Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Patricia Briggs owns "The Mercedes Thompson Series" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Note:
More incredibly belated posting. Hopefully the rest will be up in a few days. Title from the song "The Sky's a Poisonous Garden Tonight" by Concrete Blonde.~*~*~
Out in the woods, a wolf paused, her nose in the air. She caught a scent: the interloper, the one who was preying upon her mate. She snarled silently, her body tensing. She crept closer to the smell, doing her best to remain silent. From behind a tree, she spied her prey. So small, so unassuming. Even though she was with another girl, killing her would be easy. Satisfying.
The wolf otherwise known as Leah Cornick crouched down in the snow, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Buffy and Faith were walking along the edge of the main road to the complex where they were meeting with the Marrok and his representatives when Buffy finally spoke. Faith didn’t know why, but for some reason B had wanted to walk and talk after the reception ended, rather than take one of the cars. They’d been walking for about ten minutes at this point, long enough where Faith was wondering if B was going a little crazy.
“You haven’t said much about what’s been going on, Faith,” she commented, shivering in the January air despite the thick coat she wore.
Faith shrugged. She hadn’t really planned on going to this little pow-wow, but between B and Xander, they’d convinced her to come. She wasn’t doing all that much, though. The core Scoobies were taking the lead on this, leaving her to sit back and just watch. It wasn’t a position she was used to--give her action any day of the week--but it allowed her to see what was going on without getting too involved. Like how the Queen Bitch was giving B the stink eye before stalking out of the room. Stuff like that.
“Ain’t got much to say,” she answered. “You and the Marrok seem pretty on top of things talking wise.”
Buffy, to Faith’s amusement, blushed furiously at the comment.
“It’s not like that,” she muttered, looking down at the snow covered ground in front of her. “He leads the werewolves. I, technically, lead the Slayers. It makes sense that we would make with the talking and the exchanging of ideas. It’s nothing more than that.”
“He’s also older, cute in a nerdy, still in college way, and...” A fistfull of snow hit Faith in the face before she could finish her thought. “...has that nonhuman edge to him that you like so much in your boytoys,” Faith finished, brushing the snow off her face and giving B her best shit-eating grin. “And if that reaction was anything, I’m not that far off base with this one.”
“One, he’s mated, so even if
I didn’t have a rule against taken men, I don’t think he’d even think about it,” Buffy replied, brushing snow off of her gloves. “Two, I’m not interested in him like that.”
“You’re protesting too much, B,” Faith shot back. Her smile left her face, though, with her next sentence. “And if I’m noticing it, then other people are too. You’re playing with fire here, B.”
“Yeah, I know,” was Buffy’s sighed reply. They walked in silence for a little while longer before Buffy asked another question. “Do you think the Slayers should come out?”
“Like the faeries did?” Faith asked. She wasn’t surprised this was coming up, what with the whole point of this meet and greet was to talk about what the werewolves coming out might mean to the Slayers. Ever since the Council had reformed, they’d had some communications with the head werewolf pack. Not much, but enough to make sure that they didn’t find themselves in war, at least in North America. Europe was a whole ‘nother ballgame.
Buffy nodded. “People know that the supernatural is out there, and we already have people asking questions,” she answered, looking back at the ground. “How long until we’re being threatened the same way the werewolves are?”
“But if we out ourselves, B, we might be inviting more attention on the girls than we need,” Faith pointed out, although she figured B had already reached that point on her own. “Countries start hoarding Slayers and shit like that, and soon, it’s an arms race.”
“Not to mention what might happen if the girls become targets for fanatics,” Buffy replied, her shoulders slumping. “But if we keep ourselves hidden, then what happens if we’re outted and we’re not in control of the press?”
“You mean, if something like me happens again.” Buffy’s silence was all the answer Faith needed. “Look, I’ve been trying to help the ones I can...”
“I’m not blaming you,” Buffy interrupted Faith, stopping and crossing her arms in front of her. “I’m the one whose resurrection caused the problems with the First in the first place. I was the one who came up with the brilliant idea to activate all the Slayers, and now I’m dealing with the consequences.” Her shoulders slumped and B looked more defeated than Faith had ever seen her. “The girls are my responsibility, and I can’t see any answer that would make them any safer.”
“To be fair, I think you can blame Willow for the whole coming back from the dead bit,” Faith interjected. “Besides, B, how much safer would those girls have been under the old guard?”
“I don’t know. I just feel like I should be the one coming up with the answers and I’m letting them down by not being able to see a way out of this,” Buffy said. “Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”
“It’s thinking like that which caused the dinosaurs to die,” Faith replied, giving Buffy a playful shove, which the other Slayer was not expecting. Buffy landed in the snow with an ungraceful fall and glared at Faith. “Sorry, B. Had to interrupt your pity part somehow.”
“You’re going to regret that,” Buffy said as she stood up, snow covering her body, although she had a small smile on her face.
“Nah, don’t think I am.”
They started lobbing snow at each other, moving into the woods to use the trees as cover from the other’s snowballs. They became so caught up in their mock battle that they didn’t notice the wolf crouching low in the bushes until it was too late.
Faith was about twenty yards from Buffy when she heard the scream.
Dropping her half-formed snowball, Faith raced towards the sound of Buffy’s voice to find her on her back in the middle of red-stained snow with a large silver and gold wolf tearing into her. B was fighting as best she could, but the wolf had one of her arms in her mouth and using her claws to dig into Buffy’s stomach, gashed skin peeking through her shredded jacket. She was trying to use her legs to leverage the wolf off of her, but from what Faith could see, it looked like B was holding back for whatever reason.
“Get off her!” Faith snarled, ramming into the wolf and knocking her off slightly, although her claws were still dug into Buffy’s torso. The wolf let go of Buffy’s arm to snap at Faith, with Faith only jumping out of range at the last second. This gave Buffy enough time to try to push the wolf off her with her uninjured arm. The wolf skidded slightly, but because her front paws were braced on Buffy, the claws only tore in deeper, further injuring Buffy. Buffy screamed again as the wolf’s mouth bit down on her uninjured arm.
Acting on instinct, Faith quickly dashed around to the front of the wolf and grabbed her neck. The wolf let go of Buffy again and tried to bite Faith’s arm, but Faith clung on as tightly as she could, gritting her teeth as she dug her fingers tightly into the fur. Reaching around the neck until her hand was along the wolf’s jaw and her other hand on the back of the neck, she snapped the neck with a fast, brutal movement. The sound of the neck breaking echoed loudly over Buffy’s cries and the wolf stilled before crumpling.
Shoving the carcass off of Buffy, Faith knelt down beside the other Slayer and rapidly stripped off her coat.
“Come on, B, stay with me,” she urged, pressing the coat to Buffy’s stomach to try to stem the bleeding as she fumbled for her phone in her pocket. “How the hell did it sneak up on you? Getting rusty, aren’t you?” She could hear the slightly hysterical edge in her voice but didn’t care. She needed to get B stabilized and call an ambulance. She needed to keep herself together until then.
“We-were-wo-wolf,” Buffy coughed out. “Di-didn’t want to...”
“Even with your stomach ripped open, you’re still trying to talk,” Faith tried to joke, dialling 911. It rang once, twice, before the operator picked up.
“911, please state the nature of your emergency,” the calm male voice on the other side of the line said.
“My friend was just attacked by a b-dog,” Faith said, changing her story mid-word. She didn’t think there were bears here. “I need an ambulance right away!”
Faith did her best to keep her temper in check while she answered the operator’s questions, only snapping once. After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes, the operator said that there was an ambulance on the way.
“Help’s coming, B,” Faith told Buffy, looking down at her pale face, putting both hands on the makeshift bandage and trying to ignore the blood and who knows whatelse was seeping through. “Just stay with me.”
“Gi-giles,” Buffy stuttered out, trying to hold onto one of Faith’s arms.
“‘k, I’ll call,” Faith promised. “As soon as the ambulance comes. Should be soon.”
Looking up, any further promises she was going to make died on her lips. The body of the wolf had changed into that of a human, one Faith recognized: it was the Queen Bitch herself, Leah Cornick. She felt a knot form in her stomach. She had just killed the Marrok’s mate. The Marrok’s mate had just tried to kill B. She needed to call Giles. Or Red. Somebody to handle the mess.
She didn’t even recognize which speed dial button she pressed, which is why she was surprised to hear Xander’s voice answer.
“Marrok’s mate attacked B. Ambulance coming, but we need to deal with the body,” she blurted out. “Woods. Have Red locate us.”
“We’ll be right there,” he answered, his tone instantly shifting.
Thirty seconds later, a flash of light announced the arrival Willow and whoever she’d brought with.
“Fai- Oh, my goddess!” Willow choked out, seeing Buffy’s body. Just then, the flashing lights of the ambulance appeared. Red and Xander exchanged a look before Xander grabbed the body and lifted it up.
“We’ll meet you at the hospital,” he told her grimly before Willow teleported them out. Faith let out a breath and looked back down at B, who had slipped into unconsciousness during the whole thing.
“Fuck,” Faith whispered before turning to face the lights. “Over here! We’re over here!” she shouted. “We’re right here!”
“Move over, we need to get her stabalized,” the EMT barked out at her as she and her partner rushed to where Faith and B were. Faith stood back and watched as they fitted B with a better bandage and moved her to a stretcher, feeling strangely detached from the whole thing. As soon as they started back towards the ambulance, she started to follow them.
“I’m family, I need to come with,” she said in a rush when one of the EMTs gave her a look.
Faith climbed in and stayed in a corner as the paramedics continued to try to make sure B didn’t die on the way to the hospital, holding on tightly enough to give the handrail permanent dents. She kept her mouth zipped, although it was hard. She needed to know if B was going to be OK. She needed to know if Buffy was going to survive this, because if she did, everything was going to change.
They roared into the entryway to the ER and the doors flew open once they screeched to a stop. Faith followed the paramedics, tuning out all the technobabble about B’s vitals and shit, trying to make sure she could keep up with them. They had reached a pair of swinging doors when a nurse stepped in front of Faith
“I’m sorry, but you can’t go in,” he told her, sympathy plain to see.
Faith didn’t want his fucking sympathy. She wanted to be there with B to make sure that she was going to make it through the next hour, the next day. She watched the doors swing closed, and could see doctors clustering around the gurney that carried her sister Slayer.
“Yeah, OK,” she heard herself answer. She walked over to a chair and collapsed, all the energy draining out of her.
“Fuck,” she whispered, putting her head in her hands. She didn’t know if she had been fast enough to save B’s life. All she knew that she hadn’t been fast enough to save B from turning furry once a month if she made it through this. She didn’t give a damn about the bitch she killed. She’d do it again, given the chance.
She sat there until the rest of the Scoobies burst in, all with matching frantic looks on her face. She shook her head at their unasked question about if Buffy was OK, if she was going to live. Nobody had told her anything.
Dawn sat down next to her, gripping the hand closest to her tightly. Faith returned the squeeze as the Scoobies gathered to keep their silent vigil.