Chapter 01 - 02
TITLE: This Year's Girl, Next Year's Man
AUTHOR: Siege (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, Just let me know ‘K
DISCLAIMER: All things BtVS related belong to Joss Wheadon and M.E.
SUMMARY: What if Faith bumped into Xander before she met the Messenger Demon
FEEDBACK: Please Do, and if you check My Website you will find "The Wall". I am trying to put everyone who gives me Feedback on "The Wall" to show that I
read it and Thank you :-)
RATING: R - NC-17
AUTHORS NOTES : AU in season Four and On with some shuffling of events. Ungoing series, but won't be updated often. But I will post as often as I can. I've passed this on to Merlin the Enchanter who will be finishing off the story. There are more crossover are in the works.
WORD COUNT : 10,516
The first words are always the hardest to write. In a story such as this the first words are the easiest.
We are in Sunnydale, nothing ever happens in Sunnydale. It is a quiet almost sleepy suburb in California. During the day the streets are full of happy people. Some are more so than others, but that is the way of the world. There is a college, a mall, a cinema and a Starbucks. They are just the sorts of things that you would expect to see in any small town in the US of A. There was a school, but it is due to be rebuild, an accident. The fact that the building looks as if it were spilt open like a melon is not up for discussion.
There are children playing in the street and the businesses are booming. There has been a recent boom in population. No one is really sure why, except for the chosen few that is.
The college students are out for lunch, some in the commissary some out in the grounds. One small group contains two blondes and a red head, they are all attractive twenty something’s. They are all laughing gaily a man with them, a brunette, has just said something funny. It’s good that they are laughing now, they have seen so much, these four. The three core members especially have had it hard for nearly four years now. What could they possibly see and do that could be so hard, you ask. Well that’s where the town changes, the time flows and the sun dip below the horizon. Then there is a strange metamorphosis in this average town.
Nightfall, they come out. You know, all the things that were under your bed, that live behind the closet door and in that dark corner of the room. They are real, not only that, they are here. Beneath this normal town is something extra ordinary. The Hellmouth lives here. There is but one in the world at any time, and right now there is one here. It has been there for the entire existence of the town. Is it a strange coincidence? No. As we rush through the town we see things that shouldn’t be. There, in the crook of an alley. Yes, that is a vampire sinking its fangs into the young girls neck. Another watches and laughs, holding the girls boyfriend back. Suddenly there is a sound, the waiting vampire turns and looks into the hazel eyes of one of the blondes from before. She should run, after all vampires are dangerous. But this one looks nervous. She smiles a small half smile that pouts her lip. Then after quipping lightly she moves in almost a blur puff. One vampire dust ball to go. Then the other drops his prey and attacks. The blonde girl, barely 5’1” spins on her heel and places a devastating kick to the vampires chest. He falls away, but before he has even hit the floor, puff. He too is dust. The two young people she has saved hastily run off, not even thanking her. She shrugs and moves off.
It’s her job, her destiny after all. She doesn’t need thanking; it would just be nice.
We leave the blonde savoir and continue our journey through the town towards the hospital. The Wilkins Memorial Hospital, named for the recently departed Mayor of Sunnydale. Died in the Gas Main’s accident at the school some say. Others, well they say he turned into a giant snake and started eating students. But they were considered mad by the authorities.
We fly down the hospitals corridors at the speed of thought; the long expanses of scrupulously clean Lynonium are easily traversed for us. We suddenly change direction, straight through a door into a room. Darkness reins here, there is only the light cast by the EKG machines a soft phosphor-green that permeates the room. The bed, centrally placed is well maintained, the sheets white and crisp.
On the bed is a girl, almost a woman, of twenty years old. She looks younger at the moment, she wears no make up and her face is utterly still. She is peaceful looking at the moment, even though that is not how she normally is. She is attractive. Her hair is a dark shade of brown, almost black. Her face is well proportioned, her lips are fuller than they could be but that just adds to the look. Beneath the tender skin of her eyelids her eyes are brown, deep chocolate brown. Sometimes they can appear black too. She isn’t tall her frame laid flat on the bed doesn’t reach the end. She’s a little over 5 foot, around five; five give or take an inch. She is slender normally, at the moment she is painfully thin. She had been in a coma for many months. She had a long fall and a knife opened a wound that cost her a lot of blood. For a girl such as this though it wouldn’t normally be a problem. But added to her long fall she was damaged badly. He normally amazing recuperative powers put her to sleep until they had finished.
Why are we with this particular girl? She is not that different from any number of other patients. Well, like the blonde saviour she is a Slayer. Originally one girl in the entire world blessed with the strength, speed and stamina to fight the forces of darkness. Then thanks to a certain brunette boy, there were two. Kendra was the next to be called. A Caribbean beauty, she had a soft lilting accent. All gone to waste, she died at the hands of a vampire called Dru. So another was called, this one.
Her name is Faith. She has a heart of a true warrior but due to a dark life even before being called, she turned away from the light. It’s not an excuse to say she has had it hard it’s a simple statement of fact. Only two people have ever touched her in the way she should be. One, her first watcher, was butchered in front of her. The other came to late to make to much difference. She tried to kill that one with her bare hands. It didn’t work; destiny doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Destiny conspired to put her here and now. It helped her sister slayer, the blonde, Buffy, to end her jaunt to the dark side. Now she is healing. The mystical spirit that inhabits her is taking her through it all, over and over again. It is showing her how to change. It may not work; she may not even remember her mystical dreams of healing. It all depends on the first few things that happen when she awakens. If the influence is a dark one, then watch out a time bomb this way comes. If it is of a light influence, well lets wait and see.
It’s coming time to go, time for the story to begin in earnest. But before we do we must visit one other. We saw him earlier, making the girls laugh at the college. He’s good at that. So lets leave Faith to her slumber and back out of the hospital the floor a blur. We head towards the local hang out. A small club called the Bronze. It is a mystery why anyone comes here anymore. This club has been raided by so many vampires as to be ridiculous. But still they come, the teens and the twenty something’s. They are preyed upon by the vampires and demons but they seem to repress, ignore the threat.
The club is busy tonight; a live band is on the stage sending out music in almost physical waves of sound.
There are tables littered around the dance floor, one in particular is close enough to the door to check out the revellers coming in, and going out. It stands, almost like a sentry. At that table there is a man and woman. The man is handsome in a dark way. His hair is brown his eyes are brown. Nothing remarkable except his smile and the look behind the eyes. He is slightly larger than average and is filled out with deceptive muscles. He is the man from earlier. He is sat with his current girlfriend. She looks like a 24 year old woman. She is, now. Once she was Anyanka the centuries old patron saint of scorned woman. Her power centre was destroyed, now she is human. She retains her knowledge but use’s it very little. She is actually a talented witch, but never really practises. The road to humanity has been bumpy for her. The dark haired man, Xander. Well he has done his best for her and smoothed the road the best he could. She has friends; not many but only one is ever really needed. The more the merrier but it only takes one to keep us true. Right now she isn’t happy. Xander didn’t see Anya the night before. He was busy with something else. Her insecurity makes her a very demanding girlfriend. No one really knows how or why Xander and Anya ever got together. But they did. It is, however starting to look shaky. It is obvious from the face that Xander is currently displaying that he is fed up. He doesn’t really love her, and neither does she love him, not really.
They are talking about it now and you can see that they are moving away from each other. There heart to heart is interrupted by Xander. He has spotted someone leaving the club. A vampire and her dinner for the night. He makes a quick excuse and leaves the club himself. Anya sighs heavily and watches him go. Our travel starts again as we follow Xander out of the door.
Xander is the normal one. As in he isn’t a slayer, a witch, a werewolf or a watcher. He isn’t an ensouled vampire or a vampire with a chip. He isn’t a thousand year old ex-demon either. That doesn’t stop him from doing what he believes is his duty. To protect those who can’t protect themselves. He is the product of a hellish upbringing. His father, a drunk. His mother, a whore. His father liked to beat him and his mother wasn’t above it herself. When they weren’t beating him they verbally berated each other. It was a never ending cycle for him. Some how he survived, he grew up. He even has his own apartment. It is brand new and he only moved in the week before but its all his.
We can watch him as he stalks his prey. His friends don’t know the extent to which he does this. It is not uncommon to find him patrolling the streets by himself or like now saving an unfortunate. He is a very well connected young man, with plenty of friends in low places. An incident a while back gave him memories of a soldier. Those memories included the acquisition of tools of the trade when needed. Whomever it was whose memories he acquired, well, they weren’t ‘just’ a soldier. He has special ops training and survival techniques to match any Green Beret. He shoes of the vampires prey, and once again there is no thank you just a relieved scamper away. Now it’s just him and the vampire. She is attractive, not unusual in a species who are made from humans. Vampires like to choose the best and the brightest they can. An attractive vampire has more snares in which to entrap its prey. She has long blonde hair and a cat walk body. In her human form she has an attractive face; but right now she is in ‘Game Face’. Game Face is not pretty it is demonic and frightening.
Our hero steps forward and exchanges some quick fire quips it must be a trademark for the area. He throws holy water in the vampires eyes and whilst she is busily trying to shake it off he jabs down with a wooden stake. Once again, temporary vampire-kebab followed by floating ashes. A simple tactic, but the best usually are.
In an alternate universe Xander could now go back into the club, make up with his girl and go home for an all-night sex-a-thon. If he did this story would not be as long. It all pivots on him going for a walk and doing something he does around this time every week. If he were to skip it, the world will be a very different place.
Decisions are what make and break universes. One decision can redirect the flow of an entire universe in an entirely different direction. This is one such decision. He is standing at the door of the club hesitating. Here it comes, the decision. Threads of time and space are twanging in the gentle rhythm of decision. The world almost seems to have stopped turning the wind gone, the air still.
The moment passes and Xander walks into the night.
Across the town, back in the ill fated mayors hospital in the room paid by a special trust fund. Faith is led still as the dead.
Once again the future of life hangs in the balance, but this isn’t a decision. It’s a ‘Moment’ including capital. The moment is one that happens in eight out of ten multiverse’s.
There is a cosmic count down :-
10 - The slayer spirit readies itself for its next task
09 - Faith’s heart rate increases
08 - The Heart monitor starts to flash faster
07 - Faith’s brainwaves spike and peak into action
06 - Faith’s breathing grows more rapid.
05 - The EGK alarm goes off
04 - A light at the nurses station starts to flash.
03 - The nurse notices and moves off to do her job
02 - Repairs done the slayer spirit has finished, it kick starts Faith consciousness.
01 - Faith’s eyelids flutter and snap open
00 - So It Begins…
This Year’s Girl
Wilkins Memorial Hospital
February 22, 2000 : Midnight
Faith opened her eyes and was assaulted with light despite the darkness of the room. Everything was a blur and her senses seemed to be screaming at her.
‘Oh God’ was her first conscious thought as the whirlwind of senses slowed down and the room stopped tilting like a ships deck.
The first blinding light faded off to show the room was in fact dark lit only by the various medical devices in the room. She looked down to find a drip implanted in her arm. She tried to move her other hand and found that it stubbornly stayed in place. She tried again, this time it twitched sluggishly. Then in a testament to her will power she lifted it off of the hospital sheet and ripped the drip from her arm. After a moments concentration she tried to sit up, only to find her abdomen was as sluggish in responding as was her arm. She grabbed the metal guard rail on her bed and pulled with all of her depleted strength. It was a hard won battle but finally she started to rise. Once fully sitting up she had to rest for a few moments. An extreme wave of nausea hit her and black spots danced before her eyes. Faith took a few deep cleansing breaths that cleared her head and banished the dark spots threatening to overcome her vision.
She looked around at the private room and found it bare except a fresh vase of red roses on the hospital cabinet. She couldn’t think who would have brought her flowers; she wasn’t a cut flowers kind of girl. She wasn’t the sort of girl that guys brought flowers, perhaps a drink if she was lucky.
She could feel her preternatural body slowly coming to life and took a moment to try to figure out just how long she had been out of action. She couldn’t figure it exactly but from the feel of her body, it had to be months.
A woman in a white, starched nurses uniform choose that moment to bustle into the room. She was a young nurse given the night shift in lack of any actual skill in her trade. Her uncle ran the hospital and she had made him get her the job. Nepotism is rife in all walks of life.
“Hello, you’re up I see” said the nurse in a blatant miss use of a sentence.
“No shit” Faith said, or at least that was what she had planned to say, it came out in nothing more than a scratched crackle.
The nurse, in a moment or clarity, poured Faith a water. She passed it over to the young woman who drank from in greedily, slaking her thirst quickly and passing the plastic receptacle back for more. The nurse obliged her and once again Faith slurped the liquid ambrosia. It slid down he red and raw throat like a magical potion that healed all. Faith could almost feel the strength flowing back into her body.
“Thanks” Faith said, this time it was both audible and understandable. She smiled disarmingly at the nurse who stepped forward to fuss with the bed’s covers. In situations such as these there are a very strict set of rules that have to be adhered to. One is get a doctor; another would be to check the records ready to inform the next of kin. Nurse Susan Parker did not follow protocol. Perhaps it would have been better is she had.
Faith eyed her for a moment with a small smile. The nurse became uneasy under her close scrutiny. She felt like she was being sized up for some reason.
“Hey what size are you?” Faith said, confirming Nurse Parkers suspicion.
“What?” she replied
Moving with a speed that should be impossible for a human, certainly one who has just awoken from a coma. Faith grabbed the nurse towards her and in a lady like fashion nutted the young nightingale into unconsciousness.
Faith caught the nurse before she had hit the floor and started to strip her down. She left her in nothing more than a bra, too small, and a hospital smock she threw over the woman’s prone form.
Once she had placed the garments over her own body she quickly searched through the pockets. She found only a locker key and a stick of chewing gum which she unwrapped and placed into her mouth.
Peeking her head out of the door she looked both ways and checked the way was clear. Sunnydale Hospital wasn’t a large establishment and she may be spotted for what she was. Having nothing but a vague idea of where she was heading Faith roamed the corridors in search of the Nurses’ locker room. When she finally found it, it was in the basement and only after an hour of cautious searching.
She crept into the room and found it empty, no surprise at that late hour. She traced her finger over the lockers looking intently at the numbers until she came across locker #28. Using her stolen key she opened it with a clunk of metal.
Inside was some off duty clothing, a lunch box and a small purse. She opened the lunch box first and started to chomp down on the sandwiches it contained,
“Urgg, Wholemeal” Faith commented with a grimace of distaste. Her slayer physiology afforded her flexibility in what she had to eat. Firstly, lots of it, secondly anything she damn well pleased. Any woman would be jealous of a slayers ability to metabolise anything and maintain a killer figure. As she stuffed the snack into her body, she searched through Nurse Parkers purse. She lifted 50 dollars and some change putting it into her pocket. The nurses off duty clothes wouldn’t fit her. Nurse parker was smaller than she, and her off duty clothes tighter than a loose uniform. She would have to make do for now.
Faith shook her head in annoyance that the nurse patently didn’t have a car which she could lift. She didn’t really want to stay in Sunnydale; she doubted the B and her crew would welcome her back with open arms.
‘Well, not B and Red that’s for sure’ Faith thought with a small snarl. She could still feel the knife as it slipped into her belly like fire and ice all at the same time. She could remember well the feeling of her own slick blood flowing out of the gash caused by its entry and subsequent exit. It wasn’t a pleasant memory. But then she didn’t really have too many of those anyway.
Outside Wilkins Memorial Hospital
February 22, 2000 : 01:30
Xander moseyed, he didn’t often walk and he never swaggered. There was something in his personality matrix that precluded even the possibility of anything resembling a stalk. So he moseyed, although he had been known to perambulate. Right now he was moseying towards the hospital for his weekly visit to Faith. He knew that he wasn’t the only one that visited, but he was the only one that did it with any regularity. He had his usual bunch of flowers for her room.
He had arrived the first time to find an ancient bunch of daisies in a broken coffee cup. He wasn’t impressed with that. He and Faith might not be close, but he would liked to have been. He would like to think that someone would do the same for him as well. So every week he brought a bunch of red roses to replace the old ones. He had also got her a vase to put them in. He knew that there was a possibility that Faith would never wake up. He wasn’t willing to except that, he believed that slayers were tougher than that. He had been appalled when Buffy had told him what had happened. She had killed Faith to get her precious vampire back on his feet. In fact it was that very moment when his crush for her died. It is a terrible thing to watch love die, even a crush.
In his eyes Buffy was no longer the all conquering hero he had always thought. There had been shakes to the foundations of his belief before, the whole Angelus/Angel incident had seen to that. But never, until that precise moment had it been destroyed. It had been live all through his relationship with Cordelia and his fling with Willow. But now it was dead. He still loved Buffy as a friend and still he looked up to her in a way, but as his hero. No, that was gone for ever. He had fed her a cock and bull story at the start of the college semester but she had needed a boast and that was what he was there for. That and getting light refreshments.
So partly out of his shame at Buffy’s actions and partly because of other reasons, he wasn’t willing to admit to himself yet, he came every week. He had almost skipped coming tonight; he and Anya had just broken up. He thought about going home, putting on some Dixie Chicks and listening to them as loud as he could bare to have it.
Thankfully, he didn’t feel like slitting his own wrists. Ever since his fabled and failed road trip to see America he wasn’t satisfied with wallowing. His time at Kitten Lick’n. The seedy but cool strip club in Oxnard, had done wonders for his confidence. He had felt liked and needed there and it was a hard struggle to make himself leave. Also the huge tips had helped. He had ended up as one of the most popular male dancers. Not something to be snorted at. His abridged tale to Buffy had certainly helped cheer her up. If only she had seen his act. That would have put a smile on her face.
With a seriously large smirk Xander walked around to the rear entrance of the hospital. It was he Modus Operandi to do so. He couldn’t go in the front and visit a patient at hours, well outside of visiting ones. So he snuck in the back way. It was unfortunate but now was the only time of day he was usually able to come and visit. He would have liked to visit during the day in the light. Necessity had turned him into a creature of the night.
He turned down the final corner towards the fire escape that would lead him up to the forth floor when he almost tripped over a small dark haired nurse coming the other way.
“Oh, sorry ‘bout that” he mumbled hiding the flowers and acting a nonchalant as possible when you are hiding thorny and delicate stems behind your back.
Then he did a double take at the nurse. Even in the gloom of the alley and the night he could tell the figures owner a mile away. He had spent many a long hour rethinking his personal exploration of it.
“Faith” he virtually whispered.
‘Shit’ Faith cussed inwardly. This was just what she needed, ‘What’s he hiding’ was her secondary thought. She dived around the side of him for a moment and she caught a glimpse of exactly what he was hiding. Red Roses. It was Xander all along. As far as she was concerned that explained that. He was the only man she could think of who would do such a thing. He was also one of the few people who cared enough as well.
At her dodge Xander had placed himself in her way slightly. Not threatening, just letting her know that he wanted to talk. At least that was what he hoped he was showing.
“Faith” Xander said again, a little louder but still gentle.
“Hey” Faith said weakly. She wasn’t sure why, but the fact it was him who was rose guy made her feel strange. She didn’t just want to run from him, or have to hurt him to get past.
“Wow, how do you feel?” Xander asked, giving her a genuine smile. His teeth flashed in the moonlight and the smile seemed to light up the entire street. Just for a split second that was what Faith thought anyway.
“Good” she replied monosyllabically.
“I like your Oz impression, but you need to work on the facial expressions”
Faith found herself cracking a smile.
Appearing to be in middle distance there was a sound like someone cutting an elastic band and then tugging another, no one noticed but a world was destroyed and reborn as Faith’s smile grew into the first genuine smile she could remember.
Xander smiled back at her his as usual a little lopsided but it was this idiosyncrasy that had melted the heart of the ice queen of Sunnydale. Humanised a demon, refreshed a mummy and, unfortunately, attracted a praying mantis lady.
After a few seconds the moment passed and Faith was left with a problem and a quandary.
“Hey, look, do you have anywhere to go?” Xander said, reading her mind.
“Why, fancy another roll” Faith said defensively bringing back up the bad girl act.
“Urm, so, not what I meant. If you don’t you can stay at mine. I even have a spare bed,” Xander said, muttering the last part sarcastically.
Faith almost cracked another smile, almost. Instead she looked at him blankly. “I expect my old apartment is still there,” she told him.
“Oh, yeah sure. A bit drafty though” he commented.
Faith looked blank again so Xander continued, “Because of the lack of window. I could come over and put up a temporary one if you like. I have all the stuff in my car. I’ll give you a lift?”
Faith thought it over for a moment nearly telling him where he could get off, “Those for me?” she asked instead, pointing to the flowers peeking around the back of his coat.
“Oh, urm” he blushed, “Yeah” he said finally managing to motivate his mouth into actual formation of words. He handed Faith the flowers with a self deprecating smile, “Happy waking up day”
February 22, 2000 : 02:00
They arrived at the door and Faith tore away the police tape with distaste. She was still in the nurses uniform and Xander was having trouble keeping his mind in play. It might be a common fantasy for men, but to see his dream girl in one was overriding his modern man and bring out his inner Neanderthal. He had the craziest urge to knock her over the head and drag her back to his cave by the hair.
“You coming?” Faith said shacking him from his reverie.
Xander stepped across the threshold into a large and modern looking apartment. It was bigger and better than his own not to mention better appointed. But his had an advantage. His didn’t have a smashed window that had sprayed glass all over the room.
He had brought up a roll of plastic and some tacks from his car. He had recently found he was rather good at general DIY and maintenance. Another trait he had picked up on Halloween, and about the only one not related to being a soldier.
He walked up to the window and pulled out a tape measure going over the window to get the size of sheet he would have to cut.
“You got a brush?” he asked Faith over his shoulder.
“Yeah, for the floor. Don’t want to get hurt do you?”
Faith didn’t answer him and walked away. He assumed that it was to get a brush to sweep the glass. He was a little worried about her; she had been unusually quiet in the car on the way over. He wasn’t the most perceptive of men, but being friends with mostly women gave him a certain insight. Faith was feeling guilty and lonely. He knew that she must have figured out by now that the Mayor was dead.
A knock at the door sounded unnaturally loud in the silent apartment and Faith appeared to answer it. She opened the door to a demonic version of UPS.
“Faith Wilkins?” the demon said.
“Sure, why do you want to know” Faith said tensing ready for trouble. Xander walked up behind her, looming.
“I have delivery for you” the small grey demon said. He reached into a large brown bag at his hip and as Xander and Faith tensed further he pulled out a plain manila envelope. He passed it over to Faith who looked at it suspiciously then disappeared down the corridor.
“Chocolates from a secret admirer” Xander quipped.
Faith snorted derisively and closed the door. She used her thumbnail to slit the package open and looked inside. She looked at the contents quizzically and Xander peered over her shoulder.
“Hey no peeking” she admonished him.
“Ohh, Video nasty” Xander said with a large grin that Faith found herself returning without thinking.
“Maybe its Naughty Nurse Nancy” she replied her eyes twinkling.
“Well you’ve got the uniform” Xander commented with a smirk glancing down at her attire.
Faith laughed whilst pulling out the video and strange looking ring. “You wish Boytoy”
She walked over to the video recorder and hunching down in front of it she put the cassette into the drive.
A few seconds later the Mayor’s pleasant face appeared.
“Hello, Faith. If you're watching this tape, it can only mean one thing: I'm dead and our noble campaign to bring order to the town of Sunnydale has failed-utterly and completely”, The Mayor paused, apparently considering something, “But on the other hand, heck, maybe we won and right now I'm on some jumbo monitor in the Richard Wilkins Museum surrounded by a bunch of kids sitting Indian-style and looking up at my face filled with fear and wonder.” The mayor let out a laugh, “Hi, kids!” he said with a smile.
To Faith’s surprise Xander also let out a small chuckle.
“What, the guy may have been evil but he was funny” he said off of her look.
They turned back to the Large T.V. screen as the mayor continued.
“But the realist in me tends to doubt it. Now Faith, as I record this message, you're sleeping and the doctors tell me you might never wake up. I don't believe that. Sooner or later you will wake up and when you do, you'll find the world has gone and changed on you. I wish I could make the world a better place for you to wake up in but, tough as it is to accept, we both have to understand that even my power to protect and watch over you has its limits. See, the hard pill to swallow is that once I'm gone, your days are just plain numbered. Now I know you're a smart and capable young woman in charge of her own life but the problem, Faith, is that there won't be a place in the world for you anymore. By now I bet you're feeling very much alone. But you're never alone. You'll always have me.”
“Bullshit” Xander said his anger pushing the words out of his mouth. Faith turned to him with a curious look on her face, “Don’t even think about believing that. There is always a place in the world for someone as brave and clever as you. The mayor is trying to goad you into doing something stupid.” Xander finished with a sharp look at the screen, “If he was still alive I’d blow his ass up again for that”
Faith was somewhat taken back by Xander extreme reaction and his belief that she was brave, let alone clever.
She looks down at the ring as the mayor continued his diatribe, “That little gizmo there will help you go out with a bang”, the mayor paused, “It will transfer your essence to another body and you can live out you life as someone else.”
Faith looked down at the device in her hand thinking furiously. The video tape flicked to black. She lent forward to turn it off but Xander stopped her.
“You don’t need to” he said simply.
Faith looked at him with tears in her eyes and nodded, “I do. What is there for me? I’m wanted for murder and the watchers council want to kill me. You beloved Buffy wants me dead; Red wants me dead. What is there for me?”
“OK, first off, she is not my beloved Buffy. We don’t want you dead. You and Buffy have some issues to get through that’s for sure”, Faith snorted, “Yeah ok a lot of issues. Willow, may never want to be your friend but she wouldn’t wish you dead. Stay with us. Giles and his contacts can help with the council. I won’t let them hurt you Faith”
Faith felt the tears flow from her eyes at his words at his willingness to forget what had happened. Then she got mad. She shot to her feet and dived at him her balled fists thumping him on his broad chest.
“I KILLED PEOPLE,” she screamed at him.
“Yeah, so, I see dead people” he replied with a straight face.
Faith looked at him in shock for a moment, her mind tripping over his strange words.
Any further outburst was cut off as the video player flickered back into life. The mayor’s face re-appeared on the screen with a wide smile.
“That’s my girl. Don’t take the easy way out,” he said.
Faith looked at him stunned, “There is another way. If you present that device to Lilah Morgan at Wolfram and Heart in LA they will give you another package. One that will help you to carry on as Faith, My Faith will go far”
February 22, 2000 : 04:00
Xander drove back up to the complex and stepped out of his car. He had convinced Faith to let him take her. It hadn’t been easy but then the best things aren’t.
He had further told her that he would not allow her to be on her own. Faith had reacted predictably. Xander, however, was intractable. In the end, and surprisingly quickly Faith had given in. She didn’t really want to be on her own either.
He had nipped back home for a few short moments, a change of clothes and a shower had followed and he had picked up his baby. He leant back on the hood and leant in the car. He blew the horn once, not great manners at that time of the day. He didn’t have to wait long for Faith to show and she had followed his example and had had a shower and change of clothes.
“Preferred the uniform” he commented and was rewarded with a light swat from Faith.
She swatted his arm but her main attention was on his car. The car he had been driving around in earlier was a typically boring saloon model. It had had a little more growl than a normal family car, but other than that was normal and boring almost.
This car was something else entirely.
“Wow” Faith remarked, she didn’t know a lot about cars but she knew a classic when she saw one.
“You Like?” Xander asked innocently.
“Very Nice, Xan. Where did you steal it”
“Nice? This is a Classic Shelby Cobra I’ll have you know. Also I didn’t steal it, It was passed down to me. My uncle Rory died and left me the car.”
“Just the Car?” she asked, intrigued by his tone.
“Yep, to be exact his will said; To Alexander,” he covered his mouth with his hand, “LaVelle”, he carried on without the hand, “Harris. I leave my car and everything in it.”
“Strange?” Faith said.
Xander cracked open a huge smile, “Yeah good ole Uncle Rory. Had one hell of a sense of humour. It had deeds, and shares as well as a few Bonds. The keys to his business and the ownership papers for his collection”
Faith gawped at him, “Whoa, what’d he leave your folks”
“That’s the best bit.”
“He left them the house. Turns out he owned our house. He never did like them, he couldn’t have kids and he kinda adopted me as his surrogate son.”
“Cool” Faith said smiling at Xander’s fortune.
“It is, I thought you would prefer to go to L.A. in style.” With a flourish he opened the small door for her to enter.
Smiling at him the whole time Faith stepped down into the sports car and adjusted herself to the sports bucket seats inside. She managed to figure out the four point harness without his help, much to his chagrin.
“Away We Go” Xander said as he peeled off leaving rubber on the road.
The Offices of Wolfram and Heart
February 23, 2000 : 09:00
Faith stood outside the formidable building with butterflies doing the tango in her stomach. Beside her, to her annoyance but deep gratitude, was Xander. He had begged off work for the rest of the week stating that he had family problems. Faith who had been listening in at the time was shocked they had let him get away with it so easily. He was even laughing and joking with the person on the other end of the phone. Her slayer hearing had only been able to make out snippets of conversation but the voice held a distinctly feminine tone to it. For some reason she wasn’t able to cogitate she hadn’t liked that fact very much.
So here they were, they walked in through the large revolving door into a courtyard sized entrance and reception area. Together they walked up to the reception desk the size of a billiard table and faced a pretty receptionist. She smiled faintly at Faith but he smile grew a little wider as she took in Xander. Ignoring Faith and talking to Xander she said, “Welcome to Wolfram and Heart, How can I help you?”
Faith rolled her eyes. Xander shot the receptionist his patented lopsided grin. “We are here to see Lilah Morgan.”
“I see do you have an appointment?”
“No” Faith replied finally fed up with being ignored, “But Mayor Wilkins sent us”
The receptionist picked up an internal phone and dialled a five digit number, Xander’s stolen training picked up the number and his improved memory stored it for later use.
There was a short and hushed conversation before the receptionist put the phone down.
She smiled at Xander again but her gaze turned decidedly chillier as she turned to Faith. “She will be right down, Please take a seat,” she said waving a hand towards some cushioned leather sofa’s.
Faith turned on her heel and stalked over to flop down at one end. Xander followed on in his casual meander and took the seat next to hers.
They didn’t have to wait long before an attractive honey blonde woman appeared. She walked up to them her heels clicking across the marble floor. She was around the thirty mark and elegant in her business suit. She had an air of power about her that was simultaneously intriguing and off putting. She smiled at Faith and offered her hand.
As Faith stood and took it the lawyer said, “Hello, I’m Lilah Morgan. We have been expecting you Faith. Won’t you come with me” she turned to lead the way.
Xander got to his feet and straightened to his over six foot tall dwarfing both women. He almost unconsciously took Faith by the hand and she accepted it in the same way. The lawyer walked off and they followed closely behind her.
She led them through a large metal detector and past several large and a capable looking security guards that defied the norm. Xander found himself slipping into his training and identified his exits and threats. He soon realised that they were entering an atypical law firm. He glanced down at Faith and could see that she too had noticed. Beneath the thin layer of civility the place was a veritable fortress.
Lilah led them into an elevator and appeared to notice Xander for the first time. Faith detached herself and got in the elevator after her. After shooting Xander a puzzled look as he got in Lilah punched a button. The doors closed and Xander felt the lift sink downwards.
He glanced at Faith who was chewing her lip worriedly. She had managed to find some clothes that more suited her personal style. She was dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a tank top. A leather jacket was covering her and hung to just below her hip. Xander was dressed in casual get up. He also wore a leather jacket but his hung to the floor. He had stolen in from spike before the vampire had moved out. He had been surprised to find it fit so he took it as rent. The vampire hadn’t complained as it hadn’t fitted him well anyway. Underneath he wore blue jeans and a simple white t-shirt. Underneath the jacket he also had a few tricks that he had acquired recently. Which included a ceramic knife and he had made a band gun. He had found the weapon to be very useful, short range, against vampires. The powerful bands propelled a wooden bullet with excellent accuracy and speed. It had taken him a week to put together and it only held two shots. It was a weapon of last resort that worked as well against humans as it did vampires.
They seemed to sink forever downwards until finally the state of the art elevator brought them to a judder free halt. The twin doors opened to reveal a white corridor leading off into the distance. The length seemed impossible but then the building was anything but normal.
The attractive lawyer led them once again and clicked her way down the corridor. Not looking at the swish of her hips Xander followed Faith out of the elevator. He happened to glance down a corridor and noticed what looked like a demon shuffling into a far off room.
‘Trust the mayor to hire the lawyers from hell’ he mused.
Lilah led them into a large room with box vaults lining the wall. She turned to Faith and held out her hand.
Faith looked at the woman’s empty palm for a moment before remembering what the mayor had said. She looked at Xander who nodded and fished into his pocket. He passed the transference device to Faith. Faith then passed it on to Lilah.
“Thank you” She said with a smile, she then passed Faith a key.
“The instructions where for you eyes only, so I’ll go now. Your friend can meet…”
Faith cut her off before Xander had even processed his thought, “He stays,” she said in a tone that wouldn’t be denied. The lawyer looked as if she would argue for a moment.
“Xander” Faith said and he stepped up behind her.
“Xander?” Lilah said in surprise, “Xander Harris?” she asked looking at the young man in a new light. Her gaze was now almost predatory.
“Urm Yes” Xander said carefully. His stance belied his sudden alertness.
“Well, well, well” Lilah mused, “Finally we meet in person” she smiled a sultry smile and walked past him, tracing her finger across his powerful chest. She walked out of the room with an exaggerated swish of her hips and the two friends looked at each other in confusion.
“What was that about?” Faith asked as Xander walked down the row of box’s. He had spied the box number on the key and was tracing the box.
He glanced at Faith, “Beats Me” he said and tapped a box with his knuckle, “This is it”
Faith nodded and walked up to the box, she slipped the key into the lock with a SNICK. It turned easily and the box pulled away from the rest.
She carried it over to the large table in the rooms centre. Putting it down she knelt on a nearby chair. She used the same key to open the lid and looked inside at the contents therein.
Who Am I? I’m Me
Wolfram and Heart, Subterranean Room
February 23, 2000 : 09:30
Faith looked down astonished into the almost empty box. There were a few papers in it and a set of keys. She couldn’t figure out what the mayor’s game was.
“May I?” Xander asked pointing at the sheath of papers.
“Knock yourself out” Faith said. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, another video perhaps. Some guidance from her adoptive father.
Xander sped-read the documents in his hand before letting out a long, low whistle.
Faith perked up, “What is it” she asked.
“It seems the mayor wasn’t messing about.”
“What is it X?” she said getting up and pacing by his shoulder. She wasn’t great with the whole reading thing and most people couldn’t negotiate their way through a legal document.
“Its his will, I think you should get the babe, sorry, lawyer back in here”
Faith shot him a glare but walked to the door and stuck her head out. Sure enough Lilah Morgan, demonic Lawyer extraordinaire was waiting for them to call her. She had been spending her time thinking of the strangeness that a Scooby gang member was helping the rogue slayer. It meant one of two things. Either he had gone bad, or Faith had gone good. Despite the bad grammar of the last proposition, it appeared to be the correct one.
“Hello” The lawyer said in a too friendly voice.
“X, seems to think we need you…” Faith remarked without sounding enthused in the least.
Lilah just smiled slightly and walked in the room after the younger woman.
Xander waited no time with false pleasantries, He held up the sheaf of papers, “This is a last will and testament isn’t it?” he asked.
Lilah took the document from the Scooby member and flicked through it. Years of reading technical lawyer speak had inured her to it. She was nodding before the answer came out of her mouth, “Yes it is. It appears that in lieu of a formal reading I can happily inform you that you are a rich young woman Miss Wilkins.”
Faith looked at the attractive women with a small smile on her face, “Huh?” she said. She couldn’t believe her ears; nothing ever went right for her. Why would it start now?
“Richard Wilkins was an independently wealthy man. He had interests in many things going right back through his family line. He was a millionaire, and now so are you” Lilah dumb’d down for her.
Xander was smiling happily at her, he was genuinely glad for her. She now had the beginnings of a stable life. From the details he could glean from the document she was rich and had stable future investments laid out for her. Well as stable as any investment could be. He knew that from going through his uncles information that he was now an independently wealthy man, despite the fact no one knew. He certainly didn’t have to work. But Faith was now a very wealthy woman. He was very happy for her; and grabbed her into a hug. The sudden contact shocked her for a moment but she quickly found herself returning it fully.
They were lost in each other for a moment, that is, until Lilah cleared her throat. Faith leapt back from Xander as if she had been burned. She was actually blushing slightly. Xander thought it was one of the most amazing sights he had ever seen.
Faith regained her image after a few short sharp breaths. No man had ever made her feel like Xander did. It was once of the reasons she had steered him round the curves in the first place. The effect was now multiplied for reasons she couldn’t comprehend but it was breathtaking. It didn’t hurt that he had filled out quite a lot.
‘Bet he looks good naked’ she thought with an inward chuckle.
Lilah was wondering about that herself at the precise moment but her motivations were not as pure as simply lust. Her firm would be very happy for her to bag one of the infamous Scooby gang. To get him on their side would be simply amazing. It didn’t hurt that he was also attractive.
Faith appeared to sense on some level her thoughts and decided that it was time to get out of dodge. “It’s time to go,” she said as she grabbed the keys from the box. Xander took the sheaf of papers from the attractive lawyer and she led them out of the room once again.
Wilkins Estate, Sunnydale CA.
February 23, 2000 : 02:00
The vintage car slew to a stop on the gravel drive way of the deceased Mayor Wilkins home. It was a large house set in spacious and picturesque grounds. Obviously being at the scene of the Hellmouth since the town’s conception had its advantages. If what Xander had read was any indication it had lots of advantages.
Faith stepped out the car planting her booted foot firmly on the driveway and swinging out to a stand. Xander got out the other side and they walked up to the large doorway together.
Faith fished in the pocket of her tight trousers and pulled out one of the many keys she had been given. Inserting the key in the lock she took a breath and walked in to the large house.
Behind her Xander took a moment to admire her form before he stepped over the threshold of one of his greatest enemies. One that he had been largely responsible for taking down. He had been worried that Faith would hate him for that, but in the car on the journey back he had told her of his part in the Mayor’s downfall. She had shrugged it off saying that he had got the job done and that was what mattered. That he shouldn’t worry about any form of retribution from her and that she was grateful for his help so far. She had also tried to get him to go home, saying that she would be alright. Xander knew that it was just her trying to be hard, a sham.
They had spent the hours talking about a host of things on their journey’s and Xander already felt closer to the dark slayer than he had ever done before. He found that she had a wonderfully wicked sense of humour that matched his own and their had been a lot of laughter from both of them. Something that Xander had been missing with his normal group of friends. There was nothing Xander liked more, well apart from Faith in that nurses uniform, than a good laugh.
The house was large, that much was easy to see, but it was also homely and being the mayors it was also very neat and clean. The staff that had worked there had been laid off after his death but it was still spick and span.
Faith let out a long whistle of admiration of her new home. “Not to shabby”
“I know, you have a fantastic place, Faith”
“Thanks, ya know I worked at it” her grin spreading.
“Needs something though” Xander said tapping his chin.
Faith shot him a look laced with a smile.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the gift he had managed to buy for her at the petrol station. He handed her the small placard with a slight smile.
“It’s not much just wanted to say welcome back and happy moving in day, sort of”
Faith took it from him with a smile of her own; it was a simple “Home, Sweet Home” plaque. Lame, but typically Xander. It was sweet and lame. For some reason she felt very emotional at that point; so she took the plaque to a wall and perched it in place. She would make time later to put it up properly. “Thanks Xan” she said with a shy smile.
Xander cleared his throat and then flashed a grin, “I should leave you to it” he said starting to back away.
“No” Faith said sharply, then she remembered herself, “Nah, you can stay. I have like a gazillion rooms”
Xander looked doubtful so she just went for it.
“Please, I. I. Don’t want to be on my own here” she said in a small voice. He didn’t stand a chance and caved quickly.
Wilkins Estate, Sunnydale CA.
February 23, 2000 : 09:00
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, originally the plan had been to have a drink and go to bed. It had taken ages to find the kitchen and when they had she and Xander had sat on the couch. The next thing she knew she was waking up with her head pillowed in his lap whilst he was sleeping awkwardly. Faith winced slightly because he was going to have a seriously bad neck when he woke up. She carefully pulled her head off of his lap and sat up straight.
“Morning Faith” came a tired male voice. She apparently hadn’t been quiet enough.
“Hiya” she said weakly, “Sorry about that”
“What?” Xander said with a confused look on his face.
She waved a hand at his lap and he looked really blank for about two seconds before realisation hit him. “Hey no worries. I must have zonked myself” the lopsided grin was back in full effect.
Deciding not to make too big an issue out of the fact she had just slept with a man for the first time in her life, Faith smiled her wicked smile “Breakfast?”
Xander returned her smile with just the same amount of wicked and nodded.
Faith decided that above all else that proved that the Zeppo she had known had grown into a man. The old Xander would have almost certainly blushed and ducked his head, but the new one was much more confidant. He was also much more confidant.
Smiling still she walked out of the lounge with an extra swish of her hips and a smile in her heart.
The Magic Box, Sunnydale CA.
February 23, 2000 : 20:00
They had spent the day getting her life together, filling in forms and moving her stuff over from her apartment. It hadn’t taken long to move her but the paperwork had been the difficult part. Xander had only left her side for a short time to check in with someone that he wouldn’t tell Faith about. She was shocked to find herself feeling somewhat jealous about that but he had shortly returned with a smile for her and she had found she wasn’t mad anymore. It worried her just how much he was getting under her skin. She wasn’t the lovie dovey type preferring to move on after a conquest but Xander was seriously getting to her.
Like now, she would never do something this dumb if it wasn’t for him. She was going to face the other Scooby’s and try to make amends with them. She was stunned at herself for agreeing to this but he had looked at her with those big brown eyes of his and now here she was about to die. Killed by the holy Buffy, again!
Xander noticed her trepidation and reached down and gave her slender hand a squeeze, “Come on, I won’t let them hurt you”
Looking at him in shock Faith allowed herself to be dragged into the magic shop. It was with this confused expression still on her face that she was spotted holding Xander’s hand by Anya.
Anya on the other hand didn’t have a confused expression on her face it was an enraged one. The others were all sitting round the centre table researching some thing or another Xander didn’t know as he once again wasn’t invited. He had been gone two days and no-one had bothered to try to find him, he found that rather odd.
Both friends took a deep breath and waited for the hammer to fall, and fall it did.