ch. 10 Vindicated
I would just like to apologize for the super long wait on this chapter. I initially started writing this chapter back in August when my friend Chiyo-chan finally finished the Anita Blake books and read my story. She sent me the following e-mail review:
How can you freaking leave it at that point! What the hell is wrong with you, why don’t you freaking update you freaking retard. UPDATE!!
And Chiyo proceeded to hound me everyday whenever we went out until I promised to write more of the story. However I started writing it at work and the computer crashed and got taken away by IT for several months. When it came back the half-done chapter was erased and I took it as a sign and didn’t continue.
But Chiyo wouldn’t let it die and I continued to receive reviews from other readers so I rewrote what I lost which is now different and finished the chapter.
This chapter is for Chiyo because without her hounding I would not have finished it.
You can e-mail her thanks if you want at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you enjoy the chapter and thanks everyone for reviewing because it motivated me to go on and finish what I started.
Chapter 10 Vindicated
Like the diamond in your ring
Cut to mirror your intention
Oversized and overwhelmed
The shine of which has caught my eye
Faith had taken off after her confrontation with B because she had wanted to calm down before she dealt with the Asher and Jean-Claude. She wasn't stupid she knew they'd seen the whole thing and while she wanted to come clean with Asher she didn't want Jean-Claude knowing anything he could use against her. So she was going to have to fudge some details and she needed to be in control of her emotions so that they would not sense the dishonesty in some of her explanations.
Now it was time to go back. She was annoyed because in her old world she would have gone demon hunting and worked out all her tension but here demons were all but obsolete. Few had crossed over during the dimension merging. Lorne had and so had Spikes skin drooping friend Clay or whatever his name is. Annoying PTB demons had also crossed like that Whistler guy who was always dropping in to talk to Angel with cryptic messages and bad fashion sense. For tonight she had settled for a very underground shifter and vampire fighting club. It wasn't to the death but everything else pretty much went. It was very intense because they could take alot of damage but even then she had to hold back.
Much looser and definitely calmer she headed back to the Circus and headed in. She was able to slip into her rooms and quickly jumped into the shower to wash away the blood and sweat.
It was dawn already and she knew Asher and Jean-Claude had already retreated to their coffins. God she’d never get used to that. Coffins for god’s sake… it was weird to know they had to sleep during the day. Angel and Spike were still up and about no matter what time of day. A perk of being from another reality. Of course their line was the only one known for being able to do so and it wasn’t advertised so if you didn’t already know you didn’t have a chance of finding out.
She laid down but sleep would not come. Something wasn’t right. She stretched out her senses and then got up and followed. She walked deeper and deeper into the circus underground until she reached a door. She hesitated for a moment and then pushed the door and went in.
The room had coffins in it. She walked in deeper pulled by her feeling and stopped by a coffin. Somehow she knew Asher was in their and somehow she also knew he was not resting peacefully. She placed a hand on the smooth surface and whispered “shh sleep I’m here” After a few moments the feelings calmed and she walked off to her room. She fell asleep easily.
* * *
And rendered me so isolated, so motivated
I am certain now that I am...
Annie walked off the plane in L.A. and was met by Edward. His face impassive and his eyes burned coldly. Edward was pissed at whoever had dared try and grab Dawn. Annie had never understood what it was about Dawn that made people want to protect her even when they were supposed to be cold-blooded killers.
Maybe it was some extra protection the monks had woven in when they made her so that she would call to her strong and able protectors. She’d had Spike wrapped around her finger when he hadn’t had a soul and it hadn’t had anything to do with her. She could admit it now. She hadn’t missed this. The fear that had gripped her every time something happened to Dawn. The fear that clutched her heart and clenched her stomach whenever Dawn was kidnapped.
She hadn’t felt this way since Sunnydale. She wasn’t sure if she liked it or not. Having emotions had almost killed her last time before she learned to shut them off and filter. It hurt too much to feel so she made herself stop but she hadn’t ever really stopped just repressed and now it was flooding through the gates. And she was so mad. Someone had dared to grab her sister and she was going to make them pay. They had taken Dawn and forced her back into L.A. to confront old demons and have all her emotions fighting to break free.
Annie slung her bag over her shoulder eyes flat and cold and met Edward. Together they walked out death hovering in the air around them. Yes someone was going to pay.
* * * *
I am selfish
I am wrong
I am right
I swear I'm right
Swear I knew it all along
Cordelia had tied her up in a chair. For a moment she flashed back to sophomore year when Marcy kidnapped her but she quickly pushed that from her mind. Just as she pushed back any doubts that occurred to her. She was right to do this.
They had ruined her life and they would all pay for it. She would start with this girl that reminded her of the woman responsible for ruining her life. Stealing the man she loved and then later on the son she’d raised as her own. Never mind that he had never really been hers it was still all Buffy’s fault. It always had been.
And then Connor had to go and fall for a Buffy clone. It made her see red. What was so great about Buffy anyways? She’d always been whining and when she wasn’t doing that she was being an arrogant stuck up bitch that thought she was better than everyone else.
Cordelia fought all the parts deep down that rebelled over what she was doing. The part buried deep down that was the old Cordelia. The Cordelia who had lacked tact and was painfully blunt but had deep down inside cared and done the right thing. The Cordelia who was long since dead.
Ghosts and shadows of the past.
She sharpened her knife and turned back to the tied up girl. She would have her revenge and without another thought to the past plunged her knife into the girl’s shoulder bringing her back to consciousness with pain.
Before the girl could do more than gasp she twisted the knife. As she looked into the girls blue eyes she saw another girl’s eyes.
A girl with hazel-green eyes who’d stolen everything from her. Who from the moment she’d entered Cordelia’s life had shoved her into the background. And she rejoiced in finally causing her to feel the pain that Cordelia herself had suffered through.
And as the girl began to struggle and fight the shell that had once been Cordelia began to laugh and the insanity that had hidden within showed clearly.
Cordelia was dead and had been for a very long time.
* * *
And I am flawed
But I am cleaning up so well
Faith didn’t know why she suddenly woke up but knew that something was wrong. The slayer bond had grown stronger over the years and for once she was feeling lots of emotions coming through. Buffy had been repressing for years so why was she suddenly pouring so much out. Something wasn’t right. She could feel rage and a good amount of fear. Worry for someone else. It made her head hurt and she tried to filter more out. It also felt far away that wasn’t right. Buffy was in St. Louis with her. She rolled out of bed and snagged the first puppy she could grab.
“Yo Jason you know Buf – I mean Annie” Faith asked stopping him.
“Umm yeah if you know Anita you pretty much met her. They hang out a lot.” Jason said
“Got her phone number?” Faith asked.
Jason stopped and pursed his lips. He wasn’t sure he should give it to her and Faith could tell.
“You won’t get in trouble. Trust me even if Annie gets pissed off I won’t tell her you gave it to me. She won’t mind though me and her go way back. You can ask Anita later if you don’t believe me.” Faith told him
“How far back” Jason asked curious.
“She’s my sister” Faith admitted and she wasn’t lying they weren’t sisters by blood but in every other way they were. Right down to the jealousy and boyfriend stealing.
“Oh” Jason said and since he didn’t sense any lies he rattled off the number, which she quickly memorized.
She smiled her thanks and went back to her room. She searched for her cell phone for about 10 minutes before remembering she’d broken it the night before and had yet to replace it. She went to the side phone and dialed out. It rang for what seemed forever then all she got was the machine.
She waited a half hour and then tried again but still no answer. Something wasn’t right. She looked at the time and realized it was almost time for the vamps to wake up. She knew JC would summon her so she decided to shower and dress. She had to be in control to get through this.
In her head she was already putting her story together. As she stepped out of the shower she looked in the steamed mirror and noticed the gashes and bruises had all but faded away. Her healing had gotten a lot faster over the years just one of the perks of super advanced slayer healing. She sighed and headed into her room to change. Asher was sitting on the bed.
"Hey I was just going to go look for you" she said feeling awkward under his piercing gaze.
"Were you?" he asked softly his gaze never wavering.
"Yeah I figured you'd want to know what that was all about" Faith told him shifting her stance a bit.
"You figured right but I'm not the only one. Jean-Claude and Anita are waiting for us." Asher told her.
She let out a sigh and got a resigned look on her face.
"Lead the way" she said and Asher gave her a look.
"You might want to dress first." Asher told her.
She looked down at herself in surprise and then flushed. She was so comfortable in his presence she hadn't even realized she hadn't changed yet. She threw on a tank top and leather pants. She had assumed they were going to Jean-Claude's office but instead he led her to the private rooms section.
Faith strolled into the room as if she didn't have a care in the world. Jean-Claude was sitting in a high backed chair and Anita stood by him with a very uncommon thoughtful look on her face. Faith out of habit noted all the exits and entrances.
She had expected Asher to go stand by JC but he stayed beside her. She would have shot him a surprised look but caught the look on JC’s face and realized he had expected the same and was thrown as well. She looked towards Anita who was still thoughtful but a bit of amusement was there.
She wasn’t sure what she felt Asher was standing by her and without even knowing the whole story he was already on her side. It was humbling to know he felt that deeply for her.
She had always been the outsider of every group. The problem child with more issues than the whole group combined. Faith was the one whose flaws had always shown so clearly.
But Asher was different he didn’t see those flaws. She didn’t know what he saw in her but whatever it was he obviously liked it.
It was a strange moment when Richard came in and stood with Jean-Claude and Anita. Richard was never around not unless he had business with Jean-Claude or came for one of his puppies.
She’d only seen him a handful of times. He looked a bit annoyed to be here and didn’t look worried so she figured he had a date with Anita and had to wait till after this, which caused the annoyance.
“I believe you’ve been keeping secrets” Jean-Claude began.
Faith couldn’t help but smile at that.
“Doesn’t everyone” she murmured knowing they’d all hear that but looking at him meaningfully.
If vampires could flush she was sure JC would be pink. Anita was giving him a death glare and Richard was also looking at him startled. Someone was leaking and she’d bet anything it was Anita. The woman didn’t seem too in control of her emotions. Maybe she shouldn’t have told her. She was trying to think over the ramifications.
“Anne knows you. You called her your sister even if you used a different name.” Anita said looking at her.
“She is my sister.” Faith said then sighed “I haven’t seen her in about 5 years. She just took off with Dawn. We looked for a while then I decided to just let her be and respected that. Angel is still religious in his search for her. He picks up a trail and runs with it until it dies down. That confrontation will be very ugly.”
“You do not smell related” Richard stated.
“Adopted” Faith countered “I was about 16 almost 17 when her mom took me in. We either got along like sisters or fought like enemies. Despite it we are family.”
The door opened and Jason stuck a head in warily.
“The master of Sunnydale is on the phone asking to speak with Faith he says it’s urgent” Jason said holding the cordless in his hands.
Faith’s insides clenched and she knew.
Before anyone could object she had taken the phone.
“What do you want?” she asked hiding her fear in anger but she knew they smelled it.
“WHY THE BLOODY HELL DON’T YOU HAVE YOUR BLODDY PHONE ON! I’VE BEEN TRYING TO GET IN CONTACT WITH YOU FOR HOURS” Spike ranted a bit more but she’d pulled the phone away wincing at the first word.
She knew everyone had heard him.
“Fucking shit chill I broke it now what the fuck do you want” Faith said stomach clenched tight.
“The bits gone, taken her apartment showed a struggle. Connor’s going nuts. He’s out combing the city as we speak and has since last night when she disappeared. He called Buffy she’s on her way.” Spike said all discretion gone.
“No she’s already there I’ve felt it all day. This is bad. Book me the first flight out…. No wait is Fred there cause I need a portal a flight is just too long and by then who knows what will happen. Buffy is going to kill him if he doesn’t kill her first. Oh damn it blood is so hard to get out of the carpet and don’t get me started on the dry cleaning bills.” Faith told him.
“Maybe they won’t sense each other or run into each other” Spike said hopeful.
“Don’t be naïve he already knows she’s there. If he wasn’t out looking for Dawn he’d have already tracked her down. He doesn’t have any chainsaws handy does he? Hide them before he gets back with whoever nabbed Dawn I don’t feel like spending months getting the stains out. And hide your railroad spikes while you’re at it he’ll probably go for them in absence of the chainsaw.” Faith told him.
“With that in mind we’ll have to hide all sharp objects” Spike told her.
Faith sighed in frustration
“Angel did always excel at torture let’s hope he does a clean kill this time though doubtful considering who they nabbed. Give me 10 to pack a bag and then have Fred pop in. You go and try to calm Angelus back into Angel. Don’t antagonize him and if he runs into Buffy before I get there for god’s sake don’t let them kill each other” Faith said and hung up.
She turned back to the varying expressions of horror (Richard), interest (JC), and disgust (Anita). She had forgotten they were there again.
“I’ll be back but I’ve not sure when” Faith told them.
“The deal-“ JC started but Faith cut him off.
“There is no deal if the bride is dead. Dawn is missing and right now they’re searching the city for her. Buffy has gone to L.A. and its more than likely that once Dawnie is safe Angel and Buffy will turn on each other like rabid dogs so I kinda have to be there make sure they stay alive” Faith told him.
“Buffy?” Richard questioned.
“Buffy Anne Summers known to you as Anne Forrester” Faith told him.
“Her name used to be Buffy? I’d have changed it too.” Anita said dryly.
Faith turned to leave and Asher suddenly said “I’m going with you”
Faith whirled around and looked at him wide eyed. Pandemonium broke out. Jean-Claude was arguing against it and Richard was asking if that was wise given the circumstances and the mood the Master of L.A was in. Anita was yelling at Jean-Claude that with all he’d done already he shouldn’t interfere anymore.
“Would you deny me this?” Asher asked looking right at Jean-Claude.
JC shook his head.
“No I won’t deny you but you do not have permission to enter. Without warning to enter the city could be interpreted in a hostile way especially at the moment” Jean-Claude said
“I won’t let her go alone.” Asher said
Faith looked at Asher in amazement. No one had ever worried about her like that. Well Angel didn’t count because he worried about her like a super overprotective brother. Asher worried about her like a lover. Most of her old lovers hadn’t even stuck around or if they had treated her like crap. Spike had known she was a slayer and could take care of herself but hadn’t cared about her emotions or worried at all.
“You can come just stick with me and they’ll leave you alone” Faith said the left to grab her bag. She quickly stuff in a couple of outfits and a few weapons she’d smuggled in to St. Louis. She met up with Asher halfway back to the meeting room.
No sooner had they stepped in when the portal swirled into life in a blue-violet tear.
“Faith” Fred called stepping through. Her hair was all mussed, glasses askew and looked as if she’d spent the night sleepless.
“Fred how bad is it?” Faith asked slinging her bag over her shoulder.
“Bad. Combine how he reacted when Connor was kidnapped, when he thought Buffy died, and when he went Angelus and you’ve got how he is now. Gunn’s with him now and Spike went out to catch up. Connor’s searching alone,” Fred told her.
“Shit.” Faith cursed.
“He knows she’s there. I was with him when he felt her come into the city. He’s pissed but relieved and happy that she’s back. If Dawn wasn’t missing he’d have gone hunting for her.” Fred told her.
“Its because Dawn is missing that she went back” Faith said simply.
Fred’s eyes widened at the implications.
“This is Asher he’s coming with us. Keep your trigger happy husband away from him because I like him alive…. Well undead whatever” Faith said.
Fred barely spared him a glance.
“Gunn will behave. Lets go I can’t hold the portal much longer” Fred said and went back through it.
“You may feel a bit dizzy after we get there so be prepared” Faith warned and went through.
Asher looked at the portal apprehensively and then went through. After he stepped through on the other side his head spun a bit and the portal popped out of existence behind him.
* * * * *
I am seeing in me now
the things you swore you saw yourself
Faith was struggling to not think as she raced through the streets of L.A. with Asher and Spike of all people.
Her current beau and her ex and she was thankful that they were to busy combing the city for them to have it out. She tried to ignore the underlying tension between the three of them.
Spike had lost Angel or as he put it
“The bloody pouf knocked me out said I was slowing him down” Spike had said outraged. “what he meant was he was going track down whoever took the bit, kill them , and then go looking for big sis”
Faith hadn’t doubted it either. When it came to Buffy, Angel had tunnel vision.
As they searched she prayed they would get there before Buffy ran into Angel or vice versa.
She also marveled at how well Asher was taking this situation. He’d gotten Spike to back off with a look when he’d made a beeline for her to question her on Asher.
She could tell by the grin Spike had gotten that he’d gotten the message loud and clear and that he knew she was off limits now.
Spike also had that smug I-know-something-you-don’t look on his face that made her want to smack it off.
After they’d done the male ego thing they’d exchanged nods without saying a word as if coming to some sort of understanding.
She was not happy with this at all.
Asher looked over at her and smiled. Faith caught her breath, he was breathtaking.
And with that one look Faith understood. He loved her and lord help her she loved him back.
Somehow along the way she’d fallen in love with him.
She pushed that to the back of her mind she’d deal with it later.
“This way I smell fresh blood. Lots of it” Spike said going faster.
Spike led them to a warehouse and they slowly sneaked in.
She stopped abruptly as she caught sight of Buffy her clothes were drenched in blood and she was holding Cordelia’s head.
A blonde man who also had blood on him was untying a not so steady looking Dawn who had a lot of wounds from what Faith could see.
Those two obviously got to Cordelia first. Faith’s mind was boggling. Cordelia of all people.
Okay so she was an uberbitch but she’d never thought of her as a kidnapper. Or torturer as was obvious from the condition lil sis was in.
Then a blur went by her and she realized it was Connor as he stopped abruptly by the man who was cradling Dawn in his arms and pointing a gun at him to keep him away.
As Angel came in slowly Faith groaned silently. So much for hoping they wouldn’t run into each other.
* * * * *
So, turn up the corners of your lips
Part them and feel my finger tips
Trace the moment, fall forever
10 minutes earlier
Buffy had followed Edward on the search before stopping abruptly. She felt like a moron. She had wasted so much time.
She touched her necklace which Dawn had made her and closed her eyes. She reached out with her senses to track down her sister.
The necklace was the anchor for her search. Dawn had made it for this reason. If something happened to her Dawn could find her. If something happened to Dawn she could find her.
She’d been running on fear and panic for her sister’s safety she’d forgotten about it.
“This way” She said eyes snapping open and heading in the way she sensed Dawn.
Edward followed without a word but as they reached the warehouse his eyes turned colder than she’d seen them in a long while. They both took out their weapons and sneaked in.
Buffy saw red as she saw the state her sister was in. And it boiled over when she saw that it was Cordelia standing over her with the knife.
She moved fast… supernaturally fast and knew she would be answering to Edward later.
She couldn’t find it in her to care. She yanked Cordelia away from Dawn and threw her back. Cordelia hit the ground stunned but quickly scrambled back up.
“Buffy” Cordelia hissed hatefully as she realized who it was that had stopped her from making the killing blow.
She got up and swiped at her with the knife but missed as Buffy sidestepped.
She lunged forward again but never made it as she got shot from behind. The bullet used was one of Edward’s special made one that took out half her chest. Blood splattered all over her and Edward who was right behind Cordelia.
Buffy had pulled her sword seconds after the shot and removed Cordelia’s head.
Obviously Edward was still two seconds ahead of her in the killing department. They shared a look and Edward went over to untie Dawn.
Buffy bent to pick up Cordelia’s head. She ignored Faith, Asher and Spike as they came in.
She just closed her eyes and dealt with the first plain human life she’d taken. And while she was Buffy and not her emotionless version Anne.
Anne wouldn’t have been bothered but she wasn’t Anne she was Buffy. And she finally let herself stop hiding from herself. She was Buffy just as much as she was Anne. Suppressing hadn’t helped so now she would have to face it all head one.
No more running.
Her eyes snapped open as she felt him enter. She ignored the blur that was Conner heading for Dawn.
She focused intently on the man walking in behind everyone. She drank in his features. It had been so long since she’d seen him and the dreams did not count.
His eyes were older but lighter. Less guilt shown in them and they held shadows that hadn’t been there before. And she knew she wasn’t the only one who had changed.
He walked straight to her and stopped right in front of her.
“Buffy” he said softly.
The years seemed to melt between them.
“Angel” She said back just as softly.
She didn’t know who moved but suddenly they were in each others arms kissing. And for a moment she let herself soften. It had been so long since she’d let herself feel this way.
And she was happy for those few moments. She forgot about the world outside them. The ones watching with open mouths.
The world where her sister was hurt and where she didn’t want to have to go and explain the Edward what was going on. So she let herself forget for a moment and lost herself in the perfect moment.
She had forgotten how right this had always felt. Reluctantly she broke away from him. She looked deep into his eyes and hauled off and punched him.
Just one touch and I'd be in
Too deep now to ever swim against the current
So let me slip away
song is vindicated by dashboard confessional