Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.
Rating: T, for violence, intensity, and general themes.
Time Frame: Third season BtVS, AU from the point when Faith Slays Trick in "Consequences," and intersecting with the HP timeline just after the end of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." (spoilers!)
Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.
Dedication: To Sibling—who has long been among my most loyal and enthusiastic fans—and who won a little contest I held on my Yahoo! Group, for which the prize was to be a fic written with his choice of primary characters. He made a couple of suggestions, the best of which—as far as me writing a story based on it, in any event—could be summed up as follows: "Harry and Faith have a lot in common, and might be rather good for each other." I agreed—the result is this story.
HARRY POTTER AND THE EXILED SLAYER
Mr. Trick's eyes widened. "Oh no." He shook his head in disbelief as he muttered, "No, this is no good at all."
Buffy stared in shock as the nattily-dressed vampire burst into ashes and the pressure from the cord around her throat diminished. The dust dispersed, and she saw Faith standing there, still holding the stake that had saved Buffy's life. The eyes of the Slayers met, and Buffy was still trying to read the emotion in them when Faith moved almost faster than Buffy's still-diminished perceptions could follow. Buffy felt a sharp blow at the point of her chin, then knew nothing.
Faith looked down at Buffy's crumpled form and sighed, then picked the older Slayer up in a fireman's carry. She looked around for a bit, then found what she expected to find: a recent model Mercedes parked next to a minivan. Didn't think the conceited bloodsucker would bother to walk all the way down here—he had expensive tastes from working for Kakistos. She was not surprised to find the keys still in the ignition—the car was clearly marked as belonging to the mayor's office, and virtually no one inclined to steal cars in Sunnydale would want to make an enemy out of His Honor. She settled Buffy in the passenger seat and drove to the hospital.
"Hey—could I have some help here?" The nurse on front desk duty looked up and saw a dark-haired teenage girl carrying another teenaged girl in her arms. The brunette gently settled the other girl down in one of the lobby chairs, then jogged over to the desk and explained, "She's been mugged—she's got some wicked nasty bruises. I've got the name and number of her guardian here." The girl handed the nurse a piece of paper. "You can call him—I need to get some of her stuff out of the car. Be right back."
"But—" The nurse started to object, but the girl ran out before she could finish her sentence. She pushed the button that would summon medical help, and punched in the number that was on the sheet of paper. "Hello. . .is this Mr. Giles? A young woman just brought in someone she said you were the guardian of—a Miss Buffy Summers?" The voice on the other end of the line increased in volume, and the nurse elaborated, "She's apparently been mugged—we're going to look at her now. The young woman said she would be right back—"
On the other end of the line, Rupert Giles sighed in mixed concern and relief. His tone was dry as he replied, "Don't bet on that. I'll be there in twenty minutes." He hung up the phone, scribbled a brief note for Xander and Willow, then ran for his car.
"Faith!" Buffy's eyes snapped open and she sat up instantly as she called out, looking wildly around until a wave of dizziness caused her to pause.
"Easy, Buff. The last thing you need right now is to be barfing all over the bed." Xander's tone and expression belied the puckish comment, and he reached out and squeezed her shoulder as he added, "Welcome back."
Buffy looked around—more sedately this time—and saw that she was in a hospital room, alone with Xander. She locked eyes with her best friend and demanded: "How did I get here? What happened?"
"Well, the first part is easy. Faith brought you to the front desk, said you'd been mugged, then left and didn't come back." Buffy's eyes widened, and Xander coughed self-consciously and added, "We were hoping you knew what happened before that."
Buffy frowned, then began to get out of bed, ignoring the light feeling in her head: "I'll tell you when I tell everyone else—right now I need to get out of—"
"Ah yes—I believe I've heard this tune before." Dr. Wilkinson walked into the room, checked Buffy's chart, and commented, "They really ought to have a seminar in hog-tying techniques in medical school—it would be invaluable in dealing with patients like you, Miss Summers." Buffy scowled at the doctor, but he ignored it and added, "Oh well, might as well play my part: how are you feeling?"
"Better than I expected to while I was getting mugged?" Buffy did her best to assume an innocent expression, and the doctor sighed patiently while waiting for her to continue. Buffy frowned, then added: "I got whacked around pretty good, Doc. Probably gave me some pretty good bruises."
"Yes, it did. From the bruise on your back, I'd say one of those scoundrels whacked you with a crate that wouldn't fit through the door of this room—criminals are getting creative these days." Buffy assumed a poker face, and Dr. Wilkinson sighed again and said, "But, since the bruise is already fading and you seem to have no broken bones or other internal injuries, I'll reluctantly admit that you should be all right to leave in the morning, Miss Summers, once we observe you for a while longer to make sure that the concussion you received won't be causing any problems."
Buffy smiled, and Dr. Wilkinson inclined his head and left with a resigned expression on his face. Buffy looked after him with a mildly affectionate expression. –He's got to suspect what's going on in this town—I wish I knew for sure that it was the right thing to keep him in the dark-- She dismissed the thought and looked at Xander. "I don't suppose that I could talk you into going home and getting a good night's sleep?" Xander smirked at her, and Buffy nodded her head in acknowledgement. "All right, then. Call Giles and tell him that we're getting together for a conference at his apartment at eleven in the morning. In case there's any question—no Council weasels allowed." Xander nodded, and was about to stand up when Buffy added, "And get a deck of cards while you're up—I'm too wound up to sleep for a while yet."
Xander stood up, and the look he gave her was somehow more intimate than a hug before he turned and left the room. Buffy watched him go, then bit her lip in sheer frustration. Damn it, Faith: what have you gotten yourself into?
The vampire standing before Mayor Wilkins was less than thrilled about being the acting replacement for both Assistant Mayor Finch and Mr. Trick—it left him as the likely recipient of a lot of the Mayor's ire regarding the bad news he was about to pass on. He took a breath that he didn't really need and forced himself to look directly at the Mayor as he reported: "None of Trick's crew have reported back in—and there were traces of vampire dust near a spot on the docks where a fight had clearly taken place. Trick's car was gone, though the van was found parked nearby. We made a call and had the car's LoJack turned on—it turned up abandoned in Oxnard, with no one having seen anything."
"I see—well, attacking two Slayers was always bound to be a risky enterprise." Mayor Wilkins looked calm, and only a slight twitch in his right cheek suggested that his calm might only be a surface impression. The vampire swallowed nervously, but Wilkins didn't seem to notice as he asked, "What of the Slayers?"
"Buffy Summers was dropped off at the emergency room by a young woman whose description meets that of the other Slayer, Faith. Her injuries were apparently relatively minor—she was released this morning." The vampire saw a frown from his boss, and hastened to continue: "Faith has not been seen by anyone in Sunnydale since last night—it's fairly certain that she's the one who stole the car and abandoned it."
"Mr. Trick kept a fair amount of cash in that car—used it for his little pleasures and for occasional bribery in the line of duty." Wilkins sighed as he looked out into the darkness visible from his office window. "My guess would be that young Miss Faith has taken it and anything else that she could carry easily from the car, and arranged alternate transportation out of the area." The vampire shivered, sensing that an explosion was coming, and was shocked when the Mayor smiled broadly and exclaimed, "Marvelous! Trick managed to accomplish something useful after all!"
The vampire blinked. "I don't understand, sir—both Slayers escaped, and one of them is completely out of your reach now."
Wilkins shook his head in mock dismay. "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby—if you're going to be my new assistant, you need to be able to see the big picture better." The vampire—who hated being called "Bobby" with a passion—forced down the irritated expression that threatened to cross his face as Wilkins continued, "Killing both Slayers was always going to be a longshot—but we've managed to drive one of them out of town, and—unless I miss my guess—the other one and her helpers are going to be distracted by either worrying about her safety or whether she's going to come back looking for payback, given what those English fools tried to do to her last night. Meanwhile, I will be pursuing my plans with relatively little interference." He grinned and announced, "I'm going out for ice cream to celebrate—want to tag along?"
The vampire politely declined, and Wilkins left the office, practically skipping out in his glee. Wilkins' newly minted assistant shook his head in dismay, and made a mental note to make sure that the name plaques on his door and desk read "Robert."
Buffy and her friends came into the library as a group, talking quietly among themselves—and went silent immediately when they saw Giles standing quietly near the cage, obviously waiting for them. Buffy blinked and asked the obvious question: "What's wrong, Giles?"
Giles gestured for the four of them to sit, and they went to the large table and did so. Willow looked uncomfortable, and Oz squeezed her hand gently to distract her a bit. Xander rubbed distractedly at the fading bruises on his neck—it had been five days since Faith fled Sunnydale, and he had been doing all he could to try to force away the memories of his last meeting with her. Buffy watched Xander with concern, and waited for Giles to speak.
"A letter arrived here today—with a San Diego postmark. It was from Faith." Giles spoke calmly, though all present knew him well enough to detect the undertone of concern in his voice. Everyone straightened up just a bit, and Giles pulled out a pile of photocopies, adding "Reading it out loud struck me as being a bit melodramatic and unnecessary, so I've provided copies for each of you. He handed a copy to each of them, then looked at his own copy again. The four friends hesitated for a moment, then began to read:
I'm sending this on the morning after I blew town, so by the time you get it I'll be a long way away from here, so if you want to send the idiots from England down here looking for me, go ahead. It'll give me a longer head start.
Look—we all know that I screwed up, and there's no point in me saying I didn't. I didn't want that guy to die, and yeah, B, it bothered me that it happened. But after what they did to you, I sure as hell didn't trust the Council of Stuffy Jackasses to be fair to me, and you know that the local cops are the Mayor's goons. If it had just been Giles calling the shots, I'd have trusted him—but it wasn't. I figured that if he thought you had done it, that he'd protect you even if it meant blowing off the Council. It was dumb—I saw how this thing was eating you up, and no one with a brain would have believed that you'd cover it up cold or blame it on me if I hadn't done it. So, for what it's worth, I was an idiot to try to dump it on you—I should have just run in the first place, and that's what I'm doing now.
Giles, B's lucky to have you on her side. It's tough to be the ugly stepsister, but I think you did your best for me. You gave me some good tips about life—I wish I had listened to more of them. Keep watching B's back—after four months in that town, I know that she needs it.
Xander. . .I had a long road trip to think about what happened, and I get it now. If it means anything, I wish we'd had more time that night—not for what happened under the sheets, but to get to know each other better. Maybe I would have listened to you if we had. I won't tell you to stay out of trouble, because you won't, but take care of yourself—Buffy and Red would have a hard time getting along without you.
Red—I'm pretty sure you didn't like me much before, and after what I did to Xander you'd probably like to rip my heart out and feed it to rats. I'd say you're entitled, and I won't blame you for it. Keep up the fight.
Oz, you're all right in my book. With the Mayor turning out to be a Black Hat, B and the others are going to need all of the help they can get. I'm guessing you'll find a way to give it to them.
B, thanks for trying—and tell Angel the same thing. It just wasn't meant to be.
Oh, and you can tell the Council that I'm going to be moving around a lot—and killing any vamps or demons that cross my path. You can also tell them that I've got no interest in killing any more people—but if I see any Council weasels coming after me, I might change my mind as far as they're concerned. As for all of you—please don't try to find me: I don't want to be found.
OK—that's enough. There's a freighter with my name on it, and it's leaving.
After a few minutes, everyone had finished reading and looked up to see how the others were reacting. Giles looked somber, while Willow's expression was ambivalent. Buffy and Xander both looked frustrated, and Oz. . .was Oz—inscrutable except for an occasional concerned look in Willow's direction. Xander broke the silence first: "So that's it? We're just going to let her go?"
"What else can we do, Xander?" Xander turned to Willow and saw that she looked resigned. "Buffy was three hours away from us for a whole summer and we couldn't find her." Buffy flinched, and Willow gave her an apologetic look before continuing, "Look—I don't like the Council any more than she does, and I'm glad that she's decided that killing people is bad, but if she wants to stay gone, there's not much we can do about it. She knows where to find us if she wants to come back or needs help—I just hope that she means it when she says that she'll just be killing demons from now on."
Giles nodded and commented, "Willow's analysis would appear to be sound, unfortunately. Faith has removed herself from this place and her fate is ultimately in her own hands. While we should be ready to react if she reappears, I would suggest that we consider how to deal with the current situation with the assumption that she will not be returning."
Buffy frowned, then nodded reluctantly. "You're right—so where do we begin?"
Giles smiled softly at Buffy's quick response, and began: "First—there is the matter of Mr. Wyndham-Pryce—"
. . .to be continued
As always, comments are welcomed and desired.