See Chapter one for Disclaimers.A/N: In case anyone missed it, this story is sort of a sequel to Faith, Hope, and Charity. Same universe anyway. In that story (spoilers ahead) Faith inherits a substantial fortune from her Aunt Helen. She is accused of murder, but eventually solves the case. She turns her new mansion into a Slayers-East headquarters, but is too restless to stay there year round.
Xander sauntered over, sipping coffee, idly scratching under his eyepatch, squinting in the early sun. "Mornin'."
Faith wrapped her arms around him and kissed him, her tongue sliding down his throat, pulling back only when several of the bikers started clapping and cheering.
"Clay, Gemma, this is my good friend Xander."
"So, uh, sorry to drive into a Harley club with my Duke, I'll try not to show your bikes up too much."
"Show up...! Why you fucking cyclops! If it ain't a Harley, it ain't shit!"
Xander raised his eyebrows. "Well, you could be right. I know I still can't keep up with Faith on her Harley, even though be all rights I should be able to zoom past her, just goin' on specs I mean. But I guess it's true what they say, that the rider's skill makes a bigger difference than the machine, within reason. Of course, my lack of depth perception makes me more cautious, too."
"Yeah, can see where that might be a problem."
"And worse, when we switch bikes, I still can't keep up with her. I kinda get the feeling she could ride a ten-speed bicycle and I wouldn't be able to keep up with her on either the Harley or the Ducati."
Clay and Gemma laughed, Faith smiled indulgently at Xander.
Xander gazed at Faith's taken-apart Fat Boy. "Damn," he said, "you're really rough on your bike, Faithy."
"Yeah, like you gotta lot a room to talk." She looked across the parking lot at the Ducatti. She turned to Clay and said, "While I was riding up from Mexico on my supposedly broken machine, X-man here had to have his completely refurbished, that's the only reason it looks like it just came off the assembly line, because it did, more or less. And I don't think it suffered near as much damage as mine either, sure as hell not as many miles, but it stopped moving on it's own power somewhere in Central America. I guess it's a good thing you didn't have to follow me down that cliff."
Xander shuddered, "I don't think I would have survived, that damned palisade was more'n a thousand feet down."
"A thousand feet!" said Jax, "I thought you said it was twenty feet. Or is this the same cliff?"
"Same cliff. The top part was maybe seventy, eighty degrees with just a few short vertical sections. It was quite a trip, huge sections with my brakes locked, skidding down in loose dirt on gravity alone, fighting to keep it upright, getting it under control from time-to-time, then it flattened out and I thought I was at the bottom when without any warning there was that one last vertical drop that I hadn't noticed so I tried to do a Wile E. Coyote brakes in the air thing. It didn't work. That was the drop that caused so much damage, the trip down the face didn't cause any problems at all."
Xander said, "I was watching from a campsite below, she was supposed to rendezvous with me and we were talking about breakfast when I started hearing gunshots through my cell phone, watching her ride down that cliff face with those assholes shooting at her from up top took ten years off my life."
"Heh, I figure it added
ten years to mine," said Faith, "that's assuming I live another ten years, which might be a little optimistic given my tendency to attract violence."
The three of them soaked in the warming rays of the morning sun. They watched a shiny white fully-equipped Honda Gold Wing drive by the gate, the rider slowed a little and stared but after he saw several grungy bikers staring back at him he sped up, locking his eyes firmly on the street ahead.
Xander said, "Hey, I guess it's just lucky I didn't drive one of those in here, you probably would've shot me on general principles."
"Shee-it," said Clay, "Gold Wing ain't a motorcycle, it's a car that's missing two of it's wheels, and we wouldn't have shot you, but we might not've wanted to spend any time talking to ya." Clay soaked up more rays and then mused, "Mind you, Honda makes reliable cars." Xander and Faith glanced a teach other, amused at Clay's round-about praise.
Agent Stahl went into the conference room. She said, "Mornin'," to Agent Tyler, leaned over and kissed her while copping a quick feel of her right breast, straightening back up when she heard footsteps from outside the room. She picked up transcripts that Tyler was reading. "These the latest from SoA?"
"Yeah," Tyler said with a smile, "either they're in code, or we should of turned off the recorder for a few minutes."
Stahl grimaced at that, thinking of the stupid rules mandated by court rulings on electronic eavesdropping. She read a few paragraphs. "What the fuck is this?"
"Apparently, it's Clay reading poetry to his wife."
"Yeah, I guess. Smith is researching to see if he can identify the poet."
"You gotta be shittin' me, this is Burns, he didn't recognize that?"
who the poet is? Just from reading a few lines?"
"Yeah, it's called an education, and besides, Burns is pretty much unmistakable..."
"So how come you've never read poetry to me?"
"Since we're both gun-totin' babes, I hadn't thought of it." Tyler smiled. Stahl smiled back and continued, "But we could give it a try." They both paused, lost in thought. "Anyway, that's besides the point, the point is, what the hell is Clay Morrow, a down and dirty motorcycle gang leader, doing reading Burns? It's so out of character, hell, it's gotta be a trick they're playin' on us. I think they've made us, they must've discovered the bugs in the house."
"Shit. That means everything we've got recently has to be reevaluated, they've been playing us for... How long do you think?"
"That's a good question."
Smith came in, he proudly said, "I've identified the author, it's..."
"Robbie Burns, we know," Stahl rapidly flipped through a few more pages, "and some Swinson later on."
He was crestfallen, "Oh."
"The real question being, what the hell is Clay playing at?"
Agents Smith and Tyler looked expectantly at Stahl. She continued, "Get the whole crew into analyzing the feeds for the last thirty days with an eye towards identifying when he must have tumbled to the wire."
"Yes ma'am," said Smith. "Oh, in other news, we've identified this new guy, the one who showed up on the Ducati. He's Alexander Harris, a known associate of Faith Lehane, and a survivor from Sunnydale."
"He must have a pair of big ones to ride an Italian bike into the middle of the Sons of Anarchy's clubhouse and garage."
"He probably does, he travels with Lehane a lot, although not continuously. He's met her a few weeks at a time here and there on her travels through South America, but we don't actually have anything to pin on him. His file seems just as mysterious, though, with large sections that have been classified above our level."
"Hell, we'll just have to dig deeper then."
Stahl said to her subordinates, "Okay, what can we do to push this investigation forward?"
"Talk to Ms Lehane? Bring her in for an interview, maybe."
"On what grounds?"
"Oh I dunno, maybe something to do with South American drugs?"
"There's absolutely zero on that shit."
"Material witness? That covers a lot of ground."
"Not a bad idea. Let's put together a list of questions to ask her, then I'll get a subpoena."
A week later, Agent Tyler drove into the club parking lot. She got out of her car, and with a stern expression, walked into the clubhouse.
Clay, sitting at the bar reading the paper, looked up, pushing his glasses up on his forehead. "Are you lost darlin'?"
"No Mr. Morrow, I'm looking for Faith Lehane."
"And just whattaya want with her?"
"Federal business, you stay out of it, just get her here and you can go back to your paper."
"I don't think so, Special Agent Tyler, I think..."
But he was interrupted by Faith and Xander coming out of the hallway. "What can I do for you, Agent Tyler?"
"I have a material warrant for your arrest, will you come quietly?"
"Oh, she never comes quietly," said Clay, "she's a screamer,we can hear her all over the clubhouse."
"Fuck you, Clay!" said Xander, looking a little embarrassed, but Faith just grinned.
"What's the charge?" asked Faith, " 'cuz I sure as hell ain't done nuthin' illegal in years, decades maybe."
"It's a material witness warrant, the United States Attorney feels that you might be persuaded to testify against certain members of the Columbian Cartel if you are properly protected."
"Testify to what? I don't know nuthin' about those assholes, except all but a handful of them are really bad shots. And I got news for ya, no one protects me but me, 'cept for Xander sometimes, but sure as hell not you or your kind."
"Well, that's between you and your conscience, we're not giving you a choice, this warrant means you have to come in and talk, or at least listen while we talk for a little while."
She looked at Xander. "You know who to call."
They drove along the highway, Faith in back, Tyler driving. Faith said, "I don't understand why you thought the cuffs were needed, it's not like I'm any kind of criminal you know."
"It's just standard procedure."
"There ain't nothin' standard about any of this. You know very well I don't have anything on any drug cartel, I don't like 'em, and I don't deal with them except to duck when they start shootin' at me."
"My bosses think you do, so I think you do. Anyway, you'll have a chance to talk to..."
A four-wheel drive one-ton pickup with heavy brush guards on the front came out of a side road at speed, smashing into the engine compartment of the car. They spun around several times before grinding to a halt. Faith could smell gasoline, and figured there was probably sparks somewhere or other. She broke her handcuffs and kicked the door out. She started to run towards the ditch, then looked back and saw that agent Tyler needed help. She rolled her eyes and turned back to the wrecked car. "I'm a just fucking girl scout these days," she grumbled to herself.
She tried the driver's door, but it didn't want to open. She punched out the glass with her elbow, startling Tyler who was staring uncomprehending, blood running down her face. Faith grabbed hold of the door and started yanking, it took her a half-dozen slayer-powered tries to get it open. This thoroughly frightened Tyler, but she was too injured to even get her seatbelt unbuckled, much less get away.
"Don't do it Lehane! You can't get away with killing a Federal Agent."
"What the hell are ya talking about? I'm tryin' ta save yer ass, if I wanted you dead I'd just walk away and leave you here." She hadn't stopped working the door open, unfastening Tyler's seatbelt, and lifting her out of the car. She carried her over to the side of the road and slid down the embankment, eight feet or so. They both lay down, Faith scrambled up far enough to peer over the edge of the road, Tyler painfully crawled up beside her, just in time to see the dripping gasoline catch a spark and engulf the whole car in flames.
Tyler looked horrified. "Uh, I owe you, uh, sorry for uh, well, thanks."
"I don't wantcha to think I go around rescuing strangers and cops 'cuz I'm some kinda good Samaritan or some shit, I just didn't want to have to listen to you screaming to death if you caught fire. It would've put me off my feed for a couple of days, and I really need to eat regular to keep up my strength."
"You're a class act, Lehane, but seriously, I do thank you for getting me out of that." She shuddered as she looked at the fire.
"S'cool. So whattya think, Tyler, those guys over there, struggling to get out of their truck, are they planning on killing you, or me?"
"I thought they were trying to rescue you!"
"From going to prison."
"I don't need no muscle-bound morons to keep me out of prison, I have a fancy New York City law firm on retainer, and I'm sure Xander's called 'em by now, and for what I pay 'em they better already have some California legal beagles on my case, including a big-ass suit against your department. So the why the fuck would Xander arrange something as fucking insane as this?"
"Oh, your file said you were a high-school drop-out..."
"Yeah, well, fuck your file, it ain't up to date. Hey, you got an extra gun on you? I think the dumb-as-fuck twins over there have finally made up their mind to do something about us."
"Sure, in the car; but I only have one on me."
They gazed at the burning Crown Vic. "Well, I hope you carry it loaded."
"Of course, what good is an empty gun?"
"Well why don't you go an' arrest them or something? I'm pretty sure it's illegal to try an' kill people, even Federal Agents."
"Sounds good, are those the only two?"
"I think so, I don't see anyone else around. Better hurry though, it looks like one of 'em is tryin' to find a gun for himself."
Tyler struggled up to the road, finding herself being helped by Faith who easily hauled her up.
"Hey you, stop, you're under arrest!"
"Shoot the fucker! He's gotta rifle!" said Faith.
Tyler shot him, he dropped the gun, the other man put his arms up. Suddenly gunshots started going off around them, everybody dropped to the ground. Agent Tyler and Faith looked around wildly, trying to see whoever was shooting at them.
"Well," said Faith, "good thing they're bad fuckin' shots, whoever they are."
"Oh fuck me sideways," said Tyler, "it's the god-damned ammunition in the trunk of my car!"
"Ah, good. It's ever so much better to die from an accidental
gunshot than an aimed
"Well, the ammo was mostly stored bullets up, so they're firing straight up and unless a bullet happens to come exactly straight down, we should be all right."
"Yeah, hey, got your phone? You should probably call this in."
Less than twenty minutes later they were surrounded by cop cars, ambulances and firetrucks. Investigators were poking around in the remains of the burnt car, the damaged truck, and questioning the living perpetrator as well as the Agent and Faith.
Agent Stahl glared at Faith, sitting next to Tyler on a convenient log, both of them gratefully drinking from water bottles.
"Why isn't the prisoner in handcuffs?!" Stahl demanded.
"Cool it, June, Faith saved my life. If it wasn't for her I'd be a crispy critter."
Stahl looked back and forth between the two, her expression unreadable. "Okay, I guess she's not gonna run."
"Hey, I'm sittin' right here! And besides, you didn't need to cuff me in the first place, if I didn't want to cooperate with you I wouldn't be here, and there isn't a damn you coulda done about it, so a little politeness would not be out of line."
Stahl glared, but didn't have anything to add.
Eventually, the crime scene got sorted out and Faith went with the ATF agents back to the Charming Sheriff's department. They had a three hour interview which was awkward and unproductive, especially when the questions veered off from the ridiculous drug cartel connection and settled on the SoA.
Faith got twitchy and said, "Look, I don't know shit about the Son's business. They ain't exactly gonna welcome me into their club cuz I'm the wrong sex, and they don't discuss their business with their old ladies much less strangers with no other tie to the club except being customers. So you're all just barking up the wrong tree."
"But you must have heard something, Ms Lehane, even just casual comments among themselves. After all, you have ridden with them."
"Nope, I ain't heard nothin'. The rides are just that, rides. We all own motorcycles because we think they're fun to ride, nothing more. Do I need to call my lawyer?"
"What for, do you have something to hide?" asked Stahl.
"Of course not, I just want to make sure you don't railroad me into prison."
"Back into prison."
"Yeah," agreed Faith.
After more fruitless questions, Agent Stahl finally said, "Well this is a waste of time. You can go Ms. Lehane."
"Thanks. You wanna give me a ride back?"
"What the hell, are we a taxi company now?"
Tyler said, "I'll give you..."
But Faith interrupted, "Never mind, I'll call a taxi."
Stahl glared at Tyler as Faith left. "What the hell Ty?"
"As far as I can see it, she's an innocent in all this shit. And I owe her for saving my life, saving me from a horrible death, in fact."
"Did you read the report this morning that showed her net worth? How'd she get that, huh? She didn't save her pennies, that's for damn sure."
"Yeah, I read it. She inherited it, June. That's all. We all should have wealthy relatives."
"Huh. Well anyway, she's hangin' with the Sons of Anarchy, that makes her a piece of shit in my book."
Faith walked out into the sun and saw Xander's Ducati parked in the shade. Xander was sitting on a bench in front of the local stores, leaned back with a book in his lap but his eyes were closed.
Faith smiled, "Xander! How'd you know where I was?"
He sat up and shook off the groggy feeling from napping in the afternoon. "Your trail was pretty easy to follow, what with cops, ambulances, burning cars and firetrucks all over the damn place. What was that about, anyway?"
"I'm not sure, but I think it was a couple more of Zobelle's crew. If it was, then they were after me."
"Hmmm, do we coordinate with Clay? Or take care of it on our own?"
"Readin' between the lines here at the interview, I kinda think we'd best not get too far into bed with Clay and the SoA. I think they got Feds so far up their asses it's makin' 'em constipated."
"Do ya think they know it?"
"Most likely. Look, we'll mention our suspicions to Clay, but let's let the SoA do their thing and we'll do ours. If any of Zobelle's crew comes after us on one of our midnight patrols, I think we could give them a really nasty surprise."
Xander shuddered, "Yeah, you sure you wanta do that
"Hey, they're the fuckers tried to kill me by settin' me on fire. I don't forgive that kinda thing."
"No, and I don't think you should, either. Still, I don't like getting' into too much of this killin' people shit, and you shouldn't like it either."
"I don't like
it, it's just somethin' that needs to be done from time to time to keep the peace."
She sat besides Xander and they both admired the small town vibes. "Hey, you know what?"
"I think we should go."
"Uh, your bike ain't ready yet. The rate the Sons are workin' on it, it'll be at least another month, maybe two."
"I'll buy a new bike. I've been wantin' to get a big fuckin' Electra-Glide with all the bells and whistles and a fancy paint job."
"You aren't gonna ride an Electra-Glide off-road now."
"Don't have to, it's pavement all the way from here to Long Island."
"True. And what about the Fat-Boy?"
"They can ship it to me when it's done. And we can pull a little trailer with your Ducati on it."
"Because you're gonna want to ride double with me when you see a tricked-out Harley CVO Electra-Glide."
It was only a week later when when a truck pulled up to the Son's garage. The driver got out, and a man with a suit got out the other side. He said to Jax, "We have a delivery for a Ms. Faith Lehane, she here?"
"Yeah, somewhere. I can sign for it."
"Okay." Jax and the suit turned to watch the driver open the back and lower a ramp. Jax's eye's widened when he saw the bike being unloaded.
"Yeah, fully loaded custom Electra-Glide." The driver, having unhooked the chains, hopped on the back and coasted it down the ramp.
Jax and a couple of other club members clustered around, admiring it.
"What's that, thirty thousand dollars?" asked Half-Sack.
"Originally it was sixty thousand, what with some custom engine work and custom paint and custom pretty much everything. But the original buyer went bankrupt in between the time he ordered it and the time to take delivery. Ms. Lehane was in the right place at the right time and got for only forty-five thousand."
Jax shook his head, "Yeah, cheap, shoulda got two."
Faith and Xander noticed the commotion and came over. "My new bike!" she exclaimed happily.
"Hello," said the suit, "are Ms. Lehane?"
"Yes I am."
"I'm George Cartwright, from the Harley-Davidson CVO division. A bike like deserves a little personal attention and I'm here to give it."
"No, thank you, besides, I happened to be in town. But, are you sure you can handle it? Before you get on it, it's almost a thousand pounds, with all the extras."
"Yeah, yeah," said Jax, "she can handle. Don't even worry."
"Is it gassed up? I wantta take her for a spin," said Faith.
"All she needs is gas."
They all watched as Faith wheeled it over to the pump and filled it, checked the other fluid levels, and hopped on, started it up, checked all the gauges, and took off. She did some circles in the parking lot and was out the gate a few moments later. As they listened to the engine rumble disappear in the distance, Cartwright wandered into the shop, checking things out. He stopped by Faith's Fat Boy, studying the various bits and pieces.
"What the hell happened to this machine?" he asked.
"Oh yeah, that's Faith's old bike."
"You gotta be kiddin' me! What the hell did she do to it?"
"She drove it from Long Island to as far north as roads could take her in Alaska, then a little further, then she turned around and drove to Tierra-del-Fuego, or as far south as she could get, then drove back here," said Jax.
Clay took up the story, "She took it off-road, way off-road, apparently much further than any of us would have thought it'd go."
Half-Sack added, "And dodged exploding tires and bullets along the way."
"She didn't dodge all of the exploding tire's rim," said Clay, pointing at the bench with the old engine head and the still visible emergency repair.
Cartwright shook his head in wonderment. "Damn. No wonder you were so sure she could handle the Electra-Glide. Would you boys object to the factory taking over the reconstruction of this machine? I think Harley-Davidson could get some nice publicity out of this." Jax and Gemma both started to frown at him. "We'll make sure you're still compensated," he added quickly.
Gemma brightened up. "Make a decent profit without doing any more work?" she said, "We could probably deal."
"Yeah, but I wanted to finish it myself," said Jax, "you know, pride of workmanship, finish what I started, and all that."
compensated," Cartwright said with a sigh.
Jax shrugged. "I guess I can be persuaded."
An hour later Faith rode back, wearing a big smile. She braked to a stop with a flashy swerve, squealing the back tire. She hopped off, practically jumping with energy. "Fuck! I love this bike! We're gonna go lotsa miles together, I just know it!"
Cartwright beamed. "Excellent! We were just talking about your HD Fat Boy over there, and there, and there and there," he said, pointing to the parts spread all over the garage. "And I was thinking maybe you'd like the Harley factory to rebuild it for you, in exchange for some publicity photos and advertising."
"Hmm, I don't see a problem with that. And Xander has some shots from South America that are pretty awesome – even if they're not totally professional, you should take a look at 'em."
"And these guys, you're still gonna pay 'em, right?"
"Yes, we've already discussed that."
"You know darlin'," said Clay, "that's not exactly a motorcycle for ridin' with the Sons."
"Hell Clay, I know that. But you ain't never gonna invite me to your table..."
"Yeah, yeah, we're not really up with women's lib."
"I know your type well, Clay, and I don't expect you to change none, so I won't be ridin' with you guys much. In fact, Xander and I need to get back home. I think we'll be leavin' in a few days. Give me enough time to break in this bad boy," she patted her new bike, "and we'll maybe party a little, and leave at sun-up Monday morning. See how far we can get before sun-down."
"We'll be sorry to see you go, but you can bet yer ass we'll party between now and then."TBC