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“Faith,” a weak voice called out from Wesley's room. Damn, I thought Aidan had you tied up all afternoon. If I pretend I don't hear him– “Come here,” he added.

With a sigh, Faith peered in. There was nothing personal anywhere in the room – no family photos, no knives. Wesley was sitting on the bed, well more like about to topple over onto the bed if he let go of the dresser. “Man, you look like crap.”

“Very eloquently put. Thank you,” he replied. “Don't you think this game has gone on long enough?”

“Not playing a game here, Wes,” Faith replied.

“You know what I mean,” Wesley said with a glare. Faith wasn't sure what was wrong with him, but it was giving him an edge. He almost seemed like he could be scary, if he tried hard enough. “There is absolutely no need to bring Mr. Taylor into our relationship. He has no standing with the Council, and yet you willfully choose to associate with him.”

“Hey, you know where the door is.”

“I'm your leader now, and I insist you stop these shenanigans.”

“Leader?” Faith asked looking pissed. “And just where the hell do you think you're gonna lead me? Into another alligator pit?”

Wesley looked confused. “What do alligators have to do with anything?”

“Everything OK in here?” Brigit asked, popping her head through the doorway. “Oh,” she added as she saw Wesley. “You shouldn't be up.”

He protested feebly as Brigit pushed him back onto the bed and tucked his sheet over him.

“No prob, we're done here,” Faith replied, bolting for the door.


* * *


That evening found Faith on a street just off the main drag, well lit with shop windows designed to draw in the eye. She was staring at a black top that seemed a bit plain but could tell would look wicked hanging off her. The mannequin also wore navy blue pants, and while they looked like something her grandmother would wear, she'd caught a glimpse of leather towards the back of the store. Maybe there'd be something worth picking up. The shops were closed at that hour, but it wasn't like that could stop her.

Faith was looking around for back ways into the store when she heard a shoe click against the street. She scanned the area for anything she could use as a weapon as she turned, but it was only Brigit walking towards her from the main drag. “Aidan asked me to find you,” Brigit said. “He was planning to start your physical evaluation.”

“Now?” Faith asked with a glance towards the night sky.

“That's what he said.”

“I, uh, sure,” Faith said, wondering how much Brigit had seen. Hell, it wasn't like she was ashamed or anything. Want. Take. Have. Still, she tried to distract Brigit with a question. “How'd you know where to find me?”

“It's a small town.”

Not that small, Faith thought as she followed Brigit back to the car. She was about to ask again, when a voice called out, “You know, Grace, nobody's going to take you seriously if you hang out with the tourons.”

What the fuck? Faith saw Grace and Claire waiting by Brigit's car. Claire was smiling, but it wasn't a friendly smile. Faith's eyes narrowed. “Tourons?” she shouted.

The girl who had spoken turned towards them and blushed for a moment before putting a sneer back on her face. She looked to be about the same age as Grace and Claire. The girl's hair, cut so it curled above her shoulders, was so blond that Faith was sure it had been bleached. Her plaid mini-skirt was worn below an olive green spaghetti strap top.

“A combination of tourist and moron,” Claire replied, obviously enjoying the girl's discomfort. “Because I'm not a local.”

“And what would that make me?” Faith asked, walking straight up to the girl.

The girl struck a pose, obviously about to make a comment. Faith folded her arms with a glare. The girl stepped back. “Come on,” the girl said to her friends. “We've got better places to be.”

“Who was that bitch?” Faith asked as she joined Brigit, Grace, and Claire by the car.

“Amanda. She doesn't like me,” Claire said with a twitch of her head that told Faith how much it bothered her.

“You want me to take care of her for you?” Faith asked.

Grace gasped at the offer, but Claire just smiled and shook her head no. “That's OK. I figure karma'll get her back big time any day now.”

“I have to get Faith back,” Brigit said. “Give my love to Mom,” she added as she handed a bag out of the back seat over to Claire. Grace rolled her eyes.

“What was that about?” Faith asked as she and Brigit got into the car.

“Huh? Oh, they go back and forth between the two houses all summer. As long as Claire keeps her training up, Aidan doesn't mind,” Brigit said.

“He's pretty intense with the training,” Faith said.

“He is very driven,” Brigit agreed, “but he does know demons.”

“How'd you get involved in all this?” Faith asked.

Brigit glanced back and forth between the road and Faith a few times before answering. “Ummm,” she said with a shrug. “After my husband died, people thought I needed something to do. Useful work was the phrase that was used. Aidan needed an assistant about then, and so it was arranged.”

“Still, you couldn't have been too up on demons. Not like it's common knowledge,” Faith probed.

Brigit thought for a moment and replied in a lower voice. “There are families and groups that historically had connections with the Council. While we don't fight demons ourselves, we are aware of the, um, more supernatural aspects of existence.”

“Huh,” Faith said. “Petra never mentioned it.”

“She wouldn't have,” Brigit said more confidently. “There's not a lot of love lost,” she started. “Let's just say the Council isn't too fond of outsiders.”

“Hey,” Faith offered. “Not like they're all that happy with me either.”