Author’s note: I own neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor Highlander. The characters of Frank and Gladys Howard are my creation. Spelling and grammar mistakes have been edited with the kind aid of djhardim Reviews are very welcome. Finding Faith
The Meier House in South Boston had been founded to be near and yet not too near to the most likely source of its hopefully short term residents. As the years passed gentrification had resulted in the general upswing of the neighbourhood and there had been attempts to have the House moved.
None of the attempts had ever been successful.
Faith Lehane, as she called herself, had been brought in five months earlier when her mother’s latest boyfriend had decided that he might as well sleep with two Lehanes and have both of them working the streets for him. Faith had disagreed rather violently. Happily rather than Juvie this had led to her being placed in the Meier house. And the Meier house had been actively scouring the region for foster parents for a south side juvenile delinquent. And had treated her with a courtesy, respect, and tenderness that had made Faith uncertain and wonder what they wanted from her.
Which had resulted in Faith currently lying on her back on a bed in a suburb of Boston, fully dressed, and ready to go to school. The Howards had taken her in and enrolled her in a different school in a different area and had demanded and given respect in the three days she’d been with them. And admittedly, made her dress less provocatively.
She grinned. It wasn’t needed in her present circumstances to dress tough. Though a short conversation with Gladys Howard had led to the surprising conclusion that the leather pants were not bad as such…just a bit too mature for now. And they’d been carefully stored in the dower chest at the foot of her bed, which Gladys told her was just the place for them. And
she’d asked where Faith had gotten them, with a certain glint in her eye… Frank Howard was going to get a surprise…
Faith got up, swung her bookbag over her shoulder and left her room, galumphed down the stairs, put the bag down, walked into the kitchen and smiled at her foster parents who were eating breakfast.
Gladys was a short, slim but sturdy blue eyed blonde with pale skin and a stubby nose and an almost unwholesome amount of energy.
Frank was a tall lanky red head with green blue eyes, freckles and a pale skin who seemed to be constantly smiling. His laid back attitude made him an ideal foil for his wife’s occasionally silly plans.
“Hello Faith…Frank don’t put sugar on your sugar coated Frosties.” Gladys rolled her eyes.
Frank grinned at Faith who grinned back and sat down, filled a bowl with Frosties took the sugar from Frank’s proffered hand, and liberally sprinkled it over her breakfast. Gladys sighed and just passed her the milk.
School had been good…the teachers were different…the kids were different…the classes were different. The classrooms were clean, there were no locked cubicles in the washrooms were drugs were being pushed…there were no girls who carried the ownership tattoos of pimps. Even the food in the cafeteria had been edible. Faith whistled as she approached her house. A man stepped out into the road.
“Faith Lehane?” He asked in a British accented voice.
Faith looked at the man. He was dressed in a tweed suit and wore glasses. She thought he’d be about sixty years old or so and in good shape for his age. His hair was grey but traces of black remained. He was tall and spare and something about him set off her instincts.
“You have a Duty.”
“Really? I know I have homework.”
“You must accept your Destiny and be ready to serve mankind.”
“Yeah…well I suggest you go and find someone who actually cares…Which means you should leave now and start searchin’.”
“You are Chosen and cannot escape your destiny…we will not let you. You must give up this idle and frivolous life and submit to the needs of the Cause.”
“Look…I don’t know who you are…I don’t care…I like my new idle and frivolous life and I could care less about you’re cause…. All I know is that I’ve got to get home and do homework, have dinner and then watch some TV…So…good bye, so long, and as long as you don’t bother me again, we’re Five by Five.”
Faith stepped of the kerb and passed the man who stood looking after her, a grim smile on his face.
Faith opened the front door with the key she’d been given and called out. “Hello! I’m home!” Gladys called from the kitchen.
Faith sat down and watched as Gladys put a dish in the oven. “A casserole, I hope you’ll like it. How was school?”
“Well…no one got stabbed…and well, no one tried to sell me any drugs, or trade it to me for, you know…” Faith looked uncomfortable and Gladys horrified. “I-I shouldn’t be telling you this…”
“Yes. Yes you should. Faith…Frank and I agreed to take you in to take care of you…and that means we need to know about you…We…they told us the sort of life you’ve had…but to hear it from you.” She walked over to Faith and gave her a hug. Faith sat stiff and silent.
“Are you alright?”
“Y-you hugged me?”
“I’m sorry…shouldn’t I?”
“No…It’s been a while is all…”
“I see…want another one? Get the hang of it again?” Gladys smiled.
Faith’s brow wrinkled. “Yeah…might as well.” She turned into Gladys and let herself be hugged, and be hugged back.
“I gotta go do my homework.”
“Of course…call if you need any help okay?”
Faith looked at Gladys as if she had grown an extra head. “Errr…yeah…sure I will.”
“Faith…I went to school too…I know about homework…or would you like to make it in the dining room? I’ll be in the office working and you can just call out.”
Faith stood stunned. “You…you mean that?”
“Oh Faithy…of course I do.”
Faith grinned. “Faithy?”
“Well, what else should I call you?” Gladys teased.
Faith thought about it. “Errr…Faithy is fine…never had no one calling me pet names before…”
“Get used to it. And it’s never had anyone call me by, or nobody ever called me pet names.”
Faith grinned again. “Heh. You wanna go and improve my English?”
“Oh yes…it may be an uphill struggle, but I’m sure we’ll get there…”
“Get where?” Frank asked from the doorway.
“Queen’s English.” Gladys winked.
Faith groaned. “I’m not gonna be speakin’ like some ol’ biddy yo!”
Frank cleared his throat. “Old Biddy? I’ve heard many descriptions for Queen Elizabeth, but never that…”
“Well, I ain’t gonna!” Faith glared.
Frank chuckled. “Oh…I fear, Faith, that Gladys has that look in her eye…”
Faith looked at Gladys and saw the glint of humour and determination in the woman’s eye. “Oh man…”
Frank and Gladys laughed. Faith went into the dining room while Gladys sat in the office checking the mail of their antiques business.
Faith walked down the street, sunk in thought, her book bag slung over a shoulder and a sad expression on her face.
“Miss Lehane, you must abandon this life, and join me on the road to become the Chosen One…”
“Yeah…Look Amazing Tweed, I lived on the road… it ain’t my idea of fun…And if you and I go off together, how does that add up to Chosen One
?” Faith said sarcastically.
“One plus one equals two, Oh Prophet of British Doom…now fuck off.” Faith ran into the house and closed the door angrily. Gladys stuck her head around the door.
“Faithy? Are you okay?”
“Yeah sure, fine, Five by Five.”
“Really? From your expression I would say One by one…Faith?”
Faith turned away from the door. “I-I…”
“I don’t understand half of what they’re sayin’…” Faith whispered.
“I don’t understand what they’re sayin!! I’m too stupid to be in school! I shouldn’t be here…” The girl turned away from the door, moving haltingly towards the stairs.
Gladys rose and took hold of Faith. “Ah…well that is to be expected.”
“After all the schooling you’ve had wasn’t the best, so its normal you find yourself behind others of your peer group. Nothing that some hard work and help won’t cure.”
Gladys looked a trifle guilty. “We probably should have talked about this earlier…but…Well Frank and I’ve been looking for a tutor…his name is Dallman Ross and he’s an old friend.”
“Oh...so you’re not angry?”
“Oh Faithy…as long as you do your best we won’t be angry. Now Dallman said he’d be here tomorrow to talk things over with me and Frank…but it’s probably best if you sit in.”
Faith looked startled and uncertain as she went into the dining room to doher homework.
“Faith! Don’t forget Dallman will be here after dinner!” Frank called up the stair.
“Yeah sure!” Faith looked at the clothes she’d taken from the dower chest and shrugged. *Gotta loose the energy somehow…Not like the old dude will be able to help.*
After dinner Faith climbed out of the window of her room, her leather trousers and tight green T-shirt much different from the clothes she’d worn to school. *Tutor my ass…* She moved quickly through the streets towards Marvel, a dance club sure to have some interesting clients and not too vigilant about checking ID’s.
Faith was dancing, wildly and seductively, with three boys several years older than herself. The broad shouldered dark bearded with man made his way calmly through the groups of teens and tweens, ignoring the looks he garnered by his dress and age, his long overcoat flapping around his legs as they dodged out of his way.
“Faith, I presume?”
Faith turned around to face him and lifted an eyebrow at his appearance. “Yeah? What’s it to you?”
“Gladys and Frank are worried sick…and haven’t got much experience with kids like you…now we can do this the easy way…or the hard way.”
“Oh yeah? Whadda ya have in mind?” She raised an eyebrow at him and licked her lips. The man merely sighed, stepped up to her, grabbed her wrists and threw her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. Shocked patrons stood watching as he carried her off the dance floor. Then most of them started grinning and there were a few cat calls that the man solemnly accepted. The barman gave him a wave and a nod.
“Hey! Put me down you scuzzbag? Who the hell do you think you are?”
“Dallman Ross…your new tutor…and Frank and Gladys asked me to find you.” He nodded curtly at the bouncers and the men grinned abashedly. “I presume you’ll check IDs better in the future? Hmmm, Jimmy, Pablo?”
“Yes Mr. Ross.”
“Good.” Outside he put Faith on her feet with a thud that drove the air from her lungs. “My car’s over there. Let’s go.”
Faith crossed her arms. “How the Hell did you just get away with carrying me out of there!?”
“Marvel has been here for years, and half the staff and most of the clients I taught. They know me…and you young lady…are in trouble with your parents.”
Faith stood dumb and gaping until Ross pushed her to his car, where she sat, silent and morose until the car pulled up before the Howards’ house. Ross held the door open for her and she got out. Looking at the open door with the two people waiting on the porch her shoulders slumped. She walked up the stairs and looked down at her feet.
“I-I’ll start packin’.”
She was surprised by the hug she was drawn in to. “Damn it Faith! Don’t ever do anything like that again! We were so worried!” Frank joined in the hug and Faith unfroze, hugging them back.
“I-I…you don’t want me to leave?”
“No…we want you to tell us when you want to go dancing…and I think we discussed the appropriateness of what you’re wearing at the moment for a girl your age?”
Faith opened her mouth to reply but then shook her head. “Yeah…sorry.”
“Next time…just tell us…where did you find her Dallman?”
“Marvel. Everybody gravitates to Marvel eventually.”
Gladys gave Faith a searching look. “Did anybody touch you? There’s been talk of GHB and other drugs used on girls there!”
Faith flinched at the look. “Naw…I’m alright.”
“Faith…you’re alright now…but…Please?” Gladys put a trembling hand against the girl’s cheek and Faith looked at her with wide eyes amazed at the honest care and worry in the woman’s eyes.
“I-I’ll be more careful…I just…I needed…”
Ross cleared his throat. “Shall we take this inside?”
The small group started and moved inside, Ross following, closing the door.
Dalmann Ross grinned at his pupil. “Well…now Faith…I must admit you’re not quite what I expected after all Glad’s words about her pretty, sweet
Faith glowered at the bulky bearded man. “Oh, yeah thanks.”
“Well I did have to come find you in that club…”
“I just…I needed to dance…I-I didn’t think that you’d understand…” She looked apologetically at Gladys and Frank who sighed.
“Of course we do…we know a lot about pent up energy. We just use different methods.”
Faith smirked and Gladys slapped her lightly on the arm. “Not that, gutter mind…Karate, Aikido, and Judo and such.”
Faith looked between them. “You’re joshing me right? You’re havin’ me on?”
“No. We just haven’t been doing it as much since you came to live with us. Perhaps…would you like to join us?”
Faith nodded. “Yeah. That would be way cool.”
“Well, we’ll get you some exercise clothes first, and if you enjoy it, we’ll get you a Gi.”
Faith beamed. “Awesome. Ummm…so ummm, do you two have like, belts?”
“Black.” Frank grinned.
“I’m gonna get my butt kicked for a while, right?” Faith winced in anticipation.
Frank laughed, but there was an edge of worry to it. “Not unless you pull something like tonight again. We were worried sick.”
“I’m sorry…I…My mother never…”
“Faith.” Gladys said very firmly as she lifted the girl’s chin to look into her eyes. “We’re not your mother. But we will try and be the best parents we can be for you. But that means that you have to, well, adjust to us too. Can you do that?”
“Hell yeah.” Faith flushed slightly at the amused expressions on the Howards’ faces. “I mean yes ma’am. Sorry.”
“Quite alright. Now…you have a study session, but I’d say first get out of the leather pants and into something more appropriate for study and then you and Dallman can get on with seeing what your academic standing is.”
Faith was about to make a smart remark when the eyes of Dallman Ross, old and wise beyond his years, turned upon her. And he winked.
Faith grinned and ran upstairs to change.
“You two are quite good at this.” Dallman spoke to his friends, who shrugged.
“It’s the least we can do…And, no matter how much it hurts…it has great rewards as well.”
“Yes…yes indeed.” He smiled. “Maybe I should try it again too.”
“Dallman…” Gladys laid a hand on the man’s arm and gave him a commiserating look.
“I know…It’s probably too soon.”
Faith thundered down the stairs, now out of her tight fitting top and leather trousers and clad in a pair of comfortable jeans and a deep red sweater Gladys had bought her earlier. “This good?” Her expression was between amusement and embarrassment and Gladys grinned.
“Much better…and tomorrow Frank and I will take you to the Dojo and see if we can’t get you to get rid of some of that energy without dressing like Sandy from Grease in the final scenes.”
Faith winced at the comparison. “Hey! I got more brain than her!”
“Actually all brains tend to be about the same weight…it’s the neural connections that make all the difference…which leads us to biology…Faith, if you would get your books?”
Faith sighed and got her books. There were some disadvantages to her new life after all…
The doorbell rang and Faith humming to herself; opened it. Her eyes widened as she took in the caller and her mouth dropped open. The man who stood there was tall and powerfully built, his oval face characterized by deep set dark brown eyes with long lashes and heavy brows flanking his strong roman nose. His long dark hair was drawn back into a pony tail and hung down the back of his long cream overcoat which hung open to show a sports jacket over jeans and a turtle neck.
“Ummm…Good afternoon Miss…I was looking for friends of mine, Frank and Gladys Howard?”
“Nyerm?” Faith was looking at the slim hips and the elegant hand that lay lightly on the right one. His warm, velvet voice made shivers run down her back.
“Miss?” The man leaned forward, obviously worried.
“Nyer?” *Oh, that mouth, that voice, those hands…*
“Faith? Who’s at the door?” Gladys called out from the office.
“Gladys? It’s Duncan.”
“Duncan! Faith, it’s alright, let him in.” Gladys looked around the edge of the door and after a few seconds let out a sigh and a chuckle, then rose. She took Faith by the shoulder and led her away. “Really Duncan, you shouldn’t spring your pure masculine beauty on my unsuspecting daughter.”
Duncan smiled as Faith finally shook herself out of her daze and blushed furiously. “I do apologize I wasn’t expecting someone except for Frank or Gladys. I’m Duncan, Duncan MacLeod.”
“F-Faith. Faith Lehane.”
Duncan bowed slightly, taking Faith’s hand and hovering his lips over her knuckles. Faith blushed again. “Utterly delighted to make your acquaintance Miss Lehane.” Faith shivered.
“Duncan…” Gladys crossed her arms and gave him a glare.
Duncan came up from his bow and looked confused. “Something wrong Gladys?”
“Faith, why don’t you get back to your homework, Dallman should be here in a few minutes.”
“But…” Faith looked longingly at Duncan.
“Faith…math test tomorrow, remember?”
Faith pouted and walked into the dining room with slightly more sway to her hips than she’d had anytime in the past month. Gladys pointedly closed the door when Faith sat down and stretched in a cat like manner to show of her sweater clad bust.
“She’s fifteen years old, Duncan. Don’t you dare.” She turned on the visitor.
Duncan smirked and raised his hands. “I realized she was young Gladys. I’m not going to do anything.”
“Duncan…Faith…has a different background. She may just decide to do something herself.”
“And I won’t let it become anything, Gladys…”
“I know…I know…It’s just…she’s been so hurt Duncan…I don’t ever want her to be hurt ever again.”
“Glad…There’s one thing I’ve learned its that young men and young women will fall in love, or lust, where they will. And sometimes it may hurt.”
“This is the first time you’ve had a daughter drool over a friend?” Duncan smirked.
“Shut up Duncan. Now, any special reason you’re here, other than to use your wiles to drive down my teenage daughter’s grade point average?”
Duncan smiled. “Just visiting old friends…if allowed?”
Gladys smiled. “Well…I do trust you…it’s just…seeing Faith like that…she normally is quite a lot more forward and self confident. Or acts like it at least.”
“Gladys…I promise I won’t encourage her, lead her on or touch her as anything but the daughter of dear friends. Now tell me about you, Frank, and Faith as well.”
Duncan felt the Quickening coming from outside and looked up. Gladys smiled. “Frank and Dallman. Dallman’s an old friend, he’s Faithy’s tutor.”
“Dallman Ross? I’ve met him…he killed a boy.”
“No…He killed a monster. Ellen was a wonderful woman and did not deserve to be butchered by that evil hearted scum bag.”
Duncan blinked at the ice cold rage in Gladys’ voice. “I see…It’s just…difficult.”
“Yes. But even if you do challenge him Duncan…you’d better do it somewhere where Faithy won’t notice.” Gladys’ eyes were haunted at the possibility of loosing either of her friends.
“I won’t…but things may be a bit tense.”
The door opened and two men entered, the stocky form of Dallman Ross and the tall, spare one of Frank Howard.
“Frank. Good to see you.”
“Duncan, you as well.”
Dallman Ross eyed the Highlander suspiciously, a hand on the sword under his coat.
“Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod.”
“Are you here to challenge me then?”
“No…no…I have to accept the fact that Kenny…wasn’t what he appeared to be. Have accepted it.”
“It gave me no pleasure MacLeod. The opposite in fact. But he killed my wife. And many others who tried to take care of him over the centuries. He was older than you and I together and lived by treachery and deceit.”
“He had the form of a child. I know.” Dallman shuddered.
“Want to get drunk? I’ve got a thirty year old single malt in my luggage.”
Dallman chuckled. “Shall we get Frank in it too?”
Gladys cleared her throat. “Minor in the house gentlemen. I will not have you corrupting the innocent.”
“Innocent? Is this the same girl who dresses more provocatively than you did in the…your twenties?”
Frank winked at Gladys who crossed her arms and glared. “No boozing in front of Faith. Understood?”
The three men sighed in unison. Frank raised his hands in surrender. “Very well…we’ll just have to get together in Seacouver and get drunk there. That bar where we last met still there Mac?”
“Yeah…but can’t we wait until Faith is in bed and then drink?” Mac asked guilelessly.
Gladys rolled her eyes. “Men.” End note: In Highlander canon Kenny kills Dallman Ross. In my AU Dallman survives.