The Sarcasm Neologism
A/N: Disclaimer, crossover, spoilers, etc. are all given in chapter 1.
Penny hurried into the office. She was running late again, and once again it was Sheldon’s fault. Who knew a quick detour to drop someone off at Cal Tech could turn into a desperate rush to buy a new toothbrush along the way?
It was totally Raj’s fault. And Sheldon’s. Sheldon, because, hello? Sheldon. The king of phobia weirdness. And Raj? Why did Raj have to go use Sheldon’s
toothbrush when he had some popcorn bit stuck between his tooth and gum? And why did Raj have to wait until Sheldon was on his way to work the next morning to confess?
Boy, Sheldon had done that twitchy eye thing for like ten minutes after the call. The lady in the expensive pharmacy – “I need a skilled pharmacist because I require a carefully designed toothbrush because I have sensitive gums!” – stared at Sheldon’s face for the entire time, and one of the pharmacists came over and asked Penny if Sheldon had been taking antipsychotics for too long.
Unfortunately, Sheldon had overheard that, and had launched into a long discussion about his nervous tics and how they were completely distinct from tardive dyskinesia and related syndromes.
Seriously, what kind of a word was ‘tardive’? And why was it now stuck in her head instead of something useful?
And so she was late to work again. She waved as she slipped in past Tasha, who was holding down the receptionist’s desk for the day, and headed for her office.
There was someone sitting in there already. Her first thought was a hooker had snuck in past the office wards. Were there magical hookers? She should ask Buffy.
The brunette sexpot lounging in Penny’s chair was wearing an oxblood-colored patent leather bustier that was maybe a size too small. And really tight leather pants. And she was cooing in a strong Boston accent at someone on the screen, making risqué comments about his ‘wand’.
Then the ‘someone’ spoke, and Penny realized it was Andrew. “Faith! Stop it!”
Penny was suddenly really, REALLY glad she hadn’t made that hooker comment she’d had on the tip of her tongue. Because she realized she was looking at the one and only Faith Lehane. The Dark Slayer. In person.
Instead, Penny carefully asked, “Didn’t they get you any office space, Miss Lehane?”
“Faith. Just Faith. I don’t answer to Lehane unless it’s cops. With riot shotguns.”
Penny said, “I’m Penny. Just Penny. And I don’t answer to Lehane either.”
Faith laughed and said to the monitor, “Okay A, I’m trustin’ you on this one. But if there’s any flyin’ monkey demons throwin’ demon monkey poo, they better not think I’m ground zero.”
Andrew nervously insisted, “No flying monkey demons! I promise! And… anyway, I had to promise someone I wouldn’t summon them anymore around any Scoobies or Scrappies unless I had explicit permission first.”
Faith leered, “What? B threatened ta cut off your internet porn access?”
Andrew whined, “She threatened to go to my apartment and open up my boxed set of genuine Boba Fett action figures!
And then she said she’d play with them! And then she said she might break something ‘by accident’! They’re in mint condition! That would ruin everything!”
Penny said from the side, “Sheldon’s had the same crisis. He survived.”
Andrew said disparagingly, “Him? He thinks he’s so smart. And he can’t even see that Star Wars is intrinsically better than Star Trek! The man’s obviously delusional.”
Faith smirked, “Oh, too bad, I bet you were hoping for some hot geek-on-geek action.”
“FAITH!” Andrew squawked. “That’s not funny! And I could never be interested in someone who thinks that some lame Vulcan could beat Mace Windu in a fight! Anyone can see that lightsabers are intrinsically better than phasers!”
“Catch ya on the flip side, A,” Faith said as she ended the call. She turned to Penny and asked, “So, you’re the new kid, huh? What’d they tell you about me?”
Penny sat down in the little folding chair she had moved into the room. It wasn’t comfortable, but a big, cozy armchair wouldn’t really fit. She wasn’t really going to say what people said about Faith. The mini-Slayers talked about Faith like she was a terrifying, psychotic nutcase who was only a few steps away from going to the Dark Side of the Force again. Buffy talked about Faith like she was a sister she had lost to something ugly and had not quite gotten back, and so things were never quite the same again. Lorraine talked about Faith like she was that nightmare boss who makes fun of you but you don’t dare complain. Andrew talked about Faith like she was an epic saga of loss, tragedy, failure, redemption, and triumph.
Okay, Andrew sort of went overboard like that about everybody. Like the story Andrew told her about how Xander Harris lost his eye, which pretty much made Xander sound like the bravest, most wholesome guy on earth.
Penny said, “Hmm, lemme see… Faith. Never accept a ride on the back of your Harley. Never have drinking contests with you. Never make fun of that Southie accent you have. Never say your last name is Wilkins, which I still don’t get. And if I piss you off, buy you a nice, shiny knife and you’ll forgive me. The bigger the knife, the better.”
Faith grinned. “Usually, they say a lot worse about me. But the ‘Wilkins’ thing? Just don’t.”
Penny said, “Is this like Xander not having a middle name anyone’ll tell me?”
Faith nodded, “Yeah. When I was in a coma, Mayor Wilkins had me listed on the hospital records as his ward, so he could make sure I was gettin’ proper care. So one a’ my official aliases in the police records – before Red cleaned all that up – was Faith Wilkins.”
Penny checked, “So… Mayor Wilkins? The guy who was turning himself into a demon? Doesn’t sound that impressive.”
Faith said, “I didn’t get to see it, but he wasn’t turning himself inta one a’ these demons who walks around here like Clem. We’re talkin’ an Old One. Olvikan itself. A giant snake demon over a hundred feet long and maybe fifteen feet wide. B says he swallowed their high school principal in one gulp.”
Penny gulped too. That sounded way worse than what she had guessed. She was going to have to get someone like Buffy or Faith to tell a bunch of stories about things. Even if she wasn’t sure she wanted to know some of the things Buffy and her buddies had stopped. She knew she could get Andrew to tell some stories, but Andrew tended to over-dramatize everything until you weren’t really sure what was true and what was exaggeration. Like the thing where Andrew claimed Buffy lured a Turok-Han into a construction site and then beat the snot out of it in hand-to-hand even though she hadn’t been able to defeat one yet, just to teach the Potentials a couple lessons.
She said, “So Faith, do you need the office longer? Because I can find somewhere else to be. Or if you need your own office space, I can see about getting something set up for you. After all, you’re on the Council board, and you probably have tons of business to conduct…”
“Not if I can help it,” Faith smirked. “I already checked my email and shit, and I got in my recommended daily allowance of giving A some grief, and B’s already here somewhere. So I’m good.”
Penny said, “We’ve got coffee down the hall. There’s usually donuts or pastries or something like that in the break room, but they only last about fifteen seconds after someone opens a box. But there’s a really good deli just a couple blocks down the street that delivers – I recommend their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches – and there’s a great pastry shop only six blocks west of here, and I know everybody at the Cheesecake Factory just northeast of here, and there’s a good pizza place that delivers.”
“Good pizza? In Lala-land? Doubt it,” Faith said.
“Well, I like it,” Penny said.
“We all like it, that’s why Faith wears those bustiers and those tight, tight pants,” said a guy behind her.
Penny turned and looked. A good-looking guy with a goofy smile and messy hair, in a t-shirt and flannel overshirt, was standing there wearing a toolbelt. But he was also wearing an eyepatch over one eye. It was Xander Harris. She stood up at once. “Oh! Hi. I’m Penny.”
“Are you a bad
Penny?” he teased.
She smiled and said, “Lorraine already did that joke.”
He acted like he was horrorstruck. “Oh no! Lorraine did the same joke as me! This must be a sign of some kind of apocalypse!”
Faith said, “It’s the dreaded X-man snarkasm.”
“Snarkasm?” asked Penny. “Not sarcasm?”
“Nope, it’s the snarky sarcasm,” Faith said. “And we gave it a name just to bug G, ‘cause if it’s not in the OED it’s suspect.”
Penny was glad she’d been hanging too much with smart people, because she didn’t think ordinary people had any idea the OED was the Oxford English Dictionary. She figured Faith had to be smarter than she pretended if she knew that.
Faith looked over at Xander and asked, “Can you have snark and an orgasm too? ‘Cause that would also be a snarkasm.”
Xander pretended to think it over. “No, I think that would be a snargasm. But maybe we should wait ‘til the next board meeting and ask the G-man.”
Faith laughed and then leaned back in Penny’s chair. She pointed at Penny and said, “She’s the new assistant. The one who got B that sweet apartment.”
Xander smirked, “With the guys even geekier than Andrew? Must be nice havin’ guys downstairs whose big noisiness is playing Warcraft and writing on chalkboards. Faith had some upstairs neighbors who thought they were gonna be the next Van Halen.”
Faith leaned back in the chair and said, “I had ta persuade
‘em ta go practice at someone else’s place.”
Xander laughed, “And this time, she managed to do it without breaking anyone’s bones!”
Faith stuck her tongue out at Xander and then said, “I suckered ‘em into a drinking contest.”
Xander grinned at Penny and said, “Secret Scoobies Tip #87. Don’t get into a drinking contest with Faith.”
Faith said, “That goes with ‘Don’t get into a Twinkie eating contest with X’ and ‘Don’t get into a Star Wars trivia contest with A’ and ‘Don’t try to out-shop B’. Also, check all ingredients before you eat Little D’s cooking.”
When Penny stopped giggling, she said, “Sheldon could beat Andrew on Star Wars trivia, but that’s because he has a photographic memory. He can also tell you everything he’s had for breakfast every morning since he was about six.”
“Breaks the ice at any party!” Xander snarked.
“Wow, bet he’s quite the ladies’ man,” smirked Faith.
Xander looked at Penny and said, “No doubt you’re crushing on him bigtime.”
Penny laughed out loud. “Sheldon is so nerdy that even the other physicists at Cal Tech think he’s geeky.”
Faith said, “Well, if you don’t have the Shel-do-rama hanging all over ya, you can date X. He’s single.” She leered at Xander, “Hey, she’s blonde. You always go for the blondes. And the big hooters.”
Xander grinned, “I go for all women, all the time. Blonde, brunette, busty, not so much, everything in between. I am the comfortador!”
Faith smirked, “Yeah, you had it bad for B, and she’s about the flattest Scooby we got.”
Xander defended Buffy, “Hey, she’s a very nice shape. She’s just petite, even for a Slayer.”
Faith turned to Penny, “But he dated Cordelia for a while, and she was stacked.”
“And brunette, I might add,” Xander said.
“And sometimes he dated stuff with scales or claws.” She mimed a praying mantis or a lobster or something.
Xander mock-complained, “Hey, we have our deal about that stuff… Miss Wilkins!”
She flipped him the bird and said, “Not my fault you guys all have the embarrassing stuff and all I have are aliases and jailtime.”
Xander said like he was deep in thought, “I still think there are freaksome stories from your jailbird days. Maybe I ought to get Will to investigate… Maybe interview some prisoners who remember you…”
Faith tossed her hair back and grinned, “Hey, ALL the girls remember me. ‘Specially the ones I put in the prison hospital.”
Xander said, “I prefer to think of you differently. Maybe naked in a prison shower, with a gorgeous blonde cellmate…” He deliberately let his face take on a slack look, like he was daydreaming. “Lots of soap, the guards looking the other way, she asks you to scrub her back, then… OWW!” He rubbed his arm where Faith had just smacked him.
Faith said, “You just keep my bod outta your little dreams.”
“Too late,” he grinned. “You’re in there. With Scarlett Johansson and Diane Kruger.”
“Well, at least ya got excellent taste.”
Penny couldn’t help herself. She teased, “Would that be blonde Scarlett Johansson, redhead Scarlett Johansson, or brunette Scarlett Johansson?”
“Or one a’ each?” Faith tossed in.
Xander smiled, “Well, if I already have Faith and Diane Kruger, I don’t need blonde Scarlett Johansson or brunette Scarlett Johansson.”
Penny pretended to pout. “Well, I’m deeply hurt. I’m right here, and you’re opting for imaginary Diane Kruger.”
Xander grinned, “Well, I’d have to get to know you first. Imaginary Diane Kruger and I have been imaginary dating for several years, and it’s a committed imaginary relationship. It took ten or twelve imaginary dates before I dumped Power Girl for her.”
Penny asked, “Oh really? Power Girl? With the…” She drew a circle over her breasts with her index fingers. After hanging out with the guys for five years, she knew why Power Girl was popular among male readers.
Xander nodded. “Yep.”
So she asked, “Who’d you dump for Faith?”
Xander smirked, “Well, it was a toss-up between Wonder Woman and Cordy. Wonder Woman stands for justice and female empowerment, but she never made out with me in a broom closet.” He went on, “And speaking of closets, I see Lorraine kept the biggest office and gave you this one. There anything you need? I do woodworking, even if I’m not so much with the depth perceiving anymore. Maybe bookshelves? Plant stands?”
She’d been thinking about that. She didn’t need bookshelves, and she already had a couple pictures she was going to bring from her apartment. She said, “Oh! I know! I could use a cute little organizer for paper clips and post-it notes and pens and pencils and stuff. And maybe a couple little plant holders that would just clamp onto the windowsill for some small plants?”
Faith said, “Better hope ya don’t need help carin’ for your plants, ‘cause Slayers can kill anything
Xander nodded, “Yeah, Faith once killed a plastic fern in my office.”
Faith flipped him the bird and said, “Watch it, Cyclops.”
But Xander just grinned, “Oh please, can’t I be Nick Fury?”
Faith shook her head no. “Not when you’re makin’ fun a’ my anti-green thumb.”
Xander just laughed and said, “I gots to go talk to the boss next. Buffy’s arguing with Giles again about whether we can protect Wolfram and Hart’s basement archives when we drop the building. All the Brits are obsessed with protecting the super-valuable evil artifacts and tomes, like we can worry about that when we’re dealing with a building full of the creepiness. Then I’m gonna go tease The Goodbody about her tweed-covered self.” He strolled off down the hall.
Penny waited a few seconds until she couldn’t hear Xander’s footsteps anymore, and then asked, “What’s with you and Xander?”
“Nothin’,” Faith said frostily.
Penny pushed, “Come on, I know stuff when I see it. There’s something there.”
“Nope, not a chance,” Faith insisted.
Penny leered, “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”
Faith cocked her head like she was listening for some faint sound. Penny guessed she was using her Slayer hearing to make sure no one else was going to hear what she was about to say. Then Faith carefully said, “Doesn’t matter. I had a chance with X years ago, and I fucked it up totally. Anyway, he always had a thing for B. And Little D would kill me if she thought I was gonna hurt him again. Red too. You do not piss off Red. She’s way scarier than me.”
Penny said, “I slept with Leonard for months, and then when he wanted to get really serious, I bailed. And then he started dating Raj’s sister, and I realized maybe I screwed up. And then I got really drunk at a party and ended up in bed with one of his best friends. We’ve kind of been ‘on again off again’ for a while.”
Faith frowned, “X? I took his cherry. He saved me from some badass demons, and I dragged him back to my motel room and gave him the sex bomb, just ‘cause I was horny. Then I kicked him to the curb. Just threw him out in his underwear, in the middle of the night, in a place surrounded by vamps and demons. And then I really
fucked up and killed a guy who walked into the middle of a battle. Me and B fightin’ like fifteen vamps. It was an accident, but a guy still ended up real dead, and we were in trouble for it. Afterward, X came to me and told me he could help, and I thought he was just tryin’ ta get into my pants again, and… I tried to kill him. I mean, I strangled him. With my bare hands. With Slayer strength. If Angel hadn’t clocked me with a baseball bat, I prob’ly would’ve killed him. Then things got real bad.” She sighed, “But he really was tryin’ ta help me. And sometimes I wonder. What woulda happened if I’d just given him a chance? A real chance?”
Penny cautiously asked, “Who’s he dating now?”
“Nobody. He didn’t go on a date for over a year after Anya died. And then there was that Traci chick who turned out to be a demon. And then there was Cleo, who turned out to be working for Wolfram and Hart and tryin’ ta do stuff to his mind, and wasn’t that huge with the suckage. And now we have ta worry that pretty much anybody who makes nice with him – or any of us – is maybe another Wolfram and Hart plant tryin’ ta get at the Scoobies.”
Penny said, “But he’d know you
weren’t working for Wolfram and Hart.”
Faith frowned, “Yeah… but I don’t know. He deserves somebody way better’n me. Little D’s legal now, and she’ll be twenty-one in less’n two full years. Maybe I need to just let her take her best shot. I owe it to her, after what I did to Buffy, and to Joyce, and to her. And she was just a kid. I did some really bad shit ta pretty much everybody. I didn’t realize it then, but I was pretty much aimin’ for the supernatural version of suicide by cop.”
Penny said, “Well, Buffy talks about you like she forgave you and she wants things to be like they used to be a long time ago, before stuff went bad.”
Faith said, “Yeah, well, even when things were good between us, stuff was bad. I was already in a real bad place, and I was lyin’ to all of ‘em, and I was scared shitless Kakistos was gonna find me, and I lied to ‘em about that too.”
Penny gently said, “It sounds to me like the only person who hasn’t forgiven you is… you.”
Faith growled, “You may be Buffy’s pal, but that don’t mean you get ta play headshrinker around here.” She stood up and said, “I need a cigarette.” She stormed out like people who got in her way might just get run over.
Penny couldn’t keep the smirk off her face. She clicked on the Note-keeping app, which was really pretty awesome. It was like pages of notes you could look through and write on and connect like with a paperclip, or have one line that linked to a whole other page of details. She picked her ‘no rush at all’ to-do list. She quietly added a new line:get X and F together.