FIC: All Change At Halloween (1/?)
Title: All Change At Halloween
Rating: R (For Language later)
Relationships: X\F, G\C, G\J
Feedback: In lieu of a Faithbot yeah.
Disclaimer: If I own the chars, why don't Faith and Cordy do as
their master tells them? Woe is me. All Characters in this chapter belong to Mutant Enemy.
Loki watched stone-faced as the Ubers rampaged out of the Hellmouth, cutting through the paltry human defenders as if they weren’t there. California fell within the week, Angel’s farcical second front lasting less than a day. The West Coast was gone within a fortnight, then America’s panic-stricken fellow nations, fearful that the vampire plague would slaughter their own people, launched a nuclear attack that devastated the very infrastructure America might have used to attempt a counter to the vampires. Nuclear war erupted, destroying nations as the Ubers gleefully tore through the world.
Within three months the First reigned over a ravaged world.
No, no, Loki shook his head. Of all the universes he watched over, this one had always been his favourite. It couldn’t fall, he wouldn’t allow it.
The other First Gods, those who’d once defeated the Old Ones and forced them into their slumber, had long since ceased interfering in lesser beings’ affairs, but he loved to tinker. Loki smirked, the Powers That Be would hate his meddling, but they were as far beneath him as humans were beneath them, and ants beneath humans.
But where to start?
Loki considered the possibilities. First he wouldn’t have Ms. Summers as the Slayer, she never was any fun. He wouldn’t remove her from the timeline, that was unnecessary and cruel, just ensure she was never Called. Then there was Angelus, what a delightful child of chaos he was, never restraining himself to the expected behaviour of a vampire. Why his creation of Drusilla was one of Loki’s most treasured memories.
No, that soul just couldn’t be allowed.
A smile stretched across his face as he began to fiddle with the timeline, brow furrowing in concentration. My, it was eons since he’d had such fun.
* * *
Los Angeles, July 1993
“Hello everyone,” Holland Manners beamed as the last of his staff took their seat. “I’m sure you’ve heard all the rumours, but I called you here to make an announcement, an announcement being made simultaneously by all other division leaders to their staff. It has been decided by the senior partners that we’re to move our offices and operations to the Hellmouth.” He smiled again. “Closer to the action, you might say. This move will take place on 30th September, ready for the start of the next fiscal year. ”
“What about our clients?” queried a recently hired lawyer by the name of Lillah Morgan.
Holland smiled. “Well of course, they’re free to find other representation if they wish, but they’ll find no other firm offers the full range of services offered by Wolfram & Hart. Any more questions?”
Another newly hired lawyer by the name of Lindsey MacDonald raised a hand. “Huh, I’ve just put down several months’ rent-.”
“Generous resettlement packages will of course be offered,” Holland replied with a smile. “Wolfram & Hart takes good care of its employees. Any more questions?” The meeting ran on for a few more minutes, mostly queries about the dangers inherent of living on a Hellmouth, but eventually it petered out and the staff left to make plans, leaving him alone to consider the move.
The Hellmouth, he had to admit to a frisson of excitement at the thought of moving there, and after all, all the jobs would be good for the local economy.
* * *
London, March 1994
“Children, what the bloody hell do I know about children?” Giles stared with dismay at the piece of paper in his hand. “Least of all girls!” Giles shook his head. The Council had ordered him to move to Boston, adopt a foster-child they had identified as a Potential, and move her to the suspected Hellmouth. Apparently the paperwork was all in order, the Council was very efficient in that respect.
Giles shook his head and sighed. Placing the printed orders on the desk in his office, he sat down and began making a list of what he needed. He might not want to go, but what the Council wanted, the Council got.
But being assigned an assistant? And that twit, Wesley Whyndhm-Pryce?
Oh happy sodding day!
* * *
Los Angeles, May 1994
“Oh lordy, good god almighty, praise be to Jesus!”
Charles jumped up at his mother’s cry and ran into the lounge. “Momma!” he knelt on the threadbare carpet by his mother’s feet, concern filling him. “What’s wrong?”
“Why hush your worry child!” He gasped when his mother pulled him up into her arms and hugged him until he was gasping for breath. “Nothing’s wrong!” his mother let out a choked sob. “Your momma’s just won two hundred and fifty thousand dollars on the lottery, no more living in the slums for us, honey, we’re gonna move somewhere nice and peaceful, somewhere outta the city. A fresh start for me, my boy, and my girl!”
* * *
Boston, June 1994
“I don’t know what you’re figuring to do with me,” Faith’s eyes spat fire as she glared at him. “But just ‘cause you’ve got some bullshit custody deal don’t mean you own me!”
Giles managed to hold back a disdainful sniff. He didn’t much like the suspicion in the girl’s eyes, but there was little he could to immediately allay it. Building a relationship with such an obviously wounded child would take time and a considerable amount of patience. “I notice you haven’t been a regular attendee of school since the age of eleven, putting you about two years behind academically. That stops now.”
“You don’t get to tell me what to do!”
Ignoring the Potential’s angry yelp, he continued. “You’ve also garnered a prodigious juvenile record for one so young, probably the influence from the company you keep, I shouldn’t wonder. That won’t be a problem from this point on. We’ll be moving to the west coast once I’ve finished with the paperwork.”
“You have gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me!”
“Language,” he absent-mindedly muttered before continuing. “You won’t be going to school for your last year of I believe they call it Junior High, instead I’ll be tutoring myself at home to catch you up on all you’ve missed before you start High School. In addition, I’ll be hiring a trainer to instruct you in martial arts.”
The fury left the teen’s eyes to be replaced with confusion and interest. “Martial arts, why?”
Giles hesitated. It wasn’t time yet to tell Faith about being a Slayer, the girl wouldn’t believe him just yet, he had to gain her trust first. However, should Faith be Called, he would make damn sure she was the best prepared Slayer she could be. “A young woman has to be able to defend herself. And healthy body, healthy mind and all that, correct?”
Faith stared at him. “The English are very, very weird.”
* * *
Los Angeles, August 1994
Tears rolled down Kate’s face as she shoved clothes into her hastily-bought sports bags. It was no good, her and her father were never going to have the relationship she wanted, she might as well leave, take up that job she’d been offered in Sunnydale.
* * *
Sunnydale, September 1995
Faith took a big gust of breath as she entered the school, rare nervousness filling her. It had taken her a while to get used to G, even longer to get used to the idea he might genuinely care about her, but if she was really honest she’d enjoyed her year of being home-schooled, of having someone concentrate solely on her.
But on the other hand, she’d also missed hangin’ with other kids her own age.
“Ouch!” Faith gasped as she stepped around a corner only to crash into a short boy her own age.
“Ahhh!” Two hours of martial arts training every night for over a year had given her the balance to spin away from the collision but the boy wasn’t so lucky, falling to his knees.
“Hey,” Faith crouched down by the nerdy lookin’ kid, “sorry ‘bout that, wasn’t lookin’ where I was goin’, you know?”
“Wow, uhh.” Faith hid a grin at the kid’s awe-struck expression, but then her in her shortest leather mini and most low-cut gym top was kinda supposed to have that effect. “That’s okay.”
“I’m Faith,” Faith announced as she took the boy’s arm and pulled him up, eyes expectant.
“Um,” the boy appeared to have think about it, but then his thoughts seemed filled with the contents of her gym top, “Jonathan.”
“Wow,” a voice mocked from behind. “Who knew Levinson was such a lady’s man?”
“Fall on your ass and get to pick them to pity help you up, what a technique.” The voice paused. “But a girl like this, she’s gotta be for the football team, not a loser like Levinson.”
Faith looked over her shoulder to see five hulking boys stood there. “Me and Jonathan are having a private conversation.”
“Whooo!” the boys high-fived one another. “Listen to that, she’s a regular spitfire!”
“Hey Jonno,” a pair of floppy-haired boys stepped around the corner behind her, “you okay, man?”
“Harris,” one of the boys glared at the speaker, “why don’t you take Levinson and McNally, and fuck off? We’re just having a nice talk with the new girl.”
Harris looked nervous but didn’t move. “I think we’re fine just where we are.”
Everyone jumped at the sound of a locker door being crashed shut. Turning as one, the group saw a tall, shaven-headed black youth stood there. “I’d say the girl doesn’t want anything to do with you guys. How about you get out of here before this gets embarrassing?”
“You don’t know who you’re messing with,” warned one of the boys.
The black smiled. “Looks like a jock meat-head with a real yearning for hospital food to me.”
“This isn’t over.” The bully looked to the rest of his group. “Come on.”
“Hey,” Harris beamed at her even as he nodded his thanks to the black youth, “how about me and you go somewhere and discuss our future engagement?”
Faith snorted. “How ‘bout you start with gettin’ me a coke from the vendin’ machine?”
* * *
Los Angeles, 1996
“Francis I don’t care about your heritage, it’s who you are that concerns me! But you’ve got to stop running away from it!”
Doyle stared at his beautiful wife, suddenly sensing that if he didn’t at least try, he’d lose her. “The job in Sunnydale, on the Hellmouth, I’ll take it.”
* * *
Sunnydale, May 1996
“G! G! G!”
“Sometimes,” Giles muttered as he looked up from the paperwork he’d been working on while sat on his sofa, “that damn girl sounds like she’s riding a bleedin’ horse.”
Faith raced into their open-plan downstairs, the hallway, lounge, kitchen, and dining area all one room, her face excited. “I was on my way home after goin’ to Red’s for some pointers on computer class when it happened!”
Giles’ spine froze. Oh no, oh bloody hell no. “What happened?” he asked through suddenly dry lips.
“My belly just tightened and rolled, like I was gonna chuck up, almost doubled me up, but then I felt strong and full of energy, like the freakin’ Energiser Bunny on roids, you know?” Faith beamed. “I’ve been Called! Me, I’m freakin’ special!”
“And you’re sure?”
Faith wordlessly strode across to the open fireplace opposite Giles, not that they ever needed it, grabbed one of the pokers stood beside it and bent it in two. “Pretty sure yeah.”
Giles’ world caved in even as he forced a smile. “I don’t care how ‘special’ you are, you have exams in the morning. Get upstairs and get some revision done.”
Faith’s curved bottom lip pouted admirably. “Fine.” Faith’s blur of motion as she raced upstairs rendered any of lingering doubts Giles might have had about her Calling.
Giles’ facade crumbled the moment the Slayer was gone. “Oh god,” he croaked as he lurched to his feet and stumbled over to his wall mounted drinks cabinet, pulling it open and grabbing the nearest bottle. “Might as well make a bloody toast!” Stupid bloody girl, the whiskey sloshed out and into the glass as he poured it, Giles’ shaking hand unable to properly steady the bottle and his tears blurring his vision, didn’t she realise, powers or no powers, she was already special.
* * *
Sunnydale, June 1996
“Yes, yes, yes.” Giles hurried over at the knocking door, ever mindful of the fallen night. Opening the door, he saw a guilty-looking Faith surrounded by her friends.
“So vampires, Giles,” the always mouthy Cordelia Chase commented. “Who knew?”
Giles’ jaw dropped as he looked towards Faith. “They, um, saw me Slaying a vampire,” Faith weakly explained.
“Yeah, dawg,” Gunn commented. “And we’re gonna help her Slay.”
“Absolutely not,” Giles folded his arms and shook his head, “out of the question.”
“Can you imagine what would happen if people started talking?” Xander shook his head. “Called the papers, the TV stations, the government. I mean people might think we were nuts. But someone might take an interest.”
“You’re blackmailing me?”
Xander gulped at his glare. “No, just saying we won’t let you make Faith take this responsibility on her own.”
Giles opened his mouth to give the boy and his rebellious companions a blistering barrage, then saw the pleading worry in his girl’s eyes. “Very well,” he grunted. “But you help with research only, understood?”
“Of course.” Cordelia sniffed. “Getting that vampire dust all over my labels? I really don’t think so!”
* * *
Romania, June 1996
“Our seers have had a prophecy. Dark forces are rising on the Hellmouth, you our child was schooled in the ways of the modern world, of the west, but also know the hidden paths of the past. You will travel there, watch and report.”
“As you wish,” Janna Kalderdash bowed her head in respect.
* * *
Sunnydale, September 1996
“I say!” Giles let out a gasp as he entered HIS library, his Slayer and foster-daughter trailing behind him, to find wires trailing across the floor, half-opened cardboard boxes littering his usually orderly library, and what looked to be a computer stood on his desk. “What is going on here?”
“Hey,” his breath caught as a bewitching, tanned beauty appeared from behind the desk. “Rupert Giles, right? Hi, I’m Jenny Calender,” Giles dazedly took the beauty’s offered hand, “I’m the new computer teacher and the principal has asked me to install a computer system in here.” The woman flashed him a gleaming smile. “No charge!”
“Computers!” Giles snorted at the very idea. “I don’t need blo-, fla-, computers in here!”
“Yes,” the young woman tilted her head to one side as she walked out from behind the desk, “I bet you don’t even own a cell do you?”
“I had to really nag to get a Playstation.” Giles sighed when Faith decided to help him in her unique way.
“I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the 20th century. With three whole years to spare!” Jenny snorted.
Giles shook his head. “Ms. Calendar, I'm sure your computer science class is
fascinating, but I happen to believe that one can survive in modern society without being a slave to the, um, idiot box.”
“That's TV. The idiot box is TV. This,” she patted the top of the monitor, “is the good box!”
Giles began a mental back-pedal. “I still prefer a good book.”
“You know, for the last two years more e-mail was sent than regular mail.” Jenny ranted. “More digitized information went across phone lines than conversation.”
“Facts I regard with genuine horror.”
“This system’s computer can be used to catalogue your inventory that means you know what’s in stock, in or out, at a press of a key, track circulation, draw up reports on which books are popular, unpopular, are in and out, and send out automated overdue reminders,” Jenny remorselessly continued.
“But, but,” Giles wailed. “I don’t know how to use it!”
“Then,” Jenny winked at Faith before striding towards the door, leaving him staring with dismay at the computer screen, “I’ll have to come back and show you how to use it.”
“You told her, G!”
Giles decided to glare at his charge. “That bloody bedevilling woman.”
Faith snorted as she perched up on the desk beside him, dimples deepening in a taunting smirk. “You’re totally hot for teacher.”
“Why you-, why you!” Giles shook his head at the laughing girl. “You bloody urchin!”
* * *
Washington DC., January 1997
Walsh scowled even as she strode away from the Pentagon. Yes, she’d got her money into the research of the supernatural and its possible military applications, but she’d had to sacrifice her much valued autonomy, having to report her every move to men, worse military men. “Sunnydale it is then.”
* * *
North Carolina, March 1997
Only military discipline stopped Riley from tearing his quarters apart, all his hard training for this posting? What a waste!
“Hey man.” He turned around to find himself watched by his closest friends in the base, Forrest Gates and Graham Miller. “We got the same orders as you, Sunnydale?”
“Yeah,” Riley grunted. “What’s in Sunnydale anyway?”
* * *
Sunnydale, May 1997
“The Council sent you here?” Giles forced a hold on his temper as he glared up at the African-American sneering down at him from the desk’s other side. “And might I ask why?”
“The Council thought it prudent that I bring the four most likely Potentials here to learn from your triumphs,” the black’s smirk widened. And your inevitable mistakes.”
And to act as a spy for them he shouldn’t bloody wonder. Giles clenched his fists until his knuckles whitened. Even if he gave into temptation and beat this pompous arse around the library, the Council would only send someone else to take Wood’s place or worse force his own replacement as Faith’s Slayer.
However, this Robin Wood’s reports on him allowing ‘the Scoobies’ to help would doubtless cause considerable consternation.
As if he didn’t have enough bloody problems.
* * *
“Huh,” Loki peered at the timeline, squinting as he considered the changes he’d made, the pawns he’d moved so skilfully into place. It was all very entertaining, but really they were just ripples to the continuity, what he wanted was a tidal wave that changed everything. But when exactly?
His eyes widened and lips pulled up into a smile as he let out a triumphant whisper. “Of course, Halloween.”