Beacon Hills looks ridiculously like Sunnydale once she passes the city border. Zeppelin is playing in her car, a restored Chevy Mustang that Andrew had insisted on repainting a cherry red. It suits her, she likes it and more importantly- she can rely on it.
The diner catches her attention almost right away and she peels into the parking lot with the music still booming. She flicks the engine off and gets a couple of twenties from her bag before walking inside. Her head feels like it’s throbbing, brain painfully beating against her skull and her skin stretched too tight over her bones. She needs coffee before she can go any further.
Faith catches the eye of one of the waitresses pretty quick, sliding into one of the corner booths with an easy movement.
“What’ll you have hon?” her name tag says Sheila and Faith is suddenly, viscerally reminded of the woman who had taken her. Or been saddled with her, which would probably explain the beatings a lot better, if she had never wanted a kid and had one thrust on her without a choice in the matter.
“Coffee, black. An order of pancakes, bacon, hashbrowns, two sausages and half an order of waffles,” Faith doesn’t even blink at the waitress’ impressed whistle. It’s been too long since she’s been ashamed of what her body needs to function.
“You’re an eater huh?” Sheila eyes her with approval. “Couldn’t tell from a skinny thing like you. You been dieting?”
“Oh don’t worry,” Faith bares her teeth again, “I’ll be back to my old ways in no time.” The last apocalypse had finished two weeks ago, no casualties, despite the daily injuries that the girls had suffered. All of them had lost weight, Buffy and her especially, they had patrolled non-stop, ran training groups, simulation scenarios and gone on more research trips than Faith ever cared to think about.
Now that the major threat is off the table, Faith knows that she’ll be back to her old body soon enough. She’s sleeping regularly again, her usual four to six hours a night, instead of the exhausted hour or so they had ran on for the last couple of weeks and now that she’s eating properly- she’ll be fine.
“That’s good to hear,” Sheila says with a soft smile that somehow still manages to look ladylike despite the cheap lipstick that’s become a little too faded, creased into the lines of her mouth. “You’re too pretty to look so stressed.”
And immediately, the comparison with Faith’s Sheila ends. Her mother would have been the first to encourage Faith to go on a diet. Heroin chic was her number one fashion choice and once Faith had started developing muscles and curves, Sheila Lehane had started getting even more vicious with her.
“Thanks,” Faith says and doesn’t smile, too afraid that it’ll look feral again, wrong. Nothing like she wants it to.
“You’re welcome,” the waitress says and pats Faith’s shoulder before leaving, a stranger really, one that’s probably not going to think twice about the strange woman she had shown some kindness too. She’s just going through her day, doing her job and maybe she has kids at home, a husband. She has a life where her job doesn’t mean the possibility of death every time she slips into her uniform. A life where the only knives she’ll ever see are the cheap ones they sell at the local Wal-Mart.
She and others like her are the reason why Faith fights. Why all of them do. Why they put on their weapons, lace up their boots and go out, night after night making sure that the monsters don’t hurt the waitresses, doctors, students.
Faith shakes her head, pulling the strange, thick thoughts away and starts checking out the rest of the diner’s inhabitants.
It’s just the usual mix of an early morning crowd, truckers and families, and a table full of teenagers in the corner. Faith’s eyes stop on them though. She’s never been one to discount teenagers, not after she had done herself as a teenager and this time, the voice in the back of her head whispers gleefully that Beacon Hills is a lot more like Sunnydale than she even thought.
There are seven teenagers all in all, five boys and two girls. All of them unfairly attractive. Five of them werewolves. Faith stares at them thoughtfully, before Sheila brings her coffee over. She thanks the woman before taking a sip. It’s perfect.
That’s the thing about diners, either their coffee’s going to be shit or it’s going to be amazing, there’s no middle ground.
Faith smiles, watching the werewolves shifting nervously. They can’t tell what she is, she thinks, gazing at them, they can smell the predator in her- but they don’t know that she’s a slayer. It’s weird, nothing in the research had shown that Beacon Hills has a pack. There were reports a while back about a fairly large one, a pack that had stayed off the official documents, off the Council’s radar, but nobody had documented a new one forming. By the looks of the teenagers, the nervous way they keep squeezing together, as if instinctively seeking the comfort of each other’s bodies- Faith can see that they’re pack.
She didn’t want to have to deal with figuring out werewolf politics on top of this, but it looks like the choice has been taken out of her hands. It’s common courtesy for Council representatives to introduce themselves to the leaders of whatever supernatural factions are in the area. In the past, Faith’s had to introduce herself to faerie royalty, voodoo High Priests, heads of covens- alphas of packs have almost become a routine by now.
Sheila brings by her food and the teenagers, still terrified but growing ever more incredulous as the plates stack up at her tables, watch her eat it all. By the time Faith is full and the caffeine is percolating in her blood, she feels much better. Much more like a real person, instead of a walking, talking zombie and she leaves a fifty percent tip without a second thought.
She heads over to the wolves’ table and by the time she’s standing in front of them, they’re all growling, amber eyes flashing at her.
Faith quirks an eyebrow at how new the pups seem to be, either they’re newly turned or just badly trained- or she’s just gotten much, much scarier than she realized but if they’re losing control this easily, she really wants to see who the alpha that turned them was.
“Calm down,” she drawls easy, tracing her fingers on the table as she watches the wolves’ hackles rise as she flips her hair back, “you’re beginning to draw attention to yourselves.” One by one the growling drops off, until the wolves are just staring at her, fear and rage in their still brightly colored eyes. What’s interesting though is the way the humans with them have reacted. Or haven’t
reacted. While the wolves had been a small unfanging away from giving their secret, the boy with the buzzcut and the bright hazel eyes and the redhead have been watching her warily. Intensely. They seem more cautious with her, unaware of who she is but not liking their compatriots’ reactions to her at all.
It’s stupidly human, their inability to sense the slayer, and Faith feels suddenly and overwhelmingly protective of these kids running with the monsters.
“My name is Faith,” she says to the calmest of the werewolves, a bulky looking black kid that reminds her painfully of Oz.
Maybe it’s the serene air around him, or the way that he seems to be anchoring everyone else in the pack- but he seems to be a good choice to pass on the message. “I’m with the Council,” none of them react to that and Faith sighs inwardly.
They’ve known about the smaller towns controlled by the human hunters, towns where the threats haven’t gotten big
enough to call down the attention of the slayer army- they’re mostly unaware about the bigger threats around them, the monsters that get so huge they can black out the sky. The threats that rip open the dimensions, raining down hell on earth on anyone stupid enough to get in their way.
“Oh man, you guys are really new to this, aren’t you?” she exhales, wincing a bit as the kids draw up in righteous indignation. It’s almost adorable how they think that flashing a bit of fang is going to set her off.
“Not that I’m not digging the whole John Hughes meets Terminator vibe you’ve got going there,” she nods over at where a blonde, red lipped girl wearing an honest to god leather corset is sitting next to a typically douche looking jock-type that’s still wearing the jersey of whatever high school is unfortunate enough to be housing these miscreants, “but you should really, really
know what the Council means.”
It’s the buzzcut kid that surprises her, snapping out a defense of his more ill-informed brethren- “maybe you should stop mocking us and just get on with whatever it is that you were going to say. Because we’ve still got breakfast to get through and if you’re going to promise death and destruction, I’d rather think about it on a full stomach- if you don’t mind.”
Faith stares at him before breaking out into a smile, “you’re a mouthy one, aren’t you? But alright,” she straightens up, “tell your alpha that a Council member is in town. I’m not here as a threat to the pack and I’m not here on work business. If he decides he wants to meet me, he can send one of you puppies over to find me.” She looks at them, “I assume you’ve got my scent?”
The calm kid nods once.
“Excellent,” Faith smiles at them again, “have a fantastic breakfast.” She starts walking away before the buzzcut kid leans and yells, “hey!”
Faith quirks an eyebrow, staring at him over her shoulder inquisitively. The kid’s eyes widen in shock before he visibly recovers. “Those are some nice leather pants you’ve got going on there Sarah,” he nods at her favourite pair of red leather, moulded perfectly to her ass.
Faith starts laughing, shooting the kid a quick thumbs up- “touché.”
She’s still in a good mood as she checks into the bed and breakfast, using one of her fake IDs, doctored by Willow not to check any of the flags in the system that might still be attached to her old last name. The room that they give her looks like every stereotypical bed and breakfast that she might have been in if she was so inclined to spend her time in them. Plaid, ducks and frills. So much plaid, it’s like the room where plaid went to die.
Faith jumps into a quick shower before getting out her cellphone and shooting off a quick message to Buffy. Arrived alive. Found a pack of werewolves. Have someone do some research into why Beacon Hills doesn’t show up in our system as wolfy. I liked one of them, he reminded me of Xander- mouthy and stupidly brave. Don’t worry.
She falls asleep.
She dreams of a mansion in the woods at night time, flames flickering higher and higher as they lick up into the sky.
There’s so much screaming coming from inside and Faith’s breath catches as she realizes what the silver ring around the house is- mountain ash.
When she wakes up, she doesn’t remember.