What makes a Slayer
Disclaimer: Don't own SPN or BTVS.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has been reading, and for the reviews. I do love to hear from y'all.
The hospital insisted on keeping her in overnight, worried about her head injury. They'd set her arm and cast it, but Faith could already feel the bones mending beneath the cast. It was itchy, but she refused to scratch. Dean had threatened that if she scratched, he was going to sign her up for home economics in her next school- and that was threat enough that it worked against any number of things.
John and Sam had stayed for hours, until her cast was in place and she was put into a private room to sleep off the drugs. John promised he'd be back to collect her at noon, whether the hospital agreed or not. She'd have to be gone by then because she'd already be halfway healed by the next evening and she didn't want to be the miracle patient. Plus, you know, fake insurance. Before he left, her dad had pressed a kiss to her forehead and told her he was proud of her and the moisture in her eyes was not tears, thank you very much.
She slept well, all things considered. The staff woke her every two hours as a precaution but by morning she was rested and ready to leave, except for her arm. She wasn't expecting visitors- John would be back at noon and Sam with him, and Dean couldn't walk in the door without someone putting him in a room. So, she wasn't expecting visitors but shortly before eight am, she got one anyway.
Buffy wasn't quite the last person she'd expected to see, but she certainly hadn't thought the other Slayer would visit. She looked uncomfortable and Faith waved her in with a forced smile.
"You come to visit the injured, too? Are you a girl scout or a Slayer?" It was a joke- a poor one- and Buffy smiled, relaxing a little as she settled into the hard plastic chair by the bed.
"On the weekends, I read to the blind and feed the pigeons." Faith even laughed, appreciating the effort more than the humor. She didn't know what else to say, anyway. "So. Slayer, huh?" There was no accusation in her tone, which was a relief. They hadn't had much of an opportunity to speak the night before; once John Winchester had seen the blood on her face and the twisted mess of her arm, he'd whisked her away without even saying goodbye.
"Yeah." Faith twisted the bed-cover with her good hand, nervous. "We didn't tell you right away because Hunters aren't exactly huge fans of the Watcher's Council. Dad wanted to make sure you guys were on the level." To her surprise, Buffy looked sympathetic.
"Giles is pretty much the only watcher I know and I couldn't do the job without him, but the rest..." Buffy just shrugged her shoulders.
"Yeah, Giles gets a pass because he was concerned about me. Well, not me-me, but Slayer-me before he knew it was me. The rest… If I never meet another one, it'll be too soon." She fiddled with the remote control for the T.V, nervous but trying not to be. The other Slayer was older, more experienced, confident and pretty and she had a group of friends that seemed to love her. She had a home, even if it was on the Hellmouth. Faith wasn't used to feeling different or not good enough, but she felt the tug of it now and desperately wished that one of her brothers were there with her. She hadn't felt so unsure of herself in years.
"I remember when I met him first; he was all stuffed-shirt and tea-drinking. I thought I'd hate him but he's really come through for me." And suddenly Buffy was talking; speaking of how she'd run away and her Watcher had spent the summer covering for her; hiding her absence from the Council. How she'd been so damaged by having to kill Angel and how her Mom had told her not to come home if she left and that Giles had been the one who hadn't given up on her. Faith saw the look in her eyes and realized that, for Buffy, Giles wasn't just her Watcher. Maybe that was what the Council wanted- they wanted to give girls a Watcher they could rely on; who could be their father in all but name.
Faith already had one of those. Two, if she counted Bobby. She didn't need another.
"Dad isn't really my father." She hadn't said the words aloud in years and she wasn't sure why she was saying it now, but there was some urge in her to connect; she wanted the other girl to like her. "I don't know who my father is but Dean found me when I was ten years old and he decided I was family and dad has been my dad ever since." Buffy looked startled but her features relaxed into a smile after a second.
"I would never have guessed." The blonde couldn't help but wonder if the Hunters had known Faith was a potential Slayer but, wisely, she decided not to ask. "You look just like Sam." And Sam looked a lot like John. On happier days, Faith liked to think that someone was looking out for her- Angels, maybe, like Dean's mom had told him when he was a kid. On her bad nights, Dean told her that, too. Funny, now, because there was a dude named Angel watching Dean, though Faith doubted that was what Mary Winchester had meant. She choked back a laugh at the thought, disguising it as a cough instead.
"Family doesn't end with blood." Bobby's words and Bobby himself was proof of it. Faith was pretty sure Buffy would get it, too.
"True. Very true." She bit her lip and glanced up at Faith, nervously. For the first time, Faith saw that the other girl was anxious, too, and something inside her relaxed a fraction. "Kendra, the girl who came before you, she told me that her family had let the Council take her when she was just a kid. She said it was a huge honour for them, to have a daughter who might be Chosen." Buffy scowled. "She died all the same and there was nothing honorable about it. She was just a dead girl." Faith didn't need to ask to know that Buffy had been there; seen it. She understood, suddenly, why the other girl had been so determined the night before, driving the beam through Kakistos- she wasn't going to let a second Slayer die in front of her.
"She saved people. She made a difference. There's honor in that." In the lives she'd saved, despite the death that had ended her. Buffy shrugged and blinked away the sheen of tears.
"She was sixteen years old." It was very young.
"She was a fighter." Faith would die, if she had to. She didn't want to, no. "I've seen my family throw themselves in front of demons to save people they don't know. There's honor in that, regardless of how you die." Whether Buffy agreed or not, she couldn't tell, but the other girl fell silent for a beat.
"Giles has to tell them that you're here, you know. The Council." Faith couldn't help but scowl, the mere idea of watchers setting her on edge.
"Has he told them already?" Buffy was a little taken aback by the ferocity in the other girl's tone. "Because if he has, then I need to be gone, post haste." She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, reaching out with her good arm to grab the phone from the bed-side table.
"Yeah, I think he called London last night." She sounded confused. "I called him this morning and-" She was cut off by Faith standing up and dialing, pressing the handset between her shoulder and ear and pulling her jeans on one-handed.
"Dad? Come get me. Buffy says that her Watcher spilled the beans last night." She listened carefully, even as she ripped off her hospital gown and started forcing her casted arm through the sleeve of her shirt. Her pendant dangled between her breasts; the metal cool against her skin. "I'll see you then. Cool." She hung up and pushed her trainers onto her feet without bothering with socks or laces before turning to Buffy. "Walk me out?"
"Wait, wait, wait! You can't just walk out of the hospital! I don't even know why you're leaving- what's going on?" Faith felt a little sorry for the girl, but she knew she owed her one, too.
"Come on; I'll tell you on the way." They had no problems leaving- Faith strode out the front door as if she had never been injured and with Buffy at her side, she looked more like a visitor than a patient. "Hunters don't like the Council because when girls get Called, they get taken away from their families and pushed onto the front-lines." Faith bit her lip, nervous, glancing around her for anyone that might be Council. Paranoid, perhaps, but she was Hunter-raised, after all. "Dad wasn't gonna let that happen and Bobby had a way to hide me from their spells, so…"
"I wasn't taken away from anyone- I live with my Mom." Buffy wasn't sure if she was trying to protest or trying to explain, or if there was a difference.
"But you live on the Hellmouth." There was a 'Duh' implied in her tone and Buffy conceded the point with a nod. "I'm a Hunter first; and Hunters go where the evil is. Right now, that means we're going where my dreams take us. I have backup already; I have a team looking after me and fighting with me. I have no intention of giving that up to be the Council's bitch."
They fell silent and all Faith could hear was her own breathing. Her arm throbbed a little but the pain was only a distraction.
"There was no rumour, was there? You had a dream and it brought you here to save me." Faith just nodded. "I don't really get it, but thank you. For coming." She sounded sincere and the younger girl forced herself to smile.
"Hey, it's no big. It's the job." Her smile grew as she caught sight of the Impala turning in to the parking lot. "I'm outta here." She took a few steps before glancing back. "If I give you a number, will you keep it to yourself? To call, if you need backup?" She didn't think she could just leave; just like that. It was too… unfinished.
"Or if I need someone who understands the Slayer thing?" There was almost hope in the other girl's voice, so Faith just nodded though she wasn't sure what 'the Slayer thing' was. "Yeah. I'll keep it quiet. I promise."
Buffy retrieved a pen from her book-bag and Faith scrawled a number across the inside of one of her folders.
"That's Dean's number. Call him and I'll be wherever he is. But I swear to god, if the Watchers track me down through this, Slayer or not I will kick your ass." She delivered the words with a grin but Buffy saw something in her eyes.
"They caught you, didn't they? They did something?" She couldn't imagine anyone trying to take her from her mother. And at fifteen, too. The thought made her heart ache.
"Not me, B. They didn't catch up to me." Her voice cracked, remembering. "Don't trust 'em. Not if you have another choice. Not unless they prove themselves." And then Faith was gone, disappearing into the big black car and leaving Buffy alone in the sunshine, a sinking feeling in her stomach, blinking against the light.
"You okay, kiddo?" Faith slid into the passenger seat of the Impala, casting a glance behind her at the other Slayer.
"Five by five, Dad. Let's blow this joint." And she grinned, meeting his gaze. "I had a dream last night; clan of gremlins in Nevada. Can we swing by Vegas? I wanna see the strip." Her father reached out, slowly; cautiously, even after five years, and pulled her close to him, tucking her into his shoulder.
"Your brothers are packing up. We'll be on the road by ten." He squeezed her tight, putting everything into the action that he never put into words and she relaxed. "We just have to figure out what to do with the vampire, Angel." She felt more than saw the face he made. "We had to let him into the house last night because the sun was coming up and Dean didn't want him to dust. He curled up in the corner and fell asleep. But he seems to be remembering some things, so that's progress, I suppose." Or, he'd remembered the word 'no' and was using it liberally anytime anyone tried to pry him away from Dean. John had narrowly avoided being shoved across the room when he tried to change the dressing on his boy's knee. He said as much to Faith; warned her to be careful of him and to stake him if she thought she had to.
"Buffy says he was a hero, Dad. Whatever happened in hell, he's damaged, yeah, but he's still a hero, right?" John's lips quirked upward in a smile and he hugged her again.
"Buffy says, huh? And what else does Buffy say?" Faith blushed, just a little, and poked her dad with her elbow as he laughed.