BUILE MO CHROI
(Scrape of my Heart)
By D. M. Evans
Disclaimer – not mine. No money is made. Joss et al owns everything, though Maddelena is own of my original characters.
Rating – R
Pairing – Connor/Faith, B/A/S, W/X
Summary - It's two years after the End of Days and the past comes back to haunt the Scoobies and Angel's crew. It's several years after BtVS S7 and AtS S4. This is the sequel to Nil Se ina La (It's Not Yet Day). It would help to read that story but it's not absolutely necessary.
CHAPTER ONEAn gcloiseann tu bualadh mo chroi
Buile mo chroi
Greadadh mo chroi
An gcloiseann tu greadhadh mo chroiKaran Casey – Buile mo Chroi
I liked it here, overlooking the three rivers that converged at the base of the steep hills. Grandview Avenue coursed along the crest of those hills and the club I was in was one of the premiere ones on that street. Behind my perch on the club's porch, a crowd partied to the loud music that shook the wood floorboards. Pittsburghers knew how to kick up their heels. Those people didn't know how the world nearly ended two years ago. They didn't know vampires and demons were real. Oh, some might believe in ghosts but not the real nasty stuff.
They wouldn't have believed me if I told them I lost friends to demons in the Black Hills of South Dakota and I couldn't imagine their faces if I tried to explain to them I'm a Watcher. Oh, not the stuffy kind like Wes and Giles used to be. I'm what they call Special Ops. Faith calls it the 'thug corps.' Whatever, they pay me to wipe out demons, so it's all good. After the final battle, what was left of the Council decided to station Buffy back at the Hellmouth since just because one apocalypse was over that didn't mean there wasn't going to be another one. They even assigned her a new Watcher, some young guy from Australia. I'm not sure why they think she needed him but Buffy agreed to it. Probably didn't want to do all that research with Willow now that Giles is retired back in London. He was busy rebuilding the fractured Council. He had recovered from the End of Days Battles but he knew he no longer had the strength for fieldwork. I never did bother to ask Dad or Spike what they thought about the new Watcher. They're both living there in Sunnydale, too.
While Buffy had the Hellmouth, Faith was more of a troubleshooter, bounced all over the world putting out fires. I went with her. I'm not her Watcher, of course. Well, okay I do plenty of watching her but not officially. Giles and Wes helped make me a Watcher, by-passing all that book learning stuff. I was getting used for my abilities and natural super whatsits but I didn't care. What else was I going to do? I've never been in school. That left minimum wage jobs that didn't suit my temperament. Like I said, now as Special Ops I get paid for taking out demons. Works for me though I thought the stuffy Watchers were going to have a stroke when I asked why we Watchers got paid and the Slayers didn't. Buffy and Faith both took it on themselves to beat a salary out of the Council. Hell, the Council even hired back Wesley, at their request. He's Faith's Watcher. The three of us make a good team. There's a fourth member with us now, another Special Ops Watcher, Maddelena d'Gioia, a strega.
Four of us here, four back in Sunnydale, well, more if you counted the rest of the Scoobies. I'm not sure how it's working there in California. Two years now and both one-time vampires with souls – did I mention they're human now? They shanshued, whatever that means – are still hanging around Buffy like puppies. It was embarrassing really. For all I knew they time-shared her or something. I thought things would get easier for me and Angel now that he was human but they hadn't. I couldn't even call him Dad in public since hell, he doesn't look old enough to have a son in his mid-twenties. Oh, Faith says I still look like I'm fourteen and Wes agrees. Makes me want to bite them both. Faith, at least, would enjoy it.
Anyhow, Angel and I still didn't have much contact. I know both he and Spike had apartments in Sunnydale. Maybe they both still had a shot at Buffy. Maybe she was just keeping them around since she didn't know what else to do with them. And they both were a help to her. I know that much. All that demon-kind knowledge locked up in their heads and they were about as human as I was. The prophecy hadn't mentioned that when they became human they'd retain certain aspects of the demon. Like me, they were faster, stronger and had better senses than a regular human. That was good since it'd be pretty ironic to get killed in the first few years of finally getting to be human again.
I didn't know where my team would be heading next now that we had beaten the rock-creature PennDot had awaken while fixing the Fort Pitt Tunnels yet again. It reminded me of Iya the Destroyer from the End of Days in Deadwood. The thing had nearly killed Xander then.
I wouldn't mind lingering in Pittsburgh for a little while. It sure beat L.A. I took a long swig of my Guinness, the little nitrogen thingie rattling around inside the bottle. Supposed to make it taste like draft. It doesn't. Angel told me once that real Irishmen drink Guinness. Wes and Giles seemed to agree and now having done my own sampling, I'm with them. I don't trust beer I could read a paper through. Give me the dark stuff.
It was next to impossible to pick out one person's movement from the crowd's but there was no mistaking the two hands that dived simultaneously into my front pockets or the warm wiggling body suddenly pressed up against my back. Faith, or I hoped to God it was. It'd be pretty embarrassing if this was some stranger. Looking over my shoulder, I smiled at her.
"I was wondering where you'd gotten off, too," she said, kissing my shoulder.
"You were having fun dancing and since I don't dance, I figured I just get away from all that noise," I replied. "It's pretty out here." I pointed at the rivers with my beer bottle.
She leaned her cheek against my shoulder blade. "It is. And you're right, you don't dance well at all, more like a frog in a blender."
I snorted, taking another swig of beer. "Thanks."
"It's pretty disappointing really, given how well you move in a fight." She kissed my shoulder again. "Guess it just goes to show you, you can't equate the ability to dance with the ability to fight."
"No kidding," I said, taking another drink, managing to get my tongue stuck in the damn bottle again. I don't know how I keep doing that.
"Stuck again?" Faith rolled her eyes at me.
I managed to get the bottle off the end of my tongue, nodding.
"I have something more interesting for you to get your tongue stuck in," she said.
I nearly snorted beer up my nose. "Don't do that when I'm drinking!" But I was already remembering how good she tasted. "So, are you danced out?"
"Oh, I think I have some dance left in me." Through my pockets she caressed me.
I couldn't quite pull away from her. "Hey now, it's a little public for that."
She just stroked me harder. "Gotta find that wild side, blue-eyes."
"The last time you told me that, we found the place where water damaged the roof of the Watcher's Council. I'm not likely to forget the look on Giles' and Wes' face when you and I crashed through into the meeting room."
Faith laughed. "Giles, Wes and everyone else. I was expecting at least one death from self-righteous fit." Taking her hands out of my pockets, she trailed her finger along the Celtic knotwork tat I had around my right bicep. It was pretty new still and her idea. "Finish your beer and we can go back to the hotel and doing some of the dancing you are good at."
I finished off my Guinness in two long swallows. I thought we'd never get down the Incline to Station Square where, for once, we were being put up in nice digs in the Ramada. Faith started teasing me in the elevator on the way up to our room and I carried her down the hall, legs wrapped around my waist, both too busy kissing to see if anyone was in our way. One of her hands was back in my pocket as I fumbled with the pass card for the door. After three abortive tries to unlock the damn thing it opened on its own. Wes and Maddie were standing there.
"Why are they in our room?" I asked, the words distorted as Faith's lips never really left mine.
"Told you trading the spare keys for each other's rooms was a bad idea," Faith muttered.
Very funny, you two. We've already packed your things. We have to leave for the airport now." Wesley said. "Next time, take your cell phones with you."
Faith unwrapped herself from around me and I really wished she wouldn't have. It was a little less embarrassing with her hiding the fact that you could have used me as a Maypole at this point.
"Where are we going?" Faith asked, all business.
"Sunnydale," Maddelena replied.
"They didn't tell us why. I'm assuming Buffy will fill us in," Wesley said, brushing past us. "We do need to hurry."
"As much as some of us can," Maddie added, her hazel eyes flicking down at my crotch as she smirked at me.
Why couldn't one of my abilities be invisibility? Faith just laughed and grabbed up her small travel bag.
"Do your best to keep up, kid," she said, sailing past me into the hall.
I snatched up my bag and followed them. Hopefully whatever Wesley did know about the situation would be enough to bore Faith to sleep. The last time we had a long flight she wanted us to join the mile high club. I'm still not clear why anyone would want to do it in an airplane bathroom or how it was even possible. Skinny as I am, I can barely fit into one alone. I can't imagine two of us sneaking into one and there'd be no way of anyone missing me and Faith going at it. I'm sure that's why Wesley fought the Council to quit reserving us adjoining rooms. Oh, he said it was because it made it harder for someone after us to just come in and sweep both rooms and kill us all but I figured he was just tired of hearing Faith scream. I wasn't likely to get tired of it any time soon; I just didn't want to hear it echoing around an airplane toilet.
Sunnydale. We were heading across the country, right into who knew what. I'd have to work on my best game face. I'd need it to deal with Dad.