Providence

Disclaimer: Yeah, Joss owns them.

Author's Note: A story about Faith, before she met Buffy. Kind of a sequel to "Fade to black". Of course, it's only my own imagination(Faith doesn't do interviews). So, hopefully, it'll be fun. Thanks for reading. Review if you will.

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Providence

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Faith was overwhelmed.

She'd never been in a house this large before. At least, not one  where only a single person lived in it. She doesn't, can't believe it. It's like some fairy story… no one owns a house this big. No way. Ms. Haversham pulled out the key to the door, and let them in. Faith looked around for their apartment.

" So, where do we live?" Faith asked, looking for an apartment number…or apartments, even.

Ms. Haversham…Ellen, put the bags she was carrying on the floor, and gestured around.

"Here… this is where we live" She smiled at Faith.

"Get OUT!" Faith said, her eyes wide, looking around at the place.

"I beg your pardon?" Ellen asked. What did she think she was doing, telling her to leave?

"Get OUT! There's no way… just us? Where are the others?" Faith asked, her face wide in wonder.

" Others? Oh…I understand now. Sorry, sometimes your Americanisms throw me. No, Faith … just us. This belongs to us." Ellen looked at Faith, her heart going out to her. Granted, the house was nice, but it wasn't particularly large. Just your average two story house. Pretty common, all in all. But obviously outside Faith's experience. What kind of places had this poor child lived in, anyway? She just watched as Faith, still carrying her packages, wandered around, touching the furniture, the walls…like it was some kind of dream. Watching her, Ellen couldn't help but feel empathy for the girl.

She'd read Faith's file. It was a case study in neglect and abuse. Her mother was an alcoholic and druggie. More often than not, they'd moved in the middle of the night to avoid paying rent. She'd had a succession of 'boyfriends', lowlifes who'd sponged off  Faith's mother, stealing whatever they could of the Welfare check she received. Whatever she didn't spend on booze and drugs, that is. From what she could discern, Faith's diet, such as it was, depended on whatever free meals she could get at school…and whatever she could beg. Or steal. She was a natural born charmer, so even when she was caught stealing, most of the times they would let her go. Also, it was suspected abuse was involved…physical, and sexual. The state hadn't been able to prove anything, but medical examinations taken on her when she got into 'the system' indicated she wasn't a virgin anymore. She looked at Faith, who was still looking at things, and shook her head. She must be an incredibly strong person. It's a wonder she's not more screwed up that she is.

" Nice stuff" Faith said, appraising everything. Could be some serious cash here, if things don't work out.

" Thank you, Faith. I like it" Ellen said, watching the young girl. Indeed, one little charmer… better keep an eye on our new charge. "Would you like to see the rest of the house?"

" 'K" Faith said, looking around. Cataloguing things. Figuring what she could carry away, in case this Haversham lady turns out to be a nut job. Hey, girl's gotta be ready for anything, ya know?

Ellen watches Faith with some amusement. The girls gutsy, gotta admit that. But subtle isn't her strong suit. Ellen can almost see the dollar signs in her eyes.

"You know, of course, if you need anything, you just have to ask, right?" Ellen says, putting out the subtle hint that she knows what Faith is doing.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure" Faith says. Damn, she's more on the ball than I thought. HEY, don't look at me like that. I mean, I don't know what kinda whack job she is. I'm just lookin' out for myself, like I always do. Not gonna take nothin'…less I gotta.

The two of them head into the living room. It's simply furnished, but tastefully so. The furnishings are well made; some antiques mixed in with some newer, but well made pieces. Eclectic, but with a style. Faith looks around.

"No TV?" She says, disappointed

"Sorry, Faith…I don't watch Television" Ellen says.

Well, that blows, Faith thinks to herself. How'm I gonna keep up with "Passions" without a TV?  What, does this lady live in the middle ages, or somethin'? She grumbles a little to herself

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, Faith?" Ellen says. She smiles a little to herself.

"Nothin'" Faith says. God, what kinda person don't have a TV? What up with that? I betcha she doesn't have a radio either. What a rip.

"Follow me, Faith" Ellen calls back to her. Faith hurries to catch up.

"In here is the library" Ellen says, opening the double doors.
Faith looks in, and sees shelves and shelves of books. Her jaw drops open. Wow…this is bigger than the one by our old place, Faith thinks.

"Whoa, major bookwormage goin' on here" Faith says, her tone a little mocking. She doesn't want to have this woman think she's impressed or nothin'

Ellen makes note more of Faith's expression. She sees the eyes briefly light up. Seems our Faith is more into books than she'd like me, or anyone to know. Hmmm… interesting.

Faith wanders around a bit, noting a lot…a WHOLE lot of volumes on the occult, demons, witchcraft, etc. Really into the ghostie-ghoulie stuff. No wonder she thinks there're vampires. Whatta hoot. Who knows how far gone she is with this stuff.

But looking further, Faith sees other stuff. Some stuff that might even be interesting. Cool. Maybe this won't be so bad… right , Faith. This woman is one sandwich short of a picnic. Just play along nice til you can get your ass outta here.

"Guess ya like to read, huh?" Faith says, making a disparaging noise.

"I find it relaxing," Ellen says, not really fooled by Faith's reaction. She saw how her eyes lit up when she saw all the books. Not cool to like books, I guess, she sighs.

"How about we take a look at your room?" Ellen says, smiling.

"My room. Whoa we aint agreed to nothin' yet. I didn't say I was gonna stay, yet" Faith says… but secretly like the idea 'my room'. Never had one of those before.

"What's it going to hurt to look? Maybe it won't be too bad" Ellen says, taking her hand. " You might even like it"

"Yeah, I bet. Probably all frilly and frou-frou. If ya aint got it yet, frilly and frou-frou aint my style" Faith says, her lips pursed in a semi-pout.

"Well, if you don't like it, you can change it" Ellen says, leading her up the stairs.

Faith walks into the designated room…and is surprised. The coloring is earth tones, no pinks, no frills. The bed is large, with a really comfortable looking mattress. She sits down, and bounces on it a bit, then kicks back and lies down. Feels nice. She hops up, and sees a TV. CIVILIZATION!!!! And it has a VCR. Oh yeah, baby, maybe this won't be so bad. She sees a desk in the corner, and a small shelf with some books. She glances at the titles. Her stomach does a flip flop…math, history, science…crap!

"Ugh. What is this crap?" Faith asks, not pleased.

"You have to keep up some studies, Faith. That's part of the deal. I figure that it might be easier if we home school you, rather than put you in Public School. Either way, that's part of the deal." Ellen says, her tone not allowing room for argument.

"Aw…c'mon, what good is this stuff? When am I ever gonna use it, if I'm … supposed to fight monsters and stuff?" Faith says, playing the slayer card.

"That's no excuse for ignorance. You still have to get a high school diploma, at least" Ellen says, her tone firm. " Some Watcher's don't think so, but I feel there's more to life than just being a slayer".

"Yeah… like parties. Not school" Faith pouts. School hard. School bad. School sucks.

"Faith. You're my charge. More than that, I plan on adopting you" Ellen says, looking at the young woman…yes, young woman…because she'd obviously developed much faster then her years indicate. " Faith, I know school can be…less than fun. But the law says you have to go to school. Either I can home school you, or you can go to public school. But, to comply with the law, you have to do one or the other. So, what'll it be?"

Faith doesn't answer… just frown, and make a rude noise.

"Public school?" Ellen asks. Faith makes a ruder noise.

"Ok, then, we'll try home schooling , for now anyway." Ellen says. Faith just shrugs, not looking happy. Of course, what kid every looks happy about school? " Anyway, when you're ready I want you to meet me downstairs. I have something to show you". Ellen stands up, and gets ready to leave. " Try not to take too long, ok?". Ellen walks out the door.

Faith just KNEW there had to be a catch. No way that this was gonna be good. School. Ugh. Faith hated school. Well, not the learning part so much, though teachers could be real snoozers. But going to school was a drag. Everybody made fun of her, how she dressed, how she didn't have money. How she always ate the 'free' lunch. They used to pick on her, 'til she started fighting back, and winning. Now they call her other, nastier names. School totally sucks.

But, at least, with home schooling, she didn't have to put up with the other kids. So if she had to put up with this crap, at least that would be the least worst choice. 'Anyway, once I scope out this place, and decide to get my ass outta here, won't be a deal anyway. Play it for what I can, then take off… maybe with a few bucks I can scrounge from around here.'

She sighs, and gets up off the bed. 'Better get my ass downstairs see what other "surprises" she's got.' Faith groans, and makes for the door, repeating to herself 'It's not the group home, Faith. You can bust outta here. It's not the group home"

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Ellen waited for Faith downstairs in her study.

She held a picture of a young woman… dark haired, with crystal blue eyes. She was smiling in the photograph. She looked so happy… she was happy. She was innocent. And she was dead.

Ahhh… Jessica, I miss you so much. You died so young, sweetheart, way too young. You didn't even have a chance to live, to love… they took it from you. They stole your life, honey. They'll pay, baby. I promise, they'll pay.

Ellen Haversham had been a watcher for nearly 20 years. Early in her career, she'd married another watcher. It'd ended badly, but one beautiful thing had come out of that union—Jessica.

Jessica had been Ellen's joy since her birth. She'd shown herself early to be a sweet, healthy and intelligent girl. As she grew, she only seemed to get better and better.  She'd taken to school like a duck takes to water, and she had a bright future ahead of her. Possibly Oxford.

Jessica had asked her mother what she did for a living, but her mother had been vague. Putting her off. Jessica finally one day confronted her mother, and demanded an answer. She was getting ridiculed at school because her mother was, as they put it , the "crazy monster lady". She had to know.

Ellen finally explained about her calling. The lore of the slayer. The chosen one. How it worked, what the Watcher's council was, all of it. Then she swore Jessica to secrecy. Jessica swore, and she was hooked. She was fascinated by the idea of the one person in all the world to fight the darkness, the evil  was a woman like her. That there was a council to help and train the one slayer. She decided then and there she wanted to be a Watcher.

Ellen wasn't happy with that. With all her brains, with all her abilities, Jessica could do anything. She didn't want her daughter to be exposed to the dangers of the life, and wanted her to have a normal, happy life.

Jessica was a sweet child, who normally did whatever her mother asked. But on this, she was stubborn as stone. This is what she wanted to do with her life. To fight the darkness in the way she could, by being a watcher. She could never be a slayer; that wasn't her destiny. But she could at least be a watcher. Support the slayer in her fight. She felt it was her calling; just as her mother had felt it was her calling many years before. After many arguments, and many tears, Ellen finally gave in, and allowed Jessica to apply to the council for training.

Ellen would live to regret that decision. Many times over.

It was through the council, and it's training, that Jessica first learned of the vampire Kakistos. " Worst of the worst". An old vampire, very old…over 2000 years old. So old, it's form changed . It's hands and feet were cloven.  He was strong, old, and vicious.

She proved quite talented. She breezed through training, showing a real talent for research and languages. But her passion became finding Kakistos. She wanted to destroy him. Rid the world of the threat of this monster. She so admired the slayer legend, the idea of a slayer, that she vicariously wanted to do the work of the slayer…all but the kill, anyway.

She finally found the ancient one. She tracked him down to a lair he had in France, and reported it to the council. The council put together a 'strike' team, including the current slayer at the time, to eliminate Kakistos. It would be quite a feather in their cap… the only vampire more powerful than Kakistos was trapped in a Hellmouth portal in California.

But things didn't go right from the first. Somehow, Kakistos caught wind of the plan. Tipped, he escaped while setting a trap for the 'strike force' sent to destroy him. A dozen of his followers were left behind, and  they surrounded the team, wreaking havoc. The slayer, fortunately, saved the majority of the team . But a few fell victim to the trap. And one of those few was turned. He gave away information about the council, and about how this raid had been set up.

Kakistos was not known as a forgiving, kindly creature. He wanted vengeance against the one who'd set this up, the one who'd found his lair. He wanted revenge.

He took his revenge, in his own time. Not right away. It took nearly a year after the abortive raid on his lair in France. But one evening, as Jessica was coming home from classes, she was surrounded, and taken. She disappeared. She was not heard from again… but she was found. In pieces. Sent to the council. It was particularly brutal what he did to her, and the other Council members prevented her from seeing the remains. She said nothing, but on that day, she swore revenge.

Revenge on the creature that desecrated her daughter in such a fashion. She swore to herself that if  took her the rest of her life, she would see the beast destroyed. It wouldn't bring back Jessica, it wouldn't right the wrongs. But it would give her soul peace.

And quietly, in her heart, she declared war on those who'd set up this 'strike' on Kakistos. Who'd botched it so badly, and cost the life of her only child. It was a secret war, outwardly she remained on good terms with the council. But she swore someday they also would pay for the life of her child.

That had been four years ago. In that time, she worked to get a field assignment, and was finally rewarded with training Faith. It was the first step in her plan. She would train Faith, waiting for the day when she would be called. She would work hard to make Faith ready for the beast. Push her hard, make her tougher than she already was. When she was ready, and had been called, she would find the beast, Kakistos, and use Faith to destroy the monster. Once Kakistos was dead, she could implement her plan for vengeance on the council. It would take time, but she knew in the end she would win.

But first, She had to train Faith.

And track Kakistos, finding where he called home.

Time. It would all take time. But time was on her side.

And she could wait.

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Faith knocked at the door to the study.

She was still in a snit about the 'school' thing, but she figured she would at least hang here long enough to decide what to do next. She'd  been looking after herself for awhile now; she wasn't about to take any crap from anyone. She'd hang around and see if this gig panned out, or if she was gonna bolt. Taking a few things with her to pay 'expenses'. Either way for now, she'd have to play along.

So what was it that this crazy lady wanted to show me now? Maybe her kinky sex chamber, or somethin'. There's nothin' for nothin' in this life, and this is where I gotta pay up. Crap. I hope she aint into weird shit or nothin'. I mean, it'll be a little creepy anyway. I don't care what the deal is, I aint doin' nothin' weirdo. I'll get my ass outta this dump first.

But…maybe she won't want that? Ya think? Don't think so. Never had no one not want somethin' from me. Either money, when I had some, or sex, when I didn't. So, why should she be any diff? Anyone says different is lyin, or livin in a fairytale. Man, I hope it aint too damned icky.

Faith knocks again, and hears " Come in" from the other side of the door.

She walks in, and finds Ellen seated at the desk. Ellen waves her over, and Faith comes to her, sitting in one of the chairs.

"So, Faith. You don't believe in….how did you put it? 'Ghostie-Ghoulies and that kinda crap'. Is that right?" Ellen looks at Faith. Faith nods. Ellen continues. " I can understand your attitude. With all the human monsters you've had in your life, who needs supernatural ones, right?" Ellen asks.

Faith just looks at her with a cynical expression. She doesn't say a word. Ellen sighs.

"But I'm afraid, Faith, they DO exist. Vampires… Demons… are real. They've existed a long time. Before recorded history. Some things, even before humans. So, long ago, the Slayer was born. Or created. By magic. By the original "Watchers". They made her strong, agile and fast. They gave her powers beyond most mortal beings. She was to fight the darkness… hold back the evil. As long as there have been vampires, there've been slayers. And as long as there've been slayers, there've been watchers. Your duty, your … destiny as a potential slayer, is to fight against the evil. To train, and be the best you can be in your fight. My role is to help you, train you in fighting skills and weapons."  Ellen says.

"Weapons?" Faith's interest perks up. " Like, knives and guns? Cool !"

"Well… not any guns. More like swords and crossbows and quarterstaffs" Ellen replies. "Bullets, while they can  hurt vampires, can't kill them".

Faith rolls her eyes. God, this woman is obsessed. What next? Trolls in the corners?

Ellen smiles a rueful smile " I see you still don't believe me"

"Well, ya tell this story about demons and vampires, but c'mon, I stopped believin' in fairytales when I was like…5." Faith smirks. " I don't see monsters in the closet no more, ya know"

"Monsters are real, Faith" Ellen says quietly. " there all around us".

"Yeah… the human kind, I gotta agree" Faith says.

"The supernatural kind, too" Ellen replies. Her face is serious.

Faith just stares at her. This woman is beyond whack. Whack goes to her for pointers.

Ellen reads Faith's expression, and sighs.

 "Look, Ms. H , this is just nuts, ok? Why don't ya just tell me what you really want, and we can get on with it… rather than playing games?" Faith says, tired of the little horror story.

"Faith, I'm telling you the truth. I've been telling you the truth" Ellen says, a bit put off.

"Yeah, right. I'm some sorta super hero, and I'm here to battle monsters. I've heard some bizarro crap , but this is totally whack. Just give it up, ok?" Faith says, sneering." I mean, if it's not to kinky, I'm sure we can come to some arrangement".

"Faith, what?" Ellen says, then realizes exactly what Faith is proposing. She's revolted. " My god, Faith, I …I have no intention of doing something like that to you."

She walks over to Faith, and kneels beside her.

"Faith, I know that ….god, you've been abused and used. But, that's not what I want. I want to help you fulfill your destiny. That's my job, as a watcher. To train you. To get your ready to face what you're going to have to face" Ellen looks at Faith, trying to convince her of her sincerity.

"Yeah, right" Faith says, her tone cold, her face disbelieving. " You're some kinda saint out to save me, huh?"

"No, Faith, not at all" Ellen says, truthfully. " I'm paid to do what I do. That's because what you do, what you are, is so important. To the Council, and to the world".

Despite herself, Faith is moved by Ms. Haversham's tone. She really believes this crap, Faith thinks. Still, it's crap.

"Ok, I gotcha. You believe in this crap. But I just don't. It's a load. Sorry if that offends ya, but it's the truth" Faith says. " Look, you can return me if ya want. Find some girl who'll buy into this story"

"Faith, whether you believe it, or not, it's the truth. I can't 'return you', because you are chosen. It's your destiny. Like it, don't like it. Believe it, don't believe it. There is no other. I don't choose you. You don't choose to be this. It's chosen for you. Neither of us has a choice here. You're the slayer, I'm your watcher. That's it." Ellen tries to convince Faith that this is truth. "You need proof. Very well…Follow me. I'll give you proof ".  Ellen goes to the shelf, and picks up a satchel. She then indicates Faith to follow along with her.

"What are you talking about?" Faith asks, as they leave Ellen's study. " How you gonna convince me ?"

" Just follow me, Faith" Ellen says, her tone harsh.

Faith follows along, quietly. But she's beginning to feel anxious. This so doesn't feel right. What the hell is this woman gonna do to her now? God, I didn't mean to piss her off!

"Hey… Ms. H , I'm sorry, I …didn't mean to upset ya" Faith says, as they approach the cellar door. Oh, this looks…not good.

"Faith" Ellen says, turning. "I'm sorry if I was harsh. But I just didn't want to do this now. Not until at least you were open enough to believe. And a little more ready for this. But you need to be convinced that I'm not crazy, and I'm not lying. So, please, be quiet and just follow me, alright?"

Faith nods, a little crushed. She follows Ellen without saying another word.

They descend the basement stairs, Ellen in the lead. When they reach the floor, Ellen reaches and pulls a cord… a light illuminates the basement.

In the corner is a largish steel cage. Inside, someone is pacing back and forth. When the light snaps on, he turns and snarls. From this distance, it appears his face is contorted in rage.

"So, what's this?" Faith asks, starting to move closer. Ellen grabs her arm to stay her.

"No, Faith, don't get too close. He's hungry, and that makes him even more dangerous. Don't get within his reach. He should be secure in that cage" Ellen says, even so warily eyeing the vampire.

The vampire glares at the two humans, and starts to rattle the door of his cage. He's weak from hunger, but still strong enough to make a lot of noise.

"What's the deal? You got some guy in a cage, acting all angry. What's that supposed to prove?" Faith asks.

" Look carefully at his face, Faith. Have you ever seen anyone look like that?" Ellen asks.

" So, he's deformed. So?" Faith asks, about to turn around go upstairs. What a loser idea this was.

At that moment, the vampire hurls himself against his door, again. The latch, under constant barrage from the vampire for the last few days, has weakened. The lock gives, and he comes crashing out.

" Oh, my god. He's out. Run, Faith. Get out of here!" Ellen says, opening her satchel. She doesn't get time to get out a stake, however, because the vampire knocks her over, and is on her. The satchel flies towards Faith.

" Ms. H! What the hell?" Faith says. She recovers the satchel, and reaches in. She pulls out a large wooden cross. She's seen vamp movies… maybe….

She runs over , and shoves the cross into the vampire's face. He growls…but backs off…and Faith helps Ellen up.

"Are you ok?" Faith says, holding out the cross. The vampire, though hungry…still stays well away from the cross.

" Yes, fine" Ellen says, her voice shaking a little. " Just bruised. Damn, I should have been more careful about that latch".

"What now?" Faith asks, her voice uneasy. " What do we do about him?"

"Keep him at bay with the cross. I'll get a stake…see if we can drive him back in the cage" Ellen turns, and goes to the satchel, looking for a stake.

The vampire, looking around, sees his chance. He grabs a loose bar on the floor. He swings it at Faith, and knocks her wrist…and the cross goes flying. Before she can think, the vampire is on her, and has knocked her to the floor.

"HELP …GOD, HELP ME PLEASE" Faith screams, the vampire holding her down. She can smell his fetid breath as it washes over her face. And he's going in for the kill. Without thinking…she somehow manages to flip him over her head, and onto his back. She jumps up, and starts to run, but the vampire is getting up

At that moment, Ellen rushes over. Aiming for the heart, she stakes the vampire.

Faith watches in amazement as the vampire staggers…then turns to dust before her eyes. Faith, wide eyed, looks at the pile of dust… then at Ellen, still holding the stake…then back at the dust. She stops thinking, and just pushes past Ellen, and runs… runs up the stairs, out of the cellar.

"Faith….WAIT…Faith!!!" Ellen calls after her, but Faith is gone. " Stop, Faith. Please, don't run… it's alright now!"

But Faith isn't listening. She's outta here. Her life might've been crappy, but it was LIFE. This is just totally too much to handle. She's in panic mode. She runs through the house, and out the front door. She doesn't know where she's going right now, and frankly she doesn't give a crap. As long as it's not HERE!!!!

Ellen, running after her, berates herself. God, what have I done to that poor child? How could I be so careless, so stupid? She's scared to death, and now running out into the night… alone. God only knows what's out there, and she's not ready. She's brave, but she can't deal with what she might meet. I have to find her. I have to. I need her… and she needs me. Right now, more than she knows.

Were stuck with each other, like it or  not.

~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~

Faith is scared. Like she's never been scared before.

In her panic, she ran for a mile or so, blindly, without thinking. Then the fear and instinct kicked in, and she found some place to hide. Hide from danger. From the truth.

Peering out from the clump of bushes she's hiding in, she listens for sounds. Her heart is racing in her chest, and every crackle, every snap she hears makes her heart beat faster. She's totally panicked, afraid and alone.

She peers around, trying to see if anything is out there. She sees nothing, but still she hides away. After what just happened, everything is giving her the wiggins big time.

What the fuck? That's a vampire? That can't be. They don't exist. It's fairytales. But…god, that…thing was scary. And it nearly killed me. And WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AFTER MS. H  KILLED IT? The… it…turned to dust. Oh, god. What the hell's going on here? This can't be happening. I … god, that can't be true. It CAN'T be TRUE. I must be trippin'. VAMPIRES AREN'T REAL!!! They can't be real. It's some kinda trick. It gots to be. It's not real. Is it?

It can't be real. If that's real, then all that crap she's feeding me is real too. And that so totally is wrong. No way I can fight….things like that. God, that thing nearly killed me. If I hadn't somehow flipped it off me, and Ms. H hadn't staked…STAKED…it…god, I'd be dead. No way. No way I'm this "chosen one" she's babbling about. It's some kinda mistake. Some kinda cruel joke. I can't do this. What the hell do they expect outta me?

I'm just a girl. I can't go around fighting monsters. God, now she's got me doing it. THERE ARE NO MONSTERS. I don't know what that was. But it wasn't no vampire. The don't exist. They can't exist. They can't, dammit, they just can't.

What am I gonna do? I can't go back there. No way I'm going back there. They can't make me. I gotta run, hide. Where? Where am I gonna hide? I got no money, nothin'.  I can't go anywhere. And what if there's more of them out there? More vampires? More watchers? What if they find me and haul me back. Oh god, what did I do? Why did I ever go with this whack job? The group home was crap. But at least I knew where I stood there. Here….oh my god.

" Faith? FAITH? Are you out there? Please…please answer me!!" Faith's thoughts are interrupted by Ellen's search for her. Oh hell, no way, bitch. No way I'm gonna answer you!!

"Faith…please…I'm sorry. I … please let me help you. I know you're scared. I can help. Please, let me help you!" Ellen calls out, getting closer.

Fuck you. You'll help me, alright. Help me get killed!!!

Ellen, sweeping the flashlight she's carrying, notices the bushes move. She stops a little away from where Faith is hiding.

"Faith" Ellen says, more quietly, trying to calm the panicked girl. " I'm very , very sorry. I never should have shown you that creature. Not yet. Not until I prepared you better. I… just couldn't understand how you couldn't believe. I… bollixed it all up. I'm so very sorry"

You damned well should be, you stupid bitch, Faith thinks, but doesn't say a word.

"Look, Faith. I'll admit something. I've not been entirely truthful with you. I've told you the truth that you're the slayer… or the slayer to be, anyway. And that it's your destiny. But, that isn't all of it. I have other reasons besides this being my job for being here.

About 4 years ago, my daughter was killed by one of these monsters. She was everything to me, Faith. I've been a member of the Watcher's council for over 20 years. But that was secondary to her. And one of …these creatures killed her. Not only sucking the life out of her, but tearing her to bits. I… I asked for field work after that, Faith. Before I'd been a researcher. But I needed…to do something. Something to…fight this evil."

Faith listens in the bushes. She…despite her anger, she feels sympathy for the woman.

"I was so consumed with anger and guilt, and hate, that I…cut myself off, Faith. I stopped feeling. Stopped understanding how …frightening this can be. I did something awful to you, Faith. And I don't blame you if you can't forgive me." Ellen says, her voice low, but heavy with emotion.

Faith feels a small tear in her eye, and rubs at it angrily. She tried to fucking kill me, Faith thinks. But in her heart, she knows that's not really true.

"Look ,Faith. I wish I could take this destiny away from you. Take it for myself. It's very unfair that you have to do this, when you're so young. You've not even had a chance to live, really.  But, I can't. But here is what I can do. I haven't told the council yet that I've found you. I…have some connections, outside the council. I could probably get you a fake identity, birth certificate, all of that. I … could try to get you placed with a decent foster family. At least for a little while, you could have a normal life. But eventually, your destiny will come upon you. And , knowing the council, they won't stop looking for you. Someone else will find you. And they won't give you a choice. So, if that's what you really want, I'll help you best I can.

But Faith, I would like another chance. I know I don't deserve it, but I'd like to try again. Try to train you properly. So you stand a chance against the evil that's out there. I know you can sense it now, you know I'm telling the truth. Is there anyway we can try again?". Ellen is near pleading by the time she's done. She realizes she needs Faith more than she realized.

Faith's first instinct is to run. To get away, as far away as she can. But she also knows she has nowhere to run to. Even if she did, she realizes the truth. She … is stuck. She has this destiny, whether she wants it, or not. It's not a choice for her. As whack as Ms. H seems, she probably is her best chance of staying alive.

She so wants to take the option. The one where she can hide for awhile longer. But she senses that in the end, she'll be stuck doing what she's been chosen to do. Be this…slayer thing. And, she somehow believes that another watcher might not be so interested in her staying alive. So, when it comes to it, this is probably her only choice.

Faith stands up , and walks out of the bushes, her decision made. She's still angry, though, and doesn't quite let Ms. Haversham off the hook yet.

"You scared me. You had no fucking right to do that to me. If you ever do that again, I'm bolting…council or no council. I'm not much of nothin, I admit. But I deserve better than that kinda crap thrown at me!"

Ellen looks at Faith, her face remorseful. " I know, and I can't say how sorry I  am".

Faith just looks back at her, her face neutral. She says, quietly. " Let's go home".

The older woman stands up, and they walk back towards the house. Faith breaks the silence first.

"Of course you know, this means another shopping trip" Faith says

"What?" Ellen says, not understanding.

"Well…I need a bigger TV…and a stereo….and, I want…" Faith starts to list out her demands.

Ellen looks heavenward, and just sighs.

"I've created a monster" She thinks.

~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~%~~

Fin, for now.

More to come in this series, if I get some feedback.