Boondock Slayer

Boston Chaos

Author: Kosh_len <kosh_len[at]>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me.

Summary: Some times when God closes a door, you get thrown out a window.

Warning: Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)

Rating: PG-13 to PG-16; for mild cursing, violence, and demonic horror content... in other words a bit moregrown up then the series... but only cause I don't have to suck up to censors, also because I am following thebosses lead.

Author's Notes: A special thanks to Tenhawk for letting me play in his mucked up littleworld. Also thanks to my editor Shollinfor all her help in keeping my stuff straight.
Please excuse the formatting on this round, I was in a hurry to get this ball rolling, the next one will becleaner. Also bear with me, I work three jobs, and have a life, unlike Ten it seems sometimes, so myposts won't be a thousand a day like he seems to be doing. On with the show and I hope you enjoy this.


Pain was the first thing she registered. Her whole body hurt. Even her hair hurt. The last thing she remembered was cutting a path to the Hellmouth for Giles in that last attempt to close the portal. Then the pain and blackness overwhelmed her.

As she opened her eyes, her brain slowly registered two important things. One, the world hadn't ended. This was a good thing. No demons standing over her, no vamps waiting to suck the blood out of her, and more importantly, an ended world wouldn't have the blue sky she saw overhead. The second thing her brain registered was much more confusing. Gone were the blasted out remains of the old Sunnydale library, replaced with a blue sky and colder air. She blinked.

*California doesn't get cool like this,* she thought.

With a groan she sat up, taking in her surroundings. She appeared to be in an alley, filled with dark trash bags and dirty dumpsters. Looking around, she noticed the cars moving at the end of the alleyway. It must have rained recently, because she could hear the sound of wet tires as they moved up and down the streets. Struggling, she stood up, only to have her legs give out from underneath her.

Pain washed over her again, and she felt for a moment that she might pass out again. She felt like one big walking bruise. Even with Slayer healing, it was going to take days for her to heal. As her eyes came back into focus she noticed her clothing had also changed. She no longer had the tight leather pants she had been wearing earlier that morning; in their place were torn and faded blue jeans. Her skimpy top had been replaced with a flannel shirt that had seen better days, with a thick sports jacket over it.

*What the hell?* she wondered.

Using all her strength, she levered herself off the ground, using the alley wall as support. With hesitant movements, she made her way down to the mouth of the alley and looked out. What she saw surprised even her. Gone was the suburbia of Sunnydale, the quaint homes, small buildings, and graveyards galore. Instead she saw a city she had hoped to never visit again, a place of pain, turmoil, and some of her worst fears. Traffic flowed at a fast pace as her eyes took in the towers rising from the skyline. She could make out the baseball stadium in the distance.

"Fuck!" she said in a whisper. "How in the fuck did I get in Boston?"

Had she noticed, she would have realized she was near her old haunts, but her battered mind and body decided they had had enough. Faith groaned as her eyes rolled back in her head, and she passed out again.

When she came to, she realized three things this time. The first was simple; she was warm, unlike the previous time she had awoken. The second was that the smell of alley was gone, replaced with the smell of stale cigarettes. The third was the most worrying; she wasn't on the hard ground, but in a bed. With a groan, she attempted to open her eyes, letting them focus on the ceiling.

"Easy there, lass, don't go moving too much," said a voice with a Irish accent. "You've taken a fair beating, so take it slow."

Turning her head slightly, she saw a young man lounging in a chair next to the bed where she was lying. His brown hair pointed in every direction possible, and his rumpled clothes looked like they hadn't been washed in years. She could make out the faint mark of a tattoo on the left side of his neck as he turned his head towards her. It looked like a human figure of some sort, one she didn't recognize. Her eyes flicked around the room, taking in everything.

*A flop,* her brain registered. *Probably illegal. Stayed in a few like this the last time I was in Boston.*

The man took a drag off his cigarette and watched the girl look around the room. He could see the lines of fear around her eyes, and knew she was about to panic.

"Its all right, lass, I'm not going to hurt you. My brother and I found ye on the way back from work. We didn't see the guy that did the damage to ye, but we sure as hell weren't going to leave you in that alley," said the man. "Ye got a name?"

"Faith," she said as she struggled to sit up on her elbows. It was an effort but she finally got herself into a sitting position. "Where am I?" she asked.

"Our palace. Not much, but me brother and I call it home," said the Irishman as the door to the apartment opened.

Faith instantly tensed up, waiting to see what was coming through the door. The Irishman noticed the movement and stood to assure her.

"It's all right, lass, it's just me brother," he grinned. "Which reminds me. I'm Conner, and this is my brother Murphy."

Murphy struggled through the door with two paper bags, filled with what looked like beer and some food.

"Ye gonna be an arse, or ye gonna help me with this stuff?" said Murphy with an equally large grin. Turning to Faith, he said, "Most people call me Murph. Since I know this charmer here ain't thought of it, would you like something to drink?"

"Lay off, man, she just woke up," said Conner as he playfully hit his brother on the shoulder.

Faith watched as the two brothers harassed each other around the apartment, tossing things at each other, and basically acting like two big kids. Finally things settled down and the two men sat down in chairs next to the bed.

"Did you happen to see who hurt you, lass?" asked Conner in a quiet voice.

Faith could only shake her head - she hadn't even figured out how she got to Boston, let alone what was going on. She wondered where Xander and Giles were - were they looking for her? What had happened back at the Hellmouth?

The two men watched the emotions playing across Faith's face as she sat on the bed. The knew something bad had happened, but they needed to know a bit more before the decided whether they would get involved or let the police handle it. Things had been getting weird in Boston lately - word on the street was, some bad things were coming down. Even the police were a bit on the scared side.

Faith moved to the edge of the bed and looked around the room.

"You boys got a little girls' room around here?" she asked in a quiet voice. She needed some time to think by herself.

With some help from the men, Faith made her way to their tiny bathroom. As she closed the door, shutting herself off from the world, she took a deep and painful breath. Moving over to the sink, she made eye contact with herself in the mirror and almost fainted again. The face she saw in the mirror was one she not had seen in a long time. Before her stood not the woman she knew she was, but someone from long ago. In the mirror, looking back, was not Faith, but Dana, the girl she used to be.

With a tentative hand Faith slowly reached up towards her chin, and watched amazed as the face in the mirror echoed her movements. With slow motions she ran her hand around her face, feeling the curves of her adolescent jaw line. Her body began to shake as realization set in, her legs barely holding her up.

She was Dana again. She couldn't be Dana. Dana had died the same day she was told her parents had been killed. Born from those ashes was Faith. Faith had stood in battle against the worst of foes, facing down Tiamat herself. Faith had stood with both the darkness and the light, and emerged a better person. As she looked in the mirror, Faith could only think one thing.

<What the hell is going on!!!!> her brain screamed.

Her shaking increased, and her legs finally gave out. With a moan, she sank to the floor of the dirty bathroom. Steadily the moan turned into a sob, and for the first time in many years, Faith cried.

<Am I going crazy?> she thought. <Was everything a dream? Vampires, demons, slaying. Was it all a dream?>

Wrapping her arms around herself, she rocked back and forth on the dirty floor, trying to come to grips with reality. If it wasn't a dream, something really freaky was going on, but if it had been a dream then maybe it meant her folks were truly dead. With another sob, she pulled herself into a tighter ball.

"Are ye all right, lass?" a voice asked from the other side of the door.

"Yah, just give me a minute," she said in a quiet voice. As she struggled to pull herself off the floor, she continued to think.

<What the hell am I going to do now?>

Gazing in the mirror, she examined the face again. Dana stared back at her, fear in the young girl's eyes. Fear Faith knew she shouldn't be feeling, but did anyway.

With a sigh, she finished up in the bathroom, steeling herself for the questions she knew the boys would ask.

Still shaking a little, Faith moved to the door, and cracked it open. Taking a deep breath, she stepped back into the main room, ready to face what was coming.

Conner and Murph both moved to help Faith back to the bed as she slipped out of the bathroom. Concern was etched into their faces. As she settled down on the bed, she looked hard at the two brothers.

Murph, she noted, had a tattoo like his brother's on his neck, just on the opposite side. Both were lanky, and it seemed as if neither owned a comb. Hanging from their necks were rosary beads, with an old- looking cross dangling at the bottom of each necklace. Neither man spoke; both simply watched Faith and waited.

Faith pulled her legs up close to her body again, and peered over her knees at the men. Several times she started to talk, only to stop, trying to figure out what to tell them. Nothing was making sense in her mind.

"Look, lass," Conner said after a few minutes. "We're not going to push. Ye want to talk, we'll listen. Hell, we'll help if ye want. When you're ready to talk, we'll be here."

Murph nodded, got up from the chair and moved over to the kitchen area.

Conner grinned and moved away as well, giving the young girl some space. Settling onto the couch, he picked up a newspaper and started glancing through it.

"Ye want some soup or something, Faith?" asked Murph from the kitchen.

Faith shook her head and continued to stare into space, still trying to fathom what was happening.

Conner continued to read the paper, muttering about jobs in Boston. Racket from the kitchen continued, pausing only for a moment as a beer can sailed through the air, hitting Conner square in the head. With a cry of annoyance, Conner sprang toward the kitchen, the newspaper fluttering through the air and landing on the bed. Faith's eyes tracked the paper's flight, watching as it settled on the bed. The words filtered through her already strained mind, neurons firing madly as she read the top of the page.

August 26, 1995.

With a flurry of motion Faith sprang on the paper, taking in the words on the page. This had to be another part of the dream, it had to be. If it was right, she'd only been on the street a month or so. This couldn't be right. Pulling her legs to her body again, she began to rock, her mind whirling on what was going on.

Conner and Murph watched her from the kitchen with concern. They both knew something was eating the lass, but there was nothing either of them could do.

"Should we take her to the police station?" Murph asked in Russian.

"She's got to be a runaway or something."

"Aye, she's running from something, but who knows what," Conner replied in the same tongue. "Could even be one of them."

For two days, Faith sat and stared off into space, barely sleeping or talking. Conner and Murphy had taken turns watching over the young girl, not quite sure what to expect from their stray. They had quietly asked around the neighborhood, seeing if anyone had seen or heard of Faith before. None had, but then most people seldom noticed the runaways and vagrants on the streets.

Wednesday finally arrived, with little change out of Faith. Patience was starting to run thin around the small apartment, and it was Murphy who finally snapped. "Damn it, lass, you've got to snap out of it! We know something bad has happened, but we can't help until ye tell us!"

"Easy there, Murph," said Conner, trying to calm the situation down. "He's right though, lass, you need to start moving forward."

Faith's eyes flickered toward the two men, scrutinizing their faces, trying to sense a trap or a lie. A lone tear rolled down her cheek, joining the others on her shirt. She still hadn't decided if it had all been a bad dream or not. Two days of thought had brought her no closer to understanding what had happened.

"Tell ye what. You need to get out of this place for a bit. Might help clear your head. Conner and I have got to go to church here for a few - why don't ye join us?" Murphy asked.

Faith shivered and closed her eyes for a moment. She knew she had to move on. She couldn't hide from the world forever. Opening her eyes, she looked at the two men and nodded. Her muscles screamed as she unfolded herself from the position she had been in. The men moved about the apartment in preparation, watching the girl out of the corner of their eyes.

Faith struggled for a moment as she put on her coat, her muscles aching and the bruises on her body stretching. Finally she settled the coat on her shoulders and looked at the men expectantly. Out of habit she looked around for a stake, but saw none. With a sigh she moved toward the door.

Moving out of the building, the men took up positions on each side of Faith. Faith frowned when she noticed and raised an eyebrow.

"It's a rough neighborhood," said Conner with a grin.

After a short subway ride, the three of them wound up in front of the church. The men smiled and held the doors to the church open for the girl.

"Gentlemen to the end, I see," said Faith with a smirk.

The church was lightly attended, but Faith could see the eyes of the congregation follow the two men. With practiced motions the two men settled into a pew and knelt. Faith watched the people around her go through the movements of religion. Until recently, she hadn't given religion much thought. Xander had definitely changed that perspective. Meeting God had changed the view as well.

<If it was all real,> she mused.

Giving a quick prayer as well, Faith followed the men through the motions. The service seemed to flow pretty well, but Faith didn't pay much attention to it. The Monsignor's voice just seemed to drone on, echoing off the walls of the cathedral. It was an act of sheer willpower that kept Faith awake throughout the sermon. The men seemed wrapped up in the priest's words, continuing their prayers.

Faith was surprised when Conner and Murphy suddenly stood up and moved down the aisle. Her puzzlement increased to a frown when the men walked past the Monsignor to the altar, kneeling to pray again before the crucifix. Each man leaned over to kiss the feet of Christ, then stood and walked back out, motioning to Faith that it was time to go. As Faith joined them, she realized the priest had never batted an eye or paused in his sermon.

"Think he'll ever get it?" asked Murph.

"Sooner or later," grinned Conner.

They took their time on the walk back. Faith felt her spirits had risen a bit as she watched the two men play and banter back and forth. She knew they were doing it to cheer her up, and in a way she was glad. She almost imagined this was what it was like having older siblings.

The peace of the evening was suddenly shattered with a scream. Somewhere in the dark, a woman cried out. Faith's reaction was based on instinct alone. She ran. Straight toward the sound. She could hear the footsteps of Conner and Murphy right behind her, but she didn't even pause to look back.

A second scream filled the night, and Faith and the men slowed their steps as they walked into the darkness of an alley. Faith's instincts were screaming at her, the back of her mind warning her of trouble, trouble she knew near and dear. At the back of the alley they saw the figures. One was lying on the ground, unmoving. Hunched over the figure was another, dressed in dark clothing.

"What the fuck!" cried Murphy.

The dark figure had turned toward them. Something dripped from its mouth. Conner and Murphy could only stare as the figure stood, moving into a tiny bit of light coming down from an old light. The brains of the men stalled as they tried to come to grips with what stood before them.

It looked like a man, if you excluded the ridges running up its forehead, and the sharp pointy teeth in its mouth. Golden eyes regarded the three standing in the alley, sizing them up.

"Ah, dessert," said the thing, its eyes fixed on Faith.

"Faith, run! Now!" screamed Conner as he attempted to move in front of Faith.

His cries fell on deaf ears as Faith did run. Straight towards the nightmare. Murphy tried grabbing the girl as she barreled down the alley, his fingers narrowly missing her arm as she sprang forward.

Faith's mind was working on overdrive. Now, now she wasn't crazy. It wasn't a dream, but this nightmare was real. Her blood pounded in her ears as she headed toward the creature. An evil grin spread across her face as she neared the creature.

"Ahhh, self-service. Gotta love the modern age," said the monster.

"Serve this, asshole!" grinned Faith as she sprang on the creature. Hands and feet flew around the monster. With a shove the figure tossed the girl back toward the men.

"Who are you!?!" the monster screamed as it struggled to its feet.

Faith struck a pose, hand on her hip, head cocked. An evil grin was on her face.

"Had you asked me yesterday, I wouldn.t have been able to tell you," said the young woman. "Now, I know who I am." The grin grew larger and more evil. "I'm the Slayer. Nice knowing you. Let's do this."

With that, Faith sprang back into battle. This was something she knew. She might be in Dana's body, but this was her calling. She was the Slayer.

And the vampire never stood a chance.

August 26th, 1995

Dust settled slowly onto the ground like snow. The twins could only stand in amazement. Never before had they seen a fight like that. It almost seemed one-sided. The creature had never stood a chance - a furious Faith had seen to that. With arms and legs moving faster than light itself, she decimated the monster. Pent-up aggression, confusion, and pain were unleashed like a thunderstorm on the being. Had they not seen the still body of a woman on the ground with her throat torn out, they might have felt sorry for the creature.

As the dust dropped to the ground, they could see a figure emerge from the darkness. Each man tensed as the smaller figure walked toward them. The figure stepped into the light, and the men beheld the face of a grinning young girl.

"Now that's what I'm talking about," said Faith with a smile.

"WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT THING!?" screamed Murphy at the top of his lungs.

Cocking her head to look up at Murph, Faith's grin only got wider.

"Vampire," she said casually, dusting off her clothing.

In unison, both men looked at each other, then at the girl, then at each other. Eyebrows were raised at the same time, and it was almost as if unspoken conversation was going on between the two. Faith watched the interaction with an amused look. She was still on guard, her senses tingling a bit, like she was being watched, but she didn't feel any vampires nearby.

"Vampire?" questioned Conner, disbelief written on his face.

"Yup," said Faith with a smirk.

With a shrug, Conner moved past the girl to check the body lying on the ground. It was obvious she was dead; her throat had been torn out. Glassy eyes stared up into the sky, fear carved forever on her face. Pulling his cross out from beneath his shirt, Conner began to pray over the body.

"Umm, I hate to be rude and all, but we should really split. Being caught here with this body will so not be a good thing," said Faith as she watched the actions of the two men.

"Just give us a minute, lass, then we'll go," replied Murphy, moving to kneel beside the woman's body. The brothers finished their prayer and crossed themselves in unison.

Sirens could he heard in the distance as the three moved out of the vicinity. Ducking through alleys and backstreets, the three finally made their way back to the apartment. Adrenaline and fear we slowly catching up with all of them as they made their way through the door. Faith noticed her hands were beginning to shake as she settled down into a chair. Realization struck her.

She was the Slayer. There was no doubt now. So what the hell had happened?

"Faith," began Conner as he sat down in a chair next to her. "Ye couldn't explain a bit more of what the hell just happened, could ye?"

With a sigh, she gazed at the two brothers, weighing how much to tell them. In the back of her mind, she wished Giles was there.

"It goes like this guys, the world is older..."

London, England
August 27th, 1995

"What do you mean, the Slayer is in Boston? I just got off the phone with Bothwell no more than two hours ago. The Slayer is in Madrid dealing with a Grall demon!" Quentin Travers screamed into the phone. "What? Someone is claiming to be the Slayer in Boston?!? She what?!? You're joking? But that's impossible! Fine, but get me more details!"

With a crashing noise the phone flew across the room and into a wall. Guards entered the room cautiously only to see a furious Quentin Travers standing in the center of the room.

"Is there a problem, sir?" asked one of the guards nervously.

A calm mask slowly fell across Travers' face as he turned to regard the men standing in his office.

"No, nothing is wrong, Higgins. If you will excuse me, I need to go talk to the council," said Travers as he brushed past the guards.

August 27th, 1995

The snores of the two men filled the air in the little apartment. Faith sat in a small window staring out at the stars. She had told them, not everything, but some of what was going on. Even she didn't quite understand how or why she had been thrown back in time. Again she wished Giles was around to answer her questions. With a blink, she realized something. Giles was around, just in England. And then something finally dawned on her. Her parents WERE alive.

Her blood pounded in her ears as comprehension sank in. She hadn't given it much thought since the fight, her parents were alive, she could be with them if she returned to the boarding school, once they came out of hiding. Hell, she could call Uncle Spence right now. But.

She paused. It would put them in even more danger. Yeah, sure they were spies and all, but they would still be in danger. What could she do? Xander wasn't an option, he would still just be a kid right now. B wasn't even a Slayer yet. Linda wouldn't be a Watcher yet for a while. What was she going to do?

Boston had a problem, it appeared, but there was no telling how bad it was. She'd have to patrol a bit to see just how bad. She glanced at the beds where the two men slept. Now she just had to figure out how to get past those two so she could patrol. Stakes were also going to be required. Mentally she made a list of things she would need. She was going to need a plan, and somehow she didn't see the brothers cooperating with it.

Faith moved from the window and settled onto the couch and her nest of blankets. One thing was certain in her mind. When she figured out what was going on, someone was getting their ass kicked. With a sigh, she settled into her blankets and fell asleep

August 28th, 1995
Boston PD

"Greenly, what have you got for me?" bellowed the Chief as the detective entered the squad room.

Greenly grimaced, his back to the Chief. He hated days like this. Mustering his nerve and sinking beneath the mask he had built around himself, he turned around to face his boss.

"You see, it's like this, boss," he began. "The way I see it, what we got here is a dog attack, a huge frickin' dog, you know like one of them fuckin' Irish wolf things, got loose from some yuppie's condo and attacked this poor girl. Yeah, yeah, ripped her throat right out. I can see more of these in the future."

The Chief frowned. He was used to the detective - his ideas were always off the wall. In the back of his mind he wondered why he kept Greenly around. Good case turnover if it wasn't a bizarro type case.

"Get me more, Greenly. I want whoever's responsible!" growled the Chief.

With a dumb look on his face, Greenly nodded. He watched the Chief's retreating back as he moved deeper into the squad room and sighed. He hated acting like this. It was his job though. Picking up the phone, he dialed a number and spoke some words. Waiting a moment, he heard a voice on the other end.

"Travers, what have you got for me?"

Sucking in a breath, Greenly realized he had his boss's boss on the line. Pausing for moment, he gathered his thoughts.

"Crime scene data indicates that dust found on site was that of a corpse approximately 85 years old," the detective said, speaking quickly and quietly. "The victim was only dead minutes before investigators arrived on scene. Whoever took the perp down did it fast and knew what they were doing."

The line went silent for a moment.

"You're sure you saw a young girl and heard the word Slayer?" said Travers.

"Positive, sir," replied Greenly.

"Keep your ear to the ground then, boy. As I said before, we need more data. I need to know who this girl is, claiming to be a Slayer. Find her! Yesterday!" responded Travers before he hung the phone up.

With a sigh, Greenly hung the phone up. Shaking his head, he returned to his work on the case file. He hated days like this.

August 28th, 1995
MacManus Apartment

Faith's assumption from the night before had been right on the money. The argument had started shortly after the two men had returned from work and discovered her making stakes.

"Lass, what do ye think yer doing?" asked Conner as he came through the door.

Faith shook her head. Protection mode at its finest.

"Duh. Making stakes, what do you think I'm doing?" she replied, not even looking up from where she was sharpening a stake. "I've got a job to do, ya know?"

"Listen Faith, ye can't be serious about this. Yeah, last night ye got lucky, but ye can't be serious about going out again," started Murphy. "I mean, we cou-"

"Listen, unless you two got a memo that was supposed to come to me stating I'm not the chosen one any more, I've got a job to do," Faith fired back, cutting the speech off before it began. "Police aren't going to help, they're calling it a dog attack."

Words and tempers began to flare. As afternoon turned to twilight, the moods only got worse. Faith had steadily tried to ignore the two brothers, settling into her task. The knife she had borrowed from Conner cut through wood like butter. She already had several stakes made when the mood shifted yet again.

"Have ye lost yer bleedin' mind?" screamed Murphy from the other side of the room.

The two brothers had been deep in conversation in some language Faith didn't recognize. She had wondered if they had been over there plotting a way to keep her in the apartment until dawn.

"If she's hellbent to go out, Murph, I'll go with her," stated Conner. Holding up a hand to silence his brother, he continued. "Ye can stay here, but I'm not letting that wee slip of a girl go out by herself."

Faith's head jerked up. Anger flared and she saw red. Before Conner could even turn around, Faith was on him like a rocket. Grabbing him by the collar, Faith did something Conner couldn't even imagine. She picked him up and tossed him across the room. Conner hit the wall upside-down, and then slid down it, finally landing in a heap at the bottom of the wall.

Murphy's eyes were wide as saucers as he watched Faith storm across the room, grab his brother by the collar and drag him back to the seat he had just departed. Again she picked him up, and with a huge amount of force, plopped Conner back into the chair.

"Now, for the last time, what part of 'I'm the Chosen One' did you miss? Do you think an average 'wee slip of a girl' could throw your ass across the room?" Faith questioned. Storming back to where her pile of stakes was she sat back down and began to whittle again, she ignored the two men completely.

"I must say, your way with women is improving, Conner," said Murphy, his eyes still wide.

Conner just moaned from his chair.

When darkness arrived, Faith said no words to either of the men, she simply looked out the window, picked up her stakes and left. Shaking their heads, the two brothers picked up their coats and stepped out the door to follow her. The hallway was empty.

"What the hell?" Murphy asked as he looked up and down the hallway.

"Fuck, you go that way, I'll go this way, meet at the entrance," cried Conner as he bolted down the hallway.

Faith watched from her perch above the door of the apartment, grinning. Folding herself out of the rafters, she dropped quietly to the ground. Shaking her head, she moved silently down the hallway and out into the night, away from the directions the two men had headed.

August 29th, 1995

The cool wind brushed across her face as she stalked through the night. Her senses were aware, her vision clear, and she was on full alert. She hadn't seen them yet, but she knew her prey was out there somewhere in the darkness.

Hunting in the city was different that hunting in Sunnydale. For one, there aren't as many graveyards. Secondly with all the older buildings, subways, and other hiding places, finding vampires was actually a hard thing to do. Unless you know where they live, you can't find them till its too late. She had given some thought of hitting a couple of the vampire bars she knew of in the area, but in the present 13 year old body Faith felt it wasn't the best of plans. Yes she knew she was the slayer, with the full package, she knew she was going to have to work to get her body back up to speed.

Like most things, Faith didn't have to go far to find the trouble she was looking for. Shortly after the clock struck midnight, she heard the scream she had been waiting for.

A couple ran down the street, chased by a pack of thugs. Faith watched from a perch nearby, watching as the couple rushed down the street, trying to get away from the 6 gang looking men. Her Slayer senses told her they were vampires. As the couple ran beneath Faith's perch, she dropped down to the ground in front of the men. The couple never paused, and never noticed the young woman as the fled, trying desperately to get away from the monsters that chased them.

The six men came to a halt as the girl dropped to the ground. A vampire with sandy brown hair looked the girl up and down. What he saw didn't impress him.

"What have we got here? A wanna be hero. Tsk tsk," said the vampire. "Go get the couple!" he ordered, pointing to 4 of the vampires.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that," said Faith with a grin. Before any of the vampires could react, two stakes flew through the air, imbedding themselves in the chests of two of the vampires. Both vamps screamed as they disintegrated to dust.

As the dust fell to the ground, the leader of the pack looked on in disbelief. Faith twirled two more stakes in her hands, watching her prey as they tried to figure out how to deal with her. One of the vampires rushed forward to grab her, only to be met with a spin kick to the face, knocking him back into his friends. With an almost casual flick, Faith tossed a stake into his chest, and yet again, dust rained down.

<Three down, three to go> mused Faith.

Vampires, never known for tactical skills, caught Faith off guard as all three vampires charged her at once. Arms and legs flew through the air as Faith tried her best to keep the vampires at bay. A stake slashed in the night and one of the vampires departed, dust falling like snow.

It hadn't been enough though, they had her and she knew it. Her arms were pinned to her chest, in what medical professionals called the safety hold. It was designed to keep her pinned, and nothing she could do would get her out of it.

The leader moved in front of Faith, looking at the struggling girl.

"You cost me four childe tonight, girl. I should kill you painfully for that. Instead, I think I will turn you," said the leader with a feral grin. His face slowly morphed into a demonic visage, and he move close to Faith. His prey struggled even harder now, trying in vain to get away.

Faith's eyes widened as the leader's head suddenly vanished. A thunder crack filled the night, surprising both the remaining vampire and Faith. Faith's eyes widened more as the body vanished in a cloud of dust, and Conner and Murphy stepped out of the shadows, each holding pump action shotguns.

"See, I told you Murph, blow their heads off, and they should fall apart. Always works in the movies," grinned Conner.

"Those are zombies, fool," replied Murphy with an equally sadistic grin.

The appearance of the two men was enough to shock the remaining vampire, who suddenly dropped Faith and started to run. Faith was on him like a thunderstorm, pummeling the vampire to the ground with a quick succession of hits and kicks. With a thud, the vampire landed on the ground, Faith straddling the vampire, stake pointed at its chest.

"Hi. We need to talk," said Faith as she blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Here's the deal. I'm the Slayer, and you, well your dead. But…"

She paused and smile at the vampire.

"Now, if you tell me what I want to know, I won't stake you."

The vampire's eyes got wipe, and he nodded. He had no urge to join his friends in the afterlife.

"Right, with that said, where are the local haunts, how many, and who's in charge?" Faith asked, taking in all the answers.

Faith's eyes got wide as her final question was answered.

"A vamp by the name of Trick is in charge. He's running everything," said the vampire.

Faith began to shiver. Where Trick was Kakistos wasn't far behind. Her legs felt weak as memories of her last encounter with Kakistos filled her mind. Struggling to stand, she tossed the stake to Murphy, who simply smiled at her. With a quick motion, he ended the vampires unlife.

Trick was in town. This changed things completely.

August 28th, 1995

As the dust settled onto the ground, the reality and surrealistic part of the situation settled in. Faith's eyes flashed and she whirled on where the two men stood, smug looks on their faces.

"What the fuck were you thinking?" she screamed. "You could have killed me with those shotguns!"

Both men were taken aback by the sudden change in Faith's mood. Backing up slowly from the small raging fury in front of them, they both secretly wondered if they were going to need to use the weapons on her.

"You two nutballs could have killed me with those scatter guns. You could have at least had the common sense God gave a potato to use a sabot or wadcutter in the damn thing. But noooooo, you have to fucking use duck shot. And what fucking movie gave you that idea of shooting the head off a vampire?" she demanded.

Conner and Murphy had continued their retreat, only to find their backs to a wall, literally. Unable to retreat from the tiny angry form named Faith any further, they began to try to placate the young woman.

"Night of the Living Dead," began Conner, only to be cut off by another round of screaming.

"Argh! Those are zombies! You hack those to pieces and then burn them! GAH!" yelled Faith before she stormed off into the night.

The two men stood against the wall for a moment as the small form stomped off down the alley mumbling to herself.

"Conner?" questioned Murphy as he regained his voice.

"Ya, Murph?" responded his twin.

"Didn't we save her life?" asked Murphy.

"Ya, Murph," Conner repeated.

"So why are we getting yelled at?" asked Murphy.

"Dunno, Murph," responded Conner before pushing off the wall and following Faith. "She'll calm down and tell us eventually, I imagine."

The two men caught up with Faith a block or so down the way. She had quit mumbling finally, and seemed to be back on the prowl. Her eyes swept back and forth, in an almost predatory way. No one spoke; Conner and Murphy just let her do her thing for the moment.

August 29th, 1995

As the sun crested the horizon, the weary pack of hunters returned to the apartment. Conversation had been light throughout the rest of the evening. They had only encountered one more vampire, and the angry Slayer had taken it down without much trouble. Sleep quickly overcame the hunters, and Faith awoke to find the two men gone to their job.

She slipped out of the apartment, catching a quick subway ride down into the center of Boston. Stepping off the train, Faith quickly made her way into the university district, her eyes wandering across the names of the stores as she passed them. She had been in the area with Linda several times, but she could barely remember the name of the store she was searching for. Finally, off a small side street, she found what she was after, Weckstein's Rare Books.

A bell jingled as Faith made her way into the old shop. An old man behind the counter peered at the teen as she stepped into the store. He looked over the top of his glasses at Faith, disdain behind his eyes. Faith ignored the stare and moved silently into the stacks. Memories filled her mind as she remembered afternoons spent here with Linda, complaining nonstop about the boring books, wondering when she could get back to slaying.

Faith chuckled as she entered the occult area of the bookstore. My, how times changed. Boytoy had changed some of that perception. Intel, planning, and firepower now seemed essential. Miss Parker had taught her more.

Faith's eyes flicked across the older books, her fingers running across the spines of the aging leather-bound tomes. She wasn't sure what she was looking for yet, but inside she knew she would know it when she spotted it. So intent was Faith on her search, she never noticed the old man sneaking up on her.

"Can I help you, miss, or are you just looking for something to steal?" the proprietor growled.

Faith whirled around, caught off guard. She hadn't heard the man approach, which surprised her. She studied the old man for a moment before she answered. Intelligence was hidden behind his eyes, saddled with cunning. She realized she might not know what she was looking for, but he might.

"Actually, I am looking for something," Faith said with a smile. She was rewarded with a blink from the old man. "I'm either looking for 'Vampyr' or an English translation of 'Prophetica del Luna.'"

The old man's eyes grew wide, and he studied the young woman before him. He could see age behind her eyes, beyond the age her body appeared. Her stance indicated she was a scrapper to begin with, but if she was looking for those books, then... he paused his thought.

"Those are mighty dangerous books, miss. Not for your average reader. What do you want with them?" questioned the old man, as he peered over his glasses at Faith.

"If you really want to know, information," she stated plainly. "I'm trying to see if there were any prophecies about the area I should know about before I start planning my assault."

"Assault?" stammered the old man.

The man peered up front for a moment to the counter. He nodded to a younger man standing behind the counter. Faith hadn't noticed him move to the front of the store.

<Getting sloppy, Faith,> she scolded herself.

"Come with me, miss," stated the old man, his tone brooking no excuse.

She followed the man into the rear of the store and through a door. Inside was another library, with a large table in the center of the room. Books rose all the way to the ceiling. Faith smiled as she remembered the room from her time spent with Linda. This was the spot she had been looking for. Not the cheap mass-market occult stuff out in the main store, but these books. These books radiated power and knowledge.

The old man looked long and hard at Faith. He seemed almost to be weighing her out. With a sigh, he sat down in one of the tall chairs around the table and motioned Faith to sit in one near him.

"I'm Ezra Weckstein. My family has run this store for almost a century. We have collected these books for years now. It isn't a commonly known collection, so I ask, how do you come to know about it?" questioned the old man.

"A friend of mine used to come here for some of her research," responded Faith.

"Does this 'friend' have a name?" asked Ezra.

Faith shook her head and looked at the floor. Her eyes grew distant for a moment. She couldn't mention Linda's name, for Linda hadn't been here yet. And more to the point, that Linda, for all intents and purposes, was dead.

"She had a name, but it doesn't matter now, she's dead," answered Faith in a quiet voice.

Ezra studied Faith for a long moment. Old sadness lived in the young girl's eyes. Sadness born of lost friends and associates, sadness born of something he hadn't seen in almost 50 years. The sadness of war.

"Aren't you young to be hunting vampires?" said the old man with a scowl. "Shouldn't you be out dating, listening to rap music, or going to school?"

Faith shot up out of the chair, rage in her eyes. She stared long and hard at the old man before beginning her rant.

"Listen here, old man, I've been fighting vampires for almost three years. I don't like it, but it's something that has got to be done. It's a war out there, one I was chosen to fight in, and one I am not backing down from! So either let me look at the fucking books I need or send me elsewhere!"

The man looked on at Faith as she ranted at him. Fear and pain had been replaced with steel and grit. He smiled at Faith, and relished in the confusion that crossed the girl's face. He chuckled a bit as he slowly applauded at her.

"You have backbone, I see. Now I know why God has called you to this fight. Sit. Sit," said Ezra, motioning for Faith to sit back down. "You have come to the right place for this information, and I will give it to you. My grandson will watch the front of the store while we talk. Do you have a name?"

August 29th, 1995
McManus Apartment

"Where the hell is she at?" asked Conner for the third time since arriving home and finding Faith gone.

"Bloody hell, Conner, do I look like I know?" Murphy answered in an exasperated tone. "All the note said was, she went out to get some information, and she'll be back by dark."

Sighing, Conner continued to pace the apartment. Murphy rolled his eyes and went back to the TV and his beer. Taking a drag off his cigarette, he wondered again why he and Conner had taken Faith in. Sure, they didn't mind helping someone in trouble, but helping Faith seemed to go beyond that - something had clicked when they found the girl. It was like someone was playing a cosmic game with them or something.

Emptying his can, he lobbed it at his brother, bouncing it off the man's head. "Stop yer fuckin' pacing. Yer drivin' me nuts. Set yer arse down!"

August 29th, 1995
Weckstein's Books

Faith's eyes were beginning to blur as she looked through yet another book. Nothing horrible had shown up, much to her relief. With a sigh she pushed the old tome away, and stood and stretched. Ezra smiled at her from over the top of the book he was reading.

"I'm surprised, most children your age would never spend time researching like this, let alone have the knowledge to know what to look for," said Ezra as he watched the girl straighten herself out. "Practice. My friends and I did this from time to time. Can I ask a question?" responded Faith as she settled back down into her chair.

The old man nodded and Faith took a breath, unsure how to approach the topic. With a resigned sigh, she simply began.

"Why are you helping me?" she asked.

Ezra stopped his reading and peered over his glasses at the young woman before him. Absently rubbing his wrist, he began.

"Monsters come in many forms, girl. Some are altogether human. Once, long ago, a blind eye was turned to one such monster, and millions died, including many in my family. Eventually the monster was defeated, but at a great cost. My family came to America, those who had survived. We moved here to join with some cousins who had come to America much earlier."

Taking off his glasses, he began to clean them. The move reminded Faith of Giles.

"It wasn't long after we had come here that my sister disappeared. For many days we looked for her, but not even the police could find her. After several days her body was discovered, her throat torn out, and not a drop of blood left in her body.

"She had survived one type of monster, only to be killed by another. It was many days later that a young girl, much like yourself, came to me and told me the monster that had killed my sister was dead. I questioned her and she told me the truth, that a vampire had taken her life. It was on that day that I joined the Cause. It is known among certain circles that I will help hunters in the area, giving them information as I can."

Placing his glasses back on, Ezra smiled at Faith.

"Does that answer your question?" he asked.

Nodding at the old man, Faith pulled her book close and began thumbing through it again.

Silence filled the room, with only the occasional sound of turning pages. Every now and then Ezra would mumble and then continue with his reading. Faith's eyes roamed from page to page, trying to see if anything might point to what Trick and Kakistos were up to.

"Now this is odd. I have looked through this book several times, but I have never seen this passage before," Ezra broke the silence as he peered at a tome.

Coming up behind him, she peered over his shoulder, looking at the text. Instantly she realized she wouldn't be any help, since she couldn't read the page.

"What's it say?" asked Faith.

"It's a prophecy of some sort, but one I've never seen before. I recognize some of the things it alludes to, but not the meaning," began the old man.

"And it shall come to pass, that the Dark Slayer shall be joined by two rogue Saints, thus forming a Trinity. Behind them will come the Fianna, and they will cleanse the old city. The horns of the hunt shall be sounded, and the Dark Slayer, lost in time, will begin to chase her prey. She shall be given answers before her true trial begins, and these answers will place her onto a path leading to home."

Faith paled. She had been looking for information, but she had never expected anything like this. Shaking she sat back down in her chair, her mind whirling. This was just getting weirder.

From the shadows, a figure watched. He grinned as he watched emotions play across the girl's face. The figure had barely arrived just before Faith had and slipped the prophecy into the book. Silently, he sighed. He hated dealing with wildcards. She was no better than the Harris boy, not as dangerous though, he mused. Shaking his head, he melted into the darkness behind him.

The sun had just started to set as Faith made her way back to the apartment. Both men started to question her, but the shocked look on her face stopped them. No words were said as Faith gathered her hunting supplies. Turning toward the door, she waited for the two men to join her. She knew they would just try to track her down again tonight if she tried to slip away.

It didn't take long for them to find their first vampire. It never stood a chance. History shows many examples of people performing tremendous feats of strength and skill when pressed to the extreme, but history has never recorded what a pissed-off slayer running on fear and confusion can do.

Two watchers stood in the shadows, observing as Faith decimated the vampire. With stunned looks on their faces, Conner and Murphy could only watch in wonder as she destroyed the creature.

"Her form seems to be improving, don't ye think, Murphy?" asked Conner.

"Aye, that spin kick was mighty," grinned Murphy as they watched the girl.

Both men let out a small groan as Faith delivered a kick straight to the beast's nether regions.

"And that was for the stupid prophecy!" Faith screamed at the vampire as she returned to the bashing.

"Do ye get the idea she's taking something out on the poor thing?" asked Murphy.

Nodding, Conner moved closer to the fight. Without pause, he took out the stake Faith had given him earlier and hurled it into the vampire's chest, dusting it.

Faith whirled on Conner with anger in her eyes. She picked him up by the collar.

"What the hell did you do that for?" growled Faith, staring straight into the man's eyes.

"I put it out of its misery. Ye were playing with it," spat Conner back.

Faith shook her head and tossed Conner to the ground. Shaking, she let out a yell into the night and fell to her knees with a sob.

From his spot on the ground, Conner could see her tears. He felt his brother come to stand next to him. With Murphy's help he got up from the ground and moved to where Faith knelt.

"Ye want to tell us what's wrong?" asked Conner as he squatted down next to Faith.

"Destiny. That's what's wrong. I'm fucking sick of being in this cosmic game. I don't even know why I'm here, but destiny is dragging my ass along for the ride!" sighed Faith. "Sorry about tossing ye. Yer right, I was losin' it there for a moment." She stopped at their sudden grins. "Oh great, now I'm starting to talk like you two."

Dusting herself off, she looked at the two men and stood up. She scanned the area for any more targets and then started walking down the street. Looking over her shoulder, she called back to the men.

"Ye comin'?" she grinned.

August 30st

"So let me get this right, there's this book that talks about ye fightin' some battle against the vamps?" questioned Murphy as they walked down the street continuing their hunt.

Faith could only nod at the question, her eyes scanning back and forth.

"And ye've met this vampire Trick before? Plus his boss, who by yer description is gonna roll the three of us like we're not even there?" asked Conner from Faith's other side.

She nodded again. Stopping, she turned to regard the two men. Her eyes moved back and forth between them.

"Look, guys. I appreciate all you've done for me. I know this isn't your fight. You want to head back to the apartment, I'll understand. This shit isn't for everyone," said Faith.

Conner and Murphy looked at each other. Silent communication seemed to pass between them. As one they nodded and looked back at Faith.

"Yer gonna have to try harder than that to get rid of us, little sister," said Murphy with a grin.

"Speaking of which, yer not properly clothed to be out on a night like this, Faith. Yer missin' something," said Conner with a serious look on his face. "Here, catch."

Conner tossed something through the air. It arced downward and landed in Faith's outspread hands. Her hands closed on it instinctively. Opening them, she saw something she hadn't expected in a million years. In her hands was a cross, old-looking, hanging from a strand of rosary beads. Just like the ones the boys wore.

A tear slid down Faith's cheek as she looked at the cross. She didn't know what to say. Sure, she had been given gifts, but nothing as freely as this. This was a symbol to them, a sign of their family and her inclusion in it. They had known her barely three days, and were including her. It never failed to amaze her how this war forged families. She missed her Sunnydale family. She missed her real family. And now she had another.

Placing the rosary around her neck, Faith began walking down the street, her new brothers on each side of her, their arms draped over her shoulders.

The companionship continued for a block or so. The three chattered back and forth, using it as a cover for the hunt. Faith's senses were stretched to their limits, but she didn't feel a thing.

They swung past the church that the three had attended a few nights before, and sat on the steps. The two men watched their smoke rise up into the air as Faith ducked into the church, returning a few minutes later with a small bundle.

"Whatcha got there, Faith?" questioned Conner.

"Holy water," said Faith with a grin. She handed each of her new brothers a small vial. "The nice priest even said he say a prayer for me," she giggled.

"Prayer.....hrmmm.That gets me to thinkin' about something Ma used to say about Da," commented Murphy from the step above Conner.

"What's that, Murph?" asked the brother.

"Just another prayer, like the family prayer," said Murphy.

Faith scoffed and looked at the two men.

"You have a family prayer?" she said in disbelief.

"Aye. But that's later. I was thinking of a different one right now," responded Murphy.

"Which one, Murph?" Conner inquired, as he put out the butt of his cigarette.

Murphy took a breath and began.

"And when I vest my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold in judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who hate me. O Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."

Faith blinked at the prayer.

<This couldn't be what the prophecy was referring to, could it?>

"Whosoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. For in the image of God has He made man. Destroy all that which is evil, so that which is good may flourish. And I shall count thee among my favored sheep, and you shall have the protection of all the angels in heaven."

Conner smiled at his brother and joined in.

"Never shall innocent blood be shed. Yet the blood of the wicked shall flow like a river. The three shall spread their blackened wings and be the vengeful striking hammer of God."

In all three minds, something clicked. Something felt right. The Trinity had been formed.

August 31st

"Jesus fuckin' Christ! How many do ye think are in there?" asked a wild-eyed Conner.

Shaking her head, Faith looked at the man next to her. They were both lying prone on a roof, observing a warehouse that the vampire they had questioned had indicated as the main gathering hub. Setting the binoculars down, she just shook her head some more.

"Best guess? More than we can handle and live," responded Faith. There was no humor in her voice. She knew it was bad. "Short of burning the building down or blowing it up, I can't think of a safe way to do it. Not with just three of us."

She went back to counting. With fifty vampires, even Boytoy and some of his friends would be hard-pressed. She stared at the building long and hard. She could call Spence, but that would complicate things in ways she couldn't imagine. Yeah, the firepower would be useful, but would they understand? Boytoy kind of rammed it down their throat the first time, but this would be different. It would be harder to get them to understand.

"Conner, do you know what the word Fianna means?" asked Faith out of nowhere.

"Aye, it's an Irish warrior class," said the other man without pause.

Faith's head whipped around. Her eyes were wide. A wry grin spread across her face.

"You wouldn't happen to know where we might find some Fianna, would you?" she asked, not trying to put any hope in her voice.

Conner's grin grew as big as Faith's. Pushing himself back from the ledge, he stood when he was out of sight of the warehouse. Dusting himself off, he helped Faith to her feet.

"Aye, lass, I might. Let's go get Murph from his spot and go talk to the lads. I think I know just the berks to go to," said Conner as they faded into the night.

August 31, 1995

Standing outside the door, both men looked Faith over one last time. Bringing her here was not the best of plans, and they had tried to talk her out of coming. Needless to say, she hadn't listened.

"Remember what we told ye, Faith. These are good men and women. They're trying to put their past behind them. So whatever you do, don't ask which side they were on," reiterated Murphy for a third time.

Faith nodded, not quite trusting the brothers. In her mind this was the second craziest thing she had ever done. First being the whole slaying in the nude thing, which she was trying to forget. Steeling herself, she followed the two men through the door. Had she looked up, she would have noticed the sign over the door, reading simply "The Orange and Green Pub."

Faith's ears were assaulted by raucous music as she entered the bar. On the stage, a fiddler madly danced around as the crowd cheered. His bowstring moved like a sword in the night, flashing back and forth. A man playing the drums hopped around behind the fiddler, dancing along with the tune. Other musicians on the stage joined in the festivities.

Faith's eyes were wide as she took in the scene. The place was packed, with people wall to wall. The ages varied from early teens to old grandfathers. Old wood paneling and a small inset bar ran all the way around the room. A large cherry bar filled one wall, with an older man standing behind it, eyeing all three of them.

Conner and Murphy waved to the bartender and moved toward the bar. Faith followed, not entirely sure how to take in the situation. As they reached the bar, Faith's spider sense tingled. Looking around the room, she couldn't see the vampire, but she knew there was one nearby.

Faith noticed the bartender grimace at the two men - judging by the looks he was giving them, they were known here.

<Great,> she thought. <This is only going to go one of two ways.>

Sighing, she watched the bar, examining the patrons. Two men stood out to her immediately. They watched the room the same way Boytoy used to. One man was huge, with dark curly hair. The other was scarred on the face, with an unruly blond mop. Both men stared back at Faith, seeming to judge her.

Finally breaking their stare, she turned her attention to the rest of the bar. At a casual glance, the bar seemed normal enough. But as the Slayer, her glances were far from casual. Life on the street had hardened her in ways people couldn't imagine. Xander and Miss Parker had taught her even more. She had learned to read people, from their body motions to the way they held themselves. It dawned on Faith as she looked around the room that these people were more than they presented.

Faith's attention finally returned to Conner and Murphy. Their discussion with the bartender didn't seem to be going well at all. She couldn't make out what was being said over the music, but the head-shaking and hand-waving gave it all away. The bartender wasn't liking what he was hearing, and from the look on his face, he wasn't going to listen much longer.

As the music came to an end, several heads in the room turned toward the commotion the two brothers were making with the bartender. Faith tensed as the big man from the corner of the bar stood up and made his way toward the spot where Conner and Murphy were.

"Well well, the McManus brothers. Come back to start more trouble, have ye?" asked the burly man.

The bartender sighed at the arrival of the large man. Conner and Murphy turned to look up at the giant, grins spreading on their faces.

"Hello, Harper, so nice to see yer ugly mug again. Of course we've come to start trouble, what else would we be up to?" responded Murphy, a chipper sound in his voice.

The big man shook his head. Looking to the bartender, he gave the man an "I'll handle it" look, and the bartender moved off, filling pint glasses and shots.

"What do you two want, and what the hell were you two thinking bringing this lass here of all places?" asked Harper.

"We were lookin' for some help, Harper. Nothing more. And I'd be careful what ye call Faith there, she's a mite touchy sometimes," grinned Conner.

"What have you two geniuses gotten yourselves into this time. Drug dealers again?" questioned the blond man as he slipped up next to the giant.

"And so lovely to see ye too, Sharpe," snipped Murphy. "Why ye hang around with this English prick is beyond me, Harper."

Harper growled, moving towards Murphy, who stepped back out of reach.

"Easy there, big fella. I need all my parts attached if I'm going to help the lass there," cautioned Murphy.

Harper's attention turned toward Faith. Brown eyes bored into her. Sharpe's attention was also now focused on Faith.

"What sort of trouble have these two gotten you into?" asked Sharpe.

Faith shook her head. Conner and Murphy must be regular troublemakers if everyone thought they had gotten her of all people in trouble.

"Actually, I brought the trouble to them," responded Faith, her head cocked to look up at the big man. "It's an old problem, one I have to deal with, but the situation appears to have gotten beyond the scope of three people. Conner and Murph said we could get help here."

"Again, I ask, what sort of trouble have they gotten you into?" asked Sharpe, a frown forming on his face.

Faith shook her head. These two would never believe her. They might have the walk of professional soldiers, but vampires were a little hard for people to swallow. When in doubt, tell part of the truth.

"I'm being hassled by a guy named Trick and his gang. A couple of days ago, they roughed me up. Conner and Murphy were going to help me deal with it, but there turned out to be more than we could handle safely," stated Faith plainly.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a head shoot up and look in her direction at the mention of the name Trick. It was a man, late twenties, fairly nondescript. Just the kind of person you wouldn't notice in a bar.

"And why did this Trick man have ye roughed up?" asked Harper, concern now written on his face. Apparently, being stuck in Dana's body had its benefits. Where Faith wound men around her with her body, Dana could do with her youthful innocence.

"He isn't particularly happy with my line of work, so he decided to have me dealt with," shrugged Faith.

Both men frowned and looked at Conner and Murphy.

"Whoa there. Its not like that, fellas. Ma brought us up better than that," said Conner, holding his hands up.

Turning back, Harper looked back down at the young girl. He raised an eyebrow at her.

"So what is your job then?" asked Harper, disbelief written on his face.

Faith let out a throaty chuckle. She met Harper's look with a smile.

"You'd never believe me if I told you," said Faith evenly.

"Try us," responded Sharpe, a hint of anger in his voice. "You're interrupting our drinking."

"OK," she said with a smile. "I hunt vampires."

The giant and the blond-haired man let out a laugh. The rest of the bar turned to look at the sound, frowns written on some of their faces. The man who had looked up when Faith had mentioned Trick had one of the deepest.

Wiping the tears from their eyes, Sharpe and Harper looked back at Conner and Murphy.

"Good joke there lads, now get the fuck out," said Sharpe.

Faith sighed and looked up at the big man. Shaking her head, she drew herself up.

"I told you that you wouldn't believe me," she said simply.

"Vampires are just a myth, girl," grumbled Harper.

"Really? Huh, imagine that," said Faith with a frown. Stomping over to the table where the other man sat observing, she looked him square in the eye. "How's it feel to be called a myth?"

Panic filled the man's eyes. Pushing back away from the table, he stood up.

"I got no idea what you're talking about, kid. Vampires are just a myth," said the man as he backed away from Faith.

"God, I really fucking hate being called kid. I really fucking do!" snarled Faith as she slipped her hand behind her back. "You know what I much more prefer being called?"

The man shook his head, noticing that everyone in the bar had their eyes fixed on the scene before them. No one made a move to help him - he was as new to the bar as the girl was.

"I much more prefer the name . Slayer," smiled Faith evilly.

The man's eyes bugged out and his face morphed. Ridges grew on his forehead, and his eyes turned yellow. He lunged at Faith, hands extended.

Calling back over her shoulder to Harper and Sharpe, she cried, "Here's your fucking myth, assholes."

People and tables cleared out as the Slayer and the vampire slowly circled each other. Disbelief was written on every face. Conner and Murphy stood impassive, simply watching.

The vampire lunged at Faith in an attempt to bear-hug her, only to be forced back by a kick to his face. Faith began her dance of death, lunging and kicking the vampire. Slowly, she positioned the vampire where she wanted it, and with a kick, she launched the creature at Harper and Sharpe.

Both men blinked as the vampire sailed back toward them. With a practiced ease they caught the body, spinning it around and pinning it to the bar. Conner and Murphy lunged in, helping the two older men hold the creature. Faith walked over.

"Well, that was fun, I needed the exercise. I just had one of those feelings I was getting in a fight in this place one way or the other," grinned Faith at Conner and Murphy. The vampire struggled, but the combined weight of the four men kept it pinned. Harper and Sharpe looked at the creature struggling in their arms. Its strength amazed the two men, they were barely able to hold it down.

"So how do ye kill this thing?" asked Harper with stress in his voice.

Pulling the stake from behind her back, she plunged it into the vampire's chest. Slowly the body crumbled to dust, covering the men.

"'Bout like that," she smiled.

"Some warning next time," grumbled Murphy from where he had fallen to the floor when the vampire fell apart.

Sharpe and Harper looked at each other. Shaking their heads, they looked back at Conner, Murphy and Faith.

"I think we might be able to find some lads that would help with something like this," said Sharpe. He extended his hand to Faith. "Richard Sharpe, at your service. The big lug there is Patrick Harper."

"I know a lot of lads that will be willing to help," said the bartender. "I think you just solved a mystery that has haunted a lot of people in this neighborhood, including me. Next round's on me, folks. Now we know what killed me daughter."

September 2nd, 1995

"What? You're certain? In front of an entire bar. Good Lord, who is this girl?" ranted Travers into the phone. "If you hear anything else, let me know."

Slamming the phone down, Travers turned to look at the men in the room. A deep scowl furrowed his face.

"That was a second researcher in Boston. It appears that whoever is playing Slayer in Boston is doing quite a good job at it. This time, she killed a vampire in the middle of a crowded Irish pub," said Travers.

Shock crossed the faces of the council members present. Shaking his head, Travers walked back to the phone and picked it up.

"I want a retrieval team in Boston yesterday. I want whoever this girl is claiming to be a Slayer picked up and brought back here immediately. Use whatever means you deem necessary. Remove any obstacles, by any means."

September 2nd, 1995

There was an air of confidence as men and women moved around the warehouse. Cases of weapons lay open, varying flavors scattered all about the floor of the old building. AK-47s, SKS assault rifles, M- 16s, and other pieces of hardware were rapidly being assembled for the attack on Trick's compound.

As Faith watched, she couldn't help but be amazed. This wasn't something she should be doing - this was Boytoy's area, not hers. She was just the Slayer. She wasn't a leader. Rubbing the bridge of her nose, she wondered how many would die before this was all done.

She felt someone sit down next to her, and she didn't bother turning her head. It was either Conner or Murphy. An arm draped around her, a comfortable weight in her mind.

"Ye alright there, Faith?" asked Conner.

She nodded.

"What is with all these people? I know you said they were all ex- military, but you never explained what that meant," questioned Faith.

It was Conner's turn to sigh.

"Ye need to understand something, lass. These people are from the old country. They're running from a past they'd rather forget," said Conner.

"What past?" she asked.

Shaking his head, Conner tried to figure out where to begin.

"It's like this. There has been a war going on in Northern Ireland for a while. Some are attempting to reunite the island as one nation, while others seek to keep Northern Ireland under British rule," said Conner.

Faith nodded. She knew some of this from the little bit of high school she'd managed to stay awake through.

"Both sides have their paramilitary organizations. These people come from both sides. They gave up on the conflict there because it wasn't an end in sight," he continued. "Some were just tired of the killing. It was getting senseless. The bar is a place people go to put aside their differences. No talk of sides, colors, religion or politics, just music and laughter."

Faith looked out at the crowd and watched them move about as one unit. They flowed, each doing their own task.

"So why are they helping us?" Faith said, puzzled.

Conner shrugged, unsure of how to answer.

"Ye've given them something that both sides can fight and agree on," said a voice from behind. Patrick Harper settled down on the other side of Faith. "That, and it's the right thing to do. We've seen what lurks in the night, and we're damn sure not going to let it have more of our children. Just about everyone here has lost someone to those beasts."

Sliding a handgun and a holster over to Faith, Harper started to ask "Do ye know how to..."

He never got to finish as Faith quickly field-stripped the Glock, checking the weapon over, and then reassembling it, dropping the slide closed in one quick motion.

"Never mind," said Harper.

She grinned at him. "Misspent youth, what can I say?"

Conner looked at Faith and rolled his eyes.

"Aren't you, what, 14?" he questioned.

She barked out a laugh.

"Sometimes I feel I have lived a lifetime and more, Conner. We got a job to do. Let's go," she said as she stood up. "Let's get our Fianna together."

Harper followed behind the two, joining in their laughter. They did indeed have a job to do.

September 2nd, 1995

The say Mother Earth is breathing With each wave that finds the shore. Her soul rises in the evening, For to open twilight's door. Her eyes are the stars in heaven, Watching over us all the while. And her heart, it is in Ireland, Deep within the emerald isle.

Bodies moved silently through the night, dark shapes sliding from shadow to shadow. The target was in sight, now it was just a matter of moving everyone into position. Everyone was armed to the teeth. Shotguns, crossbows, machine guns, even swords. There wasn't a person in the group that didn't have at least four different types of weapon on their body.

Faith had point, her ability to feel the vampires instrumental in getting past the sentries. Ten had already fallen to the silent warriors, but many more waited inside. She hoped Trick and Kakistos had no idea they were coming. If they did, it would be a slaughter.

As they neared the warehouse, she could feel her blood starting to pump faster. Slowly she was sinking into her zone. Slayer instincts were coming to the fore. It was time to go to work.

We are forty against hundreds, In someone else's bloody war. We know not why we're fighting, Or what we're dying for. They will storm us in the morning When the sunlight turns the sky. Death is waiting for its dance now, Fate has sentenced us to die.

Conner watched as Faith took out another of the sentries. It was almost time. He was constantly amazed with how deadly Faith was. Idly he fingered the trigger of his shotgun, watching for any sign of movement. He could feel the tension in the air. Looking over to where Murphy was, he smiled at his brother. The fire escape loomed - it was time to split up. Time to go to work.

Oh the captain, he lay bleeding, And I can hear him calling me: "These men are yours now for the leading, Show them to their destiny." And as I look up all around me, I see the ragged, tired and torn. I tell them to make ready, For we're not waiting for the morn.

Murphy watched as the first team headed up the fire escape ladder. He was leading another group around to the back. He watched his twin move off into the darkness and said a quick prayer, fingering the cross that peeked out of his shirt. He hoped it would aid him. Hand signs directed the men around him, each man moving in sync with the others. Time to go to work.

Now the fog is deep and heavy As we forge the dark and fear. We can hear their horses breathing As in silence we draw near. And there are no words to be spoken, Just a look to say goodbye. I draw a breath and night is broken As I scream our battle cry.

Glancing down at the watch on her wrist, Faith saw they were just down to minutes. She looked at the men around her and nodded. She readied her crossbow and tapped the man with the LAW on the shoulder. He glanced up, and saw her hand sign. One minute to go. One minute until hell.

The seconds ticked away. Time seemed to slow. Faith hated waiting, but she wanted to make sure everyone was in place. Harper placed his hand on her shoulder, letting her know he was there. He had told the boys he would watch over her, and he would. In the silence, a single watch beeped. It was time, time to go to work.

At the top of his lungs, Harper cried out, telling everyone it was time.

"Erin go bragh!"

September 2nd, 1995
Trick's Warehouse

Trick's head came up as he heard a shout from the outside. He motioned two vampires to the door to take a look. His eyes went wide as the door rushed forward to greet them, propelled by the concussion of the LAW rocket. From all directions, gunfire sprang up, stunning the vampires assembled around the room.

Trick jumped back as he heard the clang of something hitting the floor near him. His eyes nearly bugged out as he saw the hand grenade rolling toward his feet. With a supernatural leap, Trick jumped away, tossing a nearby vampire on top of the grenade. There was a loud pop from beneath the vampire, and then his body started to burn. The vampire let out a scream of agony as his body melted to dust.

<This cannot be happening! Who would dare attack us!> Trick's mind screamed as he moved under cover, bullets chipping away at his hiding place.

Through the smoke-filled remains of the front door of the warehouse stepped a figure. It was petite, almost feminine in stride. Behind whoever it was loomed a giant of a man. He held a huge cannon- looking weapon in his big hands. The weapon made a quiet whirring noise.

"Hello, boys and girls. Can the vampires come out and play?" said the smaller figure in the door.

Trick realized whoever was in the door was female. Pieces in his mind slowly fit together. It had to be the Slayer. Last report had her in Spain though - how could the Watchers have gotten her here so quickly?

Faith just grinned as several vampires charged toward her and Harper.

<They just never learn, do they?> she asked herself as she stepped aside to let Harper have some fun.

Vampires, for the most part, have no fear when it comes to firearms. As firepower increases, this becomes a dumber and dumber thing not to fear. Had the vampires who were charging Faith and Harper had that fear, they might have lived a bit longer.

7.62 caliber bullets filled the air like a swarm of pissed-off bees. Body parts were ripped off the oncoming vampires, arms and legs dusting before they hit the ground. Trick watched in amazement as his forces were destroyed. Finally the hail of bullets finally subsided and Trick poked his head out of his hiding place. A full fifth of his forces were gone, and many others lay moaning on the ground.

The minigun clattered to the floor, and Harper pulled out an AK-47 from behind his back. Faith and Harper stood their ground, waiting for the next rush to begin. As the survivors of the first assault began to rise up, some charged back toward where the two in the doorway stood. Several were blown back into the warehouse as more figures stepped into the room.

Gunfire rained down from the roof as well, peppering the vampires. The mortals seemed to be everywhere. Never before had he seen a Slayer act with a group, let alone use guns.

<This is going to take some serious adapting,> thought Trick as he dived for cover again.

Some of the vampires had managed to engage the mortals. Screams filled the warehouse. Trick could see the Slayer and the giant hammering his vampires. The giant had resorted to a sword, and was literally cutting Trick's troops to pieces.

The battle had become bloody. Mortal and vampire were engaged in vicious combat. Several of the mortals had already gone down, their throats torn out, bodies broken. The smell of blood filled the air, enraging the beasts within the vampires more. It was all for naught though. More explosions and gunfire rang out around the warehouse.

As a tracer round bounced off a wall near Trick, he realized things were going downhill rapidly.

<I'm starting to think it's time to relocate. Kakistos is going to want to hear about this,> Trick thought as he crept toward the rear door. He growled as he saw several of his men trying to retreat out the back door of the warehouse.

<Cowards! They're not supposed to be running!> he snarled as he neared the door.

The staccato of gunfire tore through the night, tearing the door off its hinges. The few vampires that had made it out the door screamed in pain as they were mowed down in a hail of bullets. Their screams only lasted a moment, and then silence.

<WHAT THE FUCK!> screamed Trick's mind.

Thinking quickly, Trick slipped down the stairs into the basement of the warehouse. This was where the food was kept. He ignored the whimpers of the mortals as he moved quickly through the room, heading for a rear door. Pulling the door open, he slipped into a passageway connecting his warehouse to the one next door.

Taking off at a run, Trick hoped whoever these attackers were didn't know about the passage. Breaking into the next warehouse, he was greeted with silence. He silently slipped through the stacks of boxes and to the door. He could still hear gunfire coming from the other warehouse as he moved over into the night.

<Whoever that was, is going to pay, and pay dearly,> said Trick to himself. <Kakistos isn't going to be happy in the least.>

"Where the hell is Trick?" questioned Faith. She had a vampire pinned up against the wall by its throat. On a mortal, she would be cutting off its air supply, but to the undead it was just painful. The vampire was already missing both its legs, an encounter with Harper's sword had done that.

"I told yah, I don't know!" cried the pitiful creature. "He was here before the shooting started."

"Let's try a different question. Where is Kakistos?" she asked, bouncing the vampire off the wall several times.

Harper watched on. She was efficient, brutally efficient, that was for sure. She reminded him a lot of Teresa, Sharpe's first wife.

"He wasn't here. He's down in New York City, something about some ceremony or something. Trick never said more than that," whined the vampire. "Please let me go."

Faith was mad. Not only was Trick missing, but Kakistos wasn't here. She knew she had seen Trick when the shooting started, but none of the survivors remembered seeing him dust.

Too many had died. Too many. She shuddered as she looked around the room at the bodies. Some had already been rushed out to doctors who knew how to be quiet, others were taken directly to the hospital. They couldn't stay much longer - as much gunfire as they had laid down, the police were sure to be on their way. Only Harper, Conner, Murphy and Sharpe remained with her. She wanted some answers.

Stabbing the vampire in the chest with her stake, she let the dust flow through her fingers. She wanted to cry, but she wasn't going to let herself. She couldn't yet. There was still work to be done. Taking one final look around the warehouse, she turned to the men.

"We get everyone out?" she asked.

The men nodded. The had checked every body remaining, making sure the vampires hadn't infected any of the men who had attacked the warehouse.

"We found some people downstairs, looks like they were using them for food," scowled Conner. "Most will make it. I imagine when the cops get here, they'll take care of them."

"We also found a busted door leading off into a tunnel headed for the next warehouse over. We're guessing some of them got out that way," spat Sharpe.

Faith rubbed the bridge of her nose. This wasn't how it was supposed to go - the good guys are supposed to win, not die. Bad guy isn't supposed to escape.

"We need to go, Faith, now," said Harper from his lookout spot on the door. "The police are close."

The five people moved out silently into the night, sticking to the shadows. Patrol car after patrol car zoomed past their hiding places. The firefight had apparently woken half of Boston.

It took the better part of an hour for the survivors to gather back up at the warehouse they'd used for a staging area. Weapons were put up, and tears shed for the fallen. Boston had lost a lot of good people during the night.

Sunrise found Faith sitting on the roof of the warehouse. She had wandered upstairs after stashing her equipment. As the first rays of dawn crested the horizon, Faith felt momentarily at ease.

<Faith, don't die. That's the first rule of being a Slayer.> Buffy's words echoed in Faith's mind.

She had lived to see the next day, but at the cost of many others. They had known going in that some of them wouldn't be coming back, but it still hurt. Tears slowly ran down Faith's face. She had led men into battle and they had died. Now she understood Xander better. This is how he had felt. Taking a human life was bad - this was worse. She had knowingly led men to their deaths. It had cost her 25 good men.

"I wouldn't have called them completely good men," said a voice from behind. "But they're in God's hands now."

Faith spun around. A man squatted on the edge of the roof with her, perching almost like a bird. He had reddish hair and a scruffy beard. He smiled wryly at Faith.

"Be at ease, Dana Tasker, you have nothing to fear from me. I am called Simon. And I have a message for you," said the man.

Faith frowned at the figure. She heard movement, and Conner and Murphy stepped onto the roof. They paused when they noticed the man, and looked at Faith.

"Ahh, and now the two saints. Good, everything is in place. I don't have long, there is someone I am trying to avoid right now. But I bear you three a message," said Simon.

Faith continued to frown. Conner and Murphy moved to stand near her, one at each side. Conner and Murphy's pea coats were open loosely, their hands slowly creeping into them.

"You do not need the guns, boys, I am not here to hurt you," frowned Simon. "You mortals are always so quick to use violence."

"Who are you?" asked Faith, her hand tight around her stake. As weird as her world had been lately, she wasn't taking chances.

"I told you, I am Simon. I bring you a message from on high," said the red-haired man again.

Conner and Murphy looked at each other, then at Faith. Faith raised an eyebrow and looked at the man.

"On high, as in." Faith started.

"Heaven. Le Metatron told me to deliver you some answers," Simon answered.

"So yer an...." began Conner.

"Angel. Yes," responded the man with a grin.

"This has got to be some kind of joke!" exclaimed Conner, his eyes fixed on the man before them.

A wry grin spread across the face of the man claiming to be an angel. He shook his head and straightened up. Running his fingers through his hair, he watched the three in front of him

"What were you expecting? Wings? Halo? Flaming sword? This is the '90s, man. From what I've seen, that kind of stuff doesn't scare people any more," shrugged Simon. "I mean, look at TV. Have you seen that show 'Touched By an Angel'?" He rolled his eyes.

The three mortals were taken aback. Here before them was a man claiming to be an angel. The back of Faith's mind remembered the visit she had witnessed from Le Metatron, but this was surreal.

"I'm afraid you're going to have to do better than that," frowned Faith. "I've seen way too much weird shit in my life to take your word on it."

Simon sighed. Mortals were always such a pain. He missed the days when they were more respectful and downright scared of angels. With a grumble, he raised his hand and snapped his fingers.

Simon changed before them. His body shifted, long white wings extending from his back. A halo of light started to glow around him. Reaching over his shoulder, he drew forth a flaming sword, which he rested across his shoulder.

"Once mortals knew me as Nemamiah, but I got tired of no one being able to pronounce it. Simon is much simpler. Now is everyone satisfied? Can we get down to business?" the angel growled.

Faith, Conner, and Murphy nodded slowly, their eyes wide. With another snap of his fingers, Simon stood back before them as he had before.

"Now with that done, I am not here as a joke, and I assure you there are a few places I would much rather be. But instead, I am here to deliver a message to you, Dana," said Simon.

Faith blinked. Here before her was an angel, a real angel. A cynical part of her mind remembered that there were fallen angels, and just possibly he could be one, but her Slayer sense wasn't going bonkers. Shrugging, she looked at the angel.

"So, what's the message?" she asked finally.

"A, for the lack of a better word, an error has occurred. When you and Rupert Giles attempted to close the Hellmouth, an outside force tweaked the Hellmouth at just the wrong moment," began Simon. "This caused the spell to go haywire, and you were thrown back in time. Due to the nature of your empowerment and the nature of the spell casters, you kept your memories of the original timeline. A timeline, I might add, that has since ceased to exist."

"Thrown back in time? What the fuck is he talking about, Faith?" asked Murphy.

Faith ignored Murphy's question, her eyes locked on the angel, searching his face for the slightest mistake or lie.

"Go on," she snarled.

"There isn't a whole lot more to say. Rather than taking direct action, it was decided to see how you would react in this new situation. You have acted admirably. The faith, no pun intended, that HE put in you, was well placed. Now, everything else is in your hands," the angel continued.

Faith shook her head and looked down at the ground. Conner and Murphy remained quiet, waiting for the girl to speak. Their own minds were having trouble what was being said.

"As for you two," Simon grinned at the brothers. "You have taken up a gauntlet that no one expected you to take. Where some would have turned their backs, you stood firm. There are those who would have called you troublemakers. Instead, you have taken a stand against the darkness. Congratulations. Given time, I imagine you two will be a force to be reckoned with. Now, you have a choice to make. Stay in Boston, or travel with the Slayer."

The two men looked at each other in amazement. Here was an angel, telling them he bore a message from the voice of God himself, telling them they had done a good job.

"So what do I do next?" asked Faith.

"Whatever your heart desires, Faith. HE gave you free will. You get to make the decisions. But know this. Even though the timeline has changed a bit, some things will still come to pass. The Hellmouth will reopen. Buffy will still be called, and she might even die."

Faith's frown deepened at the thought of the Hellmouth reopening. The last time had been bad enough. If it opened as it did before, she knew she had to be there to help stop it. She might be stuck in a 14-year-old body, but that was her job, her destiny.

She looked at the angel, about to speak, when he cut her off.

"There are, however, a couple of important ground rules," smirked the angel.

Conner finally mustered the courage to speak.

"What sort of ground rules?" he asked, steel in his voice.

Simon smiled at the mortal man.

<Even when they know I'm an angel, they are ready to fight for her. Amazing.>

Standing upright, Simon moved over to the edge of the roof and looked out at the horizon. He turned back and smiled at the three mortals behind him.

"Stay out of Wisconsin and New Jersey," said the angel.

All three blinked. Turning to each other, they saw confusion mirrored in all three faces.

"Excuse me?" asked Faith, a frown on her face, hand on her hip.

"Stay out of Wisconsin and New Jersey. Some events are going to occur there that should not be tampered with," Simon could read one of the excuses coming a mile away and looked at Murphy. "Yes, you can get on the turnpike if you have to, but don't go looking for trouble there. These are HIS rules."

Faith and the brothers turned to look at each other. Questions rattled around each of their heads. Turning back to ask the angel some more questions, they found him gone.

"What the fuck!?!" exclaimed Murphy, running to the edge where the angel had been standing. "He's gone."

Faith rolled her eyes. She should have expected this. She had her answers, now what to do?

Settling down on the edge of the roof, Faith returned to watching the sun rise. It was now well over the horizon, the light brightening the land. A new day born. A new chance at life. She could avoid some of the traps that had dragged her down before. No gangs, no drugs, and no murder.

She heard the two men sit down next to her, their legs dangling over the edge of the roof. The sound of the Bic lighters and the smell of burning cigarettes washed over her. She glanced left and right at the two men, and saw each was lost in thought.

<Where do I go now?> she asked herself.

She made a list in her mind, weighing everything.

She could go home, that would be the easiest. She might, just might even be able to convince her parents that she truly was a vampire slayer. God, she could just see her father's reaction to that one. He'd chain her to the basement and never let her out. She was his little girl, and there was no way he was going to let her come to harm. No way to do her job there. Passing through home though, just to let the know she was all right was an option though. Something to consider.

<What else?> she asked again.

Staying in Boston was an option. She had backup and support here now. But that didn't help the world as a whole. With Trick gone, she imagined the vampire population was going to drop here anyway.

<Hrmmm. Trick.>

That was another option. Last time, she had run in fear of Trick and Kakistos. Now she had them running. Chasing them was another option, one that seemed the most promising. The vampire she had interrogated had indicated Kakistos was in New York. A road trip might be in order.

<anything else?> she wondered.

Sunnydale. All roads would lead back there no matter what. She could head straight there, wait for B to be called and then hook up with Giles and B. Might even be able to save Kendra.

<But if Kendra doesn't die, will I still be the Slayer? Stupid time travel. What's the word? Paradox. That's it. Does Kendra still have to die for me to stay the Slayer? If I die, will a third Slayer be called?> she asked herself. <Mental note, ask the angel if he shows up again.>

She leaned over onto Conner's shoulder and watched the sun come up. All three were lost in thought. Though they had survived the night and given mankind a reprieve again, they had to decide where their road led now.

September 3rd, 1995

Greenly looked at the chaos around the warehouse. From the thick layer of dust covering everything, several vampires had died here last night. Looking at the broken bodies nearby, he knew the cost had been high. Vacant eyes stared at him from various parts of the room.

He shivered. Scenes like this always got to him. Making careful notes, he moved around the room. This was going to have to be one hell of a tale. Several survivors had shown up in a hospital, with no idea who had saved them. They all told the same tales though, of monsters grabbing them from the streets and drinking their blood.

<What a fucking mess,> he mumbled to himself.

"Greenly!" he heard the Chief bellow from the other side of the warehouse.

Folding up his notebook, he made his way over to the Chief.

"What have you got for me?" demanded the Chief. His eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but cold rage burned in his eyes. He had seen some of them survivors, and he wanted whoever was responsible for this found.

Sliding into his persona, Greenly shrugged. "Beats the fuck out of me, Chief. That ain't no joke. It looks like a gang war, but there appears to only be one side to it. Whoever they were fighting must have slipped in and taken their dead and wounded. We haven't gotten ID yet on the dead, so we got no clue who the fuck they are. We found all sorts of shit in this warehouse though. Drugs, guns, you name it, it's here."

"I want these guys found, Greenly! Yesterday!" yelled the Chief. "The people don't need this kind of shit happening in their back yard."

Greenly watched the Chief stalk off, yelling at other officers at the scene. The council was going to shit Twinkies when they heard about this. It was starting to get out of hand. Whatever help this "Slayer" had gotten was dangerous. Shaking his head, he rubbed the back of his neck and pulled out his cell phone. This was going to suck.

September 3rd, 1995

Travers frowned at the phone, its ringing interrupting his lunch. Putting down his fork and knife, he reached over and picked it up. His eyes went wide and his face paled as he listened to the damage report from Boston.

<No Slayer has ever dared to use modern weapons. It's tradition to kill them with a stake or sword,> his mind screamed.

"So have no idea where this 'Slayer,' " Travers spat the word, "has gone. What are we paying you to do? Now listen here, there is no reason to get flippant, you American ass! Find that girl!"

Slamming the phone down, he looked across the table at the other council members dining with him.

"It appears that this so-called 'Slayer' in Boston has gotten herself a small army. They almost blew up a warehouse in Boston. Lord only knows what she was thinking," growled Travers.

"There was a report that Kakistos was in that area," said one council member. Several of the others nodded in agreement.

Travers shook his head. He stared at his meal, his appetite gone. Whoever the girl pretending to be a Slayer was, she was going to cause more trouble if she wasn't brought in soon. Especially now that she had backup.

Travers' eyes went wide as his brain made a connection to something. Scrambling, he picked up the phone again, dialing rapidly. He paused and listened, then slammed the phone back down.

"Travers, what is the problem?" asked one of the council members, his face filled with worry.

Sinking back down in his chair, Travers tried to get his hands to quit shaking. Anger filled him, but it was slowly being replaced with fear. Whoever this girl was now had an armed party behind her.

"The retrieval team." he said, his voice cracking a little. "They are under orders to run silent until they capture the girl. There is no way to warn them."

September 5th, 1995

James Smyth frowned. Three days in the city and they had seen neither hide nor hair of either vampires or the so-called Slayer. It was like something had chased the entire demonic community into hiding. He had heard a rumor of some sort of conflict several days before, but no one was giving out details.

He sighed and continued his search. His men were scattered across the city, each looking and listening for any sightings of the "Slayer." He couldn't wait to get his hands on the girl, if only so he could go back home, and back into retirement. The council rarely called on his team, but they paid handsomely when they did. It warmed the old soldier's bones when he thought about the hefty paycheck waiting for him when they returned.

Tonight they were supposed to be meeting at the pub where the girl had been spotted. Checking his watch, he noticed he was due there soon. Walking with a brisker pace, he joined his men a block from the bar. Night had fallen, and the city seemed at peace, which seemed odd unto itself.

The ten men fell in step behind Smyth. His second in command, Raymond Danforth, moved up next to him. Nodding in a direction, Danforth began to lead the group toward the bar. Smyth could see people moving in and out of a door ahead, and music faintly reached his ears.

Looking over his shoulder, he quickly scanned the faces of the men under his command. Each had served in the British military or various intelligence agencies, and each knew his trade. This was a grab and go. A plane was waiting for them at the airport, ready to go at a moment's notice. If the authorities got wind of them kidnapping an American citizen on American soil, it could be bad - for them, the Watchers Council, and the British government itself. Each man nodded to their boss, indicating they were ready. Reaching forward, Smyth opened the door and began to step forward into the bar.

Several musicians played on stage to a subdued crowd. A single singer stood in front, his voice filtering across the room like a mist.

"The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone In the ranks of death you will find him; His father's sword he hath girded on, And his wild harp slung behind him; 'Land of Song!' said the warrior bard, 'Though all the world betrays thee, One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard, One faithful harp shall praise thee!'

"The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain Could not bring that proud soul under; The harp he loved ne'er spoke again, For he tore its chords asunder; And said 'No chains shall sully thee, Thou soul of love and bravery! Thy songs were made for the pure and free, They shall never sound in slavery!'

"The Minstrel Boy will return, we pray When we hear the news, we all will cheer it, The minstrel boy will return one day, Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit. Then may he play on his harp in peace, In a world such as Heaven intended, For all the bitterness of man must cease, And every battle must be ended."

<Oh bloody hell. I thought they were joking when they said it was an Irish pub!> moaned Smyth. <I thought they meant one of those faux American-style Irish pubs!>

Several of the men shifted nervously as the awareness of their location sank in. Many had served in Northern Ireland before leaving the service. Shaking off the worry, Smyth moved toward the bar, his eyes scanning the room.

There were several young girls in the room, a few coming close to matching the researchers' notes. They had not bothered contacting either researcher in the area - they were both Americans and probably wouldn't have taken kindly to what the Council intended, especially considering that one of them was reported to be in law enforcement.

Several of the men were at the bar ordering pints. Smyth wandered up and ordered one for himself, leaning against the bar, watching the crowd. They seemed almost somber for some reason. The singer finished his pint and walked back up to the microphone.

"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling From glen to glen, and down the mountainside The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying 'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide."

Smyth rolled his eyes. He hated this song.

<Danny boy can rot in hell for all I care,> he mused.

Glancing at his men, he could see them rolling their eyes as well. Only the Irish could be this depressing. Smyth's eyes flicked around the room, taking in each of the young women in the bar, and he had to wonder if any of them was the girl they were looking for.

Turning around he flagged down the bartender and placed his empty pint glass on the counter.

"What can I get ye?" asked the bartender.

"A pint of Bass," said Smyth with a fake smile.

The bartender nodded and started pouring the pint.

"Heard you had a bit of a scuffle here a few days ago, the lads and I heard this was a lively place?" questioned Smyth.

The bartender frowned at the man. He moved his head back and forth, a frown forming, as if trying to recall something.

"Got no idea what yer talking about. Last fight we had in here was months ago when Murphy and Conner got into it over some girl. 'Twas a messy thing, broken beer bottles all over the place. " said the bartender. "Hey Harper! Come here a second."

Harper looked up from the table where he was sitting, pint in hand. Sharpe, Faith, Conner and Murphy, who were sitting at the table enjoying the music, glanced at the bartender as well. With a shrug, Harper stood and made his way over to the counter.

"Problem, Sean?" asked Harper, looking at the man before the bartender.

"Nah, just wondering if ye remember any scuffle recently. This gentleman said he had heard this place was lively a few days ago. Only thing I can remember was that scuffle a few months ago between Conner and Murph over that girl," frowned Sean. "Ye remember anything?"

Harper took a harder look at the man before him. Smyth looked up at the large Irishman, fake amusement written on his face. Harper furrowed his brow in thought.

"Nah, I can't remember any scuffle here either," stated Harper.

<These people know something,> thought Smyth. His eyes narrowed and he looked back and forth between Harper and Sean.

"Perhaps this might help refresh your memories," said Smyth as he laid two hundred-dollar-bills on the bar. <Stupid Irish,> he thought.

Both men's faces darkened. Neither moved their hands toward the money.

Harper thought for a moment before he began. "Perhaps ye didn't hear me right the first time. There have been no fights here recently. Now get yer arse out of me bar."

Harper's big hands closed over the money and he placed the bills in the tip jar sitting on the bar.

"Look, you bloody Mick, all I want is a little information. It looks like I just paid for it, so tell me about the fight," growled Smyth. He knew his men were watching this. He could feel the presence of at least one of them behind him.

A cold smile slowly spread across Harper's face.

"Actually, you just paid for damages if you don't leave now."

Back at the table, Faith and the others watched the scene unfold. Mumbling to himself, Sharpe slowly turned his seat toward the bar. Faith could feel tension in the air. The men who had come in had an unsettling air about them, and everyone in the bar felt it. Glancing at each of the men, she realized they were all wearing shoulder holsters.

<Greaaaat. I can't come to this place without a bar fight,> she muttered to herself.

Slowly, she popped her neck left to right. The move didn't go unnoticed by Conner or Murphy. Shaking their heads, they knew what their little spitfire was planning.

When Smyth didn't move, Harper rose up from his leaning position at the bar. Invading the Englishman's space, he got close, and with almost a growl, asked a question.

"Why are you asking questions about a fight that never happened?"

Smyth was taken aback by the move and took a step backwards away from the large Irishman. Before he could move much farther, the Irishman stepped closer again. Holding up his hands in supplication, he started to speak.

"If the girl is who I think she is, she is a relative of mine, I just wanted to make sure she was all right," stated Smyth. "I just want to see to her safety."

Harper frowned, and his ears detected some cursing from a table behind him. Smyth attempted to look around the large Irishman, but Harper moved to block him. Conner and Murphy watched Faith sit upright when she heard the man beyond Harper talking. Sharpe had stood and was moving toward his friend.

<Fuck! Either their the same guys that were looking for my parents or..> she thought, he eyes wide. <WATCHERS!!!!!>

"Fuck! Fuck! Fuckity, Fuck FUCK!" she yelled, almost falling backwards out of her chair.

"Lass! What's wrong!" asked Conner, worry in his voice.

Smyth finally managed to peek around the mountain of a man to see a young girl scrambling to get up from the floor, her eyes locked on Smyth, fear and realization clearly written on her face. She knew who and what they were.

"It's her! Grab her!" shouted Smyth to his men.

Smyth attempted to reach into his coat to pull out his Beretta, but his hand never made it out of the jacket. A meaty hand locked onto his throat, and he was ripped viciously up into the air and slammed down onto the bar.

The other men on the retrieval team reacted rapidly, pulling weapons out and attempting to move toward the girl. Faith had regained her feet and was attempting to backpedal away from the team. She could see one of the men had a tranquilizer gun of some sort. The sound she heard next, though, was music to her ears.

"Yo! Moron boys!" said a booming voice from behind the retrieval team. Several of them had moved toward Faith, watching the crowd part before them and their weapons. Only one man had kept facing the crowd. Only he got to see what had occurred behind the team.

A dark cloud of anger had descended on the bar. Anger covered every face. As if by magic, hand guns and smaller machine guns appeared in their hands. Almost every adult in the bar was armed and those arms were aimed at the retrieval team. Smyth was pinned to the bar, his own Berretta in his mouth, a kindly-looking old woman holding it. The bartender had what looked like a cannon in his hands. Harper, Conner and Murphy held shotguns.

Sharpe's was the only smiling face in the crowd. He looked like a demented Cheshire cat.

"Gentlemen, I suggest highly that you put down your weapons and step away from the girl. It appears we have a lot to discuss."

Over by the entrance, a young man flipped the sign to 'Closed' and locked the door.

September 6th, 1995

"Greenly! What have you got for me?" screamed the Chief.

<This is getting so frickin' old,> sighed Greenly.

He turned to face the Chief. The Chief paused midstep and looked at the detective. He knew he had been working the detectives hard with all the weird cases lately, but Greenly looked like he hadn't slept in days. Bags hung beneath his eyes, his hair was rumpled, his face unshaved.

"Honestly, Chief, I'm not sure what we got. Could be gang activity, mob activity, or someone trying to get a point across. What I do know we got is ten guys, beaten, bad. Each man has three or four things broken, from arms, to legs, jaws, ribs, you name it. These guys were then hog-tied, at least those that could be, and then stacked like wood in this alley. To add to the mix, these guys were painted orange and green," said Greenly as he raked his hands through his hair.

The Chief shook his head at the image.

"Do we have any information on who they are?" questioned the Chief.

Greenly opened his notebook and peered into it. He had a suspicion as to exactly who they were, and there was going to be hell to pay when he called the Council and told them where the retrieval team was. He had been trying to find the team for days.

"Since they were all found naked, we haven't gotten any ID on them yet, but as soon as we do, I'll let you know," answered Greenly.

<This is going to take one hell of a story to get them out of this,> muttered Greenly.

The Chief looked long and hard at Greenly. He was one of his best, albeit strangest, detectives. He knew he had been working him hard lately.

"Does this relate to the shooting a few days ago?" asked the Chief.

Greenly studied his notebook.

<FUCK!> he thought. <How do I answer this?>

"Odds are good that no, it doesn't. We got ID off some the shooters, they appear to have been ex-IRA and loyalist Irish. We've got nothing to tie these guys to that," frowned Greenly.

The Chief looked at Greenly over the top of his glasses.

"Wrap this scene up and go home and get some sleep, kid, you look like hell. Come back in tomorrow," said the Chief, clapping the detective on the shoulder.

"You got it, Chief," said Greenly.

<Oh goodie. Now I have time to call the Council. Yeah!> grumbled Greenly to himself as he walked back to his car.

September 6, 1995

Travers jumped with a start as the phone rang. Picking up the receiver, he listened to the voice on the other end for a few minutes.

Richard Danforth looked at Travers with quiet patience. It had been three days since he had last heard from his son, and he too was worried.

Travers slowly put the phone down and laid his head in his hands. Taking several deep breaths, he looked up to the Council members present.

"They have found ten of the men. All are in a local hospital, beaten pretty badly. From what the researcher said, he has no idea who is missing or where they are," began Travers.

The council members exploded in questions, each trying to overtalk the others.

A knock silenced all of them. A butler stuck his head inside the door and looked at Travers.

"Sir, I hate to disturb you, but a package just arrived, marked urgent and addressed to you specifically. It came from Boston. I thought I should make you aware," said the butler.

Travers bolted out of the room, descending the stairs to the center of the main floor. A large wooden box sat upright in the center of the room. Travers walked around the box and looked at the packing slip. The handwriting didn't look familiar, and there was no return address.

Several men approached the box, carrying crowbars. Guards joined Travers, their weapons aimed tentatively at the box. Travers noted on the packing slip that the box had been given special transport, and had not been stored in the cargo hold, but instead kept warm. This gave him even more cause for concern.

With a grunt, one of the guards finally managed to pry the box open. Inside sat another large plastic box, with latches on each side. Four guards manhandled the crate out of the shipping box. They laid it gently on the ground, and with shaking hands, popped the latches on the crate.

Travers breathed a sigh as the crate didn't explode. Nodding to one of the guards, he beckoned him to open the lid. The guard slowly edged the lid up, then his eyes went wide and he threw the box open.

There in the crate lay one battered and beaten James Smyth, lying on a bed of packing peanuts. Travers could see the rise and fall of Smyth's chest, so it was obvious he wasn't dead. Smyth too was painted orange and green, from head to tail. It was clear that several of his bones were broken, his arms and legs twisted at funny angles. A note was lying on Smyth's chest.

Travers stormed over and pulled the note off Smyth's chest, taking several layers of skin with it. Turning the note over, Travers could make out the layer of superglue that had held the paper in place. Running his hands across his head, Travers shook his head.

Several of the Council members clustered around Travers, each trying to peer over his shoulder to read the note. It read:

"The Slayer who was recently in Boston has come to our attention. Should you or any or your people make any attempts to take her again, the repercussions will be most severe. This is not a polite suggestion, but the way things will be from now on. Do not attempt to seek her out again, or our vengeance will be complete and utter. This is your only warning."

Travers wadded the note up and tossed it across the room. Storming back up the stairs, he called out orders to get Smyth medical attention. Slamming his door, he sat heavily in his chair. He could hear the commotion outside his door in the main rooms, but he didn't pay attention to it. All he could do was focus on his anger.

<How dare they! The Slayer is our property. Ours alone,> he thought to himself. Anger flowed through every corner of his body. <We'll just see about this. Whoever they are, they will pay.>

September 7th, 1995

Tossing her bag into the back of the car, Faith looked over at the people standing by the curb. A smile reached her face as she remembered the note they had written to the Council. These people actually cared for her.

Harper and Sharpe watched Faith load the car from the curb. Several of the folks had shown up to see the girl off. Many had donated clothes and other items to the teen.

"Are ye sure you want to head out, Faith?" asked Harper as the girl approached. "You've got a home here if you want it."

"Home," said Faith, looking off into the distance. "I'm not even sure where that is right now. I've got a hunch, but I've got to check on a few things before I head there."

Sharpe raised an eyebrow and looked at the girl. They had all taken a fond liking to her.

"Where is that?" he asked.

Faith looked up at Conner and Murphy as they tossed their own bags into the back of the car they had bought. She watched as the boys made their way through the crowd, getting hugs and kisses from the locals. She had already gotten her share.

She wrapped her arms around Sharpe, giving him one last hug. She turned and gave Harper one as well.

"Sunnydale, California. It might take me a while to get there, but I will eventually. All roads lead back to the start, I guess," she said with a grin.

Harper grinned at the girl as well. He liked her spunky attitude.

"Where are ye headed first?" Harper asked, a touch of concern in his voice.

Faith put her hands in the back pockets of her jeans and shrugged.

"I've got a date to finish with Trick, so I'm guessing New York. We'll see when we get there," Faith said finally.

The two old soldiers nodded. They had guessed that was where she was headed. Harper reached into his pocket and pulled out some items. One was a cell phone, the other a slip of paper.

"Here ye go, lass. If you need us, call us. We'll be there," he said simply. "The number on the sheet of paper is for a man Sharpe here knew; he might be able to help ye as well. Call him if you need him. Tell him Sharpe sent ye."

Conner and Murphy joined Faith and shook hands with each of the men. Harper and Sharpe had made sure they were armed, and had provided them with cash to keep them going for a bit. Added to the money they had found in the warehouse, they wouldn't go hungry for a while.

"Ready, lass?" asked Murphy.

Faith smiled at her brothers. She hooked her arms through theirs and led them toward the car. It was time to get to work.

<Look out, New York,> she thought as the car pulled away from the curb.



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