Disclaimer: Faith belongs to Joss Whedon; Persely Snow belongs to Kathy Hepinstall.
Author notes: This takes place several months post “Chosen;” it is a crossover with the book The Absence of Nectar by Kathy Hepinstall.
One thing about having all those eager new Slayer kids from all around the world…it gave Faith a lot less grunt work to deal with. The problem with that was that she didn’t have any less to do- it was just that the dynamics of what she had to do had changed. As the Head Slayers of the new Slayer Headquarters in Cleveland, she and Buffy were the main ones in charge of training all the freshly called Slayers that Giles and Willow could round up and deliver at their feet, some six months after the collapse of Sunnydale and Buffy’s idea of sharing their Slayer powers.
Faith never would have thought she could stay put anywhere for six months, much less somewhere she had a steady job with a more than decent paycheck- a job that involved responsibility and considering other people’s well-being, no less. She definitely wouldn’t have though it possible for any of that to happen while she was also living under one roof, albeit a very large one, with Buffy and her gang.
But somehow it was happening, and she had to admit that most of the time it wasn’t bad at all. She and B had their moments, and sometimes she wanted to throw her hands in the air muttering swears under her breath and stalk out of the building to kill something, bed something, head to the nearest bar, or all three. And sometimes that was exactly what she did. But usually Faith kind of liked the way things were for her now. It wasn’t something she was used to, to have things expected of her, to have a job that involved not just keeping a handle on herself, but helping others do the same, helping others, period…to be respected. Not only by her Slayers, but sometimes, she was beginning to suspect, even by the others. Even by Buffy.
Yeah, Faith didn’t mind that at all.
Still. With all these Slayers going out on regular patrols in groups, the newer ones with Buffy, Faith, or Kennedy, or some of the other more experienced older girls supervising, it seemed like if Faith actually wanted to do any killing herself that was all in easy fun, rather than involving some super monster where B and the others would have to back her up anyway, she practically had to order the younger girls to take a night off, then sneak out on her own. What with B and her insistence that there was never a reason anymore for any Slayer to patrol without back-up, how the hell was Faith supposed to have any time to herself, to have a little action without someone’s eyes glued to her back?
Not, of course, that any lecture from B was ever going to make her stop doing what she felt like doing. It was just that she’d rather avoid it if possible. No point in making the blonde sweat it for no good reason.
Even if she was cute when she was pissed.
As Faith made her way down the sidewalk of the main street store fronts, her stake mostly concealed up the sleeve of her jacket, she smirked to herself, remembering how she had almost got caught by Andrew as she had slipped out the back door in the headquarters’ kitchen, just past one am. She had been shutting the door just as he came into the kitchen- she knew it was him because he’d been humming the Firefly theme song. Not that Andrew would tell on her- his fear bordering on awe of her came in handy like that, except, of course, where his Hot Pockets were concerned. Even Andy has his limits, she guessed.
It had been totally quiet so far. Faith had yet to see a single vampire, even in the nearby cemeteries. Almost forty minutes now, and the only two people she had seen at all had been human and homeless, and one of them had been sleeping at that. What, had all the Slayer juniors already killed everything in town earlier tonight? Couldn’t they slack off just a little bit to save room for her to get her own hits in?
Faith was just starting to scowl, frustrated at the stillness about her, when she heard the sound of several feet in the distance, clearly running, their soles slapping the ground rapidly. As she looked up sharply, it seemed to her that it was coming from a block over or so.
She quickly turned, beginning to follow the direction of the sound, and as she drew closer she could hear crashing metal and scraping noises, as if trash cans were being shoved and thrown aside. There were no voices, no one screaming or shouting, and Faith’s hopes rose. Vampires? Demons? What were they doing?
With her luck it was probably a freaking alley cat. But hey, it was the most excitement she’d had all night, and Faith wasn’t going to let it, whatever it was, get by her.
The sounds were coming from an alley a few store fronts over, and Faith picked up the pace, actually eager, adrenaline beginning to spike through her veins. But when she entered the alley, its occupants weren’t quite what she had expected.
There were three guys somewhere between the ages of 18 and 22, each with patchy facial hair and holey jeans. They were holding down a fourth person, a girl around 15 or 16, with wild blonde hair and a face twisted into an expression that was alight with hatred and aggression, even as fear sparked in unblinking pale blue eyes. Her mouth was open wide, showing two front teeth that were slight turned inward, and she snapped and gnashed her teeth at the young men, trying to bite them, writhing in their grasp. They pinned her arms and shoulders down, fiddling with the clasp of her grimy jeans.
Despite the intensity of the scene, what struck Faith most was that not one of them was making a sound verbally. The men weren’t yelling at the girl to be still or calling her names, and the girl wasn’t screaming out in fear or pain. It was a silent struggle, other than the men’s wordless grunts and the girl’s panting breaths…a scene so familiar to Faith that for a couple of seconds she froze, her eyes hooded.
She would never let them see her cry, never let them hear her scream….
Breaking herself sharply back into the present, she charged, moving with such speed that the men had no time to react. Seizing two in one hand by their shirts, Faith lifted them by the material, buttons popping with her forceful grasp, and flung them backwards into the alley wall. Their shrill, shocked screams choked as they hit the wall, falling to the ground hard, emerging with bloodied noses and foreheads. The remaining man was the one who had been undoing the girl’s pants, and Faith seized his wrist, breaking it in one good twist. As the man’s eyes bulged and he screeched in agony, Faith twisted it further, enjoying the satisfying sound of his bones grinding into each other. She threw him by his broken wrist into the pile that was his friends’ bodies.
Revved up now, running on pure rage and adrenaline to the degree that everything before her seemed a sea of red motion, Faith started towards the three men, eyes narrowed, teeth gritted, intending to cause further destruction. But they were scrambling to their feet, eyes darting, faces pale with terror, and they took off running out of the alley without so much as a backward glance.
It took considerable effort for Faith not to follow them, to stand there and let them get away. She took several breaths, her fists knotted at her sides, before she could feel her heartbeat slowing down a notch and her breathing becoming a closer approximation to normal. Then she turned back to face the girl, who was slowly getting to her feet, staring at her with a guarded expression but eyes wide with undisguised awe.