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A Tattered Heart Nc-17 Faith/Oc B/A Complete

 
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:29 am    Post subject: A Tattered Heart Nc-17 Faith/Oc B/A Complete Reply with quote

Even though this IS B/A, outside of one scene, that's secondary to the Faithness so I figured it was better posted in this forum.

A TATTERED HEART
D.M. Evans
Disclaimer - I don’t own any of them (except Romulus and he earns me no cash either). Mr. Whedon does. I’m just borrowing them for a while.
Rating - NC-17 for sex and some violence.
Spoilers - None. Set S3 between Amends and Helpless
Feedback- Yes please, connorswhip@Yahoo.com
Summary - Someone is tearing the hearts out of sleeping victims, Faith, Buffy and the rest of the gang have to get to the bottom of it before the killer claims one of their own.
Author’s Note #1 - Written for Argante for the Back to High School. Requirements are at the end.
Author’s Note #2 - The poetry quoted is from Emily Dickinson’s A poor torn heart, a tattered heart.

“Gotta go.” Faith kissed the wing of her lover’s shoulder blade. “It’s almost dark.”

He rolled up on one arm, his long raven hair spilling down over his mahogany skin. “Yeah, my shift will start at the Bronze soon. Will I see you tomorrow?”

Faith looked at him. She usually didn’t come back for seconds but with Rom she was already on thirds. He was incredibly sexy. He was damn good in bed, and, best of all, he didn’t want more than just sex. She didn’t have to worry about unnecessary attachments. “Sure, Rom. I’ll see you at the end of your shift if I can.”

“Hope to see you there.”

Faith started off across Sunnydale. She figured that Buffy and her friends would still be at the school. At least Sunnydale High was easier to penetrate than the public school she went to with its metal detectors and security guards. No one seemed to take security seriously here, not at the school, not on the streets, like there was some perverse veil of innocence in place. Her hunch was right, at least about Giles being in his office. No one else seemed to be around but she snuck in trying to see if they might be hiding in the stacks.

She knew Angel would come up through them somehow during the day, probably through the sewers into the school basement. Of course, she doubted she could find Angel without Buffy attached like a ninety-pound growth. Sure enough she spotted them in the stacks, making out. Faith crept down the aisle behind them and eased out some books. She reached through and grabbed Buffy’s shoulder.

Buffy shrieked, jumping, nearly plowing Angel into the book shelves. Laughing loudly, Faith fell back just in case Buffy lashed out. Buffy’s face appeared in the little space Faith had made in the books. “Faith! That wasn’t funny.”

“The hell it wasn’t.” She snorted, coming out of the stacks.

“You’re lucky. The last time Xander did that, he almost lost an arm.” Angel grinned, heading for the tables.

“How’s it go? It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye?” Faith leapt the railing, her dark hair fluttering.

Giles eyed them all sourly. “Are you children done?” He turned his acetylene-blue gaze on Angel in particular. The vampire had the good grace to look embarrassed.

“Where’s the rest of the crew?” Faith tossed herself into a chair.

“Willow and Oz are here somewhere.” Giles plucked off his glasses for a cleaning. He kept his eyes steadfastly off the stacks.

“Xander and Cordy are in detention.” Buffy flopped down on one of the hard uncomfortable chairs.

Faith smirked. “I can see Xander there but what did Queen C do?”

“Yelled at Mrs. Cortez for interrupting her talking to Harmony in English class,” Willow offered, bouncing out of the stacks. Oz followed her, toting three books.

“How dare a teacher try to teach while Cordy is pontificating,” Buffy said, then looked nervous at the use of the huge word, as if maybe she had gotten it wrong.

“Have we found anything new about those people who died three days ago?” Faith asked.

“I got the books you wanted, Giles, to look for clues.” Willow patted the pile Oz was carrying.

Faith was a little amazed at the short musician’s ability to forgive Willow’s indiscretion with Xander. Faith would probably have handled it like Cordy did, only with more bloodied noses. Go to hell and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

“It’s not that I’m expecting much from the books. We don’t have enough to go on. Dead victims no signs of violence except for blood on the mouth. It would help if the coroners’ reports were available.” Giles shot Willow a sidelong look.

The red-head was already setting up her laptop. “Might want to head for your office for some tea, Giles. This won’t take long.”

Giles had that pinched look on his face but he obeyed. Faith knew he didn’t like to be around when they broke the law. Deniable plausibility, Faith got that.

“You are the dumbest man who’s every walked the face of the earth,” Cordelia said, sailing into the library, bringing an arctic blast with her.

“Kill me for trying to have a plan for the future.” Xander’s gaze was so sharp it could have decapitated Cordelia.

“Driving across the county and seeing the sights is not a plan. It’s a vacation.” Cordy sat at the table.

“Yeah, so what’s your big plan, Ms. ‘I’m getting by on my looks and daddy’s money’?” Xander’s fists clenched and unclenched.

“I’m going to be an actress.” Cordelia tossed her hair over her shoulder with a long exaggerated movement.

Angel glanced up at that, a bewildered expression on his face. “Have you been in any plays here at school?”

Faith had been wondering that herself. She couldn’t imagine Queen C keeping silent about anything.

“No, but can you see them passing on this?” Cordy waved a hand over her body, oblivious to the eye rolls of her friends.

“Didn’t you panic at the school talent show?” Giles peeked out of his office, obviously listening to them intently. Faith was shocked that his clothing didn’t spontaneously catch fire from the heat of Queen’s C’s gaze.

“I’m in,” Willow interjected triumphantly and the tone of the room changed, becoming more serious. “And hey, the autopsy reports are up.” Willow leaned closer to the screen. “Oh, ewww!”

Buffy got up, looking over Willow’s shoulder. “What?”

“The heart is missing on the first victim.” Willow clicked a few buttons as Giles filtered back into the room. She shuddered. “On the other two as well.”

“How?” Faith asked. “There was no signs of violence, right?”

Willow pushed back from her computer, whiter than normal as Buffy jumped back to give her space. “It says that it appears the killer reached in through the victims’ mouths.”

“Yuck.” Buffy shuddered and even Faith felt queasy. “How is that done? I mean, really?” Buffy went over to Xander and took a hold of his dark hair, cocking his head back. “Open up, Xander.”

He eyed her sourly. “Why am I always the practice dummy?”

“I would have thought that was obvious,” Cordy sniffed and Faith saw Angel trying to hide a grin.

Buffy pinned Xander down, pressing her hand to his mouth. “You can’t really even get past the teeth without knocking them out and there was no signs of that were there, Will?”

Willow squinted at the screen. “The teeth were intact.”

“I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get my hand in Xander’s mouth, let alone reach all the way into his chest.” Buffy contorted behind him, trying to figure out what angle an arm would have to be in to rip out someone’s heart from the inside.

“And Xander has a big mouth,” Angel smirked.

“Hey.” Xander tried to pop up and Buffy planted him.

“Buffy raises a valid point. It would be difficult for a human arm to reach down someone’s throat and tear out a heart.” Giles leaned over Willow, taking an illicit glance at the screen.

“No matter how often we threaten it,” Faith muttered.

Giles shot her his patented pinched look. “It says the esophagus was ruptured and the heart most likely extracted through that tear. There were no nice even cuts suggesting a knife was used. The coroner is surmising that fingernails did the damage. It also appears that there are no signs of drugs or alcohol was in the victims’ systems and there was bleeding, suggesting they were still alive.”

Buffy cringed as Cordelia looked a little faint. “Giles, spare us the gory details.”

“Man, that has to be a horrible way to go.” Faith tried to stop the shiver racing through her. She didn’t want to telegraph that she was wigged out. “What sort of thing does that?”

“I don’t know off hand,” Giles admitted, straightening up. He looked disappointed.

“Nor do I,” Angel said. “A lot of demons like to eat the heart. Even vampires like to drink straight from it. It used to be Dru’s favorite...” He trailed off with a mortified expression at his admission.

“Try not to over share so much.” Buffy’s voice cracked like a whip and Angel recoiled from it.

“At any rate, I don’t know many demons that would extract the heart through the mouth. That’s the hard way of doing it,” the vampire replied.

“I’m sure you’d know,” Xander snapped and Willow kicked him under the table.

“So now what?” Oz asked, startling Faith. He had been so quiet, as per usual, that she forgot he was around.

“I’ll start compiling information on demons that take hearts,” Giles said. “I might want to have a look at mages who could be interested in using hearts in spells.”

“I could help with that,” Willow said, brightly. “We all could. That’s a lot of the book thing for one person.”

“Not me,” Cordy said. “It’s Friday night. It was bad enough that I had detention. I’m not spending my Friday just hanging out here.”

“I’m sure you can spare a little time before modeling your latest in hooker-ware at the Bronze,” Xander said, and Cordy kicked the same ankle Willow had.

“I can only help for a while before I have to go to the Bronze myself,” Oz said.

“Got a gig?” Xander asked. “Man, I need an excuse like that.”

“You could always join the swim team again and say you have practice.” Buffy grinned.

“I knew you liked me in that Speedo.” Xander beamed, oblivious to the eye rolls.

“How about me and you, B?” Faith touched the stake she had in her jacket, itching for action. “We still going on patrol or are you two?” She nodded at Angel, feeling a little jealous, not just of Buffy having a hot guy - because Faith could have as many hot guys as she wanted - but more so of the time Buffy spent with the others. For once in her life, Faith had something in common with someone that didn’t hinge on tragedy like she had with those losers in the one Ala-Teen program she had sat in on. Her favorite teacher had talked her into it but it was a bad idea.

Faith enjoyed patrolling with Buffy. She even liked going to B’s house. Mrs. Summers made her feel at home, even if she kind of got the impression Joyce wanted her to shoulder all the danger and let Buffy retire. Faith was okay with that in a lot of ways. She lived for the slaying. It was the one thing in her life that made sense, that gave her purpose. Still, it would be nice to come home to a mom that loved and cared about her instead of one who’d give her ten bucks to get lost for most of the night so she wouldn’t have to see her turning tricks for drink and drugs.

“Why don’t you and Buffy patrol,” Angel said. “I’m going to look at a few places for some demons who won’t be likely to talk to Slayers. I can meet you at the Bronze after ten.”

“Come on, B. We’ve got a lot of land to cover.” Faith headed to the door, enthusiasm rippling through her. She grabbed Buffy’s wrist and pulled her along. Faith let go when the other Slayer wasn’t moving fast enough.

Buffy followed more sedately. She was oddly silent for a while as she walked. Faith quickly grew bored with that and with the quiet night. There was a strange stillness to the air. “Deep thoughts, B?”

“Just thinking about these killings.” Buffy tightened her pony tail. “No signs of violence, no signs of a break in, just an open window somewhere in the house.”

“Well, it is winter. If you can call it that.” Faith was more than a little amused at the sweaters and jackets the Scoobies wore. “I mean, you guys think it’s cold when it’s sixty degrees out.”

Buffy wrinkled her nose at her. “That is cold.”

Faith laughed. “B, at this point, I’d be up to my ass in grey snow and ice back in Boston. Be thankful you ain’t patrolling there. My point is, you don’t need the air conditioning on at this point but it’s warm enough to have a window open. An intruder could get in that way easily.”

“Good point.” Buffy turned, hearing something but it was just a raccoon in a dumpster. “I’m just weirded out by the reaching down the throat and tearing out the heart.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty nasty.” Faith suppressed a shudder.

“I used to think back when it was just me and Merrick that vampires were the nastiest things ever. Since coming here, vampires are beginning to look tame.” Buffy shoved her hands deep in the pockets of her jacket.

“Still deadly enough,” Faith muttered, thinking on her Watcher. She missed her Watcher badly. The older woman was the first person to believe Faith had a future beyond a drop-out teen-aged mom living on welfare in a trailer park. She was the only person who ever really cared about Faith. The dark- haired Slayer rubbed her eyes before Buffy could see the tears in them.

“Yeah. I just wish they were the scariest thing out here,” Buffy said in a soft voice. “But they aren’t.”

Both girls settled into an uneasy silence as they entered one of the cemeteries. The hush lasted for what seemed like forever but Faith was willing to wager it was less than ten minutes.

“You seemed awfully chipper back at the library.” Buffy favored her with a sly smile. Faith could see she was burrowing for details as to why.

“Found me someone who not only gives me that low down tickle but he’s good enough to keep around for seconds.”

“I get the picture,” Buffy said blushing, and Faith grinned. Her sister Slayer could be such a prude.

“Yeah, guess it’s not fair of me to be talking about all the hot sex when you and Angel can’t get it on.” Faith pistoned her fist at Buffy for emphasis. “That has to suck.”

“You have no idea.” Buffy wilted. “I just wish I knew where this is...how long is someone supposed to pay for their past?’

“Some people won’t ever let you up,” Faith said, sounding like she knew exactly what she was talking about.

The silence made a come back, stretching through a fruitless night of patrolling. They didn’t even see any bad boy teens out vandalizing stuff, let alone a vampire or anything remotely demonic. They eventually headed around toe the Bronze to meet up with Angel.

He didn’t appear to be around. Faith saw Cordy on the dance floor with a boy she didn’t know. He looked a little older, maybe from the college. There was no surprise that Willow was up at the stage watching Oz. Xander was nowhere to be seen but Faith figured without her and Buffy there as buffers between him and Willow, he had been banished so Oz didn’t think there was any on-going hanky-panky. Faith wondered if he was still stuck with Giles doing the book-thing, the only one with no plans for a Friday night.

Faith spotted Rom working the bar and she couldn’t help smiling at him. She wouldn’t do anything girlie like wave or anything. Still, Buffy caught the sappy smile and followed her gaze to her lover who had plaited his waist length hair into a thick braid tied with a leather band and beads.

Buffy leaned in conspiratorially. “Is that your boyfriend?” She widened her eyes and exaggerated a ‘wow.’

Faith knew boyfriend was ascribing more emotion than was there but it sounded better than fuck buddy. Besides Rom felt special. “Romulus Robicheaux. He’s originally from Louisiana or Oklahoma or both...I wasn’t really paying attention.” Faith shrugged. When Rom had been telling her about himself, she had been busy dry humping him and hadn’t cared. “He’s a Seminole Indian.”

Buffy’s brow creased. “Aren’t they from Florida?”

“Not all of them, I guess.” Faith shrugged. “Do I look like I passed history or whatever the class that stuff would have been in?”

Buffy made a hands up gesture. “Isn’t he a little old for you?”

Faith chuckled, cuffing Buffy on the shoulder. “Rom’s like twenty-five. You’d need to add a zero to make him as old as your man.”

Buffy ran a hand through her hair, some of which had escaped the tail it was in. “You have a point. Speaking of my man, do you see him anywhere around here?”

“No. Why don’t you look for him. I’m going to snag a coke. You want something?” She wondered if she could get Rom to dump a little rum or Jack Daniels into her coke but figured he wouldn’t risk his job over an under-aged girl he had only banged a few times.

“How about a root beer?” Buffy pushed off through the crowd.

Faith went to the bar and Rom smiled wickedly at her.
“What’s your pleasure?” He swung his braid back over his shoulder.


“You covered with butterscotch schnapps but I’ll settle for a root beet and a coke.” Faith dug a few tattered dollars out of her pocket. She should have had Buffy pony up some dough before she left. “Maybe just the coke. I’m running a little low on funds.”

Rom poured both drinks and leaned close. “On the house,” he whispered.

She kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Rom.”

“You and your friend having fun?” He wiped the bar top.

“Just hanging out. We’ll be meeting a few other friends here. See you later.” Faith felt another twinge of jealousy. Buffy could talk openly with her friends about what she did with her time. Not that Faith had any burning desire to tell Rom about Slaying. She liked to keep it simple between her and her men but it might be nice to have someone to lean on. Even surrounded with people in the know, she felt alone. She wasn’t really part of the group and with Buffy there she probably never would be, no matter how well-intentioned everyone was.

She found Buffy with Willow by the time she got the sodas in hand. Angel was with them and he didn’t look particularly happy. “Crapped out?” Faith set the drinks down and squeezed in between Willow and Angel just to watch Buffy’s reaction. She knew the blond would rather she sat between her and Willow and be as far from Angel as she could be.

“I’m afraid so,” Angel said. “There’s no one talking about the killings other than to assure me they didn’t do it, which generally wasn’t a worry with the demons I was questioning.”

“We didn’t even find anyone to question,” Buffy said over Devon’s vocals.

Faith didn’t care much for the Dingos but she’d never say so. “We walked half of Sunnydale and didn’t see hide or hair of anything even remotely evil. Buffy almost slayed a raccoon if that counts.” She smirked and Buffy eyed her sourly.

“So now what?” Willow asked distractedly, her eyes never leaving Oz.

“I guess we keep chipping away until something breaks loose,” Angel replied.

“Like always.” Buffy sighed.

Faith wasn’t sure she liked the plan, a little to inactive for her tastes but she didn’t have any better ideas. They needed a better idea fast but until then she was content to watch Rom work, looking forward to when they could be alone.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me


Last edited by D.M. on Sun Jan 16, 2005 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER TWO

Faith licked the salty sweat running along Rom’s spine, deciding his ‘in-between rounds’ breather was over. Rom had more stamina than any man she had ever met. Teenagers could get it up a lot but couldn’t last. That’s where older men had it all over them. Rom was good for a couple of long rounds, which was far more satisfying. Faith didn’t know when she developed a preference for slightly older men but Rom was all she could hope for.

Faith reached down, running her hands over his tight ass to play with his testicles. Her nipples trailed over his shoulder blades, his thick silky raven hair tickling her as she moved. Rom rolled under her, bringing them face to face. He buried his hand in her hair, bringing his mouth to hers hard and hungry. Their tongues fenced, scraping over teeth. His lips traveled up over her cheeks. He kissed her eyelids so voraciously she saw multi-colored stars. Rom ran his fingers up the inside of her thighs. He parted her gently, his calloused fingers rolling over her clit. He had talented fingers.

She rocked against his hand, scooting down on his torso as he slipped two fingers inside of her. She nibbled his rose-hued nipples. Rom’s cinnamon-brown chest was smooth, hairless and muscled. She loved his chest. Some people liked eyes or hands but for Faith it was chests and butts.

His fingers pulse in and out of her as she ground against his hand. Faith eased herself out of his hand and twisted on him so she could kiss the salty tip of his penis. She kissed up the length of him then slid him into her mouth. Her tongue lathed up and down his erection as his tongue plunged into her, warm and wet. He worked her nub with his nose as his tongue prodded in and out of her. Faith let him slip free of her lips as she felt the dam building to the breaking point inside of her. She had a tendency to bite as she came and knew how unappreciated that might be with his thick manhood in her mouth. Her back arched, her knees digging into his shoulders as the dam burst. Her moans echoed around his small bedroom.

Faith glanced over her shoulder and Rom smiled at her with glistening lips. She spun in a graceful movement to straddle him, spearing herself on him. As she pistoned up and down on him, she played with her nipples, tugging, pinching. His fingers dug into her hips, his eyes never leaving her hands. With him thrusting hard inside her, meeting her with every pulse, Faith came again just before he did. Rom groaned, shuddering under her. She rode him to a third orgasm as he started to soften.

Faith collapsed down onto the bed with him. A giggle escaped her lips. She wasn’t the giggly type but Rom made her feel different. “That was fun.”

“Oh, yeah.” Rom stroked her arm, his fingers lingering over her tattoo. “Can you stay for a while?”

Faith glanced at the heavily curtained window. It was almost noon. She had no pressing plans like school, which would have struck her as sad if she had cared about such things. “Sure.”

“I can’t see you again until Tuesday.” He kissed her forehead.

Usually she didn’t like being kissed and held. It was too close to being relationship-like, too close to emotions. It scared her but with Rom she allowed it and she was surprisingly disappointed by his announcement. What was up with her? “Okay.” She heard the emotion in her voice and was embarrassed by it.

He kissed her again. “It’s nothing to do with you, babe. I have to go out of town for a couple of days, personal stuff.”

“No problem. I’ve got a lot of stuff to keep me busy,” Faith said, hoping he wouldn’t take that as an opening and ask her about it. She should have kept her mouth shut.

“I hope it doesn’t mean you have to run off this minute.” Rom cupped her buttocks.

Faith smiled at him. “Not at all.”

* * *

Buffy bounced into Angel’s mansion in high spirits, carrying a brown paper bag. “Angel!” she called out just in case he didn’t sense her and thought there was an intruder coming to attack him in the middle of the day.

The vampire stumbled out of his bedroom only wearing bright blue silk boxers, his eyes groggy and his hair sticking out all over, threatening to curl at the ends. Obvious he had washed it but not gelled it before going to sleep. Buffy wondered if it would be curly if he didn’t gel it to death.

Buffy had the devil’s own time tearing her gaze away from the blue boxers. They were perfect and stylish, especially considering their purpose. For a moment her mind turned traitor, trying to make her giggle as she wondered if all men took this much care in their appearance. She remembered her dad just wearing plain K-Mart boxers. She pictured Oz in plain boxers. Did Xander even wear undies? They were probably holey tightie-whities. Giles was probably disappointed boxers didn’t come in tweed.

“What’s the smile for?” Angel scrubbed his big hands over his face.

“Just trying to picture Giles in silk boxers.”

Angel’s hands froze and his dark eyes peeked out from between his fingers, canting down at his only garment. “Oh, sorry. Wasn’t expecting company.”

“It’s okay. You look so cute when you wake up.” Buffy touched his hair. “A cute porcupine.”

The corners of his lips fell as he ran a hand through the thick unruly pelt on his head. “Not that I’m not glad to see you, but why are you here?”

“Brought lunch.” Buffy waggled the bag and Angel just looked puzzled. “Mom’s on a buying trip in San Diego all weekend. Willow’s spending the day with Oz before he has to leave for his out of town gig. No clue where Xander or Faith are but that might be for the best. If I find Giles, he’ll put me to work.”

“And we couldn’t have that.” Angel smirked and Buffy punched his shoulder. “Give me a minute.”

Buffy watched him retreat to his room, her eyes alternating between his buttocks and his tattoo. As she sank into the couch, she knew he was going to put on clothes, a lamentable state of affairs but a wise decision given the way their hormones raced ahead of reason.

She didn’t really feel like eating her PB&J. She didn’t have her mom’s knack for sealing the sandwich just so when she cut the crust off. Dripping out of the sandwich, a blob of lingonberry jelly landed in the valley of her breasts.

Before she could clean herself up, Angel was there, leaning over her shoulder. His thick finger swept her clean and he popped his jellied digit into his mouth. “Sweet.”

Buffy smiled. “I’ve never really seen you eat anything before. I mean, you had that coffee with me once.”

“We can eat but nothing really has any taste anymore.” He sat next to her.

“So you were fibbing about the sweetness.” She pouted.

He stroked a lock of her hair off her forehead. “Not really. I knew it would be sweet.”

“But you really can’t taste anything?” Buffy tried to imagine the bleakness of that. It was a daunting prospect.

“Sometimes there’s a hint of taste, like a ghost of it. Alcohol has some taste.”

“Yeah, I gathered that from Spike’s behavior,” Buffy said sardonically.

“You can’t judge all vampires by Spike,” Angel warned quickly. “Even by our standards, he has an oral fixation. He always has to have something in his mouth.”

Buffy made a face as images popped into her mind unbidden. She knew that at some point Darla, Dru, Spike, and Angel all lived together and slept together but in what combinations? She took a bite of her sandwich and found a lack of taste wasn’t limited to vampires.

“What?” Angel asked, reading her expression.

“Always had something in his mouth.” Buffy pouted. “I was just thinking...I know how you used to live like a Bloodsucking Brady Bunch only with more sex...but I’ve never really wanted to know who was with who but when you said that thing about Spike’s mouth.” She made a face.

Angel’s nostrils flared. “What? No! Hell, no! Buffy!”

She threw up her hands not entirely sure she believed him. “Sorry. I can’t help wondering. I mean, there’s more than two centuries of stuff for me to learn about you and maybe you got bored and experimental or something in that time, though the mere idea of you two gives me the wiggins.”

“I meant how much Spike smokes and drinks and eats, real food or blood, not,” Angel shuddered. “That! I didn’t want that mouth anywhere near me. I usually wanted Dru or Darla washed after they were anywhere near him. And washing was not a priority back then.”

“Oh, eww. Don’t even want to imagine what you guys smelled like when you only washed once a week.” Buffy preferred to think on that over the thought of ‘was Angel protesting too much?’

“Um, Buffy.” Angel had a weird expression on his face. “it was more like once or twice a year, not to mention the corsets, the multiple under dresses and all the wool.”

Buffy set the sandwich down. “And the fact you’re already dead. The Slayers back then didn’t need to sense vampires they could have smelled them...okay, I don’t like this conversation. Let’s find another one.”

“I assumed you had a reason to wake me up or were you just bored?” He clinked a finger against her dangling earring.

Buffy smiled sheepishly. “Bored and feeling guilty about not helping Giles.”

“And this makes you feel less guilty?” Angel’s eyebrows raised.

“You and I can brainstorm about the killer a little and that will make me less guilty,” she said, when she was thinking all she wanted was some down time with him where they didn’t have to think or worry.

“Okay, but I don’t really know any more than I did last night.”

“I do.” Buffy took a sheaf of papers from her lunch bag. “Willow did a search on deaths where the heart was removed going back ten years. There’s surprisingly not too many but I figured you might pick up on a pattern Giles missed. The most recent was a young clerk in a clothes boutique down on Main.”

“That wasn’t this new killer,” Angel said softly.

“I didn’t think so since the heart was pulled out through the chest wall but you haven’t even looked at the papers yet. How do you know?” Buffy took another bite of sandwich. Angel’s dark eyes met her and she saw the pain, regret and brutal honesty there. She knew what he was going to say. “Oh.”

“It was Dru’s birthday,” he whispered, hanging his head.

“Oh.” The sandwich turned to ash in her mouth.

“I’m sorry.” He said it as he had so often any time his past came up with sadness, resignation and a hint of temper.

Buffy swallowed. The ashes of PB&J felt like it suddenly contained glass. “It wasn’t you, Angel. It was your demon.” Buffy wondered if that was really true. Were they really separate entities? She saw he must be wondering that, too, from the look in his eyes. What was worse was the nagging thought that she could still love him no matter how dark he had been.

“I’ll look at these,” he muttered, burying his face in the paperwork so he wouldn’t have to look at her.

Buffy let him lose himself there for awhile as she struggled to finish her sandwich. “Anything?” she asked as she dug in the sack for her fruit.

“Nothing that jumps out at you.”

Buffy pulled her bright yellow banana with its brown freckles out of the bag. They both looked at the rampant phallic fruit. “I could have done better on the fruit selection.” Buffy shrugged and settled for breaking it into pieces before putting it in her mouth.

“I’ve been trying to remember something,” Angel said, setting aside the sheets of paper. “I don’t see much in there but I think I might remember something similar back when I was leaving Texas in the Seventies.”

“You were in Texas?” Buffy smiled. “I can’t imagine you there, don’t ask me why.”

“So long as you aren’t imagining me in Seventies fashion I’ll be happy,” he said and she giggled.

“Did you have Burt Reynolds hair and a moustache? Mom had it bad for Burt,” Buffy said, leaning on his shoulder.

“No to both.” Angel stroked his face, remembering the fine facial fluff he had been sporting.

“Did you have butterfly collars and platform shoes?” A grin split her face. “Do you think Giles wore that stuff?”

He kissed her quickly. “No, no, and no. Anyhow, things went badly in Texas,” he said and she looked up at him. “I didn’t kill anyone but I did...he was shot. I couldn’t help myself. The scent of blood....” Angel paused, swallowing hard. “Anyhow it was the last straw. I gave up, stopped living in this world until Whistler found me. As I was drifting through Texas, or maybe it was Oklahoma or Louisiana by that point, I might have heard something like these killing.”

“Why didn’t you say so in the library yesterday when Giles asked?”

“I was so focused on demons that I wasn’t thinking broadly enough. And my memories from that time are hazy at best,” he admitted. “I was in a bad state of mind.”

“So, it’s not a demon.” That surprised her.

“I don’t know what this is.” He slid his arm around her shoulders. “But the thing thirty years ago was witchcraft.”

Buffy scowled, thinking of Willow and what she was getting into. She didn’t like this. “Like Wicca?”

“No, this was a dark art, Native American, much feared but I didn’t stick around long enough to learn much,” Angel replied apologetically. “I was more of a mind that it was none of my business.”

“I guess we should call Giles,” Buffy said, loathe to leave the cradle of Angel’s arms. “Did you say Oklahoma and Louisiana?”

“Yes, why?” Angel kissed her forehead.

“Because Faith said her new boyfriend was from there or she thought he said that. She wasn’t paying much attention.” Buffy kissed Angel fiercely then got up. “We’d better call Giles.”

“I’ll call him.” Angel looked as disappointed as she felt. “You ought to see if you can find, Faith. We might need to talk to her new man.”

“Tell Giles the guy’s name is Romulus Robicheaux and he works at the Bronze.”

“All right.”

Buffy, as much as she didn’t want to, headed out knowing there was no choice. So much for a quiet Saturday with Angel.
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ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER THREE

Romulus knew he was foolish to keep seeing Faith. The sex was great and he knew he could dispose of her quickly, one way or the other. She was a pleasant distraction but she couldn’t know his secret. If she found out, Faith’s death would have to feed his power.

Rom picked up his small iron cauldron with its fire-blackened bottom and took it into the bathroom with him. Plugging the tub, Rom stripped and got on his knees in front of the porcelain and started retching. His mouth gaped open as his retching worsened. His insides began to turn out, stomach first, a glistening sack, followed by loops of intestines. Once the alimentary canal had been expelled, the other organs followed until the tub looked like an abattoir.

Rom rose, feeling very light. He opened the bathroom window, and concentrated his magic inwardly. His body shimmied and shook, shriveling up, sprouting feathers until he became a horned owl. His massive talons clenched the cauldron as he flew out the window on the hunt.

The first house was easy. The window was already open on the second floor. He set the cauldron on the sill and flew in. He always knew which houses to hit, the ones with just one occupant. Once inside, he stalked his prey.

He needed more hearts.

* * *

Faith stood outside Rom’s darkened house. She knew what she was about to do was stupid but she was at the end of her rope. The prostitute who worked out of the room next to hers in that fleabag hotel had been insanely loud tonight and the coke dealer on the other side was equally obnoxious with the amount of business he was doing. Faith knew she could have gone home with Buffy and slept in the guest room but her pride wouldn’t let her. She couldn’t let Buffy know she was in over her head. How could they not have figured it out yet? They knew where she lived and that she didn’t have a job but no one offered to help. She’d be damned if she begged for it.

Rom was going to be gone for a few days. She didn’t see why she couldn’t just crash at his place for a night and get a good night’s...day’s rest. Of course, if he had been lying to her about going out of town or if he had another girl over she was going to feel like a real ass. If Buffy knew what she was planning, the girl would wig out.

Faith thought about the night’s patrol. Buffy had been sort of curious about Rom, more than Faith thought was normal for her. Buffy usually didn’t want to hear about Faith’s sex life so Buffy’s questions put her on alert. Buffy finally fessed up to Angel remembering similar murders happening in Rom’s home state back in the Seventies. Buffy said it like it meant something serious, as if anyone from Oklahoma was naturally a killer. Faith very hotly pointed out that Rom was born around the time period Angel was talking about so he could hardly have been involved back then. Buffy said they just wanted to talk to him, see if he had ever heard of anything like this. That made a little sense. Faith had agreed to bring Rom around when he got back.

The home was dark as she jimmied the lock and went inside. There were no sounds. She didn’t want to turn on any lights until she had a chance to investigate the place. The bedroom was empty. As she left the room, Faith caught a whiff of something nasty. It was swampy like a mix of a boy’s dorm bathroom and something metallic. She went down the hall trying to find the source. She hoped a rat hadn’t died in the house or the plumbing had backed up.

She went into the bathroom and flicked on the light. Her knees went weak at what she saw. This was almost as bad as what Kakistos had done to her Watcher. She hadn’t really seen anyone eviscerated before. Faith shook all over, staring at the glistening tub full of organs. What had the killer done with Rom’s body? Was the killer still in the house?

Faith felt her stomach trying to revolt. She leaned on the wall, flicking off the light. She bolted from the house, managing not to puke but only just. She looked back at the home. What was she going to do? She couldn’t call the cops and tell them she had broken into her lover’s home and found him dead...or at least found his insides. They’d probably think she was the killer, given how dumb Sunnydale cops were.

She needed help. She needed to find Buffy. Maybe she should have run for Giles’ first but what if he didn’t believe her? She had innate troubles trusting men. Faith was surprised that Buffy wasn’t shacked up with Angel then she remembered what Buffy had said about her mom being out of town. Faith headed for Revello Drive. There was a light on so she banged on the door and kept it up until Buffy answered. Her annoyed look melted into one of concern.

“What’s wrong, Faith?”

Faith pushed past her into the living room. Angel was there, getting up from the couch. He looked as concerned as Buffy.

“Faith, what happened?” he asked.

She paced the room. “I went to Rom’s place, thinking I could crash there while he was out of town because my neighbors were so damn obnoxious.” She tore at her hair. “Someone killed him.”

Buffy’s mouth gaped and she caught Faith’s arm. “Are you sure?”

“All his guts are in the tub.” Faith growled, wanting to jerk away, unable to move. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

“Faith, I’m so sorry.” Buffy’s grip changed into a soothing stroke. “You need to call the cops.”

“I can’t do that. What if they think I’m involved.” Faith pulled free of Buffy’s grip. “I thought we could go over there, see if there’s anything I missed and then we can tell Giles everything and see if he has any ideas.”

“That’s probably not-” Buffy started to say but Angel laid a hand on her shoulder.

“We can do that,” Angel said gently. “For all we know, it could be related to our other organ harvester.”

“Do you think he could change from just taking a heart to taking the whole body and leaving the guts?” Buffy shot Angel a querulous look.

Angel shrugged. “I don’t know. It won’t hurt to go over and look.”

“You and B shouldn’t touch anything,” Faith said, pulling herself together. “I can explain my fingerprints on stuff. Other people working at the Bronze have seen me and Rom together.”

“Okay. Show us where,” Angel said.

Faith took them to Rom’s place. She paused before going to the door. She pointed to the upstairs window, bright with light. “I didn’t leave on any lights.”

Buffy’s face hardened, her hand going into a pocket in her jacket where Faith knew a stake was riding. She half expected Angel’s face to go bumpy from how tense he was. Faith pushed opened the door and they went in silently except for Angel who got bounced back, unable to enter the house.

Faith’s face screwed up. “Does that mean Rom’s alive?”

“Yes, or maybe he’s not the owner of the house,” Angel said.

“Come in, Angel,” Buffy whispered.

The trio made their way upstairs. A shirtless man came out of the bedroom. There was a chorus of startled cries echoing around the house.

The man slung back his curtain of ebon hair, his dark eyes wide. “Faith! What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing home, Rom?” She was too surprised to say anything else.

Romulus hesitated a moment. “My business wrapped up quickly. You didn’t answer my question.”

Faith swallowed hard, still stunned by the fact he wasn’t dead, her mind whirling. She glanced back at her companions then over to Rom. “Angel was walking me and Buffy home. When we came past here and saw the light on, we came in because we thought you were being robbed.”

“And you came to stop them?” Rom’s eyebrows shot up. “Can’t decide if that’s very brave or dumb. Either way, I’m grateful.” He didn’t sound very grateful to Faith’s ear.

“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Faith said, feeling more confused by the moment. “Like I said, this is Angel and she’s Buffy.” She swung her hand between the two.

“The root beer,” Rom said. “I bartend at the Bronze.”

“Faith pointed you out. Nice to meet you,” Buffy said, looking as confused as Faith felt.

“Rom, I need to hit the bathroom.” Faith had to check it out. She knew what she had seen, had smelled and this didn’t make sense.

His lips thinned. “Go ahead.”

Faith ducked into it, locking the door. She sat on the tub’s edge. It was perfectly clean, no organs, not even a drip of blood on the bone-hued porcelain. She flushed the toilet, ran the water and hustled out, more confused than ever. She paused seeing a hard glint in Rom’s eyes, a hint of suspicion she had never seen before.

“Faith, I’m a little tired,” Rom said, obviously trying to get them out of the house.

“No prob. We need to get to Buffy’s,” Faith said. “I’m spending the weekend since her mom’s out of town.”

“Okay. Thanks for looking out for my house.”

“Glad to help,” Faith said, following Buffy and Angel down the stairs.

After they were a good distance from the house Angel said, “Was it me, or did he seem nervous?”

“I don’t know him well but I’d say so,” Buffy hedged.

“He was acting weird. He told me he was out of town all weekend,” Faith said. “And he definitely wanted us gone.”

“But what happened to the organs?” Buffy asked, glancing over her shoulder at Rom’s place.

“Gone, all of them. The tub’s clean enough to eat from,” Faith said, punching a fist into her hand. “I don’t get it. I mean, I thought he was dead and now, not only isn’t he dead but the guts are gone, too. I know I didn’t hallucinate them, and I don’t do acid. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Unless he’s the killer,” Buffy said. “He could have been hiding in there all along and disposed of the guts when he realized you saw them, Faith.”

Angel nodded. “You two head to Giles’ I’ll meet you there. I’m going back to check the garbage cans and see if he’s been digging in the yard. I thought I might have smelled blood but it’s hard to tell.”

“I wouldn’t think that’d be a problem for vampires,” Faith said.

“Usually not but, um...” Angel’s eyes slipped over to Buffy.

She blushed, folding her hands over her belly. “You can’t be serious? You can smell...ewww. That’s so gross.”

Angel spread his hands. “Why do you think I never mention it?”

“At the risk of you continuing to weird out Buffy at a really bad time of the month, I think you two should go warn Giles while I go back,” Faith said.

Buffy eyed her. “Why?”

“Angel’s big and easy to spot even with the silent vampire thing going for him and B, you’re so white you glow,” Faith said and Buffy touched her pale hair. “If I get caught, I can play the horny girlfriend who can’t take a hint.”

“Faith has a point,” Angel said.

“Okay, meet us back at Giles’,” Buffy said.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FOUR

Buffy stared into Giles’ window. All the lights were on and he was slumped over on his desk. The upstairs window was open and a frisson of fear trickled through her. “I don’t like this, Angel. Me and Faith figured open windows was how the killer was getting in.”

“Let’s just knock first before we think its anything more than Giles falling asleep over some dull research,” Angel said placatingly.

Buffy bobbed her head, feeling foolish. “You’re right. Seeing Faith shook up kinda got me going. She’s not easy to shake.”

“Neither are you.” Angel rapped on the door and Giles startled awake.

He came to the door, rubbing his eyes. “Buffy, Angel, what time is it?”

“After midnight. Sorry to wake you.” Buffy pushed past him and stopped dead. Xander was asleep, a book on his head, lying on the couch. Willow was draped over a chair, looking confused as to where she was. “Guess it must have been a really boring research party.”

“My word, I didn’t realize...this does not look good,” Giles said, looking at the drowsy teens.

“I’ve seen worse,” Buffy said, despite the fact Willow’s hair was all over the place and Giles had book face from sleeping on his desk.

“It looks highly improper for an unattached older man to have teenagers in his flat this late after midnight,” Giles fretted.

“It’s after midnight?” Xander asked, under the book over his face.

“Afraid so,” Angel said.

“Don’t worry, Giles,” Willow sat up, rubbing her kinked neck. “I told my parents I’d be staying with Buffy.”

“It’s not like the first time we’ve been here late. If your neighbors noticed, they would have reported you as a perv when you first got here,” Buffy said, brightly.

Giles looked at her sourly. “What brings you two here so late?”

Buffy sat on the couch next to Xander and she started to tell Giles everything Faith had told her and what happened afterwards. Giles kept nodding his head, thumbing through some of the books on his desk as she talked. A knock sounded on the door just as Buffy was wrapping up the tale.

Giles got up and let Faith in. She looked agitated.

“Did you find anything?” Buffy asked, almost hoping for Faith’s sake she hadn’t. She could tell Faith had liked this guy and Faith never seemed to see men as anything other than a Playstation.

Faith shook her head. “I checked the trash but nothing. I couldn’t get close to the house. He had all the lights on like he was expecting intruders or maybe for us to come back. Sure as hell didn’t go to sleep for someone who claimed he was tired. If he killed someone in that bathroom, he has to know I saw him. I just don’t get how he got rid of the guts so fast. He didn’t have that much time to clean up the evidence from when I left and when we came back.”

“I’m not convinced he did kill anyone in that room,” Giles said.

Faith’s jaw tightened. “I didn’t imagine the guts in the tub, Giles.”

“I’m not suggesting you did.” Giles held up a placating hand. “Think back, Faith, do you remember if all the organs were there?”

Faith flopped down on the floor. “I dunno. I didn’t count them and I’m not sure I could name them all anyhow but there were guts and a stomach and lungs and the heart. I’m sure of that. The whole tub was full.” She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes.

“And Romulus is from Oklahoma?” Giles pressed.

Faith dropped her hands. “I guess so. Everyone keeps asking that. Why is that so important?”

Buffy could hear the irritation in Faith’s voice. “Because of what Angel remembered.”

“Yeah, Dead Boy pulls something out of his brain from before any of us were born including this Rom guy, and we spend the night hitting the books,” Xander grumbled.

“It was fun,” Willow protested, “though this book was a snooze.” She nudged the book that had sent her into the land of dreams.

“It was a good lead. The reason I’m asking all these questions, Faith, is this.” Giles offered up a book, open to a page with an owl on it. “I don’t think that Romulus is the same killer as the one Angel remembered but he is the same sort of killer. He is American Indian, yes?”

“Native American,” Willow corrected.

“Rom just calls himself a Skin,” Faith said. “Seminole.”

“Isn’t that a Florida football team?” Xander asked then, off the looks of his friends, he shrugged. “What? They are, aren’t they? Florida’s a long way from Oklahoma.”

“The Seminoles were displaced into southern Florida and into Oklahoma,” Giles said. “There is a type of a dark witch, for a lack of a better term, called a Stikini.”

Faith gave him a funny look. “Aren’t Stikini’s those nipple-cover-only bikini tops that you glue on?”

Giles’ eyes widened. “I wouldn’t know.”

“I’m pretty sure it is,” Faith insisted.

“It doesn’t matter, Faith. The important thing is that the Seminole Stikinis are able to transform into owls and fly into peoples homes,” Giles said.

“Do they tear out people’s hearts?” Faith looked nervous. “I just don’t see Rom doing that. I mean, he’s a nice guy.”

“Unfortunately, Faith, the Stikini do in fact extract the heart of their sleeping victims,” Giles said apology in his blue eyes.

“Through the mouth?” Buffy asked and he nodded.

“But that wouldn’t explain the guts I saw in Rom’s tub,” Faith put in, not quite ready to believed.

“Actually it does.” Angel brandished the book Giles had offered. “The Stikini literally vomit out their entire insides, which makes them light enough to fly and somehow able to shape shift into owls.”

“Okay that just buried the needle on my gross-me-out-o-meter,” Xander said, shoving dark curls off his forehead.

“Ditto,” Willow said, looking queasy.

“But what do they want with the hearts?” Buffy wished she hadn’t asked.

“They eat them,” Giles said. “And draw magical strength from them.”

“That’s even grosser,” Xander said.

“How do we kill him?” Faith’s voice and eyes were flat, frightening Buffy. She could see the tears hiding behind Faith’s shield as it dropped into place. Buffy had been there before. Granted, she knew Faith didn’t love Rom, probably not even a little, but still it hurt to kill someone you saw as a friend.

“There are herbs that will kill him. Owl feathers are also necessary,” Giles said. “We need to do this while he’s separate from his organs or else it won’t work.”

“But how would we know that?” Willow asked.

“I set him up,” Faith said, her voice still dead.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” Concern glowed in Giles’ blue eyes.

She nodded. “It has to be me. I’m the one who saw the organs. If Rom doesn’t know it for sure, he definitely suspects it. He told me he’d be gone for a few days. That had to be his way of getting me out of the house so I wouldn’t see what I saw. I’ve interrupted that. He’s gotta be thinking ‘what does she know?’ ‘Is she gonna go to the cops?’” Faith pursed her lips. “He’s gonna have to kill me.”

“Faith’s got a point,” Angel said. “I don’t like setting up anyone as bait but Romulus will very likely target her next, regardless of what we do. He might even come after me and Buffy since we were both in that house.”

“He’ll get a rude surprise if he goes for your heart,” Xander said and Buffy elbowed him.

Angel ignored the slight. “There’s a chance he might even know I don’t have a beating heart. This book doesn’t really say much about a Stikini’s powers but if he’s attuned to human hearts he might know what I am.”

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “And he’ll be even more desperate to stop us.”

“I’ve got a plan but it’s kinda risky, well at least to your mom’s place,” Faith said, and Buffy scowled.

“What are you going to do to my home?”

“Look, Rom won’t try to kill me at the hotel, too many witnesses,” Faith said. “He’ll invite me over and try to kill me, if that’s his plan. Or if he doesn’t want to risk me telling anyone I’m heading to his place, which would force him to talk to the cops when I go missing, he’ll want to do it somewhere else. I could call him tomorrow, sound all hinky about what I was doing there tonight and tell him I’m alone at your place, Buffy.”

“We already did tell him Mom was out of town.” Buffy mulled over what Faith was saying. “But would he come if he thinks you’re not alone?”

“All the other victims lived alone,” Willow offered.

“Maybe he would come even if I’m not alone since he might want to kill us both. But I could tell him you and Angel are out on a date. If he thinks I’m alone and vulnerable, he might take the bait,” Faith said. “I doubt he knows we’re Slayers.”

“And he’d have to puke his guts out first, right?” Buffy grimaced. “And he’ll be the vulnerable one.”

“Only you won’t be alone,” Xander said.

“And we’ll be armed with owl feathers...and I never thought I’d be saying that,” Buffy said.

“It’s actually a good plan. We all should get a little sleep,” Giles said. “I can work on getting the herbs ready in the morning.”

“Where are we gonna find owl feathers?” Faith asked.

“Magic shop,” Willow piped up. “I know they have them. Turkey and owl feathers are like the substitute for eagle feathers now that they’re illegal to have. I can get some and any herbs Giles needs.”

“Good.” Buffy got up. “Faith, you want to sleep in the spare room? I don’t think you should go back to that hotel alone.”

Faith’s eyes hardened and Buffy thought she’d say no then she saw a crack in the younger Slayer’s armor. She was really hurting over being betrayed by a killer and Buffy knew exactly how that felt. “Thanks.”

As they headed for home, Buffy wondered what Faith would do when she helped to kill Romulus. She wasn’t sure there was anything she could do to help.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FIVE

“Yeah, I’m here alone, Rom,” Faith said, looking out over the sea of Scooby faces in the living room of the Summers’ home. “Nah, I don’t really want to come over...no, it’s not that I’m bored with you. I just...well, I’d rather not say...why would you think I was in your place last night?...well, why would I....no, I’m not afraid of you. Look, I finally have the house to myself, you know. It beats the shit out of that hotel. Mrs. Summers won’t be back until tomorrow and Buffy and Angel are out somewhere, probably at his place sweating up the sheets or something. I don’t care so long as Buffy’s gone most of the night. Gives me some alone time with Mr. TV and free run of the fridge. Mrs. Summers has some good liquor...Rom, why are you asking again? No, I wasn’t in your place before I brought Angel and Buffy over. Why would I do that?...Show them what? It ain’t like we were there to boost your stereo while you were out of town...okay, look I’ll see you tomorrow. ‘Night.” Faith hung up the phone and looked at the others. “I hope I didn’t sound too convincing that I wasn’t in his place.”

“I think he’ll take the bait,” Buffy said, her hand diving into the popcorn bowl. They had on the TV and Faith was on the couch while the rest of them were on the floor and out of sight of the window. They had left it standing open.

“How long do you think this will take?” Cordelia asked, looking up from where she was filing her nails.

“What? You have a hot Sunday night planned?” Xander scowled at her. “Why is she here again?”

“If there’s a mad killer flying in windows and murdering people, I doubt I could be anywhere safer than with you people,” Cordelia said. She picked up the sack of herbs she had beside her, waggling it. “Besides, I can help.”

“I’m not sure how long this will take,” Faith said.

“The books said the Stikini kill mostly sleeping victims so it might be awhile before Romulus shows,” Willow said.

“What kind of name is Romulus anyhow?” Xander snorted.

“So asks someone who’s name begins with an X.” Cordelia shot back, raising an eyebrow at him.

“It’s Roman, you know Romulus and Remus,” Willow prompted. “The twins who founded Rome.”

Xander just shrugged.

“Of course, the twins did kill their great uncle to take over the area,” Angel offered from his spot near the fireplace. “Then Romulus murdered Remus because he laughed at something Romulus had done. He was also known for kidnaping women from other cities just so his city would have more females.”

“So, what Dead Boy is saying beware of what you name your kids or they’ll become stone cold killers.” Xander smirked at the vampire.

Angel smirked right back. “Should we go into the things your namesake did? I think there were nasty rumors about what he’d do with the soldiers...and his horse.”

Xander’s eyes widened and Buffy kicked Angel’s big booted foot.

“Maybe we all want to shut the hell up just in case Rom arrives earlier than expected,” Faith grumbled and the rest look chagrined.

“I just hope Giles and Oz are okay,” Willow fretted, glancing up at the window.

“They’ll be fine,” Buffy said with less conviction than Faith supposed she would have liked to have.

“They’ll be safer than us,” Angel put in. “They just have to wait until Rom leaves and go in and do whatever it is they have to do with the organs. They won’t be in any danger unless we fail and Rom returns home.”

“There’s a cheery thought,” Cordelia groused.

Faith scowled at her and the cheerleader just rolled her eyes. They all settled down quietly watching the tapes Xander had picked up from the rental place. At least he hadn’t picked any chick flicks. Those could drive Faith insane. She liked movies where things exploded. The original Batman movie might not have been her first choice but it was good enough to pass the time. At least she got to be comfortable on the couch while everyone else was huddled on the floor like a weird sleep over.

It was a little after eleven when Faith thought she heard the beating of large wings. She shut her eyes except for a crack just so she could see a little. The big horned owl was inside the house, dropping the cauldron it had in its claws, and winged to the couch faster than Faith would have thought it could move. It convulsed and Romulus was standing over her, his naked body, the one she had so loved on top of her, looking completely normal in the light.

He reached over the back of the couch for her, his hand questing for her lips, and her eyes popped wide open as she tossed the herbs in his face. “Surprise.”

Rom fell back, coughing. The rest of the Scoobies scrambled to their feet. Faith grabbed her bow and arrows up from under the couch. Buffy and Angel had them, too. Faith had no idea if she was any good with them. Crossbows yes, regular bow, well, she was a Slayer. She had to be good naturally, right? Owl feathers had been attached near the points. She, Buffy and Angel looked like something out of Dances With Wolves. Too bad the name ‘Stands with Fist’ was already taken.

Faith saw one immediate problem with the bows. Unlike the crossbows, they were unwieldy. Rom ducked down and came back up swiftly. Faith barely had time to move. As it was, the foot on the little iron cauldron cut open her cheek. If she hadn’t moved, it would have broken her jaw. Xander hit Rom with the herbs but the shot was low, scattering it across the naked man’s butt.

“Xander, you throw like a girl,” Cordelia said, lobbing a sack of herbs. She hit Rom in the back of the head.

Romulus growled wordlessly and made for the window, his body beginning to shake Faith and Buffy drew their bows simultaneously as Angel went for the window, too. At the creaking of the bows, Rom turned and shouted something in a language Faith had never heard before. She and Buffy were both lifted off their feet, tossed like rag dolls. She let go of the drawstring, hoping the arrow didn’t hit anyone, totally unaimed. The drawstring stung her breast and forearm.

Rubbing her throbbing breast, Faith got up. Her arrow was in the ceiling tiles and Buffy had speared the couch. She had broken her bow in the tumble.

“That’s why Amazons cut off a breast.” Willow said, seeing Faith trying to sooth her damaged flesh. Faith had a bleeding welt on her breast, judging from the red smear on her fingers. The Willow moved closer to where Rom was grappling with Angel, the vampire’s bow broken in two as well. She tossed her bag of herbs and hit Angel right in his bumpy face. His golden eyes glinted but the sneezing to blow his fangs out took away any hint of threat.

“Sorry.”

Rom bolted for the window. Faith and Buffy both had him before he made it. Faith clocked him with the cauldron but he twisted, bouncing it off his shoulder. He grunted, falling back, his manhood swinging. Men should never fight naked, Faith decided but it was distracting to her and Buffy since they were so not used to it. Rom took advantage of that and tried for the window. He almost went to his knees, clutching his gut howling.

“We didn’t even hit you,” Buffy sneered.

“Giles and Oz must be treating his innards,” Angel lisped around his fangs, wiping the herbs from his forehead ridges.

“No!” Romulus lunged for Angel who was between him and the window. He cocked his hand back, his fingernails like talons. “Your heart might not beat, leech, but you need it to live.”

“Hey Rom.” Faith swept his feet out from under him. “Worry about me and B. We’re the Slayers.”

Rom rolled back to his feet, eyes wide. “A slut like you is the Slayer? Now that’s a laugh.”

Faith’s face darkened and she grabbed his long unbound hair, hauling him back. She had one of the owl-feather arrows in hand. “I’m no joke, Rom.” She buried the arrow in his gut, her hand passing into the emptiness there. He truly was a hollow man and somehow that made it easier for her. Faith kept stabbing repeatedly.

Romulus shrieked and thrashed but he didn’t bleed. Buffy joined the fray and Faith thought Buffy would pull her off like she had the time she had lost it on Kakistos’ men but the blonde Slayer thrust her arrow into Rom’s throat.

“The herbs!” Angel bellowed. “We need them, too.”

And all the Scoobies were suddenly there, turning the livingroom into a cloud of greenish herb dust. They were all choking. For a moment Faith flashed back to junior high and her moron boyfriend of the moment had dropped his match into the full brick of marijuana they had been dipping into. He had tried to beat it out, sending herb and fire all over his parent’s basement.

When the air cleared, all that was left was a very dead owl in a mound of what looked like oregano. Faith kicked the owl, tears running down her face. “Bastard.”

Buffy touched Faith’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Faith rubbed at her eyes. “Just got herbs in them.”

Buffy favored her with a wan smile. “It’s okay to cry, Faith.”

Faith didn’t want Buffy’s pity. Lie! Parts of you does. “It’s just that I really liked him. More than I should have. He was nice to me until the whole killing people and eating their hearts thing.”

Buffy put an arm around her shoulder, giving them a squeeze. “Trust me, I know exactly what you mean.”

Faith followed Buffy’s gaze to Angel and the vampire looked away. “Yeah. I...I think I just want to be alone.” Faith took a few steps towards the door then stopped, looking back at the mess in the living room. “Or maybe I should help you clean up first.”

Buffy waved her off. “Go on. We’ve got it.” Buffy’s eyes strayed to the misfired arrows. “Only I don’t know how to explain the holes to Mom?”

“‘Gee Mom we were trying to shoot a naked wizard man’,” Xander offered.

“You really do have the brains the size of a chick pea,” Cordy said, brushing herbs out of her long hair.

“It’s just...damn, how did I pick a man this wrong,” Faith grumbled, tears pricking at her eyes.

“It’s easier than you think,” Buffy said quietly, trying not to look at a distressed Angel.

“We’re experts at it,” Willow said encouragingly. “I’m just lucky Oz is a good wolf. But I did fall for a demon in a robot body.”

“Bug woman, Incan mummy girl,” Xander said, raising a hand.

“I went out with Xander,” Cordelia chirped and Willow held Xander back.

“Even Mom was dating a homicidal robot,” Buffy said. “Kinda par for the course on the Hellmouth.”

“Lucky us,” Faith grumbled, going out the front door. She collapsed under the big tree leading to Buffy’s bedroom window. She tried to remind herself Rom was nothing more than just another notch on the bedpost, that he didn’t matter. As the tears refused to stop, Faith reminded herself this was the reason why she should never spend more than one night with any man. This was what she didn’t want, the pain, the deep hurt. Love them and leave them was the way to go. Only, she wished she truly believed that.

* * *

Buffy leaned against Angel as they cuddled on her bed. Angel had Mr. Gordo in his lap. She felt odd with Angel in her bed, like Mom might come home and catch them. She could never quite relax with him here like she could at his place but she didn’t want to leave Faith alone. It was a challenge just to make Faith sleep another night in the spare room but the dark-haired Slayer refused to be comforted or hovered over. After cleaning up, they had all watched another of Xander’s movies, something with Jackie Chan. Buffy was shocked at how quick a normal human guy could move. Giles and Oz had returned, Romulus’ insides taken care of. Eventually everyone left but Angel and Faith.

“I feel bad for Faith,” Buffy confessed, resting her hand on Angel’s thigh. “She really liked Rom.”

“Which is not her style,” Angel said.

“You know?” Buffy was surprised Angel had noticed how Faith treated men.

“She’s seen some bad stuff in her life, Buffy. I can tell. I’ve seen it before. I doubt she trusts many people.” Angel shifted on the bed, looking silly against her lace pillow shams.

“She was crying,” Buffy said. “I’ve never seen her that vulnerable.”

“And you might not again. You saw the toll showing weakness took on her,” he replied.

“I kinda wish she didn’t have to help kill him,” Buffy murmured, trying to sink into Angel even as he was sitting up. She knew he’d have to go soon. It was nearly dawn. “Did you see her? That rage?”

“Keep an eye on her, Buffy. She’s damaged inside,” Angel cautioned, stroking her arm.

Buffy nodded. “Like she’s torn up.”

“A poor torn heart, a tattered heart, that sat it down to rest, nor noticed that the ebbing day flowed silver to the west, nor noticed night did soft descend . Nor constellation burn, intent upon the vision of latitudes unknown,” Angel said, softly.

Buffy gave him a curious look. “Poetry?”

“Emily Dickinson.” Angel kissed her. “She was pretty depressed most of the time if you judge by her work.”

“I know how she feels,” Buffy said woefully. “It just never ends, does it? The fighting, the pain.”

“It does, for a little while, if you let it,” Angel said, getting up. “If you take joy in those around you. Faith doesn’t know how to do that, Buffy. That’s where you can help her.”

“You think highly of my abilities,” she said, following him down the stairs.

He smiled. “Always.”

He left her with a long parting kiss. Buffy went back upstairs to try and get a few hours sleep before she had to go to class. She went to knock on Faith’s door but it was silent within. Buffy decided if Faith had finally gotten to sleep she wouldn’t thank her for waking her up and making her deal with the pain again. Buffy decided reaching out could wait until tomorrow. There would be time then. There was always time, right?

Author’s Note - The Stikini, both the Oklahoma Seminole wizard AND the bikini are real (well, a real legend in the first case) so no, I wasn’t making up the gross scenes in Rom’s house.

Requirements
Main Char request: faith, angel, buffy, feel free to add an OC
Genre: slightly dark/angsty, but not heavily so. smuttiness is always good, also.
Rating: as high as you're willing. but, given the request, id say r-nc17
requests: original scooby gang, xander-angel-willow banter, faith!smut
restrictions: not fluffy, just realistic, and no b/a bashing please
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ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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