Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, they remain the property of their respective creators.
Authors Note: My thanks to Alkeni for beta reading this chapter.
Mayor Richard Wilkins looked up from the mountain of paperwork on his desk as the sound of someone knocking echoed through his office. On one hand he was puzzled by the interruption as he had no appointments scheduled this evening but on the other he was relieved to have the distraction. The amount of paperwork that came with being mayor these days was truly staggering, more than once he’d wondering if it was actually possible for someone to die buried under a mountain of paperwork. Thankfully it wouldn’t be too much of a chore to endure for much longer.
“Come in,” he called. The door opened and Deputy Mayor Allan Finch poked his head in. “Yes Alan what is it?”
“We might have a problem sir,” Allan said stepping into the room. “I was just contacted by on of our contacts he was in The Alibi Room yesterday afternoon when something happened that we both believe you should know.”
Richard raised an eyebrow. “Go on,” he continued.
“Apparently yesterday afternoon around three both Slayers paid a visit to the bar and thoroughly interrogated the bartender.”
“Poor Willy got beat up again,” Richard asked resisting the impulse to smirk at the mental image of the long suffering barkeep getting thrown against his own bar by the Slayers, “but that’s the price you sometimes pay by being the guy everyone goes to for information. You would think the guy would have learned to mind his own business by now, but as my old mother used to say ‘such is life’. So what did the Slayers want from him?”
Allan swallowed nervously knowing the mayor wasn’t going to like what he had to say next. “Apparently they wanted information about you sir,” he said.
“Me but why would they…” Richard started to say before his voice tapered off eyes widening in a mixture of surprise and concern. Had the Slayers somehow found out about his plans? “You mean they know about me?”
“I do not believe they are aware of your plans however they have somehow found out that you are a heavily influential figure in the supernatural community here in Sunnydale. They also seem to know that you’re the only mayor the town has ever had.”
Richard made an hmm noise and leaned back in his chair. How had the Slayers learned about his links to the supernatural community here in Sunnydale as well as the fact that he was over a hundred years old? How had they learned that? And if they knew about that were they aware of his Ascension plans? He’d known when he’d pulled strings to bring Buffy Summers to Sunnydale to deal with that situation with The Master that there was always a possibility that she would learn of his connection to the supernatural. At the time he had deemed it a risk worth taking as given the short life expectancy of a Slayer once Called he’d assumed that Buffy wouldn’t be around long enough to possibly interfere with his plans.
Unfortunately fate or those annoying interfering busy bodies who called themselves the Powers That Be had had other plans. Buffy had not only survived for far longer than was the norm for a Slayer, indeed if he’d gotten his math right she was the longest living chosen one generations, but she and her Watcher had broken with the normal one Watcher/one Slayer convention. Instead they’d built up their own little team of helpers. A network that had enabled Buffy to escape a prophesised death at the hands of Nest, caused the Slayer line to fission – though quite how that had happened he still had absolutely no idea – and let her beat the crap out of demonic entities that should have effortlessly killed her. All those facts made the possibility that she could know what he was planning very uncomfortable to say the least. Though his dedication was only twenty four hours away after which she wouldn’t be able to harm him for a hundred days it paid to be cautious. After all he hadn’t lived this long, gotten this close to his goal by being careless.
“Okay here’s what I want you to do Allan,” he said at last. “Speak with Mister Trick, have him put together some surveillance teams to follower the Slayers and keep as close an eye on them as possible without giving themselves away.”
“Yes sir,” Allan replied inwardly grimacing at having to go and talk to Mr Trick about anything as he hated dealing with vampires at the best of times but Trick made him really nervous. Especially as the former acolyte of the dusted Kakistos had a habit of looking right at his jugular during discussions as if weighing up whether to feed off him or not, so far the fear of incurring the Mayor’s wrath – and the excruciatingly painful death said warlock would have subjected him to – had prevented it but he was under no illusions about Trick’s intentions towards him. Intentions that coupled with Wilkins ascension plans and the general levels of supernatural nastiness in town made him increasingly wonder what the hell he’d been thinking when he’d agreed to work for Richard Wilkins in the first place as his father and grandfather had before him.
“Is that all Allan?”
“Yes sir it is for now.”
“Very well then go speak to Trick. Oh and remember to give my speech for tomorrow another check over would you? It wouldn’t do for the pensioners to think I’ve forgotten their lifelong contributions to this town when I open that new care home would it.”
“Of course sir,” Allan replied before leaving the office and mentally sighing in relief at surviving yet another meeting with the warlock-turned-mayor. I really need to look into getting out of this place,
he thought to himself before heading towards the basement and Trick’s office to brief the vampire on what the mayor wanted from him.
As Allan left his office Richard stood up rounded his desk and moved to the window. For a few moments he stood there gazing out at the town that he’d carefully built over the last century, all of it in preparation for his destiny of becoming an Old One. A destiny that could now possibly be under threat from the Slayers and their posse something that was unacceptable to say the very least, he had worked too hard, for too long and too carefully to let anything stop him now. He would trust that Trick would assemble some trustworthy associates to watch the Slayers without giving themselves away but their was always the possibility that they’d be spotted – especially as Trick wasn’t always the subtlest being in world but then vampires were true predators, subtlety was not something generally included in their vocabulary.
Thus it would be a good idea to have a backup plan or two in place and he knew just who to call to arrange it, the guy owed him a few favours after all and now was as good a time as any to collect. Smiling he returned to his desk, took his address book from a drawer and began flicking through soon finding the number that he wanted.
The number for Cole Turner
~~//~~Elsewhere In Sunnydale
That Same Time
It was small.
That was Faith Lehane’s first thought as she gazed around the apartment that Giles had just brought her too. Despite the lack of any furniture Faith could tell that it wouldn’t exactly be a spacious place to live, still despite being small she imagined it would be cosy. She had been more than a little surprised when the technically ex-Watcher had asked her to meet him here, her surprise had only grown when she’d found Giles standing with a set of apartment keys and with a realtor standing not far away just far enough to give them some privacy.
“So what do you think, Faith?” Giles asked.
“Its cosy,” the dark haired Slayer answered before looking at him with a puzzled frown “G why are you showing me this?”
“Because if you like it then this place will be your new home,” Giles replied with a warm smile.
Faith gaped. “You… you would buy this place for me,” she asked her mind reeling as she didn’t know what to think. She had to admit the idea of having her own place where she could just crash at the end of a long night of slaying vamps and pummelling demons had a certain appeal. The fact that Giles was willing to get her such a place was more than a little humbling. It reminded her of what Laura had done for her, getting her out of the foster home she’d been in and letting her stay in her own apartment in Boston. An apartment that had been just starting to feel like home when Kakistos and his minions interfered and tortured Laura to death right in front of her helpless eyes.
“Of course I would.”
“Because you need somewhere to live Faith, somewhere that’s not a run down chalet in a motel renowned for its sleazy nature.” Faith blinked wondering how the ex-Watcher knew where she lived as she hadn’t told him and she knew B wouldn’t have as she was always so focused on her undead boyfriend. Maybe boy toy did it,
she thought recalling Xander knew where she lived and had even been in her room when they’d had that little throw down session. Of course back then Xander had still been human and not the supernatural angel-thing that he was now and boy was that still downright freaky to think about.
“But I’m fine where I am,” she protested after a few more moments of thinking about it.
“Are you really,” the Watcher asked training firm eyes on her. “Let me ask you this then Faith how many vampires have you had to kill in the last week when they’ve barged in on you looking for a free meal.” Faith hesitated to answer “how many?”
“I’m not sure seven, eight maybe nine,” she admitted after a moment buckling under the firm gaze of the Watcher and realising not for the first time since coming to the Hellmouth just how intimidating Giles could be when he wanted to be. “I really don’t understand how they can get in like that and while I do like the practice it gets kind of annoying when I want to have a shower or something.”
“They can get in because a motor lodge chalet like a hotel room is a place of temporary occupancy only,” Giles explained taking off his glasses and polishing them. “Thus they’re exempt from the normal mystical rules that prevent a vampire from entering someone’s home without an invitation. Where you’re living now the wards are so weak that they might as well not exist at all as even a starving fledgling can penetrate them with ease.”
“Shit I never knew that.”
“Now you do so what do you say about this place? Do you want it?” Faith paused, thought a bit for a moment before nodding, though it would be a few days before she could move in as she’d have to raid a few vamp nests to get some cash to buy furnishings. “Good I’ll sort it out with the realtor. Take another look around if you want to while I discuss it outside.”
“Okay and G thanks.”
“You’re welcome Faith.”
As Giles left to go and speak to the realtor outside Faith began to move around the small one-bed again eyes searching out places where she could stow things like her weapons where they wouldn’t attract attention. She heard the door close as Giles left and paused in her inspection and decided to test her theory that Xander had been the one to tell Giles about her current dismal living conditions.
“Xander,” she called out remembering what Xander had said yesterday when he’d revealed what he was about them only having to call for him when they wanted to see or talk to him. A fact that was proven correct as a dense stream of white-blue orbs of light came through the wall before changing into the whitelighter. Despite having half expected it she still jumped as Xander finished materialising. “Damn it boy toy it’s still so freaky when you do that,” she exclaimed trying to recover from the shock of seeing someone she knew use a magical form of teleportation.
Xander smirked slightly. He had to admit he liked freaking the Slayers out when he abruptly orbed in somewhere, though of all the Scoobies so far only Willow seemed to have come somewhat to terms with what he was now. At least she had if the questions about his powers she’d been pestering him with on and off since midday yesterday was anything to go by, questions that he couldn’t always answer as there was a lot about being a whitelighter that he didn’t know yet. “Sorry Faith,” he replied.
“Your not though are you boy toy?”
“Nope,” Xander replied with that familiar cheeky grin of his firmly in place. Faith shook her head slightly failing to resist the impulse to smile at the response as well as feeling a bit more relaxed with the reality of Xander being a whitelighter. He might not be human anymore but he was clearly still the same old Xander. “So what was with the holler,” he asked breaking her out of her thoughts.
“Um,” Faith started to say her mind going blank for a few moments before she remembered. “Is this you’re doing?”
“Is what my doing,” Xander asked though he had a very good idea what it was Faith was asking. The fact that they were standing in one of the newest starter apartments in town – albeit one that was unfurnished at this time – was kind of a dead giveaway.
“You know what I mean. Did you tell G about me living at the motor lodge?”
“Because I was worried about you,” Xander admitted, “first and foremost you’re my friend Faith and I wasn’t about to let you continue to suffer in silence at the motor lodge as you know that place isn’t safe. You needed a place to call your own, somewhere where you could sit back and relax and not have to worry about a vamp barging in looking for lunch while you’re in the shower or something.
“I admit though I am surprised how quickly Giles has been able to rustle up this place that is if you’re going to move in.”
“Damned right I’m going to move in,” Faith replied before startling Xander by jumping forward and pulling him into an embrace. “You’re the first one since Laura to do something like this for me, thank you,” she said softly burying her head in his chest and feeling the tears come as the pain of Laura’s death the pain she’d been holding in refused to stay buried anymore. Why she didn’t know but whatever the reason she found herself sobbing gently into Xander’s chest.
“It’s okay let it out,” Xander said softly returning the embrace. Even a week ago he would have been inwardly gloating at having such a pretty girl in his arms but now he just offered the support that Faith seemed to both want and need. He wished he could do something to take away the pain that Faith was obviously feeling, pain that she’d buried for months, but there wasn’t anything he could do beyond give support as his ability to heal didn’t extend to emotional injuries.
After a few minutes Faith’s sobs eased and she just relaxed in Xander’s embrace, luxuriating in the way his presence seemed to make the violent impulses of the Slayer spirit within her calm. “Feeling better,” Xander asked softly.
“Five by five,” Faith replied pulling back and wiping around her eyes with one hand. “Sorry I didn’t mean to fall apart like that.”
“Nothing to be sorry about,” Xander answered, “you maybe a Slayer but you’re a human being at the same time. No one can be tough all the time.”
“No she’s not,” Xander replied, “I’ve see Buffy break down and cry a few times. Being a Slayer doesn’t make you any less human Faith and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you have feelings.”
“He’s right Faith,” Giles added surprising both as neither the slayer nor the whitelighter had heard him come back in. “I know Buffy may seem to be on a pedestal sometimes,” he continued as they turned to look at him, “and I will not deny she has been one of the best Slayers for sometime. But it’s only because she has a support team, to help her when she needs it even if she doesn’t know it at the time. If she was just on her own then she would have burned out long ago.”
“He isn’t wrong,” Xander added, “we’re here for you as well as Buffy. Me especially and not just because you’re a charge, you’re also my friend.”
“Thanks,” Faith said softly feeling genuinely touched by those words before looking over at Giles and changing the subject before she got all mushy. “So G how did it go with the realtor?”
“Almost all done,” Giles replied, “I just need to go over to the realtor’s office and fill in a bit of paperwork then this place is yours Faith. Don’t worry you don’t need to come down to the office; I’ll bring you the keys later. Then we can sort out getting this place furnished.”
“Okay,” Faith answered, “I better go back to the motor lodge then. Got to freshen up and start preparing for a night of slayage.”
“Well I can help you there at least with regards to getting back to your chalet,” Xander replied grinning before smiling at Giles as he put a hand on Faith’s shoulder. “See you back at the library G-Man.”
Without waiting for a reply he orbed both himself and Faith out. Giles shook his head as the two teenagers disappeared in a flurry of blue-white orbs, as it was another demonstration of how much things had changed in the last few weeks and how he’d failed Xander during the whole thing with the Sisterhood of Jhe. If he’d only stood up for the young man with Buffy then maybe Xander wouldn’t have had to face Jack O’Toole alone and ending up meeting his destiny to become a whitelighter as the Watchers Council knew enough about the Elders to know they would have been watching Xander for a long time, waiting for his death when they’d offer him the position of a whitelighter.
Mentally he shook himself and left the apartment to head down to the realtors office to fill in the necessary legal paperwork. It did no good to think about the past and what he should have done differently, it wouldn’t change anything. Xander had died and they were lucky that the Elders had let him come back to the Hellmouth to be Buffy, Willow and Faith’s whitelighter. Instead he should focus on the here and now and the meeting with the realtor. Honestly the things I sometimes have to do for a charge,
he thought with a smile as he headed back to his car.
Sunnydale Motor Lodge
The moment she finished materialising Faith stumbled and almost threw up as the sensation of orbing was incredibly disorientating, especially as she hadn’t been expecting it. “X next time can I have a bit of warning before you do that please,” she complained as she fought to keep her lunch in her stomach.
“Sorry are you alright?”
“Aside from feeling like I want to hurl yeah.”
“The nausea passes quickly,” Xander assured her, “after a few more orbs it won’t bother you at all anymore.” Faith made a face at the thought of Xander orbing her around a few more times until the nausea it caused passed. While she would admit it was a quick and convenient way to get around especially in an emergency she wouldn’t want to experience it too often.
“No offence boy toy but I’d prefer to walk everywhere,” she said, “orbing is just a bit too uncomfortable for my taste unless it’s important.”
“Okay no orbing you anywhere unless it’s an emergency got it,” Xander replied mentally rolling his eyes at Faith’s reluctance to be orbed anywhere. While he still had an awful lot to learn about being a whitelighter he’d already decided that of all his powers the ability to orb was undeniably the coolest ability. Who wouldn’t find the ability to instantaneously teleport yourself and up to seven hundred pounds of additional mass across vast distances really cool. Faith Lahane apparently,
he thought shaking his head so to speak in the privacy of his own mind as he knew better than to say it aloud – not if didn’t want to get a Slayer-powered elbow to the ribs that was.
“And don’t forget it,” Faith said smirking at the teen-turned-angel. “Now off with you, I want to have half hours kip and a shower before heading out for a night of slayage with B. Unless of course you fancy another quick tumble?” she added the last part with a flirting smirk.
“And let you toss me into the street in my underpants again? No thanks,” Xander replied smirking, “besides I don’t think a whitelighter is supposed to sleep with his or her charges.”
“Spoilsport,” Faith answered putting on her best disappointed pout only for Xander to ignore it.
“Sorry Faith that don’t work its got nothing on Willow’s resolve face.”
“Damn I’ll have to ask her for instructions.”
Xander chuckled slightly at the mental image of Faith trying to learn the secrets of the resolve face from Willow. Secrets the redheaded witch wouldn’t want to give up without a major fight as it was the only real way she had – short of using magic which never seemed to work quite right on him – of making him do what she wanted.
“Good luck,” he said, “Willow won’t part with those secrets easily.”
“I like a challenge.”
“I think you’ll find it’s an impossible one. I’ll leave you to rest and freshen up for tonight’s patrol. Just remember if anything happens, if you get hurt or anything just call for me and I’ll be there in the flick of an orb.”
“Don’t worry I won’t forget.”
“See you later,” Xander orbing out as he finished speaking leaving Faith alone. Immediately she moved over to the curtains and closed them, before slipping off her shoes and lying on the uncomfortable motel bed that she wouldn’t have to endure much longer thanks to the efforts of Xander and Giles. In truth she couldn’t wait to be in the position to move into the apartment and start turning it into a home of her own. She would just have to furnish the apartment first and she didn’t doubt she’d be able to get Buffy’s help in finding furniture as a style guru she was not, certainly not in the way that Buffy was. After a few moments she put those thoughts out of her head and closed her eyes before drifting into a sleep that for the first time since coming to Sunnydale weren’t dominated by nightmares of Laura’s death at the hands of Kakistos.
~~~///~~~Authors Note: For my fellow Brits who might not know what a realtor is it’s the American equivalent of an estate agent, thought I’d best point that out. I know people were expecting to see Wesley in this chapter but I ultimately decided not to include him this time, he’ll appear next time as my main goal in this chapter was to start showing the ripple effect Xander being a whitelighter is having on everyone and everything in Sunnydale.