When Faith had gone to jail, it was almost like a weight had been lifted. She couldn’t run anymore, she couldn’t hide, and as crazy as it sounded, she had found a certain peace there, maybe for the first time in her life.
When she had heard that Angel’s soul had taken a vacation, she had busted out without a second thought; same with heading to Hellmouth afterward for the big showdown with the First.
And damn, it felt good, to finally be fighting for
something instead of against
Sucked that it was probably all going to end before it could really get started.
She knew that Red was trying her best, had been ever since they had crashed at Angel’s old digs after the big battle. But magic – or mad hacking skills – couldn’t erase her mug shot from people’s minds, not when her escape drew as much attention as it had. Hell, she was on L.A.’s Most Wanted list.
Faith flopped into the chair in the Hyperion’s back office with a grunt, her eyes closing as soon as her ass hit the seat.
If she had to go back, she would. She sure as hell wasn’t going to risk taking everyone down with her for ‘aiding and abetting’, or some shit like that. She’d turn herself in before she’d let that happen.
Hell, now that she thought about it, if they couldn’t figure out how to erase her record and this temporary lockdown in the Hyperion became permanent, she almost preferred going back to prison, because fuck
, the minis were tough to live with.
Seriously, with no bad guy to focus on and no fucking clue what to do next, every day had become one never-ending group therapy session. She had actually come into this room to hide
So yeah, daily attempted shankings aside, prison wouldn’t be all bad. Fuck anyone who said she was just trying to make lemonade out of the situation. If they didn’t watch themselves, they’d end up with some lemon juice in their eye.
“Oh, good! You’re here!”
Faith cracked an eye open at the sound of Willow’s voice.
Willow smiled back at her brightly – a little too brightly. Faith watched her enter the room suspiciously.
“We need to talk about some, uh, stuff
, so I called an emergency meeting,” Willow explained. “Robin and Kennedy are taking the girls out so we have some privacy.”
Faith slunk into her seat. And here was another reason why jail wouldn’t be so bad.
Sure, part of her was actually pretty damn happy that she had finally made it into that inner-Scooby circle, that whenever they called an emergency meeting nowadays, everyone just expected that she would be there.
But honestly, some days, like today? It sucked ass.
She didn’t say anything as the other Scoobies began filing into the room, though. She didn’t leave, either, even though she really wanted to. She just watched. And waited.
The story of her life these days, she grumbled to herself.
B was the last one in. She immediately grabbed a seat next to Faith – which also happened to be as far away from Willow, Xander, Giles, and Dawn as possible.
There was an uncomfortable pause at this. Then Willow cleared her throat and called the meeting to order.
Faith immediately tuned out. She really didn’t care how the sneaky bastards on the Council had hidden all their money away like fucking leprechauns, making it almost impossible to find, let alone access. And she sure as hell didn’t have any solutions.
She snapped back to attention, though, when she heard her name.
“… and that brings us to the last issue – Faith. Even if I could erase her record, it doesn’t solve the whole problem.”
“So what? I gotta go back to the joint?” Faith yawned, like she didn’t care either way.
“No,” came the immediate reply from pretty much everyone.
Faith shrugged, but damned if she didn’t feel all warm and mushy on the inside. “Then what’s the plan?” she asked. "Because I gotta be honest, I’m about two group hugs away from losing it.”
She heard B snort with laughter beside her. Faith grinned, imagining Buffy was feeling the same.
No one else seemed to find this funny, though. And after a second or two of silence, Willow let out a pointed cough, bringing the focus back to her.
“Well, like I was saying, it’s not just a simple matter of erasing your record. Maybe you could just go out of the country indefinitely…” she suggested. Then she bit her lip hesitantly. “Or… I could try to cast a memory spell…”
Willow frowned at Buffy and Giles’ objection.
“It might be our only way,” she argued.
There was a pause, and then suddenly everyone was talking at once, weighing in with their own two cents. Faith closed her eyes as the conversation devolved into an argument.
“I don’t know—”
“The activation spell worked. Maybe we should try—”
“—just how many people would you have to mind zap?”
“Seems pretty risky—”
“Now, see, this is why I work alone.”
That last comment shut everybody up, and fast – because it sure as hell hadn’t come from any of them. They all spun toward the doorway, Faith and Buffy with stakes in hand, to see who the party crasher was.
Only to see a guy in an expensive looking suit. A very familiar looking guy.
Faith squinted. Was that—
“Iron Man?” Xander exclaimed incredulously.
They all stared, almost dumbstruck, as Tony Stark himself waltzed into the room like he owned the fucking place, though Faith and Buffy made sure to hide the stakes as quickly as possible.
“Is this a bad time?” he asked. Then, without waiting for them to respond, he plopped himself down into one of the chairs. “No? Good. Because I have to admit, I’m dying to know how you blew up a whole town like that.”
Faith could’ve sworn she heard a pin drop.
Giles was the first to recover.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Stark,” he said, pouring on that British politeness for all it was worth. “But we don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Stark cocked his head to the side.
“Huh. Really. That’s interesting, because a little birdie told me that anyone seen leaving Sunnydale that last day may have stopped the world from ending,” he mused.
“I think you may have taken one too many hits to the head there, Iron Man,” Xander said with a nervous laugh.
“Yeah, we left Sunnydale a few days before the earthquake
,” Buffy added.
Stark quirked his eyebrow.
“You are terrible liars. Also, I’ve seen the satellite photos. And the surveillance footage from the convenience store you stopped at just outside of town,” he noted. Then he looked at Buffy. “You might want to lay off the chocolate. You know it goes straight to the hips, right?”
As B’s face turned bright red, Giles cleared his throat, some of that British shine coming off.
“Why are you here, Mr. Stark?” he asked bluntly.
Stark waved his hand in air. “Oh, you know, just to say ‘hello’, show you the superhero handshake—”
“There’s a superhero handshake?” Dawn whispered excitedly. At the looks she received at this, she winced. “Oh.”
“—you know, just welcome you to the block,” Stark finished. “So, really, tell me. How’d you do it?”
“You mean your little birdie didn't tell you?” Buffy said sarcastically.
Stark gave an exaggerated sigh. “No, sadly, he's a little don't ask, don't tell, if you know what I mean.”
Faith saw some of the Scoobies flinch at this. She couldn’t blame them. The Initiative had burned them pretty badly. Still, it was a tell.
Stark immediately picked up on it.
“Ah, you don't like the military. I like you more already,” he declared. Then he made a gesture over at Xander, specifically his eye. “So I take it the patch is the real deal then, and not some misguided attempt to imitate a certain annoying, control freak of a Director?”
Faith narrowed her eyes. She didn’t care if he was Iron Man. Dude had a death wish – and more than one person willing to help him fulfill it, because no matter what other shit was going on, the Scoobies knew how to circle the wagons.
Sure enough, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Buffy start toward Stark. At the same time, she heard Willow start to mutter something under her breath, something that wasn’t in English.
As much as she was tempted to join in, the last thing Faith needed was the press hovering around, wondering why their poster boy Stark was suddenly sporting hooves or how the hell his head got bashed in, so she stepped in.
“Yo, I don’t know if you think you can say this shit to us just because you have money, or maybe you’re just bored—”
“Both, actually,” Stark commented.
Faith ignored him. “But you better get your ass out of here, or it’s going to get really ugly.”
“With those little sticks of yours?” he asked curiously. “Now that
would be interesting to see, because aside from giving the bad guys some really big splinters, I don’t really see the advantage to say, a uni-beam projector or pulse bolts.”
,” she ordered, taking a few menacing steps toward him.
Stark got out of his chair, a small smile on his face.
“Pleasure meeting you all.” he called out over his shoulder as he sauntered the door.
Before he walked through the doorway, though, he smacked his forehead and turned around.
“Oh, right. I almost forgot,” he said, taking a few steps back toward her. “It’s Faith, right?”
“Yeah. What’s it to you?” she challenged, wondering what parting shot this asshole was going to try and take.
His eyebrows shot up in amusement. “Funny you should say that,” he said lightly. “Apparently, I’m your dad.”
Faith hadn’t thought much could surprise her anymore. But fuck, she literally felt her jaw drop at this.
“Shocking, right? But that DNA sample you have on file doesn’t lie,” Stark commented. Then he clapped his hands together. “Anyway, think about it, and give me a call if you want to talk.”
Before Faith could register what was going on, Stark had put his business card in her hand and walked out the door.
Still speechless, she turned to the rest of the group, who looked just as shell shocked as she did. That helped her snap out of it, and she turned back toward the empty door frame angrily.
Tony quickly walked out of the Hyperion, a slight spring to his step as he reached his waiting car. That little exploratory mission of his had been quite useful.
It told him everything he had needed to know and more. Now it was on to the next step.
A/N: Okay, lay it on me. Did the Faith/Tony confrontation live up to expectations? *crosses fingers*