It didn’t take long to find the demon. After, of course, Andrew had finally found his bearings and remembered which way it had gone. He’d managed to get them lost twice, the first time leading them up a manhole and an alleyway before deciding that the demon didn’t actually go above ground. Faith didn’t know what he’d expected would happen; he seemed to think that h would be able to lead them to the demon without knowing where the hell it was. Andrew’s navigational skills were about as good as a dizzy drunk and blind dog. They did, by some stroke of luck, actually stumble upon the demon they were looking for.
It didn’t take long to persuade him to give them the info they’d wanted. A few minutes, a few punches, and it was theirs. It hadn’t exactly been hard. Although the demon looked terrifying – about twice her height, skin a violet colour, fangs that could shred bone – but was actually pathetic. One punch and he spilled his guts; names, places, shoe sizes, he’d given everything he knew about these guys. Mind you, she got the impression that he hadn’t been pally with them anyway, so the information wasn’t all that useful.
But, they did have information. Not much, but it was a start. A name. What kind of a name was Albert, for a demon? It made him sound like a butler. Not remotely threatening. Albert the Quentash demon. Jesus. She’d always taken the piss out of the Latin demonic names but…now she kinda got why demons used other languages for their namesakes.
Andrew now had a demon species to look up, and so had been banished to the library, while Clark and Peter were going to hit the computers until something came up. Meanwhile, Faith was once again redundant. Without a useful task to be carrying out – without something ugly to hit – she was useless. Maybe it would be worthwhile trying to pick up the books, but she thought she might turn a little homicidal if she had to sit in a confined space with Andrew for any length of time. Because she was useless in the research department, she had instead been gifted with the very important task of ordering pizza.
Turned out ordering pizza was much more difficult that she’d thought. For a start, no one liked the same stuff so she spent about ten minutes writing down a list and then another ten minutes actually ordering the stuff. She hated the phones; talking to someone when you couldn’t see them was just weird. You didn’t know how the person on the other end was reacting, and you could hit them, even if they deserved it. Phones were just goddamn annoying.
She slammed the phone down angrily when she finally managed to get all the orders in, as well as handing out the address to this place. It had occurred to her, while on the phone, that she didn’t actually know where she was living. It was just the Mansion to her. Or HQ to Andrew. With an annoyed sigh, she wandered over to the white sofas and collapsed heavily onto on of them, really not caring that her black boots were going to leave black marks, especially after all the sewer-walking. She probably stank, come to think of it. But she was tired, and didn’t plan on moving until the pizzas had arrived and been demolished, so the shower would just have to wait. Everyone else stank too, so the delivery guy was going to get a real nose full when he arrived. Heh. She might actually go up and answer the door, when it rang, just to see his face when the smell hit him.
She opened one eye and moved her arm so that she could see who was there with her. Logan and Jack. Dorian and Indy had gone off to get themselves cleaned up the second the arrived home. Weird, she’d expected that kind of vain behaviour from Dorian, but not Indiana. He’d seemed reasonably sane. Guess she wasn’t as good a judge of character as she liked to think. Then again, she didn’t exactly need Indiana to have a shower in order to drum up proof that she was a bad judge of character; she’d thought the Mayor was a good guy. Since he’d been on a super-demon kick at the time, her people-reading skills weren’t really up to scratch.
As her weary eyes flicked over the two exhausted bodies of her housemates, it suddenly dawned on her that Jack didn’t have a bottle of drink in his hand. It fact, he looked almost sober. Sure, he still had that glazed look in his eyes, and he managed to look as if he was going to keel over, even though he was sitting down. Even so, she hadn’t seen him like this before. His brow was furrowed heavily, blacked fingers winding through his goatee, like he was trying to figure out something that was beyond his hung-over brain. Faith was tempted to ask what was on his mind, but though better of it. You never knew what you were going to get with Jack, as he came out with the strangest things. She didn’t think anyone, not even the pirate himself, knew what was going on in that twisted maze of brain-cells.
However, Logan looked just as she’d expected him to. Serious and stony as ever, even if the edge had been taken off his glare by drooping eyelids. His posture was awkward, one hand on his forehead, the other folded untidily under his body. She wasn’t surprised he looked weary; she couldn’t say that she wouldn’t be worn out after spending the entire day with a pirate, a stuck-in-the-sixties Indy and an angst-ridden superhero.
Faith’s thoughts were interrupted when Andrew popped out of nowhere and leapt onto the couch energetically. “So,” He chirped, “How’s it hanging with the Order?” Faith could have really punched him in that instant. He paused, beaming, and looked around the three pathetic forms slumped over the furniture. By the time he reached Faith, just looking at the tragic faces seemed to drain him of any sign of happiness that he had shown before. His smile and shoulders dropped, his eyes took on the same tired look as theirs. Wow. This depression-thing was passing like a disease. It was contagious. Soon they would all be as depressed as each other, they would sit on this couch for the rest of their lives, getting up only to go to the bathroom and greet the pizza-delivery boy. They would soon lose the will to live; there would be no one here to motivate them, no voice of reason. Except, of course, Charlie.
“So, how are we all doing?” The disembodied voice sounded almost as annoying as Andrew’s had. Faith couldn’t figure out exactly what it was, but right now there was something about Charlie that really got under her skin. As her eyes flicked over to Jack, she could see that she wasn’t the only one. Jack’s face had a look of distrust written all over it. When his question got no reply, Charlie quickly moved on. “Do we have any new leads on who – or, indeed, what – this Albert demon is? Any history on him? Strengths? Weaknesses?” It was kinda like having an invisible Giles around.
But, at the mention of the demon, Andrew perked up again. “I tried to do some research on the net, but the demon database I used didn’t have any info on Albert, and the other sites needed at least a 2.5 giga-watt memory chip, and it’s extremely unlikely that this laptop has anything near that much. I mean, Warren used to have a computer with a C12 bb flash memory, and I...uh…don’t really know what that means, but it was way fasters, it had to be, he let me use it when I was doing that personal project on scene faults in the Star Wars movies…” He stopped for a few seconds to take a breath between the babble, and looked around to see the confused expressions surrounding him. Faith was lost in all that, so who knew how Jack was taking it; guy was from a time period where computers hadn’t even been invented. Andrew dropped his gaze, “I didn’t find anything.”
Andrew was such a geek. She bet he spent every night in his room on his laptop, in chat-room talking to the other pale computer geeks about how Princess Leia was so hot, and how Jedi should because a real religion. He could at least pretend to be normal when he was around other humans, instead of ranting on about stuff Faith didn’t understand.
“Thank you for that, Andrew,” The voice sounded a little startled. Charlie probably hadn’t realised until that moment that Andrew’s life was so dramatically empty. Faith wasn’t surprised. She hadn’t even known that there were such tragic cases until she had met Andrew. “Well, I suggest that you each try to think of any contacts you have, anyone who could help with the research. It is vital that we learn who Albert is, and, more importantly, what he’s planning.”
* * *
How did it come to this? How could things have possibly got so bad that Faith had to ask Angel for a favour? She’d already had to endure the most awkward phone conversation ever with Buffy to try and get Angel’s new number – turned out he’d upgraded to CEO of Wolfram and Hart without even telling her – and then she’d had to suffer even further as she played her part in yet another awkward conversation, this time with Angel. It’d been nice to hear his voice again, but seeing as the last time they’d met he’d – No, not him, Angelus – had tried to kill her, things were a bit weird.
At least Angel had agreed to help them. With all of Wolfram and Hart’s resources, they’d find something in no time. He said he’d call back when they had something, but Faith was not going to be the one to answer that call. She’d had her fair share of dealings with the phone for one day. Let Andrew answer it.
She collected the long empty pizza boxes in one hand, with the mugs skilfully balanced on the other, and began the balancing act that was walking to the kitchen sink. She dumped the mugs with a feeling of triumph; hadn’t smashed even one. Those slayer-skills were useful for something. She turned to find Jack’s face two inches away from hers, his breath invading her nostrils and making her recoil. Jesus…why did he have to do that? Creep up on people? Angel did it too. She hated that.
“Meet me in my room, five minutes.” He spun around, and then pottered shakily upstairs. A few minutes later, Faith heard his bedroom door close loudly behind him.
O-kay…maybe Jack was competing with Andrew for the weird-of-the-year award. What the hell did he want her in his room for? If that drunken slob wanted what Faith thought he wanted, he was in for one hell of a nasty shock. It took her a while to calm now, and think about what had just happened. She doubted that Jack was hitting on her; he knew better than that, surely? So what was it about? And why couldn’t he talk out here? It wasn’t as if there was anyone around. Everyone had cleared off after the pizzas had been demolished.
Faith shook her head slowly as she absent-mindedly washed the mugs in the non-soapy cold water, as she couldn’t see the washing-up liquid anywhere nearby, and wasn’t patient enough to wait for the water to heat up. Jack was definitely up to something, she mused. He had been so distant all day. Not that he wasn’t normally distant, but he had been super-extremely-distant. Cautious, almost paranoid about talking to her out here.
Eventually, she gave up on the cups, and began to head up to Jack’s bedroom. This had to be a mistake, she knew it, but curiosity would kill her if she didn’t give in and just go and see what was going on.