Sadly, neither Faith nor the Wolves belong to me, the former is all Joss Whedon and the latter Kelley Armstrong. If you haven't read her books yet, do so now.
This is my first Fic so I really am desperately new at this. The Fic is ever so slightly AU in that Elena doesn't actually watch Buffy on television, 'cos, hey! It's real! Should it become more AU i will add to my disclaimer. Spoilers are all through 'Chosen' and all four of the books Kelley Armstrong has published so far. Please review, I can't get better if I don't know where I'm going wrong.
There really is nothing like a couple of years in prison to make you appreciate the open highway.
First thing I did after we kicked the First’s butt and headed out of Sunnyweird was get myself a Harley and wave the Scoobies goodbye. Well, I waved to Buffy and Dawn anyway, Giles and Red were busy doing boring stuff and Wood was conveniently absent. Wouldn’t have known how to say goodbye to Xander, too awkward, always will be. “Hey just thought you’d like to know I’m heading off and won’t be killing you today.” Nope, didn’t think so, besides he still flinches every time he sees me, even if by now it’s totally unconscious. He might even feel guilty if he realised.
Enough with the thoughts, I’m Faith, Vampire Slayer extraordinaire and there will be no gloom or doom for at least another ten miles. That’s an order self!
God, my inner monologue sounds like Willow, how embarrassing! If the others could hear me now they’d think I’d gone soft. Well, to start off with they’d probably be surprised I know what a monologue is but after the initial startlement they’d no doubt get round to the “Faith, more than two syllables? A personal best we feel.”
So what if I dropped outta High School, not that there was a whole lot of education to be had there if the truth be told, other than the occasional bit of Uuggh in the school basement with, well lets face it, the entire football team. Not at the same time of course, that’s a little too much kink even for me.
I had a lot of time to catch up on my reading in the joint, even learnt a couple of things, I reckon, and not just the practical stuff like Avoid-getting-stabbed-in-the showers-101. First time I realised all that reading wasn’t a complete waste of time was listening to Dawn and Spike discuss her English homework, about John Donne. Turns out he wrote my favourite poem.
Huh, who woulda thought it, Faith likes poetry. If that rumour ever gets out I’ll have to kill everyone who hears it. Then again, it worked for Spike and he was a badass, Buffy-whipped or not. If it works for him….I kinda miss him…and Angel, they understood what it’s like, being me. Well, shit happens and there’s no good crying over spilt blood. Spike went out well and Angels got his whole redemption dealio and that’s all as it should be.
When I split from Slayer Central I thought maybe I should pop by and visit, but on second thought there really wasn’t a lot for me to say to him that he doesn’t know already. And there was no way I was gonna stay in Cleveland, home of the Polyester double-blend and blue eye shadow. Way too tacky, even for me.
That’s the second time I’ve thought that in about five minutes, maybe I’m turning prude in my old age? Twenty-one years old and not a lot to show for it. I read this book when I was in the joint something about Zen and motorbikes. Thought it was kinda stupid at first but Wes made me meditate enough when he was still playing at being my watcher for me to remember how to do the breathing and stuff and I gotta say, it helped in the joint, it helped a whole lot. I’ll never be a Taoist, all that Way of the Leaf crap is just way over my head but heading down the empty highway, just me, my bike and the endless road as one, well there’s something soothing about it alright.
I feel kinda guilty for running out on the squad.
Sure I helped them close up shop in Sunnydale and me and B aren’t the only Slayers anymore so it’s almost like I got proper family, but it didn’t feel right yet, I got all itchy just sitting round, waiting for the shit to hit the fan, and then there was Robin making puppy noises at me all hours of the day and it just got too much, a girl just can’t be expected to sit still all day.
I got my own destiny and I need to be the one who finds it. I told B I was taking a holiday, that I needed to think some shit through and she looked at me with that look she has down to perfection, the look that is half pity and half exasperation and just nodded.
Not that I need her permission anyway, I don’t!
Just thought it would be the polite thing to do or something, just seemed a good idea at the time I guess. Sure, I wanted to smack her one for good measure for making me say it, but I’ve started to get a handle on that whole emotional crap thing. Meditation again.
Feels good to be on the go though, to be master of my own fate, I can do anything, anyone and not have to feel guilty about it.
I thought I would go head down to New Mexico, through Arizona and then on to Nevada, maybe go see Vegas, but if I go that way eventually I’ll end up in California and I wanna give that state a miss for, oh, ever. So instead, I’m heading to New York, I’ve never been, thought I should check it out.
The Big Apple. I reckon it’s a whole different world. No Hellmouth for one thing, at least not one that we know of. Although, from what I can tell from the movies, it sure would explain those cabbies.
So instead of Nevada and the desert I’m in Pennsylvania, surrounded by Mormons and cheese. They do good cheese here, all those crazy people with their lacy caps and technology allergies.
I gotta say, I don’t get it personally, I mean I get the whole each to his own thing by why would you pass up TV? And the internet, and Playstations and all that other crazy shit that comes with it? Life’s hard enough as it is, there’s no need for you to go and complicate it even more.
I get the bigamy thing though, typical though how only the man can get his freak on. Men. Let’s not go there. I reckon they’re the root of all my evil.
Them and B.
Not that I blame her for anything that’s happened to me, I was damaged goods way before I met her, way before even my Watcher died, it just didn’t get a chance to express itself ‘til then. All that jealousy, I looked at B and saw everything that I should be and would never have. I remember how it felt, so overpowering and just pure…bad.
I still get flashes of it, when I look at her and Dawn laughing, or the look on Giles’ face when he’s scolding her sometimes, like there’s nowhere he’d ever rather be. It makes me ache, and I don’t want that feeling to fester. That’s where I went wrong the last time, I just sat, and stewed and let it get to me more and more, all those things she had and I wanted.
Not this time though, I’m never gonna be a slave again, not even to myself. If I want shit of my own, I’m just gonna have to go out and get it, and then it’ll be mine. Want, take, have.
So here I am, Hicksville in Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania.
Actually, it’s not that far off from civilisation, cos I’m on my way to Philadelphia. Never been there before but I overheard a gang of bikers having a conversation at the last truck stop I was at and they were talking about some weird shit going down near Marketstreet.
Apparently something nasty has been chowing down on the local girlies, three victims at last count. And since Faith’s my name and weird shit my game, I’m off to investigate. Philly no doubt has a Slayer of its very own by now, and we’ve had plenty of time to realise that Slayers really are territorial, but Giles has had over 3 months to get his Watcher groove on and that man never misses a trick. If I’m careful I can pop in, slay away to my hearts content and leave no one to the wise.
Not that he won’t know I’ve been here, Giles gave me a Platinum AmEx card before I left, amongst mumbles of I earned it and to go have a good time, and to call regularly and I charge all my expenses on it, not only ‘cos hey, free stuff but also because that way they can track me should I wind up missing. I actually hugged him.
So here I am, on a rooftop, overlooking “The Last Dance”. Stupid name if you ask me, just screams undead to the experienced slayer at large. Well, it does to me anyway.
First thing I did getting to Philly was get myself a motel room and have the longest hottest shower ever. It never stops amazing me the amount of dirt the human body attracts during six hours on motorbike.
When I felt marginally normal again, I put on a fresh pair of pants, black, and sleeveless top, also black. My choice of colour has less to do with fashion than it has with practicality, you never have to worry about what matches with what if all your clothes are a nice uniform black.
Plus, I look good in it.
When I finished dressing I made my way here, only stopping to get myself a Chicken Philly Cheesesteak…god…there are not enough words in the world. I could eat that shit ‘til the cows come home.
I’ve been sitting in this vantage point for about half an hour now and it’s B-O-R-I-N-G. I really never have been much good at Recon. Not that anything much has been going on so far, at least not that I can see, and I can see quite a lot. The bar entrance is smack bang in the middle of a dingy little alley, these kinds of bars always are. Two bouncers outside the doors, looking suitably intimidating if you’re not, well, me. Other than that there’s a blue bulb over the door which must give off just enough light to read fake id’s by and a streetlight off to the left, near the entrance of the alley.
From my vantage point I can see not only the bar and both alleyways, but I can see over to both sides of the road as well, and at this time of night, everything is pretty much Deadsville. I’ve been her since eleven and the only thing worth any amount of excitement was when the bouncers kicked out three guys who were so obviously underage, it hurt.
I’d be almost tempted to call it a night, but I felt something a while ago when a large group of guys went in, like the tingle I get when there’s something otherworldly around. Only thing is, this tingle, was almost familiar. I could swear I’ve felt something like it before, just not exactly like it.
So now, I’m debating with myself whether or not I should go in there and check it out.
Technically, I’m off duty, I shouldn’t have come here in the first place, this isn’t my turf and I’ hate to run into some sixteen year old fresh from Slayers-R-Us only to kick her ass and teach her some manners. But I’ve come this far and I’ll be damned if I let the…thirty-seven minutes go to waste.
That’s valuable time I could have spent watching TV which I will never get back! Besides, my left leg has gone to sleep and I need to walk it off. So, I lower myself onto the ground, making sure to stay in the shadows; don’t wanna go giving the nice bouncers a coronary now. I slap on a cocky grin and I’m off.
Getting past the bouncers was ridiculously easy. They didn’t even bother to ID me.
I’d almost be insulted if it weren’t for the fact that I haven’t been asked to prove my age since I turned seventeen.
The insides of the bar pretty much match the outside, dark, dingy and in desperate need of a make-over or at least a new slap of paint. The whole place basically consists of a large room with the bar on the far side and booths along the walls, with tables arranged in a haphazard fashion around what I guess could be called a dance floor, but only because there are no better word for it. Nicotine stains the walls, but I can only tell with my enhanced slayer vision because the room is so smoky I feel the need for a foghorn.
Since it’s a Friday night, there’s a decent amount of customers milling about the place, rubbing up against each other and trying desperately to get laid.
But I’m not here to pass social commentary, even though I am so very good at it, if I do say so myself. Instead I narrow my eyes and try to hone in on the tingly feeling that has intensified since I entered this joint. Its somewhere off to my left, so I saunter up to the bar and grin at the bartender in my patented “Hi I’m Faith, gimme alcohol.” fashion and order a beer.
It works a charm.
Gripping my Corona by the neck, I lean back against the bar and scan the crowd.
The guy I’m looking for is about three-quarters across the room for me, tall with light brown hair and talking to a girl who looks like she’s sixteen if that. Unless my man-eater senses are failing me he’s quite tasty. He’s wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt that exposes a nice set of muscles and a tattoo on the inside of his right forearm although I can’t make it out through all this smoke.
I scan the rest of the crowd, but as far as I can tell he’s the only thing in here giving me the ooglies. From the way he’s got himself draped half over the girl and half onto one of the tables, it doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving in the foreseeable future so I get myself another Corona and place myself in a booth directly opposite his table. I can’t make out why he seems so familiar and yet totally alien, he doesn’t feel like a demon and there’s no way we’ve ever met before but he’s definitely not human, even if I couldn’t feel it I’d know a I was facing a predator from the way he moves.
I’ve been sitting here a half hour now and I’m wondering what exactly I was expecting when I notice Freakboy jerk like he’s just been shot. He stares at the entrance for a split second and bolts for the rest rooms as if a herd of buffalo were on his tail.
I gotta admit, this is getting pretty interesting so I peek around the corner of my booth to check out what’s got him so freaked and, wow:
Standing outlined in the blue light above the entrance door is another guy and my goodness; he looks like he just stepped out of GQ. Tall, blonde curly hair, loads of muscles in a non-intrusive kind of way, nice clothes and a face to make a girl roll over and die, this is definitely more like it.
If it weren’t for the same sort of tingly vibes coming off this guy I’d guess he was Freakboys boyfriend or something, he’s got a scowl on his face the size of New England.
Blondie makes a beeline for the men’s rooms and I casually follow him, nosy girl that I am.
Checking that no one is watching me I push open the door to the toilets and swear to myself, cos the chicks have flown the roost. The place is empty, the only sign that two men came through here is the window above one of the cubicles which is wide open and should be too high for anyone to climb through who isn’t me or a monster.
I’ll be damned if I let those two get away from me before I’ve had a few questions answered so I make me way out of the window, but not before checking that my trusty stiletto is still tucked on the inside of my boot and I have a stake in my jacket pocket.
The back of the restroom looks out onto an alley I wouldn’t have been able to overlook from my earlier rooftop camp out and I mentally pat myself on the back for not staying put or I’d be missing all the fun. Carefully I edge along the alley until I have a clear view of the end of the alley and what I see there is enough to even surprise me.
Freakboy is on the ground, twitching and unless I’m very much mistaken, breathing his last. Blondie is standing over him with a very nasty grin on his face and what looks like a big blond dog sitting on the ground next to him.
Blondie absently pats it on the head and nearly looses his hand, looks like the pooch is in dire need of an attitude adjustment, but all the guy does is laugh quietly. He seems totally unfazed by the fact that he’s just killed a fellow…something, in an alleyway, in the middle of Philadelphia and that Lassie has it in for him.
And they say I’m weird.
The next thing that happens totally surprises me, while Blondie is looking at the guy at his feet, the dog circles until it’s directly behind him and…stretches.
There really is no way to describe this, its not just the sight but there are quite a few noises my boosted hearing can pick up, although I kinda wish it didn’t, and they sound like a mix between a dog, a cat, a person and a blender meeting under unhappy circumstances.
All in all, it sounds extremely painful and then Blondie bends down over Freakboy and I can see enough of what’s going on behind him to really really wish that I could go temporarily blind and forget the last…ooh, thirty seconds.
The thing behind Blondie is curled up on itself in must be extreme pain as muscles and bones lengthen and contract around each other in what looks like a very painful shapeshift.
I’ve seen enough and hoist myself up onto the low roof of what I think must be the private garage of the bars owner. I should get out of here before my scent drifts on the breeze.
No wonder these guys felt vaguely familiar, I spent enough time with Oz, back when we were both still Scoobies that I should be able to recognise a werewolf on sight.
The wolf though, wolf not dog, I think to myself, who by now has turned into a pretty, flat-chested blonde in her twenties, the wolf is new.
When I used to baby-sit Oz on the full moon, he’d wolf out alright, but he looked more like a demonic wolverine than a fully blown canine, and unless I’m very much mistaken, were still two weeks away from the full moon.
This definitely bears thinking about, so I follow the furry two-some as they take the body between them, stuff it into the trunk of a truck parked conveniently around the corner and drive off.
I think I need to go back to my motel room, have a bath, give Giles a call and see if he can’t shed some light on this. I do all my best thinking in the bath and this time I have a genuine mystery to be solved. I bet I’ll be able to hear him clean his glasses over the phone. Yep, I’m definitely gonna phone home, but first, Pizza.