moscow_watcher: (Faith)
[personal profile] moscow_watcher
Title: Black Magic White Lies
Chapter 8 - In Which Xander Confronts Buffy... Sort Of
Timeline: BtVS, alternate season 5
Genre: drama, mystery, action
Characters, pairing: general, Xander/Faith
Rating: R (for intense situations).
Summary: Xander thinks he has a little secret. He doesn't know that his little secret is a part of a big fat conspiracy.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss. He said I could play with'em, so there.
Author's notes: Much thanks to my wonderful betas [personal profile] lusciousxander and [personal profile] deird1 who encourage me, help me with character voices, fix my bad grammar and style. All mistakes are mine. This is my first plotty multi-character fic, so concrit is very welcome.



The story starts here

***

"Could anybody explain to me why bringing Faith back to Sunnydale is a good idea? Because I don't get it."

Buffy slowly sips the cup of tea Giles prepared for her. She speaks briskly, but Xander can feel how tense and tired she is. She came to Magic Box for their meeting, even though she's spent two days at the hospital with her mom.

This morning, Willow called Buffy and told her that the Council has given Giles the go-ahead about that Faith business, so they were working on getting her out of jail. According to Willow, Buffy was okay with the news. Xander wasn't there when Willow called her and he can only imagine how Buffy reacted.

"Willow thinks the attack on Faith could be connected to the murder of the monk we're investigating," Giles explains to Buffy. "I'm also inclined to think that it's not a coincidence. Faith was attacked mere hours after we found out about her pregnancy. There is a high probability that the clue to the mystery is hidden here, in Sunnydale. Not to mention that here we can protect her better than she is protected in prison."

Buffy snorts. "Sure, protect. You want to use a pregnant woman as a bait. If you're so concerned about her security why don't you send her to London? Right, guys?" She looks at Xander and Willow, expecting their support.

Xander is so tired of this duplicity. Everybody in the room understands that it's not Faith's safety that's on Buffy's mind, but nobody wants to argue. And nobody can blame Buffy for wanting to send Faith to London. In her situation he wouldn't want to face Faith either, especially after all that happened between them.

The lack of support from Xander and Willow only makes Buffy more insistent. "Seriously, Giles, Faith will be much safer under the Council's supervision. Here, in Sunnydale we can't keep her safe, or give her a normal place to live. Do you remember the motel room those misers from the Council rented for her?"

"She won't be living in a motel," Giles says. "She'll be living in Xander's apartment."

Buffy's jaw drops. Xander can hear his heart beating in the dead silence. Here we go.

"You've gotta be kidding me," Buffy says finally.

He opens his mouth, ready to spill everything, but Willow beats him to it.

"See, Buffy, when I found out about the assault, I asked Xander to talk to Faith," she says quickly. "To get to her he told the prison authorities that he was the father of her child. When she's paroled, a parole officer will be doing regular checks on where she's living. We have to sell them a consistent story."

Buffy frowns. "You couldn't come up with something - I don't know - less icky?"

"What, for example?" Giles counters. "I'm not in the right age group, you know."

That sounds all kinds of wrong, so Buffy doesn't argue. "But it's dangerous for Xander," she murmurs. She sounds genuinely concerned.

"I'm working on the protection spell for his place," Willow says. "As soon as Faith arrives at Casa Xander, I'll do the spell and nobody but us will be able to enter the apartment."

Buffy glares. "Great idea, Will. Only I don't understand how that shiny spell of yours could protect Xander from a psycho who almost killed him last year. Because, you know, she'll be inside the apartment."

Willow blinks perplexedly. Xander's stomach knots. That's it.

"Good point," Giles says unexpectedly. "Willow, remind me to show you how to do the Sanctorum Spell. It's relatively easy to perform and it prevents physical violence in a given area, affecting both demons and humans."

Willow sighs with relief. Buffy throws up her hands in defeat. "Okay. Then Xan gets his requisite share of badness." She smiles him apologetically. "Don't worry, it's temporary. We'll find those killers and I'll slay their asses, and we'll relocate Faith somewhere else."

He hopes his smile looks sincere enough. "Have you noticed other monks during your patrols?" he says to change the topic. "Or you and Spike are too busy with slayer-and-vampire action?"

To his surprise, Buffy looks away and fidgets. "I don't understand why you think there's a connection between our Sunnydale affairs and that assault on Faith. Somebody in Los-Angeles might want Faith's dead. Or her baby. Did you know that LA demons are obsessed with babies?"

He didn't, so Buffy briefs him on her visits to Angel Investigations and how often they deal with demonic schemes to destroy humanity by impregnating women with demon children. Xander nods absentmindedly.

"Has your ex-girlfriend told you how she got knocked up by a demon?"

"She didn't..." It takes him a couple of seconds to realize that Buffy is talking about Cordelia. "Oh. Cordy didn't know he was a demon."

"Exactly. Maybe Faith didn't know who she was sleeping with either. And, since she has a nasty habit of screwing anything that moves, she could get impregnated with an apocalyptic baby in a heartbeat." Buffy shrugs. "Of course, she could have just gotten knocked up by a regular loser who forgot everything the moment he saw her boobs."

Xander turns away. A sarcastic voice in the back of his head asks who he's betraying more - Buffy, by not telling her the truth, or Faith, by letting Buffy say awful things about her. He loathes himself more and more with each passing minute. Why can't he tell them? Now. End this torture right now...

"Um, guys," Willow says tentatively. "Could you please stop talking about Faith's boobs in the presence of a high-strung lesbian witch who's trying to concentrate? Doping an accurate metamorphic spell is tricky stuff."

Buffy knits her brow. "Meta-what?" She sounds irritated, clearly unhappy that Xander and Willow aren't supporting her. Faith isn't here yet - and Buffy's authority is already eroding.

"A metamorphic spell is about changing small things," Willow explains. "Like changing Faith's conviction from second degree murder to involuntary manslaughter and exceeding the limits of self-defense. Changing her jail term from 25 years to 2 years with subsequent pre-term parole for good behavior and special circumstances, namely, pregnancy. The hardest trick is to focus on the documentation of the case in question and not to affect other cases."

Buffy looks skeptical. "You mean the people who work in the jail would believe it? They won't question why Faith's term has changed?"

Willow shrugs. "Of course, there is a risk. A little memory spell wouldn't be excessive - would it, Giles?"

They've obviously had this argument before, and it looks like the debate got very heated. Giles frowns and closes his book with a snap.

"Willow, I thought we already agreed not to go there anymore! Changing memories is incredibly complex. You wouldn't be able to handle it alone, and right now there are no sorcerers in America we could ask for help. The Augure family has relocated from New Orleans to San-Paulo. In Los-Angeles, Cyvus Vail is dead - courtesy of one Faith Lehane..." Giles sighs. "Hopefully everything will work out without the memory spell. My experience taught me that people trust papers and computers much more than they trust their memories."

"I don't like it," Buffy says stubbornly. "Forgery, getting a criminal out of jail..."

"The Council approved these measures..." Giles reminds.

Buffy narrows her eyes. "I wonder what they will say when the psycho lady kills somebody again. Why not? She knows the Council will get her out of trouble."

"Except she is serving her time now," Willow says softly.

"Uh-huh. Several months instead of 20 years. Self-defense instead of murder."

Willow fidgets. "Technically, it was self-defense..."

"Maybe we should give that psychozoid a prize for the most misunderstood hero?"

Something bad and unpleasant rises in Xander's chest.

"She killed that guy because she thought he was a vampire," he snaps. "She was defending you."

He can't believe he said it. Obviously, Buffy can't either. She looks at him like he's grown horns. "You mean it's my fault?"

"Guys, don't," Willow asks.

But Buffy can't stop. "You mean it's my fault that she accused me of the murder she committed? That she defected to the Mayor? That she tried to kill Angel? That she stole my body?"

"I didn't say that!" Xander yells. "Don't put words into my mouth. I'm only saying that she's not as bad as you think!"

"She a criminal!"

"I'm a criminal too! I stole a bazooka at the military base - and you didn't care." It strikes him. "You still keep that bazooka in your basement! Does that make you a criminal as well?"

"Bloody hell! I can't believe I'm in such distinguished company."

Spike is standing in the doorway, smirking nonchalantly.

"Do you really keep a bazooka in your basement, Slayer?" Spike's tongue curls around his teeth. "Do you have any other big phallic-shaped objects there?"

Buffy is fuming, crimson with anger. "Wait for me outside, Spike," she mutters through clenched teeth. "We'll go patrolling as soon as I'm done talking to Xander."

Spike leers. "Your wish is my command, luv. Spike's always ready to service a girl."

"Shut up, Spike," Buffy and Xander say in unison. Both involuntarily smile at their simultaneous reaction.

Buffy sighs guiltily. "I'm sorry, Xan. I don't know what got into me. You know that Faith is my sore spot."

He knows. So he apologizes too, and she leaves patrolling. He feels drained. He finally realizes the scope of the mess he's dragging them all into. He was so close to telling her everything. If Willow wasn't covering his bases, if Spike hadn't arrived...

Giles' piercing gaze is making Xander uncomfortable but he pretends he doesn't notice it as he helps Willow to light the candles for the spell.

"You've got into the role of Faith's boyfriend very well," Giles notes.

"He's our local Marlon Brando," Willow says quickly.

The image of colonel Kurtz, crushed by his own mad schemes, flashes in Xander's mind.

Next: Chapter 9 - "Orpheus Rewrite, Bedroom Version

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