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:
Much belated wishlist-fic gift for jedibuttercup, who requested more of the Awake My Soul verse. I hope you like it, and sorry it took so long to write!~*~*~
“Where’d you hide the body?”
It was roughly forty minutes since the Scoobies had arrived at the hospital on the outskirts of Denver, where they were holding their little summit with the Marrok. They had been sitting silently, waiting for any news of Buffy from the doctors frantically trying to stitch the Slayer back together, all in shock over what had happened. Faith finally broke the silence, asking the question that’d been at the back of her mind ever since the initial panic had faded.
“Why?” Xander asked, not lifting his face from his hands.
“Because you know why,” Faith responded, carefully extracting her hand from Dawn’s iron grip. She began massaging it, trying to restore circulation back into her fingers so that they wouldn’t have another medical emergency to deal with. “We need to call them.”
Everybody stared at her. Well, everybody except Dawn, who just kept looking straight ahead with a lost expression on her face, looking younger than she had in years.
“Did you hit your head on the way down?” Xander demanded, surging to his feet. “Because I’m pretty sure I just heard you suggesting that we talk to the people who just tried to kill Buffy.”
“I’m as sane as I ever am,” Faith replied tightly, remaining seated.
“So not that sane at all.”
“Xander!” Willow hissed, grabbing at his hand and trying to pull him down. He remained standing, however, lone eye glaring at Faith with enough intensity to start a fire. Faith resisted the urge to clench her hand into a fist and take a swing at him. As satisfying as that would be right now, it would get nothing done. Except maybe release some pent up anger and frustration and goddamn helplessness that she was trying to fight against.
“Faith, they did just attack the head Slayer at a conference where we were supposed to be discussing strategies for the weres revealing themselves,” Giles interjected, ignoring Xander’s comment about sanity. “Not just any wolf, but the Marrok’s mate
attacked Buffy. They broke the truce between us, and may have well just declared war on the Council.
“Yeah, I think I’m aware of that it was the Queen Bitch, seeing as I was there,” Faith snapped. “And we don’t know if any of the pack was behind it. It could just be that she did this on her own for whatever fucked up reason made sense to her.” She didn’t share her suspicions about B and the Marrok and there being something between them that caused Leah Cornick to snap. If the Scoobies freaked when one of their own was attacked, bringing in Buffy’s fucked up love life was not a way to make things better.
“But we don’t, Faith.” Red this time, her hand still tight around Xander’s. “We have to assume that it’s an attack and go from there. Isn’t that why you target a leader, so that you can throw the organization into chaos?”
Faith closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Somewhere out there, some fucking Power was laughing its fat ass off. Who would’ve thought she’d be the calm one in this situation, the one who was trying to keep her head and think through things instead of reacting? But then, she wasn’t really a Scoobie, who tended to close ranks at the first sign of an outside attack. Maybe being on the outside looking in was finally good for something. Even with B being the closest thing she would ever get to a sister, it allowed her to keep a clearish head.
Dawn’s quiet comment cut through louder than any shout. They all turned to look at her, although she was still staring at the door.
“It’s already bad, right?” Dawn continued, her voice still soft. “Leah Cornick’s dead and Buffy could be before the night is over. How would getting in contact with them make it any worse?”
“I can think of a few ways,” Xander muttered darkly.
Dawn ignored him and handed Faith her phone, eyes bright with unshed tears as she looked at the Slayer. “Anna Cornick’s number’s in here,” Dawn told her.
Faith nodded, taking the phone and looking pointedly at Willow. The witch hesitated a moment before bowing her head.
“She’s in a pocket dimension I made,” she answered the unasked question. “I didn’t know where else to put her.”
Without another word, Faith stood up and walked outside. She needed to get this done alone. Stepping into the frigid night air, she searched until she found Anna Cornick’s name in the list of contacts. Hesitating for a moment, she pressed the button and held the phone to her ear to wait for somebody to answer. She didn’t have long to wait.
“We need to meet,” she spat out before the person on the other end could say anything.
“Why? So you can kill us off one by one?” Charles Cornick’s voice answered, deadlier for its quiet, contained rage. Fuck. She’d rather have Anna Cornick be the one she talked to. Not that she’d admit it to anybody, but the Marrok’s son scared the shit out of her.
“So that we can talk, that’s all, and sort this mess out,” Faith said as calmly as she could, wrapping her free arm around her middle. “Otherwise somebody else will die, and it sure as hell won’t be me.”
“Is that so?” It took a special skill to make those three words sound like a threat to dismember you, but he made it work. Crap, what the fuck was she willingly stepping into?
“We protect our own,” Faith told him curtly.
“As do we, Slayer. But, for the sake of the pack, I’m willing to believe that you simply wish to meet.”
“Great. What are your terms?”
“We meet at the clearing,” Charles said, his voice still carrying an implicit threat for all its softness. “You come alone, without magic. And bring the body.”
“Deal, only if you agree to come alone as well,” Faith replied, relief warring with caution. This shouldn’t be so easy to agree to have this meeting. But what other choice did she have right now, if she wanted to make sure that the situation wouldn’t get fucked up even more, only with more Slayers dead.
“Agreed. Be there within half an hour.” He hung up abruptly, leaving Faith to slowly hang up the phone and stare at it.
The Scoobies were going to hate it. She could already see Xander trying to force his way in, Willow insisting that she use magic, Giles lecturing her. But what choice did they really have? Fuck, this was a better offer than Faith had been thinking of, at least on the surface. If they wanted to keep the Slayers and the weres from going to war, she’d have to take it, even if there was the risk that Charles would try to kill her as soon as she told him that she killed the Queen Bitch, extenuating circumstances nonwithstanding.
Faith took a deep breath and headed back inside. If this went south and she ended up ripped to shreds, she’d give the Scoobies special permission to resurrect her just to say, “Told you so.”