Friends and Family

Author: IceWing <icewing[at]>


(Timeline — Just Before the Events in 'Heat')

"So," started Xander as he tried to figure out where the entertainment center should go. "You figured out what you're going to do next?"

Faith looked at him, a bit apprehensively. "Not sure where you're going with this, Xand."

"Well, with your folks and Sinclair and the Council and everything…"

Faith shrugged, or shrugged as best she could as she held up one end of the big screen TV that had been delivered that morning. "I can't walk away from this, any more than you could, X. Hell, as long as you've got my back, BoyToy, I know I'm ok. But my folks… that's a whole nother ball game. As much I want to tell 'em, I know I can't. First, they'd do their damnest to keep me safe."

"Only because they love you," interjected Xander as they set the TV down.

"I know, Xand." She said softly. "I know they do, that's not even in question. But they'd try to keep me safe because they love me. They won't get the whole Chosen One bit, and they'll do everything in their power to protect me. But they can't. They can't protect me, not from the shit in my world, hell, not from the shit in their world. Last time they tried that, I ended up running, and the time before that…." She paused, feeling the weight of the key in her pocket. "But you guys…" she paused, as if not sure how to say what she was feeling.

"I know Faith…" said the young man who had stood by her through darkness, light and time itself. "You don't have to…"

"Yeah, I do Xander. You guys, you, Giles and Dawn, Sinclair and the Brothers,you're my family too. And I love you all." She looked down at her hands. "I've been a real shit by not letting them know I'm ok, haven't I?"

"Not my place to say… I know all this hasn't been easy for you."

"You're doing ok."

"Not so long ago, I wasn't. A certain brunette had to threaten to beat me down in order to show me just how not ok I was at the time."

Faith looked over at him, seeing not scorn or disappointment on his face, but support, caring and understanding.

"Thanks Xand-man. I owe you, for everything." She said as she gave him a hug. "Anyway, Sinclair and me are going to take the brothers back home. I'll call them when we're back that way, let em know I'm ok. Good enough?"

"I don't know Faith, is it?" he asked with a smirk

"Oh, I'm so going to get even with you Boytoy…."

Part One

(Timeline — About a week before school starts)

"Hey Merl," said Faith as locked the hotel door and sat on the edge of the couch, cell phone clutched in her hands, headset in place. "I need to make a call, any chance I could ask you to make sure nobody traces it back to us here?"

Merlin took a moment before he answered. "Of course. Is there any location in particular you would like them to trace it to?"

"Umm, how about…" She paused. "Crap, they're not going to handle not being able to trace the call at all real well, are they."

"If one considers that they are one of the most elite and savvy of the United States' intelligence agencies, no. I do not believe they would take that as an acceptable option."

"Well, shit," said Faith as she got up and started to pace. "Ok, I need to send them on a goosechase..." She thought for a minute, then grinned evilly. "Ok Merl, I've got an idea."

The AI sounded like Giles did when he was about to clean his glasses with he responded. "And what would your idea be?"

"Well, Uncle Spence and Dad aren't just going to stand around after I call. I'm willing to bet that where ever they think I'm calling from is going to be subjected to a full scale raid, based off what Xand told me about what went down after he called in. So lets use that to our advantage."

"And what exactly would we be using that advantage towards?"

"Well, one thing I found out when I was running the streets is there's a lot of crap going down that the regular Five-Oh misses out on. So lets give them a little helping hand." She was quiet for a moment, then continued speaking. "When I ran away the first time around, before I got called, I had some run ins with a bunch of dealers who kept wanting to get me to let them sample my wares in exchange for theirs. They were at… (look up address in DC area). Any chance you can take a look somehow and see whats going on there in the here and now."

As Merlin agreed and began to send his electronic tendrils across the continent, Faith considered the ramifications of this. She'd been in DC, but nowhere near that area. Plus, it would get Uncle Spence all riled up, which should keep his attention where it belonged. That is, far away from where she actually was.

"I have verified that similar activities are occuring in the same location as you indicated."

"Sounds like a plan then. Let's lead them through there then, help clean up some of the human trash in that area."

"Very well. I am assuming you wish to call the cover company for Omega Sector then?"

Faith paused for a moment, looking at the phone in her hands. "Yeah, I've run away from this for long enough. Patch me through Merl."

A few seconds passed as Merlin made the connections needed, set up backdoors into various systems and pretty much ran rampant across the phone system as he prepared to connect the call. Then, after no more than few heartbeats, a voice came through the line.

"Tektel Systems, How may I direct your call?"

"Ummm, Harry Tasker please," she said, her voice betraying a hint of her nervousness.

"Who may I say is calling?"


"One moment please," said the receptionist after a brief pause.

On the other side of the country, those words resulted in all hell breaking loose. The agent who was on phone duty, knowing how important this was, not to mention knowing if he screwed this call up would spend the next three years either on phones or possibly tracking penguins across the Antarctic, wasted no time in smashing the button which brought all systems online and to bear on the inbound call. Even as the systems were still spinning up, he grabbed one of the rookies carrying coffee back from his break and told him to tell Trilby that Dana was on the phone. The rookie sputter, but the agent screamed at him to MOVE! That done, he turned back to the system, checked where Harry was at the moment. 'Please be behind a desk today Harry,' he prayed as his eyes moved down the status board till they found Harry's code name. And in relief saw that he was not only not deployed, but was in the facility.' He brought the handset to his mouth and keyed the intercom. "Harry Tasker, please report to the nearest com station, Harry Tasker to the nearest com station." As the seconds ticked by, he felt a wave of relief, both for Harry and his Wife as well as for the Sector. It always felt good when they were able to recover one of their own.

The com system chimed in his ear. "Tasker here."

"You have an incoming call sir," said the Agent. "Call me back when you're clear, I'm sitting this one out." With that, the agent violated almost every procedure in the book and connected the call, then took himself out of the channel. He'd hear the call soon enough, but for now, Harry deserved a little privacy.

To say Harry was confused would have been an understatement. He'd just finished a mission two days ago, Helen was at home enjoying sleep which no longer came easy to him, and today he had to run a bunch of rookies through weapons certifications. The joy's of saving the world. And now, he gets a call to get to a phone and the Agent on Duty says he's sitting a call out, which was in violation of so many procedures… "Tasker," he said in a tired, frustrated tone.

What he heard next brought him to his knees…

A quiet, unsure voice, that spoke a single word… "Daddy?"

Spencer Trilby, head of Omega Sector, looked up from his sandwich, the first food he'd been able to grab for the past sixteen or so hours, at the Agent, no the damn rookie, who'd just come bursting in his office. "If this," he started as he set the sandwich down, "is not some vitally critical emergency I'm going to have you cataloging ice crystals in Alaska before morning."

The agent took a moment to catch his breath after sprinting across Sector headquarters in better time than he'd ever pulled off at the Academy. "Dana's on the phone…" he gasped.

Harry Tasker, the man who had stopped countless terrorist operations, thwarted power crazed dictators and endured tortures that would have killed most men, fell to his knees. Because of the voice of his daughter.

"Dana?" he asked, no begged, in a hushed, stunned tone. "Dana is that you?"

"It's… It's me daddy."

To hear his little girl's voice, after all this time, sent the man who faced death on a regular basis into tears. "Dana, are you ok?"

"I'm… I'm ok…" she said with a tremor in her voice.

"Oh god baby, we've been so worried about you…"

"I know… I'm, I'm sorry I… Please don't be mad at me…" Had anyone who knew Faith been able to hear her at that moment, they wouldn't have believed what they were hearing. The mighty Slayer, stripped of all her armor, all her bravado and strength. All because she was worried about the fact that her father might be mad at her. For these next few minutes, the resolute warrior Faith was once again Dana Tasker.

"Baby, we're not mad at you," said Harry. "We miss you and love you and we're so worried about you, but we're not mad at you."

"Promise?" asked Dana.

"I promise sweetheart. We're not mad at you at all… We just want you to home home. Why haven't you come home yet?" He realized that maybe there was a reason why his daughter decided to call now, as opposed to before. "Are you ok? Where are you?" he asked, not realizing that Omega's computers were already trying to trace the call.

"Daddy, I'm ok. Look," she paused, collecting her thoughts as well as getting a grip on her emotions. "I'm sorry I didn't call before, but I had, I still have, a lot I've got to take care of."

"Where are you? Tell me and I'll be there right away."

"I, I can't tell you that Dad. You and I both know that if I tell you where I'm at you and mom will come riding in to save me. I don't need saved, not now anyway." The young woman, older than time said she was, felt herself regaining her balance and her confidence as she realized that her parents still loved her, no matter what.

"Did that kid, that…" his mind tried to place the name, overwhelmed for the moment by the fact that his daughter, his Dana was ok. "Xander, did he do anything to you?"

Faith laughed. "Xander is one of the few men I know who I trust. He's up there with Uncle Spence and Uncle Gibb."

"Please baby, tell me where you are…" begged the big man.

"I'm safe dad. I… I can't come back to you and mom though. Maybe in a while I'll be able to come back and see you two, but not yet."

"I'm not going to be able to convince you, am I?" He knew he wouldn't. His daughter was just as stubborn and hard headed as he was. But if he could keep her on the line long enough… She'd be home, whether she wanted to come or not.

"Nope. Look, I swear to you, I'm as safe now as I was before you came clean to me and mom."

"That bad, eh?" he said before he could catch himself.

"It was a joke, Dad. Look, I'm good. I've got something that I'm good at and I'm helping people as I do it. I've got friends who have my back. I'm… I'm making a difference. Just like you do."

"Like I do?" said Harry Tasker, feeling both guilt and pride as his daughter said that.

"Yeah Dad, like you and mom both."

"Look, tell mom. Tell her I love her, and that I'm ok. I've got a good place to live, with a view of the river. I get fresh food from the market and I'm eating good vegetables. As soon as I can, I'll come to visit, but you guys have to understand that I've got something I have to do now, and you can't protect me from it."


"I know dad, its cool. Look, tell mom I love her.. Oh, wait… Mom, I love you.. Forgot all this is probably being recorded. Crap. Anyway, I love you mom, you too dad. I'm ok. If things get too bad, I'll scream for help, I promise. You guy's would be the second call I made. But I love you, never doubt that. I'll see you when I can, but I have stuff I can't get away from."

"Do you need anything Dana?" asked her father, who was feeling both relieved and more nervous at the same time.

"Just love from you and mom. Everything else would probably be bugged or tracked," she said with a laugh. "Look, I've got to go. You guys be safe. And Uncle Spence, don't try and track me down, like somebody else told you, I'm under your radar, but you're not under mine."

And with that, she was gone.

Harry just sat there on the floor, staring at the phone in his hands. Dana was ok, she was alive and… She was alive.

His next thought was that Helen was going to kill him for not getting her to come home.

Spencer Trilby listened to the taped conversation as Harry Tasker was summoned to his office. As his best agent, not to mention his friend, entered the office, looking more than a bit exhausted and yet relieved, the head of Omega Sector was on the phone screaming at some unfortunate soul. "I don't care who you have to wake up. If its not a priority three op or higher, I want the local surveillence teams scouring the area around the river as well as any fresh markets in the area and I want them in place within the hour. We take care of our own damnit. Now move!!!"

As he slammed the phone down, he looked up at Harry. "I'll have a team ready for you and Helen within the hour. It's the least we can do. We'll find her Harry, I swear to you, we'll find her."

"I know boss. But right now I've got to get home. Helen needs to hear this…." He started to turn to leave the office, then paused. "Are we doing the right thing, trying to track her down like this, Spencer? She called to let us know she's ok…"

"She called here Harry. Not your house, not your cell phone, here. To the number she knows is watched non-stop. If there's even the chance she's in danger, and from that punk told me, plus what she said, there is, we've got to make sure."

"I owe you one boss."

Trilby grinned. "Anybody who saves the world, I owe them one. I figure you've still got a favor or two left. Now go home, tell Helen Dana's alive and get your asses to supply!" His smile was reminiscint of Death's visage. "We go in at 0300, and God help anybody who's hurt her, because Omega Sector sure as hell won't."

A few moments later the head of Omega Sector sat behind his desk as he pondered what he would first of all to to anybody who hurt Dana, then to that Xander kid, and then finally to Dana herself for putting all of them through this in the first place. As possible torments, ranging from opening a Death Valley office to showing Dana's baby videos to any potential date, another agent ran into the office, a piece of paper clutched in his hand.

"We've got an address on that trace," he said as he got his breath back.

"What the fuck took so long? We're supposed to be the best and the brightest and it took you idiots till now to pin down a location? A bunch of two bit hackers from New York could do better!"

"They had trouble with the location sir. The number came through fine, but the area where the call orginated hasn't had its phone network upgraded yet by the local telco. So, it took us a bit longer than it should have."

"I don't want excuses! Now get the teams rolling!"

"Yo, Pres," came a call from across the room. "Something's up out here…."

Mickey K, known on the the streets as the Pres, looked up from the large stacks of cash arrayed on the table in front of him. "You idiot. How many times I told you, keep your mouth shut when I'm counting the take?!?"

The take to which the large, bizaarely dressed man referred was the profit of the day's drug sales in the greater DC area. The Pres, or Micheal Kennedy, as his mother and the legal system knew him as, was the big man in town. If you wanted weed, blow, smack or anything else, up to and including the newest designer drugs, then your money would flow through the hands of the Pres.

"I'm sorry dude, but something weird's going down. The street, its like completely empty."

"You're flapping your gums over the street being empty? You fuck wad, its three in the god damn morning, of course the street's fucking empty you fucking idiot." The proud recipient of a ninth grade education, at which point he'd been expelled for dealing weed in the locker room, Mickey K was somewhat limited in his vocabulary and ended up repeating his word choice several times in a diatribe. Yet somehow, the middle class white boy had managed to rise to the top of the dregs which ran the DC underground. A rise that was enabled by gratitous backstabbing and a high power assult rifle with mounted scope which he kept in excellent condition and close at hand at all times.

"No, its not just empty boss. I can't even see our lookouts."

"Those assholes better not be getting their ashes hauled or I'm going to…"

The description of what he was going to do was interrupted by a large portion of the ceiling, the interior wall and both doors exploding inwards as carefully placed lengths of det cord blew with a syncronization which could only be obtained by high end radio detonators.

Before the debris had even hit the floor, the room was swarmed with black suited figures. Figures whose laser sights speared the smoke filled room, looking for any sign of resistance.

"Kill the pigs!!!" screamed Mickey K as he grabbed for his rifle and rolled for the door to the back room.

Before he could even bring the weapon to firing position, he felt himself hit in the shoulder by a series of sledgehammer blows. As he spun around then towards the ground, losing his rifle in the process, he cursed internally. He paid good money, not to mention product to those assholes on the hill to make sure this shit didn't happen.

Then, as his head hit the floor and darkness took him, he heard the phone ring.

"I don't understand what went wrong," sputtered the team lead. "We had the address under surveillence minutes after you got us the address, but there was no sign of her."

"What do you mean there's no sign of her?!?!?" Spencer Trilby was not a happy camper. His god-daughter had slipped through his fingers again, and Harry and Helen were more than a little upset, although at least they knew she was alive.

"God damn it people. You're supposed to be some of the best in the business and you can't even get a line on a teenager with no support, no training and no resources! She's in DC. I want numa, I want that fucking hangar, I want everyone who had so much as a goddamn sneeze near her under survaleince again."

"Sir, you.."

"Did I ask for you to say anything?" demanded the irate boss. "When I want…"

The agent actually did the unspeakable and cut off Spencer Trilby in mid sentence. "Sir I really think you ought to see this." The agent led the Omega Sector chief to the answering machine mounted on the wall. "The entry team reported that the call came in after they were securing the prisoners."

A moment later, the confused Sector Chief pressed the play message button. "Hey Uncle Spence. I know that you've probably sent Mom and Dad home already, since there's no sign of me. Tell them I love them and I'm safe, but I'll come home when I'm ready, not a moment before. Like I said, I'm under your radar for a while. So, just relax and go save the world or something. Later."

The explosion that resulted, with an epicenter of the head of Omega Sector, nearly rivalled that of the Hiroshima blast.


(Timeline — About a week before school starts)

Harry Tasker didn't feel like a hero. He didn't feel like a special agent or the man who had saved several US cities on his own from nuclear annihilation.

As he lay on the bed, holding his crying wife, he didn't feel like much of anything special at all.

"Why won't she come home Harry?" sobbed the emotionally spent woman. "Why won't our baby come home?"

"She will, honey," he said as he stroked her hair reassuringly. "She said she's doing something important. And she'll come home when she's ready."

"I want my baby back," sobbed the distraught mother. "I've already lost…" A wracking sob cut off her sentence as her emotions flowed out with her tears. "I can't loose Dana too…"

And as she continued shaking, the man who had faced off alien hunters, multi-national arms dealing corporations and nuclear armed terrorists, lay there holding his wife, unable to stop her pain.

(Timeline — About a week before school starts)

The range was empty as the sun threatened to breech the horizon over the nation's capitol. Not that Spencer Trilby could see if, buried deep beneath the streets of Washington D.C. But somehow he knew it was close to banishing the darkness for yet another day.

As his weathered service issue pistol came up, one part of his mind focused on the target down range, another part focusing on the problem at hand.

A gentle squeeze of the trigger….

For the life of him, he didn't understand how Dana had again managed to slip through their fingers.

** BANG **

He loved her, but as soon as she was safe…

** BANG **

… he was going to strangle her for putting them all through this.

** BANG **

And when he got his hands on that brat from the hotel….

** BANG ** ** BANG ** ** BANG **

Yeah, that pretty much summed it up.

(Timeline — Two Days before school starts)

Faith was in the process of dumping her duffle bag on her bed when she heard a gentle knocking on the door to her new bedroom in the mansion.

"Got a minute?" asked Xander softly as she turned to face him.

"Unless you're havin' some performance issues Xan-man., a minute just ain't gonna cut it."

"Oh harr harr," he said in response as he leaned against the doorway. "Seriously, I just wanted to talk for a few, see how things were going."

Faith paused for a moment then told him to come on in. "Where's the rest of our ragged band of misfits and nere-do-wells?"

"Tara and Mikki wanted to go for a walk and Giles is on the phone trying to get some books shipped over before things get nasty."

"Sounds like other than the girls, we all need to get lives."

"We've got them already Faith, just not the kind that most folks really want." He looked at her as she sat on the edge of the bed. "Everything ok Faith?" he asked as he sat down next to her. "You seem…"

"I'll be fine," she responded even before he could finish the sentence.


"Seriously Xand, I'll be…"

"You know, lying to yourself is actually worse than lying to others."

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, thrown onto the defensive by the unexpected statement.

Xander just sat there, looking at her, till she gave in.

"Fine. I'm not five by five, that what you wanted to hear?"

"Is it the truth?"

"Yeah, it's the truth. You happy now?" Even as she snarled the answer at him, she could feel her brittle armor starting to buckle.

"Want to talk about it?"

She opened her mouth to say something, then bit the words back before she even let them out. After a heartbeat, her face softened just a bit and she seemed to slump into herself just a bit. "You got time?"

"Nothing but. One of the disadvantages of time travel is that everything's a rerun."

The raven haired warrior sat there for a moment, unsure of what to say. That moment stretched into minutes, then longer, as Faith was unsure of what to say.

Eventually, she looked at him and spoke, breaking the silence. "You gonna say anything X?"

"Nope, not here to talk, am hear to listen."

"You'd sit there all night, wouldn't you."

"And till the sun rose, as long as you need me, I'm here for you."

Without warning, Faith wrapped her arms around her friend and hugged him, then let go, the tears welling up in her eyes. "I don't…"

"You don't have to," came the response as he reached out and wiped her tears away.

"I know, but I want to." Then, as the tears flowed, as a friend, a lover and a comrade in arms held her, the woman who was both Dana Tasker and Faith, the Vampire Slayer, let out a little bit of the pain she held within as she told a small bit of her story.

And was accepted for who, underneath all the layers, all the armor and all the masks, for who she truly was.

After all, that's what Friends and Family are for….


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