Chapter 6: The Leader of the Pack
"...the last of the line's choosing must fall, and only from the blood of her blood will wrong be righted, the Slayers line will begin anew..."
Dawn used to have a list of reasons why she hated Faith Lehane, but most of the bulletpoints were scratched out in favor of the one in bold print, unlined three times: she tried to kill my sister. It was fairly solid on its own. If they were normal people, something like that would be enough to keep them enemies for life, no questions asked. But they weren't normal. And, occasionally the world was rocked so hard that differences were, honest to God, put aside for the greater good. The Battle of Sunnydale definitely qualified as a world rocker.
Dawn couldn't put a finger on when she'd become friends with the other woman, but she could remember the morning that she realized they definitely weren't enemies. On her twenty-first birthday, Dawn had found herself in a strange country on what was supposed to be an awesome sister-bonding vacation without Buffy, who, through no fault of her own, was trapped in a time bubble within a demon circus in Canada. Sister or no sister, Dawn had partaken in the traditional drinking part of the celebration. Faith had somehow drawn the short straw when Dawn had experienced her first time being on the happier side of the 'drunk dial'. Dawn didn't quite remember the details when she woke up the next morning with a massive hangover, but she did recall Faith staying on the phone with her for over two hours in an attempt to keep her from doing something stupid. They'd talked about television and fashion and made fun of Buffy height. It had been a wake-up call when she realized those weren't the actions of an ally; they were the actions of a real friend.
Sure, they didn't meet for brunch or Skype regularly, but, even across a distance, through the years, they made an effort to be nicer to each other. So, it hurt a little, knowing that Faith was carrying extra baggage on her own, keeping secrets. Secrets, like how she'd probably have to die before the Slayer line was restored.
Dawn's breathing hitched slightly at the thought, and she made a face, suddenly more than happy to focus on the problem right in front of her instead of a hypothetical problem of mystical origin. She palmed her purse, and the last-resort wolfsbane grenade inside in case this plan didn't work, and glanced over her shoulder, giving Robin a pointed look. The man seemed to read her expression. He kept his hand over the gun he'd strapped to his belt and made a show of standing closer to Stiles to protect the kid if this went downhill.
Then she gave Faith a little wink of encouragement (another day working for the Watcher's International Council, nothing to see here) before hardening her expression. The small group marched past the broken chains on the front doors and into the main corridor of the mall. Up ahead, they could already hear a scuffle taking place on the ground floor, echoing through the entire building. They were lucky local law enforcement was probably too stretched thin to investigate.
Dawn knew that Faith could likely hear the exchange ahead even better than she could, when the noise suddenly cut off, a smooth British accent filling the void with an option. As soon as she stepped into view, Dawn assessed the situation. Evil blind dude was telling cute-but-scruffy he could either kill his beta or his sister. Totally predictable.
"Wow, do they teach that at the villain academy or something?" Dawn asked.
All talking suddenly stopped, and, yes, Dawn would admit it; it was kind of fun to be able to sneak up on a crowd of preoccupied werewolves. First time for everything, she supposed.
"Who," the blind wolf said, his head cocked as if to catch her scent, "is that?"
"It's...our school librarian?"
The answer came from one of the twin Alpha werewolves. Dawn couldn't remember who was who, but she did remember spotting the dangerous pair on campus. She gave the Alpha pack, and the beaten local pack in their clutches, a bright smile, the one her friends often labeled as 'annoyingly cheerful.' She'd done her homework going into Beacon Hills, so, from the not-so-legally obtained rap sheet, she recognized the local pack's Alpha, Derek Hale, the cute-but-scruffy who was in a Peter Parker-like predicament. And, due to his murderous reputation stretching across the state, she'd have to assume blind dude was the werewolf known as Deucalion. While Dawn hadn't known that Hale had a younger living sister, she did recognize the others in his pack (or whatever kids were calling it these days) from Robin's files. Isaac, Boyd, Scott... Scott's eyes widened when he saw her.
Or, well, saw who was standing behind her. From the corner of her eye, she noticed Stiles waving excitedly and mouthing the words "NOT EVIL" while pointing at Robin. A step in the right direction.
"The librarian and the principal?" the other Alpha twin tossed in, sounding as confused as his brother.
"And what, pray tell, is the school principal and librarian doing here?" Deucalion asked.
Dawn raised a brow at him－someone didn't enjoy being interrupted while assaulting teenagers－and then turned to Faith. After a moment's beat, Faith held up a hand to her, releasing the situation.
"Nah, you do this part so much better, D," she admitted.
Dawn shrugged, then put on her happy face. "Hi, there, Mr. Deucalion, or do you prefer Mr. Demon Wolf? I've heard it both ways from the friends and family of the packs you've helped decimate." There was a bit of bite to her chipper voice. She took a step forward, ignoring the female Alpha's growl as she came closer. "Sorry to interrupt. I'm sure you have an awesome recruitment speech you're just dying to deliver to Mr. Hale, but we just had to stop in. See, we're new to the neighborhood, too, and we've yet to receive a single fruit basket. My name is Dawn Summers, and this..." Faith stepped up to her side, absolutely not smiling. "This is my associate, Faith Lehane. Now, seeing as we don't usually interfere with pack wolves, there's a chance you might not recognize us based on our names alone. If you'd like to pull out your phones and Google us, feel free. I'll wait. You might want to cross-reference the little town-that-was, Sunnydale."
Predictably, none of the Alphas moved.
"No?" she asked. "I find it a bit hard to believe that you don't recall the sinking of Sunnydale, but alright then. We'll pretend you're stupid."
Faith moved quickly, a blade dropping from the sleeve of her jacket as she leaped forward, her slender stiletto blade precise as she slid it into the female Alpha's kneecap and twisted, a loud pop sounding beneath the flesh. The werewolf howled in pain, falling back, away from the blade. The younger werewolf under her rolled out of the way, crouching at her brother's side. Before the others could react, the high pop of gunfire filled the air and the Alpha lingering behind Boyd fell back, clawing at his own eye in sudden panic. A trail of purple smoke leaked up from between the wolf's fingers as he fell to the floor, writhing in pain.
All sides tensed, ready for attack, and Dawn raised her index finger. "Wait," she warned. Amazingly, they, minus the guy digging into his eye socket on the floor, stilled. She tried to hide how giddy she was; this approach rarely worked in real-life scenarios.
"Let's try again, since name-dropping obviously isn't cutting it with you guys. Have you ever heard of the Watcher's Council?"
Deucalion's growl left the shattered glass on the floor vibrating. Bingo.
"Well, that got a response," Robin noted.
"Oh, yes. The Council," Deucalion spat, eyes flashing with anger. The bone and muscle beneath his face rippled, threatening to transform. Dawn could have sworn the guy was looking at her with those blood red eyes. "One could say the Council is the very reason we are gathered here today," he said, venom hanging from his words. "I used to believe in the Great Treaty they proposed. I fought for its continued renewal, even when other packs were hesitant. It was a path to peace, the hunters with their code, the packs with their own, and the Council there to insure that one side did not try to overtake the other, to police us, if you will. Of course, we found out how temporary such peace was when the Council withdrew support, when the hunters began their vicious attacks. So, yes, girl, I know the Council, the one that left us bleeding and weak."
"Withdrew?" Dawn interrupted, trying to hide her surprise.
She was going to have a nice long chat with Robin in the near future about sharing details from his not-so-secret tipster. While she'd read about the Council contracting hunting families as their associates, and she knew there was a treaty, she didn't realize the Council itself had held quite so much control over the wolves in this region too. She wracked her brain, considering what she'd learned about the Hale family, about the supernatural problems in the area. From the reports of 'animal attacks' and mutilated corpses, there hadn't been many problems before the Hales had died...which, now that she considered that, was right after the Council was destroyed. She fought the urge to give the remaining Hales another glance, reconsider how their lives might have been different if she, if any of the Scoobs, had known about this after Sunnydale and been able to step in and fill the old Council's shoes.
"Okay, that's one way to say they were blown to smithereens," Dawn continued. "But, as I was going to say...The Council. Yeah, we're not those guys. We're the new and improved Watcher's International Council, now under new management. And even though we've been in the game for over a decade, we're still picking up the pieces the old Council left behind. You might have heard a little rumor about an army of super girls? Yeah, it's a time stealer, raising teens."
Deucalion shifted his weight; Dawn noticed and smirked. "Oh, so you do know about Slayers? Good. Most young werewolves don't, because, frankly, werewolves aren't usually a problem for us. In fact, we tend to like our wolfy buddies. In fact, in China, we helped a monk pack with－"
"You're drifting," Faith reminded. She wiped the edge of her knife off on her jeans, and took over. "What D here is trying to say is, we don't slay werewolves, unless they're murderous, power-hungry sons of bitches who don't understand that no means no. Sound familiar?"
Deucalion bore his teeth at them. "Is that a threat?"
"We don't make threats, we make promises," Robin assured, "and you've made the mistake of dinging our radar. I came here in hopes of reinstating that treaty, and maybe that'll happen, but even if it does, it's not going to include you."
"Leave," Faith offered. "Now. We'll give you a head start before we send our girls after you. Hell, we'll even give your pack a chance to redeem itself, but if we even get a whiff of blood in the air..."
"The hunters will never have a chance at you," Dawn finished. "We'll find you first."
She'd been on edge the last two days, and with good reason. Aside from the vivid memories of her mother haunting her at every turn, Allison had to deal with an unwelcome stop-in from an accusing Scott (next time, she was making sure no arrows were left behind), as well as a confrontation with her father, both arguments concerning her inability to leave behind the dangerous world of hunting. But she couldn't. How would anyone be able to step aside, knowing their friends were in danger? And there was more to it than that, another reason that Allison now found herself in an abandoned mall instead of at home studying like a normal high school student. It was hard for to explain...no, impossible for her to explain to her father, but she couldn't not show up.
There was this urge, it crawled beneath her skin, making her itch for action, like she was an addict in need of a fix, and despite her best intentions, she couldn't ignore it. And she didn't want to ignore it.
Allison's heart had been rattling her chest with anticipation since she'd received Isaac's text message about Scott trying to make peace with the Alpha pack. Well, Isaac had used fewer words, but Allison had gotten the hint, and apparently she wasn't the only one. Isaac promised to keep an eye on Scott, but from his message, she was certain the rest of the pack was doing the same. There was going to be trouble, and Scott might be walking straight into it. And then there was the whole idea of Isaac contacting her in the first place, which was...different. She'd cast those thoughts aside and focused on a plan. There was a good chance her dad would find out about the texts, but she'd make sure he'd be too late to stop her.
She'd still been wound tight when she ducked out of meeting with Stiles after school to pack a weapons' bag and track down Scott and Isaac. But now that she was here, hiding in the shadows, bow at the ready, an eerie calm settled over her. It frightened her more than the scene down below, of the werewolves at blows. It scared her how easily she could switch modes and go from nervous school girl to warrior.
"This is what you are, Allison. You're a killer."
Allison froze at the sound of the voice, seeing her at the corner of her eye. She knew it wasn't real, couldn't be. Her mother was dead. She'd seen the body, and this...this image of her was almost too mockingly perfect to ever be mistaken for real, but it haunted her, nevertheless.
Victoria stepped up to Allison's side and bent forward so that she was talking into her ear. "It's okay, Allison. You are what you are. Don't fight it."
She refused to look at her mother, refused to acknowledge the comments.
"Aim the bow," Victoria said, with a small, encouraging smile. "Just aim it. Any of them will do, but you know which one is the real trophy." Her mother's voice hardened slightly. "Derek Hale. Look at him, Allison. Look at how weak he is. Killing him, though...that won't hurt him half so much as aiming at that precious pack of his. Take aim, Allison."
Allison tried to ignore the woman, but she raised her bow.
"They're all monsters, Allison. How can you even tell them apart? They're all fangs and teeth. They'll eat you up, little girl. Shoot. Shoot now!"
Allison barely managed to stop herself before the release.
The sound of a voice had stopped her. Allison lowered her weapon slightly, shocked to see the school librarian walking up to the werewolves as if she'd simply strolled in to ask for directions. Allison shifted her angle, catching sight of another brunette woman beside her and of Principal Wood behind her, and held close to his side...
The calm of battle was gone. If Stiles had been right about Principal Wood being involved in this and she'd left him alone at the school with the man, it would be her fault if he was hurt. She bit down the urge to move, call out, do something. Instead she froze, confused by the scene before her as the newcomers attacked Kali and Ennis.
What the hell was going on down there?
She almost expected an answer in the form of her mother's voice, but the hallucination had ended, over as quickly as it had begun, and Allison doubled her concentration on the group downstairs.
She could barely make out what they were saying, and most it didn't make much sense, but she waited it out, watching Derek's pack and Scott, hoping for some sort of sign. Instead, the woman beside Ms. Summers－Dawn, as she'd insisted Allison call her－glance up while the others were talking. Allison crouched down further, certain she'd been spotted, but the unknown woman didn't give away her location, so Allison took the opportunity to study her face. She didn't know the woman from school, she was certain, even if there was something familiar about her eyes. The woman nodded once, an acknowledgment that she'd spotted the hunter, before she turned her attention back to the Alphas.
"Who are you?" Allison whispered.
There had been an answer, somewhere down below, from Dawn. A name, "Faith", had echoed up. It didn't mean anything to Allison, but she held on to it, knowing that she'd have to give herself away and ask her father about the group of hunters, if that was even what they were. Hopefully, she'd be able to ask Stiles, too.
Allison wasn't sure how long the confrontation lasted, but it seemed like only a few minutes had passed when she saw Kali hobble up to Deucalion, to lead him away. The twins helped with the big guy, spitting out a few threats as they turned away, figurative tails between their legs.
Allison blinked down at them, confused, but she didn't have time to stay that way. The remaining group was already at verbal blows, Derek shouting something about "slayers" not being real. Allison wasn't exactly sure what that meant. She moved down a few yards, trying to find a better place to hear them.
"Save your questions," she heard the principal request. The man gave Stiles a pat on the back, as if releasing him back to his friends, and the boy ran to Scott's side, talking rapidly if his animated arms were anything to judge from. Principal Wood coughed to interrupt him. "Let's move this conversation to somewhere safer. We'll meet you at the school in half an hour."
"Safer?" Stiles snapped.
The principal looked abashed. "Better lit," he amended.
Faith turned from the group, staring up at Allison again, this time less subtly. "And bring Hawkeye with you. Tell her to stop and pick up her father on the way. We're only telling this story once."
A/N you can probably ignore: for those reading on AO3, yes, I'll be updating with fresh chapters soon (and my updates will be synced up). Thanks so much for your continued support. I hope you're all enjoying the story. Concerning the last few chapters, I've tinkered with the events of the episode "Frayed", basically so that they've stretched out over two days between Scott's meeting with Deucalion and then Derek, and the trip to the abandoned mall (which seemed to take place over one day in the episode, I think). Canon divergent, y'all.