From my seat next to Faith I noticed that some things all too familiar hadn't changed one bit and despite wanting to reach out and slap her feet off of the table in order to stop the glares we were getting, I found myself smirking instead at her own insolence. The girl was definitely her own person despite the hard-knocks she'd taken over the years and she wasn't afraid to let people know exactly what she thought about their glares. Besides, it serves them all right. They shouldn't be staring like that.
Laughing at her own comment towards my rich bitchy-ness I couldn't help but nod my head a little and accept whatever she had to say, because there was a time when what she said was very true. Back in Sunnydale I had a reputation for being the nastiest bitch and one of the most popular snobs that ran Sunnydale High and not once would I apologize for it back then. Maybe I would now, but that's because I've grown as a person and experienced so much pain, but even now every now and then I still find it a little easy to slip back into that rich bitch from Sunnydale who had everything and identified with the pampered spoiled princess persona.
"Can I help it if I got everything I wanted?"
I knew what reaction that would draw from her and I smirked slightly as I waited for it. Without missing a beat, Faith didn't disappointment me. She just rolled her eyes and smirked right back at me.
"Right C, because we're all so lucky to get everything we want in life without having to actually work for it."
"Hey I deserved everything I got."
I was almost half offended with her little comment, but I pushed it away. It's just typical Faith and I should be used to this by now. Besides I knew that I wasn't still that same girl that I was back in high school. I had come so far since then and grown probably more than anyone back there would be willing to accept.
"Sure you did, Princess. Sure you did."
I could hear the teasing in her voice and knew she was just doing it to irritate me. I knew I would get back at her for it, two could play this little annoying game and I had been dying to play a little practical joke on her since I had gotten her in the Nail Emporium. After all what was a little harmless joking between two old, um, friends um not exactly friends maybe more like enemies.
A grin spread across my face as I heard both of our names being called at the same time. I nodded and turned to face her, "Come, on. Let's move they're calling us. And if it's one thing I know you don't keep them waiting when they've called you or they'll just pass you by for the next person in line. And damn, I'm in such need of a manicure and you could use one yourself. You're looking a little ragged there, guess you're still doing the whole biting thing."
I smirked as I led the way through the small crowd of people towards the voice that had been calling our names. Moving my way ahead knowing Faith would be hesitant to follow too quickly because she didn't want to be there anyway. I quickly reached inside my purse and handed the woman a twenty telling her the girl over my shoulder was looking for something of a light pale pink-ish.
Muttering to myself where Faith couldn't hear me I said, "That's right, Faith. That's for the elbow. Might have apologize to Phantom Dennis, but this is my little payback."
I stopped for a moment as my hand brushed against the woman's hand I had just handed the twenty to. Something flashed in my mind and a blurry vision appeared.
"Oh no," I thought, "Oh no, this can't be happening now. Not now when I'm getting a manicure that's long over-due. Damnit! Damn the PTB. Someone should teach them about time. You would think that evil could acknowledge vacation time."
I stopped for a moment as I lifted my hand to my temple, placing my fingertips against I massaged it for a moment or so. The pain wasn't as immense as it had when I had first received my visions due to the getting dosed with demon DNA, but let's face it they still weren't a stroll through the park either. Being half-demon sometimes had it side effects to. Some of which I found disgusting and just odd.
The thing I had seen in my almost vision had claws and was pretty nasty looking. I couldn't figure out what it had to do with the woman, but I know that when I brushed past her on my way to sit in the chair at the manicurist table I had this odd chilling sensation like something wasn't normal. Please it's not like anything is ever normal around here with the work that we do, but this felt strange. It felt like something I had never experienced before, but that could just about sum up everything we've ever encountered as well.
From the corner of my eye I saw Faith watching me trying to figure out what was going on with me. I was pretty sure she knew something was up though not sure what it was exactly, even I wasn't sure. I smiled the best I could at her and motioned with my hand for her to sit down next to me at the manicurist table that was next to mine. I figure the better chances we have of something not happening if we stayed together. Though sometimes that's not always a fail-safe plan either. Not in this line of work.
Sometimes I envied other people's lives, ya know normal people. How they had it easy because they got to go into a normal job and come home at a normal hour to a normal family, when usually our lives were just filled with boring old demons. You know we fight them. We kill them, and still show up at 8 a.m. the next day. I often wondered why is that?
God I'm starting to sound like Buffy. This cannot be happening. I have a reputation to keep you know. Besides I am nothing like her, that girl practically had no style at all. I mean just look at her hair and her clothes. And her skin was the worst, I once saw her mother at a school function, I think parent teacher something or another and I absolutely wondered if the ability to moisturize skipped a generation in her family or something. Besides I was way more cooler than she was and I had a better sense of fashion. Extremely better.
My thoughts were interrupted as Faith plopped down in the chair at the manicurist table next to mine and crossing her arms over her chest in a moment of defiance, before finally succumbing to the whole getting her nails cleaned up bit. I knew this wasn't exactly her idea of a good time, but damnit I had been through way too much to give up the one luxury that I enjoyed almost as much as shopping. And from the looks of what she had bought today, I had seen enough of it to last me for a while.
I couldn't believe I was even thinking that. I smirked at her playfully.
I chuckled lightly as I watched her scowl at me slightly, the look in her eyes showing me she wasn't being indignant.
"Queen B." She retorted with a smirk gracing her features.
I had to admit that underneath the lighting she looked almost a little pretty. I could definitely see what the boys saw in her. I would never tell her that face to face, because I would probably die of embarrassment and she would delight in making it even worse on me with all the sarcastic little barbs she's good at throwing out. Lets face it, her barbs are just as about as powerful as her punches are and I should know because it wasn't so long ago I took an elbow to the eye on account of some lame-o ill-fated retarded vendetta she had out against Wesley.
"You know it." I quipped.
We both shared a good laugh and I straightened in my seat as I saw the woman I had handed the twenty to along with another woman, a slightly taller but slender brunet walking towards us. I watched as the woman I'd handed the twenty to came to rest behind the table I was sitting at and I looked over towards the brunet and asked as politely as I could, "Oh um, it's nothing to personal but do you mind taking care of my manicure instead of her, please?"
I then winked towards the woman who was still standing in front of me and nodded over towards the seat Faith was occupying. She took the hint and we both shared a small smile. I watched as one of her hands come up to finger the pendant she wore around her neck. I'd never seen anything like it before, it looked like some weird old boring something that Wesley would die to get his hands on. Was it my imagination or did I see some sparkage there when her fingers touched it, something like electrical energy or mystical? That's weird.
That's just strange, but okay I fibbed a little bit, well a lot, but I just really didn't want to risk touching that woman again and risk getting another almost vision. This was still a bit odd for me and besides, I didn't know if she had already filled the other one in on the little practical joke I was having played on Faith.
"That pendant," I thought, "I've seen something like that before. I know I have."
It looked like it fit together with something else, like something fit into it to open up something or whatever. Then a thought occurred to me, "God, this better not be another one of those things that opens portals. I've had to deal with enough fo them. I've had it with them, really."
This is a time when I really wish I had access to Wesley's books. I wondered if I called and left a message for him, if he would come by and or be willing to do a little research for me. It couldn't hurt to try because I mean he is one of my best friends, one of the few people that I would absolutely trust with my life. He's never let me down before. If I was lucky when I called maybe Fred would answer the phone and then she'd put me right trough to Wesley. His books and anything he had to say would be helpful right about now.
I was debating in my mind whether or not I wanted to involve Angel in this or just wait until I found out more. I mean since I had made the decision to stay at my apartment instead of the Hyperion, I wasn't sure if he wanted much to do with me these days. From the phone call I shared with Wesley the day before, it seemed Angel was worse than just his broody ol' normal I blame myself routine he usually goes into when something he wants to happen doesn't usually go his way.
Not more than twenty minutes later I could hear Faith once again interrupting my thoughts of Angel and debating on whether to alert him to this newest almost vision I'd had with her own out bursts of frustration, "Oh hell no. Lady, I don't think so."
I couldn't help but snicker. I knew exactly what she was protesting and I knew she was going to kick my ass really good for this one. But there's one thing she didn't realize, while she was away Cordy learned a few tricks or two. She didn't know I could match her every blow for blow and I could wield a damn good sword. She's not the only badass around here, ya know.
Turning to her and putting on my best annoying act, because that's what it was. It was all an act just to annoy her the way that she had annoyed me on occasions before.
"Excuse me, what's the matter now?"
I asked her faking annoyance at her outbursts knowing they would only draw more attention towards us as if we didn't have enough already.
Cutting her eyes at me she whipped her head around almost withdrawing her hands back away from the table, "I'm not some fancy little princess, that's your damn job C. I don't want it. I didn't ask for it. And I'm damn sure not going to wear any evidence of it."
She lifted one of her hands up and held it between the two of us wriggling her fingers at me as I had to put my hand across my mouth to hide my own amusement at the pale pink polish that now adorned her now neatly manicured nails. I only hoped my eyes didn't give it away.
In a perturbed manner I just shook my head with feigned disgust before I responded, "You know, you could try something new once in a while. It wouldn't kill you. Last I heard that Bohemian look you've been sporting went out of style say back around the time Cavemen ruled the world. Newsflash, we've come out of our caves, took the chains off and started our own trends."
I knew if anything that should get her pretty much steaming and she didn't disappoint. Faith's scowl deepened across her face and her eyes turned dark. I could tell she was trying to keep her composure without really creeping people out and drawing too much attention, you know keeping in mind that we had a big nasty still on our tails, well her tail that is.
Narrowing her eyes at me as if she had it all figured out, "You did this, didn't you?"
I gave her my best innocent look but I don't think it did much good. I think she had me figured out and I was pretty much going to have to give. But I wasn't going to until she squeezed it out of me, because this was entirely much too fun.
"Oh get over yourself, what makes you think I would waste my time to do something as boring and lame-o as this?"
Oh great, there she goes with that grunting thing again. I seriously don't get why she feels the need to get all huffy and grunt around about something that clearly isn't really all that big of a deal. That's Faith for you, though. Nothing really changes. Well some things I guess, but this never.
"Because it is something only you would do, Cor. It's got you written all over it. And because you're never going to be the actress you so desperately are trying to pull off. I can see through your little thin cover, I'm not even gonna waste the time warning you. I'm just going to tell you, I will get you back for this. Better watch your back."
I rolled my eyes at her, "Right, whatever."
I knew she wasn't playing though. I knew she meant every word she'd said to me. The look in her eyes told me. There was going to be a long run of practical jokes to come because I don't back down from a challenge. I'm not one to give up so easily and take the easy way out. I've proven that a hundred and one times over already within the past year. So this wasn't going to stop me.
"You're such a bitch, you know that?"
"Hey. That's Queen to you."
She scowled at me as she grudgingly put her other hand out so the woman in front of her could finish up what she started while the other woman worked on mine as well. It wasn't until about fifteen minutes later we were finished and we found ourselves making our way trough the shopping center. Faith still wore the scowl on her face as I watched her trying to hide the results of my practical joke on her. And I couldn't help but smirk.
That out to teach her not to mess with Queen C for a while.
"And when you're finished sulking."
She stopped right in her tracks and whipped around to face me. I laughed.
"Kidding, kidding. Seriously, you really should learn to control your temper a little. You'd think you were out for blood."
She just snorted.
"Geeze, touchy. Come on, there's something else I want to get."
I watched as she followed along behind me reluctantly.
"Oh let me guess, something else to torture me with? What this wasn't good enough, C? You have to pull out all stops and lay the mother of all moth-"
She stopped mid-sentence as I found myself standing in front of a weird little shop, hand pressed against my forehead as something else flashed in my mind.
"Wow," I thought, "okay that was weird. First the almost vision from the manicurist lady and now this. It's getting stronger, there is definitely something strange about this. And wrong too."
"Hey," I heard a somewhat softened voice that was without a trace of annoyance that had been in it before, "C, something wrong? You okay?"
I felt Faith's hand reach out to touch my arm lightly and another flash went off in my mind.
"Ahh, God." I managed out loud.
She was all ears and I knew immediately by the tone of her voice that she knew something wasn't right.
Shaking her off and shrugging I nodded, "I'm fine. I just need a little space is all, okay."
She backed off a bit. I could still tell she wasn't exactly sure what had just happened and noticed when I glanced in her direction finally that her eyes held questions that she seemed almost hesitant to ask.
"Seriously C…" she fidgeted on her feet for a moment.
"Are you getting a case of the wiggin's or something? Did you see something?"
The truth was I couldn't really answer her, yes I had seen something. But no I didn't know what it was. And I didn't know how powerful it was. All I knew was I wanted to get what I came here for and then get back to the apartment. It wasn't safe to talk about it here and I could fill her in there, later ya know. After I made up for the practical joke that I had played on her earlier.
I gave her my best smile and nodded to the passers-by.
"See what? I'm fine. Just have a headache is all."
I watched as her eyebrows raised just like I knew they would.
"From a vis-"
I stopped her from saying anything out loud by motioning to the crowd around us in the shopping center and watched as she stopped in the middle of it.
"Good idea, just give it away. That's great."
I rolled my eyes and just drug on her on further through the mall cutting her off from saying anything. I couldn't be irritated with her for too long because after all she was kind of concerned about me, or at least she acted like it. And I have to admit that I kind of like the fact that someone as tough as her could also have a softer side. The question was how soft was her softer side. And even scarier why was I even wondering that?
I can't even believe that I let her talk me into buying that leather jacket anyway. I mean sure it was kind of cool but me in leather. That's like putting a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's pretty much a fashion faux pa when it comes to me and any type of animal hide, but still even I had to admit that I looked pretty hot in it. Yep, that was me the vision of hotly-ness standing in front of that dressing room mirror. And the look Faith had on her face, that smirk read more than-no, I'm not going there. So not even going there.
Faith was on my heels as I stopped in front of another store. I noticed that it was directly across from the store I wanted to go in and since I was getting something for her that was supposed to be a little surprise and wouldn't be if she followed me in, I slipped her one of Angel's cards and told her to go knock herself out in the leather store across from the one I was standing in front of.
When I was sure she was a pretty good distance I wanted into the store and started looking around. Most of the stuff I found there was pretty much stuff that we saw in our everyday line of work. There were swords, daggers among other weapons on display all over the store. I made my way in a little further and glanced around at the different things until one dagger in particular, a silver one with an ornate handle, caught my eye and I wandered my way over towards it. It wasn't long until sales clerk had appeared almost as if out of nowhere. That was a little odd, but oh well everyday is odd for us.
As I was looking at the dagger from a closer view, I noticed that it was gorgeously wrought with workmanship like I had never seen before.
"Do you like it?" The sales clerk asked stepping up closer and looking down towards the dagger I was admiring.
"Oh this," I looked down at it once more before focusing my attention on the proprietor in front of me and gave him a smile despite the weirdness I'd felt earlier when I entered the small store, "it's beautiful actually. I've never seen anything like this before. And I'm guessing there must be some kind of history behind it, right?"
"There's stories about the dagger having special qualities. I've often heard it told that it offers magical protection to the person that's carrying it."
I continued to stare down at it as the older gentleman kept telling me about all the qualities the dagger itself possessed. I figured it wouldn't probably be a bad idea to go ahead and get this for her, because after all there was some big bad out there hot on our tail and we were going to need weapons. Besides, I couldn't baby-sit her seven twenty-four. But the question was, did I want to risk giving her something that she could just stick in my back when I had it turned to her?
I thought about it for another moment before looking back up at the salesman and giving him my final word on it, "I'll take it."
The man smiled. "Of course."
I watched as the man began wrapping it in a pieace of silk and then placed in a wooden box, when he handed it to me finally, I went ahead and shoved it into a bag that had a few other of my purchases in it. I gave a warm smile to the man as I handed over the money to him for the dagger and marveled at how inexpensive that it was, I mean compared to what I had originally thought it would be. Then I left the shop behind to go find out what Faith was up to.
I wasn't in any hurry to leave Faith un-attended for too long of a time given our current predicament and the big nasty that we had on our heels. So I decided I'd marvel at it later while I was wrapping it up at home to give to her.
I found Faith waiting outside of the store for me with a few more bags in her hands and a small smirk on her face that said she bought the whole store out. It didn't surprise me, but I was in a giving mood or um Angel was pretty much.
I glanced back over my shoulder back and forth trying to see if I could spot the little store that I had just came out of, but there was no way that I could find it. I wondered if I had somehow gotten a little confused or lost, maybe disoriented from the 'almost visions' I'd been having today, a little side effect or something like that, but there was nothing to be found. Now that was odd. There was just no way around that. I shrugged as I caught up to where Faith was.
"My feet are killing me and my head is pounding. I think it's time we go before whatever it is that's after you catches up to us, not very safe here you know."
I gave her a look that said I'd tell her everything once we were back at my place. I just hoped she didn't question between now and then.