AN: Alright, short chapter in which some problems get solves, some tension and a little comedic ‘therapy’.
AN2: A note to all writers of every caliber – never go to a party, get drunk, and write out a possible story line (this actually explains most of this chapter), because invariable there will be a sober individual there that will have it on film. As I am now mostly sober, learn from my mistakes.
(Training Area – Sunnydale Forest)
His balance was precarious, at best, from his position in his training area, but it was necessary for him to learn not only to do things unconsciously, but to also be aware of his surroundings, just as Yosho had tried to teach him. Of course, when you had a Slayer, a Wicca, a Watcher and a Techno pagan hurling water balloons at you, that was a tough order to fill, especially when the Wicca took great pleasure in trying to reduce your chances to reproduce, some day – he’d have to remember to get Willow for that, especially when it was most likely that she would actually be embarrassed. He had asked all of the Scoobies to help him out, but Faith, given her currently state of distress, Linda, with Faith’s well-being kept in mind, and with Oz and Cordy with previous engagements, he was left with Buffy, Willow, Jenny and Giles to train with in his ‘pole pit’, as he called it. His job was to jump from pole to pole, each pole at varying heights and with a diameter ranging from either three inches to eight inches, and their job was to knock him off … and they were winning – Buffy could do it easily enough, but he accounted it to her being a Slayer, and the others had varying degrees of success, but he added the fact that he was in his battle suit, with energy sword, and blindfolded to the exercise to make it more challenging.
It had taken them all of a week to not only look into what the Mayor was doing, but to also set a plan into motion that would, hopefully, take care of the problem, and it had several benefits in that most of the upper echelon of the Police Department, City Management and business men in the area had all been rounded up by State and Federal officers on charges ranging from non-payment of taxes, something that hit Cordy’s family, but not her, and illegal business practices to outright murder and federal fraud charges, something that had hit the Sunnydale PD like a star cruiser landing on a frog – the only one to actually escape the entire debacle was the Mayor himself, Richard Wilkins III, and even he was under the microscope, but he also appeared to be smarter than everyone else gave him credit for and had covered his tracks immaculately There was little else to do except to go to school, slay and to get through their lives, but that was easier said than done with Buffy always harping on Faith about her killing Alan Finch, which had gotten to the point that Faith had actually snapped and come within an inch of killing Buffy, whom had been saved by her own inability to pay attention and let her head fall forwards and hit the table, which kept the crossbow bolt from hitting her between the eyes. Giles and Linda had both been talking to her about it, but Faith appeared to not want help at all, wanting to work it out for herself, and while Buffy was lamenting her own destroyed hair, Cordy, Willow and, surprisingly, Oz had all torn into her about riding Faith like that before he could get to her.
His mind was brought back to reality as whom he presumed to be Buffy hit him, once again, in the face with another water balloon and, quite frankly, he was getting as tired of that as he was of Willow hitting him in the crotch, which is why he ripped off his blindfold and turned to glare at the direction the balloon came from, finding that, indeed, it was Buffy, “Alright, damn it, that’s enough!”
She smirked at him, bouncing another water balloon in her off hand, “What? Can’t take a little distraction from me? Or is it only Faith you can think about?”
Sword still ignited, he triggered a new and, thankfully easier to control, option on his battle suit and took to the air, landing in front of her in only two seconds, much to her shock, and disarmed her with a swipe of his sword, popping the balloon, “I don’t know what your problem is, Buffy, but if you’re trying to kill me, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that.”
Even as she drew herself up he could hear Willow, Giles and Jenny shuffling off to one side, knowing that this was probably going to be bad, “My problem with you is that you’re taking Faith’s side on this entire thing! You’ve constantly been with me since day one and now you’re abandoning me for a murderer!”
“Does the fact that I am my own person, capable of making my own choices, not register with you? Or that what she did was an accident?” He stepped forwards and extinguished his sword, his battle suit shifting back to his powered armor and then helmet popping up, “Or do you want me to bring up some of your own rather miraculous failures from the past?”
She snarled and flushed at the same time, “No, you will not! I admit to my mistakes, but they never …” she trailed off in her sentence even as she thought about what she was about to say, that none of her mistakes had gotten people killed – this was an argument that they’d had numerous times in the past week and, quite frankly, he was sick of it. “Never mind, though – I made a call that would cure all of this.”
“What did you do, Buffy?” Xander didn’t even look at Giles, having a good idea what had been done.
She smirked, “I called the Council, saying that Faith had killed someone – they’re going to take care of – OMPH!” Buffy’s head snapped back, hard, as something from Willow’s position hit her right between the eyes, knocking her off balance enough to fall to the ground.
“You mean you tattled to the people you told to shove it to?” Willow stalked forwards, “Did you tell them the entire story?”
Buffy shook her head to clear it, “Yeah, I did.”
“Why do I find that so hard to believe?” Xander sighed, and then smirked at her, “But that’s beside the point – they aren’t coming.”
Both Buffy and Giles blinked at this, the latter speaking first, “And may I enquire, why not?”
“Because Travers isn’t man enough or crazy enough to come here after everything that’s happened … or don’t you remember what happened during Buffy’s little ‘rite of passage’, Giles?”
Xander smiled as the mass of flesh known as Quinton Travers began to quake and find it necessary to keep hold of his bodily functions, but that kind of fear was not unexpected when you hear a voice pronounce his want to kill you and not see a body to back up those claims, “Why Quinton, are you scared?”
From behind Quinton came a lower-London voice, one he identified as ‘Ripper’ easily enough, “’Course he is, guv! The ponce’s never been one to stick around after a threat’s been made, let alone have some bloke he can’t see gut him like a trout.”
“True enough.” Xander triggered his cloaking device off and then triggered his blaster off in favor of extending his finger talons, “Now, you are going to call you men off and get Buffy the hell out of that test, or you never see another sunrise.”
“And if I comply?”
“Then you leave and certain information I have about some of the Council’s dealings over the decades doesn’t ever come to light.” Xander smiled and lifted his visor, “After all, do you want all the people to know who _REALLY_ killed JFK?”
Giles smiled slightly at the memory, “Yes, I do remember, Xander. I highly doubt that Travers will risk that type of exposure, regardless of the price.”
Buffy gaped at the pair of them, “But … Angel got me out of the house.”
Xander snorted, “Only after Jenny threatened him total removal of what passed for his sexual reproductive system. Not surprising, after all,” he went on with a grin, “with the kinds of threats that the Romany clans made against said vampire about coming near you again.”
Buffy’s mouth dropped and worked several times, but nothing came out but choked gasps until she dropped to the ground, curling into a ball, “But, I’m right. She’s a killer.”
“So am I, Buff – care to try any of that shit with me?” He cracked open his armor and hopped out, in a full version of his ‘under armor’ outfit, showing no skin but his hands, neck and face, crouching about five feet in front of her, “You can’t stand that your perfect little world is flawed, that people with souls are capable of evil, so they need to be destroyed … that makes you the worst kind of hypocrite there is, after what you tried to pull.” With that, he hopped back into his armor, sealed it up, and stalked away to his lab, needing a shower, shave and some fresh clothes before going to try and talk some sense into Faith … something he didn’t hold out much hope for.
(Later - Price Home)
Linda winced as yet another glass hit the wall with shattering force and, almost casually, changed the channel of the television from Masterpiece Theater to MTV – Xander had come over about ten minutes earlier to talk with Faith about what had happened, but that talk had lasted about ten seconds before she got defensive and started to hurl objects at him; for his part, Xander had appeared to have dodged each one, but if he managed to get out of this fight alive, she was going to insist that he clean up the mess that was left behind.
“I DON’T WANT YOU FUCKING HELP!” This statement was punctuated by a rather loud thump that rattled the glass doors leading to the back yard of the house.
“YOU’RE GETTING IT IF I HAVE TO KILL YOU TO DO IT!” Two more thumps were heard and then a shattering of what sounded to be the electric mixer.
“OH YEAH? YOU AND WHAT ARMY?” A final thump and then she heard what her mind processed as two bodies slamming together in an non-erotic way.
“I DON’T NEED AN ARMY!” There was another series of destructive crashes, thuds and howls of indignation, but then there was a silence … a silence that sent shivers down Linda’s spine, but she dare not look in on the pair in fear of finding two mutilated bodies with each holding the other’s throat. Finally, though, after ten long minutes, she could bear it no more and carefully made her way to the kitchen after turning off the television – what she found there wasn’t what she expected and, yet, had been thinking she would see at some point or another.
Faith and Xander sat in the middle of her kitchen, a room that was only about ten feet wide and about half again as long, surrounded by broken dishes, dented and, occasionally, leaking cans of soups, vegetables and the odd piece of frozen meat – Faith had several cuts on her hands and neck, Xander with the same and a few large bruises as well, but all of that went away in the fact that Faith had her face buried into Xander’s shirt, her shoulders heaving and he was doing his best to hold her to his chest, comfort her and to not cut himself in the process as she then picked up several large pieces of glass in Faith’s hair. Together the pair of them sat, with Linda in the doorway, for nearly an hour, not a word being said as only the sound of the Elvis clock with the swinging hips, a clock that Faith insisted she buy with how ‘wicked’ it looked, chimed on the hour with the song ‘Hound Dog’ – Faith eventually stopped her body-wracking sobs and Xander apparently said to hell with it and had stopped being so antsy about the glass in her hair, the pair of them just sitting there and Linda idly found herself trying to think of the cost of the replacement dishes and food she was going to need to squeeze out of Xander.
Finally, it was Faith who spoke first, “I’m still a killer, Xand. I’m guilty.”
“Only of being human, Faith, of making a mistake, and lest we both forget, my body count is easily twenty times that of yours, confirmed.” Linda watched as he placed a small kiss on the top of her charge’s head and came back with a shard of glass of his lip, which he picked out gingerly, “They won’t touch you, and if they try I’m going to stand with you.”
“Even against B?” She could hear the hope in Faith’s voice and honestly hoped that Xander wasn’t just saying what Faith needed to hear.
“Always – she’s really starting to get on my nerves.” Linda held back a snort at the tone of exasperation in Xander’s voice even as he and Faith gingerly stood up – she’d seen him come close to killing the elder Slayer several times, but never quite doing it for some reason or another.
Faith looked around and winced at the damage done, “Man, we did a number on this place, didn’t we?”
He nodded, “Yeah, looks like my parent’s kitchen on Christmas Day, only there’s two drunks on the floor, passed out, missing.” He used his foot to clear a path towards the door and it was then that he seemed to notice her, “Oh, hi, Linda.”
She smiled at him slightly, reaching out and picking a piece of glass off of his shoulder, “Xander – I hope you have your credit card with you for the damages done here.”
He smiled slightly as Faith cursed almost-silently and picked up a can of her favorite snacks, fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, which had leaked all over the floor, “Yeah, I did – didn’t think it’d get this far, though.”
Linda held a reserved smile as she kept him in the doorway, folding out an old newspaper to catch falling glass, “I’m surprised that the authorities weren’t called.”
He snorted, “In Sunnyhell? Yeah, right, you betcha.” He carefully shook off the bits of glass that were on his body and then she let him out into the living room while Faith did the same, finishing quickly and taking her place at his side, curled into a ball under his arm, “So, anything good on?”
AN: Not much to say for this part, only that this is all I could come up with – I’m curious at what my muse will put out next. R&R, AR.