Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Patricia Briggs owns "The Mercedes Thompson Series" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Note:
Written for the prompt "murder" at Taming the Muse on LJ.~*~*~*~
Bundled in Red’s borrowed parka, Faith adjusted the body slung over her shoulder and made her way to her meeting with the Marrok’s son. Glancing down at her cell phone, she growled a little and picked up her pace. She was cutting it close to Cornick’s half-hour deadline, and she didn’t want to give him any more reasons to wanna rip her to shreds.
The clearing was still a mess of bloodstained snow when she entered it. It was also empty.
“Great. Just fucking great,” Faith muttered to herself, resisting the urge to reach for her silver dagger. Willow and Xander had argued against her coming here, saying it was just going to be an ambush. As much as part of her wanted to agree with the Scoobies, she had to believe that Cornick agreed to this in good faith. Because if not, then the war was already started and there was nothing she could do to protect the minis.
She barely had any warning, the barest whisper of movement before Charles Cornick appeared from the trees across from her.
“Good, you’re here,” Faith said nonchalantly, doing her best to hide her surprise. She couldn’t show any weakness. Not now, when so much was hanging in the balance.
“Why did you request this meeting?” Cornick growled at her, not moving from his spot. Even at a distance, Faith could see the barely restrained urge to attack, recognizing it from her own experiences.
Faith lifted her chin, making sure to not quite meet his eyes. No need to give him another reason to wanna rip her to shreds. “Because this happened,” she answered, gesturing at the body with her free hand. “So unless you’re wicked stupid and want a fucking war, we really need to talk.”
“Well, first off, here’s the body. Where do you want me to put it?”
“On the ground for now,” he answered shortly.
Not taking her eyes off of him, Faith carefully lowered Leah Cornick’s body to the snow covered ground. “So what now?” she asked, straightening up.
“Fine,” Faith snapped back, starting to become annoyed with Cornick’s curt manner. “You want to know what happened? She attacked Buffy after whatever the hell it was that happened between the Marrok and B got her mad enough to leave the party in a huff. She waited until Buffy was by herself and she did her damndest to rip out her guts because who the hell knows why. But she did, and if I hadn’t been there…”
“You’re the one that murdered her,” Charles interrupted her, his voice deadly cold. Almost imperceptibly, his body posture changed, his weight shifting forward so he could lunge at her.
“Because she attacked Buffy! Because otherwise she’d have killed her!” Faith protested heatedly. “You think I’d be stupid enough to do this unprovoked?”
“Why should I believe you?” Cornick challenged her, taking a step closer.
“You’re the one with the super senses right? Can’t you tell if I’m lying?” Faith countered, standing her ground even though her instincts were screaming at her to fight.
“Lies are only what we make of them,” Cornick snarled, the air practically crackling around him. “You could believe what you’re telling me, and it would come out the same.”
“That is bullshit!” Faith shouted, her voice echoing around the empty clearing. Taking a deep breath to keep her from losing her temper and doing something she’d regret, she continued. “Look, Cornick, I came because if this doesn’t get sorted out, if we don’t make nice, then there might as well be a war going on. And from the look on your face, you know it too. Those girls are going to be my responsibility after tonight and I’m not about to get them into a situation that’s going to get them slaughtered!”
“So what happened?” he growled out, taking another step towards her. “How did it get to this?”
““B and I went out for a walk to talk about what you guys coming out into the open means to us,” Faith replied doing her best to remain calm and keep the red she was seeing from overwhelming her. “We had a snowball fight, got separated, and your father’s mate attacked her because… I don’t know why. Maybe she was jealous. Maybe she’d been having a bad day. I don’t fucking know! But she did. And the only way to get her off my friend was to kill her, so I did. Now, what are we going to do about this?”
“Why did you call your witch instead of us?”
“Because I did! Because I didn’t know what the hell was going on, and I needed somebody that I could trust. I didn’t think to call you because I was trying to save my friend, so sue me!”
“What do you mean, after tonight?” Cornick asked, changing the topic. The softness in his voice lost some of its edge, almost throwing Faith off guard. “Earlier, you mentioned that you would be in charge after tonight. Why?”
Faith took a deep breath. She’d been thinking about this ever since the ambulance came. “Considering B was wearing most of her insides on her outsides when I got to her, there are two ways out of this: one is that she dies on the operating table, because third time’s gotta be the charm for her, right? She dies and everybody starts looking to me for answers. Or, she pulls out of it, but like I said, since she was in a pretty bad shape…”
“Yeah,” Faith answered, the words hanging heavy between them. “Has there ever been a Slayer-were before?”
“Not that I know of,” Cornick replied, walking closer to her. While Faith could still see he was tense and wary, most of the violence seemed to have fled. She’d take that small victory. “She’s still in surgery?” he asked, stopping just short of the body.
“Last I heard.” She paused before continuing, “What’s next, Cornick? Are we going to war? We gonna get a bunch of good people killed because of this?”
“I don’t know,” Cornick said. “I honestly don’t know. It’s ultimately up to my father.”
“Well. Glad to see this meet and greet wasn’t a total waste,” Faith answered with a tight smile. She didn’t turn to walk away. Despite the noticeable decrease in hostilities, presenting Cornick her back probably wouldn’t be the smartest maneuver.
“Lehane, for what it’s worth, it matters that you did reach out. The old guard wouldn’t have done that,” Cornick commented, picking up the body.
“Well, you’re only the second person who sees it that way,” Faith shrugged.
“Let me know if anything changes,” Cornick said.
“Yeah. Yeah, I will,” Faith agreed, watching him carefully. “Look, Cornick, if you don’t believe me about her leaving in a snit, ask your wife…”
“I will. Until we speak again.” With that, he melted into the woods, leaving Faith alone.
“Yeah, until then,” she breathed out. She felt the adrenaline leave her body, and suddenly all she wanted to do was take the world’s longest nap. Ignoring the sensation, she began her trek back to the drop point where Willow would be able to magic her back to the hospital. She was about halfway there when her cell phone began to ring.
“Shit,” Faith muttered, fumbling to extract it from her pocket. Heart pounding in her throat, she flipped it open. “Hello?”
“She’s out of surgery, Faith,” Xander’s voice answered. “She’s out of surgery and in recovery right now.”
“Great. I’m heading back now. Tell Red I’ll be in the spot in five.”
Leaning against a tree, Faith sighed. B was going to live. She had to focus on that. Everything might be going to hell, the Marrok might still want her head, and who the fuck knew what was going to happen to Buffy, but she had to cling to the thought that her sister Slayer was going to live.
She’d do the whole damn thing again, as long as she got this result.