For Pre-Part 40 parts, check here
And now, Part 40 for Living History
Continued from here
Amazing. Simply amazing. She managed to blow it with Robin to the point that he's shacking up with an unhappy Giles. She managed to alienate Xander even more, which considering her little attack of the violence on him back in the day, was quite the trick. And she managed to do it in one fell swoop because she couldn't resist getting in that one last jab at Robin.
Overachiever. That's her all the way.
One thing Faith knew: if you really wanted to bring a man to his knees, kick him in the nuts. She managed to kick Robin in his nuts hard enough to shatter whatever feeling he had for her into vampire dust. Bonus, she ripped out Xander's heart at the same time, but not over ancient history. No sir. Because that would require Xander to give a shit about her beyond the fact that she was human and breathing and occasionally fought by his side and would feel obligated to save her ass if she got in over her head.
That look on his face when...well, pretty much says it all doesn't it? She knows that slack-jawed-don't-say-anything-to-make-i
Christ. Maybe this fucking "connection" Xander claimed they had before she tried to shut him up permanently wasn't about skin. Maybe it was because he got that part of her life in a way no one else got without her saying a word. She wondered what her tells were.
Now she gets it. A little fucking late now, the ultimate day late and a dollar short. And the only reason why she finally got it was because of Xander's little tell in that masked expression. How the fuck did anyone miss that? How many fucking years did they just not see it? And which is worse? Being the new girl in town living in a crappy motel room and no one seeming to care? Or your life-long friends not even caring that you've got some serious shit to deal with whenever you step behind closed doors with the people who are supposed to love you?
Be honest here, both pretty much suck, they just suck in a different way, Faith thought angrily as she gave the cigarette a hard pull. Goddamn fucking spider. Goddamn fucking web. All these goddamn connections...
But the ultimate in this whole little clusterfuck? She again fell back on old habits because she fucking panicked, because she fucking lost control. How not to surprise herself.
Loser. That's her to the capital L.
Can't quit smoking. Can't have a reasonable conversation. Doesn't bode well for her no-more-going-evil resolve. Think they got a 12 stepper for that one? 'Cause I think I need me a sponsor, Faith thought as she scrunched the cigarette under her boot heel on the front steps. She thought briefly of calling Angel, but Angel was all about helping when shit was raining from the sky; not so much with tempests in kitchen-sized teapots.
I should be a hell of a lot more upset about this looking like this is it with Robin, Faith thought as she went back into the house. As she walked through the living room to the stairs, she didn't even register the crowd of Slayers along with their guests from the future fixated on the television screen while two of the girls went at it with joysticks. Maybe I'm not more upset because I'm not surprised. Me and duty were an either/or proposition, never an and. Deep down I knew that. I'm such a fucking 'tard for not seeing it, that's what I am.
Talking to Robin right now is a lost cause. She'll at least try to...well apologize about the last bit about dragging sex into what was a legitimate fight after he cooled down. But other than that, she had to admit that no matter what, their relationship was deader than a vampire with a stake to the heart.
What she had to do was find Xander. Given how she owes him a delayed apology for much bigger shit, and since she used him to stab Robin in the gut, she has to try to tackle this right away because she doubts Xander's going to let her anywhere near him for anything resembling a one-on-one once he's had time to think about it.
She wasn't afraid of the spider any more, mostly because it was all out of her hands.
Besides, if that little party in the kitchen didn't kill it dead, nothing would.
Xander stared empty-eyed at the pages, more than a little overwhelmed. It wasn't the contents that were scaring the crap out of him. Oh, no. Big Brother from the future had made sure to keep all the good bits out of sight.
It was what the book represented. And he wasn't talking about Watching around the world with Faith, either. He hated it. If anything was going to push him to leave, this was it. No one was going to dictate his future, and that included one future Alexander Lavelle Harris.
A small noise startled him and he looked up to see Faith fidgeting uncomfortably.
"I, unh, back there. I was being an asshole and..." she began.
"I'm not talking to you."
"Look, I came to say...You have no idea what prompted that fight. If you knew the real deal..."
"And I'm calling bullshit on that. You said what you said just so you could put a real hurt on Robin and it put me in a bad spot," Xander growled. "I don't fucking care who you're screwing these days, but you keep me out of your fights with the latest fuck toy, got it?"
"Hey, gimme some credit here. I didn't drop the bombshell that would really piss him off, did I?"
Xander froze. "What do you know?"
"Thought you weren't talking to me."
Faith sighed and shrugged. "I was sneaking a smoke when you confronted Catherine, then stuck around after you left to salvage your rep. Satisfied?"
"Okay, you've got a right to be royally pissed."
"'Pissed' is just the beginning when it comes to you and this whole wonderful situation."
"Again, not saying you don't have the right, but will you let me fini-"
"I want out."
That stopped her and she refocused on him. "What?"
"I don't want this. Screw it. Just because some book says..."
"What are you talking about?"
He held up the journal and slapped it down on the table. "I lied."
"The whole entry for Moscow? Made up. Not true."
"Hold up. The whole description of Catherine's gang was on the money."
"The rest of it is not," Xander scrubbed his face. "Which means..."
Both Faith and Xander jumped at the unexpected interruption. They turned to see Catherine backed by everyone, including Ms. Tikri, crowded in the doorway.
"Where's your Slayer guard?" Faith asked.
"Ummm, got involved with some vid contest," Charlie said, cowing under the combined glares of Xander and Faith. "Doom. Not exactly an uplifting name."
Catherine swept into the empty library, eyes blazing. "You found something," she tersely said.
Xander looked down and frowned. "Is English your first language?"
"No. We understand the spoken language because of our translation implants," here Catherine tapped her left ear, "but I can read a number of ancient languages, including English."
"But it's not your first language," Xander pressed. "Which means you might miss out on things like subtext or differences in how one page is written versus another page, right? What am I talking about? You didn't even realize that the Arrow was a book."
Catherine raised her eyebrows. "I suppose, but this archive has been in my family for generations, so it's highly unlikely that something like differences in writing style would escape notice. Besides, aspects of your personality are..."
"You don't know me," Xander harshly interrupted.
"For the record, we know quite a lot about you," J'Nal sniffed. "Much of both your lives are extensively covered in the historical record, not just from your own journals, but from the journals of third parties and other contemporary sources."
"But everyone is only telling you what they want you to know. They're not about to make themselves look bad," Xander contradicted.
"You haven't read the rest of your journals," Catherine protested. "You're always willing to admit when..."
"Catherine..." Charlie warned quietly.
"But what he's saying is wrong," Catherine said.
"You didn't even know I was blind on the left. Hell, you didn't even know I liked comic books until I told you," Xander pointed out. "Yet if you ask anyone in this building, they could've told you that much without even thinking."
"Hey, I didn't know about the comics," Faith protested.
"You've never asked, so why would you?" Xander crossed his arms.
"So that's your beef," Faith responded through narrowed eyes.
"How can it just be a lie?" Ms. Tikri asked. "This entry is part of a journal. It was even in the right..."
"It was planted at just the right time to push you right here where you were supposed to be all along," Xander bitterly said. "Everything about you guys in Moscow is a big fat work of fiction. And not even a good one. Assface is lying through his Watcher teeth."
"That's impossible," J'Nal protested.
"Heard ya the first time," Faith said. "Still waiting for the explanation."
"Okay, first off, you said that we found the Arrow That Points the Way--and I can't remind you enough that you guys with all your future knowledge couldn't even figure out that it was a book of street maps that you can find anywhere--right here in Cleveland. Am I right?" Xander asked
"Yes," Catherine replied.
"So, let me see, we here in Cleveland find ourselves a mystical Arrow--and once again, I just gotta say 'street maps' just because I feel like it's worth beating that concept over your heads--in Cleveland, an Arrow who's main mission in its existence is to Point the Way to the grail. A grail that exists, and get this, only in Moscow. So, mystical Arrow that's not exactly mystical that tells you how to get to the grail, which is located on the other side of the planet." Xander paused to let all that sink in before adding, "Do you remember any information from anywhere that indicated that we went looking for this Arrow, found it, and figured out what it was used for?"
The Watcher Honoria thought about it, eyes narrowing. "I don't precisely remember, especially since the details of our visit to Moscow are very sketchy. But as you just pointed out, repeatedly I might add, that the Arrow isn't actually anything special."
"See? That's exactly my point," Xander slapped a hand down on the closed journal for emphasis. "Plus, if by some weird chance that our screaming yellow book of street maps had an X that marked the spot for this grail, which is supposed to be a powerful focus for major league magic, you'd think going to get it would've been priority A-number-fucking-one with a bullet and you'd have major coverage from somebody?"
"You forget that your people are rather busy wrestling with the logistics of building your Council and Gathering the Slayers," J'Nal reasonably pointed out.
"Plus, Giles stressed to me that traveling to Moscow isn't as easy as wishing yourself there," Charlie added. "It could be that you and Faith couldn't get to Moscow before 2008."
"How about why we wanted the grail in the first place? How did we find out about it? How did it come to our attention?" Xander demanded.
Catherine winced. "I didn't review the records from this time period because we weren't supposed to be here. I don't know off the top of my head and without access to the ancient records. I can't give you an answer."
Xander crossed his arms. "Okay, fine. Let's move logically from there. Me and Faith in 2008 meet up with you guys in Moscow. Following?"
"Yes," Catherine said tightly.
"We're supposedly looking for a Slayer and the grail, using an Arrow map book that we found in Cleveland."
"Yes," Catherine nodded.
"You show up, working together we find the grail, and then we give it to you without even a thought."
Faith let out a low whistle. "That's not gonna happen."
"As you pointed out, we can't know everything no matter how detailed the historical record," Charlie reasoned. "Who's to say that there wasn't a discussion or an argument? For all you and we know, we could've just taken it."
"You might," Faith commented as she studied Charlie. "Bets are your boss would kick your ass if you did. I'm thinking Catherine here wouldn't be so hot on armed robbery, which is what it would probably take to get a very important mystical weapon out of our hands. Plus, I think Ruda would kill you if either Xander or me got so much as scratched."
"See? See? You're all getting my point," Xander interrupted. "There's nothing in the journal to indicate that anything happened at all. No discussion. No argument. No stealing. Xander Senior here says we gave it to you and you left. That's it."
Faith was deep in thought. "Okay, possible explanation there. Our friends tell us what the grail is used for, we realize that it's useless to us, and we turn it over since they need it."
"And we take them at their word," Xander flatly stated.
"We're basically taking them at their word that they're from the future, so why the hell not?" Faith countered.
"I have more proof," Xander said.
"I was afraid you'd say that." Catherine seemed half-convinced.
"There are no Arrow street maps for Moscow. They're exclusively North America," Xander said.
"Yet. Could change," Catherine argued.
"Let me finish. All those words that are directions to get to the grail? Lakeside? Superior? East? Summer? Street names. Cleveland street names. The Canada bit was the bastard's way of being cute. He meant Ontario. Erie isn't a description of a cemetery, but the name of a cemetery. Here. In the city."
Faith let out a low whistle.
"But..." J'Nal began.
"It gets better. When I figured it out, I grabbed Willow and talked her into putting the whammy on the journal so we could break the blocking spell."
"You didn't..." Catherine began.
"Manage it? No. Every spell Willow tried, nothing happened. Except for her last attempt. End result? A spell that turned Willow's skin blue and freed up a couple of pages which contained, get this, Assface's idea of a joke written in Klingon."
"Klingon?" J'Nal asked. "I don't recall any ancient language..."
"That odd writing," Catherine's eyes were wide. "There's been a lot of controversy about the translations and there are a lot of competing...you can read this language?"
"Oh, yeah. And I don't appreciate reading the equivalent of nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah with a Moe-like poke in my one good eye followed by instructions on how to cast a counter-spell to change Willow back from her new and fetching Smurf look."
"Is she hurt?" Charlie asked. "I can take care of magical injuries if you need..."
"It's okay. She's got the counter-spell covered," Xander grimaced. "Although she's not a happy Willow, she's a Willow that'll recover with a minimum of trauma."
"So the spell did what it was supposed to do," J'Nal said. "Prevent you from seeing..."
"Which means that your great -rah knew exactly what spells Willow would try to open that book," Xander said. "Only way he'd know that is if I knew it and had already tried it."
"Still doesn't prove anything," Catherine said. "Willow could've tried the same series of spells five years from now."
"A Willow who wasn't even in Moscow at the time," Xander pointed out.
"Shit," Faith said.
"I'm not done," Xander snarled. "See, thing is, I was being my usual stupid self and just treating this," he slapped the cover of the book, "like it's just another Watcher's journal, as in one written by stranger."
"Technically, he is a stranger," Charlie pointed out.
"But it's still me and it's written by me," Xander growled back. "So I had to figure out what I would do if I were future Xander keeping nosy kids out of my stuff."
"You had to get inside your own head," Faith said.
"To figure it out," Xander said glumly.
"Sounds like you're not to happy with what you found. Self-examination can be a real kick in the teeth," Faith said with sympathy. She winced. "Sorry. Prison therapy sessions. Promise to keep the psychobabble bullshit to a minimum."
"And what did you figure out?" Ruda asked with wide eyes.
"See, here's something that doesn't make sense. The entry where he talks about going to Moscow? He's talking about he and Faith trolling around the city. He doesn't even get to naming either one of the Slayer candidates. No Arrow. No grail. Nothing. It's all about the Slayer. No, that's not right. It's all about Moscow," Xander hopped to his feet, grabbed the journal off the table, and angrily began pacing around the group waving the book in the air like a preacher at a tent revival. "Then in the middle of a sentence he switches tactics and mentions, just in passing mind you, that you guys show up in Moscow. After that he then mentions the Arrow and this grail. First time. The only time. He doesn't even get into why it needs to be found. Even better, he conveniently gives us the street directions, Cleveland street directions, to find the grail."
"We never appeared in Moscow 2008," Catherine quietly said. "We were meant to show up here all along."
"That's good, right?" J'Nal asked. "Means we kept the timeline pure."
Xander glared at Faith.
"Hey! What's your problem?" she shot back.
"I don't like being told what to fucking do with my life," he snarled. He whipped around to face Catherine. "You can take your lovely bloodline and kiss it goodbye. I'm not cooperating."
And with that, he stalked out of the room with the journal tucked under his arm.
You can see the meltdown coming, can'tchya?