AN: A quick visit to the girls and a bit of a cliff-hanger. Yes,
Ya'll truly do blow me away with reviews. I'll try to respond before
I post a new chapter this next time. :)
************* Trick-Or-Treat: Chapter Five ****************
Faith shifted the pizzas balancing precariously on her left shoulder
as she swung one leg and dismounted her bike, leaving her sleek, red
helmet dangling from chrome handlebars. It was eleven o'clock the
day after Halloween and too early for lunch but she had felt like she
should come bearing gifts or some other shit like that. It was weird,
invading Xander's turf so to speak, despite its necessity.
Besides, the childish part of her wanted to make a good impression on
the youngest of the Scoobies. She'd get them next after all. After
they were sufficiently infatuated with Xander to ignore the majority
of what SHE said for the first six months.
God, Xander had to be okay. There'd be worse consequences than the
wrath of Willow and Buffy to deal with otherwise. They'd have dozens
of heart-broken mini-Slayers, a distraught ex-key to the universe,
and a blubbering Watcher as well.
Giles crying, not a pretty sight.
And yeah, if some military ass-holes permanently messed the X-man up,
Faith would take em' down. They weren't friends, she and Xander, but
they had history and that wasn't necessarily a step down from
friendship- just a more complicated kind of relationship. Hell,
she'd taken his virginity.
Besides, he did a damn fine job getting the girls ready for what
Destiny and Fate had handed them. Faith and Buffy taught them how
to fight and lead. Xander taught the girls how to live as fighters
and leaders; taught them that it was okay to fight for what they
believed in. He did after all and that was minus the super powers.
As much as Faith dug the Slayer gig she knew it wasn't all shits and
giggles. People died messy deaths and lived damn short lives. But
after Xander most of the girls were okay with all that. A one-eyed
construction worker probably wasn't the best choice when it came to
training a Slayer army, but he was the best choice when it came to
raising a bunch of scared preteen girls especially since, pardoned
or not, Faith was hardly a role model.
She rung the doorbell and waited for the trample of feet and a
harried group greeting by hysterical children missing their
Instructor. The somber girl who opened the door after several
moments of silence hardly met expectations but then, Lindsay was
good at that. The temporary leader of Xander's Merry Girls was
wearing a faded pair of snug jeans that madder her tall frame seem
even longer, especially with an equally worn gray polo shirt tucked
into the jeans. Auburn hair was pulled back severely in a high
ponytail and amber eyes regarded Faith with quiet expectation.
Lindsay had come a hell of a long way from the eleven year old who
woke up screaming from nightmares about her father's drunken
beatings. Most of her progress was due, of course, in large part to
the X-man and Faith, just for a moment, let herself wallow in the
self-doubt and pity that always seemed to plague her in the face of
competency. She couldn't stand coming in second best.
So she didn't.
Faith didn't even bother to play the damn game anymore. She didn't
try to be the best; she just tried to be herself. A couple of years
in jail really gave a person the time they needed to find their inner
child and kick its whining ass.
"I brought lunch."
Lindsay smiled wanly and stepped aside mutely to let Faith enter,
the lack of invitation glaring. Good girl. Faith stepped inside.
Unlike the Big House, the Booty House was organized and sedate in
its chaos. Some of the girls were still half attired in their
costumes from the night before. Others were in their pajamas and a
few, like Lindsay, were fully dressed. Dishes clanked quietly in the
background and subdued mini-Slayers quietly completed their chores.
Most, despite smiled greetings, pretty much ignored Faith as Lindsay
led the older Slayer towards the dining room.
"I'm impressed. Military or not, my girls would neglect their chores
in a heartbeat if I disappeared."
Lindsay flashed her a broader smile. "Oh we did that last year, when
that poltergeist in the old Broadway theater dropped a tree prop on
Xander's head and he got a concussion. Soon as we brought him home
from the hospital and he wasn't seeing double anymore he doubled our
chores and revoked TV privileges for a month."
A smirk curled Faith's lips but she was careful to reply, "Harsh."
Lindsay eyed a gangly girl who was dusting in the dining room before
shrugging with amused resignation. "But effective." She waved
absently towards the large, sturdy, and somewhat scarred table that
dominated the large room. "Just put them down there."
Faith complied and waited for a bellow announcing lunch, the
preferred method at the Big House, but Xander's second in command
merely tapped the shoulder of a small blonde girl with pixie cut
hair perched on the table with a cordless phone in her hands. "Ash,
go get everyone for lunch."
The girl shook her head no sullenly and stared stubbornly at the
phone she cradled. Lindsay sighed. "I'll watch the phone, promise.
Go get everyone and make sure you eat. You didn't touch your cereal
"Xander puts brown sugar in his Cheerios."
"Xander's going to yell if he comes back and realizes you've lost
The girl scowled but hopped of the table. "Fine, I'll eat the stupid
pizza. But I'm watching the phone!" She ducked away with that
defiant stand and Lindsay watched her with worried eyes.
"She taking it hard?" Faith asked, somewhat awkwardly. The fighting
she could handle. The touchy feely girly shit took her WAY out of
her league. Especially with the kiddies. They were so damn
sensitive about everything.
"Yeah, and she's hi-strung anyway."
"She have weight issues?" Faith knew a lot of the girls did,
especially since it seemed to take their appetites a bit longer to
catch up with their bodies new demands once they were Chosen.
Lindsay sighed gustily again before rolling her eyes in a way that
made her seem very young. "Always too thin. She came to us too
thin. Its not that there's anything wrong with her, Ashley just has
the attention span of a gnat. I don't think I've ever seen her sit
down and eat a full meal without being distracted by something,
usually shiny and sharp."
That startled a rough laugh out of the older Slayer.
"Come on, let's go talk in the basement. Everyone will come up from
training to eat and gossip so we won't be disturbed." They passed
the girls, all quiet chattering and streaming towards the pizza and
kitchen for drinks on their way down to the basement. The Booty
House's training room was nearly identical to Faith's, thought more
of the weapons were a beginner's wood and it was a hell of a lot
Faith sprawled on a gym mat and propped herself up to watch Lindsay
pace the empty basement. "All right," she said, going for what
passed as her teaching tone, "tell me, what next?"
Lindsay's mouth pursed as she thought, long legs quickly eating the
space in the basement. "Sit on it as long as we can unless we know
bad things are going down. Willow just got a new batch of witches
and wizards to train so she won't give a thought to Xander not
calling. Buffy and Xan just talked two days ago so we're set there
for at least the next two weeks, barring a crisis on Buffy and
"Where are they located currently?" Faith pressed.
"South Africa. They're looking into getting Namyan and Ms. Terry
set up with a witch-doctor in Africa to keep an eye on the local
demon tribes in that part of the world. The tribes are usually
peaceful but occasionally they go crazy and start eating humans like
twinkies; they suck out the insides."
"We do research. Kiley is a whiz on the Internet. We figured out
that they were Air Force and have mapped out all the known and
suspected bases on the mainland. We need to keep pushing though,
maybe look for links to the Initiative. Find out what kind of
trouble Xander might be in."
"Any problems from social workers?"
Lindsay shook her head. "Nah, we got it covered. We always fib for
Giles and they haven't caught on to that yet- its been what, four
years now? We can handle putting any that show up off for a few
days if we need to."
Faith reclined again. "Anything else?"
Faith sat up again. "Wanna explain why?"
Lindsay paused her pacing and stared down at the older Slayer, arms
crossed over her breast. "Because she's a legal adult. She can take
care of stuff like grocery store shopping and unexpected hospital
visits without raising too many eyebrows. Plus, as much as she loves
Xander, she has a level head. She'll sit on it with us until we know
"Very good. All right, call mini B and see if she can come down from
college for a few days at least. Restrict patrolling to your usual
routes. We don't need anyone getting killed cause they're playing
hero, got it?"
"Yeah, I'm good."
Faith rose fluidly and stretched languidly, though all of her
attention was focused on how Lindsay answered her last question.
"Why'd we talk alone? Why not include the other girls?"
There was a hell of a lot she could have said in reply. Faith knew
most of what was going on in that so logical brain of hers, but
Lindsay simply said softly, "Sometimes you need a leader. This is
one of those times."
Faith chuckled dryly. "Ya know, kid, you're going to turn out okay.
Once I have my way with you for a few years."
Lindsay snickered in response.
Xander was sitting up in bed, his curtain still drawn back, when
voices filled the corridor outside his room. The blinding headache
had moved to nestle between his eyes but the pain had subsided to a
dull spoon scraping his brains out, instead of an ice pick. That,
unfortunately, was progress.
Even with as little attention he had paid during the whole, snake
down his throat trauma, he still recognized four of the five people
who opened the door and entered his room. There was the blonde woman
who sent him a warm, encouraging smile before moving to stand by the
end of his bed. Another woman, this one brunette and obviously a
doctor, went to stand next to the blonde. That left the three
military men- the tall African American who was wearing a wigged
out knit cap, a brown haired one with glasses, and the one whose
presence screamed leader. Besides, gray hair, SO a military power
The African American man stopped several feet away from the bed and
stood loosely at attention, his lidded gaze glued to Xander. Glasses
pulled up a chair and perched on it, looking way too like an eager
puppy. Mr. Big Bad Leader Man also pulled up a chair, only he chose
to straddle it, resting his arms on the back as he attempted to stare
Xander down coolly.
Xander's eyes rested fleetingly on the patch emblazoned on one sleeve
of Leader's uniform and recognized Air Force, but not much else.
Though honestly, if he were allowed to walk away Scott-free and never
know what all the funky symbols on the patches meant, he'd get over
Mr. Hey I'm in Charge, Look at Me let a slow smile bleed across his
mouth as he drawled, "So, Lavelle, man that has got to suck."
Xander blinked and stared into Follow the Leader's hard, steely
features before throwing back his head and laughing until he cried.