What makes a Dance
A/N: Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing. I really appreciate the feedback and the kind words and I hope y'all enjoy this.
Disclaimer: I don't own squat. Specifically: I don't own SPN or BTVS. Kripke and Whedon, respectively, are the gods of their worlds.
The library was quiet and divided; Dean sat by the table, suffering first aid at his father’s hands with Bobby, Faith and Sam ranged behind him like some weird over-protective secret service detail. The-vampire-formally-known-as-Angel was crouched on the floor by his feet, staring at him. Well, staring at him and occasionally glancing at the blonde Slayer only to turn back to Dean, confused. Dean wasn’t sure what to make of it, but he’d worry about that later- when the room stopped spinning in lazy circles and he couldn’t hear his pulse beating in his head.
“We should move against Kakistos before he has a chance to recover his numbers.” Bobby muttered, his voice pitched low so that the other Slayer and her people wouldn’t hear. The Sunnydale gang was gathered by the check-out desk, agitated and nervous. Their Slayer had gotten her colour back, but she seemed to be holding herself back from racing across the room to the vampire. Dean repressed a shudder at the thought of falling in love with the enemy- literally. Sure, the vamp had saved his life, but that didn’t change the fact that he was a vampire; a corpse, animated by a demonic spirit. Talk about twisted. He could only hope that weakness for the undead wasn’t a Slayer thing- Faith had enough trouble already without adding vampire romances to the mix. Plus, he’d totally kill anything that looked at her that way and his job would be infinitely harder if he was fighting off demons, too.
He tuned back in to hear his dad asking him about the warehouse layout and he startled, a little, when Faith put a pen and paper into his hands. He’d only zoned out for a second, so the worried faces were completely unnecessary. He sketched a layout quickly, marking every detail he could remember, wishing that his vision would clear enough to get the lines straight. The Watcher wandered over to see and it wasn’t long before a three-way debate about the best approach sprang up between the older men. Bobby and John, for once, agreed on almost everything- it was almost worth being kidnapped and beaten up to see that happen. He said as much; Faith and Sam stifled laughs and John shot him a dirty look. At his feet, Angel held his head at an angle, quizzical.
“Have we got anything we can feed him? God only knows how long he was held down there and I’ve been leaking blood for as long as he’s known me. He must be starving.” Faith raised an eyebrow in question but said nothing- she rooted through John’s bags, instead.
“You can’t keep him. He’s not a puppy.” Sam came to stand next to his brother and looked down at the vampire. He was still staring at Dean, though, and didn’t even glance at the younger man.
“I know that, dude, but he saved my ass, so the least we can do is feed him, right?” Sam couldn’t argue with that- Dean was still alive, after all. Faith took that moment to toss a full jar in Dean’s direction and, luckily, her aim was true because his coordination sucked.
“Lamb’s blood? Gross.” But Dean still twisted the lid open and held the jar out in offering. Angel sniffed delicately, pushing his nose almost into the jar; nudging it with his face. His vampire face emerged and Dean felt Faith tense at his side. He was pretty sure that everyone was watching and Faith took a step sideways, positioning herself to rip the vamp off him if something got out of hand.
Angel didn’t quite know how to manage it. Dean figured he was stuck in ‘bite’ mode and couldn’t figure out another way, so he tilted the jar and let the blood flow onto the vamp’s lips.
“This is the single grossest thing I have ever done.” He’d had to force-feed his unconscious, feverish, delirious family a time or two so he understood the theory- but this was the first time he’d had to feed something blood and that was disgusting on a whole new level. The vampire drank every drop, though, and looked up at Dean with yellow, grateful, eyes and Dean remembered his brother’s ‘puppy’ comment and almost laughed. He’d seen Angel fight and he knew the vampire was far from a puppy- he was scary and dangerous; of that, there was no doubt. “Have we got any more?” Faith shook her head and put the jar back in John’s bag. She’d been lucky to find one that was relatively fresh and not congealed and even more disgusting.
“You want me to go get some?” The others might not get it, but Faith could kind of understand why someone would latch onto Dean. He’d been her hero since she was ten years old and she never felt safer than when he had her back, even as a Slayer. She got it; there was something about Dean that just made everything better. Sam knew that; her dad and Bobby felt it, too. They just didn’t know what it was or where it came from, because they’d always had Dean. She remembered not having him, so she knew the difference.
So, she might not trust the Angel-creature, but she trusted Dean and she knew that whatever she saw in the vamp’s eyes wasn’t harmful or dangerous; no blood-lust; no rage. Just something indescribable that she recognized from her own reflection.
He was weighing the options. She could tell by the concentrated stare and the way his shoulders hunched forward. Slowly, he nodded.
“If dad says you can, then yeah.” He met her gaze and grinned. “And take Sammy with you, will ya? His hovering is driving me crazy.” Sam scowled as his brother and sister laughed and Faith bounced away to ask her dad for permission. John wasn’t thrilled with the interruption but he cast an assessing gaze over his eldest and the boy’s new shadow and nodded quickly.
“Get there, get gone, and get back here.” Faith’s grin widened and she grabbed Sam by the arm and pocketed the keys to the Impala. She was normally only allowed to drive it in a life-or-death scenario but hey, she was on the Hellmouth and there was someone’s life in the balance. Sort of.
Faith lingered by the Sunnydale crew on her way out the door. The watcher had been watching her and so she spoke to him, ignoring the itch on her back that meant Slayer, as well as the scornful glances that several of the Sunnydale teens were sending her way. The little short guy, Oz, was the only one who didn’t seem to find her lacking, though she could tell that he was in no position to cast stones. Whatever else these guys did or didn’t do, they seemed to hate Hunters- and with a werewolf and a vampire as part of their gang, she could kinda see why.
“You know a place I can get some blood for Sparky? Dean thinks he’s probably starving.” The other Slayer wore a pinched expression but Faith ignored it.
“Yes, certainly. There’s a butchers not far from here that sells blood at any time.” He took a pen and paper and sketched a quick map. “Go around the back and knock three times- if they ask, tell them that Giles sent you.” He handed the paper to Sam, who took it with thanks, and glanced across at John and Bobby. “Are you sure you’ll be okay out there alone? Kakistos is likely irate and his people have already injured your brother.” The concern was… unexpected, especially for a watcher and a man who already had teenagers in the field.
“We’re cool. We have the car and we’ll be there and back in ten.” Faith just wanted to get out; fresh air and freedom for precious few minutes. Of course, she knew she was a Slayer and he didn’t, so the concern was warranted.
“Buffy, why don’t you accompany them? I would hate to see anything happen to anyone else this evening.” Faith shot a half-panicked look at her dad but John inclined his head toward the door and smiled at her. A soft, encouraging smile that he only ever used with Faith and she knew what it meant. The knot of panic in her stomach tightened as Buffy made her way out the door in front of her. Sam, at her side, tried to make conversation with the other girl but was soundly ignored.
She was silent until they got to the car, uttering thanks to Sam when he held the door open for her and issuing terse directions to the butcher’s shop. She insisted on being the one to go to the door, leaving the Winchesters in the relative safety of the car.
“She’s not exactly brimming with friendly, is she?” They watched the blonde approach the shop and disappear into the darkness of the alleyway beside it.
“No, but her vampire boyfriend has just been returned from hell and is currently playing court jester to our brother. That’s kind of… big.” True. Faith supposed she could accept that.
“Dad wants me to tell her.” Sam didn’t seem surprised. “I don’t know if I want to. I don’t want… I don’t want them to think that they have any claim on me. This is her Hellmouth; it’s her place. My place is with my family.” The unspoken truth was that John Winchester could never stay on the Hellmouth, not for long anyway. He would never settle anywhere and neither would Dean and Faith couldn’t see herself separated from either of them.
“You’ll always have a place with your family, Faith, whether you’re with them or not.” His words were just as much for himself as they were for her and Faith knew that. Sam wasn’t like the rest of them, not really. He wanted so many things- things that Faith had accepted a long time ago that she could never have. She hadn’t ever really missed them, since. She’d had normal for ten years and normal had sucked more than not-normal. At least with not-normal, she had brothers who loved her and a father who would take a bullet for her and a purpose in the world.
Later, she would blame her morose thoughts for why she didn’t notice that Buffy was taking too long. The other Slayer was gone for almost ten minutes before either Faith or Sam thought to check on her- she was a Slayer and she was on her own turf, running a freaking errand. How much trouble could she have gotten into?
“We should check. Just in case.” She’d been sent with them to protect them and Buffy getting hurt had never been part of the plan. Faith took point, moving silently into the alleyway. On the ground, there were several large jars of blood, carefully placed by the alley wall. The metal door was closed and though she knocked several times, no-one answered.
There was no sign of Buffy and the sinking feeling in Faith’s stomach told her exactly how worried she should be.
“Go back to the school and mount up- I’m going after her.” Sam tried to protest but Faith ignored him, forcing him back into the car and retrieving her favourite machete at the same time. Sam had the presence of mind to remember the blood. “I can’t let her get hurt because I wasn’t paying attention, okay? That’s on me.” It was her voice, but Sam could hear his father and his brother echoing in the words.
“Straight to the docks, Faith. We’ll meet you there.” She nodded once and watched as he started the engine. The Impala rumbled away, the sound of the engine breaking the silence. As the tail-lights faded in the distance, Faith took a deep breath, scenting wind and earth and bringing up the piece of her that was wholly Slayer and not at all girl.
Sunnydale was small. Everything and everywhere was tightly packed and Faith had studied the town maps when they first arrived. Running flat out, she reached the docks in just shy of seven minutes, a trip that would only be quicker by car if all the speed limits were ignored. She was certain that her father would ignore all the speed limits, so the cavalry couldn’t be more than five minutes behind her. But she wouldn’t wait- she hit the docks and scented her brother’s blood immediately; a trail obvious to those who could smell it. The fury boiling in her stomach didn’t overpower the itch on her spine that meant the other Slayer was close, too.
She covered the distance quickly and quietly, concentrating on that itch of presence and ignoring anything else; the itch was Slayer and Vampire and enemy and hatred and anger and headheartfistsfury and time was slowed to a standstill as she skipped through it, scaling the north-face of the warehouse quickly and entering through the roof entrance. On silent feet, she moved down the stairs, her machete dangling loosely from one hand and a sturdy stake in the other. Her breath was ragged and she stopped for a second, forcing herself to still and calm and not be caught. Luck was with her, it seemed, because the vamps weren’t watching the roof stairway. Dean’s dance earlier had cut their numbers, she supposed, and the outposts would be the first to be scaled back. That or they were really dumb. It was hard to know which was more likely.
The reason for their absence, as it turned out, was option number three- vamp gathering on the main floor of the warehouse to watch their Master mutilate the Slayer. Buffy was conscious and lying spread-eagle on the ground, tied at the hands and feet to metal stakes driven into the ground. Faith wasn’t sure she’d be able to break out of it- or certainly not quickly enough to stop the monster looming above her from ripping out her throat. As it was, he was talking; monologuing about taking away the watcher’s pet to teach them a lesson about encroaching on his territory and blah, blah, blah. Faith counted six others; minions, every one of them, wearing that glassy-eyed stare that came from being idiot undead. She stayed in the shadows and crept down the next flight of stairs, approaching from behind Kakistos and waiting, holding her breath and slowing her heart beat to maintain the element of surprise.
“When you weep, I will cut out your eyes. When you scream, I will remove your tongue. When your skin rips, I’ll stitch it with blades until all that is left of you is ribbons of blood and pain and if you were able to talk, you’d beg for death.” Faith could see the blonde shiver, but she’d give the girl props- she showed no fear and she didn’t rise to the bait.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Slayers are the begging types.” Everyone turned to look at her, Buffy included- hers were the only eyes wide with fear and concern. The rest looked… hungry. She staked the first two before they even realized she was a Slayer. “I know I’m not, that’s for sure.”
“You’re a Slayer.” Kakistos moved, turning his back on Buffy and advancing on Faith. “Two in one evening. I shall paint the walls with your blood and-“
“What I’m hearing is blah, blah, blah. If you want my blood, come get it.” He growled, almost roared, furious at being interrupted. He moved quicker than she’d expected, lunging forward and catching her with a blow to the stomach that knocked the breath from her lungs and she fell to the ground, forcing her body to tuck and roll even as she fought for air. He was fast and strong, but she was a Slayer and this was the dance she’d been made for- dodging and weaving and taking her shots where she could get them.
She drew first blood, slicing across his face with her machete and following through the swing to behead the other vamp creeping up behind her. Cowards.
“That the best you can do, Kakistos? Can’t handle one little girl without backup?” Three minions left, and big daddy himself. He’d regained control of himself, though, and she couldn’t help but regret it. He was old; old meant experienced. Experienced meant difficult to rile, though dammit, she’d give it her best shot. “What am I saying? You couldn’t even keep one measly human prisoner for more than what, a half hour? That’s just embarrassing. If I were you, I’d be begging to be staked before anyone found out about that one.”
He growled, moving in close and catching her with a glancing blow to the head. It stung and she felt the tell-tale dripping of blood but she was conscious and still able to talk, so she shrugged and laughed and sliced at his thigh with a low cut, slicing to the bone on his shin. And with every step, she moved him further from the elder Slayer; gave Buffy another second to free herself and join the fight; gave her father another second to get here and end it all; earned herself another second toe-to-toe with the strongest vamp she’d ever fought.
She was distracted, thinking about it, and he reached out and grabbed her machete-arm, crushing her forearm and driving her to her knees with an overwhelming flare of pain. She couldn’t hold back the scream and she remembered his threat to the other Slayer about her tongue and swallowed a second, twisting her arm, instead, and ignoring the crack as the bone broke and she was free, spinning on her knees and thrusting up with her stake, hitting him dead-on target and scrambling away desperately when he didn’t dust; didn’t crumble to ash. Instead, he pulled the wood from his chest and laughed and laughed.
“It’s going to take more than a little stake to kill me, little girl.”
Faith managed a smile, an approximation of Dean’s ‘you’re so fucked’ grin that looked a little out of place given the blood and the broken arm.
“So we’ll use a big stake.” Buffy called out. Her voice was a little shaky but her aim was true and the cross-beam practically bisected the vampire. He crumbled to dust with disbelief in his eyes. The remaining three minions scattered, but judging by the sounds outside, they didn’t get far. John Winchester’s growl was distinctive, even over the screams of dying vampires.
“So. You’re a Slayer.”
“Thanks for the rescue. I really wasn’t expecting that to not work.” Faith scooped up her fallen weapons, shoving the stake into her waistband and holding the blade in her good hand.
“Me either. And, uh, thanks. For coming for me.”
“That’s the job. Saving people. Hunting things.” The blonde looked confused but Faith just waved it off. “Let’s get out of here before my dad comes in and gets all embarrassing.” She was limping, a little, and her arm and head ached like she’d been beaten (oh, wait, she had) but her sister-Slayer grinned and wrapped her arm around her shoulder, gently.
“Oh, I think there’s going to be plenty of embarrassing to go around. Giles is never going to let me hear the end of this.” She shook her head as they walked forward, slowly. “I got jumped at the butchers. How humiliating.”