Title: Déjà Vu Or Something Like It
Author: The Artful Dodger / dodger_sister
Fandom: Buffy/Angel/Teen Wolf
Category: Action/Adventure, Altered-Reality, Crossover, Drama, Gen
Characters/Pairing: Faith & Stiles, Isaac, Derek, Allison with a minor side of Faith/Isaac.
Warnings: Language, Violence & Dismemberment.
Spoilers: Very Minor for ‘Buffy’ & ‘Angel’ and Major for the entire run of Teen Wolf, up to the S3 mid-finale.
Summary: Faith is sent to Beacon Hills to investigate some mysterious deaths. Turns out, somebody there is already on the job.
Word Count: 7,318 words.
Date Written: September, 2013.
Disclaimer: Buffy, Angel & Teen Wolf; Not mine, not mine, so not mine. This story is all mine though, written for fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Beta’d: By the ever-amazing and always awesome vikingprincess.
Author's Notes: So wolfrider89 really likes Faith a lot. We bonded over it. among other things. Also, me even watching Teen Wolf in the first place is ALL her fault. Throw in a little Supernatural MotW and tada! This was a vague story idea when I started writing it, about Faith being so out of Isaac’s league, and then 7k and one week later, the whole Faith/Isaac thing was just a footnote in the action/adventure of this story! I like to say no Faith-fic can be 100% Gen anyway though.
Dedication: wolfrider89, this fic is a strange melding of our brains somehow. I mean, Faith in Beacon Hills - I think it sprang straight from our hearts' collective desires. Hope you enjoy! Happy Birthday! /kisses/
Beacon Hills looked like any other little town in America: movie theater, shopping mall, bulk food store, churches spread across the way. But Faith knew better than anyone how deceiving the surface could be, so she wasn’t taking any chances. She’d come armed and prepared.
Wesley had been pretty sure something was going on here; when he had told her about it, Faith had just raised an eyebrow and said, “That sounds an awful lot like a Hellmouth, if you ask me.”
Wesley had started to explain to her how it wasn’t, how it was something to do with currents, but Faith had just held up her hands in defeat and said, “You know what? I don’t care. I’ll just go clean the place up. Don’t even worry about it.”
It was her job and though it didn’t burn through her the way it had in her youth, she still loved it, loved slaying, even if she’d never admit to Wesley that her fingers itched for that next assignment any more than she’d admit that she got homesick when he sent her out on the road, that she ached for her bed and the office’s gourmet coffee-maker and the ‘good morning’ nod from Angel when she would settle into her seat around the conference table. This was Faith’s life now and for the first time in a long time, she was good with that.
On this assignment, she’d managed to pick up on werewolf activity pretty quickly once she’d rolled into town, but that only explained a small percentage of the weird shit that was happening in Beacon Hills. Unless they were extremely homicidal werewolves who liked to kill with weapons other than their claws and teeth and also enjoyed some good old-fashioned sacrifices.
Like, there was currently a dead body with a sword - and Faith was never going to get over why these supernatural creatures just didn’t get themselves some handguns - sticking out of its chest and hanging from a shoddy looking noose back behind Beacon Hills High. It didn’t escape Faith’s notice that a huge amount of these incidents seemed to take place at or near the high school and she was starting to think Wesley had been wrong about that whole ‘not a hellmouth’ thing because this was giving her major flashback. The cops were everywhere, but Faith was good at her job and despite the growing age gap between her and them, she was able to blend right in among the students milling around at the crime scene, all trying to catch a glimpse of the blood and gore.
“Keep those kids back,” the sheriff shouted at his deputies and then suddenly the boy next to her was waving his hands in the air and shouting, “Dad!”.
The sheriff came over then and gave the boy a questioning look and a quick, “Stiles,” almost cut under his breath like a cross between a curse and sigh of a relief.
“What’s going on? What happened?” the boy, Stiles, asked.
“I was hoping maybe you could tell me,” the sheriff said, but the boy just shrugged.
“I know the same as you. Just like the other murders, that’s it.”
“Why do I not believe you?” the sheriff asked and gave his son what was probably meant to be an intimidating look, though it seemed to roll right off the kid like water.
“Scout’s honor,” Stiles said and crossed his arms on his chest.
“You were never in the Scouts,” the sheriff grumbled and then pointed a stern finger at him and added, “I want you to stay out of this one. Keep your nose clean, got it?”
Stiles just gave his dad a small challenging smirk.
“That’s what I thought,” the sheriff said. “Just let me know if you find anything.”
“Will do, Pop,” the boy said with a grin.
“And Stiles? Be safe, okay.”
“Yeah, Dad. You too,” Stiles told him as the sheriff turned back towards the crime scene.
Cops’ kids always knew more than they were suppose to - it was practically first day in Solving Crimes 101 - so Faith sidled up to the kid and said, “What’s going on here?”
The boy turned to look at her and Faith could see now that he was young, still in high school, but he somehow reminded her of Xander. He was kind of scrawny for her taste and a little pale, but he had nice broad shoulders and big round eyes that Faith would have loved to have watched get rounder, back in her younger days. He was even wearing the most awful pair of corduroys, ones she was sure she had seen Xander wear once himself.
“Looks like somebody got murdered. Pretty nastily too,” Stiles told her and checked his phone, before putting it back in his pocket.
“Come on, man. I heard you with your dad. This is totally not the first dude with a sword hanging out of his chest. Details, baby,” Faith said and knocked her shoulder against his playfully, hoping her usual method of casual flirtation wasn’t lost on this kid.
“It’s the third,” Stiles told her. “The papers maybe left out a few details,” and he gestured at the dead body.
Faith didn’t know if he meant the noose or the sword, but either way those weren’t the kind of gruesome details the newspaper would easily leave out, unless the cops had withheld the information.
“I bet you’ve seen some great crime scene photos, with your dad being the sheriff and all,” Faith said, as nonchalantly as she could ever muster when talking about dead bodies and swords and what clearly looked like a ritual sacrifice.
Stiles turned a sharp eye on her then, flicking his gaze down her body: from the black leather coat and white tank top to the dark wash jeans with the studs down the side and the black boots that came up almost to her knees.
“What are you? Some kind of Goth who gets off on death and darkness or something? Somebody got killed here.”
“I know,” Faith said and tried not to sound too exasperated with this idiot who thought he could school her on proper respect. Faith was a lot of things, but she was no Goth. “It’s just… I like a good investigation. Kind of a hobby of mine. And this is the investigation of the century, right?”
“Right,” Stiles said and glanced down at his phone again. “Shit,” he muttered, then jerked his head up. “So, I gotta go,” he said and gestured over his shoulder. “Uh, it was nice talking to you,” but it sounded more like a question than a statement and Faith was literally straining not to roll her eyes at him. “Do me a favor?”
She perked right up then. She totally could do him a favor and call it in later, maybe get some more information without having to break directly into the police station and steal the sheriff’s files. “Anything,” she said and gave him her sweetest smile.
“Stay out of this one. Trust me, it’s better if you do. Try hunting for UFOs or something. The truth is out there or whatever,” and he gave a tiny little fist-pump in the air before turning and dashing off towards the school parking lot.
Wesley and Angel might tell her that it was her slayer’s perception kicking in, but Faith knew it was simply that she wasn’t blind. That kid was up to something.
And Faith was going to find out what.
She’d followed Stiles to the parking lot and then tailed his Jeep from a decent distance, realizing now that her motorcycle might be more conspicuous than she had initially thought when buying it. She really shouldn’t have gone for the silver racing stripe down the side.
Stiles pulled into an old warehouse lot - abandoned by the looks of it - and put his Jeep in park. There was another boy waiting for him near the door; tall, gangly, head of curls and a serious expression on his face that could have rivaled any actor on any teen soap opera. Though Faith suspected this had less to do with girlfriends and more to do with stabbing people to death.
She followed them inside, deathly quiet, and pulled herself up onto some old scaffolding to get above them.
“The entrance is here somewhere,” Tall and Gangly said.
“Are you sure?” Stiles asked him and looked around at the big open room, leftover remains of building material scattered throughout the space like a workers graveyard.
“I can smell it. It’s here. But I can’t find the way down.”
“Sewers?” Stiles suggested.
“Tried that. It’s not in the sewers. It’s under this building somehow,” the other boy told him and Stiles shifted away from him ever so slightly.
“Yeah, I didn’t want to be rude or anything, but you do kind of reek of sewage, man.”
“Thanks,” Tall and Gangly said dryly. Then there was a pause and he lifted his head up in a small tilt, eyes going wide in surprise. “That’s interesting.”
“What?” Stiles asked, casually checking his phone again. Faith was never going to grasp teenagers these days and their obsession with text-messaging.
“We’re not alone.”
“What?” Stiles cried out, startled away from his phone. “What do you mean?” he asked and whipped his head around, frantically searching for any sign of company in their midst.
The other boy simply tipped his head back and looked right up at Faith, perched on a beam about twenty feet above their heads.
“Hello there,” he said and waggled his fingers at her. His eyes were a bright yellow in the dim light.
“Are you serious right now?” Stiles asked as soon as he looked up and realized who she was.
Faith rolled her shoulders then and dropped from the beam, landing in a crouch at their feet. Her silver dagger was out of its sheath before either one of them had even taken a step back.
“Werewolf,” she said and tried to reign in her usual violent impulsiveness, tried to remember not to just run around slashing people left and right, to be conscious of where she was sticking it.
“What?” the boy asked and then made an exaggerated hand gesture at himself. “It’s Isaac, crazy person dropping from the ceiling,” and then he leaned in a minuscule amount and sniffed the air around her, so slightly that it probably would have gone undetected by anyone in any profession other than Faith’s.
“You. Are. A. Werewolf,” she said slowly, sounding out each word as she went.
Next to her Stiles snorted in what he probably thought was a decent bluff and said, “I told you to chase UFOs, not werewolves.”
“I was actually chasing you,” Faith told him casually, twirling the dagger in between her fingers, watching the way the sunlight coming through the open windows glinted off the blade. “But apparently you keep interesting company, sheriff’s son.”
“There is no such thing as werewolves and you need a new hobby.” Stiles told her plainly.
“Well, in that case, your boy here won’t mind if I make one tiny little scratch down his arm with my blade, will he?”
“Once again,” the other boy said, “my name is Isaac, and I don’t make a habit of letting strange women cut me.”
Faith grinned at him, all teeth, and said, “So, you make a habit of letting strange women do other things to you then?”
Isaac swallowed hard and clutched both his arms to his chest, as if that would protect him from her any more than the long-sleeved Henley he was wearing.
“Fine, if I’m a werewolf, then what are you?” Isaac asked her, voice cracking the slightest at the challenge.
“Name’s Faith. I’m a Slayer.”
“A what?” Stiles asked, face scrunched up in confusion. “Is that some kind of Goth metal band or something?”
“For the last time, kid,” Faith said, the words biting as they came out, “I’m not Goth. That’s so twenty years ago,” and she emphasized her words by pointing the tip of the blade at his chest, close enough to cut with just the flick of her wrist.
“Okay, okay, geez,” Stiles said and threw his hands up in the air in surrender. “Then what the hell is a Slayer?”
“A vampire Slayer,” Faith said and turned on Isaac, blade pointing at him then. “You do know about slayers right, werewolf?”
“Uh…” Isaac said and then glanced at Stiles for help. Stiles just shrugged and Isaac hugged his arms to his chest even tighter. “I’m kind of new at this whole werewolf thing.”
“He’s like still basically a toddler in werewolf years,” Stiles told her and then, “So you hunt vampires, huh?”
“Yeah,” Faith said and sheathed her blade again, hand still resting on the grip just in case these boys turned out to be more of a threat than they seemed. “It’s a little more complicated than that.”
“Naw, I get it,” Stiles told her. “We have hunters in this town too.”
“Great,” Faith said in disgust. “Amateurs to get in my way. This isn’t an episode of fucking Paranormal State here, you know.”
“So narrow-minded,” Stiles chided her and Faith scowled at him.
“Slayers have supernatural strength. To help us fight. So we don’t get anyone killed,” and she stressed it all in a way that she could only hope would get through his thick skull, because she didn’t need any teenage boys getting in her way on this one. “One girl in all the world. Except then B died and we had Kendra and then… you know what, it’s complicated. But trust me, I’ve got this one.”
“Huh,” Isaac said like he was pondering what to eat for breakfast. “Yeah, we just dealt with this whole alpha pack. And before that a lizard man. And some crazy druids. And we’ve got a banshee, which who even knows what that means. But yeah, sure, you’ve got this one.”
Faith took a step into his personal space, blade sliding slowly out of its sheath, just to make the threat look good. “This is not for pups to play at.”
“Ladies, ladies,” Stiles said and half-inserted his body between them, forcing them both to take a step back, “you’re penises are both huge; don’t fight about it.”
“Fine,” Isaac said and then leaned his head towards Stiles and whisper-said, “Then do we invite her to come along with us?”
“Let’s just be clear on how the concept of ‘seniority’ works, kidlings. Maybe I invite you to come along with me,” Faith said and rolled her shoulders again.
“Huh. Maybe you aren’t aware, so I’ll spell it out for you,” Isaac told her, pulling himself up to his full height. “This is our town. So you follow our lead,” and he turned and strode off toward the other side of the warehouse.
Faith picked up on the hesitation under it all, but she still had to give the kid props for the way he didn’t break her gaze while he said it.
“So, apparently, this is our town,” Stiles told her with a smirk and then turned and headed after his friend. Two seconds later he glanced back over his shoulder and said, “You coming or what?” and Faith muttered a few choice words under her breath and followed after them.
Isaac found the entryway - a small set of metal bars laid across a vent in the wall that opened into a drop of about twenty-five feet - on the far side of the warehouse, hidden behind a stack of paint tubs. He reached down with both hands and yanked the metal bars clean off and then turned to Faith with an arched eyebrow.
“Sorry, did you want to do that?”
Faith smirked at him and held her hands up. “It’s all you, kid.”
Stiles crouched down next to the hole in the wall and peered into the black drop into nothingness. “Yeah, so, I can’t go down there,” he said and then jerked his head back when the sound of his voice echoed out around them.
“Afraid of the dark?” Faith asked, leaning up close to him, shoulder pressed against his back, to gaze into the open vent.
“Yeah, no,” Stiles told her and patted his chest for emphasizes. “Human. Breakable.”
“Sucks to be you,” Faith said with a half-lopsided grin, before turning and throwing herself feet first down into the darkness.
There was nothing but open air, the feeling of tumbling into a void, and then she was slamming into the ground, hard, knees buckling under her as she went. A pain shot through her right leg and Faith crumpled to the floor, cursing the ground beneath her.
Above her, a pair of sneakers came into view, like a flash against the dark, and then Faith was rolling out of the way just in time for Isaac to hit the ground next to her, one arm braced out to stop his fall.
“Sonofa…” Isaac gritted out, but the rest was lost on a sharp intake of breath. “Maybe we didn’t think this through,” he said and staggered to his feet.
“Not really my style,” Faith told him and tried to put weight on her leg, but she could feel the knee joint was out of place. “Little help here?” she asked and sat back, right leg extended in the air in front of her.
“Yeah,” Isaac said and leaned over. It didn’t go unnoticed by Faith that his left arm was hanging limply at his side. He reached out with his right hand and wrapped his fingers around her upper thigh, trailing them down in a slow slide, hand soft and warm as it went, until he found her kneecap, an entire inch above where it should have been. “Brace yourself,” he said and before she could actually do anything even slightly resembling bracing herself, Isaac was pushing her kneecap back into place with a resounding ‘pop’.
“Holy motheroffuck!” Faith shouted.
Isaac chuckled in the dark. “What happened to all that supernatural strength you posses?”
“Shut up. It’ll heal in a minute,” Faith said between exhales.
“Guys?” Stiles called down. “Is it eating you?”
“No, we’re all fine here. Thanks. How are you?” Isaac called back and Faith knew her life had gotten far too cushy when she immediately picked up on the movie quote.
From somewhere above their heads, she could swear she heard Stiles snort. “Great. I’m going to go find some rope or something.”
“Good idea,” Isaac told him.
Faith dug her cell-phone out of her pocket and flipped on the flashlight app, holding it up in front of them. Now, with the light illuminating the room around them, she could clearly see they were in some kind of underground bunker, like an old Cold War bomb-shelter. The room they were in was a good thirty feet square and there was a hallway behind them that extended back into the dark.
“We should go that way,” Faith said and pointed down the hall.
“Lead the way,” Isaac told her and gestured with his one good arm.
“Just… hold my life-blood for a second,” and Faith handed him the phone.
Then she made a quick, decisive motion; leg coming up to brace against his thigh, both hands wrapping around Isaac’s arm and pulling, hard and fast, his shoulder sliding back into the socket with a long grinding click.
“Oh my god,” Isaac said and the words sounded like they were stuck in his throat, wadded up into a ball that he was desperately trying to spit out.
“Thought werewolves could take it?”
Isaac jerked his head up to glare at her. “It’ll heal in a minute.”
Faith chuckled and held her hand out for her phone again.
The walls around them were made of metal, a sick green color that was washed out from whatever the original occupants had painted it. They took tentative steps, the ground creaking under them, and passed by two sealed doors, old spinning locks shutting them off like tombs of age and time.
At the end of the hall, there was another wide open room, only this one was much more well-lived in. In one corner of the room there was a stack of blankets and pillows, made up to form some sort of makeshift bed. In another corner there was a cardboard box with clothes spilling out of it and next to that a stack of magazines, piled high to the ceiling.
But it was what they found in the middle of the room that really struck them as odd, odder than someone living down here in the first place.
“Is it…sludge?” Isaac asked and covered his mouth and nose with the collar of his tee, shirt riding up to expose the flat glide of his stomach.
“Sludge is just a term for ‘goopy crap we can’t identify’,” Faith said and took a step closer. There were strips of it, whatever it was, laying in a pile like some sort of homemade nest and the smell coming off it reeked of death and decay.
Then, just as Faith started searching the room for something to poke the sludge with, there was a noise from behind them, a crashing bang of something echoing out through the walls.
“Is it here?” Faith asked Isaac, drawing her blade from its sheath and stepping up to his side. “Can you smell it?”
“I can’t smell anything except that excrement on the floor. I can’t even smell you right now.”
Faith wanted to make some glib comment about little pups sniffing her, but then there was another noise, like a thud followed by the sound of footsteps running toward them. Faith held up her phone and the light caught a glint of someone running in their direction. It was taller than Faith, even hunched over, broad shoulders and long legs, though Faith found herself thinking that Isaac could probably overtake it, whatever it was. There was a flash of eyes in the dark then and the creature came to a stop so suddenly that Faith could have sworn she heard the sound of brakes screeching on the ground, before it snarled something unintelligible and turned to run, back the way it had come.
Isaac took off after it.
She tried to keep up, she really did, but even a slayer needs longer to heal from a dislocated kneecap than three minutes, and her running was severely hampered by the pain shooting up her right leg.
“Isaac,” she hissed into the blackness, her phone dangling from her fingers as she ran. “Watch your fucking back.”
It’s not that she liked the kid or had any feelings of loyalty to him, but he seemed nice enough and she certainly tried her best not to get people killed on these kinds of jobs. If she could help it.
She made it back to the main room, but there was no sign of either Isaac or the creature. With her phone casting light and shadows across the walls, Faith could now see that there were large indents in the wall, a ladder of foot-holes leading up to the open vent. She tested her knee once, then started climbing.
There was hardly anywhere to hold on, her fingers scrambling for purchase against the metal walls and she cringed every time her foot slipped, the sound echoing out around her. It took her a good ninety seconds at least to climb the twenty-five feet to the top and another twenty just to pull herself up and out. She expected to see Isaac wrestling the creature to the floor or Stiles standing there motioning excitedly in the direction they had run, but instead she found a big empty room, seemingly nothing out of place at all.
Faith took off across the warehouse floor, eyes scanning every which way for a sign of where they had gone or what had happened and she was halfway to the door, still a good fifty feet of open room to cover, when Stiles came tearing back into the building at a breakneck pace.
His eyes flicked up to hers for all of a second and then he was screaming out, “It’s going to eat me!”
Faith looked to the door, braced for whatever was there, but what she didn’t expect was another werewolf. This one was older than Isaac for sure, though not by much, and in half-werewolf form, which always made it harder to judge. It had short dark hair and a bright blue glint to its eyes and its face spoke of years living like this, not a pup in the least. It was down on all fours and running, tearing at Stiles like it was going to rip his head off.
Which it probably was. With its teeth.
Faith ran as fast as she could possibly go, prepared to throw herself between the werewolf and Stiles, but she was one step too short and the werewolf set on him like he was the early bird dinner special.
Even from a distance, Faith could hear the sound of teeth crunching bone as Stiles screamed out in pain and crumpled to the floor. The werewolf cleanly ripped his arm off at the shoulder and Faith had to swallow down the bile at all the blood pouring out of him, even as she launched herself at the werewolf, tumbling it in a roll away from Stiles’ swiftly draining body.
The werewolf was under her now; eyes flashing bright at her, black t-shirt torn across the middle from the scrape of the floor beneath them. Faith could feel the denim of its jeans under her and she had less than a second, less than half a second, to make her move, her dagger still wedged in its sheath at her side.
“Sorry, big boy,” she murmured and brought her knee up in one swift motion, capping the werewolf straight in the groin.
It made the most inhuman of noises and rolled to its stomach, sending Faith skidding across the floor as it did so. The werewolf pushed to its knees and then jerked its head, hard, in her direction.
“Big boy, indeed,” Faith said with a leer and then jumped to her feet and pulled her dagger free just as the creature let out a deafening howl and ran straight at her.
Faith gutted it in the stomach.
The werewolf didn’t stop coming at her though, its hands coming up to grip tight around her throat. Faith couldn’t breathe, could barely think, as it suffocated her, but she still managed to brace one foot on the werewolf’s leg and use the leverage to yank her dagger out of its flesh and swipe upwards, slashing into its chest in a hard line.
“Stop!” someone yelled and Faith’s vision seemed to be blurring, but she could just make out a human form running across the warehouse floor towards them. “Stop, don’t hurt him!”
The werewolf released its grip, pushed her away with a low growl, and Faith tried to swipe it again but her hand felt heavy and her wrist was limp from lack of oxygen.
“Faith, stop!” the voice yelled again and now she could see him, snapping suddenly into her vision with a moment of complete clarity - Stiles. He was running across the warehouse, waving his arms in the air at her.
Faith made one last attempt to swipe at the werewolf, for Stiles, because he hadn’t deserved to go out that way. Just as her brain was clicking into place, realizing the double jeopardy in that whole thought process, there was a whirring noise splitting through the air and then Faith felt an arrow thrust itself into her shoulder. Her oxygen came rushing back in one go, one swift intake of air as the pain from the arrow split through her body, and then Faith was hitting the ground with an echoing crack.
Stiles came to a staggering halt next to her and yanked the dagger from her grip before she even had to time to realize it and then he was reaching out for the werewolf, who seemed to be stumbling face first towards the floor as well.
“Stiles, you’re suppose to be dead,” Faith told him dryly, her sarcastic bite escaping her along with the blood running down her arm.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not so much with the being dead thing,” Stiles said and lowered the werewolf to the ground, running a hand through his hair. “Hey, Derek, you wanna make the growly bits go away for me, man?”
The werewolf gave him a distinct look of wanting to maim someone, before his face slid slowly and effortlessly into human form. Faith would never not be startled by how abruptly different they looked like this and yet, how very similar to their wolf forms at the same time.
“Shit,” Stiles muttered and ripped at the front of the werewolf’s - Derek’s - shirt. There was blood caked on every inch of him, some of it dry already and other spots covered with bright red blood, still flowing from his wounds. “You know not all werewolves are monsters, right?” Stiles snapped at her and Faith wanted to apologize, but she could see the fifteen feet past him, to where his own body lay on the ground, arm ripped off in its entirety.
“He was going to eat you,” Faith said and then gestured at the body. “Or him. Whatever.”
Now that she was looking, now that she was thinking with her brain and not the adrenaline, Faith could see that the body, whoever that was, was wearing a denim shirt and a pair of dark wash jeans while Stiles was wearing a red flannel shirt and the most hideous pair of corduroys in the world. There had to be other differences, up close, but she was still sitting on her ass on the ground and she wasn‘t going to be bothered about it just now.
“Dude,” Isaac said and Faith had to take a moment to realize he was even in the room, “you shot her in the shoulder.”
“That’s what I was suppose to do, right?” a female voice asked and Faith looked up to see a teenage girl standing there; dark wavy hair, black boots, black jeans, sparkly silver tank top, a bow and arrow in one hand and a quiver strapped over her shoulder.
Faith wanted to grab this girl by the ankle and yank, send her sprawling on her butt just on principal. Instead she said, “Maid Marian just fucking shot me.”
“You were gonna kill Derek,” the girl said with a shrug.
“Oh, this is Allison,” Isaac told her but his eyes were trained on the dead body and not either of them, though Faith couldn’t really blame him for that. It was freaky to see Stiles’ face on that thing while the real Stiles was just inches away, mopping up Derek’s blood with what remained of his torn tee.
That put a thought into Faith’s mind that had her jumping to her feet, the adrenaline push rushing back through her even as she staggered a bit with the arrow still sticking out of her shoulder. Allison reached out to offer her a hand but Faith brushed her off, took two lurching steps forward to pick up her dagger. She righted herself and stopped for one second to rip the arrow from her flesh, like tearing off a band-aid, which oddly had always bothered Faith more than pulling a weapon from herself.
“Oh my god,” Isaac cried and Faith looked down to see dark red drops of blood dribbling out of the open wound like a leaky faucet.
“Huh,” she said and watched as it slowly started to taper off.
“Silver tipped arrows,” Allison told her and Faith’s eyes snapped up to meet the girl’s.
“That’s a thought I want to come back to,” Faith told her and tried to keep the awe out of her voice. The kid may look like a… well, a kid, but she clearly knew a thing or two about what she was doing.
Faith sidled up to Stiles, just as Derek grabbed the tee shirt out of his hands and said, “I got it. Stop it,” to the way Stiles was gently cleaning the blood off.
“Hmmm,” Faith said and draped herself over Stiles’ back. He startled and turned big round eyes on her as she breathed against the shell of his ear, “Let’s see what it is we’ve got then, shall we?”
There wasn’t a lot of exposed skin to work with, so she dragged the silver dagger across the back of his neck, not too deep, and then stumbled backwards when Stiles jerked and cried out.
“Just checking something,” she said hastily, throwing her hands up in defense when Derek pushed to his toes, crouched down like he was ready to spring on her. “Let me look at it,” she said and reached for Stiles, who flinched away from her before taking a deep breath and lowering his head in a submissive posture.
It looked so much like the pose a werewolf might take with its alpha that Faith felt a little something stir in her, something that was already ratcheted up by the adrenaline from the fight. The cut itself looked like one might expect, with absolutely no extra swelling or black blood oozing from it or strange vein patterns bleeding outwards from the wound area. That is to say, it looked human.
“Cool, sheriff’s son. Guess you’re one of us after all.”
“I could have told you that,” Derek growled. “I know his scent.”
“Yep,” Isaac said. “Sugar and cinnamon and less than adequate deodorant.”
Faith grinned over at him, while Stiles made a noise of protest under his breath. Isaac was standing next to the dead body now, poking it with his foot.
“What is it?” he asked and he sounded like a small child wandering onto his first piece of road-kill.
“Shapeshifter, I’d say,” Faith told him. “They shed their skin to take on a new look. Probably a pile of it around here somewhere showing the face he was wearing before he started wearing Stiles.”
“You mean…” Isaac said and he honestly looked like he might throw up. “You mean, that gunk we found in the bunker was like, its skin?”
“Yeah, probably. I’ve never seen a shifter’s lair before, but I still should have recognized what we were dealing with.”
“Oh my god,” Isaac said, more to himself than to anyone else. “Do you think I got any on my shoe?” and he started frantically scraping the soles of his sneakers across the floor.
“The ritualistic elements of the murders probably threw you off,” Derek told her, pushing up to his feet.
Faith looked over at him to see that the blood was mostly cleaned off his chest now and she had to do a double-take because, holy hell, that was a nice piece of meat she was looking at, the need and want that had been pushing through her since that exquisite fight-and-roll on the ground now coursing through her body at breakneck pace.
“Not to mention the swords,” Stiles supplied then and Derek just rolled his eyes at the kid.
“That’s what I meant, Stiles,” he said and Faith could hear it so clearly, the annoyance covering the affection.
“Are you good?” Isaac asked him, sidling up to Derek like a child who has just realized his parents are breakable.
“Silver dagger?” Derek asked, quirking an eyebrow at Faith.
“Yeah,” she told him and then added with all the genuine regret she had to offer, “Sorry about that.”
“It’ll heal.” he told her and she could feel his eyes locked onto her, appraising her, trying to suss out if his boys had been right to trust her, if he could trust her. “Just not as fast as I would like.”
“It was a good fight though, right?” she asked and now she could finally revel in it, the heat that had burned through her, even as Derek was choking the life out of her, the complete and utter fulfillment at having an equal partner at the mat. It itched under her skin; the way he had thrown her, the way he had rolled with her, the way he had lifted her and came at her and made her scared for the first time in a long time, pushing down that feeling of invincibility to something more human than any Slayer had a right to be.
“Not bad for a normal,” Derek told her casually.
“She’s not normal, she’s a Slayer,” Isaac supplied but there was a glint in Derek’s eyes that said he already knew that.
“You can feel it in your veins, can’t you?” Faith asked and she dropped her breath, let it deepen and harden at once. “That rush of having someone just as good as you, pressed right against you, feeling their heartbeat while you drain it.”
Isaac made a noise like a whimper but Faith was locked onto Derek now and he was locked right back.
“Makes you need more, doesn’t it?” she asked and took one step towards him. “Want to try something different.”
“Kind of, yeah,” he admitted and looked down at his own chest, open wounds still visible even as the blood had stopped flowing. “Different for me would be not sleeping with women who are trying to kill me,” and it almost sounded like a quip, but Faith could hear the pain under it, hidden in the lines between his words. “Stiles, I think maybe this might be a good time to work on some of those healing skills the good doctor has been teaching you,” and Faith knew that particular conversation was over then.
“Shit, really?” Stiles asked and he looked like a puppy who had just found a bone under the Christmas tree. “I thought you said you’d never let me touch you?”
Derek was still watching her and Faith couldn’t help but to laugh, a short abrupt noise that shook her.
“Okay, man, I get it,” she said. “Your loss,” but it was really her loss, because she was still itching with a fire that threatened to consume her if she couldn’t wear off some of this energy. Angel would have told her to meditate, Wesley would have told her to do some training.
Bu then Isaac reached out a hand to touch gently at Faith’s shoulder, knocking her momentarily from her building fury. “It doesn’t look so hot. Maybe Stiles should clean that up too?”
Faith reached up to capture Isaac’s wrist, curl her fingers around him where he was still gently brushing long fingers against her.
“Naw, I’m thinking ‘new plan’,” she said and eyed him from head to toe, a slow glide across his body. “How old are you, pup?”
“Eighteen,” he said, but it came out more like the squeak of a pre-adolescent child than the man he was claiming to be.
Faith sighed and said, “Do with what you’ve got, I always say,” and then she was leading him by the wrist along behind her, towards a storage closet on the other side of the room.
“Wait…what?” Isaac stammered out and behind them, she could hear Allison shouting out, “That’s fine! I’ll just take care of the dead body and its severed arm by myself!”
They were burning the warehouse to the ground and Faith thought how she could totally get behind this idea of cleansing every place that these monsters touched with fire.
Besides, burning things was fun.
“That was, uh, an, uh, interesting day,” Isaac said next to her and they were the first words he had spoken since, “I can’t find my shirt,” which it turned out was on the top of a stack of paint thinners in the corner of the storage closet where she’d backed him against the wall and let the fight push out of her in a slow, hard grind.
“And to think I complained when I got sent to this nothing town,” Faith said, but the truth was it made her homesick for Sunnydale in a way she hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Someone sent you?” Allison asked her then, the five of them all pressed against the side of Stiles’ Jeep watching the burn.
“We all work for someone, sweetheart,” Faith told her and then looked over, took a minute to asses them.
One twenty-something growly, grumpy werewolf and his teenage sidekick and two humans, one armed with a bow and the other armed with… well, Stiles clearly brought a lot of things to the table. They all brought a lot of things to the table, to be honest, and Faith didn’t know who was teaching them these things or what else was going on under the surface of this town, but someone was doing something right here. She was suddenly struck by an image of another group of misfits, just as mismatched as this, saving the goddamn world week in and week out, and she could see their futures laid out for them with something that was so close to déjà vu that for a brief second, the ground beneath her tilted.
“We’ve been doing this for awhile,” Faith said then. “So, just in case,” and she reached into her back pocket and pulled out a business card for Angel Investigations, her contact number scrawled across the back. She handed it over to Stiles, “You call, sheriff’s son, if you ever get a case you can’t solve.”
‘What are you, Scooby-Doo?” Stiles asked her with a grin and Faith bit down on the urge to slap him upside the head. That wasn’t her place; not here, not with these people.
“And you,” she said and pointed at Derek. “You ever wanna go again, sparring or whatever else, you just call me any damn time, darlin’.”
“I doubt that’s going to happen,” he told her, but that glint was back in his eyes, so Faith took it with a grain of salt.
“Here,” Allison told her and handed her an arrow from her quiver. “My apology for shooting you. Just layer it like I told you and it should work out just like this.”
“Thanks,” Faith said and she meant it sincerely because every time she tried to do this, the tips broke off the ends of hers.
“So,” Isaac said and Faith suddenly felt like she was Dorothy in the Wizard Of Oz, saying her goodbyes before heading back to Kansas in a hot air balloon. “Can I get one of those cards with your number on it?” and he was all cheeky smile and flashing eyes and Faith might have melted a tiny, minuscule bit at it, if she hadn’t already melted the remains of her bones with her legs wrapped around his waist not ten minutes ago.
“Oh, sweetheart,” she said softly and placed a hand over his heart. “No. No, you cannot,” and she leaned up to press a kiss to his cheek. “But it was totally a fun ride, kid.”
The fire was burning hot behind her when she straddled her motorcycle and reached for her helmet.
“Hey, Faith!” Stiles shouted and she looked back at him, at them, standing there side by side. “It’s not a nothing town. It’s Beacon Hills and it’s our home.”
“Sure thing, sheriff’s son,” Faith told him and pointed herself toward the highway.
When she past the sign steering her in the direction of LA, Faith sped up, the miles stretching out until she was back with her own people, in her own home.