DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel the syndicated series and all other characters who have appeared in both shows are the sole property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & UPN. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices. All song lyrics are used without permission and for my own amusement. There is no intention to profit from them in this work or to defraud the composers and publishers.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
Thanks for all their help must go to three wonderfully talented women who I am honoured to consider friends: Michele, whose magical work "Complement" turns all who read it into abject Fuffy 'shippers and inspired me to write. Carola, who writes so many things so well, gave me great advice and then was kind enough to tell me this wasn't all bad and insisted I write some more. And finally Amanda who was the first to read this and say she liked it, and whose wonderful "Back to the Beginning" made me so mad I had to write to her and tell her so. It's funny how friendships start.
SPOILERS: Series 3 and 4, (What do you mean you haven't seen them yet?)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Would She Make of Me
Hold My Hand
Yesterday, I saw you standing there/ Your head was down, your eyes were red/ No comb had touched your hair/I said get up, and let me see you smile/ We'll take a walk together/ We'll take the world together/We'll walk the road awhile/
'Cause I got a hand for you/'Cause I wanna run with you
Hold my hand/Want you to hold my hand/Hold my hand/I'll take you to a place where you can be/
Hold my hand/Anything you wanna be because/I wanna love you the best that, the best that I can
See I was wasted, and I was wasting time/'Till I thought about your problems, I thought about your crimes
Then I stood up, and then I screamed aloud/I don't wanna be part of your problems/Don't wanna be part of your crowd, no/
'Cause I got a hand for you/'Cause I wanna run with you/Hold my hand/Want you to hold my hand/Hold my hand/I'll take you to the promised land/Hold my hand/Maybe we can't change the world but/I wanna love you the best that, the best that I can/
(Hootie and the Blowfish)
Later that afternoon in Sunnydale, Buffy Summers was the hot topic of three very different conversations. The first was held in Maggie Walsh's faculty office where Maggie joined Agents Finn and Forrest for an update on their efforts.
"Well Agent Finn what do we know?" started the professor.
"She arrived here from LA nearly 4 years ago. She was a model student at school in LA until the start of her sophomore year when she started having problems with truancy and aggressive behaviour. She had a bad break-up with a much older boyfriend late last year and, reading between the lines, may have had a lot to do with the Sunnydale High School blowing up. Oh, and she's known for wandering around the town and this campus late at night, which in this place means she's either very brave or very stupid. The rest is fairly general background stuff. Forrest has something more interesting though."
Forrest shuffled under the attention of his boss. "Well you know she looks all small and helpless? According to some guys on the college fencing team who saw her train she's anything but. I checked gym bookings and they had a room booked after her. They got there early and caught the last ten minutes of her routine and it was the freakiest thing they've ever seen. One of these guys said it was like watching something out of a movie. They described this chick as like some combination of Xena and Blade. Um, sorry Professor they are characters "
"I know who they are Forrest," snapped Maggie. "I'm not completely out of touch. So," she turned and smiled smugly at Riley, "it seems she can fight after all and that explains why she's still alive, given her nocturnal habits. Now the question is, if what these fencers say is accurate, how does such a small, harmless looking woman pack such a big punch?"
Forrest interrupted. "Excuse me Ma'am, these were experienced fighters with martial arts backgrounds and they were genuinely impressed. If I didn't know better I'd say they were also a bit scared. I asked casually if either would take her on and neither wanted to get anywhere near her. She might even be able to give one us a run for our money."
Riley snorted rudely. "I'd love to see that."
Maggie just smiled at him. "You just might Agent. Now I've also been busy and you're right she does have hidden depths. She had major disciplinary issues at both high schools. She was expelled in LA for burning down the school gymnasium, and her late principal at Sunnydale referred to her as a violent psychopath before expelling her again and then reinstating her. She has an arrest record and was wanted briefly for murdering another teenage girl, some illegal immigrant as far as I can gather from the original documentation. It seems she also spent several weeks in a private psychiatric clinic before coming here. However, her graduating class declared her Class Protector and had the lowest mortality rate in the history of the school. Her SAT scores are in the top percentile, she has natural charisma and leadership skills and her marks and behaviour apart from the odd cut class are exemplary here. Now we find out she is also an accomplished martial artist and likes wandering around town at night. So gentlemen, what does it all mean to us and our little project?"
Forrest smirked, "She's a talented, dangerous nut?"
"Possibly" conceded the professor, "but she's also a mystery and an opportunity. She's got talents we can use. How she got those talents without anyone knowing is the mystery. Now we need to check if she really can fight. We could bug her training session but since Agent Finn here is so keen to see her fight I propose we let him. Riley, I want you to set up a little ambush for Ms Summers on the campus grounds and this is how you're going to do it."
They were both a bit grim faced by the time she'd finished. "I need it done tonight, anonymously and with minimum damage to Buffy Summers and yourselves. Is that clear?"
"Yes Ma'am", they chorused.
"Dismissed and be careful. There's something one of our guests was muttering about that's ringing some bells about this girl but I can't quite remember what it was. Something about a girl being responsible for him being with us."
Both men left then to prepare and find their target.
A little later at 1630 Revello Drive Giles was attempting to convince Joyce to put a stop to this insane plan of her daughter's. But Joyce wasn't having any of it.
"I'm sorry Rupert but I trust Buffy, even if you don't. I've met Faith and I think she's a very sad, very lonely girl who's been badly let down by everybody who should have done better. If Buffy wants to put that right then I support her. Anyway you're making a mighty big assumption here that Faith will wake up."
"No Joyce, I'm all too afraid that Buffy is right, Faith will wake up. I'm also afraid you don't realise just what she did when she was working for the Mayor. She helped him in an attempt to rule the world. She cold-bloodedly murdered an innocent man to prevent him sharing information that could have stopped Wilkins's Ascension, and without her help he may never have got to Graduation day and all those students wouldn't have died. The school would still be there and damn it all I'd still have a job. Faith chose to work for him, Joyce, and you can bet that if he'd won, Buffy, you and all her friends would have all died horrible deaths, probably at Faith's hands."
Joyce's face turned stubborn. "Rupert, I think Buffy is right too. Faith wouldn't have gone to that man if we had made her more welcome. I saw her face on Christmas Night. All she wanted was a friend, someone to trust and to trust her. We all turned away from her and left her alone. Who else was she going to go to? Our side hadn't treated her too well had it? We didn't even give her somewhere to live. Frankly I am very proud of Buffy for doing this, for putting the past where it belongs and trying to make the future right. And I am also ashamed of her that she didn't do it when Faith first got here."
Giles surrendered. "I can't win with you Summers women can I? I thought Buffy was stubborn and wilful, now I see where she gets it from."
A similar conversation was taking place in Xander's basement. Except in this case Oz, Willow and Xander were in complete agreement. Buffy had gone nuts. Xander was being particularly vocal.
"I'd say this qualifies for the worst-blonde-idea-ever award. In fact it looks to me like the Buffster has inhaled a bit too much vamp dust and it's fried her brain. Will, talk to her, get her to see sense. We can't let Buff leave that, that, straitjacket bait alone with her mom. In fact if you could get her to keep that refugee from the late night creature feature in a coma I'd be a very happy Xander." Oz just nodded in agreement.
Willow sighed. "Gee guys thanks for leaving it all up to me, again. I'll try OK? But I can't promise, you think my resolve face is bad, you ain't seen Buffy's."
Oz came over and draped an arm over her shoulder, "we trust you Will and what can us mere guys do anyway? You know Buffy won't listen to us."
Willow leaned back against her boyfriend and sighed again. "Ok Ok." She gently stroked Oz's face, "feel up to some alone time baby?"
Oz nodded and smiled and helped her to her feet. "'Bye Xander, I'm um giving Will a lift home."
Xander waggled an eyebrow. "See ya guys, have fun" he said archly as they left his basement, arms wrapped around each other.
As Buffy walked back to the campus later that night after patrol, she was filled with a mix of elation and fear. Elation that with Faith awake she could put things right between them, fear that Faith was too far gone in bitterness and pain to allow it. She hoped that the flowers she had ordered on her Mom's credit card and then seen taken into Faith would help a little. Her room had looked a tad institutional, not to mention bleak and the flowers would make it a bit more homey and pleasant. She was also hoping the present she had picked up at the hospital gift shop would appeal to Faith's sense of humour. Buffy was so wrapped up in her thoughts she didn't notice the two figures trailing her in to the park until they had flanked her and cut her off, blocking her path. It was only then that she noticed the dark clothing and facemasks.
"Hey babe" said the guy in front, "what's a pretty little piece of pussy like you doing out so late? Someone might think you and that purse you got is their little treat for the night. " He and his companion both laughed roughly.
Buffy stopped, not believing her luck, she'd thought it another Council attack. Then she laughed. "You mean this is a mugging? Give me a break. Go home to your mommies boys before you get hurt. I'm not in the mood to play nice tonight."
The speaker sounded angry. "Of course it's a fucking mugging you stupid bitch, now give us your bag and then we have us a little party and you won't get hurt, much."
Buffy laughed again, more coldly this time. It was not a nice laugh and the muggers' neck hairs rose in atavistic response. "OK kiddies now you've pissed me off. Come and get me if you wanna party, I need the exercise."
The two dark figures split then and moved to flank her again. Then the larger figure snarled and attacked with an attempt to rush the contemptuous blonde and take her down in one tackle. To his surprise his target wasn't there and then he felt a blow to his kidneys that sent him to his knees as Buffy moved behind him. With a low kick too fast to dodge she repeated the blow to keep him down and then turned her attention to his partner who was showing a lot more caution. His stance showed some martial arts experience and he went into a fast punch, kick combination that he obviously thought would finish her off. Buffy blocked the punches, ducked the kick, and then came up inside his reach, driving hammer like blows into his solar plexus and sternum. "Is that all you've got? You're not much fun at a party are you? I bet you're the ones sitting in the kitchen sucking down root beer." Dancing away then, she swiveled and launched a spinning back kick that connected with the side of her assailant's head. As he got groggily back to his feet he saw his partner stand and move towards the still smiling girl. His warning came too late to save him though as Buffy with a side kick connected hard with his partner's chest and sent him 20 feet into some bushes.
As she started to turn back to him, and he saw the feral smile on her face, he decided this game had gone far enough and took off towards his friend who was slowly getting to his knees. Reaching him, he put an arm under his shoulder and started dragging him away, the little blonde's mocking words following him as he stumbled as fast he could away from her.
"Going so soon? Now that's just typical of men, no staying power at all. I was just starting to have some fun and here are you two wanting to leave already." Her cold taunting laugh carried in the still night air as her two attackers limped away.
Suddenly Faith's smiling face appeared in her mind's eye and the scary, but now familiar feeling of savage joy filled her. Though somehow she knew Faith was still asleep she also knew that Faith knew and approved of what she'd done. She didn't know where this insight came from or the feelings that came with it. All that she knew was that they felt right, like they should be there. She wondered if Faith would feel the same way when she woke up and, unable to stop herself, smiled. As she headed into the dorm and a surprisingly empty room, she also knew Mr Not-so- Pointy was not going to stay in his box tonight.
The door was barely shut and locked behind her when her boots were kicked off and her jeans and sopping panties hit the floor together.
It was just before midnight when Maggie Walsh responded to a weak knock on her office door and was startled to see a groggy Forrest barely standing and holding up Riley who looked in even worse shape. "What the hell happened to you?"
She let Forrest push past her and deposit a groaning Riley into a chair. "Well?" she asked.
Forrest collapsed into the other chair without asking permission, then replied. "Those fencers were wrong."
Maggie looked confused. "Explain."
"She's better than they thought. Miles better. She took us down like a pair of children. We never even got close to her, and all the way through it she was smiling like we were toys to play with, toys she didn't like very much."
Maggie sank onto the edge of her desk. "Details Forrest, details. You are a soldier trained to observe under pressure, so act like one."
"Ok Professor, you want details. Her form is a mix of several different martial arts. She's blindingly fast and strong enough to kick Riley twenty feet through the air. Professor you know how some of guests have enhanced characteristics?"
"She's as strong and fast as any of them."
"But she obviously didn't kill you, so I suppose we can add restraint to her qualities as well. That reminds me, we need to speak again to those guests." Maggie stopped when she saw the look on Riley's face. "Well Riley, recovered enough to add something about the girl you wanted to see fight?"
Riley coughed weakly and started to speak, "with respect Professor, you didn't see the smile on her face when she fought or her laugh when she thought we'd still attack. She warned us not to, to be fair. Told us to go home to our mommies because she didn't want to play. Small as she is, she fights like that's what she was born for. God knows where the muscle power comes from. But the worst thing was her laugh. It's the scariest thing I've ever heard."
Maggie looked pensive. "Do you think she is psychotic? I still haven't got her files from that clinic to explain why she was there."
Riley frowned. "No not psychotic. If that was the case we'd be dead. But she does enjoy fighting. And good as she is she must have been doing it for a very long time."
Maggie Walsh nodded decisively then. "All right gentlemen, preliminary recommendations please. I know I said twenty-four hours but we know enough that I think we can come to some conclusions. Riley?"
Riley looked up. "If I had to make a choice I'd rather have her with us than against us. At least my kidneys and ribs do anyway." And he winced.
Maggie turned to Forrest, "Do you concur?"
Forrest looked back at her keeping his face carefully blank. "I don't know Professor. I think we need more information. I do agree that having her against us may become a problem. But I'm not convinced she'd fit into the culture here."
Maggie looked at both of them then and they both stood, if a trifle unsteadily. "Thank you gentlemen. Forrest get yourself and Finn here to the infirmary, then continue gathering information until 1900 tomorrow, when we'll make a firm decision. I need you to focus on where exactly these abilities come from. In the meantime I'll have a "chat" to some of our guests. She's obviously human, but there is something definitely peculiar about her. Something they might know about. At the moment however, I tend to agree with Riley. She has the skills to make a useful addition to the team. If she does become a problem, well we've dealt with problems in the past. Meet me here tomorrow night at the same time. Goodnight."
At the dismissal they both saluted and limped out of the office, headed as ordered to the infirmary for some much needed repairs.
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