Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Eric Kripke owns "Supernatural" and related characters; I own nothing. ~*~*~
“What are you running from, girl?” The question had startled Faith, who had been pointedly focused on the soda bottle in front of her, paid for the money she’d earned beating grown men at arm wrestling. Hell, being a Slayer had to have its perks somewhere, right? The only thing it had really brought her so far was a shit load of pain and grief, so she would take what she could get. Faith looked up and met the level gaze of the bar’s owner, a woman in her late thirties. Faith had been getting the impression that she had been watching her all night, studying her and shit like that.
“Who says somebody’s not running from me?” Faith asked, putting on the tough-girl act she had been using this entire trip to the Hellmouth. Most of the time--hell, in every case but her old Watcher’s--everybody bought it.
“Other than the fact that you look like you haven’t eaten a good meal or a good night’s sleep in a couple of days?” the woman asked, calling Faith’s bluff. “You keep glancing over at the door like you expect somebody to bursting in to wipe the floor with you at any second. Plus, your hand keeps itching towards where that knife of yours is stashed whenever somebody comes near you. Tell me how far off I am.”
“So what if I’m running?” Faith shot back after a moment’s pause. Damn. How had that woman been able to read her so damn quickly? “What’s it to you?”
“It’s my bar,” the woman replied, pulling up a chair and sitting across from Faith. “So, what’s chasing you? You’re a long way from Boston, if I got your accent right.”
Faith felt a cold pit form in her stomach. “I think it’s time for me to hit the road,” she began, starting to stand before the woman grabbed arm.
“Like hell you’re going,” the woman stated calmly. “You’re going to stay, get something to eat, and get a good night’s sleep. And you’re going to wait before somebody I trust is around to give you a ride to wherever it is you’re going. It’ll rest easier on me.” Faith didn’t know why, but she found herself sitting back down. “Can I get a name? I can’t keep calling you ‘girl.’”
“It’s Faith. Just Faith,” she answered, glowering at the woman. She didn’t know why the hell she was still here. She could easily take this woman, but something about her made Faith hesitant to do so. Something about her made Faith want to trust her, reminding her for some reason of Professor Di.
“Well, ‘Just Faith,’ there are cots in the back where you can put your bag, and a bathroom for you to use while I make dinner,” the woman said, gesturing with her head. Looking towards the back, she shouted, “Joanna Beth, stop pouting and come help me get dinner ready. We have a guest.”
Faith soon found herself seated with the woman--whose name she found out was Ellen Harvelle--and her daughter Jo, enjoying the first real meal she’d had in a good long time. Ellen didn’t ask much about Faith’s past in the presence of Jo, but as soon as Jo went back to her room to finish her homework, Ellen turned and looked at Faith with a serious look in her eyes.
“You never told me what you were running from,” she stated, dish towel flung over her shoulder.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Faith answered quietly. She didn’t know why, but for some reason, she didn’t want Ellen to think she was crazy or regret taking her in.
Faith paused for a moment and tried to figure out how much she should tell the woman. “Some guy in Boston killed the one person who looked out for me,” Faith finally answered. “So I attacked him and destroyed his hideout, making him wicked pissed. I had to leave town, but I’m sure he’s following me so he can finish the job. I have family out in California, so I’m heading there.” She hoped that Ellen wouldn’t pick up on the lie, but Faith was sure she did. Ellen seemed like a wicked smart lady, somebody who could put thing together real easy.
“Does this guy have a name?”
“Kakistos. I think he’s Greek or something,” Faith answered with a casual shrug. Something passed across Ellen’s face, but it was gone too fast for Faith to identify.
“It’s late,” Ellen said, suddenly changing the subject. “You should get some sleep before your ride shows up in the morning.” Faith frowned, but was quiet. She didn’t know what was up with Ellen’s sudden mood shift, but she wasn’t going to push it. Not while it was going good for her.
Later that night, as she was drifting off, Faith could’ve sworn she heard Ellen muttering something outside in Latin before the sound of sprinklers coming on lulled her to sleep.
The next morning, Faith found Ellen up and moving, and a strange man sitting at the table.
“Faith, this is Bobby,” Ellen said, nodding at the older man in the trucker hat. “He’ll take you to the bus stop, where you’ll get on to wherever you’re going. I’ll give you money for the ticket.”
“You don’t need to do that. I can make my own way...” Faith began before Ellen shook her head.
“I’ll feel better knowing you’re on a bus and not with some trucker,” Ellen stated firmly. “And that’s the end of this discussion.”
After a quiet breakfast, Faith grabbed her bag from the room she’d stayed in and walked back to the main room.
“Look, thanks for all this,” Faith said awkwardly, standing by the door. She really didn’t do good-byes. It wasn’t in her nature.
“Just take care of yourself, Faith,” Ellen answered. “And watch your back.” She took Faith’s hand and gave it a firm squeeze. Faith gave her a smile before walking outside to join Bobby in some clunker that looked like it wouldn’t last ten miles.
Later that day, while she was grabbing something from her bag, Faith found a wad of twenties tucked inside, along with a note: “You aren’t the only one who knows about what goes bump in the night. If you ever need help, just call.” At the bottom of the note, ten numbers were carefully written out. Faith felt her throat tighten and tears threaten. The last person--hell, the only person--who had done something for her like this was the Prof, and look where that had gotten her. Willing herself not to cry, Faith looked out the bus window at the landscape speeding by her and focused on getting to Sunnydale in one piece.
Months later, Faith found herself staring down at the piece of paper in her hand. She was surprised that she had kept it this long, since every time she came across it, she meant to toss it. Every time, she had thought, Hell, no. Why would I ever need this?
, and put it in the stack of things she was going to throw out. It always escaped getting trashed at the last minute, somehow finding its way back to the cluttered nightstand by Faith’s dingy motel bed.
Ellen Harvelle’s number stared back at her, the faded black writing stark against the crumpled piece of paper. Faith bit her lip and fingered it, trying to decide what to do. She didn’t trust B or her little crew to help her out of the mess she was in. They’d let it be known that she wasn’t really a part of them, and she was getting the impression that she never really would be, especially after what happened with Finch. She figured that it was just a matter of time before they turned her in or something, and she had no desire to go to jail for something that had been an honest mistake. Hell, even B hadn’t realized the guy wasn’t a vamp until the last second.
Before she would lose her nerve, Faith grabbed the phone and quickly punched the number written down. It rang once, twice, before the line was picked up on the other side.
“The Roadhouse, this is Ellen,” a welcomingly familiar voice on the other side. Faith closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Hello?”
“Ellen, it’s Faith,” she said, doing her best not to crush the phone from holding it too tightly.
“Faith, what happened? What’s wrong?” the other woman asked, her voice instantly changing to one full of concern.
“It’s... it’s complicated,” Faith began. “Just... I need your help.” The line was silent on the other side, and for a moment, Faith thought that Ellen had hung up on her and she was truly on her own for this. “Ellen?”
“Let me get some things settled here, and I’ll be on the road in about an hour,” Ellen answered. “Where are you now?”
“Sunnydale,” Faith answered, a wave of relief washing over her. “I’m in Sunnydale.”
“Give me a day. Just don’t do anything too stupid until I get there,”