TITLE: The Hot Pocket Diaries
AUTHOR: Varyar and Monet
TIME: During "Empty Places"
RATING: PG-13 (for language)
DISCLAIMER: We own none of these wonderful characters; they all belong to the genius that is Joss Whedon
NOTES: A combined effort of conversations we would love to have seen as the end draws near.
DEDICATION: Eliza Dushku, Tom Lenk, and Anthony Stewart Head - without them, this fic wouldn't exist :)
Faith stared blankly at the refrigerator magnets for a second. They were from all over the country. A few places she'd been, most she hadn't.

[Woulda guessed B would keep them there,] she thought, thinking sadly of long-gone Joyce. [Guess it's a reminder of her.]

Then she turned upon hearing someone else enter the kitchen. Probably one of the Wannabes - no, she realized, gazing at the newcomer. Not one of the kids. It was way worse. She grunted a hello to Andrew, then turned back to the fridge and began rummaging around. She was still hungry.

Andrew approached the lone girl in the kitchen, his face still crunched up in a look of annoyance. "Hello, Faith," he said with his best angry, intimidating voice.

"Uh... Hey," Faith said, staring at the little guy, trying hard not to wonder what had him
looking so constipated.

"I think you a-and me have something to talk about. And I wanna talk about it NOW." He crossed his arms and tapped his foot rapidly.

Faith frowned and leaned back against the fridge. "Okay. What's up?" she asked him, more curious than hungry now.

Surprised that she wasn't ignoring him, Andrew moved closer to her.

*Intimidating, Matrix stare,* he thought. *I wish I had sunglasses to go with it...*

"What's up is you taking something of MINE," he proclaimed. "And yes, it DID have my name on it a-and it clearly had instructions not to take it. I thought you stopped stealing and stuff?"

"Huh?" Faith's frown deepened, then she realized what the hell he was talking about. "Dude, it was just a freaking hot pocket," she said, shaking her head. Then she turned her back on him and opened the fridge again.

Andrew let out a loud, frustrated sigh. "It's not JUST a hot pocket, and you know it. Otherwise, your paws wouldn't have taken my l-last one. Hey, I'm t-talking to you!" he called to her. "If you're going to reform like me and Spike, you should probably stop stealing people's stuff."

Faith exhaled sharply and spun around. "Okay. One, it WAS just a hot pocket," she snapped. "Two, you don't know the first fucking thing about me. Three, last time I checked, this was B's house, not yours. And four, there's another damn box of the things in the freezer," she concluded, flinging the door open and pointing.

Andrew tried not to flinch.

*She's a killer, tread softly,* he thought. But he didn't want to back down.

"Well, one, hot pockets are an intregal item in m-my diet. Two, I DO know stuff about y-you... sort of. Kind of. I mean, the girls bought what I told them." He paused. "Uh, and three... I've been in Buffy's house WAY longer than you. I've got rights. And four... uh, that's not mine. That's Kennedy's and-and I don't want to take hers. She's kind of scary."

Faith rolled her eyes. This kid was jumping up and down on her last nerve. "Kind of, huh? Well, right now, you're about ten seconds away from finding out how scary *I* can be," she muttered. "We're skating on the edge of the mother of all apocalypses and you're worried about some stupid frozen snack? Why don't you go downstairs and pick up some karate tips from the other girls, okay? Do something useful."

"Hey, I help!" Andrew proclaimed.

"Sure you do," Faith retorted. From what she'd seen so far, he'd only be useful if Klingons invaded Sunnydale and maybe not even then.

"And I know we-we're heading towards the end of the world and stuff. If hot pockets make me feel better about it, then there's nothing wrong with that is there? Well, to you there is because you just took my last comfort food from me." He went over to the fridge and pushed the opened door closed boldy. "Maybe you need to-to run to the grocery store?"

Faith just shook her head and fished out a pack of cigarettes. B didn't let her smoke in the house, but right now she needed some fresh air anyway. "Right. Like I don't have better things do than buy you comfort food?"

"You shouldn't smoke, you know," Andrew said, watching her and her cigarettes. "It's bad for you."

She gave him a hard look. "News flash. Slayer here. Not really worried about lung cancer offing me."

Andrew stood up straight. "You've got some m-major issues," he said.

"God!" Faith glared at him. "You think you know my issues? I'll be dead in five years, tops. So who cares if I smoke?" she asked, shaking her head and cracking open the pack. "Even if we do beat this First bitch, it doesn't matter. Lung cancer, brain tumor, heart attack..." Faith
shook her head again. "Slayers live fast, die young and leave pretty corpses, ya know."

"You know, we can die like you and Buffy can. But I d-don't really think about that kind of stuff 'cause I'm too busy trying to live. Don't you want to kind of live longer than you think you can?"

Faith stared at the squirrelly kid for a few seconds, then shrugged. "Sure. But wanting something ain't gonna make it happen," she said, still fiddling with the pack of cigarettes. "All it does it make it worse in the end, kid. Better to just do what you like while you can.
Even if it's bad for you." She winked and drew out a cigarette.

He snatched it away from her.

"Hey," Faith protested tiredly. For some reason, she wasn't kicking his ass until he cried, even though the guy was asking for it in a big way.

"But wanting kind of helps in making it happen, otherwise, it's not ever going to happen," he said, holding the cigarette slightly away from her. "And doing bad stuff just makes good things NOT happen."

Once again, Faith shook her head. "You don't get it, do you? Let me spell it out for you. One day, maybe next week, maybe in a year, some vampire or demon is going to be a little faster or a little tougher than me. Then it's going to tear my throat out or crush my skull or stick something sharp into my heart. That's the deal. There isn't shit I can do about it. So..." She plucked the cigarette out of Andrew's hand. "Don't give me any Pollyanna lectures, okay?"

Andrew frowned. He snatched the cigarette back. "I don't know who Pollyanna is, but I think I should be kind of insulted." He looked at the cigarette and put it behind his ear. He'd always wanted to do that. "H-How are you supposed to help out all those girls downstairs if that's the-the kind of lectures you want to give them? Besides, if-if that happened to you, it's because you were doing something GOOD, saving someone's life. Not doing anything bad. Y-You aren't a very good Yoda. And how badly do you want this cigarette back?"

Faith grabbed the front of Andrew's shirt. "Get it through your goddamn head! I'm not Yoda or Batman or Captain Kirk!" she yelled, pulling him up close.

"No... you have bigger... um," Andrew looked up from the area he was GOING to say into her face, nervously. "...uh, lips than they do. Except maybe Yoda."

"And - fuck it. It's too far gone," Faith snapped, shoving him away. "Keep the damn cigarette. I've got more," she muttered.

Andrew reached out towards the counter to keep himself from falling. "You've got more cigarettes?" he asked. "I don't have any more hot pockets."

"Fine. Buy yourself some more," Faith snapped. She dug into her pocket and fished out a ten dollar bill, wadded it up into a ball, and threw it in Andrew's face. "Now shut up and leave me alone," she said, turning and stomping out onto the back porch.

Andrew rubbed the spot where the wadded bill had hit his face. He looked at the wad and sighed, turning around. He jumped. "Oh, uh, hi," he greeted the person standing there.

"Hello," Giles said, barely staring at him. He was more interested in the back door that led out into the porch.

"Can I borrow the car to go get me some hot pockets?" Andrew asked the Englishman.

"Uh, if you can get Dawn to give you the keys," he answered absently then walked past him. He opened the door to find Faith smoking out there. Shutting the door behind him, he stood next to her as they looked out into the backyard. "Thank you for ... coming here."

Faith glanced sideways at Giles. She took a long drag on the cigarette, exhaled, and then shrugged. "Didn't have a hell of a lot of choice, G-man. Slayer's gotta be where the trouble's at, right?"

"No, you had a choice, Faith," Giles answered, still staring out into the blackness of the night before them. "Many in fact. But you chose this, coming back to a very unwelcoming situation. I can attest to being part of that. For making that choice, knowing what was to be, I thank you. Now the choice comes in whether or not you plan on staying with us in the battle."

The dark-haired Slayer smiled shakily. "Ain't no thing, Giles," she said, holding the cigarette in her hands, not even really noticing as it went out. "Even if I had somewhere else to go, I wouldn't," she added after a few seconds. "Might as well go down fighting here. Just another happy Sunnydale memory, right?"

Giles sighed. "There is no choice of going down, Faith," he said, quietly. "That is not a choice I want those girls down there to think they have. They can't HAVE that choice." He finally looked over at her, growing very solemn suddenly. "We're in trouble. I can feel how much danger we're in at the moment. And I'm actually not speaking about this battle with Caleb."

Faith pulled out another cigarette, then offered the pack to Giles.

Giles was about to shake his head towards the pack, but then thought better of it. He actually took one and placed it in his mouth.

"Before I go and get my foot - or your fist - in my mouth, let's see if we're on the same page here, awright? What particular danger you talking about?" Faith asked, keeping her voice down a bit.

When the cigarette was lit, he took a nice long drag, reveling in it a moment. It had been a VERY long while since he'd had a smoke of any kind. He figured just this once - the time called for it. "We're in danger of approaching this without the artillery we've used in the past, I'm afraid. And that would be trust." He blew out smoke thoughtfully. "I'm not actually speaking about you, by the way."

"Huh." Faith stared out at the darkness - trees, a fence, another fence, and the dim shape of another house thirty yards away. Not the most thrilling scenery in the world. Then again, this was Sunnydale. What else would you expect? "She's losing it, isn't she?"

Giles bowed his head a bit, letting the remains of the cigarette fall. "It's already lost. Lost in us. In me." He stared at the ashes a moment. "We continue to help, but she doesn't trust us. Especially not me."

"You did kinda try and kill her fuck-buddy," Faith pointed out. "I'm just saying..."

He sighed. "Yes, you are. Though I believe the trust was lost long before then."

"So... what do we do here? B isn't the kind who takes criticism very well. Kinda like me, ya know."

Giles let out a short, bittersweet chuckle. "I sometimes believe Slayers come with that attribute."

Faith grinned at the former Watcher. "Yeah, well, when you're the baddest kid on the block, it's not easy listening sometimes. "Guess that's something us recovering sociopaths have to work on..."

Giles had to glance over at her with her comment. He wasn't exactly trusting of her, as was shown when she first stepped through the door, but he could see the change. It was amazing, actually. "I guess it's rather ironic that I should be talking about abiding authority when I, myself, wasn't very good at it in my youth." He rocked slightly back on his heels.

"Whoa. You?" Faith gave Giles a look as if she'd just met him. "Mr. Tea and Scones was a bad-ass back in the day? Get out..." But it made sense. She'd never seen Giles lose it, but looking at him now... yeah. He had it in his eyes. "Okay, you gotta share," she said without thinking.

"Share?" Giles genuinely chuckled. "I didn't think you'd be interested in hearing about my boring youth."

"I'm not. So tell me about the nasty parts..."

He glanced down at his feet, a smile on his face. "I was told I was to be a Watcher, since it ran in my family. I didn't quite like that. It's a familiar story, I'm sure."

Faith nodded. That did have to be a sucky gig. All the boring parts of being a Slayer and none of the fun...

He shrugged. "It was a rather crazy time, my teens and early 20s. Ethan Rayne, he was an old mate of mine. We didn't get high off of the usual means. Magic was our drug, so to speak. It was my way of defying what my destiny was to become, what my father insisted I follow." His eyes shifted over towards her. "It was a phase, I suppose."

The Slayer considered that for a few seconds, then nodded. Wasn't much she could say to it, really. She settled on "Whoa."

After that, Faith hesitated for a moment. It had been a while - like forever - since she'd really had any sort of serious talk with Giles. They'd never really gotten along. Not even in that brief period when he'd been her Watcher, back before Wesley showed up and things got nasty. This felt weird. Like she was talking family secrets with someone else's dad.

She decided it was better to talk about something else. "So... On the way down from LA, Willow was telling me how Buffy had a little out-of-time deal a while back. What was that all about?" Faith asked. "Some kind of deal with the magic weirdos who conjured up the original Slayer?"

"Ah, yes. I had to pry that information out of Buffy," he said, sadly. "And I looked a bit deeper into it. It's interesting, really: the origin of yours and Buffy's powers." He didn't want to let her in that it was also interesting in a fearful way.

"Uh-huh?" Faith prompted when Giles didn't keep going.

He adjusted his glasses. "Um, it seems that these Shaman-types were the ones who created the Slayer. They... um, well, they..." He trailed. "I'm sure it's a rather boring story."

"Giles? Little piece of advance. Stories about shamans creating a super-hero chick who kills demons aren't boring," Faith said with a smirk. "What's the deal?"

"The creation of the Slayer was simple," he began, not wanting to beat around the bush. This was Faith he was speaking to, after all. She was a Slayer, too. She did have a right to know just as much as Buffy knew. "There were demons roaming the earth, and there had to be a guardian of good. The Shamans showed Buffy how they chose a girl, how they pulled the heart, the spirit, the strength of the one thing that she would be fighting: a demon."

It took a few seconds for it to sink in. Then - "Whoa, back up, G-man. You're saying that the 'strength to fight the monsters' riff and all that jazz... it's because we've got a demon wrapped up inside us?"

Giles nodded. "Yes," he answered simply. "Rather fascinating, actually. Um, probably not to you or Buffy, I realize..." He trailed. "And probably not to the First Slayer. But essentially a Slayer derives her powers through an 'essence' of a demon. I suppose it doesn't matter. We've got other things to ponder about."

Faith nodded. At any other time, she'd have wanted more - a lot more - about this whole new angle, but... well, they didn't have time. Giles was right. They had bigger things to worry about.

He stuck his hands in his pockets. "I don't know what we do from here. I don't know what will happen with everything like this. I do know that this is the situation, and this is what you have come to. We aren't the happy blokes you believed we were anymore, Faith. I don't know what's become of us. None of what I say to Buffy, whether criticism or not, gets to her. She claims she doesn't need a teacher anymore, and maybe that is the case. What does she expect of me? It's a mystery."

Faith pulled out another cigarette and gave Giles a wary look. This conversation was taking some uncomfortable turns. She wasn't part of the Buffy Cheerleading Squad, but still.... "Okay. So..."

He gazed out into the yard again. "What do I expect from you? I expect by you choosing to come here, it means you've grown, you've learned. You may not need a Watcher any longer, either. But I expect to see just how much you have grown and learned." He glanced over her way. "It may have to come in handy."

"Yeah... World's pretty fucked up if I'm the back-up plan, isn't it?" Faith asked, grinning wickedly for a second. But this was too tense to even pretend it was funny for long. "Okay, G - Giles. Can't say I'm thrilled about stepping up like this, but I'll do it if I have to," she admitted quietly.

Giles just have her a nod. "It'll have to do," he replied, rocking slightly back on his heels again. Sometimes he wondered where it had all gone wrong.

She lit and puffed on the cigarette, then took another look around the yard. "Figure they're missing us in there yet?"

The ex-Watcher glanced back at the house. "Possibly. The girls are looking rather... depressed. Their spirits are on the very low, for good reason."

"Happens when you get your ass kicked," Faith pointed out, omitting the 'for no good reason' she was thinking.

He sighed. "But I do need to research what Dawn has come up with on Caleb."

"Yeah. Good luck. Seriously," Faith said, before Giles could protest her flippancy or whatever he'd want to call it. She lingered outside for a few minutes after Giles went back in, and then followed him... only to stop right inside the kitchen when she saw Andrew there.

"Oh, for fuck's... what NOW?"

Giles stood in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen, watching the confrontation, intently.

Andrew handed an object towards Faith.

"Um, here's... a hot pocket I found in the room. I forgot I had left an extra one there. You can have it. It's kinda... mushy anyway. You might not need to microwave it."

"Oh... thanks, kid," Faith said, something close to a sheepish look on her face. She tossed it back to him. "But I ain't hungry. Keep it. No time to eat anyway, got work to do..."

The End