Title: Cleveland Calling
Rating: R (For Language later)
Feedback: In lieu of a Faithbot yeah.
E-Mail: If I own the characters, why have Faith and Cordelia escaped? Woe is me.
FIC: Cleveland Calling (1?)
Nov '03, Auckland, New Zealand.
Faith grinned as she jogged home. Normally she'd be working 'til ten at the dojo she worked as a cover, but she'd got the evening off three days ago but hadn't told Woodie, intending to surprise her honey with a few hours of hot sex before patrol. She slowed up as she reached the duplex they lived in. Her smirk widened as she unlocked the glass front door and slid it open.
Her smile withered and died at the sound of giggling coming from the bedroom towards the back of the apartment. "What the fuck?" she whispered. She tried to back out of the door, retreat from the horrifying realisation she was confronted with. But her feet seemed to be working of their own volition, dragging her towards the room.
Soon she was outside the bedroom, the sounds growing ever louder, Slayer hearing had never been such a curse. Steeling herself, she raised her right knee up to her chest and kicked out, her heel slamming into the door.
The door flew open, hitting the wall with a crack. Faith strode in like an angry lioness, nostrils flaring at the sight of a busty, naked red-head in HER bed with HER man, the adulterous pair's clothes scattered on the floor. Stepping forward, she recognised the bitch as the receptionist of the high school where Wood worked as a history teacher. "You-."
"Shut the fuck up!" She backhanded Wood across the room and into the wall. For a second she enjoyed the bitch's wide-eyed terror. Then Faith grabbed the office worker by the throat, lifted, and slammed her into the wall behind the bed, her hand shaking slightly as she fought the bestial urge to squeeze, it would be so easy to choke the bitch's life out. Disgusted, Faith dropped the red-head on the floor. "Get out of here," she growled, her voice husky with emotion. The receptionist reached for her clothes. Faith kicked them away. "Fuck no," she growled. "You wanna steal my man, you can run out bare-ass naked like the slut you are."
The red-head's eyes filled with tears. "Please."
Faith punched the wall, just beside the bitch's head, chipping brick. "Did I say you could speak?" She nodded towards the open doorway. "Leave. Now."
The red-head rose on trembling legs, like a newborn calf, and fled, skinny ass wobbling as she ran. Faith turned towards a grey-faced Wood knelt on the floor beside the wardrobe. "You bastard."
She covered the space separating her from the adulterer at a blur, her foot driving up into his balls. The former Sunnydale principal gagged and doubled up, his lungs heaving. Faith placed her boot on his head, pinning him to the ground. "What was it Wood?" she asked, her voice hard, drained of emotion. "You into kinky shit that she'll do that I won't? Nah, that won't be it, I taught you some shit. Oh, that's it," Faith look down at the man beneath her, "the jailbird's not good enough for the son of a real Slayer."
"Shut up!" Faith reached down, grabbed the man by his shoulder and flung him head-first through the room window, onto the balcony outside. Climbing through, she looked with abstract satisfaction at the bleeding cuts on the man's forehead. "You and me are through. You and the Council are through, you have 48 hours to send G your resignation. Now get out."
"Look, I know I made a mess of us, but you can't just tell me to leave my job!"
"I'm not going to let you use another Slayer like you've used me," Faith said, her mild tone not matched by the burning rage inside her. "Resign or I'll kill you. Now get out, and take everything you can carry with you. Anything you leave I'll destroy."
Faith watched as Wood hurriedly packed. A dozen times in the deathly silent hour it was on her lips to ask him to stay, to say it was alright, she forgave him, but victim Faith would have done that, the powerless little girl who needed a man. She was stronger, wiser now. She knew if she gave a man an inch, he'd take a yard. So she just watched as he wrote a letter to give to Giles and left.
And then she slid down the wall and cried.
3 Days Later, London, England
Giles stared aghast at the brunette sat opposite him as she falteringly finished her story. That bloody fool, didn't he realise what a precious gift this abused child had given him, her trust. Fighting back his rage, Giles inspected the paleness of the beauty's skin and the lack of light in her normally luminous eyes. He'd destroyed her. The Slayer swallowed under his inspection. "I kinda lost it G," the usually brash brunette seemed to shrivel into the chair. "I nearly beat the pair of them into a coma."
"But you didn't Faith," he said softly. "That's the important thing to remember, to hold onto."
"But I was so fucking angr-."
Giles laughed harshly. "I'm hardly surprised. Faith," he leaned forward, his elbows resting on the polished desk separating him from the young Bostonian. "When I was in my early twenties, I dabbled in the black arts." Faith's eyes widened slightly. "And generally hung out with a bad crowd. A friend of mine by the name of Ethan -."
"B told me about him."
He nodded his head at the Slayer's muttered interruption. "I was seeing this fit bird," he continued, unconsciously dropping into the slang of his youth. "And that bugger Ethan thought it'd be right funny to put a love spell on her, shag her himself." Faith looked slightly sick. "Unfortunately for him, I came home early from the pub I was working at to find him mixing the spell ingredients. I smacked him a good one, beat the shit out of him, would have hospitalised him for sure but for two of my friends," both dead now, thanks to Egyhon, "coming in and dragging me off."
"B..but I'm a Slayer, I could have done real damage."
G noticed that even the Slayer's voice seem defeated, lacking the Bostonian's customary assurance. If he ever got his hands on Wood… Allowing that unhelpful line of thought to die out, he shook his head. "The point is you didn't. Understand?"
The Slayer started slightly at his tone before nodding. "Sure, G." The buxom brunette hesitated before continuing. "I guess I'm gonna need a new assignment?"
Giles gaped at the beautiful young woman. "Faith, I hardly think you're ready."
The Slayer shook her head, raven tresses dancing in the sunlight coming through the window. "It's what I know, the only thing I'm good at," the beauty's ruby-lips parted in a bitter smirk, "well not the only thing, but I sure as hell ain't doing that again."
Giles stared at the Bostonian. Oh dear, there was quite a quandary. The ideal solution would be to keep her here in England with him and look after her himself, as he should have all those years ago, but he hadn't the time with re-building and running the Council, and finding new Slayers. Then there was Angel, his hackles rose at just the thought of Jenny's murderer, but he'd confirmed the suspicions Giles had always held about the bastard by taking over W&H. He was not about to hand the demon a loaded weapon in the shapely form of Miss. Lehane. Buffy was out of course, that didn't even require a second thought, the way the other Slayers reacted to Buffy had forced him to come to the unpalatable conclusion that Buffy and other Slayers didn't mix, especially her and Faith. There really was only one candidate. And help was needed there. After a second collecting his thoughts he began to talk.
Faith's eyes widened as he finished, panic replacing the sadness in the pool-like orbs. "I can't," she shook her head. "There's gotta be somewhere else, something else you need doing here." Faith looked around his well-ordered office. "New cleaner?"
"You asked for an assignment," Giles sat back in his chair, his firm expression giving no clue to his inner turmoil. "It's the Hellmouth now, while we have novice Slayers on the ground there, your leadership and experience would be invaluable." Putting two people with their pasts together could be explosive, but it could also heal old wounds. One could only hope. He had 'faith' in them both.
2 days later, Cleveland
The door to the brownstoned house crashed open and they walked into the threadbare lounge complete with its peeling wallpaper and worn carpet. The heads of the five vampires sat around the table in the centre of the floor snapped towards the intruders. Xander beamed at the demons' shock. "Hi boys," he said. "I understand you had an infestation problem." He paused, raising the eyebrow over his remaining eye. "Oh wait, you're the infestation." One of the vampires, a short bulky man with an unlit cigar hanging out of his mouth, leapt to his feet. Xander reached inside his ankle-length leather overcoat, drew his pistol-crossbow and fired.
The second his bolt thudded home, the other demons started to move. Xander glanced at the two girls flanking him. "Get them!" he ordered, his voice strained.
He was relieved when his other three Slayers burst in from the back of the building, ensuring his forces had the vampires surrounding. He stepped back in frustration, drawing his stake in case any of the vampires got past them to him, hating but accepting his girls were the fighters, he was just their friend, their mentor.
In seconds the battle was over, the vampires no match to his warriors. Xander silently thanked the police contact who'd alerted them to the disappearing street kids that this gang had been feeding on. "Well done," Xander nodded and smiled. "You did well, worked as a team, and remember that's important. One Slayer -."
"One Slayer alone is tough, a team of Slayers working together even tougher," one of his student Slayers, a pretty Korean girl named Dae whose petite frame belied her strength, finished his saying for him, an impish look on her face.
Xander shook his head and scowled playfully, he could remember being that young and enthusiastic, but only if he really concentrated. "Can we go home now Mr. Harris?" asked Penda, an African beauty with long braided hair who was almost as tall as him, and however many times he asked, would always call him 'Mr. Harris'. Which made him feel like his dad, possibly his least favourite person in the world. "Perhaps Miss. Lehane has arrived?"
God, he hoped not. He'd only got the call from Giles yesterday and needed more time to get used to the idea of having Faith pushed back into his life. Like maybe a lifetime. He accepted she'd reformed, but still unresolved issues and feelings abounded. He glanced at the remaining three girls, a tall blonde Amazon from Germany called Astrid, a short, lithe red-head named Breena, and a muscular Jewish girl by the name of Enye. "Are you all ready?" he asked. The girls nodded, the eagerness expressed by Penda mirrored in their faces. "Let's go then. And remember-."
"Keep alert," all five girls chorused.
Xander shook his head. When did he become Mr. Responsibility?
"Sir!" Andrew saluted him as he shepherded the girls into the light-lit kitchen of the three storey mansion that was the Council headquarters. "Mission completed?"
"Mission completed," Xander replied wearily. Would this idiot ever grow up?
He groaned inwardly as the group's housekeeper flipped open the laptop sat on the kitchen top and booted it up, the sound of the Star Trek tune indicating the computer's operating system had finished loading, answering his own question. Obviously not. "Mission details, sir!" Andrew chirpily demanded as he looked up from the Excel database the nerd had created to keep a record of their mission.
"Xander," Breena interrupted. "Could you tell us another story about Miss. LeHane?"
"Look," Xander tried again.
"How about the story of Miss. Lehane and Ms. Summers against the Xzya?" suggested Penda, her rich tones excited.
"Please girls," Andrew's high pitched voice cut through the clamour. "We have to enter our reports immediately." The teen tapped his nose self-importantly. "Watcher protocol."
"BE QUIET!" Xander roared, his temper snapping. "All of you go to bed." Slayers and geek alike stared at him. "Now!" Xander shook his head as everyone rushed out. "Great," he muttered, voice echoing mockingly back at him around the hushed kitchen. "Lash out at everyone. Turn into your dad, Xander. Oh well done." He looked down to see his hands shaking slightly. What he really needed was -, he shook his head. No, he wasn't drinking, he'd avoided temptation after Anya's death, his heart tightened at the thought of his ex-fiancée, he wasn't going to succumb to it now. "She wouldn't like that."
"I heard there was an explosion last night."
Xander stiffened at the voice behind him. Taking a breath, he placed his toast on his plate before placing it on his lap, and turning to face the voice's disapproving owner. "Hey Amy."
"Don't hey me!" his friend and former black arts Wicca glared at him before dropping onto the sofa beside him and snatching the not-bitten piece of toast off him. The witch raised an eyebrow when he opened his mouth to protest. Ducking his head, Xander looked at the carpet. "You're their leader. You can't just go off your handle at them," the witch scolded. "They have to respect not fear you."
"They're the one with super-."
"You know that's not the point, mister!" Amy scolded. "They look up to you, they can't be walking on egg shells around you."
"I know," Xander gave up trying to defend his actions. "I don't know if I'm the right person-."
"Don't you dare!" Amy snapped. "Don't you dare doubt yourself. Mr. Giles put you in command because he has faith," Xander stiffened at the word 'faith'. Amy's eyes widened. "Oh Xander, it's her. You trust me after all I've done. You gave me another chance, why not her?"
"I wasn't -," Xander changed what he was about to say. "You never tried to kill me."
"Why didn't you say no?"
"I couldn't," Xander shrugged. He owed G-Man too much. He swallowed at a knock on the front door. "I best get that."
"Here you are honey."
"Thanks," Faith ignored the taxi driver's leer to pass him two twenties through the grille. Even if she was interested in getting laid, a cigar smoking fatso pushing fifty so didn't get her motor revving. "Keep the change."
Grabbing her four stuffed to capacity sports bags, she slung two over each shoulder before climbing out of the taxi. Faith looked at the two storey mansion and nodded in approval. Place looked nice, modern but homely, good upkeep too. Garden looked neat, regularly mowed. Not she expected different, Harris was a good little housewife-.
Faith mentally kicked herself. That's right, she's barely back in the country five minutes and she's already thinking trash. "Way to go, girl," she muttered sarcastically. "You're doing real good."
Taking a breath she walked up the crazy-paved path and knocked on the door. After a minute the door swung open. "Hey," Faith winced inwardly at X's slight flinch. What the fuck did she expect, she fumed inwardly, a hug and a 'good to see ya'? It wasn't like she was B or someone else who's shit didn't stink. "Ya gonna let a girl in?"
"Sure," Xander grunted. "That all you brought with you?"
"Uh," Faith blinked when X took two of her four bags off her. "I travel light."
"Oh yeah," Xander muttered, too low for anyone bar a Slayer or a vampire to hear, "light for a full-grown gorilla, maybe."
Hiding a smirk, she followed the man through the hallway. "Place is nice, X."
"Perk of being a Watcher," Xander replied. The Hellmouth Watcher led her upstairs, stopping at a plain brown door. Seeing X struggling to open it with his elbow, Faith stuck out a leg at a 90 degree angle, hooking the door with her foot and pulling it open. The door swung inwards. "Thanks."
"No problem," Faith followed her new boss into the room. It was a plain room with a desk, wardrobe, chair, and a bed. It wasn't home, Faith's heart caught with thoughts of her apartment with Wood, but it was a shitload better than most of the crapholes she'd lived in.
X let out a relieved sigh when he dumped her heavy bags on the black carpet. "You want to decorate, change the curtains, add more furniture," Xander shrugged. "It's your room."
"Sweet," Faith nodded. She opened her mouth to say thanks but closed it again. Looking at X, she realised the former Scooby was as uncomfortable with the situation as she was. Hell more, but then she had tried to strangle him. Deciding to keep the relationship strictly business, hell it wasn't like they'd ever been friends, she spoke, adopting a neutral tone. "How does this place run, X?"
"Yeah," Xander looked relieved to get the conversation back on a business footing. "Only we have a rule, we don't talk Slayer business in private quarters, place to unwind."
For some reason X looked embarrassed by his words. Faith nodded approvingly. "Sounds like a good idea, kinda like sanctuary."
"Yeah," Xander ducked his head, again with the embarrassment. "Anyway if you want to come through." Faith nodded before silently following Harris through the corridors. The one-eyed carpenter had just stopped outside of another room, this one painted a forbidding black when Faith heard a shrill voice behind her.
"Greetings, fellow redemption seeker!"
Faith turned towards the speaker stood in the hall behind them, a typically inane grin on his face. "Yo Andy," she greeted. Truth was, she thought Wells was pretty much a self-absorbed dick, but at least him being here broke up the tension between her and X. "How its hanging?"
"Hi," Wells tapped the side of his nose. "I was sorry to he-."
"Coffee," Xander interrupted with a glare at the geek. "NOW." Andrew paled and hurried off. Man, X had him well-trained. "Sorry about that," X muttered before opening the door.
The room beyond was a scrupulously clean board-room each wall lined with heavily stacked book-shelves. It was, Faith realised, a smaller version of the Council briefing room. "Nice place X," Faith lounged in one of the chair, throwing a leather-clad leg over one of the arms. "Now, what's the sitch?"
"First, the rules." Faith groaned inwardly, rules sucked. "What you do in the privacy of your own room is your own business. But I would prefer that when you're doing your guys you don't bring them home," Faith's hackles rose, who the fuck did he think he was? "Also if you're going to be out at night tell someone. And don't miss patrols. We have a rota of household chores, everyone does their part. Well except Andrew, he cooks and looks after the kitchen, the rest of us share the laundry, grocery shopping, DIY, and cleaning the house. Meal times are fairly fluid, given a Slayer's metabolism I figure that's best."
Xander paused. Realising he was waiting for a reaction, Faith shrugged. She was about to tell him that she wasn't in the game of picking up random studs anymore but figured he wouldn't buy it. She'd just have to show him. "What about the girls and everyone?"
Xander nodded. "Sure, there's Amy, I know her from Sunnydale, she's our resident witch. Andrew you know," right on cue the youth walked in, set a tray between them and rushed out as if he was being chased by the hounds of hell, "as well as cooking a mean casserole, he speaks more demon languages than Giles. And then there's the girls-."
For an hour or so X talked about his Slayers, it was obvious he was proud of them. Cared. They were real lucky to have him. "Whoa," Faith blinked as she caught something at the end of X's conversation. "Run that last bit of that past me again."
"The bit about the cop?" she nodded, heart thundering. "Okay," Xander stared at her for a second before shrugging. "We have a cop who gives us tip-offs about occult stuff, we get really-."
"And you say she's called Kate Lockley?"
Xander groaned. "You know her? You sure?"
"You tend to remember the chick who puts you away for 25 – 40," Faith replied.
"Great, just great," Xander stood. "Maybe we should go down to the station and get everything ironed out."
"Nah," Faith affected a casual tone even as her heart continued to thunder. "I'm here now, maybe you should introduce me to the Slayers first."
"Sure," Xander glanced at his watch before looking towards the doorway. "They'll be back from their run and down in the basement training. Come on."
"Nice," Faith muttered as she followed X into the basement. It was a pretty good set-up, complete with a wall filled with weapons, heavy and speed bags hanging from the ceiling, practice mats on the floor, and enough weights to give Mr. Universe backache. X had blown his wallet on this lot. More evidence he gave a shit about his Slayers.
Well the five girls now staring up in awe at her anyhow. Faith was rather less sure about Harris' feelings towards her. Forcing a nonchalant air, she nodded towards her admirers. "Yo," she greeted.
"Miss Lehane," the red-head, X had said her name was Breena, said, her eyes excited. "It's a pleasure -."
"It's," she took a leaping somersault down the six steps to the basement floor, "Faith, Miss. Lehane makes me sound like a crazy maiden aunt. So, how about you show me what ya got." Remembering something, she called out. "X, you've been training them. I could do with your input?"
"Sure," X sounded surprised to be asked. No shock there, she'd never treated him like his opinion was shit. Neither had B either as she remembered. Too much life in him for blondie. Her excuse? She was just a bitch.
Well that changed now. She grinned her shark's smile at the girls surrounding her. Nerves, she could smell them on her opponents. "Who's first?"
Faith ignored the muttered lewd remarks and leers she got as she followed X through the busy police station. In her experience, cops weren't much different from the gangs she'd run with a decade ago, they all used muscle to enforce their will and didn't much care who got hurt by them doing it. That was guys for ya, all scum.
Xander came to a halt by a desk. "Hey, Kate."
The blonde cop looked up, a smile on her face. "Hey Xa-," the smile slipped as the cop registered her presence. "You!"
The officer's hand moved for the gun on her desk. Faith blinked when Xander stepped between her and the cop. "Kate, calm down."
"Calm down?" the blonde's eyes bulged. Uh, Faith distractedly noticed the cop was another bottle blonde, another reason not to like her. "I put her away for murder!" the policewoman hissed, Faith flinched at the reminder. "You must know what she is?"
"I know," Faith grimaced at the tight note in Harris's tone. Oh yeah, he knew what she was, she'd seen the fear in his eyes when she damn near killed him. "But you remember the LA eclipse six months ago?" After a second the cop nodded. "Faith broke out of prison to stop it and," Xander reached into his jacket.
Faith heard Xander gulp at the warning note in the cop's voice. If X hadn't stepped in the way, she could have got the gun away from her, damn fool man. "Sure," Harris tossed the papers she'd given him earlier on the desk. "That's Faith's pardon. She's working for the good guys now."
Kate shook her head as she pushed the papers back across the desk. "You're making a mistake Xander," the cop warned as she holstered her gun.
Xander shrugged. "My mistake to make. We just came up here so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding."
"What?" Xander didn't take his eye off the road as he drove them home.
"Thanks for sticking up for me in there," Faith said, her eyes likewise fixed on the road. "And for saying I could come here."
Xander nodded. He guessed he'd find out soon if he'd made a mistake.