E is for Encounter
See Chapter 1. A/N:
My final update this year. Since Christmas is the most stressful time of the year and I'm more busy than one of Santa's elves then I won't have time to post another chapter until at least the new year. So... enjoy! Thank you to those of you who reviewed. Merry Christmas!
And as always, a THANK YOU to Noturbaby for the Beta. Chapter 5: E is for Encounter
Two days had passed since the bullet incident and Faith hadn’t seen Derek again. If she was honest, she hadn’t really made any effort to find him, instead spending her time researching the Argents, their history and their methods.
Using Wolfsbane tipped bullets was a given, but she had found reports of mutilated corpses and animal attacks from each of the places they had resided. One thing that re-occurred in more than one of the cases was that the body was split in half horizontally across the abdomen.
Whilst she had been able to uncover a wealth of information from various sources, only a few stood out as being significant. One such snippet had explained that the name ‘Argent’ in French meant Silver; further checks confirmed that their lineage did in fact have roots in France. Chris Argent had a job as an arms supplier for Law Enforcement, meaning that he would have continual and legal access to a potentially limitless arsenal.
Kate Argent’s previous years were much sketchier. She had been a resident in and around Beacon Hills around a decade ago but had suddenly disappeared… until two days ago at least.
Stiles hadn’t approached Faith since that night either but she didn’t blame him. Still, if he wasn’t ready to ask his questions, she wasn’t in a position to give him the answers.
She knew that even though he hadn’t asked yet, he had by no means dropped the subject. She had caught him watching her over the last two days and knew that the cogs in his head were spinning… he was trying to figure her out.
Faith didn’t want to lie to Stiles but she also knew that telling him the truth could be just as bad for her. Then again, the kid was like a human lie detector; he couldn’t lie for shit personally but had an eerily accurate bullshit detector of his own.
She had moved her weapons out of the house the same night that everything had kicked off. They were now safely tucked up in the trunk of her car, away from prying eyes. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if Stiles got his hands on her crossbow – or worse, her knives… most of the time he barely had control of his own limbs, let alone a deadly weapon.
She’d also caught him muttering to himself yesterday morning, hunched over a crumpled piece of paper. He’d been mulling over it a while and had developed an ink stain on the side of his mouth where he had been chewing his pen. When she entered the kitchen he quickly put the paper in his pocket and tried to pretend everything was fine. Faith didn’t call him out, instead, continuing to make her breakfast. She would have told him about the ink but he’d darted out the door so fast that she never got a chance.
She still wanted to avoid getting out the ‘Slayer in Town’ banners just yet if she could avoid it. Unfortunately, she knew that in Stiles’ case it was only a matter of time.
The dried twigs and branches snapped loudly as Faith darted through the woods. Since moving here, she had been in possession of a crap ton of extra free time and a burning store of pent up energy without an immediate vent. She actually found herself wishing for a vampire, or maybe even a rogue demon, just so that she could beat it in to a mushy pile of muscle and sinew; for no other reason than to exhaust her excess energy.
The music from her iPod blared in her ears as she darted, leapt and dipped through the dense woods. Her feet were moving instinctually; moving in a blur without so much as tripping or stumbling on the loose terrain. She breathed in deeply and as the cold morning air filled her lungs she felt at peace. Given the situation over the last few days, she was thankful for these moments where she could just ‘be’; letting her body control her movements and freeing up her mind.
This morning wasn’t destined to be one of those leisurely runs.
Faith halted instantly and stood so still that she could have passed for a statue. She let her senses scout the area around her. She knew
someone was there… and she knew
they were watching her. She had been aware of them as soon as she began her run but had purposefully ignored their presence to see what they would do next.
As she stood there in the clearing she could hear low breathing. She held her own breath but could still hear the breathing of another. She watched as Derek emerged from the trees in front of her and broke in to a run towards her. She grinned and ran away from him, back towards the tree line. He dropped to all fours and pursued her, quickly catching up so that he was only a meter or so away. As she approached a thick birch she planted her foot on the trunk and flipped backwards, right over Derek’s head. He managed to stop himself from full on body slamming the tree but stumbled forwards before quickly turning back to her; she was standing with her back to him.
“Nice try,” she quipped sarcastically.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Derek growled at her.
She flipped her hood up over her head and peered back at him over her shoulder, “Grandma’s House,” she grinned. She began to walk away.
She had seen the barest hint of a smile playing on the corner of Derek’s lips… perhaps he does have a sense of humour after all,
Derek roared and slammed in to her, forcing her to the ground. She could have easily used his weight to flip him over her head but didn’t feel like she was in any real danger. As she smashed in to the ground she let out a sharp breath; she could feel Derek leaning in close to her neck. As she opened her eyes she heard him inhale deeply.
Faith smiled, “Um, normally I would be all for this but …”
Derek jumped away from her, still on all fours. She turned over and sat up to look at him; his eyes were wide and glowing brightly. Faith didn’t know if the look on his face was supposed to be of shock, horror or fear.
“You smell…” he began.
“Hey!” She interrupted. She stood and pointed her finger in indignation, “If you had been running for three hours then you wouldn’t smell so hot either! Besides… it’s not that bad. ” Faith pulled her t-shirt up to her nose and sniffed it. She grimaced slightly and looked at him glumly, “Ok, so maybe it is that bad. That doesn’t mean I need you telling me!”
She looked away for a second before muttering, “You should smell Stiles after lacrosse practice – that’s lethal. If you could bottle it, it’d come with a warning label!” She shook her head as if waking from a dream, “Wait, why the hell did you sniff me?”
Derek stood back up, looking confused and exasperated all at once.
Faith waited for him to speak but decided to take the hit herself and break the silence. “You look better,” she said, “not so green or bullet ridden.”
He still looked pissed off but didn’t look sure about what he expected from this encounter, or even what he wanted from it. Faith decided that life was too short and pushed her earphones back in to her ears. She stretched each leg and gave him one last look,
“Great conversation as always Hale. I suppose I should go home and shower.”
She set off at a run and disappeared in to the woods; she was just out of sight when he heard her shout, “Better luck next time!”
Derek looked on sternly but remained in the clearing rather than pursuing her further.
Faith had already showered, eaten and watched her fair share of daytime TV; saying she was bored was an understatement. She stood up and grabbed her coat. “Screw this,” she said aloud and walked out the front door.
She set out down the main road, looking for something to do; a shopping mall, a cinema… even a 7/11 would suffice right now. As she turned a corner the familiar flicker of red and blue lights alerted her to police presence. It wasn’t long before she pulled in near the local video store; saying that there was police presence turned out to be a poor estimate... the place was crawling
She climbed out of the car in time to see Stiles hanging around a few cop cars away. He hadn’t seen her yet but she could see her uncle from here; he was standing with a tall, good looking teen, who was being less than polite. A few feet from him she could see a red head sitting in an ambulance, looking pretty ill. The available evidence suggested that this was the ‘Jackson and Lydia’ the boys had told her about.
As she drew closer she could hear some of the attitude that Jackson was spewing out at her uncle and wanted nothing more than to punch him out; she was not given the option though as Stiles shouted loudly, “Is that a dead body?”
All eyes turned to the body bag being carried from the video store. Her uncle sighed angrily and looked at Stiles who looked sheepish under his gaze. It was then that he noticed her there; he made eye contact for a moment and then turned away, fidgeting awkwardly. He had a few ideas about what her situation was but didn’t yet have any more than ideas and theories.
Faith walked over to her uncle who was now controlling the scene, holding people back and turning away those with cameras. When he saw her, he gave her a slight nod, silently telling her that he had seen her, but didn’t have time to talk. She nodded back and walked over to Stiles.
“Hey kiddo,” she said, lightly punching him in the shoulder.
He looked at her but had a horrible look on his face, a look that she didn’t ever want to see again… he didn’t trust her anymore.
She sighed and gently rested her hand on his shoulder, “Listen, we’ll talk at home? I promise.” With that she nudged him towards his jeep and turned back towards her own car.
The video store was too busy with the police and paramedics to do any detective work so she opted to go to the next best place for answers - Derek’s.
One thing had been clear at the video store; it wasn’t an animal attack - not in the traditional sense anyway. She intended to confront Derek and was making her way through the woods to his house. She was just out of sight when she heard voices. Once again there were hunters guarding the entrance but this time there was voices coming from inside.
She moved silently around the building so that she could see the main room from a small crack in a blacked window. She saw Kate pass in front of the gap and out of sight again, she wasn’t out of earshot though.
She couldn’t hear any commotion inside so stayed quiet, just listening. She heard Kate talking to Derek and could hear Derek’s breathing getting faster. Kate started talking about his sister and Faith could hear the rage in his voice with each answer. The significant thing was that Kate told him that her family didn’t kill his sister… and he believed her.
She kept listening as was able to garner two more things. The first was that Derek didn’t know who the Alpha was. The second was that Kate was a total bitch.
The conversation inside went quiet so Faith moved back to the gap to watch. The room inside flashed blue and Derek’s scream rang out, alongside Kate’s laughing. Faith got up to help but the air was suddenly alive with gunfire. She ducked down out of view and listened as rounds hit the house; splintering wood and sending debris flying away from the walls in shards.
The gunfire stopped and was replaced by frenzied shouting. Only one sentence was important to her, and was the sentence they were all taking turns to shout.
“Where the fuck is he?”
Faith pushed open the front door to her uncles and sighed as she hung her leather jacket up on the coat rack. She could see Stiles sitting at the kitchen table, watching her.
She walked in to the kitchen and opened the cupboard, fishing out a big bag of potato chips. She popped it open and hopped on to the counter top. Neither one had spoken yet so when she took the first handful of chips and popped them in to her mouth, the resulting crunch felt deafening.
Faith looked at Stiles who just looked back at her. She swallowed her mouthful of chips and placed her hand back in to the bag. ”What’s up?” she said calmly.
He looked horrified, “Really?! That’s what you’re starting with? ‘What’s up?’!” He took a deep breath and calmed himself. “Ok,” he began softly, “I don’t wanna go all Twilight on you here, but you're fast, and incredibly strong,” he paused as if waiting for a response that never came. He continued, “I
punch Derek and nearly break my hand, you
hit him and not only are you fine, but he flinched! You snuck up on him at the school, which is impossible to do with a werewolf by the way, and pinned… pinned
him to a wall! Not to mention you knew what Wolfsbane was from just the smell alone.”
He looked frustrated, “You’re too calm!” he pointed at her, “You’re too calm now, you were too calm at the vet’s… with the blood and the bullets and the hitting, roaring and biting... What are you?”
“Sorry to disappoint you cuz, but I’m not a vampire … or a werewolf while we’re on the subject.”
Stiles didn’t look relieved, in fact he looked angry. “Then what
are you?” he yelled. “I’ve made a list and nothing fits!”
He thrust a crumpled piece of paper towards her which she pried open carefully. Faith scanned the piece of paper and realised it was a list… about her, or what Stiles thought she was.
She scanned at some of the entries and laughed, “You thought I was a superhero? I’m flattered and please, don’t insult me by thinking I’m a hunter.” Perusing more of the list she smiled, “Catwoman? Hmmm, I can see that, what with the leather and all.”
Stiles snatched the list back from her, “You promised me answers!”
“I promised we’d talk at home,” she replied, “But yeah, I’ll give you some answers.”
She pulled the paper back from him and picked up a pen from the counter top. She scribbled a word on to the page and handed it back to him.
He looked down and read it aloud, “Slayer.” His face lit up, “I KNEW IT!” he shouted, “Wait… that’s… what is that?”
Faith jumped down from the counter and sat next to him at the table. “Here goes nothing.”
She told him about Slayers from the very beginning; their history, their purpose, their victories and losses, their training as Slayers, how they had evolved over time and the army they now had at their disposal. Stiles never once spoke or questioned her, he just listened.
They spoke well in to the night about her life in Sunnydale, LA and Boston but chose to leave out the darker components of her past. Perhaps one day she would tell him but not now. She felt closer to him and her uncle than she had ever felt with anyone else outside of the old Scooby gang; she didn’t want to jeopardize that.
Faith looked at him and smiled, “So, have at it. Any questions?”
Stiles sat back in the chair, he looked to be lost in thought for a moment. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table; his eyes never left Faith’s. “Just let me get one thing straight… vampires are real