Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Summary: Xander’s got a plan, but life keeps interfering.
Genre: Future fic, dark fic
Note: Just so you know, this is the part with the smut. It's also the part with the mention of child rape (completely unrelated to the smut). You've been hereby warned for potential triggers.
“Man, oh, man. That was great. I really needed that.”
“Shit, yeah. It was a fucking honor and privilege to be part of something so beautiful.”
Xander threw a companionable arm around Faith’s shoulders as they walked across the sand back to their original position. “I can’t believe it. We nailed them mid-thrust.”
“I was so sure they were stoned before we got close enough to get whiff,” Faith whooped. “And all they got on ’em is a six-pack? With none of the bottles opened? There’s horny, and then there’s stupid teen-aged horny.”
“Always delicious,” Xander agreed. “And speaking of horny, not to mention popping off after not even 5-minutes’ worth of thrust, I barely sink my hunk-a-hunk of burnin’ love into you, as the King would say, and you’re baying at the sky.”
“Hey, what the fuck did you expect? With the accent on fuuuuck.” Faith elbowed Xander in the ribs hard enough to cause him to stumble.
They reached the seawall and their now-forgotten plate of Kelly’s deliciousness. Xander dropped the duffle back onto the sand. Although it had been awkward bringing it along, he didn’t feel comfortable leaving it behind. There was always a chance that someone would look down, see an unattended bag, and make off with it while they were busy.
Faith, meanwhile, was still exalting over the successful conclusion of the side-plan and the righteous screwing that followed. “You know a perfect payoff like that gets my panties good and soaked.” Faith flung out her arms and spun around in a circle as she laughed. “I saw you standing there, and I couldn’t resist.”
“Yeah, but you’re not the one with a raging case of blue balls,” Xander good-naturedly complained.
“Really.” Faith sauntered up to him in walk that still managed to be sultry despite the fact she was moving across uneven sand.
“Really.” Xander leaned back against the seawall as he watched her approach with an appreciative expression. “It’s very painful.”
Faith pressed up against him. “Hmmmm, guess I’m gonna hafta take care of that.”
“I'm sure you'll think of something,” Xander encouraged her with a low voice.
Faith’s grin matched the predatory gleam in her eyes as she reached for his fly. “Now don’t forget my name. It’s ‘Oh, God,’ in case you forget.”
She freed his cock with a deft reach-in-and-pull-out action as she slid down the length of his body. Xander’s head thunked back against the cement wall. The logical part of his brain, the part that had kept him kicking around Africa with his skin intact for 11 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days after fate threw him a U-turn, and the northeastern United States for 1 month and 4 days after hooking up with Faith, told him that it would’ve been smarter to keep his mouth shut and suffer in silence. He couldn’t afford to be distracted in this way right this second.
When Faith’s mouth closed around his cock, all thoughts of caution flew right out of his head.
He got himself more comfortable, and looked down to watch Faith’s head bobbing up and down along his length. Much as he wanted to add to the friction by moving his hips to bring himself off a little faster, he held off and instead let her do all the work. A leisurely blowjob seemed to him to be just the thing he needed to take the edge off.
Xander placed a hand on Faith’s head to encourage her as he made low, moaning noises.
Faith, taking the hint, added a little teeth-scrapping action as she took him deeper and deeper into her mouth and down her throat.
Xander moaned his approval with an “Oooooh, Goooood.”
The low chuckle Faith managed to give in response while expertly sucking him off sent a bolt of electricity up his spine.
Just when he was getting into it, his cell phone rang.
Fuck careful, just this once.
“Don’t you dare stop,” he said in a strangled voice as he shakily patted down the inside pocket of his leather jacket.
Faith slowed down the pace of her bobbing and backed off on the deep throat action, all the better to have him really beg for the big finish after he was done with this call Xander supposed. He pulled out the cell and checked the number of the incoming call on the screen. He groaned, this time not with pleasure.
“It’s the…it’s the Council house…in the city,” he managed to get out.
Faith released him from her mouth with a plop.
That’s when Xander decided to really, really fuck careful. “Keep going,” he ordered Faith.
This earned him a feral grin from Faith and she went back to work.
As he flipped open his cell, he cleared his throat. “Yes?” he answered shortly.
Faith began licking a circle around the head of his penis as she stared up at him with amused eyes.
“Xander? Are you all right? You sound rather harried.”
Xander stood bolt upright. “Giles?” he asked with shock.
Faith immediately stopped what she was doing and stared up at him in dumb surprise.
Giles chuckled. “I’m not entirely sure from the tone of your voice that you’re pleased I’m here.”
Xander’s mind raced. “Here? As in Boston here?”
Giles was immediately on alert. “Xander? What’s wrong?”
“I’m actually relieved and ecstatic to hear your voice. Shocked, but still relieved and ecstatic,” Xander answered. “You have no idea what kind of night we’ve had.”
“I was about to tell you the same thing,” Giles said. The trepidation in his voice couldn’t have been clearer. “I had to be teleported over here so I could help deal with the emergency.”
Xander groaned as he envisioned his perfect plan falling to pieces. He should’ve known. Him. Of all people. He should’ve fucking known. “Emergency? What emergency?”
Faith was on her feet in a flash. She leaned in close, probably so she could capture snippets of whatever Giles was going to say with her super-sensitive hearing. Xander re-arranged his position so Faith could more easily listen in on Giles’s half of the conversation.
“It appears that your distraction failed,” Giles said. “When the Boston contingent descended on the safe house in Watertown, all of the vampire guards were still in place around the magic users and the jewel.”
Xander resisted the urge to tuck his rapidly softening cock back into his pants and zip up his fly. Dealing with Giles was far too important to get distracted by the trivial. “That’s impossible. Faith and I have been playing tag with a bunch of their minions all night.”
“Bloody hell. Are you sure?” Giles asked.
“They’re wearing the armband with that stylized snake on it, so, yeah, I’m very, very sure,” Xander answered.
“Where are you now?” Giles asked. “We attempted a tracking spell on the off-chance that your protection had failed, but we got nothing for our trouble. In one sense, it’s good news. In the other…well, I suppose it means that in many ways you and Faith are left without a safety net.”
Xander felt all the tension release from his shoulders. Whatever else had gone wrong, the spell that shielded them from tracking spells that had been cast on Faith and himself after the clusterfuck that was Providence — on Giles’s insistence that it was for their own protection, no less — still held. As long as they had that, they still had their escape hatch.
“We managed to get them to chase us all the way into Harvard Square,” Xander answered, deftly leading Giles back on plan. True it was his plan and not the Council’s, but Giles didn’t know that.
“How on earth did you get them to chase you so far afield?” Giles sounded startled.
“Guess they still remember us from the raid we pulled on some of their boys in Atlantic City,” Xander confidently lied.
Faith grinned at him as she mouthed, “Naughty, naughty.”
“Ah, yes. That tricky business with Harrah’s Casino,” Giles said.
“Anyway, we managed to pull them away with, believe it or not, a car chase that stuck to the speed limit and had very little running of the red lights or driving the wrong way up one-way streets as a bonus feature. Guess they don’t want to deal with a phalanx of pissed-off cops stretching across several towns any more than we do. We’ve ditched the car. Right now Faith is a half-block away trying to hotwire another one, just in case someone reported our rental driving erratically and called our license plate in to the police.”
Faith mouthed the words “Brattle Street” at him.
“Just to let you know, we left the rental in some parking lot off Brattle Street in Cambridge. At least, that’s the street name Faith told me. Couldn’t exactly tell you where though, since me not so much with being the local and the whole part where we were running for our lives,” Xander added.
“Sod the rental, Xander,” Giles said with irritation. “Are you and Faith hurt?”
Xander gave Faith the thumb’s up sign. “Aside from the fact that my heart’s pounding, my palms are sweating, my stomach is permanently taking up residence in my throat, and the neck strain from constantly looking over my shoulder since the sun went down, I’m fine. As for Faith, she’s having a blast. It’s a hell of a welcome home party for her.”
“What’s your situation?” Giles was all business now.
“I think we managed to shake them for the time being, but it’s hard to tell.” Xander liked the layer of uncertainty he added to his tone. “There’s a lot of people out on the streets, which, duh, that’s why Faith thought this was the perfect place to keep them off-balance while we play tag with them. The problem is that even if our shadows decided to keep the armbands instead of ditching them to throw us off, we might not spot them before they’re on top of us.”
Giles breath on the other end of the line was shaky. “It appears your refuge is a double-edged sword.”
“And how,” Xander agreed. “Look, not to get all whiny high-school style, but do you have any idea how much longer Faith and I have to play pop-go-the-weasel with these guys? Because I have to tell you, I don’t like our chances if they catch up to us. They looked pretty pissed.”
“The good news is that we have the Oblique Jewel in our hands,” Giles began. “As soon as Faith is done, ahem, ‘borrowing’ your chosen mode of transportation you may feel free to slip away unnoticed. Simply tell us where to deliver the jewel so you can safely smuggle it out of the city.”
Xander felt a low nervous flutter in his stomach. Giles was leaving too much unsaid, starting with the real reason why he was here. “What are you going to do?”
“What I came to do,” Giles mysteriously answered.
“Which explains exactly nothing.” Xander didn’t bother to hide the tone of complaint.
“There’s been a slight change in plans. It’s readily apparent that we have a leak somewhere in our organization,” Giles said.
It took everything Xander had not to laugh out loud with relief. He knew damn well that there was no leak. It’s just that Faith and he had plans of their own, part of which involved them not doing their part to make the local Slayers’ jobs easier. It was all about keeping the Council house off-balance because it was dealing with more pissed off cultists out for blood than they expected once the jewel was stolen from its place of honor. Still, there must’ve been more vampire guards on the jewel than even Xander’s intelligence had indicated if they yanked Giles himself across the Atlantic on an emergency teleport.
“Xander?” Giles asked with worry in his voice. “Are you still there?”
“Sorry. Too busy processing. That is not news I really loved hearing,” Xander quickly answered.
“It seems the cult has been one step ahead of us since you made contact with Faith in Atlantic City. And heaven knows the less said about the mess they caused when they caught up with the pair of you in Providence the better,” Giles said. “Your news further suggests that they may have significantly enhanced the protective contingent around the Oblique Jewel in preparation for an attack that they couldn’t possibly know was coming.”
“Don’t tell me that. Please don’t tell me that.” Xander threw a touch of begging in his voice. “We’re royally boned if that’s even remotely true.”
“Not necessarily,” Giles soothed. “Jane and her Watchers are planning an ambush in an abandoned warehouse on the waterfront in East Boston. I will, of course, be the bait.”
The news of Giles’s untimely arrival was getting better and better. “Bait?” Xander asked.
“Yes. I’m going to be casting a containment spell, ostensibly to prevent the jewel from being touched by human hands,” Giles explained in a low, furtive voice. “We’re hoping it will draw all the cultists in the greater Boston area, as well as the jewel’s Praetorian Guard, to our spot. Needless to say, every active Slayer and Watcher in the city will be waiting to greet them when they arrive.”
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Even though he had been preparing for this night for a year, events had managed to top his admittedly high hopes.
“I hope it works,” Xander said when he was sure he’d be able to keep the happiness out of his voice.
Xander paused a beat as he debated with himself. Even though he knew Buffy, Willow, and Dawn were all tied up thanks to those false prophecies he planted in the Council’s database under Andrew’s user name, Giles would think it was weird if he didn’t at least mention the old gang. Still, there was always the risk that bringing them up would give Giles the bright idea to teleport any one of them — or worse, all three of them — to Boston to help with Giles’s crisis.
It wasn’t exactly an idle concern, either. Hell, he never in a million years expected Giles to make a surprise guest appearance, and yet here he was.
“Xander? Is everything all right?” Giles asked.
Xander silently cursed. He hesitated just a little bit too long. “Sorry. I thought I saw a suspicious shadow. Turned out to be nothing. Just some hipster in Army surplus,” Xander said. “I was going to ask, though. Why you? Where the hell is Willow? Or Buffy for that matter? Heck, how about Dawn? She’s been known to cast a spell or two in her day.”
“Unfortunately, Willow and Dawn are still embroiled in that business in Hong Kong. Although the rumors about Lord Ashmiran were false, as it turns out, he was hiding a certain amount of black magical activity from the Council. He was…displeased by their investigations into his affairs. As for Buffy, she is en route to St. Petersburg to help the Council house there thwart a prophecy about an ascension,” Giles said.
Xander grinned at Faith, who looked as relieved as he felt. “When it rains, it pours.”
“Indeed. And given the fact that we have no notion who our leak might be, I had no idea who was still trustworthy within our organization. I had to come myself to deal with this business,” Giles said.
“Yeah, well, I so owe you a beer when this over. I owe you a keg of beer.” Xander hoped he wasn’t piling it on too thick.
Giles chuckled. “I’ll collect once we’re safely in London and basking in a job well done. American bitters are beastly.”
“Not to mention actually chilled.” Xander dramatically paused. “Hold on. Faith’s heading back here and she’s signaling me to make myself less seen.”
Xander brought the cell phone down and covered the mouth piece.
“Stick with original plan,” he whispered in her ear before handing the cell phone off to her. “And remember, you think he’s in London.”
“G? No shit? Harris twittered in my ear that you were on the other end of the line,” Faith said. “And what’s with the call from London? The Council accountants are gonna have a stroke when they get a load of Harris’s expense report.”
Xander leaned in so he could pick up Giles’s half of the conversation.
“You’re here? As in Boston here?” Faith cheekily grinned at Xander as she angled herself so both of them could both more easily share the phone.
“I suppose Xander forgot to mention that.” Giles’s voice was soft as it floated out of the phone’s earpiece.
“He didn’t get a chance to tell me before I snatched this sucker out of his hand,” Faith said.
“Yes, well, there’s been a change in plans,” Giles began.
Even though Xander wasn’t doing anything more than just listening, Faith said, “Harris is shaking his head ‘no’ at me, which I guess means he’ll fill me in about your deal later.”
“In the interests of time, that might be best,” Giles agreed.
“Anyways, I’ve hotwired us a Zipcar,” Faith said.
“A what?” Giles asked.
As Faith quickly explained what one was, Xander nodded in satisfaction. Getting his hands on a Zipcar card really had been a stroke of luck. Since the real owner was no longer among the living, he felt pretty confident about using the stolen account to their advantage by using the card to borrow a car from one of the Harvard Square parking spots for a few days.
“Anyways, as soon as we spot them sons of bitches, we’re ready to lead ’em on another chase,” Faith finished.
Xander startled. He couldn’t believe it. Faith really had been listening to him about the importance of being careful and paying attention to the details. She remembered that she wasn’t supposed to know that Giles had told them it was safe for them to go underground.
“Actually, some good news there. You and Xander may lose your shadows,” Giles said.
“Shit. Okay. The Zipcar can still work,” Faith said as she winked at Xander.
“You sound…rather disappointed,” Giles stuttered.
“Nah. I’m good. It’s just I picked a car with a big-ass corporate logo on the doors to make it easy for these losers to follow us,” Faith said.
“Perhaps you should choose another, less conspicuous vehicle.” Giles sounded nervous.
“Don’t want to take a chance hanging around longer than I need to,” Faith said. “It’ll be fine. I mean, who’s stupid enough to steal a Zipcar? Especially when you’re trying to avoid callin’ attention to yourself. It’ll be like camouflage in reverse.”
“Be careful.” Giles paused. “And Faith, we still need a rendezvous point where we can hand the Oblique Jewel off to you and Xander so it’ll be obscured by your protective spell.”
“Hang on. Let me think.” Faith smiled as she tapped her finger against her lips 10 times. “Okay, got it. I seem to remember hearing something about a baby Slayer on the North Shore somewhere. High school age and a local. You know who I’m talking about, right?”
“Let me check.” There was a muffled sound that lasted for less than a minute. “You must be referring to Zoe, of course. I’ve been informed she lives in Swampscott.”
Xander resisted the urge to yell, “Score!”
Faith flashed him the thumb’s up sign as her grin got wider. “Perfect.”
“You’re not planning to show up on her doorstep, are you?” Giles sounded slightly alarmed.
“What? And take a chance of leading these mooks to her front door? I’m crazy, but I’m not about to put everything she holds dear in deep shit.” Faith managed to sound affronted. “Just tell me that she’s got a license to drive, and I may have the perfect place where we can meet.”
There were more muffled sounds from Giles’s end before he got back on the phone. “Jane informs me that she not only has her driver’s license, but her own runabout.”
Xander serenely nodded. So far, so good. His snooping through the Council’s records using Andrew’s username and password had yielded him information that was right on the money.
“G, I could kiss you.” Faith could barely contain her glee. “Okay, here’s what you do. You ring her up and give her all the info about our contact. Way I figure it she’s been kept so far out of this that no one will be watching her. Once you’re done giving her the 411, send her ass over to Revere so she can pass the intel onto us.”
“Revere?” Giles asked. “Where on earth—”
“City just down the road from her hometown,” Faith interrupted. “Bonus, Revere’s something like 30 or 45 minutes north of Boston, depending on traffic. It’s a far enough away that the drooling gorillas won’t think to travel that kind of distance up Route 1 to look for us, but close enough that we can get there with no problem.”
“I must say, so far this does sound ideal.” Giles’s relief practically floated out of the phone and gave Faith a loving pat on the head. “Anywhere in particular?”
“Tell her to head for Wonderland station,” Faith answered.
“Wonderland?” Giles sounded somewhat taken aback.
“Yeah. As in Alice in Wonderland. Don’t worry. Our girl should know where it is the second you drop the name. We’ll leave the Zipcar in beachside parking lot, so she should be able to spot it easy enough,” Faith said.
“Beach?” Giles asked.
“Like I said, don’t sweat it. The girl’ll know what you’re talking about even if you don’t,” Faith rapidly said.
A wave of inspiration swept over Xander. He motioned to Faith that he wanted to get back on the phone with Giles.
Faith held up one finger to signal that she wasn’t done spitting out her directions. “Tell her that as soon as she parks her car in that same lot, she’s to call my cell.”
“Where are you and Xander going to be?” Giles asked.
“Staying the hell out of sight just in case,” Faith said. “There’s a million dark bars down on the boulevard within easy walking distance. I figure we’ll tuck ourselves in a corner and blend in with the local flora and fauna. As soon as I get the call, one of us’ll jog up the street to meet her. Bonus, we should be able to tell you whether it’s all clear for the jewel to make the trip, or if we’ll have to change locations again because the fang-face set turned out to be a whole lot smarter than I thought.”
“I must say, your cloak and dagger skills have sharply improved.” Giles sounded like he was blinking in confusion.
“Hey, 3 years in Atlantic City ducking human organized crime while fighting non-human organized crime will do that for ya.” Faith gave Xander a broad wink. “Seat-of-the-pants planning has become my stock in trade. Ask any of the Council boys and gals in Jersey.”
Giles actually chuckled. “Reports of your Atlantic City activities have quite a following in London. One wag suggested that we paint a patina of fiction over the business and sell books to raise money for the Slayer Emergency Support Fund.”
“Just thank me in the dedication, and I’ll call it square,” Faith magnanimously said. “Before you hang up, Harris is waving his hands. Guess he wants to talk to you.”
“Put him on.”
Faith quickly handed him the phone, licked her lips, and dropped to her knees.
Xander was taken by complete surprise. “Faith, what?”
Faith slurped his half-soft cock into her mouth as an answer.
“Oh. Oh!” Xander exclaimed.
“What is it?” asked Giles’s worried voice.
“N-n-nothing,” Xander stuttered as Faith gently used her tongue and teeth to tease him back into full hardness. “She’s…she’s checking to make sure that…y’know…no one’s giving us the h-h-hairy eyeball.”
“Your voice indicates otherwise. You sound rather jumpy, in fact,” Giles said.
He really, really needed to get Faith to stop. Except she was doing that thing with her tongue and the tip of his penis that always drove him blind with want-take-have.
Xander bit his lip and forced his voice into something resembling steady. “That’s because I am. I feel like I’ve been standing in one place too long for comfort.”
Faith slid her mouth back down along his length with painful slowness.
“But before you go, I just wanted to say…” Xander coughed to prevent a groan from escaping his mouth. “I’m…I’m glad you’re here. Watching…y’know…watching my back. If Buffy and Will…Willow were here…it’d be…it’d be like…y’know…” Xander bit down on his bottom lip as Faith began to hum ‘Yankee Doodle’ around his cock. “Old times,” he finished in rush when he was sure he wouldn’t be moaning in Giles’s ear.
“Xander, we’ll muddle through. I promise you.” Giles’s voice was a mix of intensity, worry, and affection. “We’ve been in far worse scrapes. Lord knows you know that.”
Xander was too busy biting his tongue hard enough to draw blood to immediately answer. Unfortunately, all that did was make the Big O that much closer.
“Xander?” Giles asked.
“Yeah. I know. Oh, God. I know.” Xander’s voice wavered.
Faith suddenly pulled back and stuffed a fist in her mouth. Her shoulders shook with unvoiced laughter as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“It’s just that I’ll feel better hearing that when me and Faith are safe in London,” Xander said in a relieved rush. “In the meantime, I’ll be worrying about what else can go wrong before we land at Heathrow.”
“Between the trap at my end and Faith’s quick thinking, I truly believe that a positive outcome is in sight.” Giles sounded reassuring.
“Knock wood,” Xander solemnly said. An evil notion struck him and he gestured at Faith to indicate that he wanted her to resume her previous position. “And Giles, I know I’ve said this about a million times already, but knowing you’re here somehow makes this not as bad. Y’know?”
There was a long pause at the other end as Faith once more slurped down Xander’s raging boner.
“That means quite a lot to hear you say that,” Giles softly said.
“Look…” Xander licked his lips. “We’ve got to go. Before we’re…y’know…spotted by the bad guys.”
“Understandable. And Xander, good luck,” Giles warmly said.
“Same to you,” Xander said in a rush. He quickly snapped the cell phone shut before Giles could hear that long-suppressed moan escape his mouth and dropped it on the sand.
Faith paused in her work to grin up at him.
“Bitch,” he affectionately said as he placed a hand on her head.
Faith was still smiling as she slid his cock back into her mouth.
Xander leaned his head back against the seawall and grinned at the night sky. Oh, the heartbreak that would ensue. Giles was going to be haunted in his dreams by the voice of one nervous, one very human Xander Harris wibbling affectionately in his ear about old times and how glad he was that Giles teleported across the Atlantic to help him escape a fate worse than death.
The very thought of Giles waking up in a cold sweat on a nightly basis for the rest of his life believing that had had somehow brutally failed to deliver that happy ending was almost a bigger turn-on than Faith’s deep throat action now in progress.
Screw the leisurely blowjob. This called for something bigger and better.
Xander grabbed the top of Faith’s head with both hands and brutally fucked her mouth until he came with a strangled yell.
“You actually look relaxed,” Faith said with a lazy smile.
“Mmmmmm, I think I had help there.”
Faith rolled over onto her side so she could give him a slow, deep kiss.
When she broke away, Xander answered her lazy smile with one of his own. He had to admit it. There was nothing better than tasting himself on her tongue. “My compliments to the artiste,” he said in a fake French accent.
“And don’t you forget it,” Faith agreed as she rolled over onto her back so she could join Xander in staring up at the stars.
Another plane passed overhead, but Xander couldn’t be fussed to even make a nasty comment about it.
Once the roar had died down enough so he could be heard, Xander said, “I just want to tell you that you were brilliant.”
Faith chuckled. “Y’know, I really was. You may have driven me batshit making me repeat the plan over and over and over again, but I gotta admit that it paid off.”
“Don’t count our jewels just yet.” Xander couldn’t put any heart into correcting her, but he felt it still needed to be said. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”
“Don’t worry. I’m ready.”
There was a beat of silence.
“Also, I just want to say that choosing Revere was apparently big hit with the rubes,” Xander finally said.
“Toldjya. Trust the local.”
Xander rolled onto his side and lifted up the upper part of his body so he could look down on Faith’s placid face. “Still, I gotta wonder. Why Revere?”
“Because I knew it was the perfect place right from the get-go,” Faith answered.
Xander frowned down at her and shook his head. “No. It’s more than that. You’ve been spewing venom about this town from the second you suggested it. Hate like that? There’s a reason.”
“What the fuck do you care?” It sounded like a genuine question, as opposed to a warning that he back off.
Xander’s frown deepened. Did he care? The logical answer was no, but that wasn’t exactly right. The thing is, he didn’t not care. At least he didn’t not care in the way he understood it.
Maybe the word he was reaching for was curious. Yes? No? Except that wasn’t exactly right, either.
Maybe it he was somewhere between caring about the answer and simply being curious.
“Tell me,” he finally said in a soft, encouraging voice.
Faith blinked at him, as if she wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to the invitation. Her frown deepened as she lifted her hand to run a gentle finger down the right side of his face.
“Faith?” Xander prompted.
Faith’s hand dropped, but her eyes didn’t leave his face. “I never lived here, if that’s what you’re askin’.”
“Didn’t say you did.” Xander shook his head. “In fact, I thought you were a Boston girl through-and-through.”
“Boston, East Boston, Southie, Chelsea, Dorchester, Roxbury, Somerville, Everett, Quincy, and many, many more,” Faith sing-songed. “Wherever mommy dearest had to move to keep one step ahead of the bill collectors.”
Xander tilted his head, as if a new angle could give him more information. “Okay, so there’s no obvious connection between you and Revere, but don’t tell me that there isn’t a connection. There is. It’s practically branded right on your forehead.”
Faith was quiet a long time. The only sign that anything was going on in that head of hers was the way a corner of her mouth kept ticking.
“When I was 12? Maybe 13. No, it was 12,” Faith finally said. “I had this Uncle Jacob. For ‘uncle,’ read ‘mommy dearest’s latest and greatest lay’. Anyway, I liked him. He was…I guess ’cause he paid attention. Knew I was there. Saw me, as opposed to seein’ through me, which just about all the other uncles that passed through our front door did. Anyways, this one night mommy dearest was working one of her shit jobs, and Uncle Jacob decides he’s gonna take me to Revere Beach for ice cream. His treat, he says.”
Xander could already see where this was going. The question wasn’t, “Did he do bad things to you when he got here?” The question was, “Just how bad was it?”
“So, we get here, grab some cones, and he decides he wants to check out the old gang at The Tank. Actually, the real name was The Atlantic Lounge, but everyone called it The Tank. Fuck knows why. It had,” here Faith waved at the sky, “all these whales, and fishes, and ocean things painted all over outside the building. It was really cool-looking.”
“I didn’t see a building like that while driving around,” Xander said.
Faith shrugged. “Building’s still there, but it’s painted all white now. Saw the Atlantic sign hanging over the front door, but it looks like it’s been shut down. Not exactly shocked. Cops probably busted the place. It was cokehead’s dream back in the day.”
“You mean to tell me he dragged a kid in there because he wanted to score nose candy?” Xander shook his head. “Wait. This shouldn’t surprise me. Tony used to drag me into bars for ‘just one drink.’ Hours later there I’d be, asleep in the corner, and he’d be so drunk he was falling off his stool.”
Faith’s eyes took on a surprised, curious shine as she brought her hand up to caress his face. “Hunh. So you get it. Didn’t expect that.”
“I get it but…don’t,” Xander awkwardly said. He didn’t quite understand what was going on. His peace of mind was completely shattered and there was a tight feeling in the pit of his stomach that seemed to be tying itself in knots. He should be furious that Faith had wrecked his good mood. He should punch her in the face because of it. He should…
The uncertainty froze him in place and stayed his hands as surely as if he’d been bound up in rope.
Faith dropped her hand so it flopped onto the gritty sand. “So we go in there with me licking my cone, and there’s Uncle Jacob giving hugs all around. For an hour or so, he keeps going into the men’s room with this buddy or that buddy and coming out 5 minutes later. Of course, I’m a nosy little shit. I’m all, ‘What are ya doin’ in there?’ Right? I guess I got to be a real bug about it, because he finally says he’s gonna take me into the men’s room so I can see the party for myself.”
“Oh, no,” Xander whispered.
Faith paused and looked at him like she’d never seen him before.
Xander didn’t blame her. He had no clue where that ‘oh, no’ even came from, let alone why he said it.
Faith looked beyond him, up at the stars. “So, Uncle Jacob lays me out a few lines on the bathroom sink and invites me to take a sniff.” There was a bitter laugh. “Shiiiiiit. I knew what it was. Even if it weren’t for the many, many shitty neighborhoods mommy dearest dragged me through, I was at that age when all those frigging D.A.R.E. vans start cruising the schools and puttin’ the fear of getting high into the little tykes. But what did I do? ’Cause it was Uncle Jacob tellin’ me it was cool. Stupid little shit.”
Xander knew the car crash was coming, and he felt powerless to do anything about it.
“My nose was on fire, my mouth was dry, my heart was beating a zillion miles a minute, I could feel my eyeballs buggin’, and I was kind of zoned out,” Faith said in a matter-of-fact voice. “And what does Uncle Jacob do? Drops to his knees, pulls down my pants, and goes muff diving. So there I am, riding a high and the good feelings from the pussy. There’s my hips jerkin’ up into his face and I’m all moaning and shit. I mean, I wanted to ask him what the fuck he thought he was doing, but I seemed to have lost my tongue or something because I couldn’t actually form any words. And then…” Faith tossed up a hand a gracefully waved it in a circle. “He decided he had enough with the muff diving, whips his dick out, and climbs right on board.”
Xander’s eye narrowed. “This Uncle Jacob. Know where he hangs these days?”
“Nah.” Faith’s expression ticked into something that was almost, but not quite a smile. “Fuck knows where he is. A few months after this all happened, he headed off to greener pastures and then mommy dearest had to move. I thought about looking him up when I made Slayer, but I never did know his last name.”
“Pity,” Xander said through clenched teeth.
“I like to think karma struck him dead or somethin’,” Faith said with wistful malice.
“Try to tell your mom?” Xander asked.
Faith shook her head in an exaggerated manner, causing her hair to flop around her head in waves across the sand. “Didn’t bother. Didn’t figure she’d believe me, sayin’ as Uncle Jacob was just about the only fine, upstanding citizen she ever screwed. Good job. Clean record. No obvious skeletons. A real catch.” Faith put a little extra venom in that last word.
Xander wasn’t sure why he did it, but he reached out and brushed an errant lock of hair off Faith’s forehead as he feverishly thought.
Faith seemed to be watching him, like she was trying to figure out what he was going to do next.
“You know,” Xander slowly began. “We’re still covered by that no-tracking spell, and we have a lot of fake I.D. A lot. Not to mention plenty of cash on hand. We could, I dunno, hang tight for two or three days. Maybe look in on your mommy dearest.”
Faith sat up and stared at him. A smile slowly stretched across her face. A real smile, with nothing sarcastic or predatory in it.
Xander wasn’t entirely sure what to make of her reaction. He was pretty sure standard operating procedure was to teach your crappy family a lesson they couldn’t survive. It was embarrassing to realize that he’d been so caught up in his plan that he hadn’t spared a thought for the idea that Faith might have some old scores to settle.
“Don’t even know if the old whore is still alive, let alone where she is,” Faith happily said. “’Sides, even if I did, I’d still tell you to forget it. She ain’t worth blowing the plan for.”
Xander shook his head. “We wouldn’t be doing it for her.”
Faith leaned forward and gently butted his forehead with hers. “I know.”
“Hey, you ever think about lookin’ up your sperm and egg donors?”
“You know. The ’rents. After.” Faith was sitting cross-legged on the sand. She had retrieved the plate of Kelly’s deep-fried fish food and was now tossing scallops into her mouth with relish.
“I thought about paying Tony and Jessica a visit. The urge lasted for about 2 weeks.” Xander waved off the plate when she held it out to him. The food had to be cold and gritty by now. So not appealing.
“I bet you were working out this wicked complicated plan and everything for your visit.” Faith knowingly nodded as she thoughtfully chewed on an onion ring. “Don’t try to deny it. I know I’m right.”
“I’ll have you know that wicked complicated plan would’ve worked, if I could figure out a way to go round-trip between Cairo and Vegas without being missed.” Xander chuckled at the memory.
“Ahhh, you wouldda worked it out.” Faith sounded surprisingly sure of it, as if she were stating a simple fact.
Xander leaned back onto his elbows and watched the soothing pattern of the waves crashing against the shore. “Probably. But once I heard about the jewel, I figured I had better things to do with my time.”
“Hey, if even half of what you told me about this jewel is true? I guess I don’t blame you for giving them a pass,” Faith said around a mouthful of food.
“Plus the fact there was no point to it.” Xander twisted his head to look at Faith, “They’ll do themselves in eventually. Moving to Vegas? Begging for death where those two are concerned. I’m pretty sure that by the time they die in the gutter, they’ll have lost the house they bought with the insurance money and the Sunnydale Citizens’ Disaster Relief Trust and pickled their livers along with their brains courtesy of all those free drinks in the casinos.”
“That’s what I like about you.” Faith swallowed her food. “You always think about the bright side.”
“Eternal optimist. That’s me,” Xander uncomfortably agreed. He had no idea why he went into even the little detail about his parents that he did. He could’ve just told her that he decided that getting his hands on the jewel was more important than chump-change revenge, yet he didn’t stop there.
The mystery bothered him on a deep level.
“Hey, wassup with you over there?” Faith asked. “You’re all quiet and shit. Don’t tell me you’re mentally rehearsing the plan again.”
“No, nothing like that,” Xander vaguely said.
Faith set aside her plate and leaned forward like she was studying him. “So?”
“What the fuck do you care?” Xander was surprised to hear that it sounded like a genuine question, as opposed to a warning that she back off.
“Tell me,” Faith said, mirroring his response when she asked him the exact same question earlier.
“Why Wonderland?” Xander asked. The question took him completely by surprise. It just popped out of his mouth without introduction or warning. Yet, the moment he asked it, he realized that he needed to know.
Faith seemed more surprised than he was. “Hunh?”
Xander sat up as he continued to study the ocean. “The train station. Why call it Wonderland?”
Faith’s eyebrows rose. “You mean the T-stop. In a normal part of the world, some might even call it a subway stop even though it’s above ground.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“Could be because of that’s the name of greyhound race track a couple of blocks over. Could be because that’s the name of the ballroom that’s, like, right there on the other side of it.” Faith shrugged. “Could be because of the amusement park. I dunno.”
Xander leaned forward and scanned the entire length of the beach. “Amusement park? Where?”
“Ain’t one here no more.” Faith playfully tossed a cold fried scallop at his booted foot. “One of the guys who used to hang with my crew told us that back in the days before T.V. there was an amusement park located at the end of every T-line.”
Xander thought about that. “Aren’t there 4 subway lines through the city?”
“Yeah. So I guess that means a total of 8 amusement parks.” Faith snorted. “Ten-to-one none of ’em could be called spectacular, let alone a wicked good time.”
“But Wonderland…” Xander’s voice trailed off.
“It’s just a name.”
“Yeah, but nothing around here seems like all that much of a Wonderland to me,” Xander remarked.
“Hey, I thought you liked the beach.” Faith patted the patch of sand next to her like it was a pet.
“If it weren’t for the planes always flying overhead, the beach’d be fine,” Xander answered. “But why call it Wonderland? Why not Ocean View, or Waterside, or Spandex Central? Wonderland just strikes me as false advertising.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.”
Xander fixed her with a questioning look.
Faith uncomfortably shrugged. “Okay, yeah. That’s strange shit to hear outta me. Don’t make it any less true.”
“It’s because of Kelly’s deep-fried fish food, isn’t it?” Xander uncomfortably joked.
“That’s part of it. Part of it is how me and my buds back in the day would sometimes boost a car and come up here just as the sun was setting,” Faith said. “Summer, Winter, didn’t matter. We did it just do it and because we could, y’know?”
“I can kind of relate,” Xander said.
“We’d hit up Kelly’s, or one of the ice cream stands if they were open. Then we’d hit the beach, watch the waves, and have ourselves a feast.” Faith looked up at the stars. “We’d be laughin’, and jokin’, and shooting the shit. Times like that? You could almost call us all friends.”
“They weren’t your friends?” Xander asked. And once again, that uncomfortable feeling that he was caring despite that fact that he simply didn’t care — couldn’t care — curled through his mind like treacherous smoke.
Faith seemed to think about his question. “Yes and no, I guess. We were all pretty much losers who couldn’t get into any other social club.”
Xander snorted. “I think you just summed up the Scooby membership application.”
Faith narrowed her eyes and tilted her head. “I guess when you’re young and stupid there’s no friends like friends who ain’t got no other options.”
“Truer words,” Xander agreed.
Faith opened her mouth to say something when her cell phone trilled. She patted down her jean jacket and retrieved her cell. “Unfamiliar number,” she announced. “My money’s on Zoe.”
She flipped open her cell with a flick of her wrist. “Faith speaking.”
There was a pause.
“Good. Be there in 10,” Faith said.
She flipped her cell phone shut and grinned at Xander. “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” she cheerfully announced.
Xander checked his watch. “I got 10:30.”
“Yeah, we’re cutting it close,” Faith agreed as she got to her feet with a grunt.
As Faith began to turn away, Xander said, “Faith, remember. Make it quick and clean. We don’t have time to fuck around. But most importantly, don’t do anything that’ll draw attention to yourself.”
Faith tossed him a sloppy salute before finishing her turn and making a dash for the stairs up to the boulevard.