|Hearts in Darkness
Author: poe1911 PM
This is the second in the Series about Ian the Seraph. Everyone rallies to face evil down under.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Dawn S. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 13,010 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Updated: 04-20-05 - Published: 04-05-05 - id: 2338165
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is the second in my tales of Ian the Seraph. It takes up where the first left off. Joss and Mutant Enemy own most of the characters, but Ian, Janice, Daniel, Father Knowles, Allana and Cardinal Husakos are mine, use only with permission please. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, so if you have something to say, feel free. As always, thanks to Peaches and Banadar for great Beta reading.
In action, how like an angel. William Shakespeare.
THE SERAPH – HEARTS IN DARKNESS
Dawn and I sat in the fountain talking and ignoring the party that was going on around us. After a couple of hours, Dawn's friend spoke up "hey Dawn, are we still on for dinner?"
Dawn looked at her, and then at me, I just raised an eyebrow. "Sure" she said, turning back to her friend; "one more is no problem, is it?"
Her friend shot a grin back, "the more the merrier."
We got out of the fountain and tried to dry off a bit. Her friend was just standing there, and Dawn finally remembered her manners. "Ian, this is Allana, she attends Robert Belarmine University with me; Allana, this is Ian, we knew each other in California."
I shook her hand "so, what are you studying?" "Ancient Religions and Business Management", she replied.
"Not the most usual combination" I said, "do you like it?"
We headed towards the restaurant as Allana went on about cults and demon worship. Dawn and I were having quite the mental chuckle, thinking 'if she only knew'. I was happy to realize that Dawn had been learning to better use her mystical energy, she now had a constant tap running and I could tell that she was comfortable using it. We arrived and joined the rest of Dawn's friends. I was introduced as a student from the United States, doing advanced work in Early Christianity and Ethics. Dawn told a very highly edited version of our meeting two years ago, about how I had saved her from a biker gang, or something. I was a most pleasant evening, but eventually, the party broke up.
"I see that you have been improving your social skills", Dawn said.
"Well" I replied, "someone told me they could use some work, so I took it as good advice." Dawn just blushed a bit, remembering that conversation. She and I headed back to the apartment that she and Buffy shared. I was surprised to learn that Andrew was just next door, and now functioned as Buffy's secretary. We got to her building and she turned towards me.
We held each other and finally I leaned my head into her shoulder, "how I've missed you. I've thought of no-one else since we parted, I wanted to talk to you hundreds of times, but the time just never seemed right. I had to learn a lot about myself, I'm just sorry it took so long."
"That's OK" she said, "I had a bit of growing up to do myself".
I looked at her, lost again in her sky-blue eyes. I found that I didn't want to look away, and we slowly merged together into a tender kiss. I was surprised that both our eyes stayed open, somehow it just seemed right. What didn't seem right was the rather insistent tap on my shoulder.
"OK, time to breathe you two."
We broke apart, but continued to face each other, "hey Buffy" I said.
I could feel her getting a bit angry "Ian, Mr. I love you, now I'm gone Ian?" "Mr. I want Buffy to perform brain surgery with her fists if he doesn't let go of my sister Ian?"
"Yes" I said, "Mr. I catch dippy slayers as they jump off buildings onto moving busses Ian." I turned to face her, "looking good Buffy, I can see why 'The Immortal' was interested." "You are much more at peace with yourself, now."
She looked a bit confused, "thanks, I guess" but then she was back up in my face, "So, you're here now, how soon till you ditch her again" indicating Dawn.
"Not for quite some time, I hope" I pulled an envelope out of my shirt, and handed it to Buffy. (fortunately it was very high grade paper, so the bit of water from the fountain hadn't damaged it) "I need to see these people at this address at noon, three days from now."
She opened the envelope. Her eyes widened to see where it had come from and got even wider when she saw where the meeting was. Finally looking at me, over the top of the letter she said "you can't be serious; no way, no freakin' way is this gonna happen." I just looked at her, and pushed a bit of my essence into her eyes. "OK, maybe it could happen, but why?"
"I've promised not to tell, but believe me, it is definitely worth your time", I answered. I turned back to Dawn. I could see that she was curious, but she just looked at me. "Same time, same place tomorrow" I asked. She nodded. I gave her a quick kiss and left the sisters alone.
HEARTS IN DARKNESS II
The next day, I was waiting on the Spanish Steps when I saw her arrive. Her senses were up, and she could feel me before she saw me. I waved and we wandered off. In theory, we were looking at churches. In actuality, we were seeing if we truly were still in love with each other. We seemed to mesh together perfectly, but I wasn't going to push. We got more detailed about our two years apart. She had met some guys and dated, but nothing serious. I said that I hadn't had any time to even try a relationship. Even if I had time, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't have tried. It was very open and also very uncomfortable, because we couldn't lie without the other knowing it. "So" I asked, "how's Buffy been doing?"
"OK" Dawn answered "she was a bit put out when 'The Immortal' dumped her, but she seems to be really happy for the first time."
"I'm sorry about her getting dumped, it must not have been fun for you."
"Why should you be sorry; its just one of those things that happens."
I shook my head "actually, it's entirely my fault that he dumped her."
I felt about two inches tall "he was using the relationship to distract her from some of his activities." "You know that break in at the Vatican Crypts a few months later; the one that she stopped?" Dawn nodded. "That was his play, he had been hoping that she would be 'unavoidably detained' at the time."
"So, how did you get him to leave her alone?"
"Simple, I told him that if he didn't, I'd kill him."
She looked at me, almost scared, "he's 'The Immortal', how could you kill him?"
"With this." I removed a dagger from where it was strapped to my back. "It was a gift from Gabriel. He/she said that if I was going to be mixing it up with non-humans, then I should have something that would kill them. I have been assured that it will kill anything from another plane, dimension or alternate reality. It can also kill powerful enchanted beings that are afraid of death."
She gave a smirk, "like 'The Immortal', you mean." She extended her hand towards it, but stopped short. "I can feel the power in this, so much for such a small object" She extended her senses further, "it feels alive, like your sword did, but more so." I just nodded. "But why should you care about what happens to Buffy" she asked.
I looked very closely at the floor; "I didn't, not about Buffy, the fear was that he would use threats against the people she loved if she didn't go along with his schemes." I looked right into her eyes "that, I could not permit; and I told him so".
She thought for a minute, "thanks for caring" she said.
"I do" I said quietly "and you're welcome." We were close to my apartment, so I asked her if she wanted to come up and just hang out. "Sure" she answered, "but let me check in first." She pulled out a cell phone and called her sister. After a brief, non yelling, conversation; she put it away and came over. "She said OK, but we have to meet her for dinner."
"Not a problem" I said; and we went up to my little flat. It was just three small rooms, but it suited my purposes. The first thing she noticed was my Escher prints. I have five. I like them because they remind me that perspective means a lot. Dawn seemed to like them as well, hey, score one for me. The best thing about it was a fabulous view of the Tiber which is the next thing she noticed. While she was taking in the view, I was loading up some music. She turned and saw what I was doing.
"Please, not that Wilson, piano banging guy."
"No" I replied, "it's not George Winston" I said, with some exasperation. I was walking towards her when the music of 'Counting Crows' started playing.
"Not bad" was her only comment.
"Yeah, well someone suggested that I should broaden my musical horizons; again, good advice." She blushed, but looked pleased. I held her in my arms, and we slowly danced around my minimum of apartment. Fortunately, we couldn't be energetic without breaking something. As we held each other, each was sharing the others essence; learning more about each other than words would have told. Slowly, we started kissing, as the music played on. I have no idea how far it would have gone if Dawn hadn't seen my clock.
"We need to leave" she whispered.
"I know" I mumbled back into her neck, "but I don't wanna let you go."
"Sorry" she said, breaking away, "but its time." I just nodded, grabbed a jacket, turned the stereo off and followed her to the restaurant.
HEARTS IN DARKNESS III
Dinner with Buffy was fun. She gave us quite a look when we came in together, but she didn't say anything. We chatted about what had happened in the last two years, about slaying and slayers and supernatural occurrences. We went to a club afterwards. I had a ball dancing, but I couldn't compare to Buffy. She was all over the dance floor, just having fun. She was openly flirting with every guy in the place. I had never seen her this care-free. I knew that that would change, but for the time being, I hoped that it wouldn't. Dawn and I got in our share of dancing. Other guys asked her to dance, she looked at me and raised an eyebrow; I just nodded and she went dancing off with them. I made my way to the bar, just for water, when I felt Buffy at my shoulder. "Do you still love her?" I just nodded.
She thought for a moment "she's ready to be on her own, isn't she."
"Yeah" I agreed "but she will never stop needing you."
She looked pleased for a second, but a rather grim look took over. Anticipating her next statement I held up my hand; "I know, if I hurt her, I'm highly sanctified roadkill." She grinned and nodded and said "as long as we're clear on that."
I was ready for another go, so back to the dance-floor I went. It was getting late, and Buffy suggested that we call it a night. "I'm gonna be useless in the morning, and I'm supposed to pick up Will and Xander."
I told her that I would take care of that, after all, I had called the meeting. She told me their flight and ETA "Thanks" she said and looking at Dawn, "wow, a nice boyfriend, how unusual for you."
Dawn made a rude noise and stuck her tongue out at her sister.
I just laughed and after seeing them home, gave each a kiss (Buffy's on the cheek, of course) and went home. The next morning I called for a limo and after it picked me up, we proceeded to Leonardo Da Vinci airport. I felt a little stupid holding a sign that said 'Harris and Rosenberg', ah well, the price we pay for being nice. I could feel Willow coming and knew that Xander would be with her.
They saw me, and didn't recognize me immediately; "So, where are we off to", Xander asked.
I helped them collect their luggage and motioned them to follow. I was pleased to see that Xander now had both his eyes back; however, I also noticed that one was golden-brown and sparkely. I motioned towards his new eye, "how long did it take to grow back?"
They both looked a little surprised and then Willow took a better look at me. "Ian" she said "it's great to see you."
"Come on", I told them both, "the limo is this way". Once we were in the car I explained that both Dawn and Buffy were busy today, so I would be their host. "So, other than people with the last name of Summers, what do you want to see?"
We hit the usual spots, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Flavian Amphitheater (Coliseum). I also took them to some remarkable sculptures and St Peters. The whole while we were catching up on what had happened during the last two years. Willow was the head of coven near Stonehenge. It was taking up so much of her time that Kennedy finally got fed up and left. Xander was working with Giles; reforming the Watchers Council, outside Edinburgh.
"I still haven't met anyone" he said, shooting me a glance; "but I'm in the same boat as Will, no time".
I asked Xander if he minded bunking with me for a couple of days. "Sure" he replied. I told him not to expect too much. He said he didn't and we left it at that. I told Willow that she would be staying with Buffy and Dawn. "No surprise there" she replied.
Eventually we went to dinner. The reunion of the three amigos was heartwarming to see. Dawn and I kind of stayed in the background, ordering, clearing and paying, while they chatted and reminisced. Sorry to say, after a while, I was dead bored. I pointed to the rather grouchy waiters and suggested that we leave so they could clean up. Once we were in the limo, Dawn suggested a club. There were a couple of complaints that people weren't properly dressed for a club, but Willow was able to take care of that. Buffy and Dawn had fun dancing, especially with Xander. I danced with Dawn a bit, but mostly I sat and kept Willow company.
Eventually, I persuaded her onto the dance floor with me. She was a very good dancer, which surprised me. I figured her reluctance to dance meant that she was not that good. "It's been so long since I danced; I mean other than ceremonies, I wasn't sure that I would remember how". A slow song came on, and she surprised me again by continuing to dance with me. She was telling me about all of her duties when she felt me chuckling to myself. "Is my dancing funny after all?"
"No" I replied, "look over there".
She looked over to see Xander looking very put out; "what's up with him?"
"He bet me 20 euros that you wouldn't dance two dances with anyone, especially a guy."
She laughed, "Yeah, well you're safe, cause you're taken"; she gave me a very piercing glance, "you're very taken, aren't you?"
I just nodded and she settled back into my arms for the rest of the song. As we headed off the dance floor, Xander said "Will, what were you doing out there?"
"Dancing" she said, then dropped me a wink "and robbing cradles". She then fluttered her eyelashes right at me "Isn't that right stud muffin?"
Before I could acknowledge one way or the other, Buffy and Dawn nearly fell off their stools laughing at the expression on Xander's face. Will and I joined the laughter, and even Xander chimed in. I reminded everyone that tomorrow was a big day. We bundled the ladies into the limo and Xander and I walked to my place; which was pretty close.
We got ready for bed, I have one of those inflatable mattresses for these situations, when Xander spoke up. "You OK Ian?"
"Yeah" I replied, "just a little bummed out." He just raised his eyebrows and I continued. "I'm always on the go, saving and helping and healing, but I'm always dealing with problems. The last three days, no problems, just a chance to be me for a while, after tomorrow, it's back to work."
He gave me a little smirk "all work and no play etc…"
I nodded in agreement, "occupational hazard, as someone once told me".
He just smiled, remembering that conversation. "By the way" he said "thanks for the eye."
"You earned it."
He just snorted a denial. I raised up, so I could see his face "Xander, you are one of the bravest and best humans that I have ever encountered. You have no special powers, no great physical gift, and yet you stayed and helped when anyone else would have cut and run. You have the courage to do what needs to be done. Dawn told me that you once called her 'extraordinary', and I agree, but I believe it was a case of like recognizing like." He just nodded, eyes wide and rolled over. I lay back down and went to sleep.
HEARTS IN DARKNESS IV
It was a beautiful day, so Xander and I walked to the meeting. His eyes got wide when he realized where we were going. We got there a little early, so we eased around to the side entrance, and avoiding the 'closed for restoration work' signs, went in. There were already two people inside. One was a man, slightly older than myself, and looked Arabic in origin. The other was a slim Asian girl, no more that fourteen. I spoke up "Alexander Harris, allow me to present Daniel and Janice; my fellow Seraphs."
Eyes wide, he bowed to them, which they returned. "Mr Harris is a representative of the New Watchers Council."
Both looked a bit surprised "he is human?" Janice asked. "Yes I am" Xander said.
The ladies then arrived. They were a bit distracted by the surroundings. I made formal introductions. Janice got notably skittish when I mentioned that Buffy was a slayer. I gave Dawn a quick hug when the formalities were done. She smiled at me "a meeting in the Sistine Chapel".
"Well, it wasn't being used" I replied with a grin. At that moment a concealed door opened and a man in red robes entered. "Ladies and Gentlemen, his Grace, Cardinal Dmitri Husakos, the Vatican liason to the hidden world".
They bowed and he returned it. We sat and the Cardinal began "you have been invited here because of a mutual problem, in Australia." I saw Xander jump a bit when the cardinal mentioned Australia. "We were of course aware of the huge number of slayers created two years ago, and of your efforts to organize them. We did not interfere, as we have not for centuries, but we kept an eye out. Recently, we noticed that religious houses of all denominations were being destroyed in Australia, this went beyond simple vandalism. One of our cathedrals was equipped with security cameras. Imagine our surprise when we realized that these desecrators were exclusively young women. His Holiness asked Ian to see to this problem, and he thought that you would be able to help, as it is a slayer gang that is doing this."
Dawn spoke up "but why Ian, he's more of a fighter than negotiator."
The cardinal looked at the floor "we sent a 'negotiator', she was killed." He looked at Dawn "that is why Janice is so young, she's new."
Dawn sat down, looking shocked. The cardinal pulled out an 8x10 picture, "we believe that this is the person in charge, do you know her?"
He handed the picture to Willow. She gave a startled gasp "Kennedy".
Xander spoke up "we knew that there was a problem, we had sent her there to help properly organize the new slayers, as Kennedy was one of the most experienced. We lost contact a month ago; unfortunately we are too short handed to have done any more."
I asked Willow "how much magic does she know?"
"Not a lot" Willow replied "when I was becoming more and more involved, I tried to teach her a little so she would feel more at home, but she just didn't have the aptitude. We argued and she left"
"That was six months ago." Xander chimed in "she came to us after that and then three months ago we sent her there. At first she said everything was OK, then a month ago, just silence."
"Our information is that she didn't arrive there until a month ago; her arrival corresponds to the church attacks."
"I must go" I said "I think Buffy and Dawn should come with me." Dawn just nodded, but Buffy looked a bit alarmed.
"What about me?" Willow chimed in.
"You are too close, emotionally; I need you in reserve, the same with Xander."
"I know why you're going, and why I'm going; but why Dawn; are you that attached?"
"I am" I acknowledged "but if it was up to me, Dawn would stay here and be safe; but she will be needed."
Dawn looked pleased, but Buffy's eyes hardened, "why?"
"They can be prepared for religious involvement, or for physical assault, but Dawn is a wild card, completely outside of anyone's experience. They could expect you or me, but never her." Buffy didn't look thrilled but I could tell that she understood.
"So" Dawn asked, "just the three of us?"
"No" I replied "we'll need two others." I looked to the cardinal "Father Knowles, eminence?" The cardinal nodded. "And will the Vatican supply transportation?" He sighed and nodded again. "Then we need to be off."
"Thank you, and bless you children" the cardinal said. Daniel and Janice looked at us all and said "be careful". We bowed and they all left.
We went out the side door and wandered towards a little bistro. There wasn't much conversation; everyone seemed lost in their own thoughts. We sat down and ordered, then I went to make a phone call. When I returned Dawns friend Allana had joined us. I looked at Dawn and Buffy; "We're out of here at 8 a.m. tomorrow".
Allana just looked at Dawn, "where you off to?"
"Chicago" I answered for her. The conversation gradually picked up a bit. Again, Allana was going on about demons and such, and the rest of us just listened. Occasionally Xander would try to correct her a bit, but she didn't really listen to what he was saying. During a lapse in the conversation, Allana dropped her spoon. When she came back up, she had her spoon, and Kennedy's picture. "Hey, do you guys know Julie", she asked waving the picture.
"Yeah" Buffy answered, a little flustered "how do you know her?"
"Oh, she was here for a couple of months, said she was auditing some classes." "She asked some weird questions, it really threw the professor for a loop."
We exchanged looks, this was not good news. It was getting dark, and some of us had an early day the next day. We were taking a shortcut; when a vampire appeared.
"Wow, a nice dinner he said".
We just laughed at him "cut a wide swath, fang boy" Buffy said. The vamp looked incredulous, but began to realize that he was feeling energy coming off of some of us. Unfortunately, he was too stupid to know hat it meant; so his face changed and he advanced. Allana screamed and shrank back into Xander, the rest of us looked at each other wondering who was gonna dust this idiot.
Dawn spoke up "please Buffy; let me." She sighed but said "sure".
Dawn pulled the sword that I had given her out of the lining of her coat; and with a feral smile on her face went to face the vampire. The glow of the sword threw him, as did our lack of fear and Dawn's eagerness. He was just beginning to realize that he was in trouble, when Dawn charged him. Her speed was incredible. She ducked under a roundhouse right, and, still moving forward, cut deeply into the vamp's side. The vamp doubled over in pain, and Dawn took the opportunity to remove its head. Allana gasped when the vamp dusted. She was gaping at Dawn and the rest of us.
"Nice job" I told Dawn and the others applauded.
Dawn turned to Allana "most of what you know about demons is wrong, ask Xander, he'll explain everything." Dawn dropped me a little wink. As we turned towards home, we could hear Xander explaining the other world to Allana. All things considered, she took it pretty well.
HEARTS IN DARKNESS V
The next day saw us flying across the Atlantic to America. Buffy was sleeping and Dawn was reading; I was meditating. Willow had headed back to England to work with the coven to find out if anything mystical was going on. Xander was still in Rome 'recruiting' Allana for the Council. He had complained about the lack of music variety at my place, some things never change. The Vatican had lent us the use of one of its Gulfstreams, so we were flying in style. We were approaching Chicago, when Dawn spoke up "what about all these swords and stuff, you know with Customs?"
"We are officially diplomats from the Vatican; we cannot be detained or even questioned." I handed the two girls their ID's. Neither one liked her picture; typical, I figured.
Dawn looked over my shoulder to check out the picture on my ID. "Ian Winton?"
"Well" I replied, "it was my last name when I was younger".
"So" Buffy asked "why Chicago?"
"To pick up number four", I answered.
"The Faithful Remnants' are probably the strangest rock band in the world. They tour all the time (only small halls), they don't care about money (the Council pays them) and they are almost exclusively non-human. I had given Faith the idea back in Sunnydale, and surprisingly, Giles had gone along with it. It allowed Faith to identify and teach and organize new slayers. I knew that she liked the teaching part; being able to give others what she had never really had. I also knew that she loved singing and performing nearly every night. She was the only constant in 'The Faithful Remnants' the rest of the band came and went as they wished. A surprising number of demons and other-worldly types had a real affinity for music. Right now the line-up was Clem on drums, Krelvin on bass, Druk (a yellow spine demon) on keyboards and Whistler on guitar; Willy the former snitch was the sound guy and manager. There had been talk of a record deal, and Faith had even been written up in an industry mag. They were doing the sound check, when we walked in. Most of the band knew me, even the two Fyarl demons that worked security, so they didn't give me the trouble that the usually give one of my kind. Faith was too lost in the music to notice us come in. We went up to Willy, and after the song was done, I got on the house mike.
"Give it up Chicago, for the 'brass and leather' voice of Ms Faith Winter." She jerked her head up, and laughed when she saw who it was.
"Not bad Ian, let me know if you ever loose your day job."
"Pop on back here Faith, we need to talk." She looked a little worried, but came back to the sound booth.
She greeted Buffy and Dawn, and then sat down as we told her the tale. "Hey, I can see that this needs doin', but why me, I mean you got B here."
"Yeah, we do, but if something happens to her, then the whole plan is toast. Once Kennedy is removed, someone with authority has to straighten things out. Not to sound ghoulish, but if one of you is hurt, or worse, we can still finish this."
She thought it over; "OK, I'm in, but we can't leave till tomorrow, I got three newbies coming after the show.
I grinned at her, "you think we could get seats?"
"Nah", she answered; then sizing me up, "how are you at rhythm guitar?" She turned to Willy, "tours on hold after tonight." He started to complain, but shut up when Faith slugged him.
I stayed and worked out with the band, while Buffy and Dawn went with Faith to decide what they should wear as her background vocalists. I knew Faith was going to have fun with this, but my eyes nearly popped out when they showed back up. Faith had on her usual black leather pants and an old CBGB shirt. Buffy and Dawn were wearing identical white leather pants and vests and nothing else. Dawn looked elated, Buffy just looked uncomfortable, and Faith looked like she had pulled off the greatest prank ever.
Dawn came up to me "you like?"
"Sure" I replied "but I better not look at you too much or all the drool will short out my guitar." She just laughed and bounced away to talk to Clem.
Faith came over; "things going well", she asked flicking a glance at Dawn.
"Great" I answered "You?"
"Damn fine"; she leaned close to me "I really love teaching these new ones what's what." "I knew you would" I replied, "so, personal life." "None" she said, "between singing and slaying and teaching; I've been shockingly celibate."
I cracked up at that last comment, I never thought I'd hear the words 'Faith' and 'Celibate' in the same sentence. She went to talk to Buffy some more. I could see them working out some dance move, and I went back to practicing my chops. The show went off great. I didn't screw up, much, and 'the Faithettes' drew a lot of whistles of appreciation. I could see why Faith loved performing so much, she would get lost in the sound and the rest of the world would cease to exist for her. Afterwards, we talked to the three new slayers, gave them some basic suggestions and instructions and some numbers that they could call if the crap really hit the fan. Just knowing that the support is there is a real comfort. Early the next morning; with Faith threatening to pummel all early risers, we got on our plane and headed for New Zealand.
HEARTS IN DARKNESS VI
The late night and long flight meant that both slayers were sleeping. Dawn and I took the opportunity to meditate, and incidentally have a mental conversation that could not be overheard.
'Did Buffy ever truly forgive Faith?'
'Do you know why?'
'No, but I can guess. Buffy loved her, more than all the others; even more than Angel or Riley, and Faith betrayed her'
'You think Buffy loved her?'
'I'm sure of it'
'You mean like lovers?'
'That I'm not sure, but does it matter?'
'Not really, they belong together; everyone except them seems to know it'
'I bet they know it too, they're just too stubborn to admit it'
'Any ideas as to, what to do?'
'Getting them to admit to each other how they feel and allow them to see how dippy they've been,
'That's gonna take a lot of work'
'Me, why do I get to do this'
'Cause you're the Angel'
'Don't remind me'
We came to ourselves somewhere over the Pacific. Buffy and Faith were still asleep; so we got something to eat. "Did you have fun last night?" I asked.
"God yes, that was such a blast; I didn't know you could play guitar."
"About a year after Sunnydale, I spent a week with Faith; recovering from an assignment, and she got me started. I've been plucking away at it since then." I looked at her "You looked incredible."
She blushed a bit and replied "You didn't look too bad yourself Mr. Winton".
I snorted at the way she emphasized my last name, "watch it missy, or I'll get Faith to dedicate a song to Miss Summers".
She stuck out her tongue and then froze in thought. "Maybe she should, but to the other Miss Summers."
"Not a bad idea, after all this is over, we'll see how it flakes out" I said.
We ate and were chatting when she asked "what assignment was that bad?"
"A possession" I answered, "A man sold his daughter to a cult, and they called forth a demon to possess her. I cast it out, but had to hurt the child to do so. The worst part is I was not allowed to do anything to the father. I realize that he will pay, but I so wanted to be the instrument of vengeance; not a very good attitude for an angel to have." I didn't realize that tears were running down my face until Dawn leaned forward and dried them.
I just held her and then, suddenly, we were kissing. It was gentle and insistent and long and deep. I just wanted to drown in her arms; unfortunately, Faith decided that it was time for her to eat, and she burst in on us.
"Sorry" she said, "don't let me interrupt".
"You are, but its cool" I said.
She looked a bit closer "the deal with the dad still haunting you?"
"Yeah, but it's not constant anymore." She just nodded and began fixing herself a sandwich. Buffy walked in as well.
"Hey B, want something?" Faith asked. Buffy just tipped her head yes while looking at Dawn and me.
"So" she asked, "why New Zealand and not straight to Australia?"
"To pick up number five" I answered. "Father Robert Knowles, probably the most powerful white magician on the planet."
"White magician, like his power comes from good?"
"Yeah" I replied, "magic can come from good, evil or neutral sources; Willow is more powerful, but she is grey, her power comes from a neutral source. His eminence is afraid that Kennedy might be possessed; if she is; a white magician would be much more effective."
"If she is" Faith asked "can you exorcise it?"
"I'm not sure."
"What do you mean, you're not sure; you're an angel, getting rid of these things is what you do." Buffy was getting angry.
"If the host was unwilling, like the little girl; the demon can be cast out fairly simply. However, if the host was a willing participant, things get a lot harder; that's the other reason we're picking up the Father, this is his area of expertise". We chatted some more, just conversation.
I couldn't help but notice that Buffy and Faith stayed as far away from each other as they could. We landed in Wellington, on the north island. "This will take just an hour, Dawn and I can go fetch him, you two just stay put." We scampered off the plane without giving them time to argue. I looked at Dawn, who just rolled her eyes at me. "Slayers are almost stubborn to the point of stupidity" I observed.
"Preaching to the choir" was her reply.
We grabbed a taxi to get Father Knowles. He could tell what I was, but Dawn threw him. I handed him the Cardinal's letter and told our tale. Once he heard it, he asked us to help with his kit. We packed it in the taxi, and headed back the way we came. When we got to the plane, we loaded his stuff. As I boarded, I noticed that Buffy and Faith were actually talking pleasantly to each other. Well anything is progress. While Dawn introduced the Father to the two slayers, I told the pilot to head on. We were in the air, on the last leg when Faith asked; "Where to once we get there, Australia is a big place?"
"The Father and I were gonna do a sweep. Now that he knows a slayers pattern, he can home in on those concentrations. That should tell us where to go."
I was surprised when Dawn said "don't bother."