Faith, Hope & Charity
A Faith Lehane Mystery
AKA Lancer47Summary: Faith gets an unexpected inheritance, then has to solve a murder to keep from being charged herself. She hires lawyer Stone Barrington to help.
Disclaimer: This is the combined turf of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon and the Stone Barrington Series by Stuart Woods. This work also includes references and allusions to several John Steinbeck novels.
There are no profits here, and no commercial use is allowed.
Rating: PG18 for language, sex, and violence. This is a first person from Faith's POV. I am not actually writing this, Faith is. She drops by and talks to me and I just take down what she says. (Why yes, I am considering therapy, why do you ask?) But even so I have deleted about 75% of Faith's f-words; she really overuses it, it's as if she'd prefer to be on HBO.
Spoilers: Lots for Buffy, but if you haven't seen all seven seasons of BtVS several times, then you're probably not reading this. There are no major plot spoilers for any of the Stone Barrington books by Stuart Woods, but there are some spoilers for background stuff. It's not necessary to have read any of the books to enjoy this, but if this persuades you to try one, begin with 'New York Dead' or any of the first half dozen books in the series. Some of the later books show signs of lazy writing, but they're still pretty good page-turners.Prologue
I hated The Red
. My fifth grade teacher, Miss Wentworth (a dried up old prune, seemed to me at the time – it embarrasses me to admit today that she wasn't even thirty), forced us read The Red Pony
by John Steinbeck. And I just gotta tell ya, I really hated that fucking piece of shit. I thought it had to be written by a mopey homesick old drunk—the worst kind of drunk. Do I have to say it again? I really didn't like that fucking book.
So one day I was in the prison library, and I had just finished The Mammoth Hunters
by Jean Auel, (wouldn't it be cool to be a Cave-Vampire Slayer? I can just picture myself as Faith of the Mumotoi, dressed in leather and furs, idly swinging my spear thrower in my right hand while checking out the half-naked cave studs) and Plains of Passage
was checked out so I idly picked up Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday
, I don't know why, other than I was bored – any way, I picked it up and started to read it, ready to toss it back on the shelf at the first sign of maudlin crap – but I sat down and read it all the way to the end. Hmm, maybe Steinbeck wasn't so bad after all, so I started The Grapes of Wrath
, and after a couple of chapters I wondered why they forced fifth graders to read The Red Pony
, surely Steinbeck's worst book. Unless maybe he's one of those authors you have to be bored out of your mind, or in prison, to enjoy very much, or to get through to the end, you know, like Lord of the
So anyways, Sweet Thursday's
prologue has this passage:"Well, I like a lot of talk in a book, and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. And another thing—I kind of like to figure out what the guy's thinking by what he says. I like some description too," he went on. "I like to know what color a thing is, how it smells and maybe how it looks, and maybe how a guy feels about it—but not too much of that."
"You sure are a critic," said Whitey No. 2. "Mack, I never give you credit before. Is that all?"
No," said Mack. "Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. The guy's writing it, give him a chance to do a little hooptedoodle. Spin up some pretty words maybe, or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up in the story. So if the guy that's writing it wants hooptedoodle, he ought to put it right at first. Then I can skip it if I want to, or maybe go back to it after I know how the story comes out."
So that's how I tried to write this. Just remember that I failed seventh grade English, I'm not Steinbeck, I probably don't know as many words as I should, I'm not sure of the meaning of some of the words I do know, and I'm not very good with dialog. So mostly, it's just me putting down what I'm thinking about so right off the bat it's not much like Steinbeck, but I'll try.
If you see any fancy writing it probably isn't me – maybe I quoted something and so you can skip it if you want. I swear a lot and I don't know how to write all literary so this'll probably be shit, but at least it'll be my shit, and maybe Miss Wentworth would only give me a 'C' on it, but I'll take that 'C' because I think I earned at least that much. Better than a sharp stick in the chest anyways.
So this is what happened, and if you don't believe me or if you don't like my words, you can go fuck yourself for all I care.Faith Lehane
It turns out Robin wasn't at all particular about where'd he stick his dick; but he really knew what to do with it once he stuffed it in the right place so it took me awhile to notice he wasn't a faithful Faith fucker. I discovered him twice with another woman; so I was a fuckin' idiot. But then again, maybe I'm not the only woman in the world who trusted her man, a mistake I swore I wouldn't make again.
So the first time I caught 'em I didn't realize there was anything hinky going on:- Six weeks ago -I smiled as I aimed my 2003 Harley up the drive. Finally, I thought, home again. Three fucking days of tracking a fuckin' slimeball trio of vamps, vamps even lower and more disgusting than most bloodsuckers – and that takes some doin'. But I finally staked the last one down in some fuckin' sewer in fuckin' Kansas City. Who'd ever thought that KC would have storm sewers big enough for a knock-down drag-out fight? Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised after Sunnydale, but still.
Anyways, I cruised round the house and parked my baby in front of the garage. I noticed Robin was in the gazebo, havin' breakfast with someone. So I strolled over and asked, "Hey Robbie, what's cookin'? And is there any left?"
He said, "Hi Faith. This is my friend Sherry Windhome, you know from the Historical Society. She just dropped by a few minutes ago to discuss the Spring Fundraiser which is starting in a month, and I whipped up some breakfast for us."
Okay, I thought, I didn't ask for any of that, but – okay. "Hi Sherry," I said, dropping into a chair, grabbing a slice of bacon from Robin's plate. "What's happenin'?"
Robbie got up and said, "I'll get you a plate, it'll just take a minute to whip up a little more."
I watched him walk up to the house. I wondered a little at his attitude – I had expected a more enthusiastic greeting that that, but maybe he just wasn't used to entertaining much.
Sherry and I didn't have much to say, I mean what the fuck do I know about fundraising? So we just enjoyed the unseasonably warm morning sun.- Back to the present -
I bought it, but after she left I had noticed a few things here and there that didn't support the story, things like Robbie using up one of his pressed and starched shirts – unusual weekend behavior. Then there was a receipt from the Whole Foods dated Saturday evening – I wondered what would have forced him to go grocery shopping? There was plenty of food in the fridge and several take-out menus stuck to the door if he didn't feel like cooking. Well, he had bought two rib-eye steaks and a bottle of expensive wine – and it was all gone. And, most damning of all, he changed the sheets on our bed for the first time since I'd known him. All these things were possibly explainable, but taken together? I sighed and ignored the clues, figuring I must be wrong – I was absolutely positive
that Robbie would never
cheat on me.
But a month and a half later I surprised them again, and this time it was fuckin' unequivocal. (Is that the right word? I think it is, but maybe not – oh well, you know what I fucking mean.) This time they were dressed in bathrobes eating popcorn in the living room, watching Conan fucking O'Brien, very domestic, very upsetting, very 'I really need
to kill something now'!
I yelled at him, "Get the fuck outta this fuckin' house you fucking rat bastard!" But he had the balls to remind me that it was his house. Right, like the work I did on it didn't count.
"Go fuck yourself!" I shouted angrily enough to scare the hell out of his piece of tail. It was time to leave before I did something I would regret, so I stalked into the bedroom, packed my saddlebags, told him to ship the rest of my stuff to the Farm, straddled the Fat Boy and took off like a fucking rocket, Robbie ducking a stream of gravel arcing from my rear tire.
A few days later he actually tried to claim that my bike was his. I laughed in his face, "It was a gift you ungrateful fucker! It's my fucking Harley-Davidsion Fat Boy, just like Arnold's, 'cept newer, and you gave it to me in front of witnesses, so no, you don't get it back! Unless you want me to shove it up yer ass?" He didn't, he slinked out instead.
Thing is, my bike had a Willow-special enchanted storage pocket under the seat. There didn't appear to be much room under there, but I could slide a forty inch sword, a gross of stakes, a crossbow, a couple of guns, emergency cash and spare IDs. Plus, no one else but me (and Willow I supposed) could even find it, even if a mechanic took the whole thing apart. Very handy thing to have, so no way was I gonna trade this sucker in to anyone.
The other thing is, enchantment aside, I could've bought it myself, the New Council was pretty good paywise to both Slayers and Watchers now, but he made more than me so he could afford it better.
Wait, why the hell did fuckin' Watchers make more than Slayers? The thought just occurred to me while lazing out in the back garden drinking ice-cold Coors. I mean, Giles should make more than the rest of us, sure, he's the one in charge of the whole fucking enchilada. But Robin? And the other fucktard Watchers? Back in the bad old days the Watchers got all the money and the lone Slayer got nothin' at all, unless you counted a lonely and usually gruesome death as a reward. So when slayers started getting paid, the fact that we got any money at all was amazing, no one bothered to think about how much we should get. I think it's time to sit in on a senior Council board meeting and bring up pay scales.
Okay, that was enough heavy thinking for the day, I chugged another half a can of Coors and stared at the sky.
I'd been back on the Cleveland Farm for the better part of a week. At first I was pretty damned pissed-off, then I was just pissed by English standards, but by the third day I realized it wasn't so bad; after all, I'd been the one who'd walked out. Looking back with now clear vision, I could now see that it just never was gonna work out between Robin and I (or is it Robin and me? I never was one for the finer points of fucking grammar.)
"Hey Faith!" yelled Andrew from the kitchen, "did you eat the rest of the brownies?"
"I dunno, were they brown squares of choclatey goodness with perfect texture?"
"Yes! You, you, frack you and the Harley you rode in on! You ate them all!"
"What the fuck is frack?"
"Ooooh! I can't talk to you, you, philistine you!" He slammed the door.
I slammed back another Coors, wondered what a philistine was, watched the squirrels chase each other through the trees for awhile and let out a belch loud enough to startle the furry critters as far as three trees away. I thought about how much fun it must be to be to live a squirrel's life, at least in the spring and summer, fall and winter not so much I guessed. I suppose time was passing; I wasn't too aware of it though.
"Hey Faith!" Dawn shouted out the back door, "you got mail!"
"So forward it to my account," I shouted back, using my right hand to search for my fancy phone so I could hold up and show it to Dawn, but I couldn't find it; I was sure it was around here somewhere.
"No, no," she answered walking towards me, "it's actual mail, sheets of real paper in an envelope with stamps and everything."
"If it's from fuckin' Robin, I don't want it," I said while popping the top on another Coors.
"How the hell can you drink that trout piss?" Dawn asked me. My answer was to chug most of the can – she shook her head in disgust and continued, "Not Robin, it's from some law firm in New York."
"Really? What do they want with me? Wait, fuckin' Robins from New York, I bet it has somethin' to do with 'im."
"Maybe, maybe not. Here, open and see." She handed me a large buff envelope. The return address read: 'Woodman and Weld, Attorneys at Law, William Eggers, Esq., with an NYC address. Curious, I opened it.
I pulled out several pages of expensive feeling paper, and started reading, I couldn't make any sense of it so I read it twice more. "Fuck!" I yelped as the meaning filtered through my beer-soaked brain.
"What! What? What is it?" Dawn asked urgently.
"I've inherited my Aunt Helen's estate! A piece of it anyway."
"Seriously? How much is it worth?"
"I don't really know, I was eleven or twelve the last time I visited her, but it was a big fuckin' house on a big fuckin' bay, somewhere on Long Island, a few miles from some place called Sag Harbor I think, could be worth a lot I guess."
"Sag Harbor! That's a pretty upscale neighborhood."
"It don't mean shit to me – I remember the name only because it seemed like there were a lot of old people with sagging tits wandering around the town. 'Course, eleven year olds don't have much sympathy for the senior set."
"I can't wait to find out what your new neighbors think of you. So anyway, what happens next?"
I read the page again and glanced at the others. "I go to New York, there's to be a reading of the will and probate and stuff, and I'm supposed to be there."
"Wow, who would've thought: Faith Lehane, heiress," Dawn rambled.
"Let's not count the chickens before they've hatched," I said. "After all, most of the luck that's come my way, especially from my family, has been of the bad variety, worse than bad, awful, just fuckin' awful. So I ain't planning on holding my breath for any huge pile of money. Really Dawn, the only thing that I'd expect to inherit from Aunt Helen would be some nicknacks and and things, a small bequest, maybe; at the most a college fund or something; that's the kind of woman she was."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with a college fund."
"I didn't say there was, but I'm not gonna daydream about great wealth, what would I do with a boatload of money? I mean besides buy a custom chopper and another sword. Oh fuck it, I'll find out what it's gonna be in a couple of days."