by Victoria P.

Faith sighed. All the way to England to help Giles re-establish old contacts, and what did she end up doing? Patrolling cemeteries. 'Good thing most people here cremate,' she thought. 'Should be a quiet night.'

She hopped up on a gravestone that gave her a good view of the cemetery and decided that the vamps would have to come to her. She was done walking tonight.

She was lost in a daydream involving Vin Diesel and chocolate sauce when a harsh voice interrupted.

"What are you doing here?"

She opened her eyes to see a tall, pale man with greasy black hair staring down at her.

"What's it to you?"

He sighed, "Americans." Then, a bit louder, "This is not a tourist attraction, young lady. It is a cemetery." 'He sounds like Wesley,' she thought. 'Sunnydale Wesley, prissy as a princess.'

"I kinda figured that out," she answered. "The creepy headstones and mausoleums gave it away." She looked him over more carefully. He wore a long black dress, like some of the priests she'd seen back in Boston, but no collar. After their adventures with Caleb, she wasn't too thrilled with meeting a preacher man. His skin was waxy and pale, his eyes narrowed and dark. He looked like he was perpetually pissed off. That she could understand. He seemed to be breathing, though. At least, his breath puffed visibly in the cold night air.

"It is not safe," he snapped.

'Oh yeah,' she thought. 'Prissy like Wes.' Or that evil Gwen Post. Who hadn't turned out to be prissy at all, actually. Just evil. That was the problem with prissiness. It could so easily be a cover for evil, and you couldn't tell 'til it was too late.

She slid to her feet in one smooth motion, stake in one hand, cross in the other. "It's okay," she said, "I'm the one everyone else should be afraid of."

He didn't flinch from the cross. "You're one of Giles' girls," he said, lips twisting in disgust.

"Giles' girls? Look, buddy, I'm no one's girl. I--" His eyes widened and she heard the footsteps behind her just in time. She whirled and thrust the stake into the vampire's chest; it exploded into dust. She turned back in time to see another vamp attacking the irritating English guy. "Duck," she snapped at him.

He ignored her and tossed something at the oncoming vampire. It burst against the vamp's body and sizzled. 'Holy water,' she thought. 'At least this guy isn't totally useless.' She knocked him out of the way and plunged the stake into the second vampire.

She hadn't even broken a sweat. She twirled the stake and opened her mouth to say something when he pointed a

"Is that a wand?" she asked instead, or would have if she hadn't been too busy ducking the flash of light that sprung from its tip.

He muttered under his breath; she couldn't make out the words but didn't think they were English.

She rolled and dove, taking cover behind first one headstone, then the next.

"Man, you really don't like people hanging around in the cemetery, do you?"

He didn't answer, just continued to mutter and point his wand at her.

After a few minutes of dodging spells, she saw him lower the wand just a bit. She sprung, knocking him backward, and landed with her knees on his chest. She pushed his wand hand to the ground and squeezed, forcing him to release it. She pulled a knife from her boot and held it at his throat.

"You're right," she said smugly. "It's not safe."

The man sneered at her, even from his precarious position on the ground, her knife pressed to his skin.

"Giles!" he barked, and she jumped, startled. He attempted to throw her off, but she had her forearm against his windpipe in a second.

Giles wandered out from behind a nearby mausoleum. "Very good, Faith," he said. "Let him up."

She rose easily and didn't offer the man a hand up.

"Giles, what's going on?"

"You're competent, at least," the other man answered dryly, brushing dirt from his robes. "I suppose you'll do."

"I'll do? Look, you bastard--"

"Faith." Giles interrupted her tirade before she could get going.

She tried again. "Giles, tell this jackass--"

They ignored her, and exchanged greetings instead. No handshakes, though, she noticed.



"You know this asswipe?"

"We were at school together," Giles answered. "A very long time ago."

"Well, that's nice and all," Faith said, "but what the hell does it have to do with me?"

"We're here to help Snape and some of his colleagues fight an evil wizard."

Snape smiled, sending a chill down Faith's spine. It was not a good look for him. "You'll be happy to know Lucius Malfoy has been in contact with our old friend Ethan Rayne." Giles frowned. "Ethan, of course, happily passed this information on to me."

"For a price," Giles said.

"Of course. He's even now on his way back to the States. He seems to think your girl can handle Malfoy."

"This was some kinda test?" Faith demanded.

Giles inclined his head. "Severus wanted to be sure you were capable. I vouched for you, but ... my word doesn't count for much in these circles, these days."

Faith brushed past Giles and stood toe-to-toe with Snape, glaring up at him. "I can handle whatever you got, Snape." She spat the name like a curse. "I've seen my share of apocalypses."

Snape turned to Giles, distaste plain on his sharp features. He gestured at Faith. "You did this on purpose, didn't you? What happened to the redhead from last summer?"

"Liked her, huh?" Faith said, sensing weakness and going for the kill. "I hate to tell you, but Willow doesn't drive stick, if you know what I mean." She smirked as a dull flush rose in his pale face.

"That's enough, Faith," Giles said. "Willow is needed elsewhere at this time. Faith is more than capable of handling any ... physical challenges Malfoy offers, and I know you can handle the magic."

Snape snorted. "Fine. Let us go, then. Potter awaits."

He stalked off and Giles kept pace, leaving Faith no real choice but to follow. She knew she was here as muscle, nothing more, and that Giles would have preferred Buffy's presence, but Buffy and her slayerettes were tied up in Cleveland at the moment. He wouldn't have risked Buffy, put her to the test, and she wondered if she would ever earn that level of trust from him, if she would ever deserve it.

Faith knew she was capable of doing whatever had to be done, and she'd show Giles, and Snape, that it was true.


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