2. Drawing blood
The whole gang had gathered in the library to research the location of the Falchion. Even Angel had come for help, which usually was an indication of how dire the situation was. Most of the Scoobies were browsing the internet for some clue, but Giles, due to his distaste of computers, was hoping to find information in international newspapers. Faith and Buffy were sparing after Faith had decided to quit researching out of boredom.
“Found it!” shouted Willow. "The website of ‘Esoteric Archeology Monthly’ just uploaded an article, saying that some Iraqi insurgents have tried to seize the Falchion, and that it had been shipped to DC until it could be safely returned to Iraq."
"I'm gonna go out on a limb and say these insurgents had pointy teeth!" said Oz
"So, what are we waiting for?" asked Faith enthusiastically. "Let's roll, B", she said, heading for the weapons cabinet within the library’s cage.
"How are we planning to get there?" wondered Buffy. "I think there is a policy forbidding crossbows, stakes and even holy water on planes!"
"Looks like a road trip to me!" said Faith. "I love hitch hiking. Especially the part where some of the drivers believe I'm some defenseless girl of whom they can take advantage.” She tilted her head, smiling. “Love to prove these guys wrong!" she added, while she grabbed two daggers from the cabinet.
"Does anybody else think 'ew'?" asked Buffy, her face showing disgust at Faith’s words.
"I know I do!" said Willow.
Faith sighed. It was judgmental B once more.
"You'll need more than crossbows and stakes." said Angel in his usual monochord voice. "The Falchion will probably be guarded. By humans. Take the tranquilizer gun with you as well. You don't want to hurt innocent people."
"No such animal, big guy. But, OK, packin' the gun as well!” said Faith. “Hey, I'll make sure to keep B hot for you when we return!" she continued, winking at the vampire.
"For the tenth time, can you please stop chewing, Tony?" said McGee, thumping the car’s board. "We are supposed to be focused and ready to act!"
"Chewing helps me to stay focused, Probie." answered DiNozzo.
It was the fourth night that the team was in the lookout for the Falchion. One marine was guarding the crate with the sword in it, on a barely lit asphalt field. McGee and DiNozzo were in a car 100 yards away. Four more NCIS agents were in two other cars, forming a triangle. Two snipers were positioned on opposite roofs. And Gibbs and Ziva were coordinating the group in an unmarked van. A trap like this should prove deadly for the robbers, thought McGee. He only hoped that their opponents wouldn’t detect it. He nervously tightened a bit his bullet-proof vest, and stiffened on his seat.
“DiNozzo, McGee, status check!” asked Ziva at the radio.
“Nothing special to report, Ziva. Talk to you in 10 minutes.” answered McGee.
DiNozzo sighed. “They won’t do it this night either. I’m starting to doubt that they’ll try it at all.”
“They attacked a military base in Iraq, though they could have waited a few months and raided a Museum. Of course they’ll try it, Tony!”
“Want to bet, McGee? Twenty dollars that they won’t try it tonight.”
McGee nodded and they shook hands.
“Looking forward to your twenty, Probie!”
“Looks like it’s there, Faith. If Willow is correct, it should be in one of these boxes.” said Buffy, pointing a bunch of crates in the distance. The two slayers were lying on the ground, somewhat outside of the military base, observing their surroundings. It would have been almost impossible to find the right crate if there hadn’t been a Marine guarding it. The article of the newspaper conveniently said that the Falchion would be guarded in this base, with a Marine watching it day and night.
Buffy sighed. The journey had been especially strenuous. Maybe hitch hiking was Faith’s passion, but it definitely wasn’t Buffy’s. 3000 miles, 17 different vehicles, 59 hours of traveling… The worse had probably been this log truck that transported them between Denver and Lincoln. 7 hours seating on logs were enough even to break a Slayer’s back… Fortunately, they had arrived in DC in the morning and had slept all day long, waiting until the middle of the night to make their move. So Buffy was quite rested now.
Buffy took a quick look at Faith. She hadn’t seemed tired or uncomfortable at any point during the journey. She really did love hitch hiking, it seemed… As a proof, Faith had really taken the lead during this travel. She knew on which road to look for cars that would take them, how much to pay the drivers for gas, how to seduce them so that they would take them for free. Buffy wasn’t used to be the second-in-command, but that had been the case here.
Maybe the reason was that she was feeling lonely without the Scoobies. Of course, it hadn't been that long since she had fled to L.A for 4 months, after she had sent Angel to hell. But this time was different. She hadn’t done any slaying in L.A, whereas that was the case this time. Doing her Slayer duty without the Scoobies around was tough. Even if she was almost always the one making the final decision, having Giles and Willow when she needed advice, or Xander when she needed to laugh, helped her more than she had realized before. And she really missed Angel.
Of course, Faith was with her, but it wasn’t the same. She liked her sister Slayer, but it was sometimes difficult being around her. Faith could really be a loner sometimes. And Buffy knew that the brunette didn’t fully trust her. Even though they had never talked about it, Buffy could perceive that Faith’s life hadn’t been easy, and that she had resorted in trusting no one to avoid getting hurt. Her aggressiveness – both during slaying and sexually – was probably rooting from the same causes. The blonde slayer really wanted to help her get passed all that. But it was another source of responsibility for her, not another source of comfort.
“Only one GI Joe to watch for it?” complained Faith, rousing Buffy from her thoughts. “Come on, it’s like they are removin’ all the fun from it.” The brunette stood up, only to have Buffy’s arm putting her down again. “Hey, B, what are you doing?”
“Look!” said the blond Slayer, pointing her finger at a car. “Two guys in a car, with a talkie. Coincidence? I’d rather think not.”
Faith took a closer look at the surroundings. “Damn, you are right, B. Look at that roof, there. I’d bet ya that this dark shape there is a guy. Even better, a sniper!”
The two slayers spent a few more minutes observing the field. “So, two snipers and three cars. Looks like they didn’t remove the fun after all, F.” said Buffy sarcastically, her mouth wide open after the final ‘F’.
“OK, B, so listen, here’s what we’re gonna do …”
“Officier Woolfolk, status check!” asked Ziva by radio. It was around four in the morning, and she was doing her 10-minute check with the various teams. Gibbs was sleeping on his chair, trying to take some rest before his shift. “Officier Woolfolk, do you copy? Status check!” asked Ziva again. She waited a few more seconds. “Gibbs! Wake up! Woolfolk is not responding!”
Gibbs jumped from his seat. “What?” He immediately pulled the microphone out of Ziva’s hand. “Officer Lacey, can you get a visual of Woolfolk?” he yelled. “Officer Lacey?” He frantically looked at Ziva, violently thumping the van’s table.
“The three other teams are responding, Gibbs, should we…”
Gibbs noded. “Mamma to all teams, we are under attack!” he shouted. “Both of our snipers are out of commission! McGee! DiNozzo! Go secure the Falchion! Cader! Heyeck! Go to Woolfolk’s roof! Brillinger! Aburdene! Go to Lacey’s roof! All team, be careful!” He then changed the frequency. “NCIS to base! We are under attack! Send up the two backup teams! “
“Copy, NCIS! They’ll be there in 9 minutes. Bear up!”
Gibbs grabbed his SIG-Sauer and racked its slide. “Ziva, let’s go help McGee and DiNozzo.” he said, rushing out of the van, the Mossad agent right behind him.
McGee and DiNozzo were marching to the crate, carefully checking their surroundings, pointing their pistol and torch at where they looked. In the distance, McGee spotted a tiny brunette near the crate. The marine guarding it was lying on the ground, probably dead, he believed. She had opened it, and was crawling inside, probably to get the Falchion. How could such a small girl be part of all this? It seemed absurd. Ziva was a tiny brunette as well, he then thought. Well, this was making some sense after all.
"Freeze! Federal agent, NCIS", he shouted, pointing his gun at her, just as she was emerging from the box, the Falchion in her left hand. Without a second of hesitation, she grabbed something from her belt and threw it at him. McGee had time to shoot twice before feeling a searing pain in his left arm. When he turned his head, he saw a knife, piercing his shoulder right through. Immediately afterwards, he looked a bit further away, and saw, horrified, DiNozzo lying on the ground. In a burst of rage, he roared, pointing his gun at the brunette – who was closing at him – to finish her. But before he could shoot some more, he felt a blunt hit on the back of his head, and fell to the ground.
Faith started pummeling the Fed with kicks. That damn cop had shot her in the left arm, he could have killed her. The third kick was so strong that it sent him flying and spiraling further away. She ran at him, tore the knife out of his shoulder, walking McGee up in a semi-conscious state. She was about to stab him when Buffy grabbed her arm and shouted “Stop it, Faith. We don’t kill humans. Let’s go! Others are probably coming.”
“That scum shot me, and almost killed me, B. I’m gonna make him pay!” she screamed, full of hatred, as Buffy was now grabbing her by both shoulders to hold her back. Faith was struggling frenetically, trying to escape Buffy’s grip.
“I won’t let you become a killer, Faith! He was just doing his job, just like we are doing ours. Now, let’s go, before more come!”
“Damn it, B.” said Faith, calming herself down. “OK, OK, let’s go.”
Gibbs saw the two girls in the distance. DiNozzo and McGee were on the ground. Maybe dead… In a heartbeat after seeing that, Gibbs started shooting at the brunette. After missing the first time, the blonde pushed the other one to protect her, exposing herself. It was like target practice… Gibbs hit her twice and she fell on the ground.
“Buffy!” shouted Faith, as the blonde collapsed on the ground. Faith took cover from one of the crates, and pulled Buffy behind it as well. Faith started hyperventilating, after she saw that Buffy was losing a lot of blood. It was her fault, her fault! Just like she couldn’t protect her first watcher, she had now killed B… If she hadn’t pummeled that cop, they would already have escaped.
“Fai… Faith… We have… have to go.” whispered Buffy, as she was trying to stand up.
Faith took a deep breath. B wasn’t dead yet! She would get her out of there. She took the grenade she had taken from that Marine’s belt, and threw it with precision at the two cops nearing at them. Then she buckled the Falchion at her belt, while a big explosion resounded, followed by what sounded like a death rattle. She took B in her arms, and started running. After 100 yards, she jumped above the fence and ran some more. Nobody could beat a slayer at running. They were safe. Now, all she had to do was finding a hospital before B would bleed to death…