Title: A child shall lead them
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or situations, or concepts, or anything, really.
Summary: After the events described in Deconstructing Hell Faith, Angel and Xander try to save a girl from her past while Faith tries to deal with the biggest challenge of her life.
This also follows If I Should Die Before We Wake... actually, chronologically we're in the middle of that story as we enter this story. But all you need to know is that Spike helped bring Xander and Faith together, and he's in some peril of his own right now. Later he re-enters this story, so it might help if you read both fics before reading this one, even if you're allergic to Spike. Also, while Angel and Xander feel about Spike the way they did in canon, he saved their lives previously, so Faith feels better about him than they do. (go figure)
Chapter One: Breaking the sound barrier
If the tiny town of Shelby was in any way aware of the presence of the fugitives that had just sped into its tiny haven, it gave no sign of it.
The hamlet was nestled against the ocean nearly five hundred miles north of LA, a town that few knew of and fewer still visited. It was practically a ghost town.
The tiny main street was littered with burned-out wrecks and abandoned stores, and with twilight coming on it looked very spooky. There was one light on, in a two-story brick building, and it was there that the tiny two-seat car pulled up.
The man that got out was short, with a three-day stubble and cowboy boots. His nose was crooked from being broken, and his straw-colored hair was chopped short. He lifted a pistol out of the seat where it had been laying between his knees and lifted his shirt to stick it under his waistband.
The girl, a blond with a backwards baseball cap and a trenchcoat, checked the shotgun she had under it before closing it. She looked up at the brick building, baffled.
"Are you sure this is the place?" she asked again.
He sighed. "The man said it would be easy to spot, didn't he?" There was a trace of a Scottish accent in his voice, one that sounded diluted by many years in America.
She peered up at the building again, scowling. When he started to walk away the scowl dissapearred, and she hurried after him.
He didn't knock on the front door, simply swung it open.
A long man in black stood at a desk, facing away from them. As they entered he swung around to face them, not showing a hint of surprise. He was tall, with dark hair that stood up off his head and broad shoulders, and boyish good looks, but there was darkness in his eyes.
The two intruders looked him up and down, apparently unimpressed by what they saw.
"Can I help you?" he asked, his gaze taking them both in but settling on the girl. His nose twitched, and he tilted his head slightly, as if trying to place a familiar face.
"A friend of yours sent us here," replied the man in the doorway, stepping forward slightly to get between the girl and this tall, dark stranger. The slight burr in his voice caught the taller man's attention immediately.
"I have lots of friends. Did this one have a name?"
"Called himself Lorne," said the girl. "Green guy. Horny." She regretted the turn of phrase immediately, and tried to cover it up by glaring at the back of her friend's head.
The tall man blinked twice. "Lorne. Still hanging around, huh? How did he know where I was...?—never mind. You have a problem?"
"He said you help the helpless," said the man, frowning at the tall figure who stared back at him. "Of course, he failed to mention how you did that, exactly."
"But you were feeling helpless, so you decided to risk coming here," replied the tall man, smiling. "I don't do as much of that as I'd like to these days—a bit busy, with the other projects—tell me about your problem."
The girl shook her head. "Wait a minute. This isn't right! We've been set up!" She swung the shotgun out of her coat quickly, leveling it at the taller man, who raised an eyebrow slowly.
"Problem?" he asked softly. His hands had tightened into fists.
"Your friend didn't say anything about you being a vampire!" she snarled.
Before she could move again he was across the room, snatching the shotgun out of her hands. She gasped in shock, backing up to the door, and her companion drew his pistol quickly.
"Don't try it!" he snapped. "Got ahead of us, huh? Picked off the good helpless helper, set a trap?"
The taller man looked at him quizzically. "You're being chased by vampires?" he asked. He backed up, carefully setting the shotgun down on a table that was stacked high with books. "Come into my office."
He turned his back on them and walked into another room. They exchanged confused glances.
"I say we get out of here, and fast!" hissed the girl.
The man was already paler than he had been a minute before, and he considered it a second. "We have to find out how he got ahead of us," he whispered, moving forward slowly.
"I wasn't behind you."
They both jumped, and moved forward into the other room.
The office space of the tiny building was crammed with bookcases loaded with old, dusty tomes. The vampire was sitting behind a desk, twirling a stake in one hand. "So you're being pursued," he said. "By who, and why?"
There was a long silence, and the man kept his pistol aimed right at the vampire. "Don't take this the wrong way, but we don't trust vampires."
"That gun wouldn't stop me," said the vampire reproachfully. "My name is Angel, by the way, and—"
"Yo! Angelus!" The sudden shout from the stairs behind the vampire caused the pistol in the man's hand to jerk upwards, to point at the source of the sound. The vampire stood up quickly, stepping between the gun and the man with the eyepatch on the stairs.
"Xander, this isn't the best time," he said quietly.
The man stared with his good eye down at their visitors. "Are they good guys or bad?" he asked. "Because I'm all set with my safety word or my panic word, whatever you think."
Angel sighed deeply. "I'm pretty sure they're good guys," he said. "We were just about to discuss it."
Xander continued to stare down at them, apparently weighing the odds. "Are they human?" he asked cautiously.
The girl drew herself up to her full height, glaring at him. "More than your friend!" she snapped.
"Ah." Xander looked at Angel, frowning. "I don't think you could call him my friend, exactly. Were we ever mortal enemies?"
"Maybe," mumbled the vampire. They might not have been mortal enemies, and might be living together right now, but they certainly weren't friends. He wasn't going to argue that point.
Xander moved forward then, managing a thin smile. "And how did they find us? I was pretty sure we were unfindable these days."
"Lorne told them how to find us. Did you sing for him?"
"I did," said the short man, glaring at the vampire. "What possible difference does that make?"
"So they must be more or less good people," said Angel.
"How does that follow? Maybe they can just carry a tune and he decided to go with that."
"Lorne has some…abilities…" said Angel slowly. "If they sang, he knows. You can put the gun down."
The man shook his head. "Maybe later."
"Uh-huh," said Xander, smiling, this time a wide, genuine smile. "See, I think the fact that he's so jumpy around a vampire proves that he's a good person."
"Ha-ha," muttered Angel, sitting back down abruptly. "My name is Angel, and this is Xander."
"I'm Amelia," said the girl, glancing at her companion. "This is Tom. We—we aren't being chased by vampires. But they've hired them before."
"Who are you being chased by?" asked Xander, moving behind the desk and opening a drawer.
"Why, yes, you can borrow my stuff," said Angel sarcastically. "Feel free."
"Demons!" snapped Tom. "A nasty pack of demons who think some prophecy refers to Amelia because she's…" He trailed off slowly, eyeing Angel.
"She's not a Slayer," said Xander slowly, looking up. "Is she?"
"No," said Angel. "I don't think so, anyway."
"Oh, now you're an expert?"
The man and the vampire resumed the angry stareoff for a minute, until Tom cleared his throat. "Sorry," said Angel, looking away. "Why are they after her?"
"I don't know!" blurted the girl. "Tom thinks it's because of…my father."
A dark-haired girl stormed down the stairs, a dark scowl on her face. "And he's not even a vampire anymore! He only gets powers from her, and who knows how reliable she is? You can't trust that! We should protect him!" She completely ignored their two guests.
"Faith, this is Amelia and Tom," said Angel. "They're on the run from demons." Xander looked away from her, his face twisting into a scowl.
"So we'll kill the demons," said Faith throatily, eyeing Amelia.
Xander also eyed Amelia, but a frown creased his forehead. "She looks kind of familiar," he said to Angel, quietly. "Do we know her?"
"I think you may know her father," said Angel.
"What?" said Xander, peering at Amelia. "How do you figure?"
"Well, I wouldn't have figured it out except that she smelled a little like him," confessed Angel sheepishly. He didn't like displaying his obviously demonic powers, especially not to people already a little spooked by his presence.
"You knew my father?" said Amelia, frowning. "How is that possible?"
Angel shrugged, leaning back. "I might be wrong," he said softly. "It might just be a coincidence. But your last name is Rayne, isn't it?"
She stared at him, and her jaw set very suddenly. "No, it's not," she said, her voice strained. "As he never married my mother, I'm just a bastard, aren't I? My last name is Smith."
Angel frowned. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean… But you are Ethan Rayne's daughter."
"Yes, he was my mom's sperm donor," spat Amelia. "But all he ever gave me was my eyes."
"And a whole world of trouble," said Tom.
Angel eyed Tom. "And you are?"
"A rogue demon hunter."
"Big problem, rogue demons," said Angel dryly. Tom glared at him. "How'd you find her?"
"She found me," said Tom. "I had an office. Was listed in the phone book. After a near escape she looked me up. I agreed to help her, and… well, it's been no fun at all."
The understatement made Angel smile. "I know all about that. You mentioned a prophecy?"
"The demons did, last time," said Tom. "Didn't say what prophecy or anything."
Angel sighed, glancing at Xander and Faith, who were both trying very hard not to look at each other. "What do you guys think?" he asked.
"You're mister in-charge," muttered Xander, turning and stalking up the stairs.
"We'll kill the demons," snapped Faith.
Angel sighed again, putting a hand over his eyes. "Faith…"
"Fine, we'll find out what prophecy, then kill then!"
Tom lowered his gun slowly, staring at them. "We're talking about some very big, very tough demons," he said. "I can see a vampire being able to… a vampire…" He slowly raised the gun again. "A vampire? Come on, your sort is completely evil!"
Angel glared at him. "Yes, they are. Don't trust any of them. I'm not like them."
Faith sighed. "He has a soul," she said.
Tom lowered the gun. "Okay, maybe," he said doubtfully. "Where was I?"
"Telling her she'd only get hurt," said Amelia, eyeing Faith. "I'm kind of with Tom on this."
Faith shook her head. "Then you're both stupid," she said flatly, turning and running up the stairs.
Angel frowned. "I think maybe the best thing would be a trap," he said. Amelia was staring at him.
"What kind of trap?" she asked, as if she already knew the answer.
"Let them find you. Get them to tell you why they want to kill you. Then kill them." He nodded firmly. "It needs some fleshing out, but it's a start."
Tom shook his head. "These are bad, very bad demons!" he said again. "Bigger than anything you've seen!"
"I killed a dragon once," mused Angel. "That was pretty big. And very, very hard to kill. Whatever you have to show us, I don't think it'll be quite that bad."
In the other room the front door was pushed open, smashing it against the wall. There was a quiet growling from the other room. Angel raised one eyebrow slowly.
"And that would be the sound of me being proved wrong," he muttered quietly. "How far behind you did you say they were?"
A demon burst into the room. Tall and bluish, wearing a business suit and carrying a long scimitar, it let out a howl of fury.
Tom whipped around and fired, emptying the clip into its torso, letting out a bellow of rage. As the slide on his gun locked back and it stopped firing the demon stumbled back, blue blood flowing from a half-dozen wounds in its chest.
Then it started forward, growling, undeterred by the gunfire.
Amelia moved back, gasping. "I left the shotgun in the other room!" she yelled.
Then Angel vaulted the desk, his face contorted in a demonic mask. He let out a roar, landing in front of the demon and grabbing him by the lapels of the suit.
"What do you want with these people!" he demanded, yellow eyes meeting icy blue ones.
The demon flinched a little bit. "Half-breed!" he snapped. "Don't get in my way." He tried to brush Angel off him, but Angel held on doggedly.
"What are they to you?" demanded Angel. "Do they owe you money?"
"Read the signs, half-breed," growled the demon. "You're in way over your head."
Angel laughed. "Read the signs? I don't have a Seer any more—apparently I'm on too big a job to be distracted by signs! Spell it out for me!"
The demon growled, and grabbed Angel's shoulder, pushing him away, hard. The lapels of his suit tore off in Angel's grip as he stumbled back.
The demon roared, revealing rows of stubby sharp teeth, and moved forward at Amelia again. Tom had reloaded and was standing ready, still not sure his bullets would do anything.
Angel moved forward again, stabbing the stake he'd been holding in his hand all this time into the demon's eye. As it howled and clutched at its face he moved back to a shelf, reaching up on top of it.
As he pulled a broadsword out Amelia let out a gasp. "Okay, that's cool," she said faintly.
Angel advanced on the demon. "You're big, and you're tough," he said. "So who are you working for?"
"She's Rayne's!" snapped the demon. "Are you one of his too?"
Angel carefully set the tip of the blade under the demon's chin, lifting it. "Why are you pursuing this girl?" he asked quietly, his face shifting back to human form.
The demon gaped at him with his one good eye. "You're Angelus!" he said, as if it made perfect sense suddenly.
Angel smiled. "Angel, Angelus—what's the difference?"
The demon whipped one arm up, knocking the sword aside. Angel kept his grip, letting the blow swing him in a full circle. The sword whipped around and hit the demon in the neck, slamming right through it, throwing his head away towards the other side of the room.
Amelia let out a choking sound, staring.
As the demon's body fell to the floor Angel turned back to Tom. "I think it's time we had a little talk," said Angel.