Magic stirred up the world as a careless rake did leaves. Some things disturbed had slept too long and others were best left alone.
Of those, the more unpleasant invariably found their way to the source of their awakening more quickly and in greater numbers.
Faith had read someplace that there were spirits, things that were connected to the land. Not ghosts, but creatures as solid as she. Such a being would sense power, magic, and follow it to learn what had caused the surge. Whether or not they were dangerous she couldn't remember, but a small doubt meant 'on guard' was how to be.
The spell Willow cast had been like an alarm clock for all the maybe-Slayers. Female empowerment a new level. Lots of other things had heard it too. Spells like that had to be sent out on a broader frequency than was strictly safe. Powerful, if blunt, it got the job done.
Working with the Scoobies was great. A purpose big enough for Slayers, not just the perfect one.
The others assumed that the world would fold into a peaceful shape. As though in great numbers, Slayers could fix everything. Untrained girls were cut down as easily as the weak, she knew that. It was up to someone like her, who could see past the cheering and smiles to a night that had no intention of moving quietly.
In Faith's mind, winning wasn't everything. Staying on top was what counted. Savoring victory was allowed when it was secure.
So Faith worked in her own way, nothing attacking the group would find them easy marks, not with Super Witch buzzing like a night light all the time. Organization took time, and she was better suited for scout-work. She and the open road were old friends and not being chased by her past strengthened that.
Being known for taking care of herself made striking out easy. And it wasn't like 'B' didn't have a lot of speeches to prepare. Babysitting was for other people.
Tailing the Triumphant Heroes was like following a marching band. Everything they touched turned bright and pure.
It got so that a girl didn't have to do more than look up and there'd be a light pointing the way.
Willow was better than any night light, but a bit of care might have saved them some trouble. Not that Glinda was about to take any suggestions about how she should be glowing.
Faith understood the situation enough to know it wasn't worth a fight. The fringe was a place she could return to more easily than the Bleach Squad.
Beauty was just another way to throw an opponent off balance.
//Girl's too pretty for a place like this, she must have got lost...easy..//
Faith knew how appealing she was, tasting of death and glitter. Like a night so deep the stars were cautious guests.
First impressions drew them in close enough for touch. Once they were within reach it was all over. Still, she wasn't welcome many places.
//A girl like that// had whispers following her everywhere, and living up or down to expectations got sickening. Like a roller coaster without an off-switch.
But away from that where the air felt clean, and full, nothing backed away from her name. Those she met either hadn't heard of her or were too tangled in their own tragedies to care about who she might be.
It was on an ordinary morning, the sort that almost required a good upsetting, that she first sensed the other tracker.
The feeling was nothing obvious, just a tingle down her back that she'd learned to never ignore.
At first, it seemed their paths joined by coincidence, but as time went on, Faith grew wary. Whatever it was expected resistance and moved easily to counter it.
Faith grinned, games were always more interesting than a straight up fight. Alert in a way that came only from living she felt things stretch inside her. She'd rediscovered clarity. It was as though sky and the goop of sun-melted asphalt on her boots were the world's way of saying 'welcome home Faith.'
If she'd been Watcher-bound, her own personal honorable escort, there might have a reason to examine her feelings. Even if the Council didn't understand that being British didn't give them the right to take charge of every situation as if it was a documentary. These days she would have let Wes do a little questioning. He had that 'all grown up' scruffiness going for him. A bit sunk into the 'get it done at all costs' mindset but hard living did that.
Some off time might have jerked Wes out of his funk-or then again, it might have been that he was set in his ways too firmly for any help. No worries about whether or not he would be accepted, Angel specialized in the damaged.
The dark Slayer was not alone in her search for the strange presence. Other things had left off their hunts to band together. She felt the trackers. Things dark and old that had been roused by Willow's magic and who felt the balance was about to be shifted to their disadvantage. Desperation made them even more dangerous, Faith knew that from experience.
Altering her path to intercept the enemy, she was unsurprised at their number.
Nobody else was doing as much unwanted good as Red and B.
Many things walked unseen by those unable to believe. Their business rarely crossed into anyplace where that of ordinary men might prove an interference.
Whispers carried after dark and they spoke of a thing that stalked the night yet was not of it. Some creature without sharp teeth or claws that did things beyond human ability.
Numerous possibilities existed, but given the information, she could only reach several conclusions.
She'd never made a point to seek out classic literature. Because of that, her opinion of magical creatures was that they'd been dreamed up. Kind of like the models that existed on the glossy page. Unattainable perfection that was too good for grime and sweat.
Not much shocked a Slayer. After all, if there could be a nearly happy ending, anything was possible. But, even with her infamously broad mind, Faith had to admit Elves were...new. And it wasn't as though one was supposed to take a rumor seriously.
Granted there was exaggeration. The thing stalking demons so efficiently was said to be eight feet tall, have burning sapphires for eyes and hair like the sun. At first Faith passed it off as further embellishment of the Legend of the Energizer Buffy.
Yet, little facts made ignorance a dangerous state of affairs. B wasn't so much for the 'lone warrior' shtick now. Also, mysterio's choice of weapons confused Faith. Who used a longbow when a rocket launcher would do the job?
All in all, the mental images Faith got from what information she was able to gather did not make for a comfortable Slayer. So as she was making things safer for do-gooders the world over, she started digging.
It made sense that anything bent on hunting demons using archaic weapons, and at such a speed, would want to avoid attention. Therefore, tracking down an Elf was going to be a tough job, even without all the other things after it.
Anybody brave, or dumb enough to hunt demons had to be prepared for an exponential reaction. Her priority was finding the Elf before anyone else did.
To do that, she started on the trail of the demons at Pointy-Ear's heels.
Little escaped an individual attuned to the earth itself. Faith expected pursuit to be noticed, and maybe time taken out for a bit of cleanup, making her job even easier.
Rumor painted Nature Boy as some glamorous figure driven by fanatical heroism. But there was no careless grandeur in the kills. All of them were efficient, clean acts, and that said more about character than all the exaggerated gossip.
There was no sure way to approach someone like that and not be considered a threat. For Faith, chosen risk was another thing that had been too long missing from her life. That, and the chase kept her interested despite the scarcity of information
Faith might have a taste for wide open spaces, but being on foot 'round the clock put a serious crimp in any plans of tracking her target.
Hitching got old quickly, there were too many well-meaning types offering to put her up in a safe life or grabby ones who wanted a quickie.
But she was used to making things work, and wires twisted just as easily as people.
Redemption wasn't supposed to include grand theft auto, but since her crimes were committed in the interests of a 'greater good', she figured the final tally would even out.
An Elf's place in the world was such that greenery only ever worked in their favor. Reverence for the land was rewarded. Unfortunately, according to what little Faith had been able to find out, other supernatural beings had little trouble locating something so special.
On the other hand, to find a group of demons, particularly ones on a hunt, the best method was to follow the bodies. As monsters went, those after the Elf were no subtler than the rest of their kind, and local newspapers and all-night diners were full of stories of gruesome deaths. A road map and a few instinctive detours took her right on the heels of some really cranky Slayees.
The sky rolled, clouds bunching and flattening to hang like worn drapery over the earth. Wiping her hands clean of the last person unlucky enough to be outdoors when Fate pulled their number, Faith smiled. She could feel them close. It was the right place for a confrontation. Trees and sidewalk met at the edge of the small town. Enough for an Elf to feel comfortable, and just the right spot to lure in pursuers.
She'd worried that the sound of her car might have shifted the odds out of her favor, but there was no reason for concern.
Supposedly, Elves were pure creatures, untouchable and absurdly moral. In other words, nice to look at, but boring in every other way. Upon meeting one in person, Faith had to take issue with reputation.
As flowers bloomed after a brutal storm, so too could an Elf shine in the midst of battle.
Looking at him Faith understood 'out of time more clearly than ever. Here was a being of legend, drawn by power.
When he moved to avoid a punch, it was clear that a different set of muscles were at his disposal. Only one connected with the earth could flow as as he did. Hair like the flash of lightening had been brushed back from his face and fell to his collar.
Eyes the color of an especially fierce sky fixed on Faith long enough to acknowledge her presence then flicked back to the fight.
If she had to verbalize the look 'first things first' might have been some small part of it.
Some girls noticed a guy's clothes. To Faith, what was underneath mattered more. But that was in a club, mid-fight, weapons demanded attention more than figure.
The demons circling the Elf were perfect ringers for roles as villains in 'Just Stepped Out Of A Pit For Assorted Pillage And Plunder'. They left trails of slime as they lumbered to cut off escape routes. But the Elf seemed unconcerned about such details as 'getting away. A trap had been laid, but not by those hunting him.
Watching the elf, was seeing an myth solidify. A strange feeling came off him. It wasn't the tingle of vamps, or anything that might want to take a big chunk out of her, yet still other than human.
Anyone unsure of their place would have shrunk in on themselves when faced with something like that. But she had learned what the world wanted and how best to give out what she had.
Few things laid the foundations of a working relationship like an alliance forged with blood and fists. The first punch landed snapped her head back and then she was on her feet to return the favor. Yeah, she knew that give in the bones under her punches. It was the feeling of her being on.
A girl could never be too heavily armed. Faith missed the Mayor's joyful efficiency and having someone who knew what she liked. There were places where one might find appropriate weaponry, but it was nothing compared to being gifted with beautiful things. So instead of having a favorite blade, she was left to find substitutes.
Still, she had to admit that having a view like like an Elf kicking, stabbing, leaping, and generally taking charge wasn't a hardship at all.
In a spin to avoid a particularly large axe Faith ended up in Blondie's personal space. She supposed it was either a measure of how little of a threat he considered her, or the fact that her actions had proven her worth. The latter was much better for a girl's image.
While he didn't show any signs of manic delight, Faith guessed that the act of stamping out a few more undesirables was not a heavy burden. Making the world safer for good little boys and girls was a singular feeling.
When they were surrounded by large stinking bodies, they turned simultaneously to face one another.
The elf was older in his eyes, and if she'd smelled grave dust Faith might have wondered about his breathing status. But there was no doubt that he was alive, practically humming with so much energy that it was another sort of unusual.
Whoever said that Elves were above sexiness had to have met a monk or something, because what Faith saw was nothing short of well, tasty, and deadly.
No big shock there, nobody was safe. Danger, physical or emotional awaited a moment's vulnerability. To be soft and open to the needs of others was to invite a blade in the belly.
But those most dangerous could surprise. Stepping over a demon, Faith brushed her hair out of her face and grinned in that way she knew was better than a resume.
She got a courtly nod. "Legolas." His voice had the accents of other times. The helpful moon illuminated his easy stance and the way he fingered an obvious knife. Very deliberate tones to his gaze that she hadn't seen since leaving Angel and his kin. World traveler, Elf, warrior, and interesting.
Hopefully silent evaluation was enough of a reply for her to have time to get her thoughts in order.
It seemed that her type was deep thinkers. Men, or beasts, who had the patience to wait for things. All that rebellion, 'wham bam, thank you, shut the door on your way out,' and she had a taste for wisdom and 'reach the answer in time, Faith.' Still another aspect of her life that couldn't have been cut and dried.
Tall-Blonde-And-Silent- hadn't so much as blinked while she self-analyzed, and Faith took that to be a good sign.
Offering him a hand seemed unnecessary, am explanation of her abilities wasn't essential, so she settled on -"I'm guessing that you know what's going on?"
The barest hint of a smile said 'of course', and really, she needed a subscription to a decent rumor mill.
Legolas went from one body to another collecting arrows. As she watched, Faith took the opportunity to clean her knife and get more of a feeling about him.
He seemed elemental. Plucked out of an age when metal did not control and an epic struggle was not just a story.
As her life looked to be right on track for the history books 'Rogue Slayer repents and makes effort to do good,' Faith was more than curious about what part the Elf would play.
It appeared he was in no hurry to vanish or explain himself. It was as if he'd seen enough time pass that he'd learned how to move within it at his own pace. Eerie was one way to describe the clean economy of movement that seemed so casual, yet accomplished a lot.
Settled in a crouch he was almost statuesque in the moonlight. Dropping into a similar position, Faith brushed her hair out of her face, feeling things blacker than night flake away.
The modern Elf wore green, she noted, a loose shirt and pants with a pair of boots that gave no height but looked light enough to float in. That none of his clothes were heavy enough to provide any real protection against the weather wasn't as unusual as the fact that he wore color. His clothes were a far cry from the black leather that she had come to think of as the uniform of hunters.
She had never been good at waiting, and knowing that here was another centuries' old being in no way made it easier to keep her mouth shut. At one point Legolas tilted his head to to the side as if he were working something out for himself, and Faith could guess what that was.
"I bet you're wondering how I heard about you." She grinned, seeing how he held himself just that tiny bit more alertly. Bingo.
"Word travels. Plus I knew what to listen for, and you sounded interesting." Certainly not the worst thing that she'd called someone, and she wondered if he recognized the odd compliment for what it was.
Another step closer and she caught a whiff of old forest and a better clean than detergent could give.
Since being Summoned, Faith had learned to pay attention to scent. Buffy was a hunter and she smelled like warm struggle, the doubled-over shock of life lived fast, and a need to belong. For all her acceptance she wouldn't mind owning, or having someone near enough to hold onto.
What really annoyed Faith was how they thought she was beyond the need for a friend. Or, the way that Golden Girl was too good for the likes of 'the bad girl.'
No matter, she had her own way of being 'the one'. A tear in her head, little gap between society and her own morality. And so Aware was she now, that the only adjustment was in walking a personal line. Her destiny might be to give others a route best avoided, but she knew her tastes.
Coming to a conclusion was a lot like tumbling down a dark tunnel. Knowing that any light on the other side would sting with inescapable realizations.
Legolas didn't look like the sort who would sit down to analyze what she had done wrong and then discard her with a flip of hair and an irresistible flounce. Worse would be if he found her tiring and simply left. She was determined that he see her before that happened. Find out if he was a piece that fit with her hidden empty places.
Anyone unfamiliar with a situation knew that staying back to weigh everything present was the best method of avoiding problems. Since Faith used such reconnaissance-when she remembered- she could recognize it in others.
His bearing was upper class even at rest. He could outwait youthful jitters, the demands of the moment, all for some distant reward.
The post fight-restlessness tugged at her, the need to do urgent. If she'd been alone in the middle of nowhere she might have done a little solitary entertaining, but as she had company, unfamiliar, and that just added flavor to the evening.
"Do you dance?"
Passing for human was no problem. Faith could find her way to an open party just by turning herself in a direction and moving. Besides, if she who'd looked for unusual ear shape hadn't caught a glimpse, she doubted anyone else would spot anything.
She insisted that the longbow be stowed someplace, but as she was keeping her knife, that didn't come up.
There were clubs everywhere, house parties, and other places that people went to in order to forget what their lives were like away from swirling lights and music that carried reality away like a drunk at closing time.
They got past the 'doorman' without a problem. Faith looked at him, fingers in her hair, twirl of 'been-around' and then fwoom, 'yeah, I know what I'm doing and you do too.' Her looks let her tell people what she thought of them but when some tried to get in too close, she reached for the kinship of sharpened metal and watch comprehension blink in and out at the shh-rip of metal on fabric.
She strolled right in, Elf behind her. Another well-done entrance. Morons never expected the delicate ones to have such sharp teeth. Legolas was at her back like any adventurous spirit, taking it all in.
The exotic slipping through civilization always caused a stir. Eyes followed them as they circled the crowd twitching musically. Faith put her hands in the air, feeling the music and the weight of interest. The paint on her nails didn't take attention away from the pallor of her skin, it only called attention.
Freshness was foreign to the lives of the 'innocent,' but they still longed wanted to take that long drop from everything if just for a moment. Several curiosity-seekers tried to take those first steps in blatant 'come-hither' gestures.
Faith ignored them in favor of the bass, swaying out into the center of the room. She let her head fall back, mouth open on laughter that was a tickling of sound and turned with the beat.
Her audience watched, but she only felt one set of eyes. Opening her eyes to catch sight of the elf she saw enough. A small curve to his mouth said more than the laughter of another, and she had a feeling that she had taken steps further into where she wanted to be.
The invitation was issued with an inclination of her head and accepted with a wider smile.
He came toward her in a way that exposed attitude as a cover-up, and the crowd shifted for him. No amount of good and expensive fabric would hide the fact that heknew the world in ways others could not.
As he stepped up to her she felt his body along her side. A hand came to rest on her elbow, touch lighter than feathers. These were fingers that spoke of gentle intentions and coaxed her to lean against him. She remembered him killing with elegance and all the smoothness of dream and invited nearness.
//Chocolate and cigarettes//. There was a certain predictability to her choices. Danger was one of her favorite things.
She found a rawness in his touch. Like he'd cut through games and pretense in that window of time when the possibility for a connection had been established. Clarity of purpose was confusing when lines and consequences were unspoken. Yet, new roads appeared when it seemed like the tunnel had been walled up and exits cemented with ultimatums. Only a misfit could offer what the uncommon knew how to accept.
Faith wanted to get in where history and eternal 'been there' wisdom flowed. How and where, and how long? Thoughts tumbled and sparked electric across her mind and she had to know.
Of course there hadn't been any lessons on how to coax a secretive Elf to give up some of his history. An exchange of years might be in order, even if she thought he understood plenty just by watching her.
The urge to take was immediate, but she couldn't be sure that grabbing wouldn't make Legolas disappear. Someone had tried to teach her about subtlety, that must have been one of the lectures she skipped.
//Just a little closer// she thought, back arched away from the Elf enough to offer a new position. Different places for his hands, not just a preview anymore, the show had gotten underway.
Facing him wasn't difficult with a teasing roll of her hips making up for movement, and she got a chance to do a bit of 'feeling things out'. Yeah, he was lean but not too much. If 'seasoned' didn't sound too much like beef jerky to her it might have applied. She decided that 'fit' covered lots of ground.
"I bet you've got a thing for warrior-types."
For a second his eyes were a fragile blue like the sky at the moment of sunrise's uncertainty. Then he looked at her and took the joke as she had intended it, with a smile barely hidden.
That she'd been allowed to see even briefly, inside him made her feel as though clothes weren't decoration, but more sheer than a spider's web. Not knowing who'd been chasing whom made her uneasy.
'Vulnerable' wasn't a place Faith knew well. The times when she'd let herself be soft it had ended in betrayal and a coma. Every girl knew that princesses had to make their own way in the world. But then along came a royal temptation.
All the desperate writhing appeals for companionship were no comparison to his lips on her cheek.
Liberty taken with one who would make it clear what counted as 'trespassing', and suddenly Slayer equaled 'rank.'
And Faith just knew how to look soft. Baring her teeth was only endearing to someone who'd never tasted blood. Another predator would recognize the expression for the defensive snarl it was.
Legolas didn't back down.
//Don't tease the Slayer// signs weren't working. She wanted off or on, no in between - sloth-crawl from one cheek to her shoulder.
Reverence like church or the love that was pure enough for sacrifice.
Did Elves have something against traditional kissing?
Playing icon for a pointy-eared pretty boy wasn't the kinkiest thing she'd ever done but it was reaching for most surreal.
The colored lights swept over them and in the rainbow glow Legolas seemed fairy-tale perilous. 'Too pretty for his own good' would have suited, if not for the way he moved. There were types for every look and he suited a very special crowd. Nobody of sane mind would think of tangling with him.
Unless they were very sure it was their right to. Pushing the limits was something that she'd been good at from an early age. This was just another test- see how much tenderness she could take, and then see what the result would be.
Slayer speed wasn't just for staking vamps. Elves had skin like thousand thread count silk. Faith ran her fingers over his face, nails barely touching, but the message clear. Legolas breathed evenly against her neck as she revised perception. That something that felt like it should be kept hidden and dusted off for special occasions was so durable fascinated her. Accepting kindness not the only lesson being taught.
Faith rarely danced as though she meant anything lasting. Usually it was a game of keep just close enough to draw them in, and then she could spin away when she got what she wanted. Slow seductions weren't her forte, she'd never seen the point.
Legolas held her carefully, without demanding improvement or lifestyle changes. Knowing how to listen for the call of the road only reinforced 'good enough' in his eyes. Someone to stand with on the outside.
Brushing his hair back and kissing the point of his ears was necessary and right. His shiver was small enough to be a private invitation.
Being the center of attention was nothing new. Faith making a scene was part of life. So it was unsurprising to see their audience had grown the closer they got. Licking her lips, she considered threatening a few of the ones who'd gotten close enough for her to see their hands reach out.
As she met the eyes of a kid who thought vinyl and glitter were passes to her rendezvous, Faith broadcast in a language universal even where voices were swallowed by music. //Any closer and you'll lose something. Like a limb//. She grinned, feral and comfortable, mouth still resting on Legolas' ear. Another lingering kiss made her point.
Legolas pressed closer and she felt his amusement. She was marking him in ways that couldn't be misunderstood. And if she got the tiniest inkling that he thought it was 'cute,' well, the old-fashioned methods worked fine too.
A lazy acoustic balled tumbled out of the speakers like warm sheets, out of times when urgency didn't present itself as a garment for daily wear.
Legolas regarded her, cool as stones set in silver with a composure guarded by years of solitude so effective it was evident he needed no lessons in secrets.
To some she might have appeared still, awaiting an indication of mood or preference, but Faith only felt gathered. Ready was an understatement.
Their moves were from a dance invented for those able to pick up special rhythms. It was liberating to be partnered with someone whose mind jumped in time with her own. Someone who knew blending in- and striking fang-quick. She'd been wandering in a wilderness of connecting dots that finally made sense.
The first kiss was cautious- ice pick on uncertainty, but then they were missions of exploration, and long hair was appreciated for its handiness as an anchor.
Faith was wearing flavored lip balm- berries with sparkles that clung to Legolas' mouth as he tasted her. Glitter only seemed appropriate for both parties.
With most of her prospective entertainment Faith leaned toward pounce adrenaline. The pace she'd held to thusfar was beyond 'polite.' That they'd managed to move past emotional potholes and speed right into more intimate dealings was a sign of accord. Little to no talking was fine by her, provided that the essentials were understood.
While his pants lacked belt loops to hook her fingers in, Faith found that enough nail pressure to say 'follow me' achieved similar results.
An arm around her waist agreed it was time to head out.
Outside, the buildings were gray as storm clouds. It was a city that could have been 'a short drive away' from anywhere. Legolas at her side was the embodiment of why she loved after-dark times. The night saw her and did not resent her traveling on her own roads. Darkness a blanket she wouldn't admit to needing.
Lazy rumble of 'got a shiny new thing' in her head when she glanced at Legolas. She'd been dazzled by the packaging now she wanted to do a little unwrapping.
The Elf stood still on the sidewalk, taking in the air as if it were in limited supply. Or, she looked closer at the way he stretched into the breeze, as if he were getting a hit of caffeine- natural pick-up.
Another obvious oddity that made her want privacy. Enough time was spent in alleys and on muddy pavement, and for the sort of disrobing she craved, indoors was best.
The knack for finding usable locations was another small talent. It had something to do with 'safe harbor', but she rarely examined what worked.
A cheap hotel was perfect in a pinch. The parking lot was empty and positioned conveniently behind the building as if to hide the car from those who might wonder about legal issues. Though Legolas seemed to understand the purpose of vehicles, there was an air of 'wouldn't choose to ride in one of those unless there was no other choice' that convinced her that he spent most of his time on foot. Old fashioned tastes, or he'd never had the opportunity to be taught, she resolved to find out which it was and remedy that. Knowing how to make a getaway was never a failing.
Faith led the way to their room, Elf padding silently behind her.
Sometimes, when she was tired enough for dreams to seem more than silly she wanted the strange haven of a place to come home to. That her domestic streak included another person went unacknowledged. But a home didn't have to be stationary and she was the kind of girl who wanted to see the world several times over.
That Legolas must have been enough places to have his preferences was another notch of attraction.
She wondered where he'd come from, grown up, and was able to ask the stitching of his shirt.
"Mirkwood," he answered, as if everything more than just 'green living paradise' was contained in the name. And maybe it was. Legolas was from that place, and he was enigmatic enough to add dimension to the word. Plus a lot of other words that if she admitted to knowing, her reputation would be dust.
There was an easy elegance in his movements. As though grace had been handed down along with pointed ears and a glow that she swore came from more than genetics. Clean living by way of good intentions. Faith recognized it from somewhere else, but at least he didn't carry superiority around like purse.
Memories made her jump, and she hoped that it would be unnoticed, but there was a flash from blue eyes. He knew and there was no trace of apology in his eyes. The surety of centuries that she couldn't imagine outside of a costume drama, and even then the paint chipped too easily.
Yet he stood in front of her, waiting for thoughts to be put in order, or something like it. The patience of one who had experience dealing with girls, or humans, or warriors. Internal struggles took time but apparently no longer were given space.
Walls pressed in around her //caged// and she was sure that much more confusion was going to lead to an embarrassing display of panic. Too much in such a small room. She could close her eyes and be safe, except if she let herself go, he might have vanished by the time she looked.
Besides, while it would have been wise to wait for a sign of readiness, an opening, //you can do this//forging paths was something of a trademark. Other girls might want everything neatly set up in a display case all its own but she was the one to break the glass. To show that it could be done. Just for the thrill of it. Push until it screamed, or you did.
Back and forth like this was a carnival ride without a 'stop button'. A wind of indecision made her shudder and Elves must not feel the cold because he was still watching her. See Slayer have mental breakdown because she checked into a hotel room with an Elf. Yeah, that was one for the papers.
Elves must have been introduced to 'polite distance'. The lesson just got pushed to the side with other 'silly human customs.' What he had picked up and kept was related to wordless communication.
Callused hands held her still for an interval of eye contact. There were trapped things in that gaze. Lost hopes and dreams had been submerged, but they had not yet been drowned completely. Elven pain smelled of crushed stems and petals.
//Not like you wanted it//, someone else might have said aloud, then there would have been a comforting embrace and maybe a bracing dip into what passed for therapeutic sharing in unknown territory.
With her no wounds had to be opened, it was enough to see that they existed. Comparing scars of 'not having' until the tally reached something that fit a lock. //Open up and see what's inside.//
Under dimmed lights the meeting of joined hands seemed a construction of shadow and wire. It was instinct to look for the unfinished edges first. That he wore knives without apology or hurried disguise made leaning close easier.
She didn't know how to say 'I want' and wait for an answer. A depth of need might transcend their vast differences, provided she was able to expose it.
She and 'the point of no return' were old friends. Feeling its proximity, knowing she still had a chance to stay out of reach, that there was no need to take 'claiming' to a never found conclusion helped not at all.
//Soft belly, claws pulled in to await a reply not borne of history and disappointments.//
When Legolas rested his chin on her head and let her feel him breath, the room seemed to open up. More like a point on a trip with other destinations waiting.
Like if she closed her eyes they would be somewhere new when taking a peek was imaginable.
The Elf seemed calm about her 'tumble down a cliff to conclusions,' not in the least bit impatient, even with her second and hundredth Very Important Thoughts. It was as if hanging around humans was enough to teach him about how many ways one could talk themselves out of a good thing.
And yeah, his knowing she had to go through every objection and consider it as if a make-or-break negotiation were in the works was a little annoying. Yet, every couple or casual-met-by-chance-allies could find tiny gripes to bitch over. It was a sign of a growing 'something.'
Gradually Faith became aware of the unhurried stroke of hands down her back. Not asking anything but calm. Concerns, next steps, the rest of the world could wait until it got through that there was no rush.
Apparently easing into 'terrified but excited' was a move in the right direction. Somewhere in between the two she reminded herself that unplanned meetings had the widest range of possible outcomes and smiled. Convincing her racing heartbeat of the positive was on another level of difficulty. Luckily, there was time for that.
The swing of emotions from 'aroused' down to 'fearful', had her shaking in more than reaction. She wouldn't have called it 'shock, she didn't do that, but there were elements of uncertainty present.
Faith nudged Legolas' to get his attention and breathed out at when she saw his expression. His smile was warmer than a furnace on 'high' and it worked down into her body, spreading through every limb.
Well-defined missions existed but none of them tipped as fascinatingly, held away from her fingers by the thinnest of barriers.
The question of whether or not two creatures other than human could hope to share space and purpose needed, in her mind, to be addressed and resolved. It hadn't worked before, and she'd alienated a sister-in-arms, but second chances appeared when least expected. After all, being uncommon was easier when someone saw inhumanity and understood that chance was the last available option. No need to fake at what she didn't want to be, he'd looked and wouldn't scold for doing things her way.
Faith wanted to take Legolas out into the cities and show him what she liked. Hunt, fight, and yeah, find out what made an Elf hot. Then she wanted him to return the favor. Looking out for a group of determinedly moral heroes wore thin without company.
"Hey, you maybe wanna hang together for a while?" she said, careful that none of the jitters that made a pose of 'cool' hard to maintain, showed in her face.
The answer was unmistakable in a kiss. Chaste had never been such a thin coat over 'still to come.' He tasted a little like butterscotch. Not as dark as chocolate but enticingly different, so as to encourage another taste. She felt the laugh well up and let it loose to lighten the air around them.
Having found someone who spoke her language, there was no reason to stop at 'more.' A partnership needed direction and she'd heard of a few directions to take.
There was a never-ending arms race to produce a more effective monster. The efforts of a single witch, seamstress for the universe that she considered herself to be was not the last shot in a conflict from Before Time.
While the winners of an admittedly sizable victory might think that they were beyond the reach of their personal Hellmouth, it had not let go of them. And anyone who could get a clue was pointing claw, hoof, and sword at the origin of the worldwide upset.
Telling the newly triumphant that they were steps away from being chomped by every up-and-coming baddie to crawl the earth would take more time than a good old fashioned intervention. They might not want to admit that everything wasn't going to be rainbows and buttercups at the snap of their lily white fingers, but enough corpses stinking would get the point across.
Legolas had done the 'noble cause' routine in the past, she got that much from the way he nodded at her sketches of B's path thusfar, and what had been cleared up for them. Not so much that they had smooth sailing, there was enough for everyone to get a good Slay in, but things like the demons they'd killed that night dogged the Slayers' like hellhounds.
It came back to the source. The Boca del Infierno had caved in on itself, nothing did the job so well as virtue and a fresh batch of Chosen Ones, but something had risen to take its place. That was the way of the world. Another Hellmouth in Cleveland, and others probably had stepped up the production of demons to fill in for what had been stopped up.
'The easy jobs' were never as much fun as an impossible necessity.
The pair of them against whatever thought the First should have finished the Slayer line off in one glorious bloodbath. It made her smile. And if the fierce look Legolas gave her when she outlined the plan was any indication of his mood, she wasn't the only one not to mind the stacked odds.
Adversity just made the win all the sweeter. Taking the journey and enjoying every step was most important. Best to live in the present, otherwise the future could disappear right out from underfoot.
She was in no hurry to hook up with any of the new Slayers. Leading had been fine for awhile, but her actions spoke louder and broke more glass than any sermon. She'd never much liked anyway. Too much time checking the pews for that forgotten but still damning sin. Apologizing for a job done, no matter the method, made no sense.
So she explained what there was to tell about Slayers. 'One girl in all the world except Buffy, yeah that's her real name, the best of the bunch, didn't stay dead like a good girl and then there were two. Since Willow did her Amazon warrior yell thing there are lots. The evil, biggest of all time got beaten back and that means breathing room. But not forever. There's still plenty of work to be done.'
Lying side by side she told him about body switches and things that went bump in the night, all of what shaped her. He listened and didn't go for the door or a straightjacket. Once a decision had been made about a person it seemed that no second guessing was required. What he knew of her was bare-bones, conveyed in less than flowery prose, yet what he found in emotion yielded greater insight.
Revelation left her tired and she curled up without worry, at ease with letting Legolas rest so close.
Somewhere between dusk and full-on night he braided her hair. The request came in untangling without a brush, and knowing fingers pulling designs out of snarls. Practical hadn't been her biggest issue in previous fights, but he wanted to play, therefore she saw no reason to miss out on grooming from an Elf. He must have done the same for others, she could feel old tastes in the way he styled her hair, and she wondered who those people had been.
New direction didn't stop her from hearing Destiny's call. It was a voice that choked on turned dirt and shattered wood, even as it managed to boom impressively.
Historical anecdotes flowed from him like a melting glacier.
He didn't hide his past, but offered similar instances as they related to current events. They weren't a calculated move, 'oh I've been to Naples a dozen times, and that was just last century,' delivered in flippant and crazy-making full of himself way. Nothing had to be offered as proof he knew what he was doing, that was inescapable.
Some girls fell for the ruse that rising up cushioned the eventual fall but she was happy with broadening horizons.
Faith had learned about working was that solo engagements were great, but a duet could add another dimension to the game.
Legolas sang more information than he let out in conversation. The ballads of his kind, old battles, and what came in the days when the earth was much different but just as easily swayed by evil. Granted 'lords' came to power instead of 'CEOs', and a corporation was called 'an army', but the message was clear.
What was built could be destroyed and then reborn in much the same way as in present day.
She could imagine how bright the world had been during the height of Elven reign, how a place was better with the elves in it.
It was a certainty that not all of the Happy Endings Crew would stick together. Put teenage girl' and 'Slayer' together and the result was curiosity. Faith didn't know for sure how the idea of another myth come to life would be taken, but 'not going to share' was a given.
She'd been Mayor's 'favorite' in the most 'never have to worry about a thing' way. That wasn't something she searched for nowadays, but the worry that after so many crowns, expectations became impossible was an easily awoken fear. And it wasn't as though she'd ever learned how to lay out what scared her, not without a dozen glittering distractions.
As it happened, a few of the girls had broken off from the crowds following B, and decided to do some exploring. The crossing of paths was accidental and came sooner than she anticipated.
When instinct spoke of 'good hunting' she Legolas packed their gear and set off for the first report of wacky happenings.
The presence of other Slayers could have gone unnoticed, if the kids hadn't decided to make a night of it. 'Party like a Chosen One', or whatever banner they'd found best suited their liberated circumstances.
Coming across a graveyard was reason enough to stop, but the sounds of a clumsy fight being waged was 'brakes now.' Faith and Legolas slid out of the car and went to investigate.
What they found was some creative 'tag' and not enough actual slaying.
Legolas sent a look over at her and Faith shrugged as if to say 'they're young.' He nodded, eyeing the fight with a critical air. Faith suppressed the urge to ask him for an evaluation until they were out of earshot. Buffy's Boot Camp had been sufficient for her tastes.
A personal style was all well and good so long as success was had. When one of the vamps charge the low wall where they were sitting, she hurled stake neat as if playing a game of darts and was brushing the dust off when she was seen.
Like a bumbling group of puppies the girls hurried over, obviously high on not being dead.
She recognized several, names came more slowly, there'd been too many munchkins hopping around in the Summers' sorority house to keep them all straight. Saying that she hadn't felt the need to get to know them was cold but in a war priorities had to be established and nametags hadn't been abundant.
One of them called out to Faith and grinned. Nodding back with a minimum of patience, Faith waited for the chattering trio to reach them. Figuring out where people were going gave her a better idea of where to focus her energy. And a healthy distance from the pep squads wasn't a bad thought.
Being tossed into an adventure was just enough to make some girls think that they had control. Others were overwhelmed but they all felt like they had a bond with those like them. Faith could have shared stories of how badly it could go when belonging wasn't defined to everyone's satisfaction.
'Shepherding the young' was a laugh. She'd gotten by without a Watcher, but the new recruits were being gathered like china figurines. Being chipped wouldn't do any harm, in fact in the long run it might be a good method for keeping them from getting too overconfident. From where she stood there might be hope for them yet.
Whether put off by Faith's purposeful aloofness or the company she chose to keep an acceptable amount of ground was given as uncertainty ground eagerness to a halt. While they didn't know what definition to put beside Legolas in a encyclopedia of Other, 'run' had been one of their first lessons.
The girls had been introduced to a few easy kills and a top-of-the-line monstrous construction. What else slithered path unbelieving or naive eyes hadn't been covered yet. All they might think of were the storybooks. Whether the right volumes had been covered was up in the air. Then again, anyone too stupid to see how dangerously Legolas moved, then any trouble was their own fault.
Never forgotten, the old 'do you know your place' routine was taking shape. Nobody had a town of their own exactly, but solid footing was as good as a name on a downtown billboard. Taking up with an Elf was another step away from 'traditional', and Faith could see the meaning of 'Rogue Slayer' rise out of bewilderment.
She hadn't been looking to be the 'freaky member' of a worldwide sisterhood, but some roles felt better than others. She knew that she was being a little possessive, stalking around the newbie as if they hadn't learned their place and were about to step on her toes. Honestly, showing her teeth felt good, she had the right to do a bit of growling and boundary setting.
For his part, Legolas showed no inclination to start a following of Slayers. The 'does he know how to use that bow', 'and where did he come from, kinda pretty isn't he?' comments could have contributed to the standoffishness that Faith felt was even more pronounced than usual.
After the inevitable rendering of youthful judgment, complete with threats that were muttered so as to not offend, Faith turned to Legolas and caught his expression. Unconcealed was open appreciation interwoven with crouched amusement.
Another revision of expectations, she hadn't expected an Elf to have a sense of humor about such things. Not that she was going to complain one bit. To see that mouth curved just a touch off 'detached' was worth savoring.
Evidently she no longer had to pick and choose 'safer words.' A harsh truth did established a solid base rather than a comfort that would collapse at the worst time.
Better that word of what she was willing to take on be spread. Hangers-on were for those who didn't mind not having space for their own lives.
Though the 'meet and intimidate' session had been a hefty spark on her reputation, Faith didn't think lingering in the States would accomplish anything useful. From what she'd gotten out of 'Nervous,' 'Mouthy', and 'Spacey,' collection and training was gaining momentum, and she didn't want to be swept up in it. Besides, seeing the world had long been one of her fonder hopes, and there was no time like 'immediately' to get started.
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Fandom: Buffy, Lord of the Rings
Title: Swimming Horses
Author: Scy [email]
Details: Standalone | R | het | 48k | 04/17/04
Notes: I think this can best be described as one of those ideas that wouldn't leave me alone, and my attraction to the pairing made it clear it had to be done. Also, nobody else had written it. Large parts of this story were written to The White Stripes especially 'Seven Nation Army', as well as a lot of Siouxsie And The Banshees, (as the title may suggest). Other musical influences include: 'The Different', 'Revolution' by Aimee Allen, and Sisters of Mercy. I'd like to extend my thanks to Ladycat777, for reading it and telling me I had something, Jenny O for allowing me to ramble about Elven wardrobe (as well as other fine and necessary details). Musesfool, Cesario, and Momokaachan for words of encouragement, and to everyone else who inspired.
Spoilers: BTVS, A:ts S4, and Lotr.
Disclaimer/Other: Don't I wish.
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