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Captain Frederic had called in another Rider to show them around while she apparently dealt with the headache of stealing two promising fighters from the ranks of the Black Shields, a young redhead named Claudia who was nearly bursting with a seemingly endless energy as she chattered on about the barracks and the other Riders. Eventually they made their way into what appeared to be the common room, where two men and two women sat in various places. The eldest didn’t really look like a Rider, except for the uniform. He was short and broad, with salt and pepper hair and dark eyes looking out from behind small-lensed spectacles. He had a frown on his face as he flicked his gaze to the two of them from where he’d been arguing with a dark-haired woman who seemed to wear the emerald greatcoat as though it were made of air rather than the heavy weight that currently sat ill on Myka’s shoulders. Claudia had taken them by the stockroom earlier to find uniforms in their size and Myka had chosen to wear her coat rather than carry it as Pete was doing. At least until they had their rooms and she could rid herself of it for the time-being. The woman looked up, dark eyes skipping over Pete to land directly on Myka and a smile curled up her lips as they took her in.
“Hello darling.” She said, a strange echo as she spoke both mentally and out loud. Myka jerked back slightly and the older man glared at the woman, who was apparently Rider Wells, with distaste. But before anyone could speak Claudia jumped in with introductions.
“So that’s HG and the guy glaring at her is Artie he’s Chief Rider so he’s in charge of making sure we all have our provisions and orders before we head out each time. Over there are Leena and Jinks, they’re best at dealing with nobles when we have to because it’s not actually possible for them to lose their patience.” She rambled, smiling brightly as she all but bounced over to the last two. Pete followed her but Myka found herself trapped in Wells’ eyes, mouth dry as she felt her presence in her mind. The other woman crossed the room to her, smiling in a way that was both friendly and sharp. Like something else was lurking behind her cheerful greeting.
“So we’re going to be working together then, you and I. Well, not often in the same place due to the nature of our gift but still. We should get to know one another don’t you agree?” She said, thankfully not speaking into her mind again. Myka frowned at her and sighed, arms crossing over her chest tightly in an instinctive attempt to put distance between herself and the woman who seemed to have no concept of personal space.
“You can’t just reach into my head and know everything then?” She asked, voice sharp and mean as the sudden changes in her life and chosen path made her lash out at this stranger she was now linked to in the most intimate way possible. But Wells just chuckled and shook her head.
“I suppose I could, but that wouldn’t be very polite now would it? As Claudia introduced me, most of the Riders call me HG. But my name is Helena Wells, the G stands for George which happens to be my middle name.” She replied, making the first peace offering with expectation in her dark eyes. Myka sighed and forced herself to relax, glancing over to where Pete was attempting to charm Leena while Claudia and the man she’d called Jinks snickered in the background.
“Myka Bering. I was a Shield before today.” She said, bitterness clear in her voice and Helena looked at her with an eerily knowing expression. But she didn’t comment on whatever she was thinking, instead simply nodding.
“A swordmaster then? Brilliant. My last partner was in training to be one when the call came. A swordmaster that is, not a Shield.” She said instead, her cheery comment ringing false at the mention of her previous partner. But this time it was Myka who didn’t push, recognizing the pain of losing someone you cared for in the set of Helena’s jaw. They fell into a silence that wasn’t comfortable, but wasn’t quite awkward either. It was just there, heavy with things that might be said, before loud laughter and a groan from Pete broke into it. Glancing over she saw that someone had finally broken into Pete’s apparently useless flirting. Useless because now Claudia was perched in Leena’s lap with a smug smile as the other woman slid an arm around her waist. The large man sighed and flopped back in his seat with a sorrowful expression.
“Just my luck for one of the most beautiful women I’ve met to already be taken.” He bemoaned to the universe at large while Jinks chuckled after his earlier outburst of laughter. The pair of women wandered over to the rest of the group and a look of bemusement crossed Helena’s face when Pete turned his gaze to her. “HG, you’re a gorgeous woman. I’m a handsome man. What do you say?” He asked, apparently bouncing back from his ‘tragedy’ quickly enough. A strange feeling twisted in her gut as Myka watched Pete try to flirt with her new partner but she ignored it with the skill of many long years of burying her emotions even as Helena smirked.
“I don’t think you could keep up Peter.” The dark-haired woman drawled, quirking an eyebrow at him as she sat in the chair next to Jinks’. Myka alone stayed standing, separated somehow as always from the people around her without even trying. Helena looked up as she thought that, something unfathomable in her dark eyes as they met Myka’s before she returned to the group’s good-natured teasing of Pete’s apparent failure with the ladies. Before the swordswoman could process what that might have been they were interrupted by Rider Nielsen clearing his throat.
“As amusing as all of this is, I have assignments. Claudia, you’re taking Lattimer on his first run. Show him the ropes and make sure he doesn’t get himself killed somehow. Wells, you have Bering so you two can become better acquainted. Enjoy it while it lasts, you two aren’t likely to be assigned together very often.” He said gruffly, handing a message satchel to each of the women in question and then glaring the four of them from the room. Leena followed before splitting off to go to the stables and make sure they had everything they would need. Claudia dragged Pete off to pack and Myka was left walking down the hall in their wake beside her enigmatic new companion. Things were certainly about to get interesting.
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Myka was standing in the training field with her most frequent sparring partner, Pete, when it happened. The sound of pounding hoofbeats filling her head though no horses were in the area. She’d have thought she was going crazy if she didn’t know exactly what that meant, plus the lighting up of Pete’s face told her he heard it too. For him it would be a blessing, though talented he just didn’t have the temperament to rise very far in the ranks of the Black Shield. But she was best in her class, and helpless anger filled her features even as she grudgingly sheathed her blade and headed for the Riders’ barracks with Pete at her side. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She was supposed to be a Shield, an elite warrior in service to the king. To guard him and his family to the end of her days. But now the magic was ringing in her mind, leaving her no choice in the matter.
Pete on the other hand seemed to grow more excited the closer they got to the Rider Captain’s office, lengthening his stride every few steps and all but humming with the energy the Shields had only somewhat successfully taught him to reign in. They reached the door and he was the one to knock, as Myka seemed content to simply scowl stubbornly at the wood even as the hoofbeats increase in volume and pace in her mind. Like any good Shield she hated magic, the prejudice practically bred into her as her father was a Shield who’d been retired by a wound that made him unable to serve even in the tombs. He’d taken it hard, and the birth of a daughter harder even though women were nearly as common and just as successful in the Shields as men were. So she’d spent her life proving to him that she wasn’t the disappointment he’d automatically assumed she’d be. And now here she was, dragged by magic she couldn’t control into a life she’d never wanted.
“Come in.” A stern female voice called through the door and she let Pete enter first before following. The Captain of the Riders wasn’t really what anyone would expect. A serious woman with dark skin who stared at them from behind a pair of spectacles. Her demeanor had Myka snapping into a more attentive position, and even Pete straightened his shoulders the way he would for their training master with the Shields. The woman raised an eyebrow, waiting for them to explain why the black-clad Shields were in her office and Myka cleared her throat, nudging Pete.
“Hoofbeats!” He said, eyes wide as he realized he’d just been staring back at the woman. But she didn’t seem bothered by it, instead smiling mysteriously and nodding.
“Indeed. Find the brooch that calls to you then.” She replied, pulling out a simple wooden box that emanated power and placing it on her desk. She opened it to reveal the golden winged horses resting inside, more than there had ever been unattached to a Rider in a long time. Pete stepped forward first, running his fingers through the brooches until one warmed under his fingers and pulling it out, staring at it in his hand in awe as he stepped aside for Myka to approach. The woman did so with a frown, repeating his actions until she felt one grow hot under her touch. As she picked it up she felt something else and nearly dropped it, a cultured female voice ringing in her mind.
Hello there, I wondered when it would choose another. The voice said and she stared at it in shock. She’d heard of the powers of the brooches, Shields privy to all secrets in a way that common folk and even nobles were not. Unlike the rest of the world she knew Green Riders were more than mere messengers. They were the King’s eyes and ears around the kingdom, always underestimated and overlooked which allowed them to gather information necessary to keep the realm safe and functioning. They were aided by the magical abilities granted by their brooches. And apparently Myka’s allowed her to hear some woman’s voice in her head. The Captain was looking at her thoughtfully now, and Pete was staring at her with a raised eyebrow and a questioning look.
“I…someone talked, in my head.” She explained, slightly defensive now in case that made her sound crazy. The woman seated at the desk simply nodded, smiling slightly again.
“That would be Rider Wells. Your brooches are connected, allowing you to speak to one another through thought no matter the distance. Though she is currently here in the capitol rather than on a job. One of the abilities that manifests itself quickly so long as the other brooch has a Rider.” She explained, then she stood and stepped around the desk to greet them properly.
“I am Captain Irene Frederic, welcome home Riders.” She said, her words heavy in the air with ceremony and history.
The pair explored the town on their bikes, wearing helmets for the sole reason of avoiding undue attention from police-types. At sunset they returned to the cemetery they’d marked on their mental maps and parked outside, leaving bikes and helmets behind as they entered. Despite the large variety of demons that they fought, a Slayer always found herself in the nearest cemetery more often than not. So it payed off to get to know the layout and all the little quirks of the territory before one needed that knowledge in a fight. That was the pair’s goal for the night, though if they found something to fight neither of them was going to complain. As they continued their sweep through the graveyard they picked up the scent of cigarette smoke, and it wasn’t their brand either. They shifted their pace from casual strolling to that of a stalking predator as they came upon the unknown smoker. Slipping through a small copse of trees they spotted her, their new slayer seated on top of a tombstone with a cigarette between her fingers. Faith smiled and her stride relaxed, hands sliding into her back pockets casually as she approached her.
“Quinn Fabray, I thought you’d denied the calling.” She commented, leaning against a nearby crypt with Spike joining her. The pink-haired newbie slayer lifted one golden brow over her hazel eyes and took another drag.
“Maybe I just like it out here.” Quinn replied and Faith smirked.
“You just can’t stay away.” The brunette corrected knowingly and the girl scowled but didn’t deny it. Instead she narrowed her eyes at them, carefully studying the pair.
“You aren’t human.” She stated and Faith grinned in response.
“No Bubblegum, we aren’t. I’m a slayer, like you. Spike here’s a bit more complicated but he’s a white-hat. Your senses are good.” The older slayer explained, brown eyes full of amusement. Fierce hazel eyes narrowed at the nickname but something kept the younger slayer from replying with more than a grunt. Spike chuckled, blue eyes sparkling, and straightened from where he was leaning beside his sister-in-arms.
“Well pet, you certainly have fire. I like you.” He said, prowling forward. The young woman hopped down, stubbing out her cigarette on the tombstone as she did. She shifted, posture squaring into a more defensible stance. Spike grinned and darted in, giving her an open-handed walk to the back of the head. Faith crossed her arms to observe with a smirk. It may be unconventional, but she wanted to see what the kid could do. Spike was good at getting junior slayers riled up without actually hurting them. And she wanted to see how this young rebel did under the pressure. Spike landed a couple more of his little love-taps before Quinn growled and went on the offensive. Her attacks were fast and hard but untrained. It was a style Faith knew intimately, as it had been her own for far too long. It was all bottled rage and self-loathing exploding out the only outlet it was given. It went on for a bit like that, with Spike forced onto the defensive because he didn’t want to hurt the girl. After another few moments Faith slipped into the fight. She slid her booted foot behind Quinn’s heel and gave her a shove to knock her on her ass. When she started to get up the brunette gently put a boot on her shoulder, exerting just enough pressure to keep her down. She and Spike leaned over her with serious expressions.
“So kid, I’m Faith and this is Spike. We’re here because you’re walking a real thin line, and we need to make sure you don’t cross it.” She explained, a wealth of experience in her husky voice and brown eyes dark with history. The pink-haired slayer stopped pushing against the woman’s boot and stared up at her thoughtfully instead.
“So I get a fairy godmother now or something?” She finally asked, sneering up at them. Faith had relaxed just slightly when Quinn stopped trying to push up against her boot. She underestimated the girl and that was was definitely a mistake. In one smooth move the ex-cheerleader grabbed Faith’s foot and twisted to take her off balance before shoving her to the side. She was on her feet and gone in moments, nearly knocking Spike over on her way. When the vampire looked like he was going to go after her Faith shook her head.
“I’ll see her at the school.” She replied, letting him pull her to her feet with a crooked smile. She could tell this was going to be interesting.
Faith and spiked looked at their new place, standing beside their bikes out front. Their things had already been moved by the Council’s people so they had taken their time getting here, just enjoying the ride and the company. But they were here now, staring at the front of their new three-bedroom home. Technically it was built with four bedrooms but the fourth had been converted into a heavily-warded, dead-locked office and library in order to protect the books and weapons within as well as to allow them a safe place to plan patrols and such. Entering the house they glanced at the bedrooms, noting that they both had rooms that faced the sunset as was proper for a Slayer and a vampire. Then they went to the office, Faith using her copy of the key to the room to open it. There was a good-sized, sturdy wooden table in the center of the room with bookcases lining most of the walls. The parts of the walls that were left free contained maps which were detailed images of Lima and other nearby communities as well as one of the land around Lima which noted any caves or anything else that was always useful to know in this business. They left the office and quickly explored the rest of the house. They had training space in the basement, or in their fenced off backyard if they absolutely had to do it outdoors. Meeting in the living room they looked at each other, both knowing that this small town was prickling at their restless natures already.
By unspoken agreement they headed to the door, planning to take a walk around town before night fell so that they could get a feel for the place during daylight hours. But just as they reached the door the doorbell rang, causing them to pause and glance at one another. Spike shrugged, Faith shrugged back, and then she opened the door. On the other side stood a small family of three with wary looks in their eyes. The group consisted of two men of very different appearances and a teenage girl who smiled brightly despite the subtle fear in her large, dark eyes.
"Uh, hey. I guess you’re our neighbors. Um, I’m Faith and this is my brother William." Faith spoke, shifting to cover the swift dig of her elbow into Spike’s ribs when he made to protest the use of his human name. He growled under his breath but kept up a charming smile.
"Ello." He said a bit awkwardly, raising one hand in a small wave. He was dressed in his usual ensemble of red and black, though his duster was actually over his arm rather than properly on at the moment. Faith on the other hand was dressed in dark, worn denim and a black tank top that exposed her lean but defined arms.
"Hello, my name is Rachel Berry. These are my fathers, Hiram and Leroy." The girl replied, revealing the source of their wariness as she gestured at first the smaller man and then the larger. It was obvious that this town wasn’t too big on accepting the unconventional aspects of family.
"Cool. Anyplace a girl can go to pick up a date of the female persuasion?" Faith asked with a crooked smile and a wicked wink that actually set the family at ease. The men chuckled while Rachel blushed. Then, surprisingly, it was Spike who remembered his manners and pulled Faith out of the way before wordlessly gesturing them in. Faith caught onto the whole manners thing and took the cookies to the kitchen, returning with water bottles for all of them. They took them with quiet thank yous before the conversation picked up again.
"So what brings you two young people to little old Lima?" Hiram asked, eyes shining with amusement at his little joke. Faith chuckled throatily at that and shrugged.
"I got offered a job at the high school, new PE class by order of the county." She replied, their story falling easily from her full lips. It hadn’t been hard to convince the county that this particular school needed a self-defense class. Apparently they had a major bullying problem here.
"So you’re the teacher for the new self-defense class!" Rachel exclaimed, beaming at her even more brightly if that were at all possible. And apparently it was because her smile practically blinded the pair for a moment while Faith nodded. The conversation moved on to inconsequential things until finally the Berrys excused themselves. Once the small family was gone the two rebels slumped back into their seats with matching sighs. Socializing had never been their strong suit, and the Berrys were very energetic people even when they were just making small talk with their new neighbors. After a few moments the pair stood again and finally headed out for that look around town.
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"Her name is Lucy Fabray, though sources indicate that she goes by her middle name, Quinn. And no, I do not want you to kill her." Giles finally spoke into the silence weighing heavy in the air and both redeemed champions stared at him incredulously. He sighed, not really surprised that they didn’t trust him. He did, at times, have a habit of thinking about the end result rather than what they had to go through when dealing with these two, much more-so than with the old Sunnydale group. He cleared his throat when they didn’t speak and went on.
"She was called over the summer, when she turned seventeen. We believe that she wasn’t called at sixteen like the others because she was pregnant at the time, so the spell skipped over her for a time. The child was adopted by a single woman who does not live in the same town so there should be no interference there. She is going into her senior year in high school, and the first Watcher we sent she actually managed to scare off. So I am sending you two to Lima, Ohio to replace him." The two were obviously stunned, if their dumbfounded expressions were anything to go by. Finally one of them spoke.
"You want us to be Watchers?" The brunette slayer asked, quirking one dark brow over disbelieving eyes. Spike snorted and she looked over. Slayer and vampire locked gazes and in moments they were lost to gales of laughter at the very idea. The Watcher sighed and removed his glasses, cleaning them for the third time since he had arrived less than an hour before. When they finally calmed, after a few false stops where they would catch one another’s eyes and crack up again, he cleared his throat to regain their attention. He didn’t mention that when he’d first brought this up to the rest of the Council that had been Xander’s exact reaction, thinking he was joking. He had convinced them of this plan in the end though and he would do the same with these two.
"I am completely serious. Lima is on a direct path to the Cleveland Hellmouth, and as such we could use an experienced team running things there. Miss Fabray is also very close to the edge, and I thought that your combined experiences with the darker side of life could help guide her back in the right direction. Read the files and call the office when you’ve made your decision." He explained, standing and closing his briefcase. With that he left the Council’s mavericks staring at a file on the kitchen table.
Eventually though they started to read and some of the things that had happened in this rich girl’s life shocked them. Extensive dieting and a nose job at the age of thirteen to reach her family’s preconceived notion of beauty was the worst of it. But there was also her cheer coach, who sounded like she was absolutely insane, getting pregnant at sixteen, getting kicked out of her house because of it, giving birth in a whole different city while her Glee Club performed elsewhere, giving the kid up, moving back in with her mom after her parents divorced. It was a pretty intense life for the girl who used to look like the very definition of put-together if the old yearbook pictures were anything to go by. By the time they’d reached the end of the file the decision was pretty much made for them. They only had to look each other in the eye to know and Spike nodded before grabbing the phone to make the call.
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The graphic for my fic. Not the best I know, but I’m still getting used to GIMP.
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(A BTVS/Glee crossover fic)
Faith had been hunting rogue slayers for the council for a little over two years now, and it never got any easier. Her only saving grace was the friendship that Spike offered as they traveled the world, saving as many of those lost girls as they could and sorrowfully dealing with those that they couldn’t. Their jobs began to wear on them, slowly tearing away at the confidence and feelings of redemption that they’d both managed to build for themselves. And of course none of the Scoobies seemed to notice that the two members of their governing Council who had already been outcasts were retreating even more from the group.
It took three weeks of complete absence from Council functions for the calls to begin. And at first they were more annoyed than concerned. Even after all they’d done, including Spike’s death and resurrection, the main Scoobies still considered the two of them loose canons. Dangerous and not to be trusted, even worse they saw them as redundant. After all they had Angel and Buffy, the first ensouled vampire and the new First Slayer in the eyes of all the newly called. Who needed a reformed and ensouled William the Bloody or the Dark Slayer for more than extra hands during apocalypse season and rogue clean-up duty when you had the original models?
Another week and a half passed before Giles showed up at the door to their Council-bought apartment. The place had seen more use in the last couple of months than it had since it was chosen as their home base when they weren’t out on missions. Currently they were engaged in a vicious battle of wits and strategy as they bantered back and forth while battling one another without mercy in Super Smash Bros. It was violence, an intrinsic part of both their natures, but without all the emotional baggage that came with the rest of their life. As such they didn’t hear Giles’ attempts to politely catch their attention from outside the door. Finally the Watcher simply took out his copy of their key, he had one for all the Scoobies as well, and let himself in. What he found was the signs of a place lived in for a long period of time with no care to keeping it presentable. There were empty take-out and pizza boxes on the table, empty cups in the sink, and several beer bottles littering the counters. In the living room he saw Faith sprawled across the floor in a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt that was most likely Spike’s, judging from the fact that it was a little too large on her, the vampire himself was laying on the couch in only a pair of boxers, groaning as the slayer crowed her victory. They each had a beer within reach and at least one empty bottle nearby as well. Spike was the first to notice him and he smirked.
"Oi! Fai, look who dropped by to see if we’re still alive." He commented, bitter sarcasm weighing heavy in his voice. The young woman looked up, and if Giles was expecting the Dark Slayer to reside in those expressive eyes of hers he was proven wrong. Instead there was only weary resignation, the eyes of a warrior too tired of the fight to keep going. Inwardly the British man wondered how she’d managed to stay alive with that sort of depression so deep in her. The answer, of course, was given to him as the bleach-blonde vampire snarled at him from the couch for staring too long at the slayer that the other man saw as a little sister. Giles turned back to him, absently cleaning his glasses while clearing his throat. Scowling the vampire stood, motioning Giles to follow as he led the way to the kitchen. With his back turned to him Giles could see the tattoo that both ensouled vampires now carried. It was a sun, situated in the center of his back and just below his shoulder blades. Inside the flames around the circle was a ring of ancient runes stating the protection spell which surrounded a compass-like design. The tattoo was designed and spelled to allow them to walk in the sun unharmed. They didn’t tan, much to Angel’s annoyance, but they didn’t burst into flames either. Spike cleared the table quickly, putting all the trash in a large black plastic bag before pulling out and lighting a cigarette. The two men sat across from one another, silence reigning for a few moments before Spike spoke.
"She can’t do it anymore Watcher-man. Every time we have to take a girl down she gets a little worse." The pale man took a drag from his cig as light poured across his face from the uncovered kitchen window. Despite having been present for the application and blessing of both tattoos it always surprised him when the vampires didn’t burst into flames when exposed to sunlight.
"So who we gotta kill for ya this time G?" Faith asked as she slumped into the kitchen, startling the man from his thoughts. The brunette slayer dropped into a chair, staring blankly at the watcher now as she waited for his answer.
"No one, I just wanted to make sure you two were alright." The British man answered calmly. He jumped though when the young woman snarled at him. She leaned over and snatched up the leather briefcase he’d brought with him. Popping it open she scooped out the folder and dropped it on the table. It opened as it fell and on top of the papers inside was a picture of a girl. She couldn’t have been more than seventeen, but she was leaning against a chain link fence with a lit cigarette between her lips and a familiar scowl on her face. Familiar because Faith was known to wear one just like it. Faith stared at the picture, a pained look on her face as she took in the grunge clothes, raggedly-cut pink hair, and closed off hazel eyes. Spike on the other hand glared murderously at the Watcher as Giles removed his glasses to clean them once more and try to come up with the right words to explain his way out of the situation he had found himself in.