Disclaimer: I own neither "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" nor "Haven."
AN: This story takes place before season 3 of "BtVS" when Faith has already been called as Slayer but has not yet gone to Sunnydale. Although this takes place sometime during season 2 of "Haven," Audrey does not appear in it, except obliquely—maybe she is on vacation for most of it or something.
"So what are we doing here again?" asked Faith, popping her gum as rudely and loudly as possible.
Cecelia Watling, the Slayer's watcher, rolled her eyes, knowing that her 16-year-old charge was testing her. Faith, clad in black leather and caked in make-up, was seeing how far she could go, how terribly she could behave, before Cecelia left her, just as everyone always did. Cecelia knew she would never leave though—Faith was her duty, her responsibility, and her friend.
"Must I really explain again?" replied Cecelia, feigning exasperation.
"The Council has asked us to investigate this town—"
"Haven?" interrupted Faith, with an incredulous look upon her face as she gazed at the quiet town through which they were currently driving.
"—because," stressed Cecelia, pointedly ignoring Faith, "Haven has been identified as a center of mystical convergence. It is rather like a Hellmouth except we cannot access the Hell dimensions here. Odd things have happening here for centuries; it has spiked as of late. If it is the result of demonic activity, we will take care of it."
"And if it's not?"
"Then we will reassess the situation."
The rest of the trip into town was completed in silence. Faith just stared out the window with awe and a small amount of horror. She had never been out of Boston before and had had no clue that places like this existed. Sure, the television sometimes showed small, sleepy towns but she had always taken it with a grain of salt, equating the lies of small, quiet towns with the lies of large, happy families. It left her suspicious; these places could not exist. There had to be something more going on here. Something had to be wrong here. Demons she could deal with; normality she could not.
So caught up in her own thoughts, Faith did not notice Cecelia watching her. When the Council had appointed her to be Faith's watcher, she had been shocked. She was nearly 60 years old and had certainly not been expecting to receive a charge so late in her career. The Council had appointed her, hoping she would whip Faith into shape, make her into the "perfect" Slayer. And the Council had been correct: She was the one for the job. She was simply taking a different approach than they had expected. She could well remember her rebellious phase in her early 20s and knew that Faith just needed to express herself. All she could do was be there for Faith and gently steer her in the correct direction. Anything more and Faith would be lost to her forever.
Cecelia was wrapped up in her thoughts when she heard Faith yell: "Whoa! Stop!" Slamming on the brakes, Cecelia glanced around. She immediately saw what had intrigued her Slayer. It was a normal enough house structurally—two stories, a chimney off to one side, etc. The unusual part was the icicles hanging from it, the hoar on the windows, and the light dusting of snow. It was September and this was not normal, even for Maine.
"So what, do I gotta fight Santa Claus?" questioned Faith with a lopsided smile.
After allowing herself an appreciative chuckle, Cecelia posited, "Perhaps some sort of frost demon or a magic spell or a … I have no idea."
Faith grinned as she jumped out of the car; for an old English lady, Cecelia could be pretty fun. "What's up, Cece? You waitin' for a private invite?"
"That's Ms. Watling to you," replied Cecelia for the umpteenth time as she too emerged from the car.
Without turning around again, Faith popped open the front door—"Unlocked? Creepy small towns"—and sauntered into the house as if she owned it. She shivered, wishing she were wearing more than her tank top; nearly every surface of the house was covered in frost and each step Faith took made a pleasing crunching noise, causing her to bring her boots down much harder than necessary. She unsheathed her knife in case she ran into a "frost demon." She did not turn around to check on Cecelia; her watcher could take care of herself and, knowing the statistics of a Slayer's life expectancy, she knew her watcher would outlive her.
"Wicked," murmured Faith as she entered the living room. A woman stood there, frozen in place—literally. It reminded Faith of when you paused a movie and somehow always managed to pause on the cute lead actor making a truly hideous face. The woman's face was scrunched up in annoyance and she was arrested in the act of shaking a scolding finger. Probably a romantic comedy, thought Faith wryly.
"Is she still alive?" Faith wondered, barely realizing she had asked her question out loud.
"Of course not," replied a no-nonsense Cecelia. "Come along. No demon did this. Let's check the rest of the house."
Splitting up, Faith looked upstairs while Cecelia checked the basement. Faith was just closing a closet door when she heard a small click behind her. Spinning quickly, knife in hand, Faith came face to face with a gun. Forcing herself to look past the gun aimed at her chest, Faith locked eyes with the handsome man holding the gun and smiled. Men she could deal with. And it did not hurt that this man was cute—extremely cute.
"Haven PD!" barked the man. "Drop the knife!"
"Sure," replied Faith, tossing the knife away and using the opportunity to wiggle her body suggestively. "Now what would you like me to do for you, officer?" asked Faith, a gleam in her eyes.
Ignoring the girl's overt flirting, Nathan Wuernos responded, "I want you to tell me who you are and what you are doing here?"
"I'm just looking around," answered Faith, ignoring the first part of the question. "And now I'm looking at you. Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"Detective Nathan Wuernos, Haven PD," responded Nathan with a frown, keeping his gun trained on the girl. "I'm here investigating the murdered woman downstairs."
"Murdered woman?" scoffed Faith. "The lady just turned her AC up too high."
"Sure," replied Nathan. "And you still haven't told me who you are."
Throughout this conversation, Faith had been surreptitiously stepping closer to Nathan. Close enough to touch both his guns now, Faith could see the tight set of his jaw and the slightly watery quality of his clear, blue eyes.
"Are you sure you want me to?" purred Faith, stealthily stroking Nathan's arm. Huh, he did not even seem to notice. Moving with lightning speed, Faith pushed the gun away and pressed her body to Nathan's. "What about now? Do you still want me to back up?"
Faith frowned, confused. He was not reacting to her at all.
Stepping back, dazed, Faith fixed him with a sardonic look and dropped her coquettish one. "Sorry," Faith said, shrugging. Nathan only had a split second to furrow his brow before Faith's foot connected with his head, knocking him out clean.
"We need to leave. Now," Faith said as she caught up with Cecelia.
"What happened back at that house?" Cecelia asked Faith later as they sat in their shared motel room.
"Cops showed. Didn't really want us there."
"Well, we need to go back. We need to ascertain what sort of demon or spell it was and put a stop to it."
"That might be hard," answered Faith. "From the way Nathan—the cop—was treating me, it was like he thought I had killed her or something. He said she was murdered and he seemed pretty sure of it. Also, he didn't seem that shocked by it. It's like he's seen things like it before. Something weird is going on in this town—something not demonic—and the cops are in on it."
"Perhaps that is something in itself to be investigated," replied Cecelia.
"Yeah," said Faith distractedly. She did not tell Cecelia the part about how the cop—Nathan, as she was already calling him in her head—had blown her off. Never had a guy blown her off like that before—not even cops. Maybe he was gay. But Faith could not leave it at that; it had seemed like something more. He had not seen her move her arm to touch his and yet he had not jumped when she made contact; he had just ignored it as if he had not even felt it.
Faith could not have cared less about the guy freezing people to death. All of her curiosity was now focused on one Detective Nathan Wuernos.
"I'll patrol tonight," said Faith suddenly, startling Cecelia.
"All right, where do you think we should go?" the watcher asked, trying to give her Slayer some authority.
"No. I'll go alone. I got this. I'm five by five."
~ x ~ x ~ x ~
Faith stood outside the warehouse, gazing at it distrustfully. She had intended to return to the house from earlier that day but, as if she had no control over her body, Faith had ended up in front of this warehouse. It was as if her body knew something she did not. Sighing, Faith entered the building on the lookout for anything unusual.
As she wandered more deeply into the building, her Slayer hearing picked up shouting. Quickening her pace, Faith drew near, stopping just short of being seen.
"I didn't mean to kill her!" shouted a man desperately. "I love my wife."
"I know," soothed a second voice, which Faith recognized as belonging to the curious Detective Nathan Wuernos.
"I don't know what happened!" cried the other voice. "We were fighting—barely—but it was a stupid fight. It wasn't even really about anything important. It wasn't even really a fight. She had burnt my eggs and I was teasing her—it was all good-natured. She came at me—but she was joking, I swear."
"What happened next?" prodded Nathan gently.
"I stepped back. I was laughing. I accidentally … I … I …"
"What?" asked Nathan, still calm and soothing.
"I burned my hand on the stove behind me and I got mad. I'm sorry; I'm so, so sorry."
"It's not your fault," said Nathan. Faith still listened, confused about what was happening. This guy burned his hand and his wife froze to death? Faith didn't see what one had to do with the other. "It's OK; it's not your fault," repeated Nathan.
"Yes it is," interjected a third voice. Damn, thought Faith; how had she missed the third guy? She was clearly off her game in this messed-up town. She was too focused on the cop.
"What are you doing, John?" asked Nathan, a slight quaver in her voice. He clearly had more information than Faith did. And that really bothered Faith.
Stepping out of her nook so that the others still could not see her, Faith took in the scene in front of her. The three men were standing in a triangle. Nathan Wuernos stood there, clenching his jaw and focusing his eyes on who Faith supposed was John. Nathan also had his gun focused on the man. Faith could see that she had left a nasty bruise on the side of Nathan's head from where she had kicked him; of course, it did not hurt his looks any. John had a gun but his was trained on the remaining man. John, however, did not have the steady hand Nathan had and clearly had less experience holding a gun. John looked wild, his hair tousled and his shirt soaked through with sweat. He still looked better than the last man though. The remaining man was also sweat-soaked, his hair sticking up and tangled, his clothes dirty, and his face containing so many emotions that Faith could not distinguish just one.
"John, put down the gun," said Nathan. "And, Alan, I need you to calm down."
Looking back to Nathan, Faith could see that he was soaked in sweat as well. Come to think of it, it was a bit too warm in this room and getting warmer.
"Put down the gun!" ordered Nathan.
"He killed my sister!" cried John. "You going to let him get away with that?"
"No. But this isn't the way," said Nathan.
"I didn't mean to," interjected Alan. "It was an accident."
Damn, it was getting hot in here. Faith could feel beads of sweat rolling down her back. John and Alan were both shifting uncomfortably and wiping sweat from their brows. The only person seemingly unaffected was Nathan; although he was sweating as much as the others, he didn't seem to notice.
"You're just another troubled freak," said John. "Haven is sick and tired of your kind. And I'm going to rid Haven of one more freak."
"Woah, woah, woah," interjected Faith, finally stepping forward. "Why don't both you boys put down your guns and we can talk about all this stuff, OK?"
"Get out of here," said Nathan, trying to puzzle out what part the girl was playing in all of this.
Ignoring Nathan and turning to Alan, Faith said, "Look, let me see if I got this all straight. You own that house with the popsicle-lady from this morning. That's your wife. You're a freak … or something, and froze her. How am I doin' so far?"
"I didn't mean to kill her," said Alan. Faith took that as a "well."
Turning to John, Faith said, "I was never really good with learnin' and stuff, but I think you're tryin' to shoot your sister's hubby 'cause he's different. You're not all pissed 'cause he killed your sis, but 'cause, how'd you put it, 'Haven is sick and tired of his kind.' Drop your gun before I make you drop it." With that, Faith took a few threatening steps toward John; out of the corner of her eye, she could see Nathan tightening the grip on his gun. She smirked a little, thinking he looked even sexier now than he had in the house; now he had the bruise from her boot and his shirt was clinging to the moisture of his body, showing his fine frame. She just hoped he wouldn't shoot her if she took this guy down.
"I'll shoot you," cried out John, looking unsure of himself and the situation.
Without giving him a chance to steel his resolve, Faith stepped forward. In three quick jabs Faith hit John's abdomen, knee, and face, sending him sprawling to the ground unconscious in what seemed like just a second.
Nathan could not believe his eyes; this slip of a girl had just taken down an armed man twice her size. Being partnered with Audrey Parker had taught him not to underestimate women … but still. It was not as if this girl had the benefit of Parker's FBI training. Making a split-second decision, Nathan decided to focus on Alan, not Faith. Although his gut—and the giant bruise on his face—was telling him that Faith was a threat, he also felt that he could trust her—for now.
Lowering his gun, Nathan said, "Alan, let's just go down to the police station and sort this all out."
"We can't," cried Alan. "I'm losing control! Can't you feel it?"
Seeing the confused look on Nathan's face, Faith jumped in, "It's getting wicked hot in here. And I think your buddy here is doin' it."
"I can't control it. Things just get too hot and too cold when I'm around."
"You can control it," urged Nathan, with an intense look on his face. "All you need to do it calm down. And you," he said, turning to Faith, "you warn me when it gets too hot in here."
"Sure," replied Faith. "But is there a reason I have to?" Upon seeing the brief look of discomfort that ran across Nathan's face, Faith guessed, "You're a freak too, aren't you?"
"We prefer to be called 'troubled,'" answered Nathan. Turning back to Alan, he said, "And that is why I can understand what you're going through. I can help you. You just need to calm down."
"I can't," cried Alan. "Just get out of here!"
"You're troubled too, aren't you?" Although Nathan had not taken his eyes off of Alan, Faith knew he was talking to her.
"But you're stronger than you should be?"
"Then get John out of here."
With that, Faith shrugged and walked around Nathan, unwilling to force Nathan to break eye contact with Alan as it seemed to calm the man down somewhat, and re-approached the unconscious John. Grabbing one of his legs, Faith pulled on him none too gently. She quickly dragged the man out of the warehouse, allowing him to bump his head on just about every obstacle they passed; she did not like him. As something a little less than normal herself, she found his attitude appalling. She may act like a complete bitch but she would never kill a man just for being a little different … she would never kill a man. Demons were different enough that they did not count. Leaving John lying in a crumple near the road, Faith headed back inside.
Walking back into the warehouse was like walking into a sauna. It was so hot it was becoming difficult to breathe.
"Nathan," she said gently, suddenly feeling like she had known him her entire life. He was a freak like her.
"What?" he asked, not even blinking at her use of his first name; he felt the same way.
"It's wicked hot in here. Too hot."
"Alan," continued Nathan, placating as ever. "Please, calm down."
"I can't," said Alan, no longer crying. "I'm losing it. You need to leave."
And Alan was correct; just as he finished speaking the upper rafters of the warehouse caught fire. Without even thinking, Faith grabbed Nathan and ran for the door, only to find it blocked by a fallen, burning beam.
"Is there another way outta here?" asked Faith breathlessly.
"I don't know; let's look."
Hand in hand, Faith and Nathan ran to the back of the warehouse. Nathan veered in an attempt to grab Alan but Faith held him fast. As sad as she found it, she knew that nothing could save Alan at this point. To bring him with them would just doom them all. Anyway, small flames had begun to appear on his body and Faith had a feeling that his flames would not be simple to smother.
Faith pulled Nathan behind a thin metal wall just as a burst of flame ripped through the room, engulfing the space they had been occupying just moments before. Nathan had Faith pressed up against the wall, his body tight across hers, as he tried to protect her. Faith felt her heart rate rise and she knew it had nothing to do with the adrenaline from running from the fire. The metal was burning her back and she knew it must be burning Nathan's hands but, if he were able to ignore it, so could she. She was the Slayer after all.
Leaning forward slightly, Faith angled her head to kiss Nathan. Pressing her lips against his, she began to kiss him ferociously, letting her instincts take over. She raised her arms and wrapped them around his head, pulling him closer. Before he knew what he was doing, Nathan returned the kiss as the flames grew around them.
While it seemed like minutes to Faith, it was only a few seconds before Nathan pulled away. "We need to get out of here," he said, pulling her to him again as he rushed toward the back of the building. Although there had not been a door there, the fire had created one and Nathan and Faith surged through it, gulping down the cool, smoke-free air. While Nathan could not feel the heat or the sting of smoke in his lungs, he could tell that he was breathing more easily now.
"Where's John?" he asked.
"Who cares?" asked Faith, unwilling to let go of Nathan's hand. She knew she had just met him but she really liked him and could just feel that there was something different—not different in that he clearly couldn't feel her hand in his, but different in that this would not just be another one-night stand if she could help it.
"Where is he?" asked Nathan, looking into her eyes and carefully enunciating each word.
"By the road."
"We should go help him."
"He's out and he'll be out for a while. Let's just call someone to come get him."
While Nathan knew that he should go help John, a part of him just wanted to let someone else deal with it. "Let me call my partner. She'll come get him."
"And then I'll drive you home."
~ x ~ x ~ x ~
After getting an irritated Parker to agree to drive out to the warehouse to collect John, Nathan had planned to drive Faith home but the girl had somehow finagled her way into his house. And here they sat, at his kitchen table.
Nathan could not lie; he was nervous. Although he had not been able to feel that kiss, he knew it was passionate and he knew that not all of that had been Faith's fault. While bandaging her burns, he had had to restrain himself. Although he knew he would not be able to feel her, he had so wanted to touch her. Just by looking into her eyes, he could tell that she knew about late nights and weariness and freakishness and loss … just like him. Also, like him, he knew she would be forced to see more of it.
"So …" said Faith, breaking the awkward silence.
"Wanna make out again?" asked Faith, waggling her eyebrows suggestively.
"How old are you?"
Well, thought Faith, that was a sure way to ruin the mood. "Twenty."
"Liar," said Nathan laughing. Faith found that she liked it when he laughed. "What were you doing in that warehouse?"
"What were you doing in that warehouse?"
"I was looking for whatever killed that woman," answered Faith honestly.
"Me too," responded Nathan. "How did you know to go to that warehouse for clues?"
Faith smirked at the word "clues." "I just … felt like that was where I should go. Y'know?"
"Not really," answered Nathan, realizing that it did not matter.
"So … what now?" asked Faith, with more than a little hope coloring her voice.
"I think we both know that something happened between us back there but we can't do anything about it," said Nathan. Seeing that Faith was about to interrupt him, he forged forward, cutting her off before she could even begin. "First of all, I'm a police officer and you're a teenager. Do you have any ideas how many laws we would be breaking?"
"Just statutory rape, I think," replied Faith, half-joking yet half-serious.
"Yeah, well, that's one too many. Second of all, we just met and I don't think either of us should do something foolish off the cuff like this; it could affect the rest of our lives."
"What lives?" Faith muttered under her breath, glancing down at her hands where they lay coiled on the table.
Hearing her, Nathan stopped talking and just gave her a questioning look.
"Come on," continued Faith, louder this time, "it's not like you're livin' it up. You're a cop who apparently works all day and who clearly doesn't even have a girlfriend or anything. You're nothing but a freak who's put his whole life into fighting freakishness. I know what that's like. You might wanna do somethin' else but you know you can't, 'cause they won't let you."
"Who won't let you?"
"The universe, G-d, I don't know."
"What do you fight?" asked Nathan, somehow knowing that he would not like the answer.
"Everything," cried Faith. And with that, Faith let it all out. She told him all about being called to be the Slayer and how scared she was and Nathan just listened. It was nice. Faith knew she could talk to Cecelia but Cecelia always used these opportunities to remind Faith of her duties and she always got a look on her face that clearly said she thought Faith was just going through a phase and would outgrow it eventually. But Nathan just listened and she knew that he understood. He did not understand completely—no one could, except maybe that other Slayer that Faith kept hearing about—but he understood enough that he could listen to her without judging or dismissing her.
Nathan just let the girl talk. The things she was talking about were crazy but he knew she was telling the truth. He could compare some of them to his own life. He had not chosen to be troubled or to become embroiled in Haven's troubles, yet he had. Now he was forced to devote his life to it, and all because some higher power chose him for this crap. He could not believe that it was all random. Faith had not been chosen to fight demons randomly and he had not been chosen to protect the troubled randomly. Even if he did not believe in G-d or some godlike creature, he was certainly chosen by his father. Perhaps that was the one thing for which he truly could not forgive his father.
At some point during Faith's monologue, Nathan had drawn his chair closer to hers and had taken her into his arms. While before he had been afraid of reawakening the passion from the warehouse, he knew this was different. Faith was remotely aware of what was happening and let Nathan just hold her as she cried. Long after she had finished speaking, Nathan continued to hold her, rubbing her back in small circles.
Finally regaining her composure, Faith pulled back from Nathan just enough to look at him and asked, "What about you?"
Nathan swallowed hard; he had not been aware of the lump rising in his throat and, raising his hand to his face, he was amazed when it came away with moisture on it. He had been crying and not even known it.
At that point, Nathan knew it would not be fair to have had Faith spill her guts to him and for him to give her nothing in return. Attempting to regain control of the situation, Nathan began to tell Faith about his life. His droning voice seemed to calm both of them … although part of that could have been the manner in which he was relaying his life. Faith could not help but chuckle; he sounded like a police report. He was telling her the facts but he was leaving the emotion out of it.
"Stop," said Faith, placing a hand over his mouth. "If you aren't gonna tell me all of it, don't tell me any of it."
Nathan thought really ponderously about what she had just said to him and finally seemed to come to a decision.
"When my trouble came back, I felt lost. I didn't know how to deal. …" Nathan continued. It felt so good to say these things finally, especially to say them to someone who understood. Parker could never understand, as much as she might try.
Faith allowed Nathan's voice to wash over her as she snuggled back into his arms. She had not felt this safe since she had been called as the Slayer.
~ x ~ x ~ x ~
Faith and Nathan spent the night sleeping on his kitchen chairs; despite the discomfort of the hard wood, they were both incredibly at ease.
When morning came, they ate a companionable breakfast. After all the words and tales they had shared the night before, they were both completely content with the silence. Finally, though, the time came for them to part ways.
"I can stay, you know," said Faith quietly.
"I know," said Nathan, with equal solemnity.
"Right," said Faith, nodding her head once.
"I'm five by five," said Faith, reassuming her tough girl persona.
"Sure," said Nathan, smiling just slightly. "Remember though, come back. I know you can get through all this stuff. When you turn 18, look me up."
They did not hug again because they knew it might be more difficult to part ways if they touched.
~ x ~ x ~ x ~
An hour later Faith meandered into the motel room she shared with Cecelia.
"Where were you?" raged Cecelia, taking in Faith's slightly disheveled appearance. "I was terribly worried."
"I was out," said Faith, not wanting to explain anything. Nathan was hers and she just felt that telling Cecelia about him would ruin that. "I'm five by five, Cece."
"Ms. Watling," corrected Cecelia. "Was your night successful at least?"
"Very," replied Faith cryptically. "Let's go back to Boston. There's nothing for us to do here."
They were gone within the hour.
~ The End ~
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