Laws of Dysfunction
Summary: during his summer road trip, Xander runs into a few new friends.
Disclaimer: Oh, mighty Corporate Gods and their servants, the Lawyers, I pray to thee to spare me your unwarranted vengeance as I knowingly and willfully utilize your oh-so-brilliant characters and other unmentioned features in this purely sentimental piece of literature and…oh, screw it, just don't sue my ass.
"So, she's a super-human ticking time bomb," Bart said, "I like her already. But, don't we need help?"
"No," Xander said, "Anyone back home will just want her to be punished, and she needs something else…she needs help."
"And, you expect to be the one to give it," Bart replied, "Dude, you don't even know what state of mind she's in."
"I have to try, man," Xander said, climbing out of the van and walking towards the bus station.
"Ay, Caramba," Bart slapped his head, "This guy's gonna get me killed."
Xander sat down at the bus stop, hoping that he hadn't missed her, and waited. He knew it wasn't the smartest thing on earth to wait for a possibly psychotic Slayer, but he had to do something. He couldn't go to Buffy, and the only other person he knew that could help was off in LA, doing God knows what. He just hoped that she was in a good, or at the very least, introspective mood.
"So, do you love her," he looked up as Bart sat down beside him, a smile on his face.
"Nah," Xander said, "I just wanna help her."
"But, she's your first," Bart said, "She's gotta mean something…right?"
"Oh, yeah, she means something," Xander said, "She's me, in a lot of ways."
"…Explain," Bart asked.
"She had a crappy family, lived in crappy digs, and accidentally killed a man and killed another man on purpose," Xander said, "The reality of it is that she fell off the deep end, and she was heading that way long before I ever met her. Posttraumatic stress just guaranteed her falling, and led to her to go to the Mayor."
"So, she's not responsible," Bart asked, trying to get the gist of it.
"Oh, she's responsible," Xander said, "But, there are reasons. She suffered through a lot, and we let her down. Even if the others aren't willing to admit they screwed up, I am."
"So, there's responsibility to go around," Bart said, "I guess that's good to know."
"I just really wanna help her, man," Xander turned to his best friend, an oddly serious look on his face, "If you don't wanna be here, man, you don't hafta be…I'll understand, believe me."
"Oh, trust me, X-man, I don't wanna be anywhere near here at the moment," Bart said, grasping his shoulder, "But, we're friends, man. We stick together, we take the bumps, and we face down psychotic superhumanly-enhanced chicks together, no matter how many bones get broken."
"…Oddly enough, that makes me feel better," Xander said with a grin, "Thanks, man, I appreciate it."
"So do I," the two stiffened instantly as they heard the smoky voice above them, then slowly turned upward, "God, X, I always thought you were in the closet."
Xander and Bart jumped up, facing Faith as they did so. She was dressed in a dirty pair of jeans and a plaid shirt, with a bag on her side. She was smiling an odd smile, one that contained humor, but, also had the look of a predator stalking its prey.
"Faith," Xander greeted her, "You look…of the good."
"Right back atcha, X," Faith said, looking him up and down, "Dear God, when're you gonna get rid of those Hawaiian shirts," she then looked over to Bart, "And where on earth did you find another queen who dresses in the same nauseating things?"
"HEY," both Xander and Bart argued.
"We are not queens," Xander said, "Manliness is tantamount, here!"
"And, Hawaiian shirts never go outta style," Bart picked up, "EVER!"
"Chill, I'm just ribbin' ya," Faith said, still smiling, "Good God, boytoy, if I'd known you were that easy to mess with, I-"
"Woulda still tried to choke me to death," Xander interrupted her, a glare on his face.
For the first time since he'd met her, Faith looked nervous and unsure of herself.
"…Yeah," Faith started, "Look, I heard what you said and…look, a lot's happened to me in the past few months…I just want you to know…I saw you on that bus, and…it means a lot to me that you were willing to come down here to talk to me…especially without calling B, ya know?"
"Yeah, I know," Xander said, grimly, "I was always against her killing you, Faith…I'm just grateful she's nowhere near as good as she thinks she is."
"Same here, X," Faith said, a morose look on her face, "Same here."
"Ok, I dunno a lot about this, but," Bart interrupted, "I do know that bus rides tend to make you hungry…why don't we buy you a bite to eat?"
"Nah, I'm good," Faith started, but was rudely interrupted as her own stomach betrayed her with a growl, "…On second thought, I could use some food."
"So, Angel's got me cooped up for a week in this hotel of his," Faith said, eating her omelet as she did so, "And, him and me are going at it pretty rough, ya know?"
"By going at it," Xander said, putting down his coffee, "You do mean you're beating the crap outta each other, right?"
"No, I banged his brains out and brought out Angelus," Faith said with a scowl, "Jeez, X, do I look like an anorexic blonde?"
"Sorry, had to ask," Xander said, "Continue."
"Wait, if you bang this Angel guy, he becomes Angelus," Bart interrupted.
"Yeah," Faith said, "Or, at least if he's done well enough."
"OK," Xander said, "Enough with the Angel sex talk, for God's sake, I need to gouge out my eyes!"
"Sorry," Bart mumbled, "I'm still new to this, you know."
"Anyway, we're fighting and he's trying to get to me," Faith to another bite of her eggs, "And, he makes me admit that the only reason I came to LA was to fight him and lose."
"You wanted to die," Xander asked, "Faith…"
"Don't worry, X," Faith said, "I know…anyway, just as he's getting through to me, guess who shows up?"
"Buffy," Xander said with a sigh, "Bet she was probably all high and mighty, acting like Angel'd betrayed her or something."
"It's like you were there," Faith said with a smile, "But, she showed up just as a Council wet works team showed up."
"And, you two kicked their asses," Bart asked, chewing his bacon.
"Exactly," Faith said, "After we got them to back off, B was still on her revenge kick, so I decided that the best thing to do was fake being arrested. I turned myself in and escaped after she walked away."
"Question," Bart picked up, "If you're seeking redemption, why didn't you really turn yourself in?"
"She doesn't need to be in prison," Xander said, "She needs to be helping people."
"Exactly," Faith said, "There's not a day that goes by when I don't think of Finch, or that professor, but…I can't let innocent people down. I need to be out there, fighting the good fight."
"What we need is a singer," Bart sighed, leaning back in his seat.
"C'mon, Bart, show some compassion," Xander said.
"Well, it's hard when I have to worry about where our next paycheck's coming from," Bart said.
"You need a singer," Faith asked, "Why?"
"We're performing next week, but the guy wants a singer for his club," Xander said.
"Well, I can sing," Faith said.
Bart and Xander stared at her for a moment, then turned to each other.
"She can sing," Xander said.
"She's hot," Bart agreed.
"Wonder if she can play the bass," Xander inquired.
"Yes, she can," Faith said, a small smile on her face, "And she'd appreciate it if the two idiots wouldn't talk about her like she's not here."
"…She's mouthy, ain't she," Bart asked.
"You've no idea," Xander replied.