Title: Articles of Faith: Echoes (1/1)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at u/62966 or ~cyclone

Rating: Just a little bad language.

Spoilers: Anything and everything.

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Looking for their lost daughter, a certain couple finds nothing but echoes. An Emerald Flame story.

Author's Note: More side story fun!

December, 1998

Faith Lehane had been bored.

This, naturally, was a recipe for chaos, which was why Xander had tossed her the keys to his new (used) Camaro and shooed her off to L.A. He didn't bother trying to tell her to be good, instead only admonishing her to bring the car back in legally driveable condition.

And avoid getting arrested.

She scowled at the memory. Who did he think she was? The Dirty Pair? She wasn't the one who got into a running gun battle and high speed car chase on national television.

She shook the annoyed thoughts out of her head and grinned. She had a city to paint red.

Or maybe green.

Little did she know that she was being watched.

August, 1997

The middle-aged man drove the beat up SUV toward the Freemont campus. He glanced in the rearview at his sulking passenger in the back seat and prompted, "All right. Reality check?"

The girl jerked her head out of whatever thoughts they were in and gave a convincing smile. "Hi, I'm Caroline Farrell, just starting this year at Freemont as a freshman because it was my dad's alma mater. Mom and Dad work for Paddington Transatlantic Shipping, and they're simply too busy with a major contract right now to drop me off."

She sighed, the false cheer vanishing.

"Say, how come Mom and Dad get to keep their first names when doing this undercover stuff, Uncle Gib?"

"Because they're usually not under as much scrutiny as they are right now," he said. "There's a lot of angry people looking for your parents right now, Dana. Until the heat dies down, it just isn't safe, and you know it."

Dana Tasker slumped into the seat. "This sucks."

December, 1998

Helen Tasker clutched the picture in her hands. It was a copy of a photograph that had landed on her husband's desk a few weeks ago. The quick polaroid had been taken seven months ago in a Los Angeles hospital; it was of a Jane Doe with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

A Jane Doe who had her daughter's face and, according to the hospital records, her blood type as well.

A Jane Doe who, as it happened, had vanished from her hospital bed... just like Dana had nearly a year ago.

Helen wasn't sure if she could take this all over again. It had nearly driven her into the bottle to the point she almost didn't come out last time. How Harry dealt with this, she had no idea.

Well, no, that wasn't true. She knew exactly how he dealt with it, but Trilby had been getting pretty annoyed with the body counts doubling on their more recent missions. She wasn't about to triple them.


"Helen!" Harry burst into the room. "Faisil got a hit on the traffic cams."

"Another one?" God, where was that bottle when she-

"This one is solid, honey. Ninety-nine percent facial match," Harry said in a rush, recognizing the look in his wife's eyes.

She shot to her feet. "Then what are we waiting for?"

"There she is," Gib said. He was driving the van, tailing the yellow Camaro. "Harry, Helen, I don't know about you, but she doesn't exactly look like she's scare- uh oh. I think she spotted us. She's rabbiting!"

"She must be terrified," Helen whispered.

"She probably doesn't know it's us," Harry reasoned. "Don't let her get away, Gib!"

Faith kept an eye on the van as she weaved through traffic, her foot stomping the gas, until she finally swerved into a parallel parking space, vaulting out of Xander's Camaro and down an alleyway.

F*ck, she thought. Xander's never gonna let me live this down.

Gib pulled over. "Go!" he said. "I'll try to cut her off!"

Harry and Helen slid the side door open and bolted after their daughter. Even as Faisil struggled to shut the door, Gib stomped the gas, the tires squealing as the van took off.

Out of all four members of Team Tasker, Albert Gibson was the least likely agent by all appearances. Harry Tasker was a big, brawny man whose sheer physical presence dominated any room he walked into, yet belied the sharp mind backing up his muscles. He exemplified the type of agent who forwent going unnoticed for being noticed as someone else. His wife, Helen Tasker, combined stunning good looks with uncanny luck to form a deadly combination. Even Faisil's appearance comfortably fit his role as the techie of the team. In contrast, Albert Gibson looked the part of an overweight middle management paper pusher. As a government agent, he looked like a bureaucrat at worst or a doughnut-scarfing cop at best.

But beneath the paunch, Albert Gibson hid layers of muscle and years of experience, experience which was being put to use now as he ruthlessly cut through Los Angeles traffic like it wasn't there, vectoring in around to the other end of the alleyway, stopping the van and climbing out just as the girl they were pursuing emerged. The girl wheeled away, but Gib was faster than he looked.

"Shh, Dana, it's me!" Gib hissed as he held the struggling girl. She snarled, and her elbow found his groin. "Hurk!" The pain didn't end there, as his grip relaxed, and she turned on him.


Suddenly, the girl went limp in his arms. Gib let go and curled up into a fetal position, just as the Taskers arrived.

"Faisil," Helen said, "did you just tranq my daughter?"

"Um... no?" Faisil backed into the van, doing his best to hide the tranquilizer rifle behind his back.

"Gib, are you alright?" Harry asked, leaning over his long-time partner.

Gib's response could have been a plea for a mercy killing or a confession that he was a double agent. Nobody present spoke "pained moan from a middle-aged man," however, and he would later claim not to remember what he said, so it would remain forever unknown.

Faith woke up pissed. Fortunately for the surrounding neighborhood, she also woke up without her power ring. Still, growing up on the streets of Boston made her dangerous enough, as the knee she slammed into the big man's groin attested. She ducked under his outstretched arms and charged into the hall, only to find her way blocked by a gun-toting woman accompanied by the overweight guy who had pinned her in the alley.

"Dana, stop!" the woman called. "It's us!"

Faith paused and stared, blurting out the question that leaped to her mind: "Who the f*ck is Dana?"

Helen hesitated and shook her head. No. No, not another false hit.

"They brainwashed her!" Gib said.

"She has amnesia!" Harry said, limping into the hallway behind her.

"'She' is very f*cking pissed off!" Faith snarled. "Who are you people?"

Faith stared. This was f*cked up. The family photos. The vacation videos. The very real love and desperation in their eyes. This was seriously f*cked up. She didn't know what to say.

Actually, wait. That sounded pretty good.

"This is seriously f*cked up," she said. "My name is Faith Lehane. I'm seventeen... well, almost eighteen. I'm from Boston. I ain't ever been to D.C., and I've never seen any of you before you started stalking me!"

"Damn it, Faisil," Helen said, "what's taking those prints so long?"

"Got a hit!" Faisil called. "Juvie record in Boston for one... Faith Lehane."

There was a long moment of silence.

"Well, shit."

"Harry, language," Helen said automatically. She turned to Faisil. "Could the files be faked?"

"Maybe," Faisil said, "but the prints don't match our records either."

Helen closed her eyes, then unwillingly turned to the girl. "So... you really aren't Dana."

Faith snorted. "No shit. I've only been telling you that for, what, two hours now? I mean, yeah, it's cool that you love her and really want her back and all, but abducting someone from the street because you think she's her is kinda illegal."

She paused and picked up one of the photos. It was like looking in a mirror, except she never smiled that much at that age. "I get that I look freakily like her - hell, she could be my twin - but I ain't her." She shook her head and looked up. "So you gonna let me go now or what?"

"I'm not so sure we should," Gib quipped. "You are one dangerous little minx, Squirrel Girl."

Faith stared at him. "What did you just call me?"

"Squirrel Girl," Gib replied. "'Cause I've seen fair evidence you like to go for the nuts."

Faith snarled and lunged at him.

Gib was so glad he had decided to wear a cup.

On the drive back to Sunnydale, Faith had a lot to think about. The Tasker girl's resemblance to her was disturbing, but then again, she figured everyone had a twin out there somewhere. At least they gave her ring back to her once they deemed it harmless. How little they knew.

She pondered whether or not she would mention this to Xander.

Probably not.

February, 1999

The weather in London was absolutely miserable: cold and dark and wet. The dark-skinned Slayer suppressed a shiver. She was used to a much warmer climate, but she was about to get a lot colder.

"Are you sure about this, Kendra?"

She nodded. "Yes, Mister Zabuto," she said. "The mission comes first."

The Slayer took a calming breath and accompanied her Watcher into the medical facility. They entered in the middle of a debate.

"I was assured that this method would assure her survival."

"Listen," the doctor said, "do you just want her alive after this, or do you want her to still be functional?"

"Functional, of course. A crippled Slayer is worse than a dead one."

"Then you'll stop listening to idiots who have no real idea how the human body works and actually listen to someone who does."

The "idiots" in question squawked in offended indignation.

"Hypothermia is one of the best options, yes," the doctor said, "but killing someone only temporarily is no easy task, even if she is cooperative."

"All right. We'll do it your way."

Kendra's resolve was well-known, but even it was shaken while listening to those responsible for her welfare discuss how to kill her, temporarily or otherwise.

In the lowest sub-level of the Los Angeles branch of the Rossum Corporation, a girl awoke. She found herself in a cramped depression in the floor, with a frosted glass pane above her. She easily forced her way out and looked around.

It looked like a damn health spa.

"This is so not five by five."

Author's Postscript:

I was originally going to title this Echoes of Faith, but as it turns out, that title's already been used for a crossover with the same elements (BtVS, Dollhouse, and True Lies) by Tenhawk.

These side stories are leaving an awful lot of plot hooks. Don't suppose there's anyone out there interested in playing in this sandbox?