FIC: A New World (15/?)
“Andrew!” Rona’s shout was incredulous. “But that’s just dumb!”
“The Immortal’s description matched – short, high-pitched voice with delusions of importance,” Angel replied, her idol sounded immeasurably tired. “And it fits some facts. They had to have someone placed in the Council. And,” the vampire hesitated before looking towards Xander. “Something’s been puzzling me. Have you spent much time in Africa this year?”
“What?” her new Watcher sounded confused. “No. I’ve been,” Xander coloured and looked down, “stuck into a bottle most of the year.”
“Andrew told Spike you were in Africa.” Angel said
“But why would he turn on us?” Xander sounded bewildered. “We took him in after all he did.”
“’Cause,” Faith found it almost impossible to force the words out. “Of me.” Oh god, she’d killed Wood.
“Faith,” it was G. “What do you mean?”
“No time,” Angel snapped. “We need to get out of here fast. Explosives set?”
Xander tore his eyes away from her face to nod at her mentor. “Yeah.”
“Great,” her hero grabbed her by her arm, dragging her out of the house. “You can explain back at the house.”
“Yeah, that’ll be a blast,” she muttered, blinking away unshed tears.
* * *
“Faith.” They were back at the out-of-the-way villa Xander had hired for them. “Why do you think Andrew betrayed us?”
Faith swallowed at Angel’s question, conscious of every one’s gaze on her. Oh god, she’d got them all killed. Gathering her strength, she started to talk.
* * *
“Faith! Faith! Faith!”
Groaning at the nasal screech behind her, Faith stopped. Quelling the urge to grab its owner by the throat, introduce his head to the wall, and cop a temporary insanity plea, she turned to face the speaker. “Yo Andy,” she forced a smile. “What’s the sitch?”
She waited for a minute for the fanboy to raise his eyes from her chest, when he didn’t she sighed. “Eyes up Andy.”
“Uh?” the geek coloured before finally looking into her face. “I was just thinking,” Faith smirked; she knew exactly what he’d been thinking about. “We need to talk-.”
“No offence Andy, but me and sci-fi don’t exactly mix.”
“No,” the geek shook his head, “I thought as reformed super-villains we have more in common than you might have thought. Maybe we can discuss our battle for redemption.”
Faith struggled to contain the conflicting impulses of laughing in the nerd’s face and slapping him stupid. How could the stupid bastard could think the best way to pick up a honey was by throwing her past at her? And she might have been easy in the past, but a geek like Andrew? She’d never sunk that low. Settling for a put-down rather than sticking her foot up his ass, she shook her head. “Sorry Andy, but I feel the need to share it’ll be with a real man. Come back when you measure up.” Still chuckling, she strode off.
* * *
“M…maybe if I’d have thrown him a bone.”
“Faith,” she looked up G’s firm but kind voice. “You are an exceptionally attractive young lady but I think you give yourself rather too much credit.” Faith opened her mouth to reply but the Englishman’s next words caused her to clamp her mouth shut. “Besides, I rather think my own actions have had rather more to do with it.”
* * *
“One insane Slayer retrieved sir.”
Giles looked at the young man dancing on the spot before his desk. “Thank you Andrew,” he glanced at the papers neatly stacked on the desk before him. “Now to your next assignment -.”
”Sir,” Andrew eagerly interrupted. “Now I’ve completed yet another mission I was wondering about a promotion, perhaps to the post of your successor.”
Giles gaped at the youth. Six months and the blithering idiot thought he was suitable to lead the Council? “I’ve given some thought to my successor,” he winced inwardly at the young man’s expectant expression. This was not going to be pretty. “And although I don’t plan to retire for some years I have several prospects in mind. Unfortunately though, your former evil-doing past precludes you from consideration.” And your general insipidness, he added silently.
The youth’s face fell. “B…but I’m reformed!”
Giles nodded. “I know Andrew, but there are certain people on the ruling board would be less than sympathetic.” Including himself, although that was due to a lack of the confidence in the boy’s competence rather than for any other reason.
* * *
“He thought he could replace Buff as next leader of the Council?” Xander looked incredulous.
“Actually,” G glanced uneasily at Dawn before continuing, “Buffy was the finest fighter I knew but as leader -.”
“She stunk.” Every one turned in surprise to Dawn who shrugged. “Hey, she was my sister and I loved her but I’m not blind. That last year in Sunnydale she showed us how bad she was. She had the motivational skills of Pol Pot, and the strategic planning ability of General Haig.” Dawn shuddered before directing her attention to G. “Who was your choice? Willow?”
Faith was surprised when the Watcher shook his head. “No, Willow’s past had shown she can be too easily swayed and her power would make the other Ruling Board members nervous.” Faith smirked as G turned to Xan, smart choice. “My favoured choice was Xander.”
“What!” The one-eyed Watcher let out a hysterical laugh. “You’re nuttier than a newly-souled Spike. I barely speak English, much less than the demonic stu-.”
“Xander,” Giles interrupted, his tone firm but gentle. “Your shortcomings, as you see them, are trivial details that are quickly overcome. Knowledge of ancient and demonic languages can easily be learned, and even if, as you insist, you *are* incapable of grasping the basics then it wouldn't be a problem to provide someone to translate them for you. Most watchers have more than adequate abilities in that department before they've even come close to graduating."
"See... you ought to use one of them. They were bred to be Watchers after all, they'd be far more suited to the role," Xan babbled.
Giles shook his head and sighed. “Xander, that's just a skill... what you'd bring to
the role is experience. Take a look around you, no-one in this room outside of
myself and Angel has anywhere near the level of experience you have."
"And I'd be hard pressed to find anyone outside of this room fighting for our side that has any more either. You've fought alongside Slayers, witches, vampires and werewolves; and you've been doing that for as long as I have. You've fought against just about every type of demon that's visited the hellmouth. I can honestly say that although I've met people who were your superior in terms of knowledge or fighting ability; I've met none who surpass you in dedication."
Xan reddened and looked to the ground. "This last year I was hardly dedic..."
Giles sighed again. "You needed time to grieve, son. Seven years without a rest
would take a toll on anyone, and that's without taking into account what the
battle actually cost you. And what's the first thing you do when you return..? Offer to take on the role of Watcher to the oldest Slayer.”
“Senior Slayer,” Faith corrected.
“One who you know has a troubled past,” Giles glanced over to her, she smiled back at him. “But you don't shy away from that, you accept the responsibility and offer to help her continue her own journey. Tell me again who else I should consider as my eventual replacement?"
Xander shook his head. “I was only offering to be Faith's Watcher, I'm not ready to
run the Council.”
"Not yet, no. And for your information, I'm not quite ready to be thrown on the scrapheap quite yet." Giles continued with a grin. "But the head of the Council is normally chosen from the Watchers with the most experience... something I'm quite sure given a few years with Faith that you'd be more than ready for," the Englishman chuckled. “And probably a few grey hairs too.”
“Go for it, Xan,” Faith encouraged. “You’d you'd make a kick-ass leader."
"I can't think of anyone better either,” Angel put in.
Xander looked around them all. "I'm not promising anything for the moment, well
nothing more than being Faith's watcher anyway."
"If when it comes to the time you think there's a more suitable candidate then I promise to be more than willing to consider them. But I think anyone's got a hard job to be taken into the running. Anyway you wouldn't be doing it alone. With Buffy’s retirement, Faith would have been installed as Senior Slayer, the reputation she’d built for herself in Slaying Kaktosis, helping us stop the Sisterhood, and her sterling work over the past year, her innovation in battle and strength in character in over-coming her difficulties would be a shining example of what could be achieved to the other Slayers.” Faith found herself grinning. Strength of character? Shining example? She kinda liked that. “Andrew would have served as the academic expert and Robin, Director of Operations,” Faith felt her heart drop at her dead lover’s name, “but obviously that will have to change.”
“If I studied with you for a couple of years I could handle the academics.”
“Of course,” Giles beamed at Dawn. “What a splendid idea. You could do a degree at Oxford – ‘Ancient Languages and Anthropology’.”
Dawn began to pout. “No arguments,” Xander said. “Buffy and Joyce would have been so proud of you getting an Oxford degree.” Dawn reluctantly nodded.
“Good, now that’s settled,” Angel broke in. “How do we track Wells down?”
“Yes,” Faith shuddered at the gleam that had enter G’s eyes. Man, he could be a scary fucker when he wanted. “I’ve had a few thoughts about that.”
* * *
It took an hour or so before the full details of G’s plan were worked out. It was completely whacked out in her opinion, but then no one else had come up with anything. Afterwards they’d retired to their respective rooms.
At least the others had. She’d taken to patrolling their hotel’s grounds, ignoring a number of Roman males’ attempts to pick her up. “What’s wrong?”
She turned at Angel’s voice behind her, having sensed the vampire’s approach a few seconds earlier. “I….I kissed him.”
The demon placed his hands on her shoulders. “Faith, you were playing a role.”
“What?” realising what the vampire was thinking, she shook her head and turned to face her mentor. “No, I kissed Xan. God I’m such a slu-.”
“Do. Not. Say. It.” Angel pressed a finger to her lips, his intensity silencing her. “Listen to me Faith. People react differently to loss. Some lash out, some get depressed, and others seek comfort. At least with Xander, you know he wouldn’t take advantage.”
“I guess,” Faith shrugged. “But me and him are finally connecting. If not for him I might have got off the deep end back in England.” She looked down at her feet. “And what do I? Take the first opportunity I get to stick my tongue down his throat.” She chuckled bitterly. “The last time we got physical, it ended up with me nearly killing the poor bastard.”
”He’s forgiven you.”
“Yeah,” Faith nodded. “But how much?”