My voice cracks at the end of the line. God, I hate this... all this admitting that sometimes, I need more than just *me* to handle a situation. It's just not me, you know? I'm supposed to be the strong one here, dammit! Now I'm on the phone with
Wussley my ex-watcher and by the sounds of it? He ain't any happier than I am about it. I'm trying not to seem as frantic as I am. Get a fucking grip, Faith! You can't help the girl if you lose your mind. Just gotta play it cool.
"There's no time to explain," I continue, my eyes never leaving the unconscious form of Cordelia Chase. "Just please Wes, she needs you. I need you."
Before he can say no, I hang up the phone. You know me, I'm not exactly miss manners. I can be real polite when I want to be, like whenever I hung with Mrs. S. -- I worked the thanks you ma'ams the way I work my man
or woman in bed, and she thought I was a class act until I tried to kill her daughter; but we all know I'm generally not much of a putting others first person. There's no please in want, take, have. 'Sides, if I don't give him the chance to say no, he has to come. At least, that's the way my twisted mind sees it. If we waste all our time on the phone, I might as well swipe a shovel from the local Walmart and start digging C a grave right here.
With the phone put down and my hands empty, I start to pace back and forth, unsure of what to do here. How do you treat injuries that are bein' inflicted by some kind of psychic attack? There's nothing for me to fight and I feel wicked useless just pacing holes in teh carpet like I am. What good is a slayer when you're bein' tortured by your own fucking mind? Not like I can just jump into her brain and sever the tie between her and whatever's doing this to her. To be frank here, it sucks having all this fire power and nothing to blast. I'm no Florence Nightingale either, so it's not like I trust myself to even touch the chick at this point. Girlfriend's a sight for sore eyes right now.
I figure I can least make her comfortable until help comes. A bed would be nice, right? I mean, if I were a human barbeque I'd rather roast on my bed than be left out in the middle of a hallway. I pick the chick up, careful not to aggravate her injuries further, and carry her off to her bedroom. Me being gentle, must be a cold day in Hell right now. Just keeps gettin' colder as I lay her across it and bite down on my lip, almost hard enough to draw blood. I can't imagine the kinda pain she's gotta be in pain. Hell, it hurts me just seeing her as bad off as she is.
Wes had better run every red light and get his prissy British ass over here as fast as he can. I hear he got himself a biker makeover and now he sports a Harley between his thighs. Funny, I always pegged him as Rolls-Royce type of guy. The thought of princess Margaret on bike is a little disturbing to tell the truth. I still can't get past the major dweeb in tweed he was in Sunnydale. Let's face it, he's no 007. More like a 00Loser but he's trying and I'm redeeming, so I ain't gonna say anymore on the subject.
I try to think about anything but Cordy's condition while I sit here on the foot of the bed, which naturally means it's the only thing I can think about. Ain't life a hoot? I know I'm laughing.
She kissed me. Told me she cared about me and then she kissed me. So, maybe it was lacking the usual passion and lust I'm used to in a kiss, but it held something deeper than the usual touch-and-go sexy lip action that just leads to empty feelings and cold hearts afterwards.
I'm not saying I'm giving up my old lifestyle for a new fuzzy one, it's just that in prison, I kinda put a cap on my nightly endeavors. Sure, I had my pick of the lot; but come on now, in the case of those girls? The stock is weak in the gorgeous types and strong in the so butch I thought I was at a men's prison types, so I learned to chill whenever I got that low down tickle.
Now with C? It's a whole 'nother story. Girl's flat-out gorgeous. She knows is, I know it. Hell, the whole world probably knows it with the way she walks it like she owns the globe. Even version humanitarian Cordelia has a confidant stride and a stellar attitude that makes me want to fall right in line... with her bed. She hasn't let herself go, even with the whole nurturing gig she's got going on. So being in the same room with her after a big fight takes some serious will power on my part not to just jump her already. God, it's still so hard to believe we've only spent a few days together. Feels more like a few months.
Then again, guess time goes by different when you get some, you know, variety in your life after a long stretch of stagnant motion and monotonous days. It's beyond weird to be right smack in the middle of the same old craziness you took a two year vacation from. I almost forgot about what crap these people put up with on a day-to-day basis. Can't even get your shopping done without a demon attack in the parking lot.
I sigh for what's gotta be the millionth time that day, leaning my head into my hands and rubbing at my temples. What the hell am I even doing here? Did I really think I could make a difference? Whole lot of good I'm doing just sitting around on my ass waiting for things to happen. Cordy wouldn't be sportin' massive injury if it weren't for me being here with her. I know this drill. Hell, I fuckin' invented this drill! When you're the big bad, it ain't enough to just straight up kill the one you're after. No, you gotta go after the people in their life first.
It hurts more when you're helpless to help the ones you love than when you're the one in some serious pain. Because nine times out of ten, you can deal with your own shit. But when it's other people, people you think you should be able to protect, 'cause hey, you're the goddammed slayer! You got those cool superpowers and should be able to rock that hero boat from here to fuckin' Mars, and yet it really doesn't matter, does it? Not when people you love are being destroyed 'cause you're not slayer enough to save them.
You think I don't understand that just 'cause I got an ego the size of Texas and a big beef with the world? Bullshit! I care. You think I wasn't scarred for life when Kakistos got my Watcher and I couldn't do a damned thing about it? And now a girl, one I'm just gettin' to know and like, is on the outs because I got some big nasty after me that's too chicken to come at me, so it gets me through
my girl one of my buds instead.
I sniffle, much against my better judgment and steal another look at C. With a shaky hand, I manage to brush away a few strands of her hair off her face. My fingers linger longer than they would be if she was conscious and I whisper out to unhearing ears, "This is all my fault. I'm so sorry, C. I'm so sorry. Wes'll make it better, I promise. I'll kill him if he can't."
Right when I'm about to breakdown with a big boo-hoo fit, I hear a knock on the door. Fuck, that better be Wes. I wipe at my face and get up, checking out my reflection in the mirror above her dresser. I look scared, young and scared. Without the dark eye make-up I usually plaster on, I don't look a day over 16. Wes will probably shit bricks at the sight of Faith without her walls up.
I open up the door and stare my former watcher straight in the eye, a look that shows I mean business. "About time you showed up. I was beginning to think you wimped out on me."
Wes shifts, his discomfort wicked obvious. I'm surprised though, he looks surprisingly less annoyed than I thought he would be to be awakened in the middle of the night with a frantic phone call from a chick that tortured him half to death not two years ago. Looks like he didn't bother dressing either, he's decked out in a T-shirt and sweatpants. Not so much different from the oversized T I threw on after I heard a knock on my door. We all know I sleep in the buff.
"I came as quick as I could on such short notice," he replies gruffly.
There's a moment where we just stare at each other as former watcher and slayer, enemy, and accept the uneasy alliance we're gonna have to deal with if this gig's gonna work out better than how it worked out in Sunnydale. I get that he's a changed man and he seems to be grudgingly accepting the fact that I've changed too. Maybe we can form some sort of level of respect for one another along the line. I doubt we could ever be best buds though, and slayer and watcher is definitely out.
"C'mon, she's in the bedroom," I finally spit out after our silent truce.
I motion for him with my hand and he shuts the door behind him before following me down the hall. Not like he needs me to lead the way, he's just doing the polite British thing by not pushing past me and running to Cor like a madman. The clenched fists give it all away; he's not as calm on the inside as he is on the outside. Prison made me a master at reading body language.
I stand in the corner and just stare wordlessly as Wes rushes to her bedside. A strangled sound escapes his throat and for once, I ain't gonna poke fun at his wimpy tendencies. He begins stroking her face much like I had and whispering soothing words to her. I pick a spot on the ceiling to find real interesting while he has his private moment. I get the feeling that I'm invading something just by being in the same room as the two of them. They got some kind of creepy bond bordering on lovers, yet I can't ever see them getting groiny with another. Maybe more like brother/sister, I dunno. It's something else though.
"Faith," Wes's voice says, breaking the silence in the room. He's pulled himself together now and has that booklust in his eyes. Oh god, he's gone into Watcher mode and is gonna ask me like, a million questions I don't know the answer to. "What happened? How did she get like this?"
I know he ain't trying to do it, but I can feel the accusation in his voice. On some level, he suspects I had something to do with it. Like maybe this whole thing was a trap to get him here so I can finish what I started two years ago. It's not open hostility, just underlying suspicion. Can't blame the guy for that one so I'll let it slide.
"I don't know," I reply, trying real hard not to have an attitude about it. "Everything was cool last time I saw her, she went off to take a bath and I went to my room to catch some Z's. Next thing I know there's banging on my door and when I open it, there she was, babbling something about how her visions were manifesting and then she passed out. I was gonna take her to the hospital but she said to call you. My guess? Psychic attack. Or maybe some kind of spe-"
"Did you say her visions were manifesting?" Wes interrupts me.
"That's what I said, genius." I roll my eyes, not happy with his interruption. "Would you like a play-by-play? I'm not the world's best artist but I think I could map out the sitch for you."
"No, that's quite alright, I can take it from here," he says in that prissy way of his. My eyes roll again, this time so much so I think they might just fall out and give us a slew of new problems to deal with. "This has happened before. Thought I thought the ascension to a higher being and becoming half demon would have put an end to this type of situation happening."
He takes off his glasses and cleans them in the typical British librarian way. I still can't believe this guy owns a Harley.
"What about a spell?" I repeat what I was trying to get at before he oh so kindly interrupted me. "Maybe somebody out there knows what she's capable of and decided to hit her up with a bad break so they could get off scott free. I mean, if you take out the vision chick, there's not much of a way to let Angel know what's going on out there."
"True," he mutters and appears to think it over. I appear bored while screaming something massive on the inside. I want a quick fix, not a trip down detour alley full of "maybe"s and "what if"s. I called Wes over here to play doctor and give me that, all he's done in return is raise more questions and make me feel like I'm not good enough to help C just 'cause I don't have a high school diploma and Einstein levels of genius like him. Whatever. Those smarts are really helping you out now, huh Wes? You don't know anymore about this than I do! "Did anything else strange happen today? Angel mentioned a pendant earlier when Cordelia called the office."
"Oh yea, ugly thing. Not my style but Cordy seemed to dig it."
"Do you still have it?"
"Somewhere," I reply, waving my hand in a vague direction. "Our best bet is this bedroom. C seemed wicked keen on keeping it in close company of her person." I narrow my eyes suspiciously at him as I put two and two together. "You think that pendant has something to do with what's happening to the princess?"
"I'm not positive but I would bet quite a lot of money on it that it could be the cause of her condition, yes. May I see it?"
"If I can find it," I smirk over at him. "Give me a few."
I push off the wall I'm leaning on and sweep the room with my eyes. Nothing. At least, not in an obvious spot like the top of her nightstand or something like that. I make a quick detour to the bathroom to check the top of the sink. I spot it it behind the toothpaste and laugh. Way to keep ancient artifacts safe, C. Museums would just love you.
I re-enter the room with a bounce in my step and a grin on my face. I toss the pendant at an unexpectant Wes and call out, "Think fast, Watcher man!"
He doesn't think fast enough and the pendant just misses his outstretched fingers and lands with a clunk on the floor. Hope that doesn't screw with anything. I'd really be in the doghouse if I destroyed the only we got so far in this case. Wes glares for a moment before quickly reaching down to pick it up. I try to look innocent but it's not really working. Even as a kid I couldn't really work that look. Somebody once told me that I got a naturally deviant look about me, like I'm always hatching some kind of mischievous plan. That's only true half the time. The other half I'm forming ways to get out of the trouble I got in for said mischievous plan.
"That was hardly called for, Faith." he scolds while brushing some dust off. It's not broken so I don't get what his beef is about it. Boy's just sore 'cause he missed an easy catch.
"That's the beauty of it," I laugh, amused by how much some things never change. I stroll over to the dresser and pick up the book Soul Boy brought over. So what if hooked on phonics didn't work for me, I can match up a fuckin' picture. "Angel brought this book over," I announce as if it's groundbreaking news. "It might have something useful."
He's still busy gettin' a serious hard-on over this pendant. He keeps examining it in his hands like it's 14 carat gold or something. I personally think it looks like some old piece of costume jewelry my grandma would wear. It's big on the overdone and gigantic to boot.
"I haven't ever seen anything like this before," he mutters to himself or maybe to me, I'm not too clear on the issue. "It's simply amazing."
"And I've seen some just like it sold at the grocery store on Halloween," I pitch in. "What's so special about it?"
"Well for one, it's incredibly old," he answers as he holds it up to the light and squints at it like he's appraising it. "It has to be hundreds, perhaps thousands of years old. Now I believe these engravings hint towards it being some form of familial markings. It would be passed down from generation to generation through a certain blood line."
"Great. So should I start knocking on the door of everybody in Los Angeles asking them if this ugly piece of metal belongs to them?"
"No, no..." he starts, trying to hold back his temper for my attitude problem. "I can handle it just fine, thank you. May I take a look at the book?"
"Knock yourself out," I reply as I toss it at him. "What are we gonna do about Cordy in the meantime? She's not looking any healthier and I seriously doubt you can read this book fast enough, if it's even the right one, to save her from dying of, oh I don't know, blood loss."
"Right." Wes takes another look at C and cringes. Is it just me or did more burns just show up on her body? "We should take her to the hospital. They will be able to treat her for her wounds while we research a cure."
"We driving or should I call 911?"
He looks at me doubtfully and swallows what must be his pride at his next question. "Can you drive, Faith? I'm afraid my attention will be best kept at finding a cure for this and Cordelia is in no condition to handle her vehicle herself."
I wear my evil smile when I nod my head in the affirmative. Oh, I can drive... just not in a safe way for other cars that might be on the road. Never really got many drivers ed courses in with all the slaying and then the coma and now prison. It kinda put a damper on me learning the "do"s and "don't"s of the road. "Come on Wes," I snort. "I'm over sixteen, of course I can drive a car. Man, you really don't give me much credit, do you?"
"I'll give you credit where it's due if you can get us to the hospital in one piece."
"Then it looks like I'm our ride. You get the girl and I'll get the keys."
I'm mostly trying to steer clear of touching the sleeping beauty. I'm not much of a healer, I'm more of a destroyer. So I'm a little "eh" on my ability to be much help to the chick at this point. I'd rather give wimpy Wes here a chance to nurture his paternal instincts than give any instinct of mine a whirl. I grab the keys and make due as a door holder as Wes takes C into his arms and marches her out the door. I got the book and pendant too so I'm pulling my weight around here the best I can. Feel kinda sorry for Wussley though, he started lookin' wicked strained by the time we got to the car. It was a long walk and even if C's a woman in some great shape, it'll still give the muscles a serious work out.
He's huffin' and puffin' in his seat while I rev up the engine. Sleeping beauty remains unconscious in the back seat. I end up patting Wes on the back and giving him a good dosage of Faith humor.
"Feeling okay there, gramps? You're looking a little rough. Doesn't Angel make you lift weights or something if you're trying to be a badass demon hunter?"
"Carrying an unconscious woman a few hundred feet and staking a vampire are hardly the same thing," he manages to spit out between breaths. Gotta hand it to him, I figured he'd end up dropping her.
"Whatever you say man," I toss out, making it loud and clear that I still think he could use a little muscle. I'd offer to help in that department, but I think our past history is still too raw for us to be on friendly enough terms to spar. I flick on the radio to some rock station to kill the silence in the car and take off. The brakes squeak across the pavement and soon enough we're cruisin' down the street. I don't know where the Hell I'm going so I turn to my passenger for a clue. "Hey, I'm gonna need you to direct me. I'm not exactly familiar with the area."
"Oh right," he says, a little sheepish chuckle escaping. "Turn left at the stop light. Go straight for a few miles and then you'll see an exit for the hospital on the left side of the road. Turn in there and then follow the arrows to the Emergency Room."
"Sounds easy enough," I chirp happily. It'll be smooth cruising for this inexperienced driver. "Now buckle your seatbelts, I'm taking this baby into high gear!"
I pull back on the gear shift and slam my foot down on the accelerator. The wheels squeal loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood and we're going down the road at lightning speed. God, I love this! Nothing makes a girl feel her freedom more than fast ride down a deserted highway. Too bad Wes doesn't share my sentiment. He's got a steel grip on his book and is doin' more girly shrieking than he is researching.
"Good lord, Faith!" he yells as I make the first left turn. I think we got some actual air time with that one. Wicked! "Who taught you to drive? Evil Knieval?"
"The one and only!" I laugh cheerfully. "Man, that guy was the shit! Totally amped up my adrenaline and taught me some wicked moves. Though it's not the same without the hoops of fire and monster trucks."
Wes shakes his head and I feel a little bad for ribbin' him. I'm stickin' to he asked for it when he stuck it out there like that for me to play on. I can't pass up a good barb when I get one handed to me so easily. "Okay, for real now, I got taught by my old boyfriends. They'd give me the wheel every now and then and tell me to go for it. I never really got to go through drivers ed. Kakistos kinda ran me out of town before I could get enrolled and Sunnydale didn't have much to offer unless you went to school. I got robbed out of that whole experience."
For a moment, he almost looks sympathetic to my sob story about missin' out on being a teenager. I'm usually cool about it, my life wasn't normal to begin with so don't even think I'm pulling some kind of Buffy Summers sob story about how slaying ruined her chance at being prom queen and marrying Christian Slater. I'm just saying it would have been nice to get me a sweet ride to cruise around in. Sure as Hell beats takin' the bus or stowing away in cargos.
"Well, perhaps you can get lessons from Cordelia or even Angel," he offers up softly.
"Are you kidding me?" I nearly bust out laughing at the thought of either them giving me pointers. "Cordy rides like a grandma and were cars even invented when Angel was human? The offer's nice but I think I'll pass."
"Maybe Gunn would be a suitable teacher then."
"Gunn?" I ask. I search my brain for why that name sounds familiar. Oh yea, he helped me out of the joint. I kinda remember him having some big truck and a skinny girlfriend. "The streetkid right?"
Wes smiles. "I don't think he'd take too kindly to being called a kid, but yes, that would be Gunn. I would assume his abilities would be to your liking?"
"I'll think about it," I tell him honestly. It'd be a good way to pass the time, but I don't know if I want to sit around and get bossed around by somebody else. I just don't want to agree to something I might back out of later. Just makes me look like the same sell-out I always was and that's not me anymore; I can keep my word now. My tongue's gotten tighter these days. Not that I was ever much of a liar, anyway. If I was, B would be the one serving time while I got free rein of Sunnydale.
I turn left again onto the exit and do as Wes said before, just follow the arrows. Sounds like an easy task, but in all seriousness, it's fucking frustrating! Place is like a maze and makes me question why we didn't just call an ambulance and tailgate it there. At least it gives watcher man time to do his watcher thing. He takes advantage of my slower speed and gets to work on flipping pages to find us a match on the pendant.
Since I'm the cool and collected one, I push Wes out of the car and let him do his frantic thing and wave us down a stretcher. Next thing I know there's a big bustle of activity around us. Flashing lights, big white blurs of motion, and a mess of wires and even more machines. We get pushed off to sit in the waiting room which suits me fine. Drama isn't really my thing and I'm in the club of thinking I'd just get in the way. Let the docs do their job and I'll sit my ass in a chair and bite my fingernails while I wait for word on whether or not she's gonna be okay.
I pick up a magazine and start flipping through it, just to catch up on the news I missed while in the hole. I'm suddenly interrupted when Wes yelps out, "I think I've found it!"
I perk up and arch a brow in his general direction. "Think isn't good enough, book man."
"Come here and look," he says with a little more force than I'd like, but I shrug and give in to his demand. Once I'm peering down onto the page, he begins to read. "The demons, named Sinnesterung, are mainly a demon of the psyche, using the power of the mind in order to attack their victims rather than physical force. The demons are not physically strong by nature and it's natural form is only about 5 feet tall and its coat is usually black but has also been known to be dark brown or blue. The demon can take the form of animals and humans for a limited time only but for the small amount of time it takes another's shape, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference, making this a very difficult demon to kill. The Sinnesterung is attracted to those with great powers of the psyche, mainly witches and psychics. They were once known all throughout Europe to be vicious killers of the oracles of the time. Their numbers gradually decreased as time went on, turning these demons mainly to the underground until there is a person of significance to destroy."
I just arch my other eyebrow at him cynically. How can he be sure this is our demon? "That's great Wes, but what about the pendant?"
"I was getting to that," he replies gruffly. "Here," he flips through a few pages and points. "This page shows a number of various artifacts that have been known to attract Sinnesterung family of demons. Here is our pendant. As I predicted, it is quite old and is a family heirloom of sorts. It says here that it once belonged to a very powerful witch who was burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials."
"Funny, I never pegged C as the type to dig antiques. I thought she was strictly designer."
"My guess would be that the power within the pendant called out to her and that's what attracted her, rather than the design of the pendant."
This was kinda nice, me and Wes working together like we were meant to. I couldn't help but smile a little at that. Guess I was gettin' a soft spot for old Wes; I do feel wicked bad for what I did to the guy. Granted, he did some fucked up shit to me too, but not enough to deserve what I gave to him. I gave a whole new meaning to "what goes around comes around" with what I did to him.
"Wes," I whisper out, my eyes fixed on my shoes. I didn't want to see his reaction when I said it. "I'm sorry."
He coughs some in surprise and then there's silence. I wait for him to run out on us now that we got this demon named. But he stays, and after what seems like forever, he finally says something back. "I'm sorry too."
I look up, wicked confused. What's he sorry about? "Why?"
"Part of what you said has rung in my ears for years now. If I had been a better watcher, perhaps you would have been a better slayer. I've made mistakes too, Faith." He turns to me and tugs at the collar of T-shirt, yanking it down far enough for me to see a nasty looking scar across his neck.
"Whoa," I breathe out in surprise. "How'd you get that one?"
"Justine," he replies bitterly. "You see Faith, you aren't the only one to betray your friends. I kidnapped Angel's son because I believed Angel was prophesized to kill him. It was my fault Connor was taken to that Hell dimension with Holtz. When Angel found out, he first tried to murder me while I was recovering in the hospital, and then he simply shunned me from the group. It was not until recently that I was accepted back."
"That's not fair, Wes," I say angrily. "You were just trying to help! It's nowhere near anything I did." Man, Angel's a bigger bastard than I thought. He's the dude singin' the redemption song and look what he did to Wes!
"They do say the path to Hell is paved by good intentions. The point is that if Angel forgave me for taking away the best thing in his life, I can surely forgive you for torturing me."
"Cool," I grin appreciatively. So maybe the new Wes ain't so bad after all. "And I guess I can let it slide that you were more uptight than a Sunday school teacher when it came to being my watcher." I pause for a moment, making a quick decision to make a little confession here. "For the record, I was ready to hate any new watcher that walked through that door. I got a bad history with authority and Giles was the only guy who hadn't died or screwed me over."
"I had kind of guessed that after I took a good long look back at those days," he smiles at me, a real one that's not just forced 'cause a mutual friend of ours is possibly dying. "I hadn't taken a good look into your history. I really had absolutely no idea what I was getting into, only that the methods I had been taught would be enough no matter what kind of personality and background my slayer had."
So Wes hadn't done his homework on me. It's surprising in that not very surprising way. I'm guessing the council doesn't care much about the personal lives of their slayers, just that they're chosen and should be ten kinds of happy to follow the orders of some pompous British asshole. Council's gotta get with the times, man. Nobody's gonna be down with that kinda thinking these days.
Our little talk is interrupted when the doc comes out and announces our presence is wanted. "Mr. Wyndam Pryce?"
Wes hops up and anxiously steps in line next to the doc. "That would be me."
"We've stabilized Miss Chase's condition enough to allow her visitors. She's in the ICU and I think we can allow for both you and her sister to visit her. She's semi-conscious at the moment and asking for you both."
So, we made up a few white lies about our relations to the cheerleader. Wes became her fiancé and I became her kid sister. Kinda kinky considering how we've almost had a major make out session, but whatever. I'm just glad they bought it. We follow the doctor into her room and find C half-awake and makin' big with the moaning. I gotta remind myself that these are pained moans, not pleasure ones. Man, you'd think they'd have her doped up on the morphine with the kind of pain she's in.