Hell, I'd even buy her flowers and take her out to dinner if it meant we got that happily ever after. Trippy thought, huh? The `get some, get gone` girl is gettin' a conscience.
I'm out of my mind and I couldn't be happier. I got a girl that cares about me and for once in my life, I think I might be able to care for her back. Told her as much too, and then I kissed her. It wasn't my usual style, but I don't usually liplock with patients in the ICU. I knew she was hurting. Girl might put on the brave face but the pain was still there, deep in her eyes and showed in the way she moved like an arthritic grandmother.
When you're a slayer, you gotta know a thing or two about body language. It helps in the sensing when you're about to be attacked. Turns out it's a wicked handy skill in day-to-day shit too. I never really got a handle on that skill 'till prison forced me to pay a little more attention to detail. Now I'm a pro. I got my skills honed and a cut new bod on my side. I gotta say, it doesn't suck knowing that you're finally getting what being a slayer is all about and coming into your own
There was a little voice inside my head telling me that this was my test. This was the crossroads, I could either take it for what it's worth and make my stand here, prove to everybody that my calling was *not* a mistake and that I *do* deserve this slayer gig... or I can run. Take my freedom and get the Hell out of dodge. I could hitch a ride down to Mexico and never see these people again. It's ironic 'cause I've been in this place before. Last time I was wearing B's body, so the good-n-plenty was just itchin' to get out when I saw that thing about the vamp attack on the news, but this time it's all me. No blonde hair to inch me over to the good side and there's no way in Hell I'm letting this chance just fly by me. I'm gonna make sure Fang and co. didn't risk their lives breakin' me out of the big house just so I could screw them over.
This demon just made this my fight the second he laid his metaphorical hand on my girl. I can deal with demons after me, it's part of the job description. But my newfound pals? No way, man. No fucking way. See, I got this thing where it's a tough job to earn my trust, but once you do? I'm totally loyal. Call it a slayer complex or even an actual good personality trait on my part, whatever. It doesn't matter. What does matter here is that I was gonna kick this demon's ass from here to high heaven for putting C in this wicked bad state.
I smack my fist into the palm of my hand, that familiar rush of speed and running fast workin' in my veins and making me feel invincible. I'm ready to take this thing on and as soon as the gang gets here with extra info and some threads for the princess, I'm out of here and on the streets. Me and hospitals don't really click, you know? Cor seems to catch onto my mood and smiles through gritted teeth at me. It's gettin' harder for her hold on and keep a brave thing about this. Just hold on a little longer, babe. I'll get my hands on this demon and make sure he pays for the damage he's done to your pretty face.
"You want to fight now, don't you," she asks me, a softness in her voice, like she's maybe getting a kick out of me prowling the streets for the monster of the week.
"Got that one right," I reply with a grin painted clear on my lips. "I can't stand seeing you here like this, C. I'm sick of just standing around doing jack shit when I could be out there prowling the streets. You're gonna die if I don't kill this thing. The faster he's dust, the sooner you get better. I don't see the wrong in wanting to take this thing out ASAP."
I notice her flinch at my words and I instantly feel the burn of hurting her with my words, intentionally or not. Let's face it, neither of us like to sugarcoat. I hate to be the one to say it, but the longer we mess around, the more we put her life in danger. I get that book man likes to do his research thing, but that's not gonna be what saves the damsel.
"Hey you, little Miss Negativity, I'm not dead yet," Queenie says with all the self dignity of any person that's desperately holding onto those last few threads of life. "So quit mourning me like I am."
I just sigh and shake my head. "I'm not grieving, C," I snap back at her. Truth is, I'm not. I'm just worried and want to bag this demon so I can figure out if what I'm feeling is the real deal or just one of those cases where extreme circumstances bring people together. We were fighting like cats and dogs up until the point she showed up at my doorstep burned and bloody and screaming with pain. "I just lack patience. There's a big difference between planning a funeral and needing a subscription for Ritalin."
I actually make her laugh at that one. Wasn't a joke, but hey, I take what I can get. My shrink in prison told me I could use a little something to chill me out. I just shrugged and said I was always a handful and mentioned how I was nicknamed `firecracker` for what a feisty little shit I was. Doc said I was a star case for ADD and that's what kept me at such a high energy level all the time. My mind's just not made for doin' one thing for extended periods of time. I'm not real sure if I buy into that gig. I got a video game addiction to prove just how long I can focus. Back in SunnyD, if I wasn't being sent out on some big heist by the boss, I was waiting out the big day in my pad playing with that wicked Playstation he hooked me up with.
Soon enough, I'm laughing too and I almost forget that we're in some squeaky clean hospital and I'm supposed to be her kid sis. A nurse eventually comes in to monitor the princess and gives us strange looks at our cheerfulness. Guess not many people hooked up on life support have a sense of humor. She does her thing, which includes adding another massive dose of the big M to the hook ups that surround Cordy, and then she's out in a jiffy, mumbling something about what a weird case this is. I almost get up to give her a piece of my mind but C does that disapproving throat clear thing, and I settle back into my chair. I'm wicked disappointed but figure it'll just give me more ammo for the *real* fight.
"Please don't beat up my nurses," she pleads with me. I can't believe she thinks I'd actually throw punches in a hospital.
"You have so little faith in me," I pout, much in the way a scolded kid would. "I wasn't gonna throw any static with the ice bitch, I was just gonna give her a little lesson on how to treat a patient right."
"Faith, she's been doing a wonderful job considering everything. My case *is* weird. It's amazing they've kept quiet as long as they have."
I just snort in response. "Sunnydale sure had no problem dealing with the weird."
"Los Angeles is different," she sighs loudly. "Sunnydale was on a Hellmouth and all of it's civilians, including myself for most of my life, were in denial about all the creepy things that happened in that town."
I snort at the memory. Makes sense though. I *was* part of the inner working of the city for a while. Boss made sure I knew what was going down so it wouldn't take me for surprise. Think I remember him donating a whole lot of money to Sunnydale Memorial in the form of charity once or twice. Looking back, it seems less like a good deed and more like a pay off to look the other way when the dead guy in the morgue rises with a major dental difference goin' on.
Kinda sucks thinking about the big guy like that though. He had such sugary sweet way of doin' things that it was easy to forget that he was just out to end the world like every other big bad out there. I might've been his right hand man, but for the majority of my time with the guy, I just felt like his spoiled kid. Boss had a way of making me feel good inside about myself. He was always telling me how special I was and how he wouldn't trade the world for me. With him, B didn't even exist. Girl was just a blimp on the radar scale while I was the apple of his eye. Call it manipulation is you want, but I think he loved me in his own twisted fucked up way.
So when I start thinking about all the things he did, it gives me a not so nice feeling in the pit of my stomach. I like to think of him as a generally good guy that let his quest for power get a little out of hand. So what if he turned into a giant snake? We all make mistakes. Some bigger than others, but he proved that even as a demon, he still had a soft spot for me. I knew it'd be his undoing and I knew he needed to be taken down. It's why I gave B that handy little hint in that trippy shared dream of ours.
I still don't know if I should be proud of me or ashamed. I betrayed the one guy that cared about me a chick that gutted me barely three hours before. What a way to show a little gratitude for all he did for me, huh? I fed him to the sharks like Benedict fuckin' Arnold. Even if it saved the world, I don't feel the better person for it. It's an open wound and it stings like one mother fuckin' bitch.
I backtrack my thoughts back to Cor and just smirk at her. It's not hard to believe she was once as clueless as the rest of those fools in that town. "Let me guess, you were too busy shaking your pom poms and making flyers for whatever it was you and B were duking it out for to notice that a big chunk of your graduating class died from mysterious neck wounds."
"Oh please, those weren't the only reasons. Sunnydale was a dangerous place to live. A high deathrate was expected."
"Uh huh," I nod my head, still snickering over how anybody could be so dense. "C, I grew up in South Boston. A high deathrate was expected there too, but cops still investigated murders, newspapers still printed 'em up on the front page, and kids learned to toughen up early or stay indoors so they weren't the next victim of a gangbang. People in SunnyD were probably too distracted with the low property costs to give a shit why. Hell, I never had a motel room so cheap as I did staying in that town. Even vacationers got a major bargain. That's gotta tell you something, right?"
"Toughen up early, huh?" she laughs as if she just discovered some deep dark secret about me. Thought that fact was written clearly across my forehead. Guess C's just a little slow on the uptake when it comes to me. "So that's why you're so emotionally stunted. You were probably born with a total macho complex."
"That about sums it up," I chuckle in agreement, scuffing the soles of my shoes on the tile. I'm not ready to share anymore fun fact about my pre-slayer life so I change the subject. "When do you think bookman will be back?"
"Right this instant," the bookman himself announces as he struts into the room, a skinny brunette in two. Great, more lovebirds. Just what I need to make this night even better. "I'm sorry for the delay. We, uh, we were held up."
"There was traffic," the wiry chick pitches in. Yea. Right.
"Uh huh," I snort in my usual cynical way. "So that's what they're calling it these days."
Twiggy starts to blush immediately while Wes does the clean the glasses thing. Oh yea, they totally nailed each other in the parking lot. Skinny chick's hair is all messed up and Wes has got lipstick on his cheek. I know a quick lay when I see one. I've had my share of backseat lovers in Boston.
"Pink's a good color for you, Wes," I grin and I wriggle my eyebrows at him. I'm totally loving this. "And the rumpled shirt look? Really doing a number on your new makeover. Man, you really have changed!"
"And you are exactly the same," he mutters quietly. My words got to him though. He's already excusing himself to fix himself up. Twiggy's still blushing and lookin' like she'd rather be anywhere in the world but here. I feel a little bad for messing with some poor chick I barely know, but hey. I might've lost my murderous tenencies, but I'm no virgin fuckin' Mary. I get off on this stuff.
Cor saves the day when she speaks up with a congratulations. "Wow Fred, so did Wes actually take the plunge?"
Twiggy nods shyly in reply. She's got the glow about her though, like even though she's gettin' made fun of, she's totally digging the reason why. "He did. He asked if he could take me to the theatre once we finished helping you and then we..." the girl trails off and sighs dreamily.
I'm almost jealous that a little thing like her is gettin' more action than a hot chick like me. It just ain't fair. Hell, I bet Willow gets more loving than I do and she ain't much better than Fred here. I gotta remind myself that that's not me anymore. I don't let myself get bummed out over what others got and I don't. It's what got me in trouble in the first place and I'm not going through that again. Hell, I should be jumping for joy that I'm even sitting here at this time right now. Three days ago I would be tossing and turning in my bunk while my bitch of a cellmate snored above me. Man, that chick seriously needed an inhaler or something. I was this close to knocking her one in the nose and permanently damaging her ability to breathe. I feel sorry for the poor chick that gets stuck with her now that I'm on the outs.
My thoughts are interrupted when Wes steps back inside looking less like her rolled out of bed and more like the stuffy tightass I used to know. "Are you ladies finished with your gossiping yet? Need I remind you that we do have a demon to catch."
I shoot him a glare at that. "Whatever, lover boy. I don't gossip." Another glare and then lean forward anxiously, if the boy's got news, he better spill. "So what's up? Did you find our guy yet?"
Twiggy takes this as her cue to pipe up for Wes. "Not exactly... but we did find some interesting facts about the demon that could help in finding him."
"Yes, I did discover that this demon travels in herds of three or more. We believe the demon you killed in the parking lot earlier today was a member of the clan. It says here that the demons are extremely loyal to one another and will search for dead members to put to proper burial, much like humans. So if we were to capture a member of the herd, whether or not it be the demon attacking Cordelia, then we should be able to lead the demon right to us, so to speak."
Wes looks wicked proud of himself but something's bugging me about this whole thing. "Hold up there, hot stuff. The demon I killed looked nothing like the dude in this book."
"It most likely had changed form to protect its true identity," Wes counters. "Remember Faith, these are shape shifters we're dealing with. They usually revert to their original form after they are killed."
"So the only way to know I got the right demon is to kill it and wait?" I ask. Man, this is gonna be harder than I thought. I never was one to babysit my kill before. Now Wes is tellin' me that I gotta kill at large and hope it turns to some black slithery thing after its death.
"I suppose," he replies about as glumly as I feel.
"Bummer," I breathe out. Leaning back into my chair, I sigh heavily. God this sucks. "Looks like we're back to the drawing board."
There's silence in the room as we all kick out and let out some major sighs. I doubt I've ever seen so many sad faces before. If anybody walked in here, they'd think Cor had bit the big one. A little voice nags in me that she probably will, now that we got no reason to gind this thing. Fuck.
"Fuck," I mutter and hop to my feet. My attention turns back to the book man and give him a wicked fierce glare. "There's nothing you can do? What happened to being Angel's number one man? Where's all your watcher training now, huh? There's gotta be something we can do here, Wes! We can't give up this easy. Do an anti-shape shifting spell or something. I don't know. But anything's better than just sitting here!"
Cor gives me a fierce look of her own. Yea, I get it, she don't want me knocking on her brother type guy. Maybe she digs the pain she's in, but I don't. "Faith... don't."
"No, she's right," he speaks up, stopping the fight before it starts up. "Perhaps a spell could work. Did you say you were injured by the demon earlier Faith?"
"Not physically... but I did get some wicked weird side effects from the fight after demon boy drooled all over my face. Just touching that thing made me feel like I was about to toss up my lunch."
I shiver some at the thought. Man, that was one Hell of a gross side effect. For a while there, I thought maybe I was the one is some major trouble with the big D creeping up on me. Turns out? Not so much, but it's still big on the creepy. I hope Wes don't want me to go under that trip again. I put my foot down at purposely putting myself in a bad way. Redemption or not, I got some standards when it comes to what's karma and what's some hot shot playing with fire.
"Its toxins are probably still in her system then," the skinny chick points out eagerly. Man, no wonder Wes digs her. She's about as book happy as he is. Big with the smarts too. They're a total match made in geek heaven. "It usually takes a few days to flush toxins from the human body. Even if slayers do have accelerating healing, there is a possibility that a trace of the demon's poison is still in her blood."
"Fabulous," I mutter. Ain't it great knowing there's some major bad goin' down in your bod? I know I'm just thrilled at the concept of something demony swimming around inside of me. "Are we fixing me or am I gonna be in this bed next?"
I motion at C and flash her an apologetic glance. Don't mean to make light of the sitch, I just don't want to be laid up when I can be out there doing some good.
Now it's Wes's turn to poke at me like I'm some sideshow freak. "Actually, I don't think we'll be doing either. It's no longer harming you so there is absolutely nothing to worry about at this point, but if we took a blood sample there could be a way to use that in a locator spell so at least we'd know where the Sinnesterung are hiding."
"Great," I say while clapping my hands together. "So you work your mojo and bam! We got ourselves a demon. Works for me."
Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and this spell will land us hot on the tail of the dude that's hurting C. I shrug at the thought and survey the room. C just looks pained, Twiggy has her mind set on doing the book thing, and I can see the wheels turning in Wes's head. He's got something cooking and I got a feeling it's gonna be good. In a way, I almost wish Soul Boy was here. Boy might be a jerk, but I'd feel better with somebody a little more tender than I am tending to the princess. I'm not exactly the cuddle type. Angel's down with the human comfort. I'm more of a touch and go kinda chick. Handshakes are more my thing. I'll leave the hugging to him.
Then it hits me. That chick! The one that did my nails all funky, she was sporting some seriously strange vibes. I knew something was up with her. If these things can shapeshift, then maybe that nail painting bitch was a demon in disguise. I knew my slaydar was going off in some major ways!
"Hold up!" I yell unexpectedly as I hop from my seat again. "I think I got something." Everybody looks at me expectantly so I take that as my cue to get with the explaining. "Hey C, you remember that chick that did my nails?"
Cor nods her head in the affirmative. "She was big with the creepy. You don't think she.... OH MY GOD! She's a demon isn't she?!"
I grin in response. My girl's got some serious brainpower working for her now. "I knew something was off about her but I couldn't get a handle on it. That shapeshifting power must really do a number in the masking of her demon essence. I got wicked weird vibes from her, but nothing that screamed demon at me. Girl must've sensed something different about me too. That's why we got jumped in the parking lot."
"And if we track her down then we can skip the spells and guessing game," C finishes off for me. Whoa. We're already finishing each other's sentences? Trippy. "One problem, the mall's been closed for hours now. It won't open again until 10 AM."
Leave it to C to have the mall's business hours memorized.
"We could always do a search for her on the internet," Twiggy offers up. "I mean, if we looked up the shop where she works we could get her name and address."
"Brilliant," Wes says and flashes his first smile of the night. Kinda freaky to see the uptight prude grinning like a fool. "Fred's excellent with computers; she should be able to track this woman down quite easily."
They share an intimate smile and I do the immature thing and start makin' gagging noises. C's none too pleased and coughs in annoyance. I don't stop. We might be almost girlfriends but she don't own me.
I just roll my eyes at the lovebirds. "Yea, yea. Research now, make out later."
Wes suddenly goes into boss mode and now he's on his feet, walking around like he owns the place. He's hot another plan brewing; I can see it in his eyes. After he's cleaned his already clean enough to eat off of glasses, he gets down to business.
"Alright, Fred and Faith, you two go back to the hotel. Fred can research this woman and Faith, you can make sure Fred has found the correct name. I will be staying at the hospital with Cordy to make sure she's alright and perhaps try a blocking spell to protect her from further psychic attacks. I do have my cell on me and Fred has hers as well, I assume. Ring me once you've found the woman and we'll go from there. I believe it would be best to injure the demon rather than kill it, as it is much more useful to us alive than dead. There is a cage in the basement of the Hyperion exactly for this sort of purpose. Faith, I want you to bring a tranquilizer with you. We have a well stocked case full of them in the weapons cabinet. I believe Angel can show you where it's located at within the hotel. Only kill if it's an absolute must."
I wrinkle my nose some at the thought of having to make nice with Angel. I'm probably the last person the boy wants to see right about now. Not that I can blame the guy. Hell, if somebody moved in on my lover, I'd be pissed off too. I figure he can spare me the beatdown and give me a good shove in the direction of the weapons. C don't want him involved in this so I'll just say I'm going out on patrol and need a little booster. Fist power isn't exactly adequate against the big nasties. You need some hardcore metalwork to take down those guys. I got my dagger with me so I figure I'll grab a crossbow, a tranq gun and then be on my merry demon killing way.
"Anything else, master?" I ask sarcastically, raising up an amused brow at Wes's sudden bout of the bossy. I'm sorry but I just can't take the guy seriously. Maybe the Fang Gang's gotten over the prissy dude he used to be and can look at him with respect but I'm not them. I haven't experienced much of the new Wes so I'm biting back the laughter half the time at his wicked stoic glances and take charge attitude. He's like a little boy trying to fit in with the big kids. I get that he's serious but... damn. I'm having a hard time believing that he's a pretty fly guy now.
"No," he shakes his head, not happy with my usual disrespect for authority figs. "That will be all."
"Alright then," I grin and just for kicks, I decide to show these guys that they're not the only ones making a love connection tonight. I stroll over to C's bed and turn my expression tender as I brush away a few strands of sweaty hair. Funny how she can be hurt like she is and still look beautiful. I lean down and a place a soft kiss on her lips and then pull away with some major regret. "Don't die on me while I'm gone, babe. You know I'll kick your ass if you so much as think of biting it."
A pained smile crosses her lips and she manages a small laugh. "I could say the same thing about you, hon. Be safe, okay? We still don't know how tough these demons are."
"Are you kidding me, C? This is what I was built for! I won't be dying when I got a damsel in distress to save from the big bad."
She knows I'm only playin' so she don't make a big fuss about me calling her the damsel. I know she's a strong chick in her own right. I just like to tease her. Keeps her on her toes, you know?
"Faith," the skinny chick says in a small voice. I spin around and cock my head at her in the universal way of saying "what do you want?" without gettin' verbal. "I... I think we should go now. Charles is in the waiting room and he says he'll drive us back to the Hyperion."
"Are we riding in that sweet ride of his?" I ask, referring to that monster truck he's got. I always had a thing for stuff like that. Big and loud is the way to go when it comes to your ride. You want to show the other cars who's boss when you're on the road. Nobody cuts off a monster truck. Maybe I'd take Wes up on his driving lesson idea after all. Gunn seems like he's an all around cool guy. I could fly with him, no problem.
Girl looks confused and then it dawns on her and her whole face lights up. "Oh you mean his truck? It's the only thing Charles ever drives."
"Cool," I breathe out appreciatively and decide it's time to say goodbye. I give C's hand a little squeeze and flash a hopeful grin. "I'm gonna bag this demon for you baby."
"Go get 'em, tiger," she grins back at me bravely. I gotta hand it to her, for a chick in a world of pain, she sure ain't showing it much.
The lovebirds do their goodbye kiss thing while I wait by the door and stare down at the floor to avoid watching the scene. Wes and frenching just doesn't sit well with me. It's kinda like watching your parents go at it to have your former watcher macking on his girl. Now I know what B felt like when Giles got it on with her mom. I used to tease her about that whole thing and she'd either snap and punch me or change the subject real quick. Only time she ever wanted to talk about screwing the undead was when I talked about what an animal Giles must be in bed. I mean, I heard those Ripper stories from my first Watcher. Council wasn't too keen on the G-man so I heard a lot of nasty tales about his past. I bet he wears a leather g-string under all that tweed.
When the lipsmacking sounds end, I look up and me and Twiggy are out the door. Gunn's out in the lobby looking totally out of place and I gotta laugh at the boy.
"Hey man, don't look so glum. I'm not big on hospitals either but I don't let the man get me down."
I make with the ever common street handshake and we share a moment of understanding with one another. Even if I'm wicked pale, I get what life on the street is like. You don't gotta be mocha colored to get what the ghetto's like. It's like I told C, you learn to toughen up at an early age. It's either beat 'em or join 'em. I was on the verge of joining when I got myself some wicked slayer powers to up my muscle power in a major way and turn my fight from the streets to the supernatural.
Gunn here don't like hospitals 'cause the staff takes one look at him in his beanie and big jacket and assume he's up to no good in a nice place like this. I've gotten my fair share of that look. The staff was already looking nervous with me around. Add Gunn to the mix and you've got one jumpy paranoid group of docs and nurses ready to call the cops at the first sign of trouble.
"I ain't tripping," he replies defensively. Men. Always gotta be defending their macho status. "I was just wondering if the two of you were ever coming outta there. How's Cordy doing?"
"'Bout the same." Now it's my turn to get glum. "But we're making some progress. Twiggy's gonna hook us up with the location of our demon pal and then it's beatdown time. You wanna tag along?"
"You want me to watch your back?" he asks, somewhat surprised that a chick he barely knows is gettin' her nice on for him.
"Yea, you think you can handle it big guy?" I look him over, taking my time to let my eyes roam over his big biceps and what I guess is some hot abs under that wifebeater he's got on under the jacket.
"Handle it?" he laughs loudly as if that's the funniest thing he heard all day. Probably is, now that his ex-flame's got a new hunk to mack on. "Girl, I've been doing this for most of my life. Maybe you should be the one watching my back."
"With an ass like that, I'd watch your back all day," I retort flirtatiously. A little ego stroking can go a long way with guys like this. "But, I'm kinda taken now, so I guess you'll just have to settle for watching mine."
I quirk a brow at him and turn around in a full circle, giving him a clear view of my goods. He whistles in appreciation and then clamps a hand down between my shoulder blades. "Damn. I think I'm gonna like working with you."
Our battle gets cut short when Twiggy gets tired of watching us try to out macho the other. She's wicked eager to get this show on the road and I gotta agree with her. I don't think she digs the nick I gave her but she don't say nothing (probably 'cause I get the impression she's scared of me, seein' as how I am a slayer/ex-convict and could snap her twiggy neck just like that.) so I don't stop.
My mind's on other things anyway. I'm permanently stuck in worry mode over C and my nerves have got me so fuckin' spazzy that I'm squirming in my seat like a kid that's gotta take a piss real bad. Twiggy better be the computer genius Wes says she is. I'll feel all kinds of better once I'm pulling a break and enter on demon chick's place and tranq that bitch to the ground. I can be wicked persuasive when I wanna be. Torture is my forte and you can bet your ass I'll have her telling me all I need to know to save C in no time flat.
This is gonna be fun.