Xander winced slightly. Faith yawned; she was playing a video game.
“You need to sleep.”
Faith nodded. “A few hours.”
“We need to get you out of here.”
Her eyes flashed, before they softened and she nodded.
“I’ll get on that.”
“Like you trusted me?”
He nodded. Motel. Vampires could enter at will. He’d slept while Faith guarded.
He headed to the shower, and a quick wash later, he dried, deodorized and dressed. He helped himself to a donut from her fridge, and watched as Faith entered the shower room.
He sighed, and headed to school.
The library was as unchanging as ever.
“Giles, he was human!” Buffy was screaming.
“With green blood?” Xander asked, as he took a seat.
He took a long look at the blonde who had, only yesterday, been his focus. She was the same. He had changed.
“I was out,” he said. “Ran into Faith, who told me what happened. She was down. I went and had a look. Body was still there, it was only when I shone a flashlight that I realized that dark patch was dark green, not dark red.”
“Oh,” Buffy said, deflating. “But…”
“So she killed a demon, not a human,” Xander said with a shrug. “Good job all round, will teach people not to sneak up on a Slayer.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed instantly. She smiled. “Cool, then. I’m going to get to class. Got a big history lesson to nap through.” She bounced out.
Giles looked at him for a long moment.
“The blood was red, wasn’t it?”
Xander shrugged. “I didn’t see the body. I did see Faith. She was getting ready to run. It was his fault. He was watching them Slay vampires, then he stepped out of the shadows.”
Giles nodded slowly. “Are you sure it wasn’t dark blue? I know a humanoid demon with dark blue blood.”
“Yeah, dark blue, like I said.” He stood. “Later, G-man.”
Xander walked out slowly. Neither had asked what he was doing out at night.
He walked toward Snyder’s office and stopped. The secretary looked at him, and then shrugged.
He entered the office. The troll was sneering at someone at the other end of the phone. A neat trick.
“Harris,” he spat as he hung up.
“Let’s keep this simple. You want me gone, I want to go. Either you let me leave, or I make you.”
Snyder’s sneer reappeared. He pulled out a form, already filled out. He signed it with a flourish. “I hope to never see you again.”
“Yeah,” Xander agreed. He took the paper and stared at it. He smiled; it was exactly what he wanted. Freedom.
He dropped the paper on the Secretary’s desk. She told him to wait until a janitor was available. They headed to his locker. It was filled with books, crap, and a photo of him and the others. The janitor took the books, and opened a trash bag for him. He shoved the crap in the bag.
He looked at the photo for a long moment. He crumpled it up and added it to the bag. It had nothing for him.
With every step away from school, he was convinced that he had done the right thing.
His next stop was a construction yard. They always needed help. So many people were unreliable. It was hardly a career, but it paid. And he needed the money.
He was pointed to a trailer. It was clean, inside. A small kitchen area and two desk. The man behind the second was old, maybe fifty, grey hair, clean shaven.
“Sit,” the man said.
“Hank Adams. I run this place. Aren’t you a little young?”
Xander nodded. “Yes.”
“When did you leave school?”
“Forty minutes ago.”
The man chuckled. “I have a job for you. But you are going to tell me why you need it, why you’ve done this. You lie, it’s not for you.”
Xander sighed. “There’s this girl. She’s broken. Like me. But every night, she’s out there, helping people. I can’t do much there, but I can during the day. I said I’d help her, and I will. She lives in a dive, she needs a better place. So I’ll do it.”
“I stayed for my friends. They’re not friends anymore, just memories. I’m good with my hands, and not stupid. But school and me? You need a mindset for it, and I haven’t had it.”
Hank nodded slowly. “Helping at night?”
He shrugged. “It’s what she does.”
“Against gang members?”
“You’re hired,” Hank said. And the words were sweet.
The work was hard, time consuming, and perfect. There was a clarity of thought that came when you did something repetitive and hard that required complete focus. Each bang of the hammer, each hold of a plank, each nail inserted echoed the same thing.
At quitting time, he nodded his thanks to Hank, and headed to the house where his parents lived. He entered his room, and looked around. His clothes were still packed at the motel, but he could take a few more things, now that he wasn’t travelling.
He picked up a dragon; it was fragile, delicate, too breakable to have been stuffed in an overfilled backpack. Jessie, he had loved dragons. So had Xander, back then, back before he had broken.
He looked around, at keepsakes and mementoes, at things he no longer had the right to touch, to hold, and to use to remember.
He boxed them all, and made his bed. He made neat piles of his comic books, and another of the few books he had that he could now keep. Tolkien, Feist, Salvatore, books of heroes and villains, of dungeons and dragons.
His Hawaiian shirts were bagged up.
The room was now empty, bare, like him. It took several trips, but soon his stuff was piled on the edge of the grass outside that house, ready for the garbage disposal men to collect the next day.
He picked up his books, and the carrier bag with the dragon carefully wrapped, and headed to the motel.
He put the books down next to his bag, and sat on the floor, his back against a wall, and watched the lights from the game flicker across Faith’s face. She was wearing shorts and a tank-top.
“Quit school,” he said after a few minutes.
The lights stopped flickering. The controller was put down, and Faith’s deep brown eyes turned to him. The shadows caused by the uneven light meant he couldn’t see her expression. “Why?”
“Got a job. Will get paid in two weeks. We’ll get a small apartment then, a home.”
She tilted her head. “I’m broke.” He took the figurative meaning, not the literal one, although both applied.
“You protect, I work. I can’t fight, I can work. You can’t work, you can fight.”
“Charity?” she asked. Well, her voice asked, the word in itself was not a question.
“Partnership. I help fix you, maybe help fix me.”
“What about me fixing you?” she asked, a real question this time, her face moving back slightly, further into shadows.
“Maybe this does,” he said. “Not the same as I was, never the same, but maybe, maybe I need to be needed.”
“Two bedroom apartment?” she asked.
He nodded. He reached into his bag and pulled out a paper. It was folded on the right page. “I circled ones I’ll be able to afford. The job doesn’t pay much.”
Faith grabbed it, one smooth motion of power and grace, and she was back in her spot.
There was a tenseness to Faith that he only noticed when it relaxed almost imperceptibly. It was still there, though. It made her seem brittle, like she could break, and that her break would be worse than his.
She grabbed the controller, and pressed a few buttons, before the light faded fully. “Okay,” she said, not making it clear what she was saying okay to. “I’m going to go on patrol.”
“Okay,” he agreed. She left. He showered, and relaxed. He watched mindless TV, played a bit on her console, and then stared at the ceiling.
Faith wasn’t his girl. Sure, she wanted help, but she didn’t want babysitting. He nodded, and went to the bed; it was two singles, pushed together. He separated them, leaving as big a gap as he could in the small room. He closed his eyes, and allowed himself to relax and fall asleep.
He woke, as the door opened. He could tell it was her. “Everything go okay?” he asked.
“Need to talk?”
“K.” He went back to sleep.
He woke. It was seven. He dressed. Faith was asleep in the other bed. Face down. He headed out, stopped in a café for a cheap breakfast, and headed to work. He had enough money for food and to help with the motel costs until he got paid.
Work was long and hard. He didn’t complain, he learned when he could, and tried really hard to not make the same mistake twice.
He trudged back to the motel at the end of the day, stopping in a diner for some food. Faith was in the same place, and he took his spot. He picked up one of his books, it didn’t matter which one, and started from the beginning.
“Never took you for a reader.”
“Gotta find a way to pass nights,” he said. “My parents weren’t big on bonding, or spending money on anything that wasn’t booze.”
“Gotcha,” she said, and went quiet. He didn’t push, didn’t ask the obvious question. He paused, and stood. He’d checked the motel prices when he got his own key, and put exactly half the amount for the sixteen days he planned on staying on the small table on the far side of her bed.
“Sixteen days, half the motel fee,” he said. “I pay my half. Non negotiable.”
She looked at him again, part glare, but something else under that. He didn’t understand it, so he ignored it.
“Right,” she said, and went back to her game. He went back to reading.
That was the pattern for the next few weeks. He’d work hard, spend a few hours in the same room as Faith, not really talking, spend a few hours wasting time or reading, then sleep, and start again.
Payday was sweet, a Saturday morning. He’d worked overtime on the weekends. In a way, the paycheck was huge. The most money he had ever had, but in another, it was nothing.
He had responsibilities now. “Boss?”
Xander had to hide a wince at the name. “I’m going to look at apartments this afternoon. Cheap ones. Can I put you down as a reference?”
Hank stared at him. “You can,” he agreed. “You have the money for a deposit?”
“I had some savings, so yeah.”
Hank nodded again. “A man looks after himself.” He handed Xander a card. Xander took it, nodded at the older man, and headed back to the hotel after visiting the bank. Faith was still asleep.
“I’m going apartment hunting. Coming?”
She sat up and stretched. “Seriously?”
He nodded. She vanished into the bathroom. She emerged, and he blinked and looked at her in surprise.
She was wearing brown heels, a knee-length brown skirt, and a white blouse. Her hair was wet, and tied back into a ponytail. “Was my Watcher’s,” she explained, looking a bit embarrassed. “I figure we want to make a good impression.”
“I was gonna go like this,” he said, in his work clothes, including his safety boots, and thick cotton shirt.”
“You look like a builder,” she agreed, “which you are. Professional, like, so that’s good, too. Put on some clean ones, if you have any. You reek.”
He nodded and took her advice. A quick shower and a change later, they headed out, walking together. Not much conversation, but then, he didn’t have much to say. The first apartment he didn’t even enter, he didn’t like it. Faith didn’t argue. The second one was better. It was bigger than he expected. Good sized bedrooms, a kitchen big enough to cook in, a small shower room and a bigger bathroom.
The agent spent half her time looking outside, practically ignoring them. “We’ll take it,” Xander said.
The agent blinked. “I’ll need six week rent as deposit, payment on the 1st every month. You take care of utilities. Two month cancellation policy. If you run out on the apartment, like the last few tenants, your stuff becomes ours.” She gestured, “which is why this is now a furnished flat.”
Xander nodded, suddenly realizing why it was so cheap.
“Oh, and references.”
“Call Hank,” he said, handing her the card. She squinted as she took it, and then paused and looked at it again. She popped out a mobile phone, and dialed the number.
“Mr Adams, it’s Barbara from Sunnydale Realty, I’m sorry to bother you…” She trailed off. And a minute later, “Of course, sorry.” She hung up. “Hank Adams is friends with the building owner, so your references are fine. If you can pay, you can have the keys immediately.”
Xander wrote his first ever check, and tried not to wince as half his salary and all his savings vanished. Barbara, not that she had introduced herself to them, took it. “Normally, this wouldn’t happen, but friends make the world go round. So, good luck. There’s a folder on the mantelpiece with contact details of who to call if anything goes wrong.” She didn’t say anything else as she practically ran out.
“Vampires,” Faith said.
“Yeah.” He shrugged. “We didn’t cause them, you try and stop them, if that means we get a really nice place on the cheap, I’m okay with that.”
Xander turned. “Let’s get our stuff.”
Faith had a little bounce in her step as she walked next to him. The motel seemed dark and dingy now, unfit for human habitation. But it was clean; he’d taken care of that. It didn’t take long to pack what was theirs.
Faith handed the key in, and they walked back to their new place. He let Faith have the bathroom with the shower, and unpacked in his. It was little things, a washing machine in the kitchen that meant no more time and money in a launderette.
The furniture wasn’t great, but it was good enough. All they really needed to get was a TV. It would have to wait, though.
Faith came in and dropped on the arm chair. She stood up. “Right, I’m getting out of these clothes.”
“You look good.”
She paused, and he could see her physically bite her own tongue. “Thanks,” she said simply, and when she returned, the leather trousers and tank top wer back. “I’ll be back in five,” she said.
Xander nodded as she left. He stood and looked around, and smiled. The room was still empty, the shelves on the book case empty. He headed to his room and pulled out the dragon. He unwrapped it carefully and placed it back on the shelf to the left of the bed. It looked a little forlorn on its own, but he liked the idea of Jessie looking over him. He sat back on the couch and took off his boots. With that done, he put his feet on the coffee table and relaxed.
The door opened, and shut, and Faith entered. She dropped a cushion on the floor, the other side of the coffee table, and sat down cross legged, and as she sat, a large pizza box seemed to appear in her hand. She grinned at him, and put a six pack of beer to the side of it. “This calls for a celebration,” she announced.
He smiled and scooted down onto the floor as well. He opened a can, handed it to her, and did the same for his own. “To our apartment,” he said. She clinked her can against his, and then drained it. She leaned back, and let out a huge burp.
For the first time since he had been broken, Xander let out a laugh.
Faith ran her hand through her hair and grinned. He opened the pizza box and took a slice. They ate and drank in a companionable silence.
They both ate half, and relaxed. “That was a good idea.”
“Of course it was,” Faith replied. “It was my idea.” She mock preened, and he smiled. A slightly nervous look appeared on her face. “Look,” she said, and then stopped. “I’m not good at this stuff,” she muttered.
“Just say it,” he recommended. “I’m here until you tell me to go.”
“Right, right.” She took a deep breath. “Look, can we, well, talk about money?”
“In what way?”
“You know, adult shit, budget, bills, that stuff, so I know where we are, ya know?”
He nodded and stood. He got his pay slip, some paper and a pen, and then the pack from the realtor, and sat back down. Faith had cleared away the pizza, leaving them a drink each, and she sat down next to him.
He wrote out his salary, excluding overtime.
“That’s less?” she asked.
“I figure we have to budget for my salary, and not overtime.”
“In case overtime isn’t there?”
He nodded. “The other guys say that Hank is a good employer, and they might not get overtime, but they’ve always had their straight pay.”
“Right,” Faith agreed.
Next, Xander wrote out the amount he needed to keep for rent and utilities – the pack had some old bills in it, so he could see what they’d use.
“Right,” he said, “do we need a phone?”
“Yeah,” Faith said, before she paused, and frowned. “Actually, do we? I have no one to call, or to call me. Maybe Wes, but he’s never phoned before.”
“Me neither,” he agreed. He looked at the cable packages, “Oh, we’re gonna want T.V. eventually, and the price includes a phone.” He added that to the list.
“Cool. Means we can order pizza.”
He then added a budget for food.
“So, what else do we need?”
She paused. “Can we get a savings account? Maybe put fifty in a month.”
“Sure,” he agreed. It wasn’t what he expected from her, but he liked the idea. He added that. He racked his brain, and then nodded, and put down a hundred bucks a month for clothing.
“Yeah, neither of us has much stuff, and we’re gonna need to replace things, especially for you, as your clothes can get damaged a lot.”
“I normally try and mend ’em. But yeah, would be sweet to have some new stuff every now and again, and it’s not much.”
“Can you think of anything else?”
“Maybe we should put some money into, you know, pillows and shit, make this place look like, ours, you know?”
He smiled, and added some more. It left about hundred a month, plus any overtime.
“So, this means we can go out, occasionally, right? Have some fun? Just us.”
“Yeah,” he agreed.
“Sweet. Look, Xan, you sure you don’t wanna share a room, cut down on heating bills?”
He smiled. “You asked me to help, I’m doing what I can. I can’t help like that.”
Faith frowned, her hair falling over her face. “I’m still hot, right?”
“You don’t need me to tell you that, not when you can look in a mirror.”
“I kinda do,” she said with a small voice.
She swept her hair back. “So, who is this Tolkien fellow, I mean, I’ve heard of Lord of the Rings, and it’s like, epic, but…?”
He smiled and hopped up, heading to his room. He picked up his copy of the Hobbit, and returned it to Faith. “Lord of the Rings is a bit dense, this is kinda like an introduction to his worlds and his writing. I read it first, and it helped.”
Faith took the book. “I haven’t read since I was like, six?”
Xander laughed and sat on the couch, “I think twelve or thirteen, when I could start leaving my house and go to Jessie’s.”
“My first friend, with,” he paused, “Willow.” He took a deep breath, and tried not to think about how she had helped break him. “He got vamped, I staked him, was an accident. Met the Slayer the next day.”
“Fucked up, Xan.”
“I got the usual shtick, you know, this classy chick throws a knife at me, I threw it back, and she sprawled to the floor, not so classy, and then, you know, she laughs, but not at me. It was cool.
“We talked, and suddenly I wasn’t Faith the good time girl from the trailer park, I could fight, fuck, and have fun, and life was cool for a bit.
“And then she was kidnapped, and it was like, I couldn’t save the person who saved me from that life. So I ran, cause, you know, that’s what I do.”
“I make jokes, or maybe I did.”
“Yeah, life changes you.”
He swung his feet up, and picked up the book he’d been reading. Faith settled out next to him, on the floor. “Fuck, my old teachers would laugh. Saturday evening and I’m starting a fucking fantasy novel.”
“Yeah, we should be hitting the Bronze, spending pocket money, and you get lucky while I strike out again.”
“Fuck the past.”
“Yeah, fuck the past.”
They read, until Faith went to patrol. His bedroom was strange, but he slowly smiled, he’d paid for it, he’d paid for them, and he was helping.
He was proud of that. He had someone to take care of, and he needed that. The bed was bigger, a double, and after sleeping on a narrow one, it felt strange. He eventually dropped off, he had more work in the morning, and he wouldn’t be late.
It was strange to rise and bathe, to get ready, and not see Faith. He shrugged, as much as he wanted to check on her, he had to have faith in her. He noticed her boots by the door and smiled.
He stopped in the office to say thanks to Hank, before he got on with his work. He looked up at a piercing wolf whistle. And then a voice shouted, “Harris, get down here.”
He headed out, and was surprised to find Faith there. She was dressed in jeans with black boots, and a plain white t-shirt. “Hey,” he greeted her.
She held up a bag. “Figured I’d bring you some lunch.”
“You can bring me anything you want, love,” one of the guys shouted at her.
“Sweetie,” Faith purred back, “you couldn’t handle me if I was unconscious. Awake, you wouldn’t even make a nice snack, so you’re not worth my time.”
The others laughed, as the guy spluttered.
“Hey, Frank,” Xander called. “Tell ya what, I’ll bet my lunch against one of your misses’ cakes that Faith can beat you in an arm wrestle.”
Faith looked surprised at him.
“Deal,” Frank called, as he hurried down and over to them. Xander and Faith moved to a pile of pallets. Xander removed the top two. The other men gathered around, most sticking above floor level as they looked from the second story of the building they were erecting.
Faith grinned as she held out her right hand. Frank was opposite her, on the other side of the corner of the pallets.
She had a confident smirk on her face. “Go,” Xander said as they clasped hands. The muscles in Faith’s arms seemed to coil, and her hand moved inexorably forward.
Frank pulled away, looking in shock. “Fuck,” he whispered, he looked up, “So yeah, she’d definitely eat me alive.”
There was a round of laughter.
“Right, leave the lovebirds alone,” Hank ordered. Frank clapped Xander on the back, and headed out.
“So, what was that about?”
“Means you won’t get the same treatment again.”
“Xan, I’m dressed in a t-shirt that advertises my cup size I am used to comments.”
“So? That doesn’t mean that you have to accept it.”
“True,” she agreed. She opened the bag and pulled out four large sandwiches. “A Faith special, a B.L.T.” She put two near him and turned, taking the other two and sitting on the two pallets he’d removed earlier. Xander perched against the other stack, and took a bite. He grinned at her. “Yeah,” he said firmly.
“Awesome, right,” she said, as she dug in herself. When he had demolished it, he looked her in the eye.
“I get it, a bit, you know? I don’t hafta do it, but I wanted to.”
He smiled at her.
“So, erm, look, can I use your bank details?”
Part of him wanted to ask why. But he paused and looked at it. Could she hurt him? Yes, but he was already broken. It would make no real difference in the long term. “Yeah.”
She smiled at him and nodded. She stood, and then leaned forward and pecked him on the cheek. “See ya later, boys,” she yelled as she walked off, a distinct sway to her hips.
“She’s the one who you help?” Hank asked.
“Is she pregnant?”
“You’re a good kid, Xander,” Hank said, using his name for the first time. “So, I got a challenge for you.”
“You get your G.E.D., I’ll promote you a level.”
Xander frowned. “Can I look into it first?” he asked. “I don’t want to say I’ll do something and then find that I can’t.”
Hank tilted his head. “You’ve got until Wednesday.”
“Thanks,” Xander said and got back to work. It was Sunday, so they were let off at four, and Xander headed home.
He grinned. It was home. Sure, it might not be great, but it was theirs.
He opened the door, to be met by a worried-looking Faith. “We got a problem.”
She moved out of the way, and he realized that there was a lot of tweed sitting on his couch. Xander sighed and took off his work boots. “G-man,” he said.
“Xander,” Giles replied, wiping his glasses.
“I’d offer you a drink, but I’ve haven’t been shopping yet.”
“I got a few bits,” Faith said. “Coffee, no tea.”
“No, thank you.”
Xander sat in the arm chair, shifting it so that he could look at Giles. Faith perched on the arm of the chair, next to him. “What can we do for you?”
Giles frowned. “You are working?”
“On a Sunday?”
“Time and a half,” Xander explained. “I had to take the afternoon off yesterday, so I put more in today. How do you know we are here?”
“I’ve been looking for you for close to two weeks. Faith didn’t say you were with her.”
“You never asked.”
“I thought you would volunteer that information,” Giles said back mildly.
“Fuck that. I didn’t lie, and I only hang around because a girl’s gotta live by her word.”
Xander looked at Faith’s face in profile. He hadn’t heard her say anything like that before.
“People were worried. You could have mentioned you knew he was safe.”
“If it wasn’t for Faith, I’d be in L.A., probably working as a waiter in a diner,” Xander pointed out.
“What about your friends?”
“They broke me,” Xander said calmly. “They took away what made me, me. Friendships come and go. Ours went.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“They don’t need me. I need to be needed; it’s all I’ve got.”
“They fucked him up,” Faith spat. “So you know what, I’m fucked up too, Xan was outta here, and I didn’t blame him. But you know what? I suddenly realized that I needed him, and fuck me if he hasn’t lived up to his side of the bargain. It’s his fucking money that’s paying for this place, but you know what? My name is right next to his on the fucking lease.
“So fuck them, they threw him away, they fucking broke him, like I was, so like, the first time since Diana, I got lucky, and I ain’t telling his secrets, you dig?”
Giles polished his glasses again. “What about your education?”
“My boss is getting me to take my G.E.D,” Xander said.
“Yeah,” Faith agreed, “and we’re gonna to do it together.”
“You’ve not passed High School?”
“I only turned eighteen a few weeks ago,” Faith shrugged. “I’m the same age as the blonde vampire fuck toy.”
Giles winced at the description. “I’m sorry, I had no idea.”
Faith shrugged. “I’m not your problem. So, we done? We’re chill, I live in a nice place now, and I don’t even gotta fuck the guy who’s looking after me, all I gotta do is let him try and help me, and it’s such a good deal, that I’m trying to help him as well. I might suck at it, but it’s nice to try.”
“How did you know we are here?” Xander asked the question again.
“I searched for your name, I’ve been doing it daily, it came up on the Cable records. I got a friend to get me your address.”
“Fuck,” Faith cursed. “Does this mean we’re gonna get Slutty McVampire Lover, the Drone Bitch and the Red-haired Disaster coming round wanting their past back?”
Xander felt amusement at the names.
Giles shook his head. “No, I’ll hide it,” he said. “As long as you both get your G.E.Ds.”
Xander nodded and tried to hide the anger he felt at the blackmail.
“Well, good luck,” Giles said, and practically bolted from the room.
The door slammed. “Fuck,” Faith groaned. “You know, I just said that G.E.D. thing to get him off my back, you know, I wanted to look good. Now, I gotta do it.” She pouted briefly, “Xan, I’m gonna need a shitload of help if I’m gonna do this.”
“I wasn’t even sure I was gonna do it,” Xander agreed. “I just didn’t want him looking all tweedy at me.”
“So we’re both trapped?”
“Well, I got offered a raise if I pass.”
“Oh,” Faith suddenly looked proud, as she curled up on the side of the sofa. “The cable guy is coming on Tuesday afternoon, to install the phone and cable.”
He smiled at her.
“Tomorrow, I’ll see his Tweediness,” Faith continued, “Find out what shit we need to do to do ’em.”
“Like I said, you’re here, working for me, and like, it’s the first time I’ve wanted to do this shit.”
Xander nodded. “I never wanted to grow up, but you know, I got something to do now, and I gotta think about it a lot.”
“So, look, I was thinking, I got a small patrol tonight, a couple of hours, and it’s been quiet recently, how do you feel about having a nap now, and coming with me?”
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t want you to fight if you don’t wanna, but it would be nice, you know, knowing someone’s got my back.”
Xander stood. “One nap coming up.” He headed into his room, and yawned deeply. He undid his belt, and collapsed on the bed.
“Yo,” Xander opened his eyes to see Faith’s face inches from her own, and her hand on his shoulder. “You were out like a fucking light.”
“Tired,” he agreed.
“We need to go soon.”
“I’ll get changed.”
Faith exited his room and he changed, walking out to meet her. She was in her Slayer gear. They walked out and into the cool night.
“Most nights, I patrol with Slutty, but we kinda agreed to give each other one day off. She wanted Sundays.” Faith shrugged. “Anyway, you mind I didn’t tell you what they were up to?”
Xander shook his head. “I didn’t ask.”
“Yeah. I figured you wanted a clean break, and you know, they were acting all snotty, so fuck’ em.”
“Part of me misses them,” he confessed.
“I gotcha,” Faith said after a minute’s worth of silence. “It’s like, the scum back in Boston, they were bad for me, bottom-feeders, the lot of ‘em. But sometimes, I think back and want to be back.” She paused. “I’d probably be some biker’s chick, or in jail for drugs,” she confessed.
Xander nodded. He didn’t know what to say. “I guess we keep moving, keep trying.”
“Because what else can we do?”
“Yeah,” Faith cheered. “Fuck ‘em all.”
A vampire emerged from the ground near them. Faith paused until it was clear, and then slipped in, staking it before it knew what was happening.
They continued to walk.
“Sunnydale isn’t that big,” Xander said, “but it’s so popular that we actually manage to import vampires.”
“There’s probably a series of demonic travel agents, ‘Hey, have you thought about Sunnydale for your vacation?’” Faith joked.
Xander chuckled. “Aren’t all travel agents evil?”
“No idea, never met one.”
“Neither have I,” he admitted as he realized it was true. “I didn’t use one when I got my ticket, I just put some money in a machine.”
“That’s the future,” Faith said. “Human interaction to be as limited as possible.”
There was a noise, he looked up, three vampires approached, carrying baseball bats. Faith bounced on the spot, and then hurried toward them. She engaged them, her legs flashing as she used her speed and strength to launch devastating kicks to their bodies and heads.
He followed her, drawing a stake. The first was down, dust, but the other two were better and one of them managed to grab her. The remaining one raised his bat. Xander stabbed him in the back. He turned to dust. Faith was already free, and the last one was gone.
She was panting slightly, as she looked at him. This is where he would be told off. She had it covered. She always did.
She took a step forward, and then, to his surprise, he was being hugged gently.
“Thanks,” she whispered into his ear.
A slightly more normal style of writing. There are three more chapters to go, which will be posted over the next few weeks. So unlike certain BtVS stories I could mention that I might be writing, this one will be finished quickly.
Huge thanks to Luan Mao for betaing this. Without him, it would still be languishing on my harddrive.
This story has been marked as suitable for adult readers only.