Rating: PG 13
Main Characters: Faith, Thailog
Pairing: none yet, may make casual mention of past relationships.
Disclaimer: I do not own anyone from BtVS or Disney's Gargoyles
Distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, Wic, Paula - anyone else please ask first.
Note: I am changing some things from the original BtVS/AtS and Gargoyles storylines. You have been warned. This means everything for Thailog after the Coney Island battle, and everything after the Faith-Buffy body swap.
Faith let out her breath slowly, feeling her pulse roaring in her ears. That had been the most horrible ordeal of her life, worse than running from Kakistos, than fighting Kakistos, worse than fighting Buffy. She'd just been on trial in a California court of law. On trial for just about everything that had happened in Sunnydale, and the verdict would decided her future, if she even had a future.
She was free. Well, not entirely free, and she wasn't supposed to leave the state of California unless there was some sort of emergency, and supposed to check in with a social worker regularly and let someone know before she moved anywhere, but she wasn't being sent to jail. A few matters about Sunnydale's evidence amounting to a hill of beans and some other teens not liking her, and the fact that she'd only turned seventeen that year. All of her alleged crimes - which she knew full well she was guilty of most if not all of the charges, had been committed as a minor, under extreme mental stress. There had even been some Psychiatrist in this severe looking suit explaining that having been present at the horrible murder of her adopted mother - her Watcher, Faith was clearly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, as evidenced by her erratic behavior and the gaps in her memory. Gaps that were far safer than trying to explain about vampires, demons and Slayers.
But what would she do with her life now? She was still the... a Slayer, so there would still be the fighting to keep the world from getting sucked into hell, killing vampires and all that, but... What else was there? She'd already had it proven that she needed to have somebody there for her, someone to keep her remembering that while she was the Slayer, she was still human. And the Council was out. They'd tried to have her taken out of the country and killed; even Wesley had given up on her. There would be no help from that direction. Angel... he meant well, but he wasn't a good point of reference for humanity either.
Looking skyward, Faith sighed. "I'm glad that I'm not going to prison, but it might be nice to have somebody I could talk to about all of this. About everything. Someone to help me keep my balance." Shaking her head, she made her way towards the little hotel room, doubting that anything... any being had heard her words, or would care.
Of course, she would still need a place to live, somewhere to stay, to keep stuff. Hopefully a place that was halfway safe, and somewhere that she could keep slaying equipment. Maybe somewhere that didn't have any lousy neighbors... Of course, at that rate, she'd almost have to buy a whole big empty building. Maybe that was why so many of the vamps in cities laired in warehouses and empty buildings, to avoid noisy neighbors? Or nosy neighbors... no, those would just end up mid-day snacks. She should be able to manage that, it turned out that Dick had left her a nice inheritance. No land, but bank accounts, stock investments, some books and 'artwork' from his collection... She could afford to live for a good long while, but that didn't solve the question of where.
She hurried back to catch the lawyer, wanting to figure out if there would be any particular legal hoops to go through to buy some property, considering that she was still a minor. Of course, if they were willing to try her as if she were an adult, you'd think she should be able to do something as simple as buy some land, but sometimes things just didn't work that way. You're still too young to do anything, but you have to go fight demons, go fulfill your destiny... You can't drive, but you can go die for the whole damn world...
That ended up taking close to an hour with the lawyer, and in the end, the conclusion was that she would need another lawyer to assist with her purchase; just to make certain that everybody was satisfied. It was very frustrating, but she would be able to buy a place... once she found one. That brought up the question of realtors, and she ended up walking out of the first office when the guy she tried to talk to couldn't look higher than her chest. The second office was smaller, and looked a bit worn, but the people seemed polite, and helpful. They were talking about possibilities when the other of the two agents, both older women, looked up, a tiny smile on her face.
"What about the Keller property? You said that you wanted some space... there was an artist who bought and converted a warehouse into a combination home and studio. It has all the utilities, and plenty of space, not much in the line of neighbors either. It's in a bit of a quiet section of town... Maybe you'd like to take a look at it?"
Faith blinked, smiling as her mind tried to picture having that much space all to herself. "It sounds pretty good, but maybe I should take a look at it. Could I get the address? Is it all structurally sound inside?"
"Of course, dear. It's locked, so you'd need one of us to take a look inside, but there's nothing to stop you from having a bit of a drive by." The lady that had brought it up beamed, handing some papers over with information on the property. Her nametag read Penelope. "Feel free to call us if you have any questions."
Faith was thinking about the idea as she left. A converted warehouse could be almost perfect. If it was in decent shape, if it wasn't infested with demons, if... There were a whole lot of if's, actually. But she could settle some of them right now, with a simple detour. Go by the place, take a good hard look around. That should give her a little idea of the sort of neighborhood, and she'd be able to feel something if it was being used as the lair of some sort of evil fiend or demon. And if the inside was a mess, she could clean and repaint. If the whole place was a wreck, she didn't have to buy it.
The neighborhood was actually... well, mostly warehouses, a bar over a few blocks, and some factories. Not much in the line of people, which sounded just about perfect as far as she was concerned. The building itself was in pretty decent shape, although there were some bright splashes of graffiti. She didn't pick up any demonic presences, although there were some freaky looking statues along the roof.
Checking to make certain nobody was watching, she jumped to catch the fire escape, and rapidly made her way to the roof. The statues appeared to be gargoyles, not like the waterspouts, but large creatures that were so incredibly detailed that they looked as if they could open their eyes and move if they wanted. Half furled wings, powerful tails, wicked looking talons and in one case, a beak, gave a menacing look, but details of clothing, jewelry, ringlets of hair on one female sculpture made them seem less like monsters, and more like people. One of them even looked as if he was in some sort of armor. There were also smaller, cruder shapes, as if Keller had been making smaller copies and hadn't quite finished carving away.
The place looked pretty good to her. She'd have to have one of the ladies give her the tour of inside, and then she'd have to talk to that lawyer again. But this could be a very good place for her. She could hardly wait.
End part 1.
Faith almost didn’t realize that her patrol took her back to that section of town. It wasn’t until the stupid vampire minion flung her into a wall with oddly familiar graffiti that she realized that she was right back at the place she might buy. And the walls seemed pretty solid. She returned the favor, slamming the minion into the wall and then staking him while he was dazed. As she began to walk away, Faith turned to take another look at the building.
Something was different.
Frowning, she tried to figure out what had changed. Graffiti covered walls, locked door with a chain, a few windows made with that greenish glass that didn’t let in much light, a couple statues on the roof… Wait. Hadn’t there been more statues this afternoon?
Faith made her way to the building, leaping up again to climb the fire escape. As she pulled herself on to the roof, she tried very carefully to extend her senses, in hopes of not being ambushed by… something. Anything. It didn’t feel like anything was waiting for her, but there was something off. Slowly, Faith made her way across the roof, looking at the statues, trying to compare the scene with this afternoon. Some of the statues were missing, and she gradually noticed a pattern.
All the missing ones were the statues that had been the most realistic, the ones that had almost looked like they should be able to move. With a small shiver, she remembered something else – they’d had wings. So… nine winged not-statues, about the size of a human, with talons. And she had no idea what they were, or if they were dangerous. Oh, this was just… great.
Skin prickling with unease, Faith made her way back to the ground, and returned to her patrol. Things like that almost made her wish that she still had a Watcher. Someone that could answer the questions of 'What is it? Is it dangerous? How do I kill it?’
And in the air, Thailog glided along a current with the horned gargoyle Amon, one of the members of the gargoyle clan that he’d found in Los Angeles. He’d watched as the human had moved over the rooftop, her movements making it clear that she was searching for something. While the clan here didn’t fully trust him, this could potentially be… troublesome.
“Amon. There was a human on the rooftop. The one where we sleep.” He pointed to the moving figure.
Looking down at the woman below, Amon changed the angle of his glide slightly, almost following her. “That could complicate things. Especially if she figures out that there are more statues during the day.”
Almost, Thailog asked what one human could do. But he knew better. One human, in a fight against a gargoyle, would loose. One human might also have the resources and connections to make a lot of trouble. After all, Xanatos was only one human. Anton Sevarius was only one human. That annoying detective that Goliath was so fond of was just one human. “We need to know more about her.”
“Indeed.” The sand hued gargoyle chuckled. “Then I think you have a project to occupy your time.”
Thailog only shook his head, unsurprised. The clan here had let him stay with them, but they did not entirely trust him. Especially suspicious was Corra, the beaked female with the wicked chess game. So, was this assignment to learn more about the woman a gesture of near trust, or an attempt to keep him out of the way? “A project… that’s one way to look at it.”
Either way, it was easily worth such a task, to have a place, even if a bit grudging, in a clan. He hadn’t wanted to believe it at first, but there was some truth in the things that Hudson had claimed. Gargoyles were not meant to be alone, but part of a clan. He hadn’t felt the urge to plot anything deviously dangerous or any sort of attempt to take over corporations, small countries, or even the clan since he’d been here. Only part of that was because Amon was a well respected leader.
Smiling for the first time since his near death at that horrible amusement park, Thailog began to follow the woman. He didn’t know if she could be considered remotely trustworthy, but it would be something different to do with his time.
End part 2.
The feeling of the air under his wings was wonderful, as always. Almost, it could make up for the helplessness that claimed all gargoyles as the sun rose. He followed the dark haired woman, part of his mind comparing her movements to everything he could think of, trying to figure out why she was out and about. She didn’t move like a prostitute, or someone claimed by fear. There was no submission in her. No, it would be closer to say that she was hunting, but it wasn’t the sort of movements that he’d seen in countless gang members and bullies. No, there was something else to her… Something strange and powerful and dangerous.
But who was she dangerous to? What was she hunting?
That would be the key. The woman moved with confidence, the body language of a hunter, a predator. She would either be a good ally or a dangerous enemy, and it was very important to know which. But how could he tell from here? How could he tell unless she did something more than simply prowling through the streets and allies?
“Just do something, woman. Do something that I can take some of your measure.” The words were a faint growl into the air, impossible to hear on the ground.
But perhaps fate had heard him. He saw a hint of motion, and then a pair of creatures moved in an alley. They left something, and he detoured slightly, so that he could look into the alley and see what they’d left. Gazing down, he saw a barrel full of fire, and beside it, a homeless man. No, it was the body of a man, his arms splayed out, blood splashed over the concrete, his entrails ripped open… Where were the rest of his innards? There were several gaping holes, as well as a large chunk gone from his throat….
Thailog felt nausea flood his body as he realized the scuttling things had been eating the human. Quickly, he turned, certain that the only acceptable thing would be to try to keep the things from killing and eating another human. The clan would insist on it. And cowardice was unacceptable.
The clicking noise was the first thing he heard when he landed, the noise of teeth clacking together. The things were thin, all lean bones covered with rough dark hide, like cracked leather, long hands with sharp talons. One of them lunged for the woman, and she spun into a kick, her foot connecting with it’s shoulder, sending it towards a wall. The second lunged towards her, hoping to strike from the rear.
The talons didn’t connect. Thailog moved towards it, his fist hitting right between the shoulder blades of the skinny killer. It dropped to the ground, and rolled, trying to regain it’s footing. Blood was smeared over it’s muzzle and hands, and beedy dark eyes glared at him with hunger, rage, and an unsettling lack of intelligence. This was no thinking creature, only a feral hunting thing.
And it was fast. Not terribly strong, but it was definitely faster than he was. Soon, he had dozens of little slashes, all of them shallow, but they stung and bled. He had to figure out some sort of weakness that this thing had, something that he could use against it.
Then, the other one was propelled into the one facing him, and they fell to the alley in a tangled heap of flailing limbs. The dark haired woman was there, almost pouncing with a drawn blade, which she stabbed at the bodies with. It was as if she wasn’t certain where to aim, or perhaps she figured enough wounds would bleed them to death.
Whatever her reasoning, she seemed to have a good idea. The flailing changed, becoming weaker, and a spreading pool of something greenish and foul was seeping from beneath the creatures. Gradually, they stopped moving.
Thailog stood there, his wounds burning, staring at the woman. While none of the wounds would be bad individually, all together they hurt, and would notably weaken him. And he doubted that he would be able to get to the air before she could attack him if that was her intent. She was staring at him, blade still in hand, her eyes wide as she looked over him. Not wide with fear, but there was surprise.
Her gaze slowed, lingering over the bit of shoulder armor that he wore, and there was a small frown, as if…
“You were stone today. Now… now you aren’t. What are you?” Her words emerged slowly, as if she found them almost impossible sounding.
“A gargoyle.” His voice was a deep rumble that almost but didn’t quite seem to startle her. More as if she hadn’t been quite certain that he would answer.
“And you speak English. Good, I suppose, that always does make the whole communicating thing easier…” She shook her head slightly, the weapon moving to a less threatening position. She didn’t put it away, so it was apparent that she didn’t quite trust him, but she seemed to be giving him some doubt, or maybe it was opportunity. “So… for those of us who… well, are me, what is a gargoyle? Why were you stone before, and not now?”
“You asked why I was stone before… I don’t know why gargoyles become stone during the daylight.” He shrugged, thinking that if only Sevarius had devised an answer to that, instead of figuring out how to clone them… But if Anton Sevarius were inclined towards helping people… well, might as well ask what if the moon were truly made of green cheese. “We are… I suppose the best way to describe it is to say that we are a race of non-human sentients. There have been gargoyles… well, the version that I heard was that there had always been gargoyles. We…” Thailog paused, part of him not wanting to trust this woman, and another part knowing that she would demand answers. It might be wise to give her as little information as possible… “Gargoyles are a dwindling species. There have been a great many causes of this… Most of them amount to humans.”
“Which means that you’re probably trying to figure out whether or not this blade is going to be headed your way.” She had this little ironic smirk.
“I do not fear any single human in combat.” He pulled himself straighter, his arms crossing over his chest as he looked down to the shorter woman.
“Cocky, aren’t you?” She was smiling. “I have the same problem, so that’s not too bad. What am I supposed to call you anyhow?”
“I am Thailog.” He felt this odd mix of emotions. A part of him was trying to quash the unease and worry that the whole situation was causing. Another part seemed… almost proud that she wasn’t afraid. And he was definitely curious. “Who are you, and what were those…. Creatures?”
“Some sort of demon… not too sure what sort.” She shrugged, sort of glancing over at the bodies. “Lots of types of demons, and more than half of them are dangerous to humans. Some… like those bad boys, think human belongs on the menu. I sort of object to that. I’m Faith.”
“Faith…” He tried the name out, not entirely certain if it suited her. “And what is your opinion on gargoyles, Faith who fights demons?
“Well…” She tilted her head a bit, as it trying to sort out her thoughts. “You… I’m going to guess that the other missing statues are also gargoyles. You don’t all look alike, and you definitely look… well, I don’t think I’m going to be picking any fights with your kind. Not unless… I got this destiny thing. I go out, and when I find some nasty preying on people, something that the cops aren’t equipped to deal with, that’s my job.”
“I didn’t think most humans had jobs like that.” There was something that she wasn’t saying. Probably a lot of things. “Why do you?”
Faith shrugged. “Sometimes, life just sucks like that. Anyhow, I get the thankless job of killing the nasties that go bump, and a lot of them bump more after dark, if you catch my drift. What had you right here in time to join in the fight?”
“I was following you.” He watched her, noting the way her grip shifted a little, as if preparing for something. “Humans are…. Unpredictable as a whole.”
“Let me guess… what is she up to? Are you supposed to take me out if you decide I’m all dangerous?” She was watching him, her gaze flickering over him, eyeing his muscles.
“I’m already certain that you’re dangerous, Faith. The question is… who are you dangerous to? What do you hunt?” He almost purred the words.
“Anyone that gets in my way." She smirked, her voice taking on an almost sultry note. "See you later, Thailog… I’ve got a patrol to finish.”
He found himself just watching her leave, still having more questions than answers. But she was definitely… something. He would be thinking a lot about Faith. As he took to the air once more, it occurred to him that he still couldn’t be absolutely certain that she wasn’t a danger to the clan.
End part 3.
Faith found herself smiling as she made her slow way back to the hotel. Patrol was… well, it was patrol. After those two unknown demons that Thailog had helped her kill, she ran into several vampires, including one small pack of four. She’d staked three of them, the last being a sneaky, cowardly, smart one and running away while she was killing his pals. Those were the frustrating ones.
Of course, Thailog had raised all sorts of questions in her mind. A gargoyle… a person that wasn’t human, had never been human. And there were more of them… they’d been resting… been stone on that warehouse. Stone by day, flesh and blood by night.
That warehouse was sounding better all the time. Lots of space, not too many neighbors… at least in the day, good area for hunting, and plenty of room for her stuff. It was just about perfect. It even came with it’s own mystery… gargoyles. What did you call a group of gargoyles anyhow? A pack? A pride, like lions? A flock, like bats, or a pod like whales?
Oh yeah, she was definitely buying that warehouse. And that Thailog had been sort of cute… in a definitely not human sort of way. Lots of muscles, strong cheekbones… Great voice. He could certainly make life interesting.
She had a plan now. Get back to the hotel, have a hot shower. And after some decent sleep, call up lawyer boy so she could buy a property, call up the real estate ladies to get the Keller warehouse. She hoped it wouldn’t take too long to get the title, get the keys, and move in.
“You haven’t seen the last of me, Thailog.” Pausing a moment, she realized just how much that line sounded like something from a cheesy villain, and started laughing.
Maybe she’d best hope that the line wasn’t an omen of things to come. Thailog had made a good fighting partner against those demons, even if it had been entirely by coincidence. Maybe… maybe she wouldn’t have to patrol alone. Maybe she could have someone to talk to, someone that would listen to the whole Slayer mess without thinking she was insane. Maybe…
Enough maybes. The certainty was that life was about to get interesting again. Faith couldn’t wait.
End part 4.
End Wings of a Prayer: Fresh Start.