Three’s Company/Calm before the Storm
“Peacekeeping is defined as confronting the worst in Man with the best in Man.”
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General, 2002
Historical District – Alley
Her last roundhouse smashed his jaw, dropping him hard. Barely breathing hard, she bent over and staked him easily before straightening, looking for the last vamp, who’d apparently been already dusted. By her partner. Who now stood watching her, appreciatively. She flushed a bit, before rolling her eyes and shaking her head
“Nice view,” he said with a slight leer.
She chuckled, “Same here, stud.” She really dug him in all black, looking all wicked-nasty.
He smirked and turned to the entrance. “Ready?” His voice floated back. “There could be some more action back on East Side.” Stalking this pathetic four-pack led them all the way here. They thought they could find a nest out of the deal but the Vamps had decided to start hunting instead. She and X took them down before any harm was done though.
“Let’s motor-vate, X.” She did really enjoy working with him. To her surprise, his patrol method seemed to be completely opposite B’s or the Council’s. They would find a small group and just tail them, nice and easy-like. They found nests and lairs this way, and after the “hunt,” as he called it, they would just raid the place, taking any valuables that weren’t locked down and some that were. She grinned, remembering the nice stash of cash she had back at her spot. Yeah, sometimes, they’d do the rescue thing too, but she preferred the raids, kinda like the whole thief-in-the-night gig that she’d sadly left behind in Boston.
They walked out of the alleyway; she used her senses to scan for more vamps, he used his eyes and his gut. It was kinda weird, but, for a normal guy, he was right a lot more than she thought he’d be. He had a habit of picking a weak mark from almost a block away. She smirked. Those were the ones who always were dumb enough to lead them to an easy raid. Again, she thanked her lucky stars B never found out how good X was at the whole deal. She would’ve hated to lose him.
Yeah, he was a good teammate, and an even better friend.
He could almost hear her being introspective again; the handful of Ops plus dinners they shared over the past week or so had given him a slight insight into Faith as a real person, not the façade she liked to show. He scoffed to himself, like he was one to talk? Still, he’d gotten used to her somewhat, though she could still throw him for a loop whenever she felt like it. Sure, she was mostly cocky and brash, but sometimes she was sensitive and sincere. And she listened, which for him was a first. He wasn’t sure who the real deal was, but he was looking forward to finding out. He smirked.
“Getting anything?” She shook her head.
“A few weak newbies on the edges, nothing big.” She shrugged.
He cocked his head. “You wanna check them out, before we head back?”
“Might as well,” she switched her hips and sighed, an unconscious reflex action that drove him crazy. She’s a friend, he repeated to himself, over and over. He regained control.
“Coolness.” He began running through potential scenarios in his head.
They moved back to the alley into the shadows, she in front, leading him to the next prey. And again, he appreciated the view. He grinned.
She could feel him watching her as he followed her trail. She’d gotten used to him doing it, hell, she’d gotten used to being stared at since she was 10. She liked it when X did it, though. With him, it wasn’t about sex. Well, not entirely, anyway. There was something almost pure and innocent about it, which she appreciated even more after seeing how ruthless he could be. Even now, she knew he was plotting something possibly nasty for whatever they find. And he still found the time to stare at her. She smiled softly, almost losing the trail. She focused again.
There were three of them, none of any real strength. Minions most likely, easy ducks. She smiled again, she might even have time to play. Her mother hated when she played with her food, a random thought that made the idea even more enjoyable.
Wait, she stopped, holding her hand up. He stood next to her, patient. When she really locked on a vamp, she could feel surface emotions, like anger, fear, lust or hunger. She had thought it was just a Slayer thing, until she told Linda about it. Her shock changed her mind very easily. Meeting B confirmed it, knowing she outclassed B easy in that area. Still, she never told anybody, only Linda and X knew. He definitely knew what to do with it, too.
The vamps’ mood had shifted again somewhat. She focused in deeper, trying to get a handle. She felt X’s hand on her shoulder, communicating his support without words. She relaxed then stiffened, the fog clearing. Her eyes widened.
“They found a snack.” They took off, she dashed ahead, trusting him to play follow-the-leader.
“Mom is gonna kill me,” she muttered.
She could not believe her luck. It was so stupid, getting stuck late at the public library because of some stupid school project that she didn’t even want to do but had to or else her grade would drop big and because she just had to pick something all-brainy-like and stuff she couldn’t leave earlier when her friends did. Stupid Willow, she just had stick her stupid nose in, make her feel bad for picking something easy.
And what happens? She tried to hurry and get to the Gallery, maybe bum a lift home, but no, these stupid overbites just had to drop in front of her. They were so obvious they might as well wear capes and have stupid Eastern European accents. And none of them were even slightly cute. She cursed her luck again. Stupid, Stupid. Stupid.
She clutched the cross around her neck, a gift from Xander, brandishing it like it was her last chance. Which, of course, it was. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!
They grinned at her, knowing she had no shot. Buffy was nowhere to be found, like that was anything new. She was probably at Angel’s, drowning in his broodiness. None of the gang was here with her, for her. She fought the need to whimper. Dammit, she was the Slayer’s sister. And Dawn Summers wasn’t going down without a fight.
She stormed around the corner, seeing the three vamps trapping a young girl. She could hear X a few paces back, bringing up the rear. She accelerated, targeting two, trusting X with the leftovers. She smiled wickedly, before releasing a Xena war cry that brought all the attention to her, where she liked it. She leaped through the air, smashing both feet into the closest one who crashed into the other. She twisted and rolled, using the momentum to land in a crouch. One vamp staggered to his feet.
“Never fear, the cavalry’s here.” She tossed cavalierly over her shoulder, not even looking at the victim as she staked the fallen vamp and rose to meet the other.
She was so relieved to see Faith she couldn’t even speak. She tried to stay behind the Slayer, but Faith was moving too quickly. She felt a hard grip on her shoulder. Her eyes widened. Great job, Dawn. Just forget about the other vamp, why dontcha?
“Going somewhere?” He grinned, baring fangs.
“Dawnie?” She saw Faith whirl around after dusting the last vamp, shocked. Guess she didn’t know it was Dawnie the Girl Hostage who needed the rescue. Figures. She could feel the vamp’s fingers grazing her throat. That urge to whimper was getting a lot stronger.
“Back down, Slayer. Or your little friend will pay.”
Faith’s eyes blazed. Then her face changed to her normal bad-ass smirk.
“Don’t worry Dawnie, we got it handled.” We? Well. that’s great, Faith, but you and me ain’t gonna cut it.
The vamp laughed. “We?”
An ice-cold voice echoed behind the vamp. “She means me.”
He watched the Hostile start to turn around. The surprise had loosened his grip on Dawn, just slightly. It was enough. He snatched the arm off Dawn’s shoulder, smashing his elbow into his nose., shoving him away. As the hostile staggered back, bleeding profusely, Xander placed himself between Dawn and the vampire. He nodded reassuringly at Dawn, who smiled brightly. He turned back to the Hostile.
“You touched Dawnie.” He smiled coldly. “I’ll have to make it hurt before you die.” He put his stake away; he wanted this leech to scream.
The vamp roared, rushing forward with a sloppy mid-level sidekick that was just a touch below blindingly obvious. Xander almost sighed before slid-stepping left, parrying the kick up and away, then stomping the inside of the support knee, snapping it easily. The hostile screamed, reaching toward Xander with one hand while clutching at his shattered leg with the other. Xander ducked slightly then grabbed and straightened the probing arm, twisted it, and rotated himself halfway before rising fast, meeting the vulnerable elbow-joint with a powerful shoulder-thrust and another twist. To Xander’s ears, the next scream was drowned out by a snap-crackle-pop that the Soldier categorized as a compound elbow fracture followed by a severe shoulder separation. He grinned, before finishing his spin, now completely behind the vamp. He gripped the Hostile’s head and jaw, executing a vicious opposing push-pull that snapped the neck with an audible crack. He released him, knowing the injuries put him was out of commission for at least half a day, time he wouldn’t be allowed to have. Xander glanced down at the vamp, who lay twitching every so often at his feet. He scoffed.
She was still trying to pick her jaw off the floor. That was Xander! Her Xander! The same guy who babysat her, watching goofy movies and telling the funniest stories. Just destroying some vamp because he had the audacity to touch her! If she wasn’t already crushing him something fierce, she would be now. Especially with the way he looked so yummy in black.
“Wicked nice work, stud.” Faith speaking with that breathy voice she so wanted to copy.
“Well, the fact that he was an idiot helped much.” Classic Xand-man, can’t take a compliment.
“So, why ain’t the idiot dust yet?” He turned to Dawn.
“I thought I’d let Dawnie handle it.” He held out a stake. She could see they had matching smirks on their faces. Oh, how cute?
She finally found her voice. “S-say what?” Really cool, Dawn.
Their smirks turned to grins. What is this, Olympic synchronized satisfaction? “Well, he wanted to kill you, now you get to kill him, it’s. . . poetic.” Xander shrugged adorably.
“O-okay?” Look, Dawn, the scare’s over, you’re gonna have to get some cool here soon or else this could be ugly. Or uglier.
“Catch.” He tossed her the stake, she fumbled it a bit, but congratulated herself for not dropping it. Wow, her first staking! This is gonna be so cool! She walked forward, clutching the stake tightly. The vamp was still twitching there. It reminded her of those nature specials she saw in science class, when they pull fish out of water and it would flop on the deck. She still couldn’t believe Xander wrecked a vamp for her. She grinned.
She stood there for a moment, looking for something appropriately witty for her audience. But the vamp’s eyes were rolling back in his head, and Faith was her normally cool self, tapping her foot mock-impatiently with an amused look. Xander just had his head tilted, like a puppy. A bad puppy. A dangerous puppy. She just grinned brightly before staking the vamp, who looked almost relieved it was over. So was she, for that matter. She giggled, for no reason except to release tension. Her first vamp! She started hopping in a circle, still giggling. She could hear them laughing at her, but she just didn’t care.
Well, Baby D dusted her first vamp. She smiled, satisfied. She always dug Dawnie, not nearly the stick in the mud B could be. And the fact she was a part of this “first” made her feel special.
“Go Dawnie.” She smiled proudly. “Staking your first evil bloodsucker.” She winked. Dawn continued her dance of joy, obviously preening. Xander just sat back, like a proud papa or something, taking in the scene. Dawn stopped her celebration and stared at X
“Xander, you freak!” She hit him on the shoulder. “When did you learn how to fight?”
“Here and there,” he shrugged non-committally.
“Wait,” Dawn held her hand up, pensively. She turned to Faith. “You taught him right? Because that cow of a sister of mine sure wouldn’t.”
“Dawn,” he spoke sharply. He tried to keep Baby D from dissing the Slayer-Princess too often. Not that Faith cared one iota. Dawn looked only partially contrite.
“And besides,” Xander glanced at her briefly before looking back at Dawnie. “Faith did show me a thing or two.” Huh? What’s he playing at? She stared at X, but his expression shushed her. Dawn turned back to Faith, who nodded and shrugged.
“Yeah, I showed him something all right,” she turned to X and smirked. “Maybe not what I want to show him, yet. But yeah, a lil’ sumthin’ to help him out.” Dawn giggled mischievously.
Xander rolled his eyes and smiled. “So anyways,” obviously changing the subject. “Could you do me a favor, though, Dawn Patrol?”
Dawn blushed, glanced at the ground before lifting her gaze again. “Anything, Xand-man.” She blushed again.
“Can you keep that between the three of us?” Oh, that X is a slick one. She shook her head, fighting back a smile.
Dawn preened again, “One condition?” Dawn sent a blend of their own smirk back at them. Faith and X stared at each other for a moment, lips twitching. They turned back to Dawn and each raised an eyebrow, the same eyebrow, almost in unison.
Dawn giggled. “Do you practice that?”
They both chuckled. “Yeah, Baby D, in between kicking ass and taking names.” She smirked right back at Dawn. Ya can’t top the master, young Grass-hopper.
“The condition?” X asked, still grinning.
Dawn looked at him, then looked at her, then looked at him again. She sighed dramatically, dragging out the moment. Faith rolled her eyes while X just shook his head.
“Okay, fine.” Dawn paused. At that exact moment, Dawn’s stomach growled, loudly. She blushed madly while X and Faith busted out laughing.
“Lemme guess,” Faith chuckled. “Dinner?”
Dawn was so embarrasses, all she could do was nod.
X regained control. “Lucky for you, Dawn Patrol.” He glanced at Faith again. “We know just the spot.”
Secure Satellite Telephone Call transcript:
From Subject (Mars) to Subject (Kodiak)
January, Same Night, 1999.
Joined in Progress
K: You know about the new situation?
M: I heard. ThreatCon?
K: The damage is malleable. We do lose an Eye though
M: Affirmative, Janus is presently incoming. He’s a strong asset.
K: Agreed. He has been good for a lot of valuable Intel lately, he’s a sly one.
M: True, true. Well Jack will just have to watch himself, then.
K: …(snort) ….
M: By the by, Nemo has been putting on quite a show as of late.
K: Yeah, he flashed a lot of potential during the summer, more than what we normally get from an Eye, but from what I’ve seen, he’s improved a lot, especially since he got field sanctioned.
M: Improved enough to warrant the Next Phase? In your opinion?
K: You already know what I think, Boss. Granted, Normals don’t usually have a shot to be One of The Ten, but Nemo has a chance. He’s got something special to him, a Spark.
M: Agreed, I saw that a while back. I will set up a Contact soon, see how it plays out.
K: You want me to handle it. He and I already have a history.
M: Hmm. . . I appreciate the offer, but I think I’ll handle it myself.
M: Affirmative. It’s actually past due, really. Besides, we need you for an Op. After all, we did lose an Eye, as you previously stated. We need to monitor any after-effects from the inside. I’ll send you the Mission Parameters shortly.
K: No problem. Be in touch.
M: Good Hunting
Later that night
“Hey Boss.” Mr. Trick stood in the doorway to the Mayor’s Office. “Got some news about our ‘Lone Ranger’ friend.” Wilkins looked up from his dinner and smiled broadly. He placed a flask of blood-wine on the table.
“Please, come in, have a seat, have a drink, and do tell. But wipe your feet first.” Trick complied, before fixing his beverage. He took a long sip.
“That hit the spot. Well, anyway, one of my LT’s saw the Vamp Meet Massacre. He said it was two-man team, boy and girl. The operation was smooth as silk, cold, real professional-like. Easy in, easy out. He couldn’t be sure, the holy water fog kept him from getting too close, but he believes the girl was the brunette Slayer, Faith.” Trick shrugged. “Sounds like a good theory, but that SWAT bullshit normally ain’t her bag.”
“Language, Trick. Obviously she’s learned some new tricks, probably from our Mystery Man. No ID on ‘Nemo’ then?” He flashed air quotes.
“Not yet, Boss,” Trick leaned in and smiled coolly. “But it’s only a matter of time.”
Wilkins beamed. “Excellent, excellent.” He wiped his hands. “Oh, Sorry. Where are my manners?” He offered a small packet to Trick. “Wet nap?”