Title: Last Train Leaving Wonderland
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Summary: Xander’s got a plan, but life keeps interfering.
Genre: Future fic, dark fic
No, your eyes don't deceive. It grew from 3 to 4 parts. Due to LJ posting limits, I couldn't fit the very final section of this story. Still, you won't mind waiting until tomorrow to read the very, very end, right? (*puppy eyes*)
“You’re never gonna guess the name of the Slayer who’s comin’ to meet us.”
“First tell me how it went down.”
“That?” Faith was chipper as she stood spread-eagled over his outstretched legs with her hands on her hips. “Smooth, quick, and clean, just like the doctor ordered. Struck as soon as she hung up from G after we gave him the all clear to send up our little courier. Never knew what hit her.”
“Which car did you hide her in?” Xander asked.
“Zoe’s, which was a real shitbox I might add. Since I was sittin’ next to her in her car, it wasn’t all that hard to shove her over the top of the front seat into the back,” Faith said. “Used the handy blanket folded up on the back seat to cover her ass. I was so smooth, no one even knew I was there.”
“Great work.” Xander looked up at Faith’s triumphant, beaming face. Everything was going according to plan, and yet…
He felt off-balance. It wasn’t that he was worried about the plan. In fact, it was the only thing he felt actually confident about. It was…
He didn’t know what it was. That was the problem.
Faith dropped to her knees and straddled his thighs. As she leaned forward, Xander could see that the pupils of her eyes were dilated and that there was a slight tremor along the surface of her skin. Well, that was to be expected, what with the Slayer blood running through her veins. What stunned him was that somehow Faith was managing to ride the situation, instead of letting it ride her.
She grinned at him in an off-kilter way. “And you still haven’t answered my riddle.”
“The perfect name of the Slayer who’s gonna deliver us the jewel.” Faith leaned forward until their noses were practically touching.
“I’m going to take a wild stab at it and say Alice, what with us being down the street from Wonderland and all,” Xander dryly remarked.
“Wrong!” Faith triumphantly announced as she settled back into the position where she was straddled across his thighs. “It’s Bunny.”
“Bunny,” Xander deadpanned. “Who the hell is names their daughter Bunny?”
As Faith bounced in place, she looked like she was ready to jump out of her skin. “I think it’s a nickname or somethin’, not that it matters all that much because the fact a Slayer named Bunny is running to Wonderland with a jewel singing that she’s late, she’s late, she’s late for a very important date just rocks my socks,” she cackled.
“A Slayer named Bunny strikes fear into the hearts of exactly no one,” Xander grumbled.
“But you gotta admit, perfect for our situation and totally unexpected, which means it’s wrapped in several shades of awesome.” Faith started scratching at her forearm, as if she could somehow get to the skin through her padded denim coat and the shirt underneath.
“Rocks your socks? Several shades of awesome? You’re totally high, you know that right?” Xander asked with amusement.
“Well what the fuck do you expect? You shouldda warned me about the hit.” Faith paused a moment in her scratching and twitching. “Unless you didn’t know because you never…” she began.
“Three that the Council didn’t even know existed that I just happened to stumble across while I was traveling solo. Otherwise, I was nothing less than a perfect Council-certified Watcher to all the Slayers under my care and all the new girls the Council told me to go recruit,” Xander answered.
Faith looked impressed. “No shit?”
“Wow.” Faith stretched her arms above her head as she smiled beatifically at the seawall. “That taste was somethin’, that’s for sure. Don’t know how you resisted for a year with all that Slayer pussy constantly under your nose.”
“The gold rules of survival in action, Faith,” Xander simply answered.
“Yeah, well, now I get why you’re so hardcore about them gold rules.” Faith looked at him as if she were trying to force her brain into new shapes so she could figure him out. “That’s the kinda taste you could get addicted to.”
Xander uncomfortably shrugged. “I didn’t mean for you to be taken by surprise. I thought sure I warned you about the aftereffects.”
Faith exaggeratedly shook her head no.
Xander winced. He was very sure that he did warn her at least several times as they made their way up the coast to Boston. Even so, it was his bad that he didn’t remind Faith about it before she went to meet Zoe.
Wait a second. Was he blaming himself for Faith’s faulty memory?
He took a mental pause as he looked at the thought again.
He was blaming himself for not reminding her. What’s more, he really believed that he screwed up by not doing so.
The unsettled feeling once more curled through his mind as he tried to wrestle with the whiplash nature of how he kept reacting to Faith all night. It wasn’t caring. It wasn’t concerned. It sure as hell wasn’t the beginning of anything resembling love. Whatever it was, it was emotional and he couldn’t deny it. The problem was that every word he knew that came even close to describing his situation didn’t really get to the truth.
“Hey, yo!” Faith waved a hand in front of his eye. “I thought you’d be jumping up and down with joy. Plan’s going off without a hitch.”
“I am happy,” Xander quickly said. “I’m just being…cautious. I don’t want to celebrate too soon.”
Faith sat back on his thighs and tilted her head. “Nah, that’s not it. It’s that same look you had before when you asked me ‘why Wonderland’.”
Xander frowned at Faith without really seeing her. He didn’t want to talk about it, and yet he kind of did.
“How much time do we have before Bunny meets us?” Xander asked.
“The pavilion over there in about 30 minutes.” Faith jerked her head up toward the well-lit, street-level platform to their right. “Well, it’s more like 20 minutes now. So spill. Are you seein’ that we might have a problem with the plan? ’Cause if you do, let me know now so I’m prepared.”
“No, no, no.” Xander shook his head. “The plan’s fine. It’s just that I was just thinking about Jesse while you were off dealing with Zoe.”
Faith went very still. “Jesse, hunh? Is that an old girlfriend or something?”
Xander gave her what-the-hell face. “Jesse was a guy.”
Bouncy, grinning Faith returned. “No shit. With a name like Jesse, he must’ve been a tough motherfucker.”
Xander snorted. “Not so much. Although he got really good at being a punching bag.”
“With name like Jesse, I’m not surprised.”
“You know what? Forget it.” Xander moved to push her off his legs.
“Sorry. Sorry,” Faith apologized as she slapped his hands away. “It’s just you being so serious can make a gal nervous. You’re always as serious as a fucking heart attack, but this is like 100 times more than normal.”
Xander fell to frowning at her again. He really shouldn’t have said anything at all. It made him too vulnerable.
“Hey, c’mon,” Faith said. “We got some time to kill. Ain’t like we can set the scene right this second.”
Well, it was too late now. Faith had a habit of not letting things drop whenever something captured her attention. “Jesse was a friend I had in high school.”
“Hunh. Don’t remember him from the SunnyD,” Faith said.
“He made top of the food chain before you ever came to town,” Xander simply said. “Guy never held a stake in his hand, before or after he died.”
“So, what happened to him?”
“I staked him.”
Faith went still as she watched him with an expression of sympathy on her face.
“It was an accident.” Xander uncomfortably looked toward the lit pavilion where their Bunny was due to show, mostly because he couldn’t bring himself to look at Faith. “But I still did the dusty deed.”
“Shit. That’s rough.” Faith moved off his thighs and plopped down next to him on the sand with her back against the seawall.
“To be honest I wasn’t thinking about him so much,” Xander said, “but something he said after he sprouted his own set of fangs.”
“Was it right after he got turned?” Faith asked “’Cause if it was, you know newbies have shit for brains. They’ll say and do anything to go out there and start their first slaughter. Hell, you know that from experience, right?”
“I don’t know if he said this right after he became a vampire or if it was after he had the first feed,” Xander admitted.
“So, what’d he say?”
Xander frowned at the ocean in thought. “That he was connected.”
“Connected? Connected to what?”
Faith screwed up her face, as if the answer didn’t make sense. “Everything?”
Xander shrugged. “He said that he was connected to everything. Said he could even hear the little worms burrowing through the ground.”
“Worms, hunh?” Faith tilted her head. “That’s a pretty fucked up thing to tout as an actual benefit if you ask me. His sales pitch really sucked.”
Xander exploded into giggles. “The scary thing is that I think he really believed that hearing the worms was the coolest thing ever.”
Faith joined him in laughing. “Newbies, man. I’m telling you. Shit. For. Brains. More evidence that I’m right.”
Xander’s laughter suddenly died. “Do you feel connected?”
Faith made a sour face. “Connected? In what way?”
“That big ol’ imprecise everything, worms included.”
Faith leaned against his shoulder as she thought. “I think your bud was overselling. Or talking out his ass.”
“I’m not so sure,” Xander said. “He seemed so, I dunno, happy. Like he was riding a high. I think he really believed it.”
Faith snorted. “Okay, so maybe he was talking to you after he made his first kill or some shit like that. Don’t mean that he wasn’t talking out of his ass.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Xander quietly agreed.
Faith sat up and gently elbowed him in the ribs. “I think I know the problem. Not that it’s a problem, actually. Just that you think it’s a problem.”
Faith waved over her head at the top of the seawall. “You don’t hate them.”
“Hate who?” Xander asked.
“Them. All of them.” Faith looked at him. Although she was still clearly riding her high, her eyes had that clear, considering look in them that signaled she had actually thought this out. “Not saying you even like them, just that you don’t hate them.”
“Faith, why the hell would I go hatin’ on anybody?” Xander paused and thought about it. “Okay, that’s not to say that I don’t have a list of people whose throats I’d rip out on sight if I crossed paths with them, but general non-directed hate? That’s way too much effort.”
“See? See? That’s what I’m talking about.” Faith pointed at him. “You don’t hate them. You don’t bother even trying. You find them useful. Sure, they’re good for food, or a fuck, or as tools to get shit done. But there’s no malice in it. No hate. I honestly think — and correct me if I’m wrong, but I know I’m not — that if some mook with a plan came along to wipe ’em all out so the demons could inherit the earth, you’d side with them to stop the idiot.”
Xander frowned. “Unh, Faith? That’s a no-brainer. I don’t know if you noticed, but without them, we’d be in deep shit. Unless you like the idea of feeding off animals for the next century or three.”
Faith cheekily grinned at him. “You did it.”
“Because I wanted to keep my skin intact, thanks. It wasn’t that I actually enjoyed it,” Xander sniffed. “Okay, maybe I enjoyed killing hyenas, but I have a really good reason for that.”
Faith leaned back against the wall with a smile that could almost be described as fond. “Exactly.”
“You never do nothing without a reason,” Faith said. “Okay, sure, it might be a shitty reason, like you losing your temper back in Providence, but it’s still a reason.”
Xander opened his mouth, but Faith put two fingers up to his lips. “Let me finish,” she said.
Xander nodded his permission.
“I ain’t saying that you’ve got no instincts. I mean shit. The way we are? Instinct’s built in.” Faith stretched like a cat. “But you? You don’t hunt or kill for fun. You only do it because you gotta eat, or because it serves some plan of yours. It’s like our stupid horny teenagers.” Here Faith waved vaguely down the beach. “If you were 100% sure they’d be gone by the time Bunny got here? You wouldn’t have done shit. You would’ve ignored them. Why? ’Cause shits and giggles ain’t a good enough reason for you.”
“I can have fun,” Xander protested.
“Not sayin’ you don’t have fun when you’re on the hunt,” Faith’s toothy smile took on a lascivious character, “and I ain’t sayin’ you don’t know how to have fun with your food. I’m just sayin’ you have fun with it, but you don’t do it for fun. See the diff?”
“I…guess,” Xander uncertainly agreed.
“It’s like your gold rules, the ones you keep beating into my head,” Faith continued. “Rule 1: Never leave a trail of bodies that can lead people right to your front door. Rule 2: Never get involved in some dumb-ass scheme to bring on an apocalypse. And my personal favorite, Rule 3: If you break Rules 1 or 2, be prepared to fight a fuckload of pissed-off Slayers because you just got their attention.”
“Those rules are important,” Xander protested. “They keep you—”
“In one piece,” Faith interrupted. “And you know what? You’re right.”
Xander blinked stupidly at her. Faith made it clear that she hated the gold rules. She called them stupid, made fun of them, and even rolled her eyes at them. More than once he ended up smacking her around because she got so disrespectful about it.
Faith grinned at him like she had read his mind. “I mean, take our 35 brothers and sisters all stored nice and neat in plastic baggies and stuffed in your duffle bag. Shit, let’s throw in all the times we helped out some Council house while makin’ our way up the coast over the past month while we’re at it. How’d they end up dust, hunh? These geniuses had to know the world had changed. No more Chosen One, no more Terrible Two. It’s now the Slayer Sisterhood, complete with union. It’s insane. Here’s the world just crawling with the slimy bitches, and these idiots are still partying like it’s April 2003.”
“So what are you saying? I’m an evolutionary leap?” Xander sarcastically asked.
“Evolutionary leap,” Faith said as if she were trying out the words. “Hey, I like that. We’re an evolutionary leap.”
“Or how about I came up with those rules because I know how the system works,” Xander said. “It’s called using your brain.”
Faith throatily chuckled. “So what’s stopping everyone else from doing the same, hunh? They’re still walking around with their dicks out just begging to be staked. Shit, you know. We staked every one of those 35 assholes when they got too frisky with us because we crossed their turf.”
“I’m sure there are others who know how to keep a low profile,” Xander mumbled.
“Not too many,” Faith sing-songed.
Xander wasn’t sure if Faith was putting him on. “I thought you hated being careful.”
“Won’t lie. At first I thought you were being a wuss, but that was before my spectacular fuck-up back in Atlantic City. Shit, I left bodies everywhere,” Faith said.
“Tell me about it,” Xander grumbled.
“I mean, sure, you beat my ass bloody, dragged me back to my apartment, and wrapped me in so many chains that I thought you were gonna entomb me in metal, which pissed me the hell off,” Faith said. “But after? After was beautiful. You go back, find a vamp nest in Harrah’s that you can blame for the whole mess, paint some of those stylized snakes on the wall so the Council would think the Cult of the Oblique Jewel had a branch in town, and then go boo-hooing to the Council-approved Watchers and Slayers about how I got jumped when I came across them making with the carnage. But the best part? They believed you. They go in with stakes out, and we go in with them, and dust every single one of those sad sacks. And did anyone have a clue about us? No, sir. That’s pretty much when I knew you were right. You’d hid it so perfect for a fucking year that no one even thought to question things when you started yanking their chains. Shit, I sure as hell didn’t when I jokingly invited you into my apartment. Far’s I knew at the time you were still a frigging boy scout.”
Xander’s eye narrowed suspiciously. “So why’d you keep dissing the rules if you were on board before we even left Atlantic City?”
Faith leaned in and flicked her tongue across his lips. “Sometimes I’m a bad girl who just wants to be spanked.”
Xander laughed. “You did it because you wanted an angry fuck?”
Faith began rubbing the inside of his thigh. “A brutal, angry fuck, thank you. And what d’you expect? A girl’s got her needs.”
Xander grabbed her wrist to stop her before things got too far. “Fair enough,” he said with amusement. “But now that the secret’s out…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll find something else to piss you off,” Faith interrupted with a self-satisfied smirk. “I’ve been making a list.”
“I can’t wait,” Xander happily said. He leaned forward to give her a hard, deep kiss.
When he broke away, Faith was happily licking her lips. “Think we got time to go another round?” she hopefully asked.
“I wish,” Xander said as he stood up. “But the last thing we need is for Bunny to see us having fun when we should be suffering the suffering of the just.”
“Fair enough,” Faith easily agreed as she hopped to her feet. “And, hey, you feeling better? In general?”
Xander knew he looked surprised at the question. Faith never showed any particular concern about his well-being before.
“Yeah.” Xander could feel the smile creep across his face. “Yeah, I think I am. Hunh. You and me. We’re an evolutionary leap forward.”
“Yeah, well, if you don’t let it swell your head, I won’t let it swell my head neither,” Faith good-naturedly complained. “So, let’s get to it. Me first. And remember. Slayer. Don’t break any important shit.”
“I won’t,” Xander promised. “And don’t forget. When it’s my turn, leave the right side of my face alone. I need to see. Oh, and human here. So breaking a rib or two is okay, but nothing else.”
Faith snapped a nod. “Got it.”
“Then let’s do it,” Xander said. The words were barely out of his mouth before he spun around in a round-house kick and caught Faith square in the stomach.
“Is that her, do you think?”
“Shush, Harris. You’re gonna give our asses away.”
“Hullo? Mr. Harris? Ms. Lehane?” the Slayer — Xander assumed it was Bunny — leaned out over the pavilion’s railing and peered into the darkness.
“Look straight down,” Faith ordered through her split lips.
Bunny did as she was ordered. The Slayer eyesight was clearly working for her, because she let out a gasp. “Oh my God!”
“Will you keep your fucking voice down?” Faith asked in a loud whisper. “Harris here is hamburger and I don’t feel so hot myself. The last thing I need is another tangle with those assholes.”
Bunny quickly looked over her shoulder, moved two feet to the right, and vaulted the railing. Despite the steep jump, she stumbled only a little bit when she landed in the sand. “What happened?” she asked as soon as she got her bearings.
“We got jumped. What the fuck do you think happened?” Faith snapped.
“Where’s Zoe?” Bunny asked.
“Dead,” Xander answered in a shaky voice.
“Dead?” Bunny asked.
“What the hell are you? An echo?” Faith impatiently asked. “Harris here spotted those snake-fuckers and ran his ass down to Wonderland to warn us. Problem is half of them were chasing out asses in the opposite direction, so we ended up colliding right on the damn boulevard.”
“My fault,” Xander whispered as he wiped blood from his chin. “This is my fault. I missed something somewhere. There’s a base I didn’t cover.”
“Will you shut the hell up?” Faith snapped at him. “One, it ain’t your damn fault. Sometimes plans just fall to shit and you know it. Two, if you insist of feeling guilty, feel it after we pull our asses out of the fire.”
“Are they still here, do you think?” Bunny nervously asked as she scanned the beach.
“Bet on it,” Faith said.
“How many?” Xander asked in a raw voice.
“Don’t do this to yourself,” Faith threatened.
“How many what?” Bunny asked.
Xander allowed himself a painful cough. “How many of your people are dead?”
Faith whipped around and pointed at Bunny. “Don’t answer that. Don’t you dare fucking answer that. He’s been calculating the number of dead in that trail of bodies following us from Atlantic City to here since we started huddling on the beach like two horny teenagers.”
Sadly, Bunny decided to follow Faith’s orders. “You two barely look like you can stand, let alone run. How are we going to get to my car if they’re everywhere?”
“We’ll figure it out,” Faith said. “But right now, I need to talk to G.”
“They’re really busy right now,” Bunny timorously said.
Faith got right in the girl’s face. “Fuck that noise. I want to talk to the Big Man. Now.”
“Actually, I feel stupid about not thinking about this before, but with everything…actually I should use the cell first because I have an idea.” Bunny began fumbling around in her pockets for her cell phone. “I guess your cells got trashed, hunh?”
“If we had still had our damn cell phones, we would’ve called and told you to turn your ass around and head back to the barn,” Faith raged at her as she snatched the cell out of the Slayer’s hand. “Give us a little credit for brains.”
“Sorry. Sorry, I didn’t mean to say you didn’t. Have brains I mean,” Bunny quickly apologized. “But I really think you should let me—”
Xander almost felt sorry for the little Slayer. Between the one-two punch of hearing about Zoe’s untimely demise and Faith’s faux rage, the poor girl didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.
“Faith, can you please stopping taking it out on Bunny?” Xander interrupted. “It’s not her fault that we just overwhelmed her with the suck.”
Faith flipped open the cell and began scrolling through the contact list. “G’s still at the Council house, yes?”
“Yes. But—” Bunny began.
“I’m not in the fucking mood, girlie,” Faith snap.
Bunny, realizing that there was no moving Faith, instead turned and walked closer to Xander. “You look really awful,” she sympathetically said.
“The amount of obvious in that statement is difficult to calculate,” Faith snarled. “Is it possible to get more than 100%?”
Bunny hunched her shoulders and shuffled in the sand.
“So, was it worth it?” Xander bitterly asked.
“Hunh?” Bunny startled.
“Don’t start Harris. Do. Not. Start,” Faith threatened.
Xander painfully pulled himself to his feet. It wasn’t much of an acting feat. He and Faith made sure to go the extra mile to make it look real. The bad news was the whole exercise gave him what he was sure was an obvious chubby. If Bunny noticed, he’d be in for a world of shit.
“I want to know,” Xander said in a firm voice. “I’ve been dodging these jewel-worshipping, snake armband-wearing lunatics since the Congo. I’ve seen more people get killed than I care to count because of this supposedly awesome jewel. I want to know if it was worth it.”
“I…don’t know how to answer that,” Bunny hesitantly said.
“That doesn’t answer the question.” Xander made a show of standing upright, before slumping back against the cement wall.
“Harris? You and I both know that Bunny here ain’t got no answer for that,” Faith said. “Besides, I already know that you don’t think it was worth it.”
“Well, I want to see it,” Xander stubbornly insisted. “I want to see this jewel that got so many people killed.”
Bunny looked to Faith for guidance.
“Whatever.” Faith waved a dismissive hand at him. “Go on and look, not that it’s gonna change your mind.”
“Just give him the frigging jewel already,” Faith snapped. “And then get your ass over here so the two of us can conference in with G.”
“Shouldn’t Mr. Harris also be in on the call?” Bunny asked.
The question brought Faith up short. She looked to Xander for an answer.
“As has been pointed out, I can barely breathe, let alone walk,” Xander began. “I’m going to stay leaning against this wall right here.”
“And again, I am not leaving your sorry ass behind,” Faith angrily said in a way that more than hinted the two of them had been arguing about just this subject most of the night.
Xander ignored her outburst. “So whatever plan you guys hammer out, you’re the ones that have got to execute it.” He slowly sat back down onto the sand using the cement wall as support so he wouldn’t sit down suspiciously quick. “Whatever happens next, I’m basically along for the ride.”
Bunny wavered a moment. “I think you should know that I don’t have it,” she said. “I mean, I don’t have the jewel on me.”
Both Xander and Faith were stunned into silence.
“What?” Xander and Faith shouted unison.
Bunny quailed. “Lemme explain. See, I barely got out of Boston, and that’s with me driving like a maniac down Storrow and playing duck-and-weave with the traffic down Route 1. Then, I had to keep backtracking to make sure I wasn’t followed once I got here. That’s why I was so late.”
“That doesn’t explain shit,” Faith growled. “And I better be getting a real good explanation after beatin’ we just took waiting on your sorry ass.”
Xander hauled himself back to his feet, much more quickly this time. He should’ve known. He should’ve known. The second he heard Giles’s voice on the phone, he should’ve called the plan on account of Scooby interference, grabbed Faith, and run like hell for the estate-turned-bolt hole he set up in Mozambique.
“You don’t understand,” Bunny desperately tried to explain. “The cultists are everywhere. There were so many reinforcements pouring into the city to search for the jewel that none of us could avoid them. We can’t even begin to figure out where they came from, because there definitely wasn’t as many around the jewel.”
Xander pinched the bridge of his swollen nose as he thought. His sources had most definitely led him astray on troop strength numbers. While he’d love to backtrack and strip the hide off the person who lied to him, he couldn’t. One, multiple sources gave him numbers that were all in the same ballpark. Two, everyone he had questioned about the jewel became a meal after they no longer served his purpose.
Clearly the cult was far more organized and had far more secret reserves than he could have reasonably guessed based on the information he had.
“Since we’re the ones who can’t be tracked, how the fuck does the Council plan on getting the jewel out of B-town?” Faith demanded.
“Buffy’s going to help,” Bunny said.
Xander dropped his hand from his face as he openly stared at Bunny. “Buffy is on her way to St. Petersburg.”
“Actually, she’s already there. Or was before the Council’s Russian contingent got their witches to teleport her here,” Bunny explained. “Which is what I’ve been trying to tell you since I got here, neither of you would let me finish.”
Faith and Xander exchanged looks. Now Buffy was in Boston. They were well and truly fucked. They had to get the hell out of Massachusetts while the getting was good.
“Why the hell didn’t Giles tell Faith that Buffy was playing cavalry when he talked to her earlier?” Xander asked as he slowly advanced on Bunny. He made sure to make it look like he was stumbling a little as he did so.
Faith saw what he was doing and quietly began moving closer to Bunny from the opposite side.
“He didn’t get the idea until after he talked to Faith and Zoe,” Bunny said. “He figured that since everyone knew that Buffy was headed for St. Petersburg, the Council’s leak wouldn’t be able to warn the bad guys. So, anyway, that’s why the emergency teleport to Boston.”
“That’s smart,” Faith agreed.
“Anyway, Mr. Giles gave Buffy the jewel and it was off to the races,” Bunny said. “In fact, she’s—”
Bunny never got to finish that sentence.
“Why the fuck are you still dragging that duffle bag around? Dump it.”
“It’s got our fake documentation, bank accounts, and a whole lot of cold, hard cash.”
“On second thought, I love the fact you’re still holding the bag,” Faith said as she and Xander raced down Revere Beach Boulevard to the Wonderland station parking lot.
Xander could feel the Slayer blood working its way through his system. Already he could feel his ribs knitting together with an electric buzz, and the deep bruises in his muscles fade. His skin seemed to tingle all over as the cuts and scrapes left behind by Faith’s lovely hands started to heal over. To the human eye, he’d still look like holy hell, but much of the damage was more cosmetic than anything else.
However, the normal, buzzing high that usually came with a Slayer meal was curiously absent. Maybe it was because he only got half-a-Slayer, or maybe it was because of his injuries. Either way, he didn’t much care. His head was still mostly clear.
“Still mystified why you bothered dragging Bunny’s dead ass down near the dead teens and ripped open 5 bags of vamp dust and spread all around them,” Faith complained. Luckily, the giggling high that had accompanied her feeding from Zoe had disappeared and she was focused. Well, she was focused enough to complain about their situation, at least.
“To set the scene,” Xander shortly explained.
“Fuck setting the scene. We need to skedaddle,” Faith argued.
“Look, going by the fact we so easily got the drop on Bunny, it’s a pretty good bet that the Council doesn’t know about us,” Xander began.
“Okay, yet. They probably don’t know about us yet. And we still have that no-tracking spell on us, which the Council can’t lift unless one of their witches convinces us to step into a circle so they can reverse it,” Xander skidded to stop next to Faith when they were across the street from the trash-strewn Wonderland station parking lot. “We’ve got a good shot of getting out of this with at least our hides intact.”
“But why bother with the fake massacre?” Faith demanded.
Xander grabbed Faith’s arm and yanked her close. “Because the longer we can keep the Council guessing about what really happened, the more distance we can put between us and them before they finally figure out the truth. If they start with the assumption that we’ve been taken captive—”
“They’ll waste a lot of time looking in all the wrong places,” Faith finished for him. “Got it.”
“Okay. Now pick a car.” Xander jerked his head to indicate the parking lot across the street. “Any car. I know we’ve got limited options this time of night, but I’ll go with your expertise.”
Faith looked like she was carefully considering her options. Clearly the Zipcar was out, since Giles knew they were driving one. Zoe’s beater of a car was out, since its make and model was already known by the local Council house. As for Bunny’s car, they didn’t even know where it was parked.
Unfortunately, she didn’t look any happier with any of the other choices.
Faith suddenly checked her watch. “Since we took the time to change into clothes that weren’t bloody, I say we go with the T.”
“The T,” Xander deadpanned. “Please tell me you’re not seriously suggesting we make our getaway using mass transport.”
“Stealing a car attracts attention sooner or later,” Faith thoughtfully said. “When the Council comes up here in a day or two to investigate where our missing asses got to, a report of a stolen car’ll be a big ol’ red arrow pointing at us. If we’re gonna keep the Council guessing, I say we go with a nice, anonymous, people-mover that’s cash-only for fares.”
Xander blinked at Faith as he took in her advice. Again she had surprised him with her seat-of-the-pants thinking. Clearly he had more of a goldmine on his hands than he originally thought.
“Before I say yes, how difficult would it be to get to the airport doing it your way?” Xadner asked.
“Prepare to celebrate, ’cause this is the line that’ll get us there.” Faith happily grinned. “It’s just 6 or 7 stops from here and maybe a 20 minute ride. Probably less this time of night.”
Xander grabbed her by her shoulders and passionately kissed her. “You’re a genius!”
She swatted his arm. “About time you figured it out.”
“So, when’s the next train?” Xander asked.
Faith checked her watch again. “If I had to guess, the last train out will be here in a little over 15. And just so you know, I’m playin’ that estimate as being closer than I really think it is, just to be safe.”
“Okay. All we need is an excuse to explain why we’ve been beaten,” Xander said.
“Bar fight,” Faith automatically answered.
“Nah. That’ll make someone want to call the cops if they hear that.” Xander paused as he thought. “Domestic.”
Faith made a face. “Shit. I gotta be the damsel, don’t I?”
“Hey, I’ll be the damsel if you want,” Xander said with a shrug. “But there’s a risk that a guy my size isn’t going to inspire as much sympathy.”
“Fine!” Faith threw up her hands. “You’re rescuing me from my bastard, dope-dealing husband.”
“We’ll work it. Let’s go,” Xander ordered as he scooted across the boulevard.
As they landed in the parking lot flooded with its dirty, yellow lighting, Faith stopped him with a grip on his arm. “Before we jump the turnstiles, I’m thinking we need to follow the original plan here, too.”
Something in Xander’s gut told him it would be a bad idea. It was probably better if they just make their way to the platform and leave their 3 bodies tucked in the cars. “I don’t know,” he began.
“Look, if they find those two mooks from the Shirpwreck Lounge in the trunk of our Zipcar, and a dead Slayer in the backseat of her car covered with a blanket, they’re definitely going to figure out that we ain’t victims,” Faith said.
“Can we pull this off in 10 minutes?” Xander asked.
“Super-speed, super-strength…what do you think?” Faith asked.
Even though some instinct screamed at him to nix the idea, he had to admit that Faith made too much sense. “Okay, fine. You arrange our Slayer like she was nailed mid-dusting between her car and ours so she won’t be immediately obvious to anyone walking by. I’ll check to make sure that the parking attendant is gone for the night.”
Faith took off for Zoe’s beater while Xander raced to the tiny wooden shack at the entrance of the parking lot. Once he reached it, he slowed down to walk and casually passed by the glass enclosure in the front. Even though it looked dark and empty, Xander stopped and peered into the interior to be sure. After straining his neck this way and that so he’d see the compartment from every angle, he relaxed. The attendant had left for the night.
Once he knew the coast was clear, Xander unzipped his duffle and retrieved one of the bags of vampire dust and one of the stakes. He opened the bag, and dipped the tip of the stake in the dust before shaking out the Ziploc so the dust would be carried away on the wind. He then repeated the process with two more bags. When he was done, he dropped the stake to the ground and shoved the empty Ziplocs back into his duffle. Any Council investigator would look at the planted physical evidence and conclude that 3 vampires had been staked in the immediate vicinity.
Xander brushed off his hands with a chuckle. This trick had served him more times than he could count in Africa. He had laid down so many false evidence trails so often over the past year that it had become almost second nature.
As Xander crossed the parking lot to get to Faith, who was waiting by the Zipcar’s open trunk, he’d occasionally stop and shake out a Ziploc bag of vampire dust or two to make it look like that Zoe was killed in battle that had raged all over the parking lot. Along the way, he dropped two more dust-infused stakes to the ground. These he kicked in randomly different directions.
“You know, it’s a wonder our girl wasn’t killed sooner,” Faith said as he approached. She toed the top of the dead Slayer’s head as she spoke.
“Back door on the other side was broken,” Faith answered.
Xander froze as a wave of paranoia hit him. “How recently?”
“How the fuck should I know?” Faith asked.
Xander glanced at the well-lit station.
“Will you stop worrying?” Faith asked with irritation. “Ain’t no one watching us at all. I saw one big beefy chick in a T uniform, but she’s moved off to the far side of the station. No way she can see what we’re doing from over there.”
“But the broken lock on the car…” Xander began.
“A shit car like this? The stunner is that it’s only one lock that’s broken,” Faith insisted. “So, how many vamps did our girl get?”
“I’m thinking 6 before she went down,” as Xander reached into the duffle bag.
“Guess that makes her super Slayer,” Faith joked.
“No, it’s because I have 6 bags left and I want to dump them all,” Xander replied.
“Fair enough. Where do you want me to dump the trash from our Shipwreck Lounge meals?” Faith asked as she peered down into the trunk. “Ain’t like we can wrap them in this plastic tarp and carry them like they’re in an oversized doggy bag.”
Xander didn’t bother looking up as he contaminated a stake with the leftover vampire dust. “Find two corners where it looks like a vampire could hang out for a quiet lurk while watching the parking lot. Drop one in each spot. Cover one with the tarp, and the other one with any old trash you can find.”
Faith looked around. “How hidden do you want the bodies? From just casual passers-by? Or no finding them until they begin to smell?”
“The more hidden they are, the better I like it,” Xander answered.
“On it,” Faith said. She lifted one of the bodies out of the trunk, flung it over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and sped off for a shadowed area to the lee of the station.
As Faith strategically placed the bodies, Xander rearranged Zoe’s body so she’d be harder to spot from anyone casually walking by, dropped the dust-contaminated stake near the Zoe’s body, and finished dumping the last of the dust. He then took his elbow and smashed in the passenger side door of the dead Slayer’s car. He glanced around the parking lot and considered doing the same to one of the random cars that still dotted the lot, but since he didn’t know if they were alarmed, he decided not to risk it.
“All set,” Faith announced as she slammed the Zipcar’s trunk shut.
“That was fast.”
“Hey, we’re on a schedule here,” Faith said. She checked her watch. “Five minutes and counting.”
“Let’s roll,” Xander said. “And Faith, remember…”
“I know, I know. Don’t kill anyone unless you gotta because the last thing we need is to draw attention to ourselves.” Faith paused to give him an affectionate smack across his shoulder blade. “Spoilsport.”