(this takes place shortly after Faith, at age fifteen, watched her Watcher murdered in front of her, as she is on her way to Sunnydale to meet Buffy, the other Slayer she had heard about. She is trying to make her way to Sunnydale when she comes across a surprising person.)

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

/Fucking jackasses...don't they even see me, why don't they fucking STOP? What, I don't look hot enough now for them? Well kinda hard to look hot when it's forty degrees and pouring out and my teeth are clacking together like they're gonna knock out of my jaw or something. Kinda hard to look hot when you're so damn cold. And hey, isn't a damp shirt one of the standard games at strip clubs? I've got that going for me anyway...fucking pull over, someone!/

Faith hugged herself with one arm as she stood at the side of the highway somewhere around the border of New York, bowing her head but keeping her eyes raised to watch the cars passing her by. The other arm she lifted over her head high, her thumb extended, indicating her very clear desire for a ride even as her arm shook with the combined effects of the cold, the rain, and her weariness. She was so tired she almost dreamed of giving up, of going to find some kind of shelter in a subway station or overhang somewhere and just sit down, just bunch her flimsy stupid jacket that looked cool but wasn't good for this near flood under her head and try to sleep. But she wouldn't. She couldn't. She hadn't been sleeping much in the past couple of days since...everything...but she knew what sleep would do to her, what images it would bring. She wasn't about to see it all again.

Her stomach growled sharply and she gritted her teeth, trying not to think about it, trying not to conjure up thoughts of different foods that were realistic enough in her mind that her mouth watered and she could almost taste them. She hadn't eaten in almost a full day, but thinking about it just made it worse. She knew she couldn't afford to eat more than once a day. And besides, she wasn't going to give up here, not until she got what she wanted.

At least the rain was a sort of make shift shower. It had been a while since she had bathed too...frantic scrubbing of blood off her hands and arms at the sink and changing her clothes didn't count. At this thought Faith clinched her jaw, lowering her head further, and stared ahead determinedly at the cars still zooming past her, occasionally splattering her with water from puddles in the road. She swore out loud, keeping her hand lifted and thumb pointing up, telling herself that she would stand there all night if she had to. She HAD to get a ride, at least for a little ways.

She knew there was no way she could get across the country, get all the way to Sunnydale, California, without hitching most of the way. Okay, maybe she could sneak into the back of trucks sometimes or onto trains, but all the way to California would be stretching her luck. Already the one train she had snuck onto, stupidly without consorting the schedule to see its route, had taken her from Boston to New York, which was not exactly where she'd been hoping to- in fact, it was entirely out of the way. Now because she was so damn stupid she was going to have to work even harder to get even further from where she had started in the first place.

Faith didn't have much money on her. She didn't have anything at all but the duffel bag at her feet, which was currently getting entirely soaked, just like everything else inside it probably. She hadn't wanted to even have that; she had almost left Boston with nothing but the clothes on her back. But it had finally occurred to her even in the midst of her panic, after...what had happened...that she would need money and clothes, no matter what she did. She had gone to her Watcher's house, what had been her house, too, until now, until- until now, and she had hurriedly threw the first things she saw that she thought she might need into her back. All the time she was sure that Kakistos might come, that he would find her, track her down, that he would be standing there with the eye she had slashed and twisted grin, and he would be after her, he would get her, he would hurt her, the way he hurt-

She didn't want to take Diana's money. She couldn't even look around her Watcher's place without her chest compressing so tightly she could barely breathe, without her eyes stinging with held back tears of guilt and grief, without everything she saw reminding her that it was no longer Diana's, that Diana would never see or touch it again. That it was her fault. But she knew she had to have money, somehow, and she took what was in Diana's purse and left as fast as she could get out of there. It wasn't much money; Diana had never carried a large amount of cash with her and had lectured Faith on doing the same. But Faith couldn't stand to look around for more, and what she had would have to last her all the way to Sunnydale somehow. After that, she didn't know. Faith didn't want to think of what came after that.

She had already hitched a couple of rides, but they hadn't lasted long. The first two had gotten grabby, which Faith wouldn't' have minded except that it wasn't on her terms, under her initiation. She had quickly corrected their assumption that they could overpower her, but that couldn't keep up all the way to Sunnydale...she would never get anywhere if ever ten minutes she was beating up some wannabe sleaze and having to jump out and walk. Either she was going to have to start things before they did, to keep the control, or she was going to have to find another way.

Faith was swearing to herself again, sure that every single car was going to pass her up all day long, and seriously considering backing down when a small black car pulled up beside her, and the driver leaned over to roll down his window, calling out to her as he frowned with apparent concern.

"You need a ride?"

No, I just enjoy standing in the rain with my thumb in my the air, I got bored of sticking it up people's asses, Faith nearly snapped back. Just in time she caught herself, realizing that saying that to the first guy who offered her a ride was probably a pretty stupid idea,and instead just nodded, trying to look helpless but sexy at the same time as she lowered her eyes at him. "Yeah, you mind?"

He motioned for her to come in, and as Faith didn't waste a second doing so, slinging her sodden duffel bag at her feet on the floorboard, she barely noticed or cared who it was she was getting in the car with. She was getting into a car, she would work all that out later.

For a few seconds she just sat there recovering, shivering; the heat was turned on in the car full blast and she put her hands in front of the closest vent, exhaling. The man had not started driving yet and when he handed her a handful of napkins from the pocket on the driver's door side of the car, she blinked, startled, but smiled.

"Thanks," she said, using the napkins to dab at her face and neck; as she glanced over at the guy, suddenly noticing that he was in his early thirties and freakin' HOT, she quickly sat up straighter, using a napkin to slowly and more seductively wipe at her chest, pulling her shoulders back to make her breasts stick out more. Yeah, she had definitely made a good choice here.

She didn't drift his eyes briefly drifting down to his face before he quickly snatched them back up to her eyes. "Bad day to be out there like that, I hope you weren't standing there for too long."

"For a while," Faith told him vaguely, and she smiled, letting her lips curl up slowly, suggestively. "Glad you came along to save the day."

She had to give the guy credit, he didn't smirk or blush or anything like that. He was pretty ripped, from what she could tell even with his jacket on; his chest was broad and muscular, and he had dark hair and eyes that were intense, yet concerned, and his features- well, the conclusion that Faith came to again was, dammmn he's hot. Nice going, me!

"Where are you headed?" he asked her, and Faith lifted her eyes slowly as she continued to wipe herself, her fingers lingering longer on her chest than was necessary before wiping under her shirt slowly as well.

"As far to California as you'll take me...you game?"

The man laughed, shaking his head. "I'm afraid I'm not headed quite that far."

"Well, wherever you'll go...train station's good too I guess," Faith shrugged; she was sure she could find a ride once she got to another area, or maybe if she checked her routes better this time around she could stow away on a train that would actually take her somewhere useful. She continued to eye him under her lids, gauging his reaction sharply, and slowly stretched, watching to see if his eyes were on her.

"I can do that," the man replied, and he started up the car, glancing over at her, but not for as long as she had hoped. "So California, huh...what's waiting for you there? Fame and fortune?"

"More like someone," Faith said noncommittally, and the blonde girl she had seen in Diana's file, the pretty other Slayer with the freaking hilarious name of Buffy, rose to her mind. "But I wouldn't say no to that either."

"There are safer ways to meet someone, you know," the man remarked lightly, glancing over at her as he began to drive. "Less wet too."

"Hey, wet's not always a bad thing," Faith grinned at him slyly, wiggling her eyebrows and leaning close; when he merely swallowed and focused his attention straight ahead, she exhaled, wondering what was with the guy. Was he a priest, or just oblivious?

"Don't worry though," she tried again, dropping her voice low and widening her eyes. "I feel safe with you."

"You shouldn't feel safe with anyone, let alone a stranger," the man replied, and there was a definite dad tone in his voice that made Faith roll her eyes, subconsciously slumping back in her seat. "This is a good way to get yourself killed, you should-"

"Well, my name's Faith, I'm not a stranger to you anymore," she interrupted, "give me your name, and you won't be a stranger to me either."

"My name is Fox," the man said after a pause, and Faith smirked at the irony of that name for this guy, thinking it must be a come on. "Fox Mulder. It's nice to meet you, Faith. I'm glad to give you a ride, especially the way it is outside right now. But you-"

"Thanks for the ride, Fox," Faith interrupted, and her tone made it clear that she wasn't' inviting any further lectures. "Appreciate it."

They lapsed into silence for several moments, and Faith's mind raced; she watched the man, Fox Mulder, out the corner of her eyes, wondering when he would stop the car, when he would make his move. She had been trying to beat him to it, by adjusting herself on the seat slowly, sliding her eyes his way, slowly rubbing her arms, speaking in her lowest, sexiest tone...anything she could to catch his attention. But the guy was staring at the road...what, was he such a control freak he couldn't stand for her to make the first move?

"Faith?" he asked suddenly, and Faith gave him a smile, running a hand slowly through her hair as she leaned towards him. "We'll be at the train station pretty soon. But I wanted to ask you. How old are you?"

Attack of conscience, huh? So here it was coming...the guy wanted to screw her, but he wanted to make sure she was old enough that he wouldn't go to jail for it. Or else maybe he wanted to see if she was young enough to catch his interest. Either way, finally, results...what she had expected.

"Old enough to work my way to California one way or another," she replied lightly, and when they pulled into the parking lot of the train station a few minutes later after a brief heavy silence, she turned her body to him fully, letting a smile spread across her face as she lightly touched his arm.

"Thank you so much Fox..how can I repay you?"

Fox glanced down at her arm with an odd uncomfortable look in his eyes, but he neither leaned into her hand nor removed it. Instead he looked back up into Faith's eyes and spoke quietly but seriously.

"You can call your parents, Faith, and tell them that you want to come home."

At this, Faith stiffened, lifting her chin, and her hand on his arm tensed as she replied coolly, "Yeah, well, I would, except that I don't think telephones work too good six feet under the ground."

Fox's eyes darkened, and he exhaled, his voice quieting as he regarded her. "I'm sorry to hear that, Faith. But surely there is someone else, someone that you can go to. Someone-"

"Yeah, there is," Faith cut him off, not willing to hear his description...a description of what Diana had been, of what she needed now, what she could not think of now. "And I'm going to her now. So don't worry." She took her hand away from his arm quickly, looking out the window, her hand sliding towards the door, and Fox sighed quietly.

"Is there something I can do to help you get to her then, short of driving you there myself? I just don't want you to be hurt, Faith."

Too fucking late for that, Faith almost said, but instead she stared out the window, steeling herself, before slowly swiveling her body around to face him. She knew what he was asking. She knew the words, the intent, even if the tone was new.

"Oh, you've done enough," she rasped, and she let her hand come to rest on Hugh's knee, slowly sliding up the rest of his leg, approaching his thigh. "I'm wondering now what I can do for you..."

Her other hand sprawled across his chest, and she leaned into him, stretching to kiss him. When Fox stiffened, his eyes widening, and attempted to extract himself, she persisted, her hand sliding over his crotch. He shoved her away then, not hard, but firmly, holding her back, and Faith stared, flabbergasted, and backed up against the door of the car.

"What the fuck was that for?!"

"No," Fox said, not loudly but firmly, taking a deep breath, and he gripped the steering wheel again, his knuckles white. "That is not happening, Faith."

"What, are you GAY?" she blurted out, and he quickly shook his head, glancing at her.

"No. No, Faith, but I do...there's someone else."

"Oh, like that matters to any guy with a dick," Faith said incredulously, but Fox spoke up quickly again, shaking his head.

"It matters to me."

No way. No freaking way...there was no way in hell that any straight guy, taken or not, who was being offered all she had to give on a silver platter, a guy that she owed a FAVOR to, would turn her down...what the hell was going on? Faith shook her head, her eyes still wide, watching him suspiciously as she struggled to understand.

"What, you think I'm ugly or something? Well, it's been raining if you haven't noticed, you stand out there an hour or two and see how studly you feel!"

"That's not it," Fox tried again, taking another deep breath, though his voice was calm. "You're a beautiful girl, Faith. But that's just it. You're a girl. You can't be older than seventeen-"

Faith was fifteen. But she didn't interrupt him to mention that.

"And I love her," he continued. "Much too much to let anything jeopardize that."

He reached into his pocket, pulling out a wad of money that looked like several twenties to Faith's eyes, and held the bills out to her, his eyes still on hers.

"I want to buy you a ticket to California, Faith, or as close to there as you can get. If that's where you need to be, if someone there is going to help you, then I want to make sure you get there safely. Not like this."

Faith stared at the money, stunned, and immediately shook her head. There was no way. What the hell was he doing...no guy, no person, would just DO that, for a total stranger, not without a catch, there was no freaking way. What exactly was he playing here?!

"What? Why the hell would you do that...I can't pay you back," she said quickly, "there is no way I could pay you back, so thanks, but no thanks."

"You don't have to," Fox started, but Faith shook her head again, desperate suddenly to get out of the car, away from this weird guy that made absolutely no sense at all, who went against everything she knew about people and men. She reached for the door handle, quickly swinging her duffle bag onto her lap, no longer caring about the rain as she turned towards him.

"Yeah, well, thanks again..."

She opened the door, but Fox put a hand on her side, stopping her. As she turned back, her eyes narrowed, defensive, he said quietly," I just want to wish you luck, Faith. Be careful."

Staring at him, completely thrown, Faith nodded jerkily, then quickly got out of the car; as he waved at her, beginning to pull away, she hesitated, then slowly waved back.

It wasn't until she put her hands in her pockets and he had already pulled off that she realized that somehow, probably when he had put his hand on her side, he had slipped the money for the train ride into her jacket pocket.