Reaching for the weapon, Faith picked it up before crawling back across the floor towards the bathroom pausing once to fire a burst through the wall; she didn’t think she’d hit anything but it seemed to keep gangster two from following her into the room. Leopard crawling swiftly across the room, Faith almost panicked when she couldn’t find Lara. Throwing herself into the bathroom she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the girl hiding in the bath.
“Hold on kid,” Faith called breathlessly as she looked for an escape route.
The only way out appeared to be the window. Knowing that she only had seconds to get the kid to safety, Faith pushed open the window and looked out. It looked too far to jump, but there was a drain pipe that appeared sturdy enough to carry her and Lara’s weight.
“Lara, look at me,” Faith spoke rapidly, “look, I’m going to climb out the window then I want ya to climb out and get on my back, can ya do that?”
Lara nodded bravely.
“Cool,” Faith tried a reassuring smile before climbing out the window and taking hold of the drainpipe, “okay, Lara come on out.”
Hesitantly the girl climbed out the bathroom window and then reached for Faith’s hand. Taking hold of Lara’s arm, Faith easily swung her up onto her back where she held on like a baby monkey to its mother’s back. Swiftly climbing the drainpipe towards the roof, Faith wondered again at her strength; she knew that she was stronger than most women, but Lara felt like no weight at all, allowing her to climb effortlessly up the drain.
“Hold on tight, Honey,” Faith whispered as she came to the top of the drainpipe and climbed onto the roof; damn-it, thought Faith, where to now?
Running along the flat roof towards the other end of the building, Faith had some vague idea about climbing down and making her way off into the dark and turning herself and the kid over to the first cops she could find. However, this plan lasted about five paces as a head appeared over the far edge of the roof, the head was rapidly followed by a hand and an arm, the hand was clutching a machinegun.
“CRAP!” Faith skidded to a halt and started to back pedal as bullets snapped angrily about her ears. It was only as Lara’s high pitched scream cut its way like a knife through her consciousness that Faith remembered she had a gun too. Taking the weapon that hung from a strap around her neck, she fired. The wild spray of bullets caught the gangster squarely in the face and Faith watched wide eyed as his head exploded. Unfortunately her feelings of triumph were brought up short as the gun stopped firing.
What now? Was Faith’s next thought as she ran back towards the drainpipe. Once again the gangsters didn’t give her any time to think as bullets whipped through the roof from the room underneath. Dodging the bullets while trying to guess where the next burst would come from, Faith found she was rapidly running out of roof and options. Standing on the edge of the roof, Faith saw another head appear at the far end of the building, more bullets smashed through the roof at her feet and it looked like the only way out of this mess was for her to jump. Looking at the sidewalk below, Faith gauged the distance, it looked jumpable if she didn’t mind breaking at least one leg. But a broken leg was better than being dead, right? Plus the kid would live, okay, Faith told herself, the only way is down.
“Jump down Honey,” Faith told Lara as calmly as she could, she knelt down and took the girl in her arms, “look we’re gonna jump down into the street, okay, now hold on to big Sis tight!”
Clinging on to the girl as Lara wrapped her legs around Faith’s waist and her arms around her neck, Faith stood up and stepped off the roof. Bending her knees, Faith soaked up the impact of landing and stood for a moment amazed at not lying on the ground in agony because she’d broken a leg. After a moment like this she got her head back into the game and set Lara down on her feet and took hold of the child’s hand.
“Come on lets run!” Faith started to pull the child along the sidewalk; the sound of firing was still coming from the motel and she thought it wise to get as far away from the place as she could.
The sound of a car’s engine came to Faith’s ears as she and Lara trotted down the street, turning her head she saw a silver saloon drive up and stop next to her.
“Crap!” Faith cursed quietly, as she picked Lara up again and prepared to sprint as far and as fast as she could; a man with short fair hair climbed out of the car and came towards her gun in hand.
“Get into the car!” the man ordered urgently.
“JOEL!” Lara cried and Faith realised it was Fearless’ partner coming towards her not another gangster.
Rushing towards the car Faith put Lara in the back seat and told her to get down on the floor before shutting the door.
“You better take cover too,” Joel called to Faith as he started to move quickly towards the motel.
“No way!” Faith called as she trotted behind Joel, “Fearless is still in there.”
“Okay,” Joel had obviously decided he’d not got the time to argue with Faith, “It’s Faith right?” Faith nodded in the affirmative, “Stay behind me and don’t get in the way, now, how many of them are there?”
“At least ten,” Faith replied shortly, “but we musta got maybe half of ‘em by now.”
It appeared that Faith’s estimate of gangster casualties was actually an underestimate because when they drew level with the parking lot it was deserted and ominously quiet.
“Where was Fearless?” Joel asked as they took cover behind a car.
“Last I saw, he was up there,” Faith pointed to the walkway on the upper level; there were a couple of bodies along with other signs of violence like smashed in doors and broken windows. “I took out a couple on my own,” Faith pointed out, “I won’t get into trouble for that, will I?”
“Under the circumstances, no,” Joel replied as he turned and gave Faith a quick grin, “Look I’m going to find Fearless, you stay here.”
“W-what!?” before Faith had a chance to say anything else, Joel was up and running across the parking lot towards the motel.
Watching him run, Faith’s eye was drawn to movement to her right. Her sharp eyes easily picked out the shape of a man coming out from behind a car weapon in hand. Getting up from her hiding place, Faith started to move rapidly, closing the distance between herself and the gangster. The hitman raised his short rifle-like weapon and took aim at Joel’s back. Acting solely on instinct, Faith sprinted towards the man on silent feet; body checking him she knocked him to the ground. The weapon flew from the gangster’s hands as he fell to the ground with Faith on top of him. The rifle clattered across the tarmac as Faith found her feet and grabbed the gangster by the collar of his jacket. Surprising herself and the hitman with her strength, she hauled him to his feet so she could knock him down again with a well aimed blow to the head.
“OWWW!” Faith wailed as her fist came in contact with the gangster’s hard skull.
However, of the two of them the hitman was in worse condition after Faith had hit him; she must have rattled his brain about inside his head because he went limp as his eyes closed and blood dripped from his nose. “God-damn-it!” Faith let go of the gangster and tried to shake some feeling back into her hand, “That hurt!”
The sound of a single gunshot made Faith forget all about her throbbing hand, she seemed to be able to judge exactly were the shot had come from and she looked up at the rooms on the upper level. She could see Joel working his way along the line of doors, checking each one as he passed it. A door one or two doors down from Joel opened to reveal Fearless as he led the Euro-chick out into the night air.
In that second Faith knew it was all over. The gangsters had been defeated, the kid and her mom were safe and her ‘benefits’ with Fearless were over; he’d not want her around anymore. Any fool could see that there was something between Lara’s mom and Fearless, he’d not want his life complicated by a stripper hanging around. Okay maybe they could still be buddies, share a cup of coffee or a beer every now and then but anything else, well that was over. Perhaps, Faith thought as she stepped aside to let a police patrol car come to a halt next to her, it would be best if she left the Oasis and move on, maybe now she was earning good money dancing she could get a small place of her own.0=0=0=0Later.
The motel was alive with cops and paramedics as the wreckage and bodies from the gun battle were cleared up. Patiently letting a medic examine her hand, Faith watched as Fearless walked over to where she was sitting in the back of the ambulance.
“Can I talk to her?” Fearless asked the paramedic.
“Yeah,” the medic climbed down from the ambulance before turning to face Faith, “You were lucky this time, only bruises and a few minor cuts. But in future don’t punch hitmen in the head; you’re lucky you didn’t break every bone in your hand.”
“I’ll remember that,” Faith nodded to the medic.
“You okay, Faith?” Fearless asked as he climbed into the ambulance and sat down tiredly.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Faith admitted; she did in fact feel fine, also a little hungry and horny both of which she’d have to deal with herself because it looked like Fearless wasn’t going to be available, “What’s goin’ on Fearless?” she gestured to the aftermath of battle, “I mean what’s with World War Three an’all?”
“Oh that?” something of the old Fearless came back and had replaced the drained Fearless for a moment. “Lara witnessed one of these Russian freaks murder someone in her mom’s restaurant, she was the only one willing to say she’d seen anything.”
Faith looked over to where Lara and her mom sat surrounded by medics and police on the stairs leading up to the motel’s top floor.
“Jeez,” Faith breathed quietly, “brave kid.”
“Yeah, we tried to fool the Russians into thinking they were both dead which was why they were here,” Fearless shrugged, “didn’t work coz the Russians found out that Lara wasn’t dead, so they came after her here.”
“Good plan,” Faith shrugged, she didn’t know what else to say.
“Thanks Faith,” Fearless said as he looked at his hands, “you were a big help looking out for Lara there.” Fearless paused for a second or two, “But next time…”
“There’s gonna be a next time?” Faith asked incredulasly.
“No,” Fearless chuckled before adding, “least I hope not. Look next time,” he was serious again, “do like I tell you and stay in your room, I’ve lost enough friends for one life time.”
“What ya mean?” Faith wanted to know.
“This is the anniversary of me getting my man ‘Freaktown’ killed,” Fearless explained.
“Oh,” Faith replied quietly as realisation dawned, “Hey, Freaktown that was…that sniper’s bullet didn’t just part his hair did it?”
“No,” Fearless shook his head and wouldn’t look at Faith directly, “I told him I’d get him through it all and I let him down, now he’s dead.”
“Asshole,” Faith said after a couple of moments thought.
“You what!?” Fearless was looking at her in shock.
“You,” Faith jabbed Fearless’ shoulder with a finger, “you’re an asshole if ya think ya let anyone down or got anyone killed,” Fearless started to say something but Faith didn’t give him a chance, “did ya run away?” Fearless shook his head, “Did ya hide behind him so you couldn’t be hit? Did ya do everything ya could to look out for this guy?”
“Yeah but…” once again Fearless found he Faith wouldn’t let him speak.
“Okay then, news flash!” Faith jabbed Fearless with an iron hard finger making him wince, “there’s a war on, guys die in wars. I know you Fearless; I bet you did everything you could to help out but sounds like Freaktown’s time was up.” Faith spoke her next words softly, “ya not god, y’know?”
“But…” Fearless tried to speak again.
“But nothin’,” Faith snorted a laugh, “now get outta here an’ go see ya new lady, she needs ya more than I do…now get.”
Patting Faith on the shoulder, Fearless climbed down from the ambulance as Faith watched him go. The truth was she did need him, just a little, for a night maybe and then… And then it would be back to the old Faith who didn’t need anyone however much she might tell herself different. People tied you down, get a regular guy and the next thing you knew he wanted you to move in or marry you or some such crap. No, that wasn’t for Faith Lehane not now; perhaps later when she knew more about herself.
Standing up with a groan, Faith climbed down from the ambulance and started to make her way slowly and painfully towards her room. Realising that she probably looked as if she’d had the crap beaten out of her, Faith resolved to phone the Hellfire Club and tell them she wouldn’t be in for a couple of days. That was the problem with stripping; it made it very hard to hide any bruises. Climbing up the stairs to her room, Faith let herself in and closed the door behind her. Pulling off her clothes she left them in a trail behind her as she headed for the shower. A nice hot shower while she got rid of the annoying hot feeling between her legs, something to eat and a night’s sleep and she’d be fine.0=0=0=0
The following morning Faith slept late. Getting up she dressed in clean clothes and tidied up her clothes from the day before and considered going to the laundromat. Dismissing the idea for another day, she phoned the Hellfire Club and told them she’d not be coming in for a day or two. Having looked at herself in the mirror earlier, Faith’d been surprised to find that all but the biggest of her bruises had vanished over night. However, that still left a big one on her ribs, she’d no idea how she’d got that, and her hand looked like she’d been beating on it with a hammer.
Leaving her room, Faith saw there were still a few cops hanging about; she couldn’t help wondering where they’d been last night when they’d been needed. Running down the steps to the parking lot, Faith felt the roll of dollar bills in the pocket of her jacket, she hadn’t paid Sam for next months rent. Hell, she shrugged, he could wait until later for the money. As she walked out onto the street, she smiled and wondered if Sam had come out of the store room yet.0=0=0=0
After eating a large breakfast in the diner she usually used, Faith paused to read a local newspaper. She was in no rush today, she wasn’t working tonight so she had nothing to do and all day to do it in. Turning to the jobs pages, she quickly scanned the ads. Nothing caught her eye; you either needed to have a college degree or they didn’t pay anywhere near what she earnt stripping. One add did catch her eye though, just as she was about to close the page. It was an advert for a club not too far away for ‘hostesses’. Pulling a face at the idea of being a hostess, that usually meant code for ‘hooker’. But the wages offered didn’t look too bad and it might be useful to check it out, perhaps she could cut back on the stripping a little if it worked out.0=0=0=0The Epilogue.
Arriving outside the club early in the afternoon, Faith looked up at the sign above the door; Caritas, it read.
“What the hell is ‘Carry-tass’,” Faith asked herself but got no answer.
Stepping through the door, Faith found herself facing a big black guy, obviously the doorman.
“We’re closed,” the doorman rumbled.
“I’ve come about the hostess job?” Faith pointed out, “The ad said I should ask for someone called Lorne?”
“Oh yeah,” the doorman smiled pleasantly, “the Boss, he’s down stairs in the club, you go on in.”
“Thanks,” Faith smiled back at the guy and headed on into the club.
Taking the long flight of stairs that led down to the basement where the club was situated, Faith noted the almost complete lack of ‘sleaze’. From her experience of these kinds of places they all gave off a smell of sin and vice and despair and sometimes bad drains. This Caritas place didn’t give off anything like that, but it did make the skin between her shoulder blades itch so much that she stopped on the stairs to make sure she wasn’t being followed.
Satisfied there wasn’t anyone about to attack her, Faith dismissed the feeling and carried on down the steps and into the club proper. Stopping to look around, she saw fairly standard tables and chairs, a small stage with a microphone and what looked like a karaoke machine set up on the stage. Faith smiled, so not a strip joint, unless the girls were supposed to sing while they took their clothes off, in which case she might as well leave now. Turning to her left a little she saw a well stocked bar and a tall, handsome looking barman.
“Lorne?” Faith smiled and wished she’d worn a more revealing top.
“Come about the hostess job?” the barman wanted to know, Faith nodded, “I’ll find him for you.”
The barman disappeared behind a curtain to one side of the bar leaving Faith to look around. The bar (not a club she’d decided) was clean, smelt okay and didn’t look the sort of place she’d have to take her clothes off to get a decent tip. Hearing a footfall behind her Faith turned to find the bar’s owner standing not three feet away. The guy was slim and a little over average height. He wore a dark red suit, silk shirt and a tie that made her eyes water just a little. But what really caught Faith’s eyes was the guy’s green skin, red eyes and the little red horns growing from his forehead.
“What is wrong with people in this freaking town?” Faith asked angrily, realising she’d walked into yet another ‘monster’ themed bar.
Turning on her heel Faith stormed out of the bar, up the steps and out onto the street again. After walking quickly along the side walk for fifty yards or so, she slowed to a halt and turned back to look at the door to the bar. For a moment she considered going back and saying ‘sorry’. They probably wouldn’t employ her now, but going back and apologising would be the right thing to do. Never-the-less, she dismissed this thought as a bad idea and continued on her way; just what was she supposed do with her life?
She neither wanted to, or could go on stripping for the rest of her life. She really didn’t like doing it and somewhere at the back of her mind was the knowledge that eventually she’d start screwing guys for money. That was a place she didn’t want to go, so she needed to find a way out of her life, maybe leave LA completely, go somewhere else where she could…could what? All she seemed to be good at was taking her clothes off for a bunch of losers…and fighting. Nodding to herself, Faith had to admit that it had felt pretty good kicking those gangster’s asses. In those few minutes she’d felt more alive than she had since she’d woken up. Maybe she could combine her only two skills into…
It was then that she found herself outside a recruiting office for the US Army; she stopped and looked at the display in the window. ‘Be the best you can be,’ read the poster, ‘join the US Army’. There were pictures of square jawed guys in camouflaged uniforms clutching rifles, or sitting on top of tanks. But what made her look harder were the pictures of girls with guns dressed just like the guys doing more or less what the guys were doing.
“Cool,” Faith breathed as she drifted closer to the window, this could be just what she was looking for and she wouldn’t have to take her clothes off for anyone if she didn’t want to.
Before she knew what she was doing, Faith had opened the door and had gone inside. Walking up to the guy sitting behind a desk, Faith smiled as she read the rank on his collar (Fearless had been a Staff Sergeant and the man on the desk wore the exact, same insignia).
“Mornin’, Staff Sergeant,” Faith felt her heart begin to pound as the enormity of what she was about to do suddenly hit her, “I wanna join the army.”
“You do, do you, Ms…?” the soldier looked up at Faith and gestured for her to take a seat.
“Lehane,” Faith smiled as she sat down, “Faith Lehane.”The End.0=0=0=0Author’s Note:
Okay, so now we have Faith almost in the US Army. However, before we see how Faith fairs during her Basic Combat Training, let’s fast forward a few years and see what happened to Faith after Wolfram and Hart had her shot.
Look out for ‘Bright College Days’, the next story in the ‘Faith in the Army’ series to be posted in a week or so.