"Final battle? Is she mad?" Giles reared back, nearly escaping Faith's hold. "One Slayer against the Master's forces?"
Ah, he was almost back to normal. Faith relaxed slightly and nodded. "That's why me and Janna are here. We gotta have a plan." Then, giving in to pique, she mumbled, "And it's two Slayers against the Master."
Giles didn't quite cover his snort with a cough.
It wasn't worth arguing over. Faith let go of Giles and walked to a set of folding closet doors on the far wall. Pulling the doors open, she randomly yanked a shirt and pants off hangers and tossed them at Giles. "Take a shower." Not even an army of vampires would get Faith to sit in close quarters with Giles without soap and water. "You've got ten minutes before I come lookin' for ya'."
Halfway down the stairs, Faith heard the shower turn on.
It was working. Her plan was working. High on victory, she ignored the final few steps and hurtled the banister instead. "Got anything?" Faith asked Janna.
"Nothing. If I needed to identify a demon, I've got options." Janna tossed a book onto the floor and grabbed another from the bookcase. "Killing a bunch of vampires, though, doesn't seem to be part of this collection."
Just like that, Faith's confidence crumbled. She hid it as best she could. If Giles sensed her doubts, for even a moment, he'd go back to his booze. "Keep looking. Got to be some kick ass spells in here somewhere." Faith had overheard Willow and Buffy talking about some super secret magic books he'd kept locked in his office. Because she suddenly needed something to do, Faith grabbed a book of her own. She knew absolutely nothing about magic; she didn't figure it mattered. She just needed to do something until Giles joined them.
Her research skills had never been good. In fact, even Xander had been better at book work. Faith dug deep and concentrated. Janna was right. The books on Giles' shelves were all demon texts. Faith even recognized some of them. There were no spells. Luckily, footsteps from the stairs freed her attention from the book in her hands – right before she hurled it across the room in frustration.
Giles' eyes narrowed, almost daring Faith to actually throw his precious book. If she hadn't needed his help so much… With exaggerated care, she set the tome on the floor and pointed to Janna. "This is Janna; she's been helpin' B out."
This was the moment of truth. Well, it would be if Janna said the wrong thing and clued Giles in on Faith's web of lies and exaggerations. He wasn't stupid, and he looked far more Giles-like after his shower. The stubble was gone and his eyes were less hazy.
Thankfully, Janna didn't throw Faith to the wolves. "These," she gestured disdainfully at the discarded books, "are useless."
Giles stiffened noticeably. "Indeed. Perhaps, then, it would be best if you departed. It would seem such a waste of time to continue." There was enough ice in his tone to make Faith shiver.
"I'm not leaving yet. Not after dragging my laptop across town – which including scaling fences – and then breaking into your apartment." Janna stood up, shoving an entire pile of books out of the way with her foot.
It was touch and go for a second if Giles was going to yell or cry at the treatment of his beloved books.
"Do you have a working phone line? I can log onto the Internet. Some of my online coven should still be around." Dropping her shoulder bag onto the couch, Janna got out her laptop and set it on the small, cluttered desk against the wall.
Like fish out of water, Giles gaped open-mouthed at Janna. "Phone…Inter…Lap…What?"
"Oh for the love of Hecate! It's a computer. A small, portable computer." Janna pointed at the piles and piles of books on the floor. "I can search thousands of books using your phone line. Without choking on dust or bleeding to death from paper cuts." Her hands waved dramatically in the air, and Faith prudently stepped out of the way before Janna accidentally poked Faith's eye out.
Maybe it was Janna's tone or the attack on his books. Something fired Giles up. His momentary confusion disappeared in a flash. "I most certainly have a phone line, young woman," he announced stiffly. "However, if you believe that some mechanical invention will assist you in defeating a master vampire and his hordes of minions, you are deluded."
And just like that, Faith lost control of her Scooby Gang.
"Deluded?" Janna actually laughed. "At least I'm sober and not huddled in this smelly man cave devoted to antiques like those books!"
Moving into Janna's personal space, Giles spat, "This man cave holds the most complete demon research facility in the United States. Those books are priceless treatises on demonology dating back to the first vampire sightings. If you had not been wallowing in your bloody technology, perhaps Buffy would have already defeated the Master rather than shirking her duties and hiding from her destiny."
"Shut the fuck up!" Faith was furious. With Giles' last comment – and with the two idiots faced off in the middle of the room. "Just shut up!"
Both "adults" turned to stare at Faith.
Her control slipped. Faith was tired. Scared. Completely out of her element. And the only two people who could possibly help were wasting time. It was time for some hard truths, and Faith was more than ready provide them.
Giles was Faith's first target. He was Buffy's Watcher. In another place and time, he'd been Faith's, too. She had trusted him to be Research Guy. "You think B's hiding out doin' her nails or shoppin' for shoes? Did you forget she saved your ass? I know she saved mine. And she's keeping a whole bunch of townies safe. Not to mention she's living on the streets, Giles.
"What have you been doing?" Faith glared so fiercely at Giles that he should have burst into flames. "Drinking. This place is a dive." She wanted to say more, so much more. "Buffy ain't livin' up to her duties? Like you have? You're her Watcher." She registered the way Giles' eyes widened. "But you ain't out there helping her. Nah. You're in here, with your bottles and books, pointing fingers and lettin' her do all the work alone."
"I do not…"
"I said shut up!" Faith cut Giles off. She was breathing heavily, and her hands clenched so tightly she felt her nails dig into her palms. "And you." Faith turned her rage onto Janna. "You got magic. The Master don't. You told me all you needed was the right spell. If anybody has that, it's Giles. But you're too busy bitchin' about his books to ask him where the fuck to find a spell. And the whole time the two of you wastin' time, B's out there alone. And one night she ain't comin' back – and it's gonna be your fault!"
In the silence left behind by Faith's final accusation, she picked up a demon text and tossed it to Giles. It bounced off his chest before he clutched it protectively in his arms. "That ain't got what we need. None of these do," Faith said more calmly. "Janna thinks she could use magic to kill off part of the Master's army, but she needs help findin' a spell. She's lost all of her witchy friends and spell books or whatever. I know you got that shit somewhere. Where?"
"Not here." Lips still tight with outrage or insult, Giles nonetheless answered Faith's question. "In fact, I do not even know if they exist any longer."
It wasn't what Faith wanted to hear. All her hopes of saving Buffy and maybe going home… The floor seemed to drop away, and Faith grabbed the edge of an end table to keep from falling down.
Giles must have noticed her reaction. He sighed tiredly and placed the book in his arms onto the couch. "The works I have here are a small piece of a greater collection I brought with me from England. Because Buffy was a student, the Council," his eyes darted to Janna and then back to Faith, "set me up as the librarian at the local high school. It would be easier for me to make contact with Buffy in that setting. I housed all of the books on spell casting and Magick in a specially-designed and shielded cabinet in my office there. The Master razed the school during his Ascension."
Faith wanted to give up, sit on the floor and cry. Or grab a bottle of Scotch and join Giles on his next bender. Even if they armed all of Buffy's army of townies, they wouldn't make a dent in the Master's forces without Janna's magic. There were too many vampires and too few humans. The Chosen Two kicked serious ass. But only one of them understood the power of their unique teamwork. Buffy, the best Slayer ever, didn't trust her Chosen partner.
They were doomed unless Faith somehow pushed through this newest challenge.
She closed her eyes and remembered "her" Buffy. Remembered her unshakeable confidence. Remembered the stories she'd heard over and over from her original Watcher back in Boston.
Buffy could do anything. She was the perfect Slayer.
And now Faith had to take her place on that pedestal for a while. Giles and Janna were still frozen in place and staring at her when Faith opened her eyes. She threw her shoulders back and met their stares. They weren't giving up. She wouldn't let them. There were going to find a spell for Janna, convince Buffy to be part of the team, and kill the Master and his army. "Janna, use Giles' phone line and start huntin' a spell with your laptop."
It was more than weird to see Janna follow her orders. The older woman immediately returned to the desk to work on her computer.
"Giles, you and me are headin' to your office. You said you kept the books in a special cabinet. Maybe that kept 'em safe." Faith watched Giles nod his approval of the plan slowly and hesitantly. It was there, though. He was on board.
On board but not moving. Why? Faith narrowed her eyes and glared at him. What was she missing? They needed spells. The spell books were (maybe) safe and locked in the library. That meant going from here to there.
Ah. Black cars with painted windows. Tranquilizer guns.
"Gonna have to be careful on the way," Faith announced. "What kinda weapons you got, Giles?"
Was that a slight smile on his face? It was gone before Faith could really be sure. "Although the bulk of weaponry was at the school, I do have a small weapons vault built into the master bedroom floor."
Finally! Action felt awesome. Striding for the stairs, Faith commanded, "Show me." It was easier to give orders this time. Faith was almost getting used to it. And she hadn't screwed up yet. Giles and Janna were following her lead. It would be better if Buffy were here to do this, but she wasn't. And Faith would just have to live with that – and live up to the Super Slayer stories she'd heard before leaving Boston.
There was no other option.
It was time Faith came off the bench and played for the A Team. Time to do to a little pinch hitting for the Golden Girl.