of the world?"
Faith snorted, wondering how politics connected to his problems. "The world's run by people who are busy planning their own rise to power, or holding onto what they've got. They don't want things to rock the boat. Lot of mutants rock the boat... tip it over. Shake things up... could be good for the country, bad for the mutants. People don't like the boat getting rocked very much. As for the rest... First mutant I ever met was this bastard that kept trying to lure off the kids... group of angry parents shot him to death. Good riddance to him. Next one was this annoying thief... got this attitude. Glad she's across the country. I don't need her attitude, I have my own."
"You don't care for mutants?" He was frowning at her.
Faith looked at him, tapping her thumbnail against her current shot glass. "I don't like most people. Mutants are people too. Keep 'em safe, keep them out of my way so I can keep up my damn destiny... Mutant, human... what's the big difference?"
"There's a big difference. Genetics... the future. Mutants are the future." He looked back at his hands, one finger tracing over his left forearm. "Mustn't go back to the dark past. Learn from it, or the future will be ashes."
"Genetics isn't that big of a deal to me." Faith shrugged. Something about the guy seemed almost familiar, as if she'd seen him somewhere, or met him once upon a time. "Listen, umm... what is your name, anyhow?"
"Erik." He sighed, leaning on the bar counter.
Faith picked up a napkin, twisting little pieces from the edge. "Right, Erik. Genetics is only the set of tools you get. It's not what potential you have, what tools you get, it's what you do with them. Biggest hero that I've ever met is just this ordinary guy, no special powers, not terribly bright, but brave as hell. He goes out, night after night, risking his life to save people from the nasties, and all it gets him is pain. His friends get killed, lost his fiance, the guy even lost an eye because he wouldn't tell this evil bastard where to find B... and he just won't give up. Outclassed as hell, and he still stands there, because it's the right thing to do. That's courage, that's heroics. Damn dangerous, and probably foolish, but brave."
"So, you think that actions speak louder than words or heritage? Inheritance... Genes." Erik was fiddling with a bottle cap that someone down the bar had abandoned. It was dancing over his hand, and it took a few moments before Faith realized that it wasn't some stage magic sleight of hand.
"They do. And the day my jeans or any other pants start talking is the day I ask Red to start an exorcism." Faith sighed. "But I'm also a believer in second chances. Needed one myself. Don't care if you're human, mutant, or a demon, just do what's right and we're five by five..."
"The actions that I've seen tell me the world is doomed." He sighed, gesturing for the bartender to bring another shot.
"Can't be doomed, it's not Tuesday." Faith snickered, thinking that it was just the way her life had gone for the last few years. "Sorry... job humor. Tried to check it at the door."
"Are you going to save the world?" He looked somewhere between amused, depressed, and tired.
Faith chuckled, finding the question oddly funny. "I can't save the world from politicians. They send you to prison for that. Too busy keeping it here for people to make their own mistakes anyhow. Damn destiny."
"You can get out of prisons. Just rip the door off." His words were soft, almost as if he was speaking to himself.
Fuzzy recognition dawned for Faith. "You're that magnet guy. There was a big fuss over you and the Statue of Liberty... Explains the fuss over the mutant issue."
"Magneto." He sounded almost amused. "Does that make a difference?"
"Hell yes! I heard about some of those speeches of yours. You put them together well. Smooth talker with a nasty sad past... not letting yourself just be a victim. Wanted to shake your hand for that. World's got too many victims now days, too many people going my life sucks, poor me, and not enough people trying to do something about it." Faith grinned. "Not sure I like some of your ideas about what to do, but it's good to see someone trying instead of just... whimpering and moaning."
"I think that's the first time anybody human's looked up to something I've done." He chuckled, looking almost sad.
"Got to be me, not one of the sheep and all." Faith shrugged.
"Yes, be yourself. Don't let people try to keep you from being you, from being who and what you are." He looked at the cup in his hand, swirling the remnants of his drink. "Perhaps there is truth in the bottom of a wine cup after all. Or shot glass."
"Sounds like pretty depressing ideas. Drinking always ends up with me thinking people are scum, and the world is doomed." Faith sighed, and lifted her cup. "And with me thinking that the bartender is slow."
"Yes, I suppose he is. Perhaps there is truth at the bottom of a shot glass." He sighed. "And that is quite depressing. I think... I've had quite enough. More than enough."
Dropping a handful of money on the counter, he stood up, wobbling a bit. He began to make his winding way across the bar, a scattering of bottle caps jumping from tables to roll after him.
Hopping from her barstool, Faith staggered a little as she followed him out the door. "Wait up... you shouldn't be wandering off alone. You're drink... drunk. Some nasty vamp could think you're a drink."
"So... you intend to keep me safe from the... vampires? In this town?" He blinked, swaying a little on his feet.
Faith made a little gesture, not wanting the world to tip with a shrug. "Yep. Crawling with them, specially since there's no Hellmouth here. Got to do my job, be the Slayer. So... where are you staying?"
He stood a little straighter, and crossed his arms. "I don't need an escort. I’m just... right over... where the devil did that hotel go?"
She snickered, despite trying not to. "I never lost a whole hotel before. Better stick with me."
"Oh, alright. Hopefully it will be back in the morning." He sighed, glancing around. "I bet Mystique had something to do with it. Woman loves to play with people's minds... although how she could make a hotel vanish... Anyhow, lead on."
There were actually a pair of vampires that tried to attack them on the way back to the apartment building that had become Slayer Central. The bottle caps, which had been faithfully rolling after Erik since he'd left the bar flung themselves at the vampires with astonishing speed, and Faith grabbed her stake from under her jacket. It was quite probably her most dismal fight in... well, ever. Her reactions were off, her aim as miserable. She had to stake the first vampire four times before she hit the heart, and just ended up battering the second to the ground and fumbling with her lighter until he caught fire and burned away.
"Vampires. Miserable wretches. Don't like them at all." Erick shook his head, swaying on his feet, one arm trickling blood from claw marks.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. He dropped onto the couch in Faith's apartment, and barely managed to stay awake while she wiped the wound with alcohol and wrapped it with gauze.
The next morning, as Faith groaned and held her aching head, she wondered why there was someone snoring in the other room. "What did I do last night?"
Looking at her couch, she felt her hazy memories stir. She had Magneto on her couch. How was she going to explain this one?
end Bottom of a Shot Glass.