Why does she keep looking over my shoulder? thought Lex as Chloe once again glanced at something behind him. “So you were telling me about that giraffe you met on campus?”
“What?” asked the distracted Chloe. “Oh, yes. Very interesting.”
Lex sighed. “You haven’t been listening a word I’ve been saying.” It was a new and different experience for the millionaire playboy who usually had women hanging on his every word.
“Look at that waiter.”
Turning, Lex noticed the guy Chloe was talking about. He was tall, a little over six feet, with blond hair that had been carefully styled to make it look like it hadn’t. He was the kind of guy that some women might find attractive. “What about him?”
“Watch him as he walks past the bar.”
Lex dutifully continued to watch the waiter as he collected a tray of drinks and served them to a nearby table. There was something a little…off about the scene, but Lex couldn’t put his finger on what it was. Then it hit him. “That’s weird.”
Chloe nodded. “I’m not imagining it then? He really has no reflection in the mirror behind the bar.”
Lex shook his head as if trying to dislodge the knowledge of what he had seen. He knew that uncanny events occurred, hell, he lived in Smallville, centre of the uncanny. There were people who could walk through walls and people who could make you like them just by shaking your hand but someone who had no reflection? That was a whole new ballgame.
“Lex?” Chloe was looking at him intently. She didn’t seem nearly freaked out enough about this turn of events. He gazed back at her, lost for a moment in the shininess of her hair. “I have to make a call.”
Lex tried not to listen, he really did, but they were sitting at the same table in an intimate corner of Chez Pierre and it was almost impossible for him to hear what his date was saying.
“Faith?…You patrolling?…No, nothing like that…No! You don’t need to give Lex the shovel talk…” Chloe grimaced. She was so glad that Faith had already been on patrol and that Lois had been at the library when Lex came to pick her up. Faith had offered to give Lex the standard shovel talk, ie: ‘hurt my friend and I’ll beat you to death with a shovel’ and Lois had been…a little more creative. “Faith, will you listen?…There’s one here…Yes, I know it’s a crowded place but you’ve got to do something.” Chloe hung up the phone abruptly and looked at Lex.
“There’s one what here?” he asked, hoping desperately that she wouldn’t vocalise what he was thinking.
Chloe gazed at him steadily for a whole minute before replying. “Vampire,” she said simply.
Flipping her cell phone shut, Faith turned abruptly and began walking briskly towards the centre of the city. Then she paused and turned back towards campus. She pulled out her cell phone again as she headed for the library.
Lois looked up when the door to the study room slammed open. It was Faith, her hair still wet from the numerous showers she had taken that day in an attempt to get the vamp slime out of her hair.
“What’s up?” asked Lois, closing her notebook and gathering up her papers.
“Vamp crashed Sullie’s date. Want to go crash it too?”
Smiling, Lois pulled a stake out of her bag and put it in her jacket pocket. “So do we know what’s up with these slime vamps?” she asked as she followed the slayer down the stairs and out the front door.
Faith shrugged. “Watcherman is on it but it’s a weird one.” Lois quirked an eyebrow at her roommate. “Even for us,” Faith added.
Down in LA, Wes slammed down the phone. “Dammit!”
“What’s the matter?” asked Cordelia as she wandered past his office.
Wesley shook his head and started pulling books off the shelves. “It’s nothing.”
“Nothing?” asked the seer, settling herself into an armchair. Wes looked at her strangely for a moment, almost as if he were looking through her at the chair. He had that faraway look of someone who’s lost in a memory. “What happened on your research trip? You never told us.” Ignoring her, Wes began to open some of the books and look over his notes. “Wesley?” prompted Cordelia. When he didn’t answer she decided to lay her cards on the table. “I checked the company accounts. I know you went to Metropolis.”
Wes looked up. “My Slayer needed some assistance.”
Cordy’s eyes went wide. “Your Slayer?”
“My Slayer,” he confirmed before going back to his notes.
On the way to the restaurant, Faith and Lois worked out a plan of action. It required them to switch clothes and for Faith to put her hair up in a french twist. Lois looked her over briefly before they walked in. Chloe waved at her cousin and her friend. Lois walked over and joined Chloe and Lex at their table while Faith ensconced herself at the bar.
“What is she doing?” Chloe asked Lois. “And why is she wearing your clothes?”
Lois simply smiled and started making small talk with Lex.
At the bar, Faith’s slayer instincts kicked in and she quickly identified the vampire waiter. Chloe saw her talking to him. “What’s with the talking?” she hissed at Lois. “Shouldn’t she be with the slaying?”
Lois quirked an eyebrow at her young cousin. “You want that guy to explode into red slime all over this fancy restaurant?” Chloe shrugged. “Does he know?” she asked, indicating Lex.
“He knows enough,” replied Chloe, shifting uncomfortably in her seat.
“We switched clothes because mine show off the neck better. Faith intends to lure the guy outside and then stake him. You might notice she’s still wearing her own shoes.” Glancing at Faith again, Chloe saw that although the slayer was in Lois’s low cut top and knee length skirt she was still wearing her worn doc martens. Lois’s phone beeped. ‘Info uploading now’, was the message that came up. “Can I use my laptop in here?” she asked Lex, already pulling it out and hooking it up to her phone.
Lex shrugged. Cell phones were supposed to be banned in the restaurant but Lois was sitting with him, a Luthor and she could, as far as the restaurant staff were concerned, do whatever the hell she liked.
“Faith’s gone,” whispered Chloe.
Lois looked up. “So’s the vamp.” Suddenly, she slammed her computer shut and disconnected it. “I’ve got what we need. Let’s go.”
Out in the alley, Faith was getting up close and personal with the vampire, but not in the way he would have liked. Originally he’d suggested the pantry but Faith just couldn’t bear the thought of all that lovely food getting slimed. Waste not, want not, that was her motto. Of course, her current motto was more like: kill or be killed.
Faith had tackled him to the ground and was about to shove Mr Pointy through his heart when the back door of slammed open and Chloe, Lois and Lex came spilling out. In that moment she was distracted, the vampire managed to get the upper hand. He knocked the stake away and flipped her off him. He got up to run but he paused to run a hand through his hair and when he turned he found his path blocked by a tweed upholstered chair.
Giles the chair darted back and forth, keeping the vamp hemmed in until Faith could recover and catch up with him. Once again she pinned the vamp but found herself weaponless. The heads of her tomahawks had snapped off in an aragog demon in the park earlier that evening and she would have to come back and search for Mr Pointy later. Hmmm. Maybe she could twist the vamp’s head off? She started trying when someone tapped her on the shoulder. It was Giles and he was offering her one of his wooden legs.
“Oh no,” she protested. “I couldn’t.” He tapped her again and continued to hold the leg out to her. “Alright,” she conceded. “But I’m getting you a new one right away.” The vampire was looking at her then at the chair as if he wasn’t sure who was crazier, Faith or himself. Sighing, Faith snapped off the leg and saved the vamp from his dilemma by pushing it into his heart.
“Erggg!” That was Lex’s reaction to the vampire turning to red slime. Faith had the forethought to leap up just as she staked him so as not get Lois’s clothes covered in it.
“Heard from Wes?” Faith asked Lois as the four of them walked back towards the dorm. Lois nodded. “And…?” prompted Faith.
“And,” began Lois reluctantly. “You know how he said there was a best case scenario and a worst case scenario?” Faith nodded and motioned for Lois to continue. “It’s the worst case scenario.”
“What does that mean?” asked Lex. He seemed to be recovering well from his first confrontation with the supernatural.
“It means” said Faith, hefting Giles the chair – who she had insisted on carrying – “that it’s time to go hunting.”
Back in the dorm, Faith made Chloe promise to take care of Giles while she was gone and to have him repaired if she didn’t come back.
“What? Not come back?” The confusion and fear were evident on the teenager’s face.
Faith took the printout that Lois handed her and wrote a note for Wes in case of her demise. “I’ve told you guys about B, right?” Chloe and Lois both nodded. “She’s the best slayer that ever lived but she’s died twice.” Faith tried to hold back the tears and failed. “Two months ago facing a hellgod and four years ago facing a master vampire. The first time she came back. The second…not so much.” Faith was gone before anyone could react to her news.
Chloe looked at her cousin. “Lane!” Lois looked up, her face streaked with sympathetic tears. “What is she facing?”
Pulling out her laptop, Lois brought up the email from Wesley. Chloe read it carefully and then sat back on the couch. Lex put an arm around her and the three of them sat in silence. “Let’s just say she has a chance at coming back,” said Lois finally.
“Wes, what is she facing up there?” Angel was brooding again. He’d been better since his return from Nepal but the news that Faith was in serious trouble had dragged him down again. Wesley sighed and tossed a note to the souled vampire. It contained one word. ‘Leonidas’. Angel looked up from the note and then back down again. “Uncle Leon?”
Cordelia looked confused. “You have an uncle?”
Angel shook his head. “Not exactly. Leonidas was turned by the same vampire that turned Aurelius. Aurelius is my great great grandsire so Leon is kind of an uncle.”
“What’s the deal with this Leon?” asked Gunn.
Angel sighed. He really didn’t like digging into his family history but it seemed that he didn’t have a choice. “When he was human, Leonidas was king of Sparta. He suffered from what we would now call Raynaud's Phenomenon. It’s a disease that thickens your blood. It was killing him when he was turned and since then all his childer, when staked, slime instead of dust.”
“Eww, gross,” commented Cordelia. “Bet it’s murder to get out of your hair.” She paused thoughtfully. “But that doesn’t explain the haunting of the dorm.”
“I can explain that,” put in Wesley. “One of the vampires that Faith staked was dating a friend of hers. His demon had personal reasons for hanging around but that’s been dealt with.”
Cordelia frowned, as if trying to get her head around what she’d been told. “So Faith is facing a vampire that’s more than twice as old as the Master.” Angel nodded. “And the Master killed Buffy.”
Faith’s phone beeped as she ran out into the night. She flipped it open. There was a message from Wes. ‘Good luck my slayer’, was all it said. She ran on.
She was dressed in black from her beanie to her docs. It wouldn’t shield her from vampire night vision but it would stop anyone else from seeing her and she really didn’t want to get caught by the human authorities. The amount of weaponry she was carrying seriously violated her parole.
This vampire, this Leonidas, was older than Kakistos, the vampire that had killed Evelyn, her first watcher. He was older than the Master and he’d been a match for Buffy. The question was, where did Faith sit on the hierarchy? Sure, she’d eventually defeated Kakistos, but only with Buffy’s help. Would she have been up to facing the Master when she was only sixteen? What did she have now that Buffy didn’t have then?
“Dammit B,” Faith whispered fiercely into the darkness. “Why couldn’t we have switched? I would have dived off that tower for Miss Muffet and you could be here now hunting Leon.” She received no reply.
She was still jogging through the park when suddenly, she was tackled from behind. “Bloody minion,” Faith snorted as she dusted herself off. At least she’d turned to dust instead of slime. Must be getting close though, thought the dark slayer as she continued.
Lois had narrowed possible locations to a two block radius of an abandoned warehouse on the docks. Faith was going to start there and then work her way outward in a spiral search pattern. It turned out to be unnecessary. The nest was there in the warehouse. Even over the stench of salt water and rotting fish, Faith could smell it.
“Ah, Miss Faith. How good of you to join us.” The cultured accent greeted Faith as soon as she entered the building.
“Oh my god,” began the slayer. “Could you be any more of cliché? I mean really? Abandoned warehouse? Greeting straight out of the ‘Bad Guys Little Book of Cliches’. Or do you take classes?” While she spoke, Faith was removing a pair of kamas from a sheath on her back. The short wooden handles supported large curved blades. Wes had given them to her as a yay-I’m-a-watcher-again gift. “Now all we need is a hot blonde as your second in command slash lover.”
A tall blonde male vampire stepped out of the shadows. “That would be me,” he intoned solemnly.
Faith didn’t even try to suppress her giggle reflex. “When I said slash, I didn’t mean SLASH! But whatever floats your boat.” She leapt forward and caught the vamp off guard, the kama blade sliced through his neck like a hot knife through a vamp’s neck. His body dissolved into goo as it hit the floor.
“I see I shall have to take care of this myself,” the cultured voice was accompanied by a short man with greying hair. The only impressive thing about him was the claymore he was wielding in one hand.
“Ever fought a slayer?” asked Faith as she prepared herself for the inevitable attack. Leonidas shook his head. “Oh,” continued the slayer, “you’re really missing out. It’s quite a rush.”
Without speaking, Leonidas moved forward and attacked. Faith parried his blows but was driven back into a wall. He made it look so easy. She was out of quips. Buffy would have known exactly what to say but Faith was lost and losing. “What’s the matter young lady?” asked Leonidas in an almost kind voice. He flicked his wrist, sending one of her kamas flying out of her hand. “You appear to have lost your little blade. Let me help you with that.” He struck again, disarming her entirely. “A Slayer alone. How typical.”
His blade began to fall and Faith began to think. She was about to die and another called. What would she miss about this life? Laughing with Lois and Chloe. Letters from Dawn. Training and…doing other things with Wes. Dreaming about Buffy. What did she have now that Buffy didn’t have at sixteen? Nothing. But she had something that had kept Buffy alive longer than any other Slayer. She had reason to live.
Clap! Faith caught the blade between her palms and flung it back at Leonidas, knocking him off balance. They exchanged blows for a moment before Faith disarmed the vampire and swept his feet out from under him. Mr Pointy finished the job. Instead of dusting or sliming, the corpse began to expand. Faith ran.
“MOLASSES EXPLOSION AT WAREHOUSE,” Lois read the headline in the Daily Planet. She turned to Faith, who was polishing her new sword, “Molasses?”
Faith just shrugged. “Well they couldn’t write, ‘Vampire Explosion at Warehouse’ could they?”
Lois laughed. A car horn sounded from outside. “Sullie!” yelled Lois.
“Yes?” replied Chloe from right behind her cousin.
Lois jumped but tried to cover it. “Your ride is here.” Faith grabbed Chloe’s luggage and all three girls headed outside where Lex was waiting by his Aston Martin Vanquish. “Bye Sullie,” said Lois, giving her cousin a hug. Faith hugged Chloe too, promising to email her any exciting patrol news.
“Oh Sullie!” called Lois as Chloe got into the car. Chloe turned to see her cousin waving a photo at her. “Now that you’ve got Lex, do you mind if I have a go at Clark? He looks cute.”
Chloe laughed. “I wish you good luck. You’ll need it.”
Faith smiled and waved as the car drove off. Year one of her new life had been a success. Classes started next week and she was more ready for life than she’d ever been.
At least, that’s what she thought.
“Faith? Faith?!” Lois had been woken once again by Faith screaming. She leapt down from the top bunk to lean over her friend. Faith was clawing at the air in front of her face as if she were digging herself out of her own grave.