Disclaimer: Buffy, Faith, and all their friends belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Jack, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c belong to MGM and the Sci-Fi channel. I'm just playing in other people's sandboxes. Don't sue me, hire me!
Author's note: Buffy season 4 and SG-1 season 3 run parallel, and I'm a stickler for those sorts of things, so here it is. Potential spoilers for all episodes, especially the later ones in the respective seasons.
Chapter One: Rude Awakening
The first thing I was aware of was the beeping of machines, and the next was the sharp smell of antiseptics and pain. I was in the hospital. Fuck. I had no idea how long it had been, but when I took a deep breath, my stomach hardly hurt at all, which meant I'd been here long enough for a huge gut wound to heal completely. I needed to get out, find out what was happening, find some gear so I could skip town wicked quick if I had to. I yanked the needles and tubes out of me with a grunt of pain, then levered myself up out of the bed.
Right. Stupid hospital gowns leave your ass hanging out. OK, find someone I can get some clothes from. I staggered to the door, and paused, listening. No immediate activity. I eased the door open, and peeked out. Nobody around. There were windows, though, and it looked like nighttime, which probably explained the lack of people. Unless the Mayor had done that blot-out-the-sun thing he was talking about. No, if he was still in charge, I woulda been in a much nicer room, maybe even at his place with a private nurse. Granted it would've been a demon nurse, but that was just the way Wilkins was. He cared- had cared about me, which was probably why I was in a hospital bed at all, instead of six feet down where B would've put me.
I leaned against the wall as I headed for the stairs, then leaned on the railing as I went. My body got more limber as I went, but I could tell it would take a little while to build my strength back up. I opened the door at the bottom half an inch, then froze, hearing two male voices, arguing.
“Damnit, Daniel, what the hell was that? I mean, weird enough that there was almost no one on the streets at ten o'clock at night, but those were not ordinary muggers.”
“Yes, Jack, I saw them bite her too. But the doctors know what they're doing, Carter will be fine. Just calm down.”
“That's another thing. These doctors seem to see this sort of attack all the time! They hardly even blinked when we brought her in, bleeding from the neck.”
“I would think you'd be grateful that they didn't ask too many questions.”
I debated myself for a minute, but the damn tourists were going to get themselves killed. I opened the door, eased myself out, and spoke, though with less strength than I expected. “Vampires. You ran into vampires. They're this town's dirty little secret.”
The younger guy made me think of Watchers. He was thin, with glasses and hair he obviously ran his hands through a lot, and a look on his face like he was about to solve some huge puzzle with the information I just gave him. The older one, though, was staring at me in shock.
The young guy nudged him. “Jack? You ok?”
Jack took one step towards me. “Theresa?”
I tensed, and felt for the doorknob behind me. “What?”
He froze, clearly trying not to scare me. “Do you know Theresa Lehane?”
My body went rigid in shock, the words barely escaping my lips. “She was my mother.”
His face crumpled in honest grief and sympathy. Part of me wanted to reject it, deny it, but my instincts screamed that I could trust him. He raised one hand, but dropped it again. “What happened?”
I scowled. “Liver failure. When I was fifteen.”
He made a face like he wanted to curse. “And your dad?”
I laughed without humor. “What dad? I had 'uncles'. Look, why the hell do you care? Who the hell are you?”
He searched for words, but before he found any I felt a wicked weird tingling, sort of like a vamp or demon, but not. I looked past these guys to see a huge black dude walking up. He held cups of coffee in both hands, and he held one out to Jack. “I could not find actual milk, O'Neill, but I put in extra sugar.” He caught sight of me, and nodded his head solemnly. “Good evening, miss.”
I laughed, a little hysterically, with the weird sense that this was all a coma dream. “You- you guys hang out with him, and you don't know about this town?” I turned to face the big dude, demon or whatever the hell he was. “You're telling me you don't know about the Hellmouth? HA! Ah! Ow, shit.” I grabbed at my scar, the muscles protesting, and stumbled. The older dude grabbed me before I could go down, and helped me over to the chairs along the wall. He helped me sit- usually I would have protested that I was fine, I could do it on my own, but this time I sure as hell couldn't- and sat next to me.
He put a hand awkwardly on my shoulder. “Just sit and rest for a second... you know, I don't know your name. Or, if you don't mind me asking, your age?”
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. “And again, why the hell do you care?”
The young guy came and crouched in front of me. “You'll have to excuse Jack, he's not so great with the diplomacy. Hi, I'm Daniel.” He smiled and held out a hand.
I eyed it for a second, still wigged by these people, but what the hell, they knew my last name. “Hi, Daniel, I'm Faith.” I shook his hand, and gave him a flirtatious look. I smirked to myself when he gave me another look, this time actually checking me out.
Daniel smiled again, this time apologetically. “I'm afraid it's rather important to my friend Jack here that we find out how old you are. I'm not usually one to ask that of a lady, but I know that look in his eyes, so if you would be so kind...”
I grinned. He was laying it on thick, but it was kind of nice. Then my mouth twisted as I realized I couldn't answer the question. “Well, actually... I'll need you to tell me the date first...”
He looked startled, but blurted it out. “February twenty-second. Er... two thousand. Why wouldn't you-” He shut his mouth, but I could see in his eyes that he was coming up with reasons, and not liking all of them.
I nodded. “Then I've been nineteen for two months. And I've been... not really with it for the past ten months.”
Jack's voice was soft, a little slow. “Faith... I think... I think I'm your father.”
“What?” All three of us said it, but I knocked my chair down, too, backing away from him. “What the hell is this? What kinda line is that to give someone? Who're you, Vader?”
He frowned, but it didn't seem like anger. “I promise you, I'm one of the good guys. And twenty years ago, I had leave in Boston, and I spend the whole three months with Theresa. She never told me about you, though, never even contacted me after that spring. Please believe, I would have been happy to know about you, we could have spent time together, you could have met-” He choked off, and Daniel moved to put a hand on his shoulder. Jack took a couple of deep breaths, and looked at me again. “I'd like to make it up to you, if I can. I'd.... like to get to know you, if you'll let me.”
Daniel looked uncertain. “Hold on. What was that you were saying about a dirty little secret? And what makes you think our friend Murray is unusual?”
I picked up my chair, set it upright, and leaned on the back. I wasn't quite ready to sit yet. “Look, you should really just leave Sunnydale while you can. This town isn't safe.”
Jack shook his head. “Can't do that. We're on as- I mean, we're here for work.”
I made the connection. “Hold on. On leave, on assignment... You're military? Oh, God, what does the military want with this town? Is Mr. Fake-Name there some sort of experimental super-soldier or something?” I lifted the chair half an inch off the ground, and began backing up slowly, preparing to fight my way out.
Daniel held up his hands. “Relax. Yes, Jack is with the Air Force, but I'm a civilian, an anthropologist. We heard some reports, and we... deal in unusual things, anyway, so our bosses had us come here. If you tell us what you can, we can all get out of here together, and figure out this you and Jack thing.”
I thought for a second. I did want to get out of the hospital, and if this Jack guy said he was my father and signed me out... “In this plan of yours, how soon do I get something to cover my ass? And do you feed me? They've had me on an IV drip.”
Jack looked concerned. “You don't have your own clothes?”
I shrugged. “I don't remember being brought in, but at best they were ripped and stained. I bet they threw them out. As far as I know, I've been in this thing ever since.” They were gearing up to ask questions, I could tell. I needed to head them off for a bit longer, at least. “Look, your friend, she probably just needed a transfusion, maybe some stitches. She should be coming out soon. Let's get out of here, go to a diner or something, I can tell you something about this town, you can tell me something about these reports you heard. And maybe something about tall dark and silent over there.”
Right on cue, a doctor came around the corner. “Is one of you O'Neill?” Jack nodded, and they walked off a little way. I listened in shamelessly, and I noticed Daniel was straining to hear, but 'Murray' only had his eyes closed to concentrate.
Jack was worried. “How is she, Doc?”
The doctor did that sympathetic voice they all know. “She'll be fine. The gangs around here have an odd custom of attacking with barbecue forks, so she did lose some blood, but we've given her a transfusion, so with a night of rest and a couple of good meals she should be fine.”
All three of the military guys relaxed, and Jack glanced back at me. “Great. We'd like to get her out of here as soon as possible. And I'd like to sign my daughter out also.”
The doc was confused. “Your daughter?”
Jack was playing causal for all he was worth. “Yeah, you know, her mom and I lost touch a few years back, and I only recently learned that Theresa passed, and I came to find Faith, and here she is with no pants, which is really a shame, but we have a lot to catch up with, so if we could just get that paperwork over with quickly...” He put his arm around the doc's shoulders and steered him back the way he'd come.
I blinked. “And that's it? He's just going to get me out of here? I might not even be his, I mean, my mom wasn't exactly a nun.”
Daniel chuckled. “Part of it is just Jack's impulsiveness, and his curiosity. He must really want to know what you know about all this. Partly it's that he hates hospitals, and he can see you do too.” He sobered. “And partly it's that he desperately wants to believe that you are his. If you are.... Well, you used to have a brother.”
I gripped the back of the chair hard as the room spun a little around me. I used to- I had always wanted a kid brother, or even a kid sister, someone to play with, someone to protect... This one I'd been too late to protect... “How did he die?” My voice came out hollow and distant, and I was a little surprised.
Daniel sighed. “He accidentally shot himself.” I drew in a shocked breath, snapping my head around to stare at him. His face was grim. “With Jack's service pistol.”
I huffed out half a laugh. “Well, he won't have to worry about me. I'm pretty fucked up, but I know how to handle myself. God, no wonder-”
The man himself came around the corner, followed by a young woman. “There she is. Faith, this girl is going to get you some clothes. Danny, would you go with them, get Faith to the car after? Murray, come with me? Someone needs to push the wheelchair while I fill out the damn forms.” He turned and headed back, obviously expecting his orders to be followed. Hell, at least I'd been claimed by someone with some power. That thought twisted in my stomach, and I was happy to follow the candy striper.
She turned out to be a chatterer. “So your dad seemed really sweet. He wanted you to have nice clothes, I told him we don't have a lot, but we could probably do something for you. Of course, he couldn't even tell me your bra size, guys can be so clueless, anyway, here's the closet with what we have, girl's stuff on the right, here's the cord for the light, we'll be right outside.” I stepped in, and she turned her chatter on Danny.
There actually turned out to be a decent selection, and if it was all second-hand, well, I'd definitely had worse. Bra and panties, socks, tight jeans, a shirt that was probably designed for someone just past puberty, let's see... Ah, shoes. No boots in my size, but sneakers were fine for now. It was less painful than I expected to bend, which meant my healing was stepping up, so that was good.
I opened the door and rescued Danny. “OK, I'm ready to go.”
He looked me up and down. “Was that all they had? Jack's going to complain about the size of that shirt.”
I grinned at him. “This is what I wear. He can deal.” I hooked my arm around his. “Now, where's the car? I need a burger.”
He sputtered a little, once again reminding me of a Watcher, but let himself be dragged towards the exit. I was doing my damnedest not to use Slayer strength, but I wanted very badly to be away from that hospital. Outside, Danny steered me over to a black SUV. Jack was fussing at the passenger's door, and 'Murray' was just turning away with the empty wheelchair. He nodded at us as he walked it back to the front door, and I caught a glimpse of the chick in the front seat. She was pale still, but looked more irritated with Jack than in pain. I grinned a little.
The irritation was in her voice too. “I'm fine, really, sir. I just want to know who the hell that was and why he attacked me. The doctor said something about gangs on PCP, but-” She caught sight of me, still holding on to Danny, and shut up fast. These people were clearly as used to keeping secrets as me and B were. After a second she found her voice. “Er... Daniel? Who's your friend?”
He looked down at me as if trying to figure that out too. “Sam, this is... Faith. I-” He turned pleading eyes on Jack. “I'm not sure...”
Jack waited a beat, his eyes sparkling, then took pity on him. “Faith, this is Samantha Carter. Sam, this is Faith. My daughter.”
She stared at him, then at me, and I knew the look in her eyes. Shit, she was in love with him, and thought I was going to fuck it up somehow. I had to play it cool. I started with a snort. “So he says. I've never met him before, but he got me out of there, the least I can do is tell y'all how to avoid getting attacked like that again.” I lifted my head and turned, but it was only 'Murray' coming up behind me.
He nodded at all of us. “O'Neill. I believe it is past time we all had a meal. Shall we?”
Jack nodded and went around to the driver's side, while 'Murray' opened the back door and held it for me. I grinned at him and got in, and he and Danny followed. Sam twisted around in her seat to glare first at Jack, then at me. “And where exactly did she come from? It seems an awfully big coincidence that she would just happen to be here...”
Jack sighed. “Believe me, Carter, she's just as much of a surprise to me. Her mom and I were involved, briefly, before I met Sara, but that was in Boston, and I never heard about Faith, here. But I'm a surprise to her, too, so you can stop being quite so suspicious.”
I didn't really mind, but I had to make a token protest. “Hey, 'she' is right here, thank you very much.” Eh, might as well reassure her too. “And I promise, I'm not runnin' a scam or anythin'. I was actually tryin' to get out a' there without anyone seein' me, but your boys here needed some advice.”
Danny was obviously frustrated. “Which you still haven't provided. You keep dropping these cryptic little hints, but you've hardly said anything! What on earth are you hiding?”
I smirked. “Who said it was something of the earth?” That caught their attention, but not terribly in a good way. Crap, were they cultists or something? Was I trapped in a car with people who had come from a different dimension or wanted to be immortal? Quick, distract! “Hey, is that a Denny's?”
Jack jerked the wheel so quickly the car nearly left the road, but he made it into the parking lot, and we all got out in tense silence. I could tell Jack wanted to help Sam when she wobbled, but just as obviously things weren't like that between them. They all flicked looks at 'Murray', but he shook his head very slightly. I wondered if he could feel things about me, the way I could about him. He didn't seem hostile, but with how tense they all were, I was pretty tense too.
We got a table and ordered without losing the tension, but as soon as the waitress left, Jack turned to me. “Alright, young lady, it's time for some answers.”
I snickered a little at him trying to pull the dad routine, but then I sighed. “Let's start out easy. Do any of you believe in the supernatural? Demons and magic and all that shit?”
They looked at each other, emotions passing back and forth between them too fast for me to read. 'Murray' turned to me. “The Gods are false, FaithO'Neill, and their powers merely advanced technology.”
Sam jumped and scowled a little when he called me that, and I shuddered. “Just Faith, please... What IS your name, anyway?”
Danny intervened. “You were still explaining. Are you saying you believe in magic? What does that have to do with Sam's attack?”
I grinned. “I've seen proof. And Sam?” I turned to her. “You were attacked by a vampire. It wanted to drink your blood. Welcome to Sunnydale.” They were mostly gaping at me, though Sam looked somewhat thoughtful. I sighed. “The town was built on something called the Boca del Inferno, the-” Danny chorused with me “-Mouth of Hell.” I nodded at him. “The Hellmouth. Demons congregate here. There are more vampires here than in most medium-sized cities. Hell, a year and a half ago I was hanging out with a werewolf. Your turn.” I turned to 'Murray' again. “Don't tell me you've never told them about all this.”
He smiled faintly. “I had no more idea of these creatures than my friends did.” He looked around, saw there was no one else nearby, and took off his cap. “My name is Teal'c, former First Prime to the false god Apophis, and I am not of this world either.” He had a wicked cool tat, the gold bright against his dark skin, but the way he said it, and the way he covered it up again so quickly, told me this was part of the story, and not something to discuss in a Denny's.
I grinned anyway. “So you're an alien then? Cool! Do you guys all work for Area 51 or the X-Files or something?”
Jack gave me an uneasy look. “Something like that. It's classified. You really shouldn't know as much as you do...”
I snorted. “I guessed. And everything I have to tell you is just as big a secret, but we don't usually-” could I get away without discussing the Mayor? “-get cool things like government backing and 'Eyes Only' classifications. Mostly what we get is pointy wooden things and sharp steel. Fortunately, it tends to work.”
Sam leaned in. “You keep saying 'we', 'I'. And you knew that Teal'c wasn't human. Are you?”
I smirked. “Well, you know I'm at least half human. Or at least I hope Jack here is as human as he looks.” I got serious, looked her in the eye. She was obviously the suspicious one, the one I would have to convince, though that seemed more about me than the vamps and demons. “The thing is, vamps are technically the top of the food chain, and they're stronger and faster than their prey.”
She touched the bandage on her neck. “Meaning humans.”
I grimaced and nodded. “So a protector of the people was created. A teenage girl, given the speed and the strength to fight the demons, the vampires and the forces of Darkness. The Slayer.” Wow, did I really just slide into Watcher mode for a second there? Hanging out with these people was doing a number on my head.
They were all staring at me by this point, in shock and horror, but Jack found his voice first. “And this is you? The Slayer? Someone is forcing you to-”
“No.” I could see the rant coming, and I was NOT interested. “I woke up one morning, and I had this. It's mystical, the power goes where it's gonna go, and no one knows why. Anyway, now I can't not Slay. It's in my blood. Besides, there are good points. My senses are sharper, I heal quicker...”
Jack made a face. “Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. You said you were 'out of it.' The doctor said you were in a coma. For ten months. And today you just get up and walk out of the hospital?”
I shrugged, but I was grinning. “Like I said, I heal. Anyone else, they wouldn't've survived the fall, and they sure as hell wouldn't've woken up from something like that. And before you ask-” I lifted my shirt. Hell, I wanted to see how bad it was too, and was pleased to see it wasn't really that bad. “-I was stabbed, and the last thing I remember is takin' that swan dive off the roof. Third story.” I saw the waitress coming, and pulled my shirt down quick.
We waited in silence as she put our food down, then Jack turned to Sam. “You're taking this awfully calmly. I expected you to want documentation and subjects to study and all sorts of sciencey stuff before even considering all this craziness.”
She smiled wryly at him. “I'd say the matched holes in my neck are proof enough for now, sir. And considering some of the things we've seen, it's not that far-fetched.”
I mostly ignored them, concentrating on the glorious fatty goodness of the bacon cheeseburger in my hands. I ate the first half in four huge bites, and Danny chuckled. “Yeah, Jack, I'd say she's yours. Just look at the way she's eating.”
I flipped him the finger as I swallowed. “Hey, no solid food for months, and all of that healing. Slayer metabolism needs the protein. Prob'ly gonna want ice cream, too, I think I broke some bones when I landed.” I went back to shoveling fries and burger in my mouth.
Jack looked upset. “You're so casual about all this. Doesn't it worry you that you nearly died?”
I smirked. “Operative word being 'nearly', pops. 's the closest anyone's come, and that was B, she's a special case. Oh, and whatever you're in town for, she's prob'ly the one to talk to.” I made a face. “Which means I should prob'ly go with, apologize, all that shit.”
Jack clearly made a few mental notes. “And this 'B'? Who is she, and why should we tell or ask her anything? Especially if she stabbed you?”
I stared into my Coke for a minute. “I pretty much dared her to. I was... in a bad place. You know, come to think of it, maybe I should let you guys go in first, ask your questions. Girl can hold a serious grudge, wouldn't want it to interfere with your thing. I mean, I don't really have to even see her, right?” I was mostly muttering to myself by the end of it, not wanting to think about the shit B would dredge up on me if she didn't like these guys. Should I warn them? She'd probably be hostile, and uncooperative... Come to think of it, why was I helping so much? I took another bite of burger, and remembered that at least they were feeding me. For that, I'd answer a few questions. Of course, I also wanted some answers of my own. “So, you never said. What brings you to the lovely downtown Hellmouth?”
Jack looked around, but we were still the only people in this part of the restaurant. Not like there are that many honest citizens going out to eat this late. “We can't tell you much. It's classified. But... We discovered that there are strange experiments going on here, but we only found out when the lead scientist was killed by something we haven't identified. Most of the records are sealed, so we came here to try to read them, and take over or shut down the project if we need to. I'm thinking you might be able to help us identify the killer.” He groaned, and covered his face with his hands. “I can't believe I just said all that to a nineteen-year-old civilian, never mind dragging my own kid into this!”
I snorted. “Sorry, pops, not exactly a civilian, and you didn't drag me.” I sighed. “Besides, you're going to have to bring in more civilians, cause Giles is the one who does the research, and if they're around, Red and Xan are prob'ly gonna wanna help one way or another.” I grinned. “But they keep the secrets too, so I wouldn't worry too much.” I made a face. “Do NOT want to talk to them, but I guess I have to. Screw it, I'll get ice cream later.” I stood and waited. They all looked at me blankly. “Can we go now? Before I lose my nerve again?”
Jack cleared his throat. “Daniel, would you take Faith out to the car, please? We'll get the check and the leftovers.”
Danny nodded and led me out. The others followed pretty soon, and I resisted all attempts to start a conversation, just gave the shortest directions I could get away with. I was hoping Giles hadn't moved or anything, but considering him, I was pretty confident... Jack parked where I told him, and as we got close, I could see Giles and B and a couple others through the window. I found my steps slowing, my angle changing so I could peek in the window, and drink in the sight of B, angry about something, gesturing as she paced.
I was so focused on the visual, it took a second for me to register what she was saying. “They said she just got up and walked out... Some guy signed her out, claimed to be her dad... She could be anywhere by now!”
Giles looked concerned. “She was signed out? Was it the Council?”
She gave him a disgusted look. “Would the Council be calling me if it was one of theirs? Even a rogue agent? No, he was apparently American, and he was there with some other people. It was all kind of vague, and that's not really the point, Giles, when she's out there, somewhere-”
“I don't get it.” I realized the guy was there when he started talking. He was one hot hunk of man-meat, but in a Midwestern, church-going way that meant he didn't know any good moves or anything. “Why're you so worried? This gal-” And probably not too bright, either.
B was kinda pissed at him, too. “That's the thing. She's not just a gal...”
Jack and his friends were looking at me, then at him, then at each other, and so I mustered a halfway decent smile. “This might get messy. I apologize in advance.” I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
B sounded suspicious. “That... couldn't be her? Could it?” The door jerked open, and she was standing there, staring.
I tried a grin. “Hey B. Long time no see. Miss me?” She started to glare.