Faith: The Series 1 Ap 1

"I don't see why I have to-."

Her Watcher's sigh interrupted her in mid-tirade. "Faith, you are an intelligent young lady and it will do you good to mix with others your own age."

Faith pouted. "There's clubs in this shit-hole ain't there?" she scowled at her Watcher. "I can do all the 'mixing' I need there. 'Sides this girl knows all she needs to know. The moves to get a guy and the moves to kick his ass when he gets too eager," Faith shrugged. "Don't need to know much else."

The middle-aged Englishman pinched the bridge of his nose. "Faith, you have a brain and you will learn to use it. Moreover, surely you can appreciate how it would look, for I as school librarian, to have a foster daughter who didn't attend the school he worked at?"

"You know what I think," Faith leaned forward, displaying the contents of her low-cut top. "If you want me to go to school, I could just get a Catholic school-girl-."

"Faith," the now reddening foreigner interrupted. "You are going to school and that is final!"

"Whatever!" Furious that her final throw of the die had failed, Faith threw the pink CV's door open and leapt out, closing it with an enraged swing of her hip.

Giles sighed as his adoptive daughter bounded up the school steps. There was so much anger and pain in her it tore at his heart.

But then who wouldn't be that way after the life she'd endured? The only child of a woman with over twenty convictions for prostitution, drugs possession, and violence, and her father probably a nameless client, she'd been a ward of the court from the age of ten. When he'd found her, just under eighteen months ago at the age of fourteen, she'd been mistrustful and suspicious of his motivations for adopting her, clinging to the emotions that had fuelled her life.

And still clung. The first night after he'd moved her into his apartment, Council contacts having speeded up the usually laborious process, he'd heard her crying in her sleep in the next room, and had gone to see that she was alright.

For his pains he'd got a switchblade pulled on him at a speed that would have impressed a Slayer and a coldly delivered warning that if he tried anything she'd cut him bad. He'd been confident of his ability to disarm her, but mindful of further denting their fledging relationship he'd attempted to soothe her by explaining that he'd heard her crying and had merely been attempting to check up on her to which the adolescent had defiantly stated she wasn't a baby and didn't cry for nothing, ignoring the drying tears. After that, he'd retreated from the potential's room, his stomach clenching in pain as he heard the door slam behind him and the tell-tale sound of something, probably her chair being dragged in front of it.

And the thing of it was he loved her as if he was his own child. Her spirit, bravery, intelligence, and wit made it impossible for him not to. There were rough edges yes, but with time and caring they'd have been worn away. But time was the one thing a Slayer, with a life expectancy of roughly a year, didn't have - he'd never get to see the exceptional young woman he was sure she'd become. Faith was exceptional yes, but even so, no Slayer had ever lasted longer than four years. And then there was her Cruicatemen to contend with. It had broken his heart when the powers had chosen her.

On the other hand, Faith had been 'buzzed' by her Calling, vowing that nobody would ever take advantage of her again. If nothing else it had made her more confident in her dealings with him, but she still didn't trust him, just didn't feel the need to put her chair against her bedroom door.

But the way she'd dealt with Lothos, Giles allowed himself a proud smile as he pulled into the car park - or 'parking lot' as these butchers of the English language called it. The vampire had been over 12 centuries old, the killer of no less than five Slayers. But his Slayer had dealt with the demon and in the amazingly resourceful way of trapping him and his cohorts in the school gym and burning it down. Wonderful.

Unfortunately the Boston High School Faith had attended hadn't shared his view, understandable really considering the fact nobody was ever going to accept they'd been battling vampires. And that had necessitated their move to Sunnydale, the Hellmouth, somewhere he'd wanted to keep his young charge away at all costs. Still, at least the move had got her away from Pike. The boy had a good heart but the drop-out reminded him just a little too much of 'Ripper' in attitude for him to be wholly comfortable with his daughter mixing with him.

"Coming through, coming through!" Xander wailed as his skate-boarded up the school path, weaving expertly between the throes of students and tutors littering the sidewalk. Reaching his destination, he glanced to his left hoping to catch a glimpse of his buds.

And saw instead the tightest, most perfect leather-clad behind waggling its inviting way up the steps. Mesmerised, he continued to watch the ass as it went on its way. Right until he ran chest-first in the steps' railing, propelling him to the ground, knocking the air from his body, leaving him groaning on the ground.

"Geez," a pair of exceptionally shapely legs stepped over his fallen body. "First day at the school and I'm already climbing over slavering dorks."

"Hey Cordy," he forced a grin as he peered up at the mocking cheerleader. "Thanks for the view. I mean, I know I wasn't the first, but still. Those aerobics classes really work."

The rich girl's eyes widened in horrified understanding. "Ah!" her skin paling beneath her tan, she rushed off.

"Xander!" twisting his head, he saw a concerned looking Willow hurrying towards him, flanked by his other two, far less worried-looking, friends, Jonathan and Jesse. "Are you okay?"

"Fine," he waved away his friend's concern as he struggled to his feet, glimpsing around for the leather-clad goddess who'd distracted him. He was disappointed to see she'd disappeared, probably oblivious to the damage her exit had caused.

"Did Cordelia happen to mention me while she was insulting you?"

Xander hid a groan at the hopeful gleam in Jesse's eyes. Another year, the same old hopeless crush. "Sorry bro," he apologised. "Say, either of you guys see the new girl?"

"Oh yeah!" Jonathan and Jesse exclaimed, their eyes lighting up in stereo excitement.

"And?" he prompted.

"Defnite drool-worthiness," commented Jesse while Jonathan nodded enthusiastic agreement.

Willow rolled her eyes. "Come on guys," the red-head urged. "We'll be late for class."

Xander grinned. "And that's bad why?"

"Well missy," Faith resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the principal's use of the word 'missy'. I've read your record, quite a career." She blinked when the well-fed educator tore her permanent record into quarters. "Welcome to Sunnydale High Miss Giles," the teacher beamed at her. "I believe in fresh starts," the high school head lifted the pieces of paper. "This record is of no impor-." The principal's eyes widened. "You burnt your school gym down?"

Faith grinned ruefully. "Cig break?"

Flutie tutted. "Smoking will be the death of you missy!"

"Not fucking likely," she muttered under her breath. Cancer would have to get in line behind vampires, demons, zombies, and black art mages.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I said it's not likely I'll be smoking again," she lied with the ease of long practice. "I gave it up after the gym. It scared me off them."

"Excellent," the principal looked less than convinced as he began to stick her record back together. "Not to worry. Any other school they might say 'watch your step', or 'we'll be watching you'... But, that's just not the way here. We want to service your needs, and help you to respect our needs." Faith wondered idly if there was a point to all this. "And if your needs and our needs don't mesh..." The chubby head placed the tattered sheet back in her file and slammed it shut.

Faith managed not to laugh at the tutor's attempt at a forbidding expression. After facing her Ma's sleazy exes, pissed off bikers, and vampires, he didn't even register. "Got ya boss, we done?"

The head stared at her for a second before nodding. "We're done."

Faith strode out of the office, hips swinging and holding back a laugh at Flutie's pep-talk. Lead a school? Asshole probably couldn't lead a horse to water.

"Hey watch it!" her good mood soured when a giggling girl stumbled into her, knocking her rucksack to the floor, spilling out its contents. After throwing the senior a scorching glare, she crouched down and began picking up her stuff.

"Can I have you?"

Faith glanced up at the male and grinned. The speaker was a tall, black-haired kid, probably her year, decent build, nice eyes and smile, but with the dress sense of Stevie Wonder and kinda geeky for her tastes. "Kinda forward ain't you?"

The youth reddened and chuckled nervously as he squatted down opposite her. "Sorry, I meant can I help you?"

Faith's grin widened. "Thanks."

"I don't know you do I?" her companion asked.

"Nah," she shook her head. "Got bombed out of my old school, so my foster-dad brought me here."

"Well I'm Xander," the boy offered her a hand. Faith raised an eyebrow, guys usually wanted her to do other things with her hands than shake their's. After a second she took it. "Wow," Xander winced. "Strong grip. If you need anyone to show you around..."

Faith winked. "Thanks stud, but I usually find my own way around." Grabbing the last of her stuff she strode off, leaving the kid gaping in her wake.

"Rosenberg, your mommy still buying clothes for you?" There was a girlish laugh. "I mean no wonder all the guys are falling over themselves to get away from you!" Faith's eyes narrowed as she noted the three well-dressed girls stood around a dowdily dressed red-head. She hated bullies, she'd been bullied all her life 'cause of her mom and it wasn't right. She started forward.

"H..hi Harmony," the red-head's cheeks flamed.

"Did I say you could speak?" The blonde moved towards the red-head.

"Tell you what blondie," Faith stepped between the red-head and the trio taunting her. "I'll do you an one-time only deal. You back the fuck off right now, and I don't introduce your face to the wall." She glowered at the girls, after a second they backed off and left. A triumphant smirk on her face, she turned to the geek. "Hi, I'm Faith."

"Hi I'm Willow, thanks for helping."

Faith shrugged. "No big. You could stand up to them yourself."

Willow's eyes widened. "I couldn't. They run this school, they're the Cordettes!"

Faith's brow creased in puzzlement. "What the fuck's a Cordette?"

The other girl flinched at her swear-word, shit she'd have to get used to them. "One of Cordelia's gang," the red-head pointed over her shoulder, Faith twisted her neck to see a stunning brunette stood across the corridor by the lockers. "No-body crosses them!"

Faith grinned. "'Til now."

Cordelia had to fight back a laugh as she watched the biker chick back off the Cordettes. She might be their leader but she despised every one of them with their drone like ways and vapid stupidity. She didn't like Rosenberg either, she had too little spirit for her taste, but there was no need to bully her. When Harm and the others started on one of their targets she just left them to it - put-downs for the likes of Harris sure but defenceless sheep like Rosenberg? Not her style. She straightened as she realised the leather clad teen was heading straight for her, an unfriendly glint in her eye.

"You call your pets off Red and I won't have to kick your ass all the way 'round this damn school," the girl snarled.

Cordelia bristled, taken aback by the intensity in the smaller brunette's eyes. "Listen Miss Leather," she hissed. "You might have been queen of whatever inner city dump you came from," she was pleased when the other girl blinked. "But you're on my territory now and nobody, but nobody gives me orders! You get?" Without waiting for a reply, she turned on her heel and stormed off.

Faith stared open-mouthed at the cheerleader as she strode away from her. No-body had dared to speak like that to her in years. She smiled slowly. "I think I'm gonna like her."

"Hey Red!" Faith dropped onto the bench seat opposite Willow. "Word is you're some sort of brainac right?" the other girl nodded. "Wicked. My pa," Faith rolled her eyes, "has this thing were he thinks grades are important and -."

"Your dad's the new school librarian isn't he?" Willow interrupted, her tone excited. "What's he like?"

The simple question threw Faith. All her life, her mom and bitter experience had taught her that men only wanted women like her for one thing - sex. But Giles was different... At first she'd thought he was like all the rest, a rich bastard with enough money to make the social services turn the other way while he had a little fun. But apart from the first night he'd never tried anything. At first she thought her pulling the blade had scared him. But when he'd started training her before she was called, she knew that wasn't it, he could have taken the out-of-condition smoker she'd been back then without breaking a sweat and yet he hadn't. And apart from training, patrolling, and school, he pretty much let her do her own thing, gave her a hefty allowance to spend on what she liked. Sometimes, a small part of her wondered if he really cared about her. But that was just dumb, if not for the Slayer stuff he wouldn't give a shit about her. Finally she shrugged. "He's okay I guess."

An awkward silence was broken by the arrival of Xander and two other guys, one about the same height but skinnier, the other, a short stocky dude. "Hi Faith!" Faith hid a grin at the enthusiasm of Xander's welcome, next thing she knew the guy would be drooling. Totally uncool. "This is Jesse," the youth nodded towards the boy about his height, "and this is Jonathan. And this is yours."

Oh crap, Faith stared at the stake for a second before snatching it from the youth. "Thanks, self-defence," she explained. "Boston schools, pepper spray just won't cut it."

"Say," Xander smiled nervously. "We're heading to the Bronze tonight, you wanna hang?"

Faith shrugged. "Sure why not?" She'd probably have to get to know the teen haunts for Slaying anyhow, might as well mix business with pleasure.

"Oh look it's the nerds and the skank."

Faith turned to face the unwelcome intruder. "Hey lookee," she drawled. "It's 'Miss I'm So Rich My Daddy Can Buy Me My Friends Rather Than Find Some Real Ones'."

Chase glared at her a second before turning to Willow. "Not that I want to be seen talking to you," Cordelia sniffed. "But gym's cancelled, Aura found a body in her locker."

First day and there's a freaking body. Just great, Faith tensed. "Any marks on the body?"

Cordy's nose crunched up. "Ugh, gross! Like I'd look."

Jesse stepped forward. "You need a shoulder to cry on.." Faith had to fight back a laugh at the scornful look on the cheerleader's face. Boy was so out of his league.

"Yeah," Faith stood. " Gotta jet guys," she purposely ignored the Chief Cordette while looking at the others. "Remembered some stuff I need out of my locker."

"This month's National Geographic has got some pictures of naked tribeswomen," Xander crouched in the stacks as he searched through the library's shelves of periodicals for the right issue.

"Completely?" Jesse asked in a whisper. He nodded. "But double-biology?" his best friend commented.

"Hey," Xander retorted. "Naked ladies, if that ain't biology what is?"

"Yo G!" Xander looked around at the shout of the new love of his life and begun to stand, ready to go out and greet her. "Heard about the dead body on campus?"

"Faith," he heard the librarian sigh. "Please have a little decorum."

"I'm talking about dead bodies," Faith laughed. "And you wanna talk etiquette. Priorities G!"

"Yes," the Englishman sighed again. "First day and trouble already."

"Well you said this was the Hellmouth." Xander and Jesse exchanged puzzled glances. Hellmouth, what was a Hellmouth?

"Yes," retorted the Englishman. "Well trouble does have a habit of following you everywhere. Was he killed by a vampire?"

"A-," Xander clamped a hand over Jesse's mouth, silencing his friend.

"You hear something G?" Xander swallowed at Faith's question. If these two nut-cases heard them....

"I can't say I did, now was this young vagabond killed and turned by a vampire?"

"Killed yeah, but he won't rise, no blood drunk."

"Well that's something," some of the tension left Giles' voice. "Now, other than that how are you settling in?"

"It's five by five I guess, met a couple of interesting possibilities as friends. Had a run-in with the school bitch," Jesse's eyes widened in outrage, "which was wicked fun."

"Faith it's good that you're making friends, but remember -."

"I know a Vampire Slayer's identity must stay a secret." Xander and Jesse exchanged another set of puzzled glances. What the hell was a Slayer? "Anyway gotta jet. Already late for class."

"Quite," there was a pause. "You'll be here after class for training?"

"Sure G."

A few seconds later and Xander heard the office and library outer doors shut. Letting out a sigh of relief he released his hand over Jesse's mouth. "Did you hear what she called Cordelia?"

Xander rolled his eyes, man this Cordelia obsession of his best bud's, hadn't Jesse heard of the law against stalking? "Focus Jesse!" he hissed. "Vampires, hellmouth?"

Jesse strode towards the Bronze, casting nervous looks each way as he went. Every unfamiliar face or mysterious sound making him start slightly. The new librarian and the hottie his bud was drooling over had to be crazy. Vampires, they were both nuts. And yet, Jesse stopped for a second. There was all the kids that growing up had mysteriously disappeared, supposedly run-aways but now he couldn't help but wonder.

A thoughtful expression on his face, Jesse continued on. And stopped again at the sound of a struggle in a near-by alleyway. Taking a nervous breath, he stepped towards the alleyway, clinging to the makeshift stake he'd made this afternoon in his right hand, his left clutching a cross he'd bought on the way home from school.

"Oh crap," his blood chilled as he crept into the alley to find Cordelia struggling with a lantern-jawed man in his early thirties. If the massively-muscled man was just a mugger or rapist he was spending the night in hospital, if he was a vampire, he was dead. Either way he was screwed. Forcing his fear down down deep, he stepped forward. "Back off buster." He was chagrined at how much his voice shook.

The lantern-jawed hulk pushed Cordelia to the ground with a laugh before turning to him. "Two for the price of one." Jesse's heart stopped as the creature's eyes flashed yellow. God, he hoped that whatever caused that was drugs because otherwise he was in deep do-do.

"I said," he raised his cross to arm's length. "Back off!"

The vampire snarled at the cross before leaping forward, knocking the cross aside, grabbing him by the throat, and flinging him into the wall. Dazed, he tried to rise only to catch a crunching right to the ribs that drove the air from him, sending him back to his knees. "Leave him alone!" Cordelia hit his attacker over the head with a trash can lid. It looked to be a good blow, with a human it would have probably ended the fight there and then, but the vampire just caught Cordelia with a savage backhand, knocking his crush to the ground.

"And now," the vampire grabbed him by his throat. "The Master will be pleased indeed if I bring two back instead of just one.."

"Now you're nicely warmed up, how about a little Faith?"

"Ugh?" the demon began to look up, only to catch a heel in his face. Jesse watched in amazement as Faith darted into the alley, rocking her much larger adversary with a flurry of lightning-fast blows before finishing with an uppercut that lifted the vampire off his feet and sent him plunging to the ground. In an instance, the battered demon was on his feet. "Just wait until the Master rises at The Harvest Slayer!" In an instance, the vampire had leapt onto and over the wall at the back of the alley.

"Damn it!" Faith exploded. "I hate it when they pull that run for the hills shit!" After a second the Slayer turned back to them. "You guys five by five?" Jesse nodded as he helped Cordelia to her feet. "Wicked," the brunette looked at them both. "You crazy kids best head home now."

"What's a hellmouth?"

Faith blinked. "Ugh?"

"Xander and I overheard you this afternoon in the library-."

He swallowed as the supernatural warrior stepped towards him. "Eavesdropping in can be seriously bad for your health."

"If I hadn't be, I wouldn't have been carrying a cross, it gained me a couple of seconds, otherwise we might have been dead."

The transplanted Bostonian stared at him, uncertain as to what to say. "Jess, take me home."

Jesse stared at the dazed cheerleader. "There you go stud," Faith glanced out of the alley, clearly grateful for the subject change. "You've got an in now, I'll walk you to her car and you can work your magic on the way home. Or not."