Episode 3: Enter Faith
Don't own.Author's Note:
I know in the teaser last chapter I said I'd be dealing with the Mask episode, but I found that there was little to work with in that episode directly related to the Mask part.
In general, if I don't mention an episode where the main thread is unrelated to the arc of the season, assume it happened as laid out in the show, largely.
Thanks to my beta-reader, Starway Man.The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1
Episode 3: Enter FaithOctober 13th, 1998
The Bronze, SunnydaleSeriously, Mom, next time you decide to bring art home from the gallery, check with Giles first, and make sure it isn't a cursed zombie-raising demon-mask, or whatever!
Xander briefly smiled as he recalled the words an exasperated and zombie goop-covered Buffy had told her mother last week, following the 'night of the living dead' remake within la Casa del Summers. He wasn't sure why he was remembering those particular words right now, but nonetheless, he was doing so.
It had been an interesting few months, to be sure. Cordelia had left on her family vacation, not long after Buffy had arrived home. Willow and Oz had pretty much done their own thing, while Joyce had eventually forced Principal Snyder to raise the metaphorical white flag, threatening to go directly to the Mayor after those murder charges against Buffy had been dropped. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the Slayer had been forced to attend summer school as part of the deal struck with the school board to make up for the missed classes and final exams, which had left Xander more or less all by himself for the rest of the summer.
Still, his time had been spent learning what he could; not only about the Iron Coin he now possessed, but also learning Latin with Giles’s help. Plus, Xander had tried to raise money for his upcoming road-trip after Graduation, doing odd jobs here and there; and thanks to Buffy’s presence in Sunnydale, he’d had a lot more success at that than he otherwise would have, without being distracted about the things that went ‘chomp’ in the night.
Though, unfortunately, he hadn't really learned that much about the Iron Coin, when you got right down to it.
Still, the summer break had passed fairly quickly, and all too soon the gang’s senior year of high school had started up. Xander had taken a certain amount of pride in the fact that once Cordelia had arrived home, there was no issue of them breaking up or going on a break or whatever; his girlfriend had obviously missed him as much as he’d missed her, if their passionate make-out sessions were anything to go by.
And curious historical sidebar, Xander and Cordelia had been making out in the Summers kitchen while Oz, Willow and Buffy had been watching TV, when the zombies had attacked last week; but thanks to Joyce’s screams, that particular lip-lock session hadn’t lasted too long.
Anyway, back to the here and now. Xander followed Buffy out of the Bronze into the side-alley next to it, Willow, Cordelia and Oz with them as well. He was prepping himself to be surprised, even though he wasn't going to be. He had to look the part, though. The black-haired girl they were out here to 'save' from a sunlight challenged teen would not be needing their help.
Buffy looked around. “Where'd she go?”
She took a few more steps down one part of the alley, looking. Xander made a point of looking like he was looking, as the others actually did some looking.
“I bet its nothing.” Cordelia said, unconvinced. “They're probably just making out.”
As Buffy came back towards them, they heard a loud, female voice, “Hey!” The owner of the voice seemed to be complaining, or protesting some action. Before they could head towards the noise, the sound of something crashing onto the ground and breaking could be heard.
Deliberately mirroring what he'd seen himself do last night, Xander reached into his coat and pulled out a stake, handing it to Buffy. She looked surprised, but accepted the weapon regardless.
“That's not what making out sounds like.” Willow said, then added, softly, “Unless I'm doing it wrong.”
The five friends hurried towards the source of the noise, quickly seeing the two people they'd followed out – who, Cordelia, in her ever so colorful way, had dubbed 'Slut-o-Rama' and 'Disco Dave'. The guy had the girl pinned against the wall.
“Stop struggling.” The vampire demanded. “This won't hurt a bit.” Yeah right.
Xander thought to himself, amused. Bonus points for unknowing irony.
Everything that happened afterwards took place exactly as he'd foreseen last night. The guy vamped out and moved in to bite the girl. In response, she grabbed his neck, lifting him an inch off the ground and pushing him away. Quickly, she jabbed her elbow into his face, let him go, and jumped onto a crate as Disco Dave staggered for a moment before regaining his balance.
She jumped at him, giving his face one of those mid-air roundhouse kicks that only Slayers and vampires seem to be able to pull off, and he fell to the pavement. Buffy ran up towards the two. The girl saw Buffy and smiled, approaching.
“It's okay, I got it. You're, uh, Buffy, right?” She asked.
Xander watched as Buffy was hit speechless by that. As he kept looking on to see the girl beat on the vampire, he thought back a bit.The Night Before
17619 White Oak Drive, SunnydaleHoly shit -that vision had me doing something in it...how is that....they can't...he said Fate can't control what I do...
Xander slowly put the Iron Coin back in his pocket and looked around. “I know you're probably watching. Since I'm supposed to be entertaining you, with all this. So how about you answer me this? How the hell does that vision have me predetermined as doing anything? I thought you said I was an agent of chaos, or something-”
“Yes, I did say that, didn't I?” Xander turned around to see the Jester standing near his window, looking straight at him. “And it’s true enough, you are.”
“Then how is it I was in that vision after I flipped your coin, doing something pre-planned by Fate?”
“Ah. Well, I’d have thought you would have figured that out by yourself, but if I must spell everything out for you...” the Jester sighed theatrically.
“You must. You must.” Xander said stoically, staring at his visitor.
“Its not that simple. As an Agent of Chaos, the Forces of Fate indeed cannot control what you do. They cannot write in your book.” The Jester stared at Xander, his unblinking solid-blue eyes looking somewhat amused. “But
it's not quite that simple; they can construct certain events around you, by controlling the lives of your friends. After all, they’re your – what’s the best term – ah, yes, your Achilles Heel.
You spend so much time around your friends, they’re practically your entire life; something which you may see as a strength, but Fate can exploit as a weakness. Because the Agents of Order can make educated guesses as to what you’ll do. Past performance is an excellent predictor of future behavior. So, they predict.”
“And if I don't do what they’ll guess I'll do? What happens to their pre-scripted plans for my buds?” Xander demanded angrily.
“Again, it’s not that simple.” The Jester paused a moment, choosing his words with uncharacteristic carefulness. “Beings like myself and the other forces of Fate and Chaos just don't think as low, and simply, and linearly, and frankly stupidly, as you humans.”
Xander rolled his eyes. Heard that one before, buddy, find a new theme!
The Jester Continued. “They don't plan for just one set of actions on your behalf. Fate will create a number of scenarios, as it were, based on a number of possible actions by you. A series of if-then clauses, essentially. Now, of course, the forces of Fate can't predict everything, nor can they create contingency plans for every action you might take. As an Agent of Chaos, you still have the capacity to surprise them quite a lot.” the Jester informed him.
“So in that vision your Iron Coin just gave me-”
“It’s Fate’s most likely assumption of what you'll do. And is it something you'd likely not do, in that situation?” Hand a stake to Buffy when she doesn't have one, because a vampire might be nearby?
Not really much of a question. Of course he would. “Alright, ya got me there.” Harris chuckled. “By the way, I'm kind of surprised you showed up to talk to me. Speaking of, I'm also kinda surprised you let me demonstrate as much as I did for Giles. What’s up with that?”
“You came up with a rather clever and ingenious exploit of the rules. I had to let you get away with it, just that once.” The Jester shrugged. “And it’s not as if I'm really here – or at least, not as if I'm only really here. How do you humans think straight, only being in the one place at the one time?”
The blue-eyed higher being quickly shook his head, looking annoyed with himself. “Stupid question, of course. You don't
think straight.” He smirked. “Well, see you.” He vanished.
Xander facepalmed a moment, then rubbed his forehead. “He's worse than a physics test.”The Next Morning
Sunnydale High Library
The first thing that Xander had done the next day, at school, was head straight for the library. He needed to have a word with Giles.
“Hey, G-man?” Xander walked into the room, which was, as usual, empty of other students now that the usual mad post-summer rush to acquire textbooks and stuff was over. Kinda weird how this place is always so deserted except for the Scooby Gang, huh. Still, I wouldn't be here if not for Slayage-related stuff myself, so who am I to throw stones?
Giles made that clucking noise of frustration Willow had pointed out last week, and looked up from old book that he had been reading from and taking notes on, it looked like. “For the love of all that is good and holy, Xander, h-how many times have I told you to-” He then saw the look on the youth’s face, instantly understanding this wasn’t a social call. “Oh dear...”
Harris didn’t waste time in getting to the point. “Who became the Slayer after Kendra died?”
“Uhm...” Giles stammered. “I, uh, I don't know her name offhand. I do know she was called in Boston, where she’s currently stationed...”
“Nope.” Xander said, cutting the librarian off. “Tonight she's going to be in Sunnydale, right outside the Bronze, beating the crap out of a vampire.” And dusting it with a stake she borrowed from Buffy, which I lent to her...
“And how do you know this-” Giles quickly shut himself up, as he closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. “Of course. The same way you knew where Buffy was in Los Angeles, and about the demon slave ring.”
“Pretty much.” Xander nodded. “And FYI, I still can't tell you anything more than I’ve already told you about that, far as I know.”
“Absolutely lovely.” Giles replied softly. “Well, if she's on her way here, then I can't imagine her Watcher doesn't have some knowledge of it. I'll see what I can find out.”
“Alright.” Xander looked at the clock on the wall. “Yikes. If I don't wanna get detention, I need to head off to class.” He smirked. “On account of detention is always of the bad.” He left the library, fighting the urge to whistle nervously.Now,
Inside The Bronze
Xander was only half-listening to Faith's naked alligator story. He had to admit, the idea of seeing Faith completely naked sounded appealing in the abstract – hey, 18 year old guy here – but he wasn't going to voice it, not with Cordelia sitting right there next to him.
She was his girlfriend, after all. Besides, he liked Cordy – most of the time. Xander knew he was many things, but that level of jerk he was not. He wasn't interested in the specifics of Faith nakedness. True, he hadn't seen Cordelia naked either... But soon, right?
Part of him took that moment to say, hopefully. Who knows, maybe if we play our cards right!
Libido-Xander started rubbing his mental hands gleefully.
His thoughts interrupted from his ruminations by Cordelia suddenly exclaiming, “I get it!” She had a smile and a look of pleased understanding on her face.
Faith looked at her, confused.
“No, Not the horny thing. Yuck! But the two Slayer thing. There was one, and then Buffy died for, like, two minutes, so then Kendra was called, and then when she died, Faith was called.”
“But then why were you called here?” Willow asked. The Million Dollar question.
Xander added mentally.
“Well, I wasn't. My Watcher went off to some retreat thing in England, and so I skipped out. I figured this was my chance to meet the infamous Buff and compare notes.” Buffy smiled a little at the comment. “So, B,” Faith continued, seeing Xander staring at her, “did you really use a rocket launcher one time?”
“Uh, yeah...” The Summers girl leaned forward a little. “Actually, it’s a funny story. See, there was this big blue demon...”
Xander mentally tuned Buffy out as he thought, Faith’s Watcher is at a 'retreat', my ass. This is the forces of Fate we're talking about! If they were behind Acathla, the Judge, the Master killing Buffy and everything else, then they didn't just send Faith here because her Watcher decided to take a vacation...something bigger is going on. But what?
Once again, Xander wished he could tell someone else about this – all of it, too, not just bits and pieces like he had with Giles. This kind of deep-level thinking just...it wasn't him. Way too convoluted. Xander knew himself for what he was, and that he much preferred the ‘see vampire, stake vampire, celebrate the fact that there’s one less bloodsucker in the world’ school of thought.
Nonetheless Xander listened carefully when Oz brought up werewolves, and sighed in relief when Faith said she was cool with them. Having the new Slayer gunning for Oz – his friend – would not have been a good thing.
“The vamps, though, they better get their asses to DEFCON ONE!” Faith pointed at Buffy. “Cause you and I are gonna have fun, you know, Watcher-less and fancy-free.” She smiled just a little too vicariously.
“Watcher-less?” Buffy looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“Didn't yours go to England too?”
Xander just kept staring at the new Slayer in town, as Buffy answered in the negative. What are you trying to hide from us, Faith? I get the feeling it’s something...not good...Sunnydale High Library
It didn't take long for all of them – minus Cordelia, who decided to go home – to relocate to the School Library, where, surprise surprise, Giles still was. The explanation of the situation went quickly, and Xander noticed a strange...expression on Giles' face as the details were relayed to him...
“There's a Watchers' retreat every year in the Cotswolds.” Giles said softly, a hint of nostalgia in his voice. “It's a lovely spot. It's very s-serene.” Xander, to his own surprise, found himself paying absolute attention to Giles. “There's horse riding and hiking and punting,” he smiled, “and lectures and discussions. It-i-it's... it's a great honor to be invited.” Then his face fell a moment. “Or so I'm told.” His bitterness wouldn't have been out of place in a cup of black coffee.
Faith waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, its boring. Way too stuffy for a guy like you.”
Buffy bit back a laugh. “Um, maybe I should introduce you again. Faith, this is Giles
Willow smirked as Faith replied. “I see him. If I'd've known they came *that* young and cute, I would've requested a transfer.”
Unsurprisingly, Giles took off his glasses and started to clean them. Gagging a little, Buffy asked, “Raise your hand if 'ew'.” she raised her hand.
Without any hesitation, Xander raised his. A moment later, Willow and Oz did, though with slight hesitation.
Chuckling, “Well, um, uh, leaving aside for a moment my, uh, youth and beauty,” Giles went over to the copier and grabbed the newspaper. “I'd-I'd say it was, um, fortuitous that Faith arrived when she did.” He handed it to Buffy. Willow 'Aha!'d' loudly, raising her finger. Everyone else looked at her.
Willow lowered her head a moment. “Sorry. I just meant...aha! There's big evil brewin'. You'll never be bored here, Faith. 'Cause this is Sunnydale, home of the big brewin' evil.”
Giles shook his head. “Yes, well, I don't know how big an evil it is, but, uh, two people have disappeared from the Sunset Ridge District.”
“Well, I'm good for patrolling.” Buffy said. “Later-ish, though. I promised Mom I'd be home for dinner.” She handed the paper to Xander. He looked over the article, and then handed it off to Willow. “To which you're also invited, of course, dinner with us.” Buffy added to Faith.
“Dyin' to meet the fam. I'm in.”
Again, Xander stared at Faith uneasily. Does anyone actually talk like that?
The group eventually headed out after some discussion of Buffy's mom (the Slayer’s Health Science exam had been completed months ago), but Xander ditched Willow, Faith and Oz as he hung around outside the library, while Buffy talked with Giles. She's jealous. Just a little.
He would need to keep an eye on that.
Harris suddenly felt...exhausted. He wondered if there was a way he could keep notes on all this, without the Jester counting it as a violation of his rules. It was hard to mentally keep track of everything he needed to keep track of, and...he wasn't used to acting like this. Xander didn't consider himself stupid, most of his grades aside, but he wasn't a genius either, not even close. What wouldn’t I give for an eidetic memory right now...
Once Buffy left, Xander walked in. “So, what did you find out about Faith, after I told you she was coming?”
Giles cleaned his glasses again, and then put them back on. “Faith's Watcher isn't at the retreat in the Cotswolds, I’m afraid. Indeed, she's not on a retreat anywhere. Rather, she's...she's quite dead.” He sat down at the table, letting out a shallow exhalation.
“From your tone...I’m guessing, you knew her?” Xander asked carefully.
“Not personally.” Giles shook his head. “My father knew Professor Dormer when he was my age, though. Worked on a few projects with her, which is how I know she was a highly respected Harvard academic.”
“And Faith lied about her being on that retreat – on account of she was actually dead.” Now things make more sense...sort of...no, not really.
“Is it possible the new Slay-gal didn't know? Or...do ya think she did it?”
“I don't think it’s possible she didn't know, or else she wouldn't have lied about the retreat. And no, fortunately, I don't think Faith killed her Watcher...although Slayers have, in the past, done that under certain circumstances...” Giles said softly.
“So, then, how can you be so sure Faith didn’t do it?”
“Because her killer carved his name into Professor Dormer’s body.” Giles said after a moment. “Kakistos.”
“Kakis-who?” Xander said it again, wrapping his tongue around the foreign word. “Kakistos. Greek?”
“Ancient Greek for Worst of the Worst.” Giles replied, then looked at Xander. “How did you-”
“Hey, c’mon, G-dawg.” Xander said, smirking as Giles immediately glared at him. Note to self...never use 'dawg' again.
“I've been hanging around here ever since Buffy came home. You’ve taught me a little Latin and I’ve picked up some other things, here and there. Some of it has sunk in.”
“Despite your best efforts, yes?” Giles smiled, then his expression grew serious again.
“Will you tell Buffy?”
“I will tomorrow. Not sure how we're to handle this...but I doubt Kakistos is dead, or else she wouldn't be running.”
“She gave all the impressions of being on the run just now, yes. Why else do you think she described me as ‘young and cute’? Classic misdirection,” Giles explained. “Frankly, I suspect the girl's been running from a lot of things in her life.”
“So...Kakistos would be coming here, after her, then?”
“Almost certainly. He's not the type to leave things unfinished.”
“How bad?” Xander was now definitely starting to grow worried about all this.
“He's older, and arguably worse, than the Master, and definitely worse than Angelus, Drusilla or Spike. He does, as an advantage, not attract fanatics the way the Master did, though he'll most likely have some minions when he arrives.”
Xander listened...and had an idea...wondered why he had never thought of it before.Author's Note:
You'll find out more about what happens with Kakistos next episode – there's not much more involvement with Xander that I can really cover in this chapter.