14. The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Leads me to your door *
*: The Long and Winding Road: Lennon/McCartney. A quiet suburban street in Washington DC, August, 2009.
Bringing the hire car to a full stop against the curb, Faith switched off the engine and looked up at the house. It was a nice, roses round the door, neo-colonial style kinda place, the kind of place that Willow and herself might have lived in if things had turned out…well, if they’d turned out better. It was the sort of house that Buffy had
lived in until she’d been arrested and her life had been destroyed.
“Sure this is the right place?” Faith asked herself; she nodded and smiled as she checked the address in the file General Mann had given her. For a guy who was supposed to be the Director of a super-secret, government, spy agency, it had been real easy to find out where he lived. Faith sighed and shrugged her shoulders, “Looks like ASID have their ways of finding out most anything thay want. Okay,” she told herself, “can’t sit out here all day…” a thought suddenly hit her, “…what if they don’t want anything to do with me?”
Getting out of the car, Faith straightened her uniform. First brushing a strand of hair from her shoulder, she then straightened the silly little tie thing that all female soldiers had to wear with their uniforms. Next she let her hand drift down to touch the medal ribbons pinned to her blouse. She remembered how Willow’s eyes had always gone misty when she’d looked at her Purple Heart ribbon and the little cluster of stars that adorned it. Finally, she took a deep breath before checking that her beret was on straight in the car’s side mirror.
Turning away from the car, Faith headed towards the house, she walked up the long garden path to the front door. Stepping up onto the porch, she pressed the doorbell. Hearing the bell sounding deep within the house, Faith waited and wondered if the next five minutes would go as she’d always hoped they would. Coming back to the present she was just in time to hear footsteps before the door was opened.
“Good afternoon Ma’am,” Faith began politely and tried not to sound too much like a door-to-door salesman, “Am I talking to Helen Tasker?”
“Y-yes you are,” Helen Tasker frowned, “what can I do for you Miss…” Helen glanced at the name tag on Faith’s blouse, “…Lehane?”
“Mom?” Faith asked uncertainly.
“Oh-my-god!” Helen gasped, “Dana!?”0=0=0=0
The memories had started to come back on the same day that Willow had been arrested. Over the next couple of weeks, Faith had learnt a little more about herself everyday. It had been so confusing for her as she’d been trying to give evidence at the Court of Enquiry at the same time as she’d been learning about who she really was.
Back in 1994 Dana Tasker was a normal Junior High School girl who’s father just happened to be a secret agent working for the highly classified ‘Omega Sector’. It was in this year that Dana had been kidnapped and held hostage by Salim Abu Aziz during his attempt to detonate a nuclear warhead in Miami. After she’d helped her father prevent Abu Aziz’s plot, Dana’s family had become a lot closer. Faith didn’t know why Professor Walsh chose her to be her first guinea-pig, perhaps it had been because of her actions during the Aziz episode. Whatever the reason, a couple of days after Dana had started High School the Initiative had snatched her off the street. At first Dana didn’t know whether she’d been taken by terrorists or some pervert. However, when she got to Walsh’s secret laboratory she soon discovered that it was something so much worse.0=0=0=0
Claiming that she had no real memories of what had been done to her over those first weeks and months Faith tried to explain to her parents what had happened. The truth was that Faith had some very clear memories of what Walsh and her fellow scientists had done to her. Faith remembered waking up each morning and finding that she was a little less Dana Tasker and a little more Faith Lehane. Who Faith Lehane was or had been Dana-Faith didn’t know. Had she been a real girl or was she someone that Walsh and her people had made up? Whatever the truth, Dana Tasker eventually disappeared and she became Faith Lehane.
Professor Walsh hadn’t stopped at changing Dana into Faith; she’d changed her body too. Faith clearly remembered the agony as her body was twisted into what Walsh wanted. This was something else that Faith was never going to tell her parents about, perhaps one day she’d tell her ‘shrink’, but her parents would never find out what had been done to their little girl not if Faith had any say in the matter.
Once Walsh had been satisfied with her work, the entire Initiative operation had been moved to Sunnydale where the new Faith Lehane had been given her first proper mission. By 1998 the existence of The Slayer was well known to the ‘Initiative’ and Walsh wanted to test her new creation against Buffy Summers. So it was that Faith was ordered to infiltrate Buffy’s group of friends and gain their confidence before engineering a confrontation between herself and Buffy.
Things had almost worked out for Walsh, but when the Mayor’s plans had come to light and it was realised how dangerous his Ascension would be, it was decided that Faith should appear to swap sides and join the Mayor’s team. Originally the plan was for Faith to kill the Mayor. Unfortunately for Walsh the Mayor’s apparent love for Faith had affected her programming and she started to work more for the Mayor and less for the Initiative.
Eventually the trail of events that would lead to the show down between Buffy and Faith unfolded and Walsh got her answer. Buffy Summers was in some small way superior or at least luckier that her own creation. Faith was stabbed and then fell from the balcony of her apartment to land in the back of the truck and eventually lie in a coma for eight months. During this time Walsh lost interest in her purely human experiments and started to work on building a human/demon hybrid.
Of course the most ironic thing of all was that the entire reason for Buffy coming to kill Faith was built on a fallacy. Buffy had come to kill Faith because she needed the blood of a slayer to cure Angel. But Faith wasn’t a slayer and her blood would have been useless to Buffy and Angel.
“…and then I woke up,” Faith explained to her parents as they sat on either side of her, each holding one of her hands, “A couple of weeks later I went to LA, did some stuff there…” this was another thing she’d never tell her parents; the entire stripper/dancer thing would go with her to the grave, “…then I joined the army and here I am.”
“And here you are?” Helen Tasker wiped at her eyes with a tissue, she forced a little lightness into her voice, “Ten years and all those medals…” Helen looked at the rows of ribbons on her daughter’s blouse and almost burst into tears again at the sight of the cluster of stars on Faith’s Purple Heart ribbon. So many medals, she thought, and so many wounds.
“Hey, Mom,” Faith squeezed her mothers hand gently, “its what I do…it’s what I need to do.”
“So,” this was her father, Harry Tasker speaking, “you’re going to stay in the army?”
“For now,” Faith nodded, “but…”
“But?” her father prompted.
“But…” Faith sighed heavily, “…almost everyone knew all this stuff about me and never said anything, I don’t know who to trust or what to do.”
“You know you’ve always got us whatever you decide,” Helen told her daughter, “You know we never stopped looking for you all these years, I always hoped I’d see your face in the crowd one day and…”
“What your mother is trying to say is we never gave up hope,” Harry continued to speak when his wife couldn’t, “to be honest I’m amazed that we never got even a hint of what had happened to you.”
“Don’t sweat it, Dad,” Faith smiled, “but I’m a little pissed ya didn’t see my picture in the newspaper. I made it into the Boston Globe a couple of times…y’know local girl makes good, that sorta thing?”
“Sorry honey,” Harry shrugged his wide shoulders, “what can I say?”
“Like I say,” Faith nudged her father with her shoulder, “these Initiative people were seriously undercover, I mean they were blacker than black. A lot of the guys working for them didn’t know the full story of what was going on. That Walsh bitch was seriously crazy, a real Dr Frankenstein.”
“You must stay here tonight,” Helen announced, she glanced out of the window to see it was getting dark, “we’ll go out for dinner so we can show off our brave soldier-daughter then you must sleep here tonight…we kept your room just like you left it.”
“You did!?” Faith asked in panic.
“Well, no actually,” Helen admitted, “I had to tidy up in there or it would have become a serious health hazard, but its mostly like you left it and I’d like to talk to you about the packet of condoms I found in your dresser.”
“MOM!?” Faith cried in embarrassment, before adding, “Hey at least I was using condoms…”
To be honest Faith couldn’t remember her boyfriend’s name from back then; whatever, she shrugged, he was probably long gone by now and hey, she preferred girls these days.
“Okay, I’m kidding,” Helen admitted, “look we’ll get freshened up while,” she turned to her husband, “Harry, you book us table somewhere nice.”
Faith followed her mother out of the living room and upstairs where they stopped off at Faith’s old room.
See,” her mother said with a smile, “just as you left it…only cleaner.”
“Can I have a moment?” Faith asked as she stepped into the room.
“Sure,” Helen stepped back and disappeared from Faith’s view.
Looking around the room, Faith’s memories of Dana Tasker came back to her. Shaking her head, Faith laughed softly, she’d been such a little bitch back then, a typical teenager in fact. Faith knew she could never be that girl again; Dana Tasker had died twelve years ago, she was Faith Lehane now. Taking one last look at the faded posters on the walls, she turned away to seek out her mother. Walking along the corridor towards her parent’s room Faith could hear her mother sobbing quietly as she sat at her dressing table.
“Oh there you are dear,” looking up Helen caught Faith’s reflection in her mirror.
“Mom?” Faith looked at her mother sadly; she hoped she wasn’t going to cause her mother more pain, “You know that girl?” Faith gestured to her old room, “Dana is dead, I’m Faith now, it’s who I am, I can’t be her again…”
“I know sweetie,” Helen turned to face her daughter, “I’m just glad that I’ve got something of my little girl back again, I’m not going to try and change you, not now, not ever…”0=0=0=0All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.*
*: Eclipse; Pink Floyd.Giles’ Flat, Canary Warf, London, August 2009.
“See ya Mr G!” Rebecca called as she headed for the door.
“Yes,” Giles called back, “have a nice evening and thank-you.”
“No problem,” the door closed on Rebecca’s words and Giles was alone with Olivia at last.
“Nice girl,” Olivia noted as she came to stand next to Giles while he looked out of his picture window at what had once been part of London’s docks.
“Yes she is,” Giles replied vaguely, he had things on his mind, “and a very good cook…”
“Do I need to worry?” Olivia asked half seriously.
“What?” Giles looked down at the woman by his side, “Worry? I don’t…Oh! You mean Rebecca? No, she’s just a girl, a very nice, talented girl, but just a girl all the same…”
“A very nice, very talented girl with big boobs who can cook,” Olivia observed, “and she lives in your flat, what woman wouldn’t be worried?”
“I don’t know,” Giles frowned; as far as he was concerned Olivia was the only woman in his life, “are you?”
Olivia looked at Giles long and hard before saying, “No, Rupert, not really.”
“Good,” Giles went back to staring out the window.
“Penny for them,” Olivia asked.
“Oh,” Giles laughed quietly, “its this situation in the States, its got me all distracted. I worry what’ll happen to those poor girls over there.”
“From what I hear,” Olivia rested her head against Giles’ shoulder, “they’ve got a pretty good deal and its not as if they have to work for the US Government forever…what was it? A minimum of three years then out, free and clear?”
“Yes, yes,” Giles agreed with a sigh, “but it was one of the things about the old council that I always agreed with them about…slayers and governments shouldn’t mix…”
“Whatever,” Olivia pulled Giles away from the window and towards the couch, “lets not think about that now. Lets finish this bottle of wine and then we can take advantage of the fact that your slayer won’t be home until tomorrow afternoon…”0=0=0=0I rode down Haley street
In my 5.0, no
Got the ragtop down
So my vegas can blow, yeah
My wheels are spinning
My rims are shining
On the street, yeah
All you suckers take a look at me, yeah
'Cause I'm not a loser
Not a loser
I'm not a loser
It's just the matter of mind over matter.*
*: I’m not a Loser; Nerf Herder.Corvallis, Oregon, September, 2009.
Climbing out of his pick-up truck, with its shinny rims, Xander smiled to himself as he collected his tool box out of the back of the truck. Of course he wasn’t ‘Xander Harris’ anymore and he’d need to start thinking of himself as Jeff Davis from now on. The Feds had moved him to this nice, quiet, university town out in Oregon and set him up as a one man, carpentry contractor. Now he had a life again, he’d given up drinking and started to go to AA meetings. He even had a completely human girlfriend now that he was away from the influence of any Hellmouths. For once in his miserable life he’d done something right and he’d come out on top. No one from his old life would find him here, he was safe from monsters and slayers and witches.
Hefting his tool box in his hand, Jeff Davis walked up the path to the front door of the house where the lady who’d called him wanted some closets built. Ringing the doorbell he turned to look back at his truck and then up and down the street. Yeah, he told himself, this was the real life.0=0=0=0Willow’s Apartment, New York City, September 2009.
Sitting in the kitchen-living room of her small New York apartment, Willow stared out the window and tried to work out what had gone wrong. This was worse than when Tara had died; at least then she’d known deep down that Tara was gone, but now…
One minute everything was fine; better than fine in fact. Buffy was looking forward to having her baby and Willow’s concerns about her relationship with Faith seemed to have vanished. Since their mission in New York earlier in the year Faith had been acting a little coldly towards her and Willow had been worried that Faith might want to break up with her. But then everything seems to change and Faith was back to her old self again.
But then… But then everything had fallen apart so quickly, Willow felt like she was trapped on some evil funfair ride that she couldn’t get off. First the FBI had grabbed Buffy and herself as they’d been driving back to Grandview, then the next thing they’d heard was that General Brittles and Riley had been taken into custody. Next came the so-called Court of Inquiry.
Court of Enquiry, my foot, Willow sulked; it had been more like some ‘Star Chamber’ where every action the Scoobies had taken from Sunnydale to the present day was put under the microscope. The Court was particularly interested in anything to do with their actions towards Faith. Of course they’d all been found guilty of something; Riley and General Brittles were told to resign. Buffy was sent to prison…okay it was only for a year in a minimum security Federal facility (they even allowed Buffy to keep her new baby boy with her) but it was still prison. The army had insisted that Buffy should spend some time behind bars for choosing Angel over Faith and trying to kill her.
It was at this point that Willow really understood what Faith had meant when she’d said that the army looked after their own.
And herself? Well, Willow had expected to be sharing a cell with Buffy but The Court had decided that she wasn’t really responsible for her actions. They’d said she’d been heavily under the influence of Giles and Buffy…in fact they’d made it sound like she’d been incapable of making her own decisions, plus there’d been the magic addiction to consider. So, The Court had let her go, but only under some pretty severe restrictions.
They’d found her a job teaching computer science at an inner city school, where the authorities could keep an eye on her, she couldn’t even leave New York City without permission. Plus she had to report in with the new Federal Slayer Task Force every week where her behaviour over the previous seven days would be scrutinized. Although she was still permitted to use magic, she could only use very low power spells and she had to keep a log of any spells that she did cast.
In addition to these restrictions Willow wasn’t permitted any contact with Buffy, Riley, General Brittles or indeed any of her old colleagues at ASID. But most of all she wasn’t to try and contact Faith in anyway what-so-ever. What the consequences of breaking any of these rules would be, Willow hadn’t been told, but she guessed they’d be pretty drastic.
The Court had thrown her one crumb however; they’d told her that if she wanted to leave the United States and join the New Watcher’s Council in England they wouldn’t stand in her way. In fact she’d got the distinct impression that-that was what they’d hoped she’d do. But she’d stubbornly ignored the hints and submitted to their rules and tried to make the best of things.
But it was so hard being cut off from her friends and the people she’d considered her family. Worst of all was not being able to contact Faith; she’d tried whatever The Court might do or say. Perhaps they’d actually expected her to; whatever, they’d either not found out about her attempts or if they had they’d decided not to do anything about it. But Faith had not replied to any of her messages, it was almost as if she’d vanished off the face of the Earth.
Sighing heavily, Willow got up and walked the short distance to her hall closet, opening the door she reached up to the top shelf and brought down the leather bound box that she’d hidden there. Taking the box she sat down on her couch and opened it. There in a nest of red velvet was the .38 revolver that Faith had bought for her; to give her another option than magic, Faith had said when she’d given it to her.
Surprisingly Willow had found she enjoyed target shooting, plus she’d been able to qualify on the ASID ranges which had allowed her to go on missions either by herself or with other agents. Now the revolver was the only thing she had left that had any connection to Faith. Sitting there cradling the gun in her hands, Willow started to tell herself that life without Faith and Buffy and all the rest wasn’t worth living. Was this all she had left to look forward to? A life empty of anything worth while? Could she live with that, knowing that her lover was so close but at the same time so far away?
As the tears started to blur her eyes, Willow opened the little box containing the bullets for her gun and started to place them in the weapon’s cylinder; her hands didn’t even shake……and if you're very lucky
You'll get your picture in the paper on page three
Twenty-five words will summarize how you spent your whole damn life
One day on that page
Next day into the hamster cage.
So get in your car and drive real fast,
Up in the attic with a shotgun blast.
Take a bath with a clock radio,
Vodka and valium overdose.
All the glamour can be yours with a loaded .44,
Have you ever tried?
There must be five-thousand ways to die.*
*: 5000 Ways to Die; Nerf Herder.The End.Author’s End Note.
Once again a big THANK-YOU to everyone who reviewed or recommended this story, guys you’re just too good!
You’ve got no one to blame but yourselves for this ending! The original ending for this story was pretty up beat and happy…I wasn’t going to get into the consequences for Willow’s spell for a couple of more stories…BUT
, several of you made observations/comments that got me thinking. One person in particular had made a comment about Faith actually being someone else in Faith’s body.
So here we are…what happens next? Will there be a loud *BANG!* from Willow’s apartment or will things turn out okay in the end? Well, to tell the truth I’ve not 100% decided, I’ve got some ideas but I’m keeping those to myself for the time being.
The next Faith in the Army story won’t be for awhile, to tell the truth I think I’m getting a little bored with Faith in the Army. Don’t worry though there are still some Fita stories to be posted but that won’t happen for a little while. I’m going to post some Buffy centred stories first while I do some re-writing on this series and write some other stuff that isn’t Faith centric.