Disclaimer: Joss, Owns em’. I’m just playing. No money being made.
A/N: Yet another plot Bunny attacked today. A bit of prequel to my in progress Buffy/Firefly fic, “I Choose You”.
Set three years post Chosen. A new Scoobie joins the gang. He has a history with Faith but in a good way.
The New Guy
Eddie Mullen hated job interviews. Mostly since, in his almost forty years. He hadn't interviewed often. Especially since he was now in Cleveland, rather than Portland Maine or even his home town of Boston.
He had only been in town a few months. The first few weeks spent living in his car. Eddie had fallen a long way in the last three years.
His job as a Firefighter/Paramedic with the South Portland Fire Department had been going great. He had just taken the civil service exam for promotion to Lieutenant. Eddie's little girl, Amy was starting Jr. High and his Wife Sara had just been promoted to Charge Nurse in the ER.
They had a house in the burbs'. A German Shepherd, two cars. The ideal American family life.
Until one dark night when he got the call no parent ever wanted to get. His little girl was dead. Murdered. Stabbed by an unknown assailant. Thought to be a serial killer thanks to several other similar murders that had popped up around the US and in Europe.
It still didn't nullify the fact that Edward and Sara Mullen had to bury their Daughter.
For a while Eddie fell into the bottle. His Supervisors did what they could but after showing up drunk to work one day. He was fired from the only job he had known for his entire adult life.
Eddie lived and breathed being a firefighter. Being fired from his life long vocation was a wake up call. He stopped drinking. Found a job as a mechanic at a local car dealership and tried to forge ahead.
Sara on the other hand, had retreated into herself. While She and Eddie had argued before Amy's murder. It was nothing like how they argued after.
Eighteen months after Amy's murder, Sara served Eddie with divorce papers. On his birthday of all days and kicked him out of the house.
Six months later. Sara had the house, most of the bank accounts and even the dog.
All Eddie had was a suitcase full of clothes. His hunting rifles. Ten grand in cash and his retired Police Ford Crown Vic.
Eddie spent a few weeks in Boston. Staying with family but he needed change. Packing the car back up. He headed west. And got as far as Cleveland before he stopped.
The transmission had blown the in the old cruiser and Eddie was short on cash to replace it. So he slept in the car for a few weeks until he was able to find a cheap apartment and a job at a local auto parts store.
Slowly he began putting his life back together. Eddie was still technically a Paramedic but he needed a ton of continuing education credits to be considered current. So landing a job as a Medic wasn't in the cards.
His auto parts job paid for a hovel of an apartment and eventually due to his employee's discount, enough money saved up to get his car fixed. Eddie thought about heading out again but he was tired of running.
Maybe Cleveland was a good spot to start over.
He'd seen an ad for a job that seemed interesting. A newly opened school for Girls needed a facilities manager. The applicant needed skills in mechanics, building trades and various other things. Between fifteen years as a firefighter, building his own house and running a small lawn care business on the side on his days off. Eddie thought he might be qualified.
So, one e-mailed resume later. He was driving east on the Lakeside parkway and a job interview that would change how he viewed the world.
Double checking the address he had written down, Eddie pulled into the long paved drive to the Joyce Summers/Jenny Calender School for Girls. The property was impressive. Well manicured lawns surrounded what had been, at one time. An orphanage for the local Catholic Diocese.
A ten foot brick wall surrounded the facility. A wrought iron gate stood across the driveway with a small intercom box on a pedestal just outside.
Rolling down his window, Eddie pushed the call button.
“Can I help you?” asked a scratchy female voice.
“I'm Edward Mullen. I have an ten o'clock appointment with a Mr. Giles...”
Eddie looked around and noticed the surveillance cameras pointed at the gate area. Something began to tickle in the back of his mind. What kind of girls school needed security like this? He wondered.
“Follow the drive to the main building. Someone will meet you,” said the tinny voice from the speaker.
A moment later, the gate began to open. As soon as there was room, Eddie drove through. Noticing immediately, the gate closing behind him. He followed the circular drive and stopped under the front portico. Taking a deep breath, he looked at his clothing. Black slacks. Check. White Oxford shirt and dark blue tie. Check. Dark gray blazer. Check. Shoes. Polished. Check. He hadn't been this dressed up since his wedding. Eddie was a jeans and t-shirt kinda guy.
“Break a leg,” he muttered to himself as he climbed out of his car.
“Mr. Mullen?” asked a young woman who was waiting on the steps leading into the building.
Eddie looked her over. Young. Maybe eighteen years old. Thin but curvy with long brown hair done up in a french braid. She was dressed in gray slacks and a beige blouse.
“That's me,” Eddie replied.
The girl stepped forward, her hand out, “Dawn Summers. Welcome.”
“Thank you Ms. Summers,” he replied. Shaking her small hand.
“If you would follow me?” Dawn said.
Eddie followed her up the short stairs into the entry lobby. It was a large space. Dominated by a large desk in the center. Behind the desk sat a blonde woman who looked to be the same age as Ms. Summers. He noticed that the blonde was very pale.
Dawn turned to the receptionist, “Harmony. We'll be in the main conference room. Let Giles and Buffy know that Mr. Mullen is here.
“Okay, Dawn.” the blonde replied as she took a sip from her coffee mug. Eddie blinked when it left a red tinge on her lips. It must have been tomato soup he thought.
Dawn led Eddie down a short corridor and led him into a medium sized conference room.
“Have a seat. Mr. Mullen,” Dawn said as she sat opposite him.
“Thank you,” Eddie replied. Taking a seat.
He looked around the room. A large plasma screen hung on one wall. A few generic painting adorned another two. Large windows looked out across the grounds on the fourth wall.
A moment later, three people entered the room. A short blonde woman. A tall distinguished looking man and a younger man with dark hair and an eye patch.
Eddie stood as they entered.
“Mr. Mullen?” The older man asked.
“You must be Mr. Giles,” Eddie replied, recognizing the English accent from speaking with the man over the phone. They shook hands and Giles indicated for Eddie to take a seat.
As he got himself comfortable, Harmony. The blonde receptionist entered and left a coffee urn and cups on the table before quickly exiting.
“I'll start with introductions,” Giles began, “To my left is Alexander Harris. Operations Director and if hired for the position, your immediate supervisor. To my right is Buffy Summers. She is the Headmistress of the the school. And you have already met Dawn.”
Eddie nodded, “Pleased to meet you all.”
Giles continued, “We have reviewed your resume and like what we see. Your work history was exemplary until three years ago. Could you explain that please?”
Eddied took a shaky breath and spoke, “Three years ago, my fourteen year old daughter was murdered. My wife blamed me. Our marriage fell apart. I started drinking. I suppose you can figure out the rest.”
The one eyed man and the petite blonde shared a look but said nothing. Giles removed his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief ,” I am sorry for your loss,” Giles said sincerely, “I see that you have experience with both grounds maintenance and mechanics as well.”
Eddie nodded,. “I ran a small lawn care business on the side in Portland. I used the income for Amy's... my daughter's college fund. My dad was a mechanic so I picked that up from him.”
“Quite,” Giles replied, “And you spent fifteen years as a Firefighter and Paramedic?”
Eddie nodded again, “I started with the South Portland Fire Department when I was twenty. I got my Paramedic certification five years later.”
“I see you have some educational aptitude as well,” Giles added.
“I took a few teaching classes to become a certified fire instructor and to be able to teach EMT and Medic classes.”
“If hired here. Would you be willing to teach the girls first aid?” Buffy asked. The first words she had spoken since entering the room.
“Certainly,” Eddie replied.
Buffy smiled slightly, “That's something we need to have around here. Fifty to sixty teenaged girls can be a bit... clumsy.”
“You don't have a school Nurse?” Eddie asked.
“We are interviewing people for the position,” Giles replied.
Eddie nodded, “I remember how klutzy Amy was...” he trailed off as he remembered his murdered daughter.
Suddenly Buffy's hand was on his on the table top, “You loved her very much,” she said quietly.
“She was my world,” Eddie replied quietly.
Buffy looked at Giles and an almost silent communication seemed to flow between them. Giles nodded slightly and turned to the one eyes man, “Xander. Why don't you give Mr. Mullen a tour of the facility.”
“Sure,” the dark haired man replied cheerily, “Follow me, Mr. Mullen. Or do you prefer Ed?”
“Ed or Eddie is fine, Mr. Harris,” Eddie replied as he stood up.
“Call me Xander.”
After the two men left the room, Buffy turned to Giles, “What do you think, Watcher mine?”
“I think he might be a good fit.”
“I think so too,” Dawn added.
“What about his daughter,” Buffy asked, “From what he described....”
Giles nodded and cut Buffy off, “She was. There was a listing in the Council files of a Potential Slayer named Amy Mullen from Portland Maine. She didn't have a watcher as such but she was on the council's 'radar' so to speak.
“Bringers?” Dawn said with a chill in her voice.
“Time line fits,” Buffy said, “Three years ago.”
“What do you think of him, Dawn?” Giles asked.
“Kinda cute for an old guy,” Dawn said with a grin.
Buffy rolled her eyes, “His accent sure makes him sound like Faith.”
“Must be the Boston thing,” Dawn replied.
“Well if Xander likes him. I say we hire him,” Buffy stated.
“I concur,” Giles nodded.
Xander led Eddie down the front steps, “This your ride?”
Eddie smiled and nodded, “Sure is.”
“A cop car?”
“Look at it this way. What's the difference between a Mustang and a Crown Vic?”
“Five hundred pounds and two extra doors. I've done the suspension mods and engine upgrades to make this car outrun and out corner any stock Mustang and keep up with one of the new Shelby's.”
Xander nodded and smiled, “Not so knowledgeable about cars. Wood is more of my thing.”
“Wood?” Eddie asked.
“Spent a few years as a carpenter before this gig.”
Eddie nodded as they walked along. Xander pointing out features of the property. The main building was five stories tall and made of brick. Massively built and looked like it could hold up to anything. Behind was a small secondary building that housed a small pool and a workout room. Showers and a locker rooms rounded out this part of the complex.
Xander continued his comments, “The first floor of the main building has the offices, kitchen, dining room, classrooms and the like. Second floor is more classrooms and Willow's lab.”
“Willow?” Eddie asked.
“She's our lead science teacher. Best friend from high school.”
Eddie nodded, “Nice to have old friends around.”
“Willow, Buffy, Dawn, Giles and I have been together for a while. Giles was our high school Librarian back in Sunnydale.”
“Sunnydale? You mean that town in southern California that dropped into that sinkhole a few years back?”
“That's the place,” Xander replied, “Anyway, third and fourth floors are student dorms and the top floor is the staff apartments.”
“Pretty nice setup,” Eddie commented.
“It's been a lot of work this last year, getting things going. But it's been worth it.
“How many staff?” Eddie asked.
'Primary staff is Giles, Buffy, Willow, Me, Faith, Robin and Andrew. We have seven additional teachers on staff who live in the area.
“How many students?”
“We're set up for one hundred. We try to keep the numbers under that for the school year. But we do operate year round with a summer program for girls that can't attend during the year.”
Xander led Eddie to the rear of the property. Past a soccer field and baseball diamond. There was also a basketball court next to the diamond. As well as a small playground.
“How young are the students?” Eddie asked.
“Ages vary. Youngest right now is twelve. The oldest are eighteen. After they graduate, they have the option of continuing here as adjunct teaching staff. Or continuing on to college.”
“Quite the operation,” Eddie said as they crossed a small access road near the rear fence.
“And if you are hired, this will be your domain,” Xander said.
Eddie nodded. A three bay garage building with attached office and storage shed. As Xander opened the door, Eddie could see a well equipped wood shop taking up half a work bay with some additional metal working tools. There was even a small forge in the corner.
Eddie whistled, “Nice.”
“Thought you'd like it,” Xander grinned, “It's where I retreat to escape all the estrogen around here.”
Eddie chuckled, “I can see how you might need that occasionally.”
Xander nodded, “We don't have much for school vehicles other than the one old school bus and a couple of vans. Maintenance of those would be your responsibility. As well as the lawn mowers and other stuff. To be honest. I didn't know what a snow blower was until we moved to Cleveland...”
Eddie chuckled, “I'm New England born and bred. Don't think I could live somewhere there wasn't snow in the winter. Doesn't mean I can't bitch about it though.”
Xander laughed, “I here you there, Eddie. By the way. If you get the job. There's a small apartment upstairs over the office that would be yours if you want. Whole campus is wired for cable and wi-fi. So all you would need is a TV and a computer.”
“I've got a laptop,” Eddie replied, “And a small TV in my hole of an apartment now.”
Xander led Eddie back outside. It was nearing lunch and Eddie could seen ten or twenty girls lounging outside on some picnic tables outside the dining room.
“Hey, X-man” called out a woman's voice. Eddie followed her voice and his jaw dropped slightly. The woman was a dark haired beauty about twenty five years old. She was dressed in running shorts, a tight tank top and sneakers. She was pushing a large tired double stroller with two dark skinned toddlers strapped securely in the seats.
“Who's the new guy?” The woman asked as she jogged up. The two little boys grinning.
Xander smiled when the little boys called out, “Unca Xan!”
He kneeled down in front of the toddlers, “How's my favorite nephews?”
“Five by Five” the boys chorused, “Momma runs fast,” the one on the left added.
Xander stood back up to make introductions, “Faith, this is Eddie Mullen. He's possibly going to be working here. Eddie this is Faith...”
“Lahaine?” Eddie breathed out.
Faith's jaw dropped and her eyes went wide, “Eddie?”
“Oh my god!” Eddie cried out as he pulled Faith into a hug, “You're so grown up!”
“And you got even less hair, Cuz,” Faith giggled as she hugged Eddie back.
“I haven't seen you in what... twelve years?”
“Umm. Confused one eyed man here...” Xander said.
Faith punched Xander softly in the shoulder, “X-man. This is my older cousin, Eddie Mullen.”
“You two are related?” Xander exclaimed.
“Yep!” Faith grinned, “Where's Sara? And Amy?” She's gotta be what... sixteen or seventeen now?”
Eddie face fell, “Amy was... murdered... three years ago. Sara and I divorced a bit later...”
“Oh fu... geeze, Eddie. I didn't know... I don't have any contact with the family anymore... not since...”
“You should have called. Sara and I would have put you up.”
“Water under the bridge, Cuz.”
Faith turned to Xander, “You make sure Giles hires Eddie here. Or I'm gonna have to hurt him.”
“I'll see what I can do...”
“Come on Eddie, I gotta get the boys their lunch. And we can catch up.”
Eddie looked at Xander who grinned, “Go ahead. I'll talk to Giles.”
Faith sat at one of the picnic tables across from Eddie. A toddler perched on each knee. The boys were eating pieces of hot dog with their fingers.
“Never thought I'd see you as a mom,” Eddie commented before taking a bite of his cheeseburger.
Faith snorted, “Makes two of us, Cuz. But I wouldn't give my boys up for anything.”
“Who's their dad?” Eddie asked. He knew enough about his cousin's history to think she was a single mom.
“Robin Wood. He's assistant Headmaster here. Also teaches English.”
“No ring...” Eddie commented.
Faith rolled her eyes, “Welcome to the twenty first century...”
“All done Momma,” little Alex proclaimed.
“Me too,” added Jessie.
A redheaded young woman who looked like she was a few months pregnant herself stepped up next to the table, “Want me to take them up to your apartment, Faith?”
“Thanks, Vi,” Faith replied, “It'll give you some practice.”
“Ha ha,” the redhead replied and then held out her hands, “Come on monsters.”
The boys hugged their mother then took the redhead's hands to be led away, “I'll be up in a little bit to put you down for your naps.”
“Okay Momma,” the boys chorused.
“Cute,” Eddie grinned.
“You know what they say about twins having an evil and good twin?”
Eddie nodded, “I got two evil ones,” Faith smirked.
“Are you disparaging our offspring again?” a tall bald headed African American man asked before planting a kiss on the top of Faith's head.
“Hey, Baby,” Faith smiled as the man sat down next to her. She then gave him a proper kiss, “Robin. This is Eddie Mullen. He's my cousin. And possibly gonna be working here.”
“Mr. Mullen,” Robin said as he shook Eddie's hand.
“Call me Eddie.”
“Faith tells me you're the Deputy Headmaster?”
Robin nodded, “And you're interviewing for the Facilities Maintenance position. Correct?”
“Yep,” Eddie replied.
“What brings you to Cleveland, Eddie?”
“Change of scenery. Saw this ad and thought I'd apply. I've been in Cleveland about six months.”
“Portland Maine. Grew up in Boston. Another Southie kid like Faith.”
Robin nodded, “I see.”
Faith smacked Robin's arm, “Lay off the inquisition, Babe. I ain't seen Eddie since I was twelve and he was a probie firefighter in South Portland.”
Robin smiled and snuck a french fry off Faith's plate. She smacked his hand, “Hey.. lay off the fries.”
Eddie chuckled, “You sure haven't changed much.”
“Only in the best ways,” Faith replied, “I'm so sorry about Amy. I always thought that when I got older, I could have babysat her for you.”
Eddie nodded sadly, “I know... have you heard from your mom lately?”
Faith's face clouded, “Don't even know if she's alive...”
“She is,” Eddie replied, “I got her into a rehab program five years ago. She's clean and working at the Friendly's in Revere. Assistant Manager.”
Faith looked shocked for a moment, “That's... good.”
“Last time I talked with her, she was sorry about what had happened to you.”
“She might like to know she's a grandmother...”
“I'll think about it Eddie. Lot of bad blood there. Know what I mean?”
“I hear ya.”
“How's aunt Cathy?” Faith asked.
“Mom's fine,” Eddie replied. “She's retiring from Prudential next spring.”
“And Uncle Bernie?”
“Dad... died four years ago. Heart attack.”
“I'm sorry, Eddie.”
“It's okay. Dealt with a lot of death in my line of work.”
“Death?” Robin asked.
“I was a Paramedic for ten years.”
“Stop being such a gloomy Gus,” Faith declared, “Me and Robin will take you out to dinner tonight. Get Dawnie to babysit for a few hours.”
“I don't want to be a bother.”
“You ain't a bother, Eddie. Besides Robin, the Scoobies and my boys. You're the only real family I got.”
“Scoobies?” Eddie asked.
“Buffy, Xander, Willow, Dawn and Giles... long story.”
Just as Faith finished her explanation, Giles walked up, “Mr. Mullen?”
Faith started to grin when Eddie replied, “Yes, sir?”
“If you would follow me. I would like to discuss your employment package as well as give you the full... briefing as to what we do here.”
Eddie was surprised. He expected to hear back in a few days. Not be offered the job the same day, “Uh... sure...”
“Like I said. In like Flynn,” Faith smiled.
“Quite,” Giles added with a slight glare at the brunette.
As Eddie followed Giles back to the office, Faith called out, “Keep an open mind, Cuz...”