The order of the evening was recon, this time with less of the wandering around looking like paying customers and more of the picking locks and peeking in windows. The three of them stayed in a loose group, checking out trailers that were next to one another so they never got too far apart. Shapeshifters were tricky bastards, Dean had insisted, and if they took their eyes off each other for more than a minute, the shifter would replace one of them and then they were screwed.
They’d been through most of the trailers and it was getting close to closing time when they finally got lucky. Sam had knocked over a lamp in a trailer and bent to pick it up when something caught his eye. He reached out and grabbed the shiny yellow material and pulled it from the box.
“Dean! Faith!” he called out and they stepped inside the doorway to see him holding up the yellow satin jumpsuit with big red pom poms and a colorful neck ruff.
“Jesus, that’s the clown suit from that movie, the Stephen King flick, with Tim Curry,” Dean said.
“You mean It?” Faith said, her brow furrowed.
“You’re right, it’s a Pennywise costume,” Sam agreed. “Our shifter must model himself after the movie character when he’s in clown form.”
“Great, wonder if he includes the razor sharp teeth with the costume,” Faith muttered.
“Whose trailer is this, anyway?” Dean asked.
“James Kessler,” Sam said. “He runs the funhouse.”
“Great, clowns and mirrors,” Dean said, as Sam shoved the costume back into the box and the three of them left the trailer.
“So what now?” Faith wondered, glancing around to make sure no one was watching them.
“We wait ‘till closing time and then we go into the funhouse and take him out,” Dean said.
“Should we call Clay and the others?” Sam asked and Faith bit her lip for a moment, then got out her cell phone and speed dialed Dawn.
“Dawnie, we got ‘em,” she said. “I need you to get my Dad, tell him and the boys to meet us at Fun Town.”
They surrounded the building, the Sons, the Winchesters and Faith and Dawn. Only five of them would go in, Dean, Sam, Faith, Clay and Jax. “The less people it can copy the better,” Dean had told them and the others had to agree. Everyone on the outside would be watching the exits, making sure their target didn’t get out of the building.
The fairway had shut down, the lights gone out, the music stopped and it was eerily silent and dark around the funhouse. They’d been watching for a half hour and hadn’t seen Kessler leave, so they were betting he was still inside. He probably knew they were there, waiting for him.
The five went in armed with knives, the highest silver content available in the metal. Pure silver would bend and break, but enough silver mixed with the steel during forging and it would still do the job.
They split off, Faith and Dean going one direction, Sam, Jax and Clay going the other, closing the door behind them. They’d only been inside for a few minutes when the strobe lights and theme music came on and Dean cursed, soundly. Faith blinked, slowly, trying to focus, but the swirling world of flashing white light and mirrors that appeared to be moving had her head spinning. Looking around, she spotted a flash of yellow and her eyes narrowed.
“Dean, it’s here,” she said, quietly and she felt him tense beside her. “In the clown costume, somewhere in the mirrors.”
“Great,” he muttered. “Just what I always wanted, to get gutted by the very clown that made clowns creepy in the first place.”
A loud, maniacal giggle sounded around them and Faith was pretty sure it wasn’t part of the sound effects from the funhouse. Something brushed by her and she spun around, but only saw herself in bright flashes in the mirrors. She reached back to grab Dean’s jacket, something to steady herself with, but instead of cool leather, she found flimsy silk.
“Shit,” she said, turning, slowly, knowing what she was going to find. The yellow suit gleamed in the strobe lights, the red pom poms down the front jiggling in a ridiculous way that was somehow still scary. That painted red mouth was grinning at her and the eyes that looked down at her were gleaming like mercury. Her hand tightened around the hilt of the knife and her eyes flicked to the floor, where Dean lay in an unconscious heap, blood oozing from his temple. She looked back up at Pennywise just in time to see the baseball bat coming toward her head.
Faith woke in the dark, her head pounding. She raised a hand and touched her forehead, unsurprised to feel the sticky warmth of blood in her hair. She got to her feet, her hand on the cool surface of a mirror to get her balance. The strobes were still flashing and the music still playing and she was betting she hadn’t been out very long.
Long enough, though, to get separated from Dean. She was in a different part of the mirror maze and he was nowhere to be seen. Faith had to wonder why she was still breathing, why Pennywise had dragged her off by herself and she could only presume that he wasn’t done playing with them yet.
The flashing lights were playing havoc with her now aching head and she closed her eyes, listening. She heard Dean, somewhere beyond the mirrors, calling her name. He sounded pissed. Vaguely, she thought she could hear Sam yelling for Dean. No doubt he could hear his brother trying to find Faith. Opening her eyes with a frustrated sigh, Faith put her hand on the mirror and started walking, not even realizing she was leaving smeared fingerprints of blood from her head on the glass.
Clay had run ahead of Sam and Jax when he heard Dean calling for Faith. Obviously, they’d been separated and that meant she was in here somewhere, alone with a monster. It didn’t matter that she was the Slayer, that she had super strength and speed and skills he could only imagine. She was his family and he had to get to her.
The flashing light illuminated the mirrors in front of him and the smear of red caught his eye. He blinked, waiting for the light again. Sure enough, there it was, blood on the mirror, fingerprints, too small to be a man’s. That left Faith. Clay’s heart beat faster and he slowly crept along the corridor, following the trail of blood to find his daughter.
Faith felt light headed, either from blood loss or the blow to her head. It didn’t matter which, not really, the result would be the same. She was eventually going to lose consciousness and that would be bad. Lying in a fun house at the mercy of a psychotic shape changing clown was not how she wanted to go out.
She put her back to the mirror and shut her eyes for a moment, breathing deep and trying to steady herself. When she opened them, her knees nearly buckled in relief. Clay was standing on the other side of the room of mirrors, arms crossed over his chest, watching her.
“Dad,” she said, pushing away from the mirror and taking a step toward him. “Have you seen it?”
“All I see is you, Faith,” he told her and the tone of his voice made her pause. He slid his knife out of the sheath at his belt and started moving slowly toward her.
“What are you doing?” she asked, going still. Something was wrong, very wrong.
“What I should have done a long time ago. See, this way there won’t be any questions. The damn shapeshifter killed you and I couldn’t stop him,” he said and something inside her clenched.
“You’re not Clay,” she said, levelly, drawing her own knife.
“You so sure about that darlin’?” he asked and her hand tightened on the knife.
“I’m sure,” she said, but her voice was unsteady. Was she really sure? Hadn’t she been expecting them to turn their backs on her this whole time? Clay was smart, though, he’d never turn his back on anyone dangerous. He’d kill them instead, make sure they wouldn’t be able to come back. It made a sick sort of sense.
“No, I don’t think you are,” he told her. “If you were, you’d have already stuck that knife it me. Part of you knows you deserve this, that’s why you haven’t attacked me yet, isn’t it, Faith?”
“You’re not my father,” she told him, but her voice lacked conviction.
“Sure I am, baby, and that’s why it’s my responsibility to kill you and make sure you can never hurt anyone ever again,” he said and the fist around her heart tightened it’s grip to the point where she was having trouble breathing. Her instincts were telling her to drive her blade into his heart, to fight, survive, win, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. He was her father. What if he was right? What if she deserved this?
She blinked, horrified to feel the sting of tears on the back of her eyes and her fingers went slack around the hilt of her knife as he approached. He reached for her, as if to touch her face and she flinched, but didn’t pull away. His fingers touched her cheek and then his eyes flew wide and something warm sprayed across her face as the tip of a silver blade exploded through his chest. She gasped, tasting the salty tang of blood and Clay crumpled to the ground to reveal Clay standing behind him, blood running in rivulets down his arms as he yanked the blade free of the falling body.
“Faith? You okay, darlin’?” he asked. She blinked, meeting his eyes finally.
“Five by five,” she said and then the black rolled in around the edges of her vision. The last thing she knew Clay was dropping his knife and lunging to catch her.
Faith woke up fighting, her fingers grasping a knife that was no longer there and slashing out with a sharp cry. Dawn avoided her fist, ducking and grabbing her wrists.
Her voice made the Slayer pause and Faith blinked, coming fully awake and finally seeing Dawn in front of her.
“Hey,” she said, breathless, blinking and Dawn had to smile.
“Hi. How you feeling?”
“Like an incredibly stupid wimp,” Faith said. “With a headache,” she added, after a moment.
“That was a hell of a hit. It took several stitches to close it, so I think it’s safe to say you’re not a wimp. Us mere humans would probably still be out,” Dawn said with a smile.
Faith raised her fingers to her temple, feeling the bumps of the stitches gingerly.
“They’ll come out in a day or two with your Slayer healing. Probably won’t even scar,” Dawn told her and Faith sat up, looking around her. She was in a bedroom she’d never seen before. Her bag was in the corner, next to Dean’s battered duffel, so that was once question she didn’t have to ask. Dean and Sam hadn’t left.
“Where are we?”
“Clay and Gemma’s house. This is the guest room,” Dawn said, watching as Faith put her feet on the floor and slowly stood up, making sure she was able to keep her balance.
“Why? What happened to the clubhouse?” she wanted to know, taking a few experimental steps across the room.
“Your dad wanted to keep you close,” Dawn said, not for the first time envying the Slayer’s ability to recover. Faith had found her balance and was moving around as if she hadn’t had her head split open less than 24 hours ago.
“He did, huh?” Faith mumbled.
“Faith, what happened in there? Clay wouldn’t tell us anything except the shifter was dead.”
Faith sighed and looked at Dawn. If there was anyone who deserved to know the truth, it was Dawn. So she told her, speaking softly and slowly and when she was done, staring at the horror in her friend’s eyes, she swore to herself that she’d never repeat the story again, not to anyone.
Clay took a drink of coffee, his elbows propped on the table, staring at the wall across the dining room. He could hear Gemma on the patio, talking to Sam and Dean and Jax. The boys were drinking beer, Gemma a mixed drink, relaxing now that Dawn had assured them that Faith would be fine, but somehow, Clay didn’t feel like drinking. He was lost in his own thoughts. He’d listened to that monster speak, using his voice to hurt his daughter. He’d known her fears, that she was afraid of his rejection for her past, but he hadn’t had any idea that it went so deep. She had just stood there, waiting for him to kill her, as if she deserved it. It struck something inside him, scared the hell out of him and made him infinitely sad that she thought she was worth so little.
The sound of footsteps made him look up and there she was, walking into the kitchen, Dawn beside her. The stitches on her temple stood out, starkly against her still pale skin and the bruise that blossomed over her face was already turning that sickly green color that said it had done a few days worth of healing. Her eyes were clear though and she was walking on her own.
“How you feeling?” he asked as she pulled out a chair and sat beside him at the table.
“Five by five,” she said, smiling a little. Dawn was pouring them both a cup of coffee and set Faith’s on the table in front of her before taking her own cup out to the patio, leaving father and daughter alone.
“So,” Clay said.
“So,” she agreed, looking down at her cup as though it held all the answers to the universe.
“I don’t know how to fix this,” he finally said and she looked up, forehead crinkled in confusion.
“This stupid idea you’ve got that there’s anything in the world that could make me not want you,” he clarified and she blinked at his blunt words, speechless for once. He took a breath and let it out slowly before he continued.
“Look, I missed most of your life, Faith. That’s something we can’t change. But I don’t plan on missing another minute of it.”
She cleared her throat twice before she found her voice.
“You know, Dad, that when Dean and Sam go-“
“Yeah,” he interrupted, “I know. You’ll be going with them. You have a calling and people need your help. That doesn’t mean I won’t be in your life. I expect a phone call at least every other day, letting me know where you’re at and that you’re okay. You miss more than one call and I’m coming to find you,” he said, gruffly and she smiled a little.
“Yes sir,” she said, saluting, then wincing a little when her fingers brushed the bruise on her head.
“And I’m gonna have some words with those Winchester boys too,” he added and her eyes widened a little. “They better stick close and back you up. No more of this getting beat up by the bad guys,” he said and Faith laughed out loud.
“So it’s that time, huh?”
Faith looked up from shoving clothes into her bag to see Jax, standing in the doorway. She was in her old room at the clubhouse, gathering the few things that hadn’t been moved to Clay and Gemma’s when she got hurt. It had been a week since they killed the shapeshifter and there was no sign of the bruise left on Faith’s head.
“Yeah, it’s time to head out,” she agreed, zipping the bag shut and getting to her feet.
“But you’re coming back, soon,” he guessed and she smirked a little when she nodded.
“Yep. Dad’s orders. I gotta check in every other day and come home at least once every other month so he can see I’m still in one piece,” she said. “I think Dawn added something on about picture messaging her if we came across anything she might be interested in, but I’m not sure.”
Jax laughed and stepped forward, drawing her into a quick, tight hug and then releasing her and stepping back.
“We’ll miss you around here,” he said.
“Take care of Dawnie, Jax. She’s tough, but she’s human. You let anything happen to her and I’ll kick your ass,” she told him.
“I’ll keep an eye on her,” he promised her, “Scouts honor.”
“You were never a Scout, Jax.”
Each of the boys said their goodbyes in their own way, some gruff, some affectionate, some playfully, but all of them sincere.
“Kill a few monsters for me,” Tig said and Faith grinned.
“Promise, Tig. Maybe sometime you can come kill one yourself,” she said, surprised to find her eyes prickling with the threat of tears. She shoved the emotion back and stepped out of the clubhouse to find Dean, Sam, Gemma, Dawn and Clay waiting for her. She stepped into Gemma’s outstretched arms and hugged her tightly.
“Take care of our boys, Gemma,” she said, softly, for her stepmother’s ears alone.
“I always do, baby girl. We’ll all be waiting here when you get back,” Gemma promised, pulling back and smiling at her.
“You’re sure you don’t want to go with us?” Faith asked Dawn again. Their bags had been loaded into the Impala and Sam was already in the back seat, Dean standing in the open door on the driver’s side.
“I’m sure. I’ll be here when you come back home,” Dawn said with a smile and a glance at Jax.
“Home,” Faith said, quietly, then smiled a little. “Yeah.”
“Be careful out there and don’t forget to call, unless you want your dad and the boys tracking you down,” Dawn reminded her.
“Phone calls, got it, check,” Faith agreed. Dawn stepped forward and hugged her and Faith returned it, then turned to her dad, only to be drawn into a tight embrace. She hugged him back, breathing in the scent of leather and cigar smoke and smiling.
“Come home soon, darlin’,” he said, gruffly.
“You bet,” she promised.
“Faith, we gotta get on the road,” Dean called out and Faith pulled back. She gave her dad and Dawn a smile, then climbed into the car. Dean got behind the wheel and turned the key. The engine rumbled to life and Faith sighed, leaning back in her seat as Dean pulled out of the parking lot and guided the car onto the highway. Two lane blacktop that would carry them to the next job and the next and then, eventually, would bring her back home.
~*~Well, there we are! Hope you all enjoyed and thanks again to my beta for all her help! I've posted the first chapter to the sequel, BTW, so if you're interested, you'll find it here: http://www.tthfanfic.org/story.php?no=22152