Faith regarded the whiteboard cautiously. “Ok then, G-ster,” she said pensively, ignoring his wince, “Shall we go over this one last time?”
Giles sighed. “If you feel that is completely necessary, Faith,” he spoke mildly.
Faith shot him a glance. “I’d just feel a lot better if we checked this over again. Now, top row is the attics. Left to right we have the footprint, the clump of hair, that torn scrap of clothing and the remains of the ashes, then the dropped fountain pen and the credit card receipt.”
“Correct,” said Giles, marking his list off as well. “Second row is the bedrooms with Stephen Post, Roger Duncan, Simone Cavilo, Sinclair Mayweather the third and Sarah Hardcastle in that order.”
“Check!” beamed Faith brightly, and drew a large check mark on the whiteboard next to the first two rows. Still bouncing slightly, she moved on down. “Middle row! Research stuff! First up, the room of threatening letters that is going to be mentioned to everyone I know.”
Giles sighed and pushed his glasses up once more. “Then we have?” he prompted.
Faith smirked, noticing that he was no longer even trying to protest. “Then we have the room which had Travers’s will in it, the one with the stuff on the 80’s betrayal, the really boring financial stuff and the one with the love letter. Which, by the way, you still haven’t explained about.”
Giles didn’t say anything for a moment, but his tweed covered body seemed to faintly radiate embarrassment. “It was more of an attempt to… um… know one’s enemies better. The Council collected up as much information as they could regarding certain vampires that had er… survived for some time.”
Faith blinked. “You got a vampire’s
love letters?!?!” A thought struck her. “It’s not Spike’s poetry, is it?!? Tell me it is!”
“No,” replied Giles coldly. He paged through the notes beside him and looked up, “A couple of vampires named James and Elizabeth who were to all intents and purposes madly in love with each other.”
“And you’re going to use these love letters to track ‘em down? After all these years?” asked Faith incredously.
Giles sighed once again. “Apparently Angel killed both of them a few years back. Wesley was kind enough to inform the Council. Not that they thanked him for the information if I’m reading this correctly.”
“Shit,” said Faith in a completely different tone. “Sounds like Wes’s luck, all right. Just wish I’d been there for him. One last time.” Their eyes met in a moment full of silent regret, of hopes dashed and mistakes made.
“Let’s just get this fucking mess sorted right, shall we?” Faith said, no longer smiling.
Giles stood up from where he’d been leaning on the desk and placed one hand momentarily on Faith’s shoulder. He squeezed it gently for a moment, before letting it fall. Clearing his throat, he returned to his notes. “The ground floor had the regular staff working on it. Eric Black and then Dan Walker on the left side of the house, Edward in the middle, and then Sylvia Wilde. Finally, Pauline was cleaning up in the kitchen.”
Faith sighed and marked off those two rows as well. Suddenly she just wanted this over and done with.
Giles nudged her. “The cellar partitions, Faith?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever G,” she said listlessly, “Those poisonous chemicals were in the far left area with the shotgun kept next to them. The roman sword was in the middle, then the Dagger of Yenal and finally the rope was all the way over to the right. That it, Giles?”
Giles nodded sadly. “That’s it. Edward Fletcher killed Roger Duncan by poisoning him with the chemicals. Obviously because of the threatening letter that Edward must have written a while back. Sadly, Roger must have recognised the handwriting and said something.”
Jenny Hobson stuck her head round the study door. “We got him, Mr Giles. Found a tear on his clothes that matched that scrap exactly. Just like you said we would.”
Giles and Faith exchanged an unhappy look together, and slowly moved into the hall to see everyone. There before them was Edward Fletcher being held by one of the Slayers, looking very angry. “Rupert!” he yelled out, “What the hell is all this? I’m no murderer!”
Giles nodded to the Slayer to let him go, idly wondering if that was Helen of the unreadable handwriting. Edward just stood there for a moment, straightening his clothes and glaring at everyone.
“I’m afraid it’s no use, Edward,” Giles said sadly, “We know it was you who killed Roger and why. Did you simply not realise we would have kept all those threats?”
Edward turned and approached Giles. “Rupert, there has to be some sort of mistake here. There is absolutely no way I would ever threaten you.”
Faith stirred, suddenly very alert. “And how did you know the threat was against Giles?” she said softly, “I don’t think anyone mentioned that.”
And suddenly Edward whirled away, and dragged Giles with him. All four slayers all moved as one, but they were too far away to start with, and had to pull up short when the knife suddenly appeared at Giles’s throat.
Faith took one look at it and recognised the Dagger of Yenal. “For fuck’s sake!” she swore, “Doesn’t anyone ever put anything away in this place?”
Kylie edged up along the wall, and Edward’s head swung round instantly. “Nobody move another muscle, or I’ll cut his throat!” he exclaimed. “I know exactly what you abominations are capable of! Now, why don’t you make yourself busy and get me and Mr Giles a nice fast car.”
He moved the arm around Giles’s neck closer in. The edge of the Dagger pricked Giles’s skin and a pinpoint of blood appeared. “Don’t think that I won’t do it,” he warned them, “Now get that car!”
“Just one slight problem with that, Edward,” said Giles mildly, “I wasn’t particularly planning to go anywhere tonight.” And headbutted Edward’s face behind him.
Afterwards, Faith was never quite sure how she did it. It just seemed like everything shifted into slow motion around her, as she jumped forward, blindly grabbing anything she could lay her hands on, desperately trying to beat the slowly, inevitably rising hand before her.
All her attention was fixed on the hand with the Dagger in, and its rise towards Giles. The room around her, the shocked faces on the younger slayers, the blood now pouring from Edward’s nose – all faded to grey as the world narrowed to that one hand. Desperately she lashed out with the only thing she’d picked up…
And suddenly all was bright and present and Giles was there, alive and unharmed.
And Edward was there too - staring in disbelief and starting to scream at the bloody pumping stump where his hand had once been.
Faith looked down numbly at her hand, and saw the roman sword clasped firmly in it. “Holy shit,” was all she could mumble, “Doesn’t anybody put anything away here?”
For a moment longer there was shocked silence all round. Then Edward’s rising scream of agony started to fill the air, and everyone started moving once more - apart from Faith. She just stood there in the middle of the hall, stunned, looking at the sword in her hand.
“It’s a good sword,” Giles said softly, breaking into her thoughts.
She looked up at him, and let out a relieved sigh when she saw that he was all right. Just a little spot of blood showing on his neck. Behind him, she could see Jenny and Helen attending to Edward, attempting to bandage his wrist and stem the flow of blood. And even closer, Kylie picking up the detached hand, still with the Dagger in it, and with an half nauseated half awed expression on her face.
But all she had time for was the proud look on Giles’s face. “I knew you could do it,” he said softly, “I had faith in you. Thank you.”
Faith stared at him numbly for a moment, before breaking out into a fierce, dazzling smile. “Told you, Giles,” she laughingly smiled up at him. “No-one
lays a hand on you when I’m around.”