While the Church of Violence was the most high profile structure destroyed during the battle that had engulfed the city it was not the only place ruined. The hotel and warehouse districts had been shot up pretty badly and the entire section of town in which Buffy and Roberta had their throw down was basically razed with the few surviving building reduced to being structural write offs. A conservative estimate said that fully a third of the city had been affected.
General Sheu Yen tried handing himself over to Claxton's Grey Foxes. Claxton considered the idea for all of five seconds. Claxton was a man who respected the chain of command but his men came first in his mind and fighting his way passed a group of pissed off Russians and Triad soldiers was not, in his view, an effective use of his men's lives. His sense of duty required however that he take charge of the man handing him over to Police Chief Watsup. Watsup took him into custody with a very familiar smile on his face. Everyone knew that sometime in the next few hours The General would make an ill-advised escape from the lockup. What happened to him on the rough streets of Roanapur would not be Claxton's responsibility.
The Corrupter's attack had left behind a horror show. Bodies left in various stages of decay with some being little more than pools of goo surrounding skeletons, some of them so brittle that they puffed into ash as soon as they were touched.
The Island Slayers insisted on personally digging Manuela out of the place where she had fallen. They used whatever tools they could scrounge up and both Lovelace maids helped as much as they could. It took some time, but they pulled her body from the wreckage. Aside from the single gunshot wound to the heart that had taken her life, she was otherwise unmarred. They wrapped her in a sheet and asked for Dutch to take them back to the island where they had a garden of fruit and flowers that would be her final resting place. A peaceful smile was still on her face. She looked free.
Everyone gave Roberta a lot of space. She had, if it was possible become even more protective of Garcia since the end of the affair. She was for destroying the rifle as soon as she pried from his hands but he refused with Buffy boldly agreeing with him that he should hang on to the weapon. When Xander asked why she made a cryptic comment about needing someone she could trust with the kryptonite bullet. A comment that prompted Xander to loudly declare that under no circumstances was Buffy to ever spend long periods of time with Andrew Wells again ...ever.
She responded sadly that the chances were she was going to be spending a lot of time with Andrew since she was going to need a replacement tactical support specialist. That was when it became obvious to everyone else. Xander was staying in Roanapur, at least for the foreseeable future. The Island Slayers were capable fighters of course but there was a viciousness and brutality to their technique that had nothing to do with their abilities and everything to do with the fact that each and every one had known nothing accept sadistic brutality for most of their formative life. It would have been ridiculous to expect them to not use that same brutality in their fighting.
There was also the job of rebuilding the city which had somehow become his responsibility as well. While everyone agreed that Roberta and Buffy had caused most of the damage everyone was pointing out that neither would have been a problem had Xander himself not been involved. While some might have said that was unfair, Xander himself most loudly, there was a huge crater sitting where The Church of Violence used to be and Sister Yolanda made it clear that she wanted that crater remade back into a Church.
He thought he could back out of the deal by pricing himself high but he forgot that combined, 14k and Hotel Moscow and the other syndicates, had a huge fortune they could throw at a project like rebuilding the city. Money would be no object and as long as Xander was willing to turn a blind eye to where the supplies were coming from and the less then savoury backgrounds of his work crew the job would not take that long. Xander wasn't that thrilled about turning his back on criminals with construction tools. But even he had to admit a job like this would require going grey market with the hiring for a little while. The Slayers even offered to help him and although Xander was uncomfortable using the Slayer Army as a source of labour he had to admit that helping rebuild the city would go long way to making every one more comfortable with the fact a super powered army was sitting on their doorstep; and then there was the fact they were getting paid.
Xander reluctantly accepted his fate but he wasn't the only one being maneuvered. The Syndicate bosses all had a quiet impromptu meeting and collectively decided they needed someone they could trust to keep an eye on Harris. Abrago and The Colombians didn't bother hiding the fact that Xander was going to want to steer clear of South America for a long, long time. The cartels there were pissed with him and the FARC was blaming him personally for the deaths of its soldiers and for the fact that Roberta wasn't dead. The Sicilians were upset about the loss of their warehouses and even Balalaika and Chang had to admit to a certain annoyance that the cost of rebuilding the city was going to be borne almost entirely by them. They needed Xander but they also needed a guarantee that having him around wasn’t going to lead to the kind of chaos that was all too familiar. Balalaika flatly refused to deal with Buffy; their confrontations left a bad taste in the mob mistress mouth. One by one every possibility was suggested and discarded until only one name remained on their list.
The Imposing edifice that housed UG Pork looked like a Gothic fortress so it made sense in a way that it was where Sawyer could be found. Usually she was there on her own. Nobody dared to disturb the ominous silence of the place but today it had important visitors coming.
Rotton had offered to help Sawyer out by driving her delivery truck around the island picking up the many, many bodies around. Faith however had been volunteered to help Sawyer prep the place. The building had survived the zombie attack largely untouched but the outside had to be cleaned and the inside washed down.
Sawyer finally left Faith on her own to switch into her Working outfit. The Slayer was a little creep-ed out by the Cleaner's full body doctor's scrubs including face mask and all-concealing goggles that made it impossible to recognize Sawyer unless you heard the mechanical tones of her ultra-voice.
I am surprised." Rotton commented on his return to the lab. Sawyer made him pull on heavy rubber gloves when he was hauling bodies out of the truck. "Most people are...intimidated by their first time in Sawyer's ...workspace."
"Dutch told me Xander lasted a week here." The Slayer admitted.
"Well he was EMPLOYED... for a week ... Boss Chang made me pay him in spite of his running around ... paying catch-me-if-you-can."
Faith sighed, "Life is never normal for any of our little group. That having been said, this place is gloomy with a capital Gloom."
Sawyer had an almost snide grin, "The atmosphere has... its uses. Just the sight of the room... can be very ... useful."
Faith fingered the edges of the Table Saw she was leaning on, "I'm going to go ahead and assume the sight of the diamond edged circular saw might also have something to do with it." She said thoughtfully.
"I'm impressed... you really know your ... equipment." Sawyer seemed to peer closely at her,
"Tell me Ms Faith," Rotton asked politely, "are you as conflicted about your past actions as the Witch?"
"I was in a different headspace back then. I know it won't make sense but I had this thing. I wanted people to like me. If I couldn't make them like me, will having them afraid of me was fun too."
"When people first see me ...they don't think much of me...until they see what I can do for them ...or to them." Sawyer paused and lit the blowtorch in her hands Faith watched the icy blue flame settle into a firm sinister glow.
"I too think I can understand how you must feel better then you can imagine." Rotton said gently.
"So tell me something.” Faith asked seriously, “Does either of you two know why I am here? Balalaika asked me to help you and said it had to be me and not Xander what's the deal?"
Sawyer shook her head, "All I know is ...that I’m to make you feel at home... until Boss Chang and Miss ...Balalaika arrive ... I have done so I think "
"I know I kind of owe them. I mean they've been feeding me and letting stay at that apartment but I’m not sure if I’m ready to ...."
"Kill people?" Rotton snorted, "I doubt that’s what they have in mind...if they want people ...dead there are many ...who will do that kind of thing... without a thought."
Chang and Balalaika entered the room chatting amiably while behind them several men were dragging the General who was looking a lot less brave.
"Hi Guys, Miss Sawyer, Mister Rotton -- a pleasure as always." Chang smiled "Faith Glad you could make it. We needed to have a chat"
"What kind of chat?"
Faith noticed Rotton responding to an almost unnoticeable signal from Sawyer "I think I should go check up on Shenhua...I'm sure she will be feeling neglected by now.” He said smoothly as he slipped out the door.
Balalaika smiled "Faith the fact is The Slayers on the island aren't going anywhere for some time and your Mister Giles tells me that several of the girls who have left would like to return. For better or worse it would seem Roanapur is going to have both Slayers and Watchers for some time."
Chang continued, "Xander is a capable young man but the recent unpleasantness with the Maid has made people --- a little nervous around him. We need someone that can restrain his more exuberant tendencies.
"We'd like you to keep him on a short leash and if possible keep him from burning the rest of the city to the ground.” Balalaika snapped.
"There’s also the rest of the Slayers as well." Chang pointed out, "They are unlikely to trust anyone they don't already know and the fact is they already know you and trust you. Harris is already going to need help training them we are just asking that you keep us informed about their progress and speak on our behalf when Miss Summers is making her unilateral decisions about what the Slayers and Watchers are going to be up to."
"Wait are you asking me to ..."
"We need you Faith. Everyone who matters in town already trusts you. Plus you have demonstrated you can work with all the major players in this town which makes you useful."
"You want me?"
"Really we need you my dear," Balalaika said "You are the only one that everyone involved in this affair actually can count on."
"It would just be for a little while until things settle and of course you could keep staying at the apartment in town."
For a moment Faith saw it all. Xander, Eda, Revy. they had all in their own way told her what Roanapur was and What it could do the best of intentions, the best of hopes, the best of dreams.
For as long as she could recall, she had always wanted to hear those words. Her absentee mother had never said them; her First Watcher had won Faith total loyalty because she had said those words. The Mayor, Angel, Giles, Even Xander at one point or another Faith realized her one weakness was that she liked to, no ... needed to, hear those words and now a group of ruthless Mob bosses were saying them and they meant it. -- We need you Faith and we trust you. You are the only one who can help us, -- not Buffy not Xander not any of the others her and her alone.
Buffy was too holier-than-thou. Giles had some insight but he had turned his back on the dark and shadow a long time ago. Xander's moral compass would have him tilting at the first windmill to come along. He could do what he had to do what he needed to do. But some tasks required a certain commitment to the bottom line that not even Xander could manage not without being pushed and pushed hard.
But Faith, Faith had realized a long time ago that step by step, inch by inch this place was crawling into the dark places in her heart and taking root. She didn't need to be ashamed of who she was or where she had come from not anymore. Just as Buffy had been perfectly placed in Sunnydale; Faith was perfect for Roanapur.
"What would l have to do..."
We can discuss it later over a nice drink and a meal but first we need to deal with some outstanding business if you won’t mind waiting for us?"
Faith knew her fate, like the General's was sealed. Unlike him however she was going to come out of this with everything she'd ever secretly dreamed of and all she had to do was turn a blind eye to what was about to happen to a degenerate flesh peddler. She hoped all her choices in Roanapur would be this easy.
"I’m not doing anything important I can wait." Faith said simply.
“Excellent Faith, I knew we could count on you." Balalaika turned to Sawyer and pointed at the struggling General. "Ms Frederica, Take your time with this one. There's a bonus in it for you if he still breathing when you are finished."
There was a note of fearful defiance in Sheu Yen's voice as he looked into Balalaika's cruel eyes.
"At least I was right about Chang he isn't man enough to kill me himself."
"You aren't going to die you piece of shit. I'm not going to let you die and as for Chang, This was his idea."
You set up an operation on my territory you put thugs in my backyard and then you threaten me and try and take my business." Chang reminded him, "You don't have enough balls to do all that on your own so you are going to help us deliver a message to all the little scum who backed your pathetic little power-play."
"Chang I am your sworn brother you owe me and the other members loyalty." The General cried out as Balalaika's men stripped him and bound him to the table saw.
"I must not trespass upon the territory occupied by my sworn brothers. I shall be killed by five thunderbolts if I pretend to have no knowledge of my brothers' rights in such matters." Chang's words sent a cold shiver though Sheu Yen. They were part of an oath that every Triad member swore to uphold when they joined.
Chang smiled when he saw the man's shocked recognition. "Ahh, so you do remember the oaths?" Chang said cheerfully, "How about this one? I must not covet or seek to share any property or cash obtained by my sworn brothers. If I have such ideas I will be killed. -- Seems to me I'm owed a little something for the disrespect you've shown me, my business partners and my allies."
"I'm not afraid of some arrogant bastard and his scar-faced bitch." Sheu Yen shouted "Do your worst I won’t give you the satisfaction of breaking."
"You have no idea what my worst is," Chang hissed, "and as for breaking you... General, this is not about interrogation. This is about punishment.”
Balalaika spoke casually “Last time I bothered checking there were about twenty active Triad Bosses who look over your shoulder at anytime."
Chang nodded, "He would have had to get at a least a few of them onside to get permission to make a run at me."
"Twenty bosses, ten fingers, ten toes. I think this Wolfram and Hart should be sent a message as well. I believe they have a Beijing office."
"Yeah they do; Hey General that makes twenty one." Chang smiled coldly
Sawyer finally finished prepping. She waved everyone out of the way and approached the table with a heavy sledgehammer in her hands. Faith noted the ease with which the small woman wielded the heavy looking tool. Sawyer really was stronger then she looked ...a lot stronger.
"Please for God Sake," He begged Faith, "You can’t let them do this to me."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.” Faith replied coldly. “And from my point of view, you’re just getting what’s coming to you."
Sawyer stepped toward the table and began her grim work. The heavy blows from the hammer and sound of crunching bones and later the whine of the table saw were just loud enough nobody heard Faith muttering to herself under her breath , "I'm good with this, I’m good with this I’m good with this." It was a while before she had herself convinced.