By Dana Evans
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters, never will. I'm just happy to get to play. However, Aislinn is an original creation

Aislinn McNamara wanted to be anywhere but in Los Angeles. She had never trained for this. She hoped to be helping the next Slayer. Aislinn was a tall, lean Rugby player of a woman, rough and tumble. She had been a Slayer-in-waiting but now in her thirties she was more comfortable in her role as Watcher. The only problem, there was nothing to watch.

Buffy Summers was dead. Aislinn had seen the wreck of a man Rupert Giles had become when he returned home, hoping to pull together the shattered porcelain her death had made of him. Aislinn and the rest of the Watchers world-round waited for the new Slayer. None, however, had been Chosen. They waited for weeks and still nothing.

It was decided that the reason was Buffy had died once facing the Master and, though she had been revived, Kendra had already been called just as Kendra's death had called Faith. Having been dead once and replacement called previously, the Watchers theorized that Buffy's second death wasn't going to trigger another Chosen one. She was out of the continuum. The Watchers had even allowed Buffy's friends to search Glory's dimension for her, hope against hope that if a new Slayer hadn't been called it might mean that Buffy was alive there. They had no luck. That left the only other explanation, Buffy was a dead end and Faith was the lone Slayer, once again the balance of one Slayer per generation restored.

How unlucky for them was it that Faith was insane according to some; that she was definitely given to dark impulses no one argued against. She was a murderer and currently incarcerated. After much heated debate, which led to a few Watchers quitting, Aislinn had been dispatched to America.

A great deal of effort went into faking records to show Faith in Ireland at the same time as an unsolved murder. Further computer hacking went into giving Aislinn a cover as an Interpol agent sent to question Faith about the murder. It would serve to get her close to the Slayer.

Aislinn stared at the imposing women's prison, almost losing her conviction. She twisted the ring around on her finger, contemplating its significance. The head of the Watchers council had given it to her. Screwing her courage to the sticking post as it were, Aislinn went in and spun out her story to the authorities, her scalp sweating under the golden-tressed wig she was wearing. It worked and she found herself face to face with Faith in an interrogation room.

She was stunned by how young Faith looked. Aislinn had known the Slayer would be young, of course, but the dark-eyed, dark-haired girl sitting before her looked so waif-like and lost Aislinn had trouble seeing her as a killer.

"This is bull." Faith ran a hand through her long hair before giving Aislinn a look.

"I beg your pardon." Aislinn watched as the guard left the interrogation room. She wasn't particularly concerned with her safety even though she knew she ought to be. Faith wasn't handcuffed and Aislinn wasn't armed.

"I've never been in Ireland. I don't know why you're here," Faith said.

Aislinn held up a finger and took out a tape recorder. She sat down and started the recording by giving the date. "I'm Inspector Fionnula Hennessey from Interpol. Please state your name for the record."

Faith gnawed her lip, kicking her feet out as she slouched in her chair. She seemed to be weighing if it was worth her time to cooperate just to get rid of Aislinn. Finally she complied, rolling her eyes at Aislinn.

"I'm going to ask you questions, Faith, about the tenth of August 1997 and your actions in Dublin on that date."

"Unless you mean Dublin, Ohio you're out of luck. I've never been out of the country."

"We have plane tickets and a passport that says otherwise," Aislinn said and Faith straightened up, a hunter's look coming into her eyes. "You went to Ireland with your high school and were in the vicinity of the Hart and Whistle pub on the night of the tenth. There's good eyewitness testimony that places you talking to Patrick O'Neil shortly before he was stabbed to death."

Faith's lip curled. "Lady, I've never been to Ireland. My high school didn't take trips and I've never met this Patrick dude."

Aislinn ignored her, persisting in her line of questioning single mindedly, drawing it out hopefully making it look legal and professional, all the 'I''s dotted and the 'T''s crossed. All the logical questions were asked and finally Aislinn reached for the tape. "This is Detective Hennessy concluding this interview," she said then gave the time and date again. "Thank you for your time." Aislinn was still looking for her opening to do what the Watchers had sent her to do.

Faith snorted. "All I have is time. If you want to waste it, it's no skin off my nose. And you sure are wasting it. Are all the cops in Ireland as dumb as you? If so that must be the place to break the law. How many times do I have to say I wasn't there?"

Aislinn gave her a flat smile. "Given your history it's not too unlikely you tortured this boy to death."

"Being blonde isn't just genetics for you is it? You're a walking stereotype." Faith smirked. "And here I thought Buffy was the epitome of that."

Aislinn crossed behind her and grabbed a handful of dark hair, jerking Faith's head back. Her fingers worked close to the girl's dark skin. Aislinn barely felt the ring activate as she pressed the signet against Faith's neck. Aislinn half-hoped the council had lied to her, that the Victorian-looking flat-faced signet ring was just that, a simple antique ring and this was a test to see how worthy she was to be a Watcher. But it wasn't. Faith gasped as the hidden pressure sensitive needle pricked her.

Aislinn let Faith go, happy the tiny pinprick would be hidden under her thick hair. Faith rubbed at her neck. Her eyes, wide and betrayed, gave Aislinn a knowing look.

"Why are you here, Watcher?" Faith asked.

"Buffy Summers died," Aislinn said softly.

Faith's expression flickered between shock and self-satisfaction at outliving Buffy. She still couldn't get past her competitive nature.

"No new Slayer was called. That leaves only you."

Faith pursed her lips. "And I'm useless to you guys in here. How long do I have? It was poison, right?"

Aislinn almost bolted out of the room but she forced herself to stay calm. "I really am sorry."

"Let me guess, it was the only way," Faith sneered.

Aislinn held her breath waiting for Faith to scream for help, to expose her. There was no antidote for the poison the Council had tricked the ring out with. "You created this situation. It's terrible that it had to come to this."

"Well, shouldn't you get moving? You don't want to be here when it happens."

Aislinn just gave her a shocked look.

"Go on, I'm not going to fight this. It's already too late, isn't it?"


"Everything is screaming for me to take you with me." Faith gave her a crooked smile. "But I'm supposed to be on the side of good, right? And I'm sure that's how your precious Council rationalized this. I signed my own death warrant when I signed on with the demons."

"You understand perfectly, Faith. I really wish there had been another way. If Buffy's death had triggered another Slayer....but her legacy lead to you," Aislinn said.

"Lucky me."

Aislinn called in the guard and watched just long enough to see her escort Faith away. She walked out of the prison on shaky legs, wondering if she were any better than Faith in the long run. It was winter and night had come early. Aislinn took advantage of it. She drove across town and dumped the blonde wig in a dumpster. She shook out her own fiery red curls as she got back into the car. She found a restaurant and disposed of her blue contacts in the ladies room. She looked at her own green eyes in the mirror reading a muted horror there. Trying to ignore it, she went to order something for dinner and wait for the council to call her.

* * *

Faith was surprised when she wasn't led back to her cell. She was taken to where prisoners met with their guests.

"Someone's here to see you," the guard said.

Faith was even more shocked to see Angel sitting there, phone in hand. He had never looked happy but there was a new depth to his sadness. Faith knew it wasn't possible for him to have aged but he seemed to.

"I didn't expect you to be here," she said.

"Buffy's dead," he said without preamble.

"I heard. That's...well, I'm just surprised you're here." Faith offered him a wan smile.

"I know you and all went bad but I thought you'd want to know she's gone. She never got a chance to tell you she was glad you were getting a chance to redeem yourself," Angel said.

Faith wondered if that were true. "I'm taking a huge step toward that redemption tonight," she said, swaying a bit.

A concerned look flickered over Angel's face. "What do you mean, Faith?"

"A Watcher was here today. She told me about Buffy, said there was no new Slayer."

Pain radiated from Angel so strongly that Faith thought she could actually feel it. "We even looked in another dimension for her thinking she might still be alive since there was no new Slayer. We didn't find her."

"I know." Faith steadied herself on the glass separating her from Angel

"Faith, what's wrong?"

"The Watchers have nothing to watch with the Slayer rotting in jail so they took action. They poisoned me," she said matter-of-factly.

"Faith." Angel got up, whirling to call for the guard.

"Angel, no!" she cried, dragging his attention back to her. "Let it be."

"I can't just let you die, Faith."

"I should have died when Buffy stabbed me on that rooftop. She's just finishing it off now," she said sardonically.

"Faith, you don't have to just let it happen. Let me get help."

"It's already too late. The Watcher said as much. I can really feel it now. Call it my redemption, Angel. My death guarantees the world gets another protector."

"It doesn't have to happen this way, Faith."

"Yes it does. I'm never getting out of here, Angel, not for years at any rate, if ever. That's too long to let the demons have free rein." Faith laughed. "It wasn't that long ago I'd have been willing to help the demons. I was a bad choice. I was broken inside from the beginning. Angel, do something for me." Faith pressed her hand to the glass.

Angel matched it with his. "I'll try."

"Just stay with me until it's over. Let me tell you what life was like before I was called."

"Of course."

Faith talked, letting her history spill out of her without polish or pretense. She hadn't ever been really good but there was no judgment in Angel's eyes. She was still talking even when she couldn't see him any longer. She felt herself hit the floor and heard his voice as from some far distant place calling for help. Finally there was a warm nothingness that embraced her.

* * *

Aislinn cursed the cold fog that curled around the neon soaked streets of L.A. She was still on her cellular listening to Clive Livinggood telling her all her new duties as a Watcher with a Slayer. The girl wasn't even an American but was one of the Slayers-in-Waiting, well prepped for her duty. Aislinn was to pick up Caitlin Cavanaugh from the L.A. airport and drive her to Sunnydale. The Watchers wanted her on the active hellmouth. Clive couldn't stress enough that she was only temporary and had to prove herself worthy of retaining the position. Aislinn suspected this was coming. After all, she had murdered a girl and could be a liability.
Aislinn thought she saw something crossing the street in the fog but it was very dark. Almost too late she saw it was a tall man in a black duster. She slammed on the brakes and her rental skidded. She felt the bumper tap the man and he went down. Throwing it into park, Aislinn spilled out of the car and raced to the front. The man was already picking himself up.

"My God! Are you all right? I didn't see you in this fog."

He flexed his arms as if testing them. "I'm all right. It was my fault...crossing against the light. I had a friend die tonight and was taking a walk to clear my head. I guess I'm not doing a very good job of it."

"Do you need me to take you to the hospital?" Aislinn knew he wouldn't. From the garish red lights of a triple X club's neon sign she got a good look at him. She recognized him from photos Rupert Giles had sent to the Watchers Council. The Watchers weren't actively seeking an end to Angel and for that she was glad since she found herself with no desire to kill this man.

"No, you just bumped me. Is your car damaged?"

"Don't worry about it. It's a rental. I'm taking it back to the airport now."

"Are you all right?" he asked, giving her a curious look.

"Just a little shaken. If you're sure you're all right I should get going."

"I'm fine."

"Good. I'm sorry to hear about your friend but maybe you ought to find a safer place to walk," Aislinn said, hoping she sounded like a normal concerned citizen.

Angel looked around as if surprised to find himself in the red light district. He nodded. "Good advice."

"Slán go fóill," she said good bye in Gaelic just wondering if he could still remember it and half hoping he didn't feel a strong need to go into a long conversation if he did.

A ghost of a smile danced across his face. "It's been a long time since I've heard that. Slan."

Aislinn smiled back and got into her car. She would have plenty of time to document the meeting in her journal while she waited for the new Slayer. She just hoped, down the road, she and the rest of the Watchers could sleep easy with what they had done this day.