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They’d gotten on the road as soon as they’d woken up, showered and had breakfast. It was still later than Dean wanted, but considering how long they’d gone without sleep since leaving Cleveland, it was a wonder they hadn’t slept more than seven hours. Faith almost never slept that long. She usually only needed three or four hours, tops. Somehow, for the first time in weeks, she’d had an undisturbed night of sleep, and her body hadn’t roused her until she’d needed to pee. Before she’d returned, her phone had begun to ring, and Dean, not even awake, had roused just enough to answer it.
“Hello,” Dean had said, his voice husky with sleep.
“What are you doing in her room?” Robin had demanded in a loud voice.
“Oh crap,” said Dean, realizing his goof. “Faith, it’s for you. It’s the ball and chain.”
“Mornin’ Robin,” Faith said. “How’s it hangin’ in Cleveland?”
“What’s going on, Faith?” Robin’s raw voice sounded more hurt than angry.
“Nothing,” she said. “Absolutely nothing.”
“Why is he in your room?”
“’Cause this town’s weird as shit and we were attacked by shapeshifters on our way into town. I wasn’t letting him out of my sight.”
“Shapeshifters?” Robin’s inner watcher was immediately interested. He wasn’t completely mollified, but she had succeeded in deflecting the inquisition. “You do remember how to make them shift, right?”
“Yeah, of course,” said Faith. “But I have to touch them for that and I don’t know if that works with these anyway… Look, it was just safer for us to stay together. We still don’t know what’s going on with Pop Winchester. Bobby got a call from Lincoln, but by the time they got there, he was gone and the trail led here. By the time we got here, the hunters were gone too… and we don’t know if we were talking to them, or to something that sounded like them.”
“Well, I can see what I can come up with to help you figure it out on this side, if you want,” said Robin.
“That would be a good idea,” said Faith. “We’ve got books, but we don’t really have the full library, you know?”
“So, you’ll check in later?”
“I’ll try. I think maybe tomorrow’s a better idea. Who knows what we’re gonna find when we get to the next town. I just have a feeling we’re gonna be in for a big ass fight…”
“You’ll be careful?” asked Robin, trying hard not to ask about or even think about their sleeping arrangements.
“You know me,” Faith said.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” said Robin.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of a few shape shifting creeps.”
“Don’t underestimate them, Faith. There’s a lot of different kinds. Some of them are pretty strong…”
“These weren’t that strong, but they’re still nasty and they want to kills us. By the way… they have orange blood. We haven’t dealt with those before and neither has Dean, so anything you can tell us...”
“OK, I’ll get with Andrew and we’ll try to figure out the best way to kill them.”
“Oh, beheading works fine… It’s just… I don’t know how many of them are in this town or what they’re up to. That’s why we’re getting the fuck out of dodge as soon as Dean gets his stuff together.”
“Aren’t you gonna try to rid the town of them?” asked Robin, surprise taking his mind off his concerns about Dean.
“Yeah, I was gonna call… Look, could you call Buffy and have her to send a team up here?” Faith gave him the name of the town. “I think they’re gonna need a witch for this. I’m thinkin’ we need to keep following the trail for Dean’s pop before it goes cold. I get the feeling he was onto something. If he was onto something, I wanna know what it was.”
“I’ll let her know. Faith…” said Robin.
“I’ll be careful, Robs,” said Faith, reacting to the tone in his voice. “You take care, OK?”
“I have a house full of Amazons to protect me, what do you think’s gonna happen?”
“Don’t go jinxing yourself,” said Faith.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” said Robin.
“I’ll do my best,” said Faith.
They made it through three more towns before they caught up with Bobby.
“Bobby,” said Dean, sitting in the booth next to Bobby.
“Took you long enough,” said Bobby.
“We ran into shapeshifters,” said Faith.
“You brought a girl with you?” Bobby had finally looked up from his dinner.
“This is Faith,” said Dean. “She’s tougher than you are.”
“She’s a hunter?” Bobby looked her up and down critically and Faith gave him a grin that was part leer, part mocking.
“She’s a slayer,” said Dean.
“The slayer’s stationed at the Hellmouth,” said Bobby. “Pull the other one.”
“She’s the real deal, Bobby. She’s already saved my life a couple of times.”
“What have you been getting yourself into?”
“Hey, what’s your problem?” demanded Faith. “Does he always got a bug up his ass.”
“He’s got no business bringing strangers into this,” said Bobby. “You’re just gonna get hurt.”
“Gimmie your hand,” said Faith roughly, laying hers on the table.
“No,” said Bobby.
Faith took his hand anyway. Bobby, predictably, tried to pull it back. He couldn’t move.
“What the fuck?” he looked at her, alarmed.
“Like I said,” said Dean.
“Are you sure she’s not some kind of demon?”
“The boy’s not stupid,” said Faith. “Apparently, you are. I came here to help. If you don’t want my help, I can always go back to Cleveland.”
“Ignore him, Faith,” said Dean.
“Maybe you should,” said Bobby. “If you’re really from Cleveland.”
“I stayed at the slayer house in Cleveland,” said Dean. “It’s real. Faith’s the real deal…”
“If she’s really a slayer, then where’s her watcher?”
Dean didn’t know the answer to that question because he didn’t really know anything about watchers.
“If she was a real slayer, she’d have a watcher and he wouldn’t let her leave the hellmouth alone unless there was something big somewhere else and he wouldn't send her off alone.”
“Where do you get your information, man?” said Faith. “From the dark ages history book?”
Faith had assumed that Bobby would know something more about slayers than Dean had. Apparently, his information was very out of date.
“Is Wood your watcher?” asked Dean.
“He wishes,” said Faith. “No, I’m in charge of the house. He’s the senior researcher. His mother’s watcher trained him…”
“His mother was the slayer?” asked Bobby.
“What does he mean, ‘the’ slayer?” asked Dean.
“Until last spring there was only one slayer… well, there were two, but that was kind of an accident…” said Faith.
“There can’t be two slayers,” said Bobby. “The new slayer gets her power when the old one dies. That’s the only way…”
“Is this true?” asked Dean, looking back and forth from both of them in confusion.
“That was then,” said Faith, reaching across the table and pulling Bobby up effortlessly. “This is now.”
Dean jumped up and was about to come to Bobby’s defense.
“Do you trust me, Dean?” she asked, without letting go of Bobby.
“I—yeah, I trust you,” said Dean.
“Then let me deal with this,” said Faith, dragging Bobby out of his seat one handed as Dean scrambled out of the way. She paused, took an assessing look at his leftover food, and pulled a twenty from her pocket with her free hand and dropped it on the table.
“You and I need to talk,” Faith said, beginning to steer Bobby toward the exit.
“I’m not going any where with you,” said Bobby, trying to plant his feet and failing.
“Actually, you are,” said Faith, who, at this point was very angry. “Even if I have to carry you.”
“Faith,” said Dean.
“No, he’s being an ass. If he needs proof, I’ll show him exactly what a slayer is,” said Faith.
“Just because you’re strong doesn’t mean anything, demon,” said Bobby.
“I’ve been called worse,” said Faith. Faith didn’t know why she was so angry. Something about this man really set her off.
“What’s worse?” asked Bobby.
“Murderer,” said Faith.
They were by the door at this point, and Bobby tried to twist away from Faith, whose hand grip tightened from firm to painful. That was when Faith noticed something. Just how warm Bobby felt through his denim jacket. Too warm.
“Your friend Bobby,” said Faith quietly as they passed patrons coming in the door. “He’s human, right?”
“Yeah, of course,” said Dean, confused. “What do you…”
“He’s not,” said Faith. “Are you?”
“Fuck you, bitch,” said a voice that suddenly sounded nothing like Bobby.
“Bobby?” Dean was stunned when Faith nicked the man’s cheek with her knife. The small trickle of blood that flowed from the cut was bright orange.
“Not exactly,” said Faith. “I think he’s some kind of perception distorter too. He was doing something to my temper and making me feel way antsy... But I think he had to have made contact with Bobby… he was too much like him for you to tell, right?”
“Yeah, Bobby’s kind of paranoid,” said Dean.
“I am not paranoid,” said Bobby’s voice, behind them, “Just careful.”
Dean looked from one Bobby to the other.
“He looked like John when I fought with him,” said Bobby. “I was trying to question him when he got away.”
“Well, he was just sitting in the restaurant, having dinner when we came in.”
“The restaurant?” Bobby rolled his eyes.
“Not where you usually look for demons?” asked Faith, grinning. “So, what did you want to ask him?”
“What he’d done with John,” said Bobby.
“Well, I’m not letting him get away,” said Faith. “You got somewhere we can take this?”
“Are you sure you don’t need help? He’s pretty strong,” said Bobby.
“I’m good,” said Faith, “Besides, he knows, he fucks with me, I’ll kill him and I’ll make sure it hurts.”
The demon gasped.
Bobby and half a dozen other hunters had holed up at a derelict farm on the edge of town. The demon was now seated tied up inside a circle with what looked like a pentagram to Faith. He still looked exactly like Bobby Singer, except, now where the blood had run down his cheek, his skin was a weird marbled greenish color.
“So where’s John Winchester,” demanded Bobby.
“I’m not tellin’ you anything,” said the demon.
“Let me see… what should I start with?” asked Faith conversationally. “I don’t have the full shebang… You know the five torture groups right? Sharp, blunt, hot, cold and loud?”
The demon stared at her. She smiled.
“Guess I’m gonna have to improvise. She rummaged around under the kitchen sink, coming back with a container that said ‘drain opener’ and a can of bug spray. “Looks like I’m gonna have to add a couple more… Chemical… and poison… naah.. that’s just one category, right? Eh, guess it doesn’t matter. Whatever does the job, right?”
Now the creature was beginning to look afraid. Faith hadn’t touched him. She took a lighter from her pocket and lit the bug spray, so it flared with flame.
“Guess I’m gonna have to start with hot,” said Faith pleasantly.
“Which parts do you like the best?” she ripped his shirt down the front, exposing his bare flesh. “Maybe we can find out if you’re anatomically correct.”
She waved the fire in front of him, but didn’t actually burn him. The bug spray sputtered out and Faith kicked him in the nuts instead. He screamed.
“Apparently, you’re all there… at least you were,” said Faith.
The chair broke beneath him, dumping him on the floor and loosening his bonds. He tried to scramble away from her, but he was stopped by the circle.
“Don’t run away when I’m talkin’ to you,” Faith said, picking him up and dropping him back in the center of the circle, making sure not to step on the chalk marks. “Where’s John Winchester?”
“He’s gone,” said the demon.
“Gone, as in you killed him, or gone as in left town?” asked Faith, grabbing him by the ear and twisting hard.
“Why should I tell you anything? You’re gonna kill me anyway.”
“I can kill you fast, or I can kill you very slowly. Which one do you think I’m in the mood for right now?”
“He left town… the others… he’s gone after the others. He thinks he’s after the yellow eyed demon.”
“Crap,” said Bobby.
“That some Ahab deal?” asked Faith.
“Yeah,” said Bobby. “It killed his wife.”
“Shit,” said Faith. “So, what do you guys want with him?”
The demon stared at her.
“OK, hot it is,” said Faith, forcing herself to relight the can. She’d burn the demon if she had to, but torture felt too much like a part of her she really didn’t want to reclaim. Hitting was one thing, but the rest… made her sick inside.
“Revenge,” said the demon.
A drop of water fell from a pipe above unnoticed by Faith or the others. The demon, however, did notice and scrambled back and to his feet, intending to make a run for it. Suddenly, he was fighting with all he had, and for some reason he seemed extremely strong. Faith didn’t understand it until the creature shifted and suddenly she was fighting a mirror image of herself.
“Well, that can’t be good,” said Faith, who suddenly was in the fight of her life with herself.
It was reminiscent of her fight with Buffy and Faith knew she had to end it soon or the demon would either kill her or escape… or possibly both. Then there was the sound of a shotgun and the creature screeched. That was all it took. Faith snapped its neck. She rummaged in its pockets, and found a duplicate of her wallet and several crumpled bills. Then she beheaded it and it turned into a viscous orange puddle.
“Wow, it duplicates everything,” said Dean.
“Yeah, it's like trying to fight yourself blind fold with one hand tied behind your back,” said Bobby.
“It was almost as strong as me,” said Faith. “It didn’t just get my appearance. It was me.”
“How did you know it wasn’t really me?”
“Guess it’s slayer thing,” said Faith.
“You’re the slayer?” asked Bobby. “I thought she was a little blonde thing.”
“No wonder the demon didn’t think I was the slayer,” said Faith. “You’re info’s a little out of date.”
“Apparently,” said Bobby.
“I’m Faith,” she said. “I’m a vampire slayer.”
“There’s a whole bunch of them,” said Dean.
“That’s impossible,” said Bobby.
“Can we save the déjà vu ‘til after I get somethin’ to eat. That fight made me wicked hungry.”
Faith and Dean were sharing a room again. It just seemed like a good idea given the circumstances. After everyone else had been introduced and their human status had been verified, they’d all decided to try to keep at least one other pair of eyes on everyone at all times. Since most of them knew each other, it wasn’t an issue. People assumed Dean and Faith were an item, and they didn’t try to explain. Only Bobby and Gideon knew Faith was a slayer, though Faith had a feeling that wouldn’t last.
Apparently, fighting oneself was tiring because Faith passed out almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. Dean was finally drifting off after an hour of lying in the dark, thinking dark thoughts.
“Oh, god, Wes, I killed you… I didn’t want to kill you. I’m sorry I killed you,” muttered Faith, “No. I’m not her. You have to believe me. I’m not her… You don’t have to. No…”
Dean couldn’t wake her up.
“Please don’t. I’m bad. I’m bad—”
Now it seemed, his shaking her was making her dream about being punished.“I'm bad, I'm bad. Please Angel, do it. Just kill me. Please, Angel…”
she sobbed and whimpered, still asleep.
“Faith!” he tried to squeeze instead of shaking her. “Faith, wake up!”
“Oh god, Robin… please don’t die,” said Faith. “I didn’t mean it…”
“Faith!” Dean wrapped his arms around her and held her as she struggled and writhed in her inner torment. He could barely hold onto her. Her arm lashed out, fortunately, not at him, knocking the lamp off the night table, and shattering it.
“What the fuck?” she sat up in bed, immediately wide awake. Her knife was in her hand.
“You were having a nightmare,” said Dean. He jumped off her bed, going over to other side of his bed and turning his own light on.
“Oh,” said Faith, fighting back tears as the images played in her head even though she was now wide awake. She reached for her bag, pulling out the flask, and draining the contents.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Faith.
“Did you kill him?”
“No,” said Faith. “No, I didn’t kill him.”
“I… wasn’t… I wasn’t a very nice person then,” said Faith. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“You killed someone?”
“Yeah,” said Faith. “I killed people.”
“People?” asked Dean. “Then how…”
Suddenly, something she’d said about death looking painful made a very uncomfortable kind of sense.
“Got a presidential pardon,” said Faith.
“Yeah,” said Faith. “I broke out of jail, helped save the world. Giles got me a pardon.”
"My boss," said Faith.
“He’s my friend,” said Faith.
“You asked him to kill you?”
“Not really big with the confessional shit, Dean,” said Faith.
“Sorry, but I gotta know who’s watchin’ my back. You’re a whole heap of dangerous and it seems like you’re gonna be with me for the foreseeable… I gotta know what I’m dealin’ with. Either that or you can go back to Cleveland.”
“Maybe I should,” said Faith, crossing her arms and looking forlorn.
“Are you plannin’ on hurtin’ me?”
“Not unless you don’t shut the fuck up,” said Faith irritably.
“What will you do if I don’t?” he asked, challengingly.
“I’m not gonna stab you in the back, Dean. Only reason I’m here is ‘cause I got the feeling you needed me. So far, it seems like I was right.”
“Only reason you’re here is ‘cause you’re runnin’ away from home,” said Dean. “Don’t bother denying it. You’re just like my little brother. Anytime he was scared or angry he ran away.”
“Is that what you think he did? You don’t think maybe he just wanted a normal life?”
“Like you said, this life? It doesn’t let go. He’s foolin’ himself,” said Dean.
“Yeah, well, maybe he got tired,” said Faith. “It gets old watching people you care about get hurt and die.”
“You know something about that?” he asked.
“I’m not tellin’ you the story of my life, but yeah, I know something about that,” said Faith wearily.
“Why’d you leave Robin?” asked Dean quietly.
“He wanted to get married,” said Faith.