Six of One... Aesop TITLE: Six of One... AUTHOR: AESOP EMAIL: ENOWON@JUNO.COM DISCLAIMER: I donít own the characters from Roswell, BTVS or Angel. Iím just borrowing them. No profit is earned and Iíll dust them off before I return them. This crossover is rated PG-13 for mild violence. CATEGORY: CROSS-OVER RATING: PG-13 "Iím not sure I understand MrÖ?" "Wyndham-Price. Wesley, please." "Wesley. You say youíre a private investigator?" "I work for one," the very proper British gentleman responded. He sat diffidently in the Sheriffís office, looking rather uncomfortable at being there. "Mostly I do the background research for him and rarely go out in the field. Circumstances however, dictate a slight change in routine. My employer is stuck in L.A. on other business, and asked me to come." "What circumstances are those precisely? You said this involved a dangerous fugitive?" "Yes, here." He handed over a manila folder. "This contains the relevant information, but it does not tell the whole story, and it would be quicker for me to summarize. Her name is Faith. She was arrested and sentenced for a string of violent crimes, two counts of murder and, um, countless counts of assault and aggravated assault." Valenti looked up, clearly disturbed by the contents of the folder. "She has quite a history. She escaped?" "Not exactly. This is the part that will be difficult to accept. I know it was difficult for me." Valenti raised a questioning eyebrow and waited for his odd visitor to compose himself. "You see, Faith turned herself in. She confessed to all of the charges brought against her without attempting a defense. This isÖ peculiar for Faith, especially since I know that one of the murders she is charged with was actually an unfortunate accident. But she accepted the sentence without comment." "Guilty conscience perhaps?" "Had you asked me even a month ago I would have denied that Faith had a conscience." He shook his head wonderingly. "Now, Iím not sure. Especially after her Ďescape.í" "What happened exactly?" "She was on a bus with several other prisoners, being transported to a womenís correctional facility in L.A. County. The bus was attacked en route. Three men armed with automatic weapons disabled the bus and shot the driver. They demanded that Faith be released, promising no one would be hurt if the guards complied." "Sounds like friends breaking her out." Wesley shook his head. "Faith doesnít have any friends. She does have quite a few enemies though. She got out of her chains and left the bus, taking a guardís gun with her. The reports are a bit confused, but they all agree that Faith tackled one of the guards as the attackers opened up, quite probably saving his life. When she left the bus she began shooting at the three men, and wounded one of them, before taking off and leading them away from the bus." "And what do you make of this?" Valenti asked. He didnít know what to think himself, but it sounded as if his guest was personally acquainted with Faith. "Iím not sure. Faith can be very clever, but I do not believe she orchestrated this. In fact Iím sure she didnít. I believe that those men were attempting to kill her, leaving her no choice but to run." "And what exactly is youíre interest in this?" "It was largely due to my employerís efforts that Faith turned herself in and cooperated with the prosecutors. When he learned what had happened he began to track her. I believe her current course will bring her through your town." "Someone tried to kill her and sheís headed here?" "Probably just intending to pass through, but yes, this is on her route if she holds true to her present course. There was a report of her in Tucson." "Any idea who tried to kill her?" His guest thought for a moment. "Two possibilities. Faith used to work for, er a group of men who valued her special talents. They didnít appreciate her turning on them and offering her talents for sale. The second possibility is a law firm in Los Angeles." "A law firm?" Valenti wasnít sure heíd heard correctly. "Wolfram and Hart. They paid her $15,000 to kill a man who has put several of their richest and most prominent clients behind bars. She took the money, but didnít complete the contract. They might want to kill her on principle alone, or they might be concerned about her telling the authorities what little she knows about them. Being lawyers you understand, there was no formal or verifiable arrangement. Frankly, I think the former possibility is more likely." "General principle?" The Englishman nodded. "I know this is rather bizarre sheriff, but I assure you, time is of the essence in this." "Itís all a little hard take in," Valenti commented, "especially when I see her picture. How old is she? 18?" "I believe so, yes. You can verify this with the authorities in L.A. if you wish. The detective she surrendered to is an acquaintance of my employer." "I will verify it. I believe all the information I need is here." He tapped the folder. "Let me review it and Iíll contact you." Wesley gave him the name and number of the hotel where he was staying and left. He hadnít told Valenti everything of course, he would never be believed, but he had given enough verifiable information to ensure the sheriffís assistance. Hopefully, Faith would still be willing to cooperate. Her path between L.A. and Tucson had been strangely devoid of violent incidents. It was only in Tucson that things went wrong. She had been spotted near the bodies of a homeless woman and an uniformed police officer. It was that report and a few rumored sightings after that, that had drawn him to Roswell New Mexico. When he returned to his hotel room Wesley booted up the laptop computer he had brought with him and checked his email. There was one from Cordelia. He perused it eagerly, hoping for word of Faithís whereabouts. Instead he found a new puzzle. The two murder victims in Tucson had not been beaten or stabbed. With Willowís help, Cordelia had managed to look at the coronerís report though. Apparently their blood had been heated to the boiling point. The only outward sign of violence was a strange silver handprint on both victims. "Silver hand print?" Wesley considered this carefully. It sounded familiar, and he turned to one of his more indispensable tomes. He couldnít bring his entire library, but he had brought along a few general references. Cordelia had been rather sarcastic about his choice of carry-on items, but Wesley had ignored her. He was competent with a crossbow and one or two other tools of the trade it was true, but knowledge had always been his weapon of choice. *********************************************************************** How had it gone so wrong? He cursed his rotten luck as he drove. Then clucked his tongue and chided himself. Emotions were for the weak. Anger at the situation would not help resolve it. He had had to kill Loessing when the man began to suspect him. It should have been easy to make the humans believe that an alien assassin was trying to pick them off, but his bad luck had not yet run itís course, and they had discovered that Loessing had been moved after heíd been killed. That hadnít fit with his story. The situation was still salvageable though. He had to convince them that the killer was someone else. Being in two places at once wasnít that difficult for a shape-shifter if he planned carefully, and he had. The next agent died while ĎPierceí was in his office across town and another agent was spotted fleeing the scene. It wasnít enough though. Stupid, paranoid creatures, Nasedo fumed as he drove. Fortunately there were adequate numbers of humans to use as diversions. It was all they were good for anyway. Being spotted in Tucson by the cop had been unfortunate but unimportant. After all, ĎPierceí was in Denver following up a sighting. Since he was in the area anyway, relatively speaking, he decided to finish some business in Roswell. He should also look in on his charges. ********************************************************************** "Why are we doing this again?" "He pissed me off." It wasnít the whole reason, or even the most important one, but it was the only one her traveling companion would probably understand. "Okay." He cranked up the radio, listening to one of those retro stations he liked so much. Faith held onto her temper with an effort. Why was she hanging out with this loser? True he had a car, but she could have easily swiped one herself. Misery loves company, she thought morosely. It certainly had been a miserable few weeks. Ever since those Council bastards had ambushed the prison bus, things had been going down hill for her. That thought alone was depressing, to think that she had been looking forward to prison. She almost counted it as a stroke of luck when she ran into Spike in that hole of a bar trying to drink himself into oblivion. He had his own reasons for being depressed, not that Faith cared what they were, but it gave her someone to commiserate with. The idea of the two of them having anything in common made her sick, and he freely admitted the same to her, but for some reason they had stuck together. They were both at the absolute nadir of their existence, or as Spike had so poetically put it after the fifth round, "Weíve both hit bottom and are busily digging holes for our stinking corpses." Faith had considered killing him at that point but decided it would take too much effort. She had actually cheered him up by saying that she would consider killing him tomorrow. "Yer a pal," he had slurred, slapping her on the back. Faith didnít remember anything beyond that point until they had woken up in the alley shortly before dawn. Apparently the bartender had decided that it was easier than calling a cab or the cops to have them tossed in the drunk tank. The two had been together ever since. They had hit the road for lack of anything better to do. The Council was still looking to kill her and despite what she may have said to Spike while bingeing, she wasnít ready to just roll over and die. It wasnít till they hit Tucson that Faith had found something to divert her from her deep funk. Faith had heard a woman scream, and sheíd been in motion before she realized it. Spike hadnít been with her at the time. They had parted company earlier in the evening when heíd said something about raiding the bloodmobile. Faith had sent him on his way with a Ďbon appetití and a lurch of her stomach. For once she had been happy not to be soused. When she had rounded the corner at full tilt she found that she hadnít been the only one to hear the scream. There was a cop pointing his gun at a well-dressed man standing over a womanís body. "Move away from her now! Keep your hands where I can see them." Neither one had noticed Faith slipping into the shadows. "Of course officer." The man had meekly complied and the cop had moved forward to cuff him. Before he could even close one bracelet though the well-dressed man had turned and placed his hand on the copís chest. There was a brief glow and a strangled scream as the cop fell. Faithís eyes had narrowed in the almost instinctive hatred that came with being a Slayer. Demon. She waited until the creature had left and then went to examine the bodies. She needed to know what it had done to them before tackling the thing herself. Both were dead, and there was no outward sign of injury. Maybe the damage was all internal. Taking out her knife, she had briefly considered checking the skin at least for some sign of what the demon had done to them but didnít get the opportunity. The copís partner had arrived and seen her kneeling by the bodies with a knife. Someone up there must be having a great big laugh at my expense, she thought bitterly as they sped on down the highway in pursuit of the demon. Spike didnít know what the big deal was, and Faith wasnít too sure herself. Perhaps it was just something to do, a diversion. Or maybe one lost Slayer was looking for some kind of redemption. Whatever. ********************************************************************** "Yeesh." Wesley reviewed what limited information he had on the creature that left the silver handprint. It was a recent phenomenon by the standards of his profession. The first occurrence had been just over a century ago. The frequency of incidents had jumped dramatically starting around 1955. Not all of those incidents involved the death of a human, but most did. Very little was known about the creatures themselves, but there had been a few direct encounters with them. It seemed they were shape- shifters and vulnerable toÖ "Well, thatís new." Wesley leaned back in the desk chair in his hotel room. "Odd, but fairly easy to arrange." He reached for the phone book. ********************************************************************** "Detective Kate Lockley speaking." "Detective Lockley. This is Jim Valenti. Iím the sheriff in Roswell New Mexico. Iím calling about a young woman, you have a fugitive arrest warrant out for. Sheís just listed as Faith." Kate sat up straight, focusing her full attention on the phone call. "Faith, long brown hair, dresses like a hooker, completely psychotic?" "Ah, I havenít actually met her, a man came to see me earlier today with information that she might be passing this way though." "Who?" "His name is Wyndham-Price." "I see. Angelís man." "Angel. Heís the P.I.?" She gave a short bark of laughter. "He provided me with quite a bit of information about her, but suggested I call you. There are some gaps in the file, and I got the impression that the official records donít tell the whole story." "You got that right. Look sheriff, I donít know what heís been telling you, but Faith is extremely dangerous. Angel may think he can coddle her, but she put three patrolmen and a number of civilians in the hospital. Why donít you send me what information you have and Iíll see what gaps I can fill in?" Twenty minutes later, after an exchange of faxes and verifying information, they were talking again. "I hope the information I sent you makes it clear sheriff. If you get the chance to take her down donít waste it. I guarantee you wonít get another." "Thatís a bit extreme. Sheís just a teenager." "Sheís a murderer," Kate said flatly. "I reviewed the case from Sunnydale, where she killed a university professor. The man was butchered." "Why do you think this Angel or his employees would coddle her?" "He hid her for a time. The only reason heís not in jail is that she turned herself in and insisted that he was the one who convinced her to do so." "Hmm. Iím looking now at the account of her escape. This makes it sound like she could have left at any time. I donít like the idea of harboring fugitives, but what if she did need convincing?" "Thatís beside the point and you know it." "True. Anything on the people who attacked the bus?" "No. The guards claim that the man who spoke to them had a British accent, but thatís all we have to go on. I checked on the whereabouts of Angel and his associates and they all had solid alibis." At least Angel did, she fumed. It had been broad daylight. "You suspected them of breaking her out?" "It occurred to me. They have a history with her, and despite the trouble she caused him he refused to add to the list of charges." "What would Angel have accused her of?" "According to his associate, Wesley, Faith had been hired to kill him." There was a stunned silence at the other end of the line. "Say that again." She did. "Let me get this straight. She was hired, by Wofram and Hart, to kill this guy, and instead, he hides her from the police while convincing her to turn herself in?" Valentiís tone spoke volumes about his ability to accept this story. "Yeah, actually. Angelís a real piece of work." "You donít sound very fond of him." "Iím not. He skates along the edge of the law at the best of times. I suggest you take whatever his associate tells you with a grain of salt. He has no reason to do any favors for Faith, considering what she did to him, but he is loyal to Angel." "Iíll bear that in mind. Thank you detective, youíve been very helpful." "Let me know if you catch her." Curt farewells were exchanged and Valenti put down the phone. Oh man, he thought wonderingly. What sort of mess was headed his way now? As if the aliens and the FBI werenít trouble enough, he now had what sounded like a psychotic amazon on his hands, and what was the trouble between Lockley and the Britís employer? It sounded more personal than professional if her tone was any indication. He set that aside. That wasnít relevant at the moment, but he should keep it in mind when dealing with the Brit in the future. Which reminded him, he had agreed to call Wesley as soon as he had any information. He had one more call to make though. Picking up the phone, he began dialing. ********************************************************************** The contrivance was crude, but it should be effective. It had taken Wesley time to assemble the necessary equipment. Actually, the equipment had been easily obtained, it was getting it to work the way he needed it to, a way in which the manufacturer had never intended, that proved the problem. Wesley had burned himself twice before getting the contraption to work properly, but he kept at it, knowing he would get one shot at the creature at best. If he failed it would almost certainly kill him. While he worked, he pondered Faithís connection to the demon. Was she actually taking up her proper work again? Or had she found a new ally? Given her history and erratic nature, either was possible. Wesley wasnít prepared to rule out any possibility when it came to the rogue Slayer. ********************************************************************** Valenti was angry. He managed not to slam down the phone, but just barely. It was almost sunset and Max Evans would be home by now. After the talk heíd had with the coroner in Tucson, Valenti had some hard questions for Max. It wasnít impossible that Faith had killed those people, but it seemed unlikely. At least it was unlikely unless Faith was a lot more than heíd been told. It would, he realized, explain how she had escaped with such evident ease and the Britís reference to her talents. At the time he had taken that to mean her fighting skills and her evident love of violence. What if there was more to it? He shook it off. He would know soon enough. Grabbing his keys, the sheriff headed out the door. ********************************************************************** "You did what?!" Nasedo actually flinched at Maxís tone. "You were supposed to monitor and direct their activities, not kill them off!" Max turned away in disgust. How could he have let this happen? At the time, putting Nasedo in charge of the special unit had seemed brilliant. He hadnít counted on the fact that the shape-shifter was a bloody-minded psychopath. Angrily, he paced back and forth across the living room. Liz and Isabel were the only ones present, their parents being away for the evening. Both of them stayed quiet and out of the way. They were as angry as Max, but for him, it was worse. It had been his idea. Those men were dead because of him. Max wondered if the shape-shifter would obey an order to stop killing people. It seemed unlikely. The alien had absolutely no regard for human life. To him, his actions were expedient, nothing more. Max had suspected as much before, based on what Liz had told him about her time with Nasedo, but it was only now sinking in. "I have taken steps to allay their suspicions. You neednít be concerned about my cover." Max rounded on him, staring incredulously. "Iím not concerned about your cover. Iím angry about the people youíve killed. Donít you understand that?" "Frankly, no. The humans are simply not that important." He broke off when he saw the look on his leaderís face. "I know how attached you are to some of them, but they are not your people." "Youíre dead wrong there," Max gritted. "They are. Up to now Iíve considered you a necessary evil. Now Iím starting to doubt the Ďnecessaryí part." "You are letting your emotions get the better of you. You need me to-" "Thatís just too bad for him." Nasedo whirled to see a teen-aged girl he didnít recognize barging into the room. "íCause youíve got about a minute to live." She lashed out with a speed that astonished him, and he found himself lying on his back half-way across the room with his jaw throbbing horribly. "That was for that homeless woman in Tucson." Nasedo cursed silently, noting that the leader was backing away from the confrontation. It was the first smart thing the boy had done that day. Nasedo raised a hand to focus his energies on his attacker and screamed as a new pain tore through him. He stared, dumbfounded, at the knife hilt that seemed to have sprung from his palm, the blade neatly impaling his hand. "Thatís for the cop who caught you killing her." She stepped forward as he scrambled to his feet, backing away. A snap kick to the jaw put him down again. "And thatís for any victims I donít know about." Max watched the stranger beat Nasedo, but didnít intervene, instead he worked his way toward his sister and girlfriend, intent on getting them to safety. He didnít know who she was, but it sounded like a personal grudge, not a general hate for aliens. Max wasnít sure if he should feel guilty about not helping. Frankly, the shape-shifting murderer seemed to be getting just what he deserved. The three teenagers were almost out of the room when the front door burst open and Valenti came in. "Freeze!" He leveled his gun at Faith. She turned to look, becoming distracted at a critical instant, and in that instant Nasedo struck back. His outstretched hand glowed, and the presumptuous human was hurled through the front window with crushing force. "No!" Max yelled. Not again, he swore. Not another death on his conscience. He raced for the window and went through, Liz right behind him. They found her on the front lawn, barely breathing. "Cover me," Max whispered and dropped to his knees next to the stranger. Liz moved so that her body blocked the slight glow from his hands as he started to work. The stranger grasped her hand in a crushing grip. Liz started to cry out, startled and in pain. The sound never passed her lips. Connection. This isnít like it was with Max. She was oddly calm. Instead of a series of images coming at her at lightning speed, she was standing in a hotel room or small apartment, she wasnít sure. The room was a mess, and very cluttered. The rumpled bed sheets drew her attention for some reason. Liz walked to the bed, unable to decide what it was that drew her attention. She didnít hear the other enter. "Itís a mess, but itís my own." Liz jerked around, startled for the first time since sheíd found herself there. "Who?" "Faith. Iím Faith." The other girl came toward her, sort of swayed actually, and Liz took an involuntary step back. "No need to be afraid, least not of me." "Whatís going on? Where am I?" Faith shrugged. "I dunno really." She looked around. "My head I think. Feels familiar anyway. This happened once before." "What did?" "This place, a talk like this." She shuddered and her form blurred for a second. Liz stared in shock. "I donít think I have much time. We better get on with it." "Oh, yeah I guess we should." Liz didnít know what she was talking about, but it felt right. "Iím sorry. I wish this didnít have to happen to you, but there is a way I can help." "Help how?" "I can give you this." Faith gestured at their surroundings. "You can see I made a mess of it, but itís all I have. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes; God knows I never did." She reached out and placed a hand on Lizís cheek. Liz gasped and sat back, staring down at Faith. Max looked up, startled. "Liz?" "Max IÖ I think sheís dead." "NO!" Both looked up at the angry shout. "No!" A stranger in a black duster dropped to the ground next to them. "Oh damn!" He glared at them. "Who?" then he followed their glance toward the broken window. Then his eyes went to the door and he was on his feet. "Invite me in!" Baffled, Max nodded. The stranger started to run. ********************************************************************** A noise from the door drew Valentiís attention away from the shape- shifter he was covering with his gun. He was surprised to see the Englishman from his office entering the house. Nasedo casually extended his hand, and the gun was snatched away. Valentiís jaw dropped as his gun flew across the room to the alien who looked at it curiously for a moment before tossing it aside. Whatever he would have said next was cut off by the figure that crashed through what was left of the window. Whoever it was, he was enraged, and making a sound that wasnít even remotely human. Nasedo turned to face the new threat and paled when he saw what was coming towards him. He had no time to prepare before the vampire was on him. Isabel watched, horrified, as the two grappled and lurched about the room. This couldnít be happening. It just couldnít be. She glanced at Valenti who had pressed himself against a wall and was holding another gun, clearly not sure who to shoot. The stranger who had attacked Nasedo wasÖ What was he? At first she thought it was just his expression, that sheíd been startled by his arrival and overreacted, but that wasnít it. His face was twisted into some kind of gruesome, feral mask. Nasedo finally managed to place a hand against the strangerís chest. AAAauwk!" His attacker hit the ground, mouth open wide in shock and pain, but not dead. He writhed on the ground making strangled noises. Nasedo didnít have time to gloat though. A gout of white gas caught him in the face and another stranger, a shorter man in glasses and a suit followed up on his advantage. "Youíre not the only one who can Ďbring the heatí demon!" He carried what looked like an insecticide canister, but it was wrapped in heavy towels and looked like it had been modified in some way. "Sheriff!" Isabel called from the kitchen door and waved him over out of the line of fire. He made his way quickly, apparently having realized he was out of his depth. "What the hellís going on?" she demanded. "Youíre asking me?" he glanced at her incredulously. Isabel leaned out of the door, trying to determine what the man was doing to Nasedo. Whatever it was it was working. The shape-shifter was staggering, coughing violently and wheezing. Isabel sniffed the air, but there was no scent. The temperature in the room had risen slightly though. She gasped and drew back in sudden realization. "Steam!" "What?" Valenti looked from Isabel, who was backing away across the kitchen to the bizarre battle going on in the front room. "What about steam?" "How did he know? Heís killing Nasedo." "With a portable sauna?" ********************************************************************** Faith drew a shuddering breath and sat up slowly. "Iím alive," she sounded as if she didnít believe it. Not merely incredulous, but bordering on sarcastic, her tone made Max smile. "Yes, youíre alive." "But I was-. Iím sure I wasÖ Why else would-?" She glanced at Liz, who was sitting on her heels looking dazed. "Liz? Thatís your name right?" Liz nodded dumbly and Max looked between the two, confused. "Do you two know each other?" "Yeah," Liz nodded as she got shakily to her feet and helped Faith up. "We do." Before either Faith or Max could say more there was a new commotion inside. They ran to the window and looked in. "What is he doing here?" Faith asked, shocked at seeing her former Watcher squaring off with the thing that had just killed her. He wasnít doing too badly it seemed. The demon was staggering, barely able to hold itís feet. Then Spike was there. "Now, now," He seized Nasedo and held him still. "Take deep breaths mate. Itís good for the sinuses." He spotted Faith as she stepped through the window followed by Liz. Max hesitated outside. "Faith! Youíre alive!" "Looks that way." She nodded at Spikeís prisoner. "Do you mind?" "Not at all." He threw the weakening creature in her direction. Faith seized him by the shirtfront and shook him hard enough to rattle his teeth, then she reconsidered. "Here Liz. Your first." She shoved Nasedo toward the still dazed girl. "What? I-I donít..." "You know how. You remember." It was as if Liz was watching from outside herself, but was still able to feel everything that was happening. She felt the bone in his jaw almost shatter at the force of her blow. Seizing him in a choke hold as he spun around she gave his neck a short, violent twist, then released him. Slowly, Nasedo toppled to the ground, dead. Liz stood for a moment looking down at him before it penetrated her mind exactly what had just happened. An almost instinctive reaction. Where had that come from? She wondered as her knees gave way and she started to lose consciousness. She wasnít sure if Max caught her or not. He almost didnít. Slow in reacting, shocked by what theyíd all just seen he barely caught her and lowered her to the ground. He looked up at Faith. "What happened? Why? How?" "Well, well," the pale man in the duster chuckled as he looked down at Max. "It looks like your girl friend was right." He turned to Faith. "You were dead. So," he glanced back at Max, puzzled. "What does that make you?" "Not human, clearly," Wesley pushed his glasses up his nose. "Are you of the same species as this one?" "Um, not exactly." He didnít see any point in pretense, given that heíd healed the one called Faith and everyone present knew it. "What about you two? What is this about?" The tall, pale man leaned over and sniffed curiously, ignoring his question. Max wanted to step away from him but would not leave Liz. "Hmph, smells sort of like the dead one, but thereís human in him too. A half-breed." He shrugged dismissively. Max and Isabel stared at him, uncomprehendingly, and Valenti looked back and forth between Max and the stranger. "That true?" Valenti asked at length. "Not exactly. Thereís a lot we donít understand about it. What about Liz?" he demanded, changing the subject and getting back to what concerned him most. "What just happened?" "Well," Wesley said after a moment. "We shouldnít jump to conclusions. It is entirely possible that-" "No conclusions to jump to Wes," Faith interrupted. "We had us a long talk." She tapped the side of her head. "Up here. Iíve done that before, made a connection like that, but only with another Slayer." "Slayer?!" Max demanded. He looked down at Liz, who was beginning to regain her senses, and helped her up. "What are you talking about? Why did-" "Donít yell at me," Faith groused. "Itís his fault." She nodded at Valenti. "I could have taken him if Wyatt Earp here hadnít distracted me." She glared at him. "Hope youíre happy. Not only did that hurt more than you would believe, but youíve screwed up her life too." "What are you talking about?" Then he remembered who he was talking to and stepped forward with a pair of handcuffs. "Oh. Right." Faith made a face, but much to everyoneís surprise, held out her wrists. Valenti turned her around and cuffed her wrists behind her. "Faith?" Wesley looked startled. "Hey, donít look so surprised Wes. I only broke out when those Council slugs tried to kill me. Now you can get Ďem off my back. Just tell them what happened here." When he blinked, not immediately understanding she rolled her eyes. "Wake up Wes. Tell them I died." His face cleared. "Ah, of course. That would satisfy them." "Bloody hell," Spike muttered. "What am I supposed to do?" Several pairs of eyes turned toward the vampire. Spike was actually pouting at the loss of his playmate. "Shrivel up and die?" the ex-Watcher suggested shooting him a disgusted look. Spike matched it with one of his own. "And just what is your story?" Valenti looked at Spike. Things were moving way to fast for him. He felt what little control he had over the situation slipping away. "What planet are you from?" Spike burst out laughing. "He isnít an alien," Wesley interrupted with a slight smile. "Heís a demon, vampire to be specific. To the best of my knowledge there are no Ďlittle green men.í" Before Valenti or anyone else could comment on this they were interrupted. "Oh my God! What is this?!" Everyone turned to see Philip and Diane Evans staring at the scene in their living room in open-mouthed horror. "Hi mom." Max said, starting to feel as overwhelmed as the sheriff. The man in the duster laughed. "Oh this just gets better and better!" "Shut up Spike," Liz and Faith said in unison, then glanced at each other, surprised and a little disturbed. "Mom, dad, just try to stay calm," Isabel started. "Everything is-" "Calm?" her father interrupted incredulously. "Thereís a deadÖ thing on the carpet!" Everyone looked down at once. In the confusion they had actually managed to forget about Nasedo and had completely missed the point where his body reverted to its natural appearance. For a long time no one said anything. Finally Faith let out a sigh, summing up the situation for everyone. "Well. This sucks." "Oh?" Wesley asked as he studied the corpse with a detached, clinical interest. "I hear sirens." That got everyoneís attention. "Oh dear." "What is going on here?!" Philip Evans demanded turning to the Sheriff. "Ah, well." "Heís here to arrest me," Faith spoke up. She nodded toward the corpse on the floor. "Iím here to kill him." She looked down at the body. "I donít know why he was here. The sirens are getting closer. Um, listen up. Girl with a plan. Mr. Evans, do you want your living room turned into a circus? FBI, media and UFO nuts in general?" Philip Evans shook his head dumbly. "Then," Max interrupted, "maybe we should get rid of that?" Faith nodded and Spike grinned. "Right! A rousing game of hide the corpse." Faith rolled her eyes. "Spike, stop being an ass and help Wesley get close-encounters-boy there into the closet." Spike obligingly picked up Nasedo by the shoulders while Wesley grabbed his legs. "I donít think thatís legal is it Phil?" Diane Evans looked, like most of the Roswell residents, dazed and confused. "Maybe not Mrs. Evans," Liz said looking at her meaningfully. "But itís better than what the FBI will do to everyone here if he," she nodded toward the body disappearing into the closet, "is found here." Her voice trembled slightly as she remembered what Pierce had put Max through. Diane looked at her questioningly, but saw that, for whatever reason, the notion terrified the girl. "O-okay honey." She patted Lizí shoulder comfortingly and glanced at her husband, who was only slightly more in command of his faculties. He glanced at her and nodded. "So what do we tell-" She remembered the sheriff and looked at him. "Easy," Faith said. "Tell them I busted up the place when he tried to arrest me." "Thatís believable," Wesley said bitterly as he closed the closest door, ignoring Spikeís indignant "Hey!" as the sirens turned the corner up the street. Faith looked at him and then at the ground. "Wes. I-Iím r-" "Donít. Donít you dare apologize." His voice was calm and level, but the way he glared at his former Slayer made her swallow her words. "She is." Liz came back momentarily from the dream world sheíd been drifting through. With an effort she came back from her exploration of the newly acquired memories and met the ex-Watcherís eyes. "She really is sorry for what she did to you." Liz shuddered and looked at Faith a little fearfully. "It wasnít about you." "What do you mean?" Wesley wasnít sure whether to be confused or offended. "It was Angel." Liz concentrated a moment; ignoring or unaware of the strange looks she was garnering. "She knew hurting you would make him angry. She wanted him angry. She wanted him to-." "Stop it! I gave you those when I thought I was dying. Just stop it!" Now the looks were moving back and forth between Liz and Faith. Max put his arms around Liz and she gratefully accepted his comfort. It was almost a relief when the sheriffís deputies arrived. Valenti did an admirable job, with Wesleyís help, of filling in the deputies. They hustled Faith into a squad car, only puzzling briefly when Faith looked back at Wesley and said, "Donít forget what you agreed. Tell the Council Iím dead." The sheriff said he would explain later and that he would finish up taking statements. "Okay," he looked around the room when the squad car pulled away. "Want to tell me whatís going on?" "Better question," came a muffled voice. "Does someone want to let me the hell out of here?" Isabel opened the door and Nasedo tumbled to the floor. Spike didnít bother stepping over him as he came out. "What the hellís the idea?" "Well you did say Ďhide the corpse,í" Wesley reminded him. "Ha bleediní ha." The Evansí just looked at each other. What was that about? "Whatís that supposed to mean?" Philip Evans asked. "Not important right now," Wesley stepped forward, trying to make himself the center of attention. "At the moment, what is important is seeing that this creature is properly disposed of." He took to studying the body while he talked. "There is only a little information on this species. The contention that they are aliens does not surprise me. In fact, it may be possible. The earliest account of them is only 103 years old. Shape-shifters or not, one would expect more encounters and thus more information if they had evolved here. Given the incredible diversity of sentient races on this planet however, it is not impossible that theyíve beenÖ lost in the shuffle." "What do you mean? What diversity?" Max asked, saving his parents from having to do so. "He means demons," Spike said, "like me." He changed his face and everyone backed away from him slowly, all except Liz and Max. "Thereís a lot more walkiní around on this planet weariní human faces than just little green men you know." He was looking at Max when he said this for some reason. Max kept his face stony, revealing nothing. "Donít be afraid of him," Liz said glancing at the others. "He canít hurt anyone." "How do you know?" Diane Evans asked. "Faith gave me her memories. Donít ask," she quickly added. "I donít understand it myself. But I remember that Spikeís been neutered." The vampire winced at the term. "He canít bite anyone or even hit. A vampire that canít hurt humans is.." "Reduced to an irritant?" Wesley suggested. "Hang on a minute. Can we get back to the Slayer part?" Valenti asked. "What is that about? Whatís going to happen to Miss Parker?" "Nothing." Wesley straightened and smiled. "If you have all of Faithís memories, then you know that there is already an active Slayer. A very effective one I might add." Liz nodded. "I see no reason to involve you in a Slayerís traditional duties, and certainly, I see no reason to let the Council know about you." "I donít want you to." Liz accessed Faithís memories of the Council and shuddered. "I mean, I know what Faith knows and IÖ I donít want that life, any part of it." "Understandable," Wesley nodded sympathetically. "The path a Slayer walks is difficult and dangerous. If I can spare you that, I will." "Who says sheís gonna have a choice?" Spike snorted. "Have you forgotten those Council blokesíll start lookiní for her as soon as they hear Faith died?" "I know the Councilís methods. There is a fairly simple way of warding her." "Wouldnít be doiní her any favors. Slayer is a magnet for trouble." He gave her a look that was almost sympathetic. "Itíll come lookiní for you whether youíre ready or not." Lizí eyes widened fearfully and she looked at Max who tightened his grip and looked at the ex-Watcher questioningly. Wesley considered briefly, looking for a counter to Spikeís statement. Unfortunately, there wasnít one. He sighed. "As much as I hate to admit it, Spike has a point." "Meaning what?" Max asked. She had stayed close to him since she had killed Nasedo, happy to have his arms around her. Now she pressed closer, as if she never intended to leave the circle of his arms and the protection they offered. "Meaning," Spike rolled his eyes. "Youíre going to have to be ready to fight." "Thatís my business," Valenti told the vampire coldly. "I wonít have civilians-" "By a Slayerís standards mate, you are a civilian." "Heís right," Wesley said, and winced at having to agree with the vampire again. "You arenít equipped to deal with the things that a Slayer faces on a daily basis." "Daily?!" Liz squeaked. "Come here Liz, and Iíll show you what I mean." He moved across the room apparently intent on some item on the bookshelf. After a momentís hesitation Liz moved away from Max, though it was the last thing she wanted to do. Philip, Diane, and the sheriff began talking in low tones, debating among themselves what all of this could mean, so they missed what happened next. Their attention was drawn back to the scene by a loud clap and startled cry. "Hey!" Max cried and was across the room in an instant, his fist driving into the ex-Watcherís gut. Wesley doubled over gasping and Max turned to find Liz staring at the knife held between her palms, inches from her face. Wesley found himself shoved back against the mantel. "What did you do that for? You trying to kill her?!" "Of course not," Wesley gasped. "Merely proving a point." "Proving a point?" Liz said incredulously. "You threw a knife at me!" "Hilt first," he pointed out. "And you caught it." The knife was suddenly buried in the mantel, half an inch from his head. "Good shot." Max stared at Liz, as did everyone else. "Why did I do that?" Lizí eyes were fixed on the tiny distance between the knife and his cheek. She hadnít wanted to kill him, just frighten him the way heíd frightened her. The action had seemed to follow automatically. "Instinct dear girl," Spike said smiling. "Violence is what being a Slayer is all about. Also I suspect Faithís influence may have something to do with it." He sighed. "She would have made a fine vampire. A real blood lust that one has. Slave to her impulses, sort of like my dear Dru." "Shut up Spike," Wesley said testily as he straightened his suit and addressed Liz. "If nothing else, youíre going to have to learn to control your reflexes. You didnít even think about throwing that knife did you?" "No." Her voice was weak, scared, and Max again folded her in his arms. "I donít want this." "Too bad," Spike sneered. His tone immediately annoyed her and she seemed to perk up as she focused on him. "No one asked me if I wanted a bloody chip in my head that keeps me from killing humans," Spike pointed out, then stopped as he saw everyone staring at him. "What?" He shrugged off their baffled looks and continued. "The point is, itís there and I have to deal with it. You donít see me crying in my beer about what I canít change." Liz considered that for a moment and nodded reluctantly. Rude as he was, the vampire was making sense, then something jumped out at her from Faithís memory. "What were you doing when Faith found you in L.A.?" "Hey," he snapped defensively. "I may have been suicidally depressed and drunk out of my gourd, but I was NOT crying." "I donít understand any of this," Philip Evans said to no one in particular. "Let me see if I can get the facts straight." He moved around the room. He stopped in front of Spike. "Youíre a vampire, like Dracula." Spike rolled his eyes, but nodded, making a show of exaggerated patience. "You drink blood. Youíre vulnerable to sunlight, crosses and stakes." Again Spike nodded. "Donít forget holy water, fire, and beheading," Wesley added helpfully. Philip nodded and moved on. "Faith is a Slayer." "Vampire Slayer," the ex-Watcher added. "Although she kills any type of demon that threatens Humans." "And now, in some way, Liz has become one too." Spike nodded again. "Ya see, when one Slayer is killed, another is activated. Very efficient actually." "When did Faith die?" Philip Evans asked, startled by the revelation. "Just a few minutes ago." Wesley saw Max tense and decided to edit events a bit. "Slayers heal quickly and completely. Being knocked through the window would have only annoyed Faith. Theyíre very hard to kill. Iím guessing that this fellow," he indicated Nasedoís body, "did something specifically intended to stop her heart." He smiled at Max. "Your son is quite resourceful. This would make the second time CPR has revived a Ďdeceasedí Slayer." Philip Evans turned to his son and smiled his pride evident. Max just nodded, careful not to show his relief. "What aboutÖ that." He looked at the corpse as if it might get up and attack them, maintaining a safe distance. "Is he a demon or an alien?" Spike shrugged. "When they act like that does it matter? Alien, demon, whatever. Heís a corpse now." "Indeed, this creature has killed two people that we know of, and probably many more." "All right then," he was more than happy to leave the subject lie. "Whatís your story?" He looked at the man whoíd just thrown a knife at his sonís girlfriend. Wesley took a deep breath. "Until recently I was a member of the Watcherís Council. It is the Councilís duty to find and train Slayers and to provide them with the knowledge they need to do their jobs effectively. A Slayer needs to know how to kill a vampire, zombie, Ferral demon or what have you, before actually taking one on. It is our duty to protect the Slayer as best we can by ensuring that they are ready for the battles they will fight." "You were a Watcher you said." "Yes," Wesley sighed. "The Council and I had aÖ difference of opinion." "They fired him," put in helpfully. "Wesley ignored spike and shook his head sadly, reflecting on the memory. "I told them Buffy would react badly if they refused to help save Angel, but they didnít listen. Then they blamed me when she quit. Actually, I was quite happy to pass on her last message to them." Spike eyed him curiously, not having heard this part of the story before. "What message was that?" the vampire asked. "Bite me." Spike burst out laughing. "So now you work for a P.I.?" Valenti finished, eyeing the still chortling vampire cautiously. Wesley nodded. "Thatís right." "What does this have to do with Liz?" Max demanded. "Whatís happened to her?" "We covered that," Spike rolled his eyes. "Donít worry though," he said before Max could respond. "Iíve been thinking on it." He looked back and forth between Wesley and Liz. Neither one liked the look on his face. It was almost as if they could see the light bulb over his head. "I think maybe Iíll stay in Roswell a while. Help her find her feet." "What?!" Wesley stared, shocked. "What makes you think I would allow that?" "Oh I donít know, maybe the fact that you canít prevent it? Chip or no chip youíre no match for me. If I feel like staying and seeing that the little gel doesnít fall on her first stake, thereís nothing you can do about it." "Maybe thereís something I can do?" The knife was airborne again. Spike caught it negligently, and Liz stared at her hands. They had acted almost of their own volition. She began to tremble violently, terrified at the thought of not being able to control her own reactions. "Next time, write me a letter youíre going to do that. Itíll come as more of a surprise. Oh and this is a knife, not a stake. Stab a vampire with this and all youíll get is a pissed off demon." He looked down at the blade. "Make that a pissed off demon with a knife. You need me." Liz looked at the ground, unable to muster any type of argument. "Youíve made your point Spike, but you canít expect that Angel will take this sitting down." "He doesnít have to know." He saw the look on Wesleyís face and shrugged. "If he has a better idea, Iím open to suggestions. Why donít you toddle back to La la land and ask him? Maybe heíll have you train her." Spike snapped his fingers and shook his head. "Oh thatís right. Look what happened to the last Slayer you trained. I suppose you could always call the Council." "I think Spikeís right." All eyes in the room turned to Liz. "Liz, heís a vampire. Even if he canít hurt anyone isnít heÖ yíknow evil?" Liz nodded, acknowledging Isabelís objection, but she looked determined. "Doesnít mean heís not right. If I canít learn control Iíll hurt people without meaning to. I couldnít stand that. I think I could learn a few things from him." Spike gave her a genuine smile. "Absolutely. I can help you with that control. I can teach you to fight. Teach you all I know about demons and magic and such, and I can piss off a few old acquaintances by doiní a really good job at it." He was warming to the idea quickly. "Thisíll be fun and itíll really annoy that great poof Angel. Imagine his reaction when he finds out. At age 127 William the Bloody changes professions. Goes from killiní Slayers," his grin widened at Wesleyís incredulous expression, "to training them."