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[personal profile] moscow_watcher
Title: Black Magic White Lies
Chapter 7 - In Which Our Heroes Finally Meet
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

When he enters the hospital room, she is asleep. There are dark circles under her eyes, her face is pale and thin, her features relaxed and peaceful, her hands curved over her stomach. Xander can't take his eyes off her. Her huge belly makes her look particularly small and fragile and... Xander desperately searches for the right word. She's like those women in really old paintings, with streaming hair, in streaming garments with endless folders flowing... sublime? Yes, that's the word. Sublime.

It's so strange to see her still. She has always been so full of energy - dancing, fighting, making love, making death.

The doctor demonstratively turns away and starts fiddling with the monitors. Xander tentatively taps him on the shoulder. "Could you leave us alone for a minute?" he whispers. He knows he's getting on the doctor's nerves.

The doctor shakes his head. Then he nods in Faith's direction. As Xander turns towards her he sees that she's awake, eyeing him suspiciously. She isn't hugging her belly anymore. Her hands, clenched in fists, lie along her body.

"What is he doing here?" Her voice is hoarse and hostile. "Who the hell let him in?"

The doctor regards her with mild curiosity. "I thought you would appreciate a chance to sort it out with your boyfriend, Lehane."

Her eyes flash with open hatred. "He is not my boyfriend. I hardly know him."

"Sure. That's why he almost fainted when he heard about the assault." The doctor looks at his watch. The gesture is unequivocal. Xander knows he doesn't have much time.

"Um, Faith..."

She stares at the ceiling.

"Faith, there's something we have to do... Right now our friends are trying to find a way to get you out on parole. But if they fail... I want you to let me take our baby. To raise him while you're in prison." He feels utterly stupid because she's refusing to look at him. "All you have to do is to name me baby's father. I'll write down my full name, Alexander LaVelle Harris..."

Her laugh drips with contempt. "Doc, just look at this schmo. He thinks he's the father. He thinks he's the only body I screwed." She tries a cruel expression that fails once her lips wobble.

Xander blinks, fighting a tightness in his throat. "Faith..."

"Shut up. This," she points at her bulge as at a separate object, "has nothing to do with me. Just a temporary inconvenience. In a few days this thing comes out of me and I stop being a beached whale. And - it has nothing to do with you. Understood?"

He shakes his head. The lady doth protest too much.

The doctor gives them a quick glance. "There's a thing called DNA analysis. Pretty expensive, but I think I could organize an official request for a free test on behalf of..."

"You fucking sneaking faggot!" Faith screeches. Her outburst is so sudden that he flinches. She tries to lever herself up and winces in pain. "I'll tell everybody about you and your fuck buddy who's always lecturing me! I'll tell everybody what you two do in the staffroom! You'll get chucked out of here in under 24 hours!"

"Sorry to disappoint you, Lehane, but everybody knows," the doctor says coldly. "We’ve both worked here for 15 years. Do you really think nobody's noticed? Actually, they're happy to have somebody who can't be seduced by your charms." He smirks. "Of course, everybody pretends they're clueless, but that's the name of our game."

"Screw you," Faith says, resigned.

"You're not my style, Lehane. If you don't have any pity for yourself, at least spare the people who love you. Spare your child."

She snorts. "What do you think I'm doing, idiot? Somebody else takes the kid - it gets a chance for a normal life."

The doctor gives Xander the once-over. "Your boyfriend looks normal enough. A bit on a wimpy side..."

"Hey!" Xander protests feebly.

"...but, overall, a pretty good option. I'd take my chances on him." He sounds unexpectedly flirty. Xander blushes.

"I told you he's not my boyfriend," she says stubbornly. "It was just one quickie. Sometimes a girl just wants a release."

He knows she's provoking him but can't hold himself back. "A release, yeah. You wanted me to kill you in your seppuku-lite gig."

She barks a laugh. "There's reason why they call orgasm a little death, babe. But you were so lame that instead of sticking a knife in me, you managed to put this in." She pats her belly. "Who knew that lameness was an STD?"

No, he shouldn't let her provoke him. An insulting comeback dies on Xander's lips as he tries to remember all the speeches he rehearsed in the car.

"Listen, Faith. I'm not particularly strong, or smart, or whatever you want in a man, but right now I'm all you've got. I promise that our baby will have a normal, happy childhood. I will bring him up to be a good man..."

"Actually, it's a girl", the doctor puts in.

Faith looks at them with hostility. Xander feels the anger bleeding through her every word. "It never occurred to you why white knights only exist in fairy tales? Because in real life bad guys can take their children hostage. Or kill them. Do you really want to know how it feels?"

He drops his gaze, ashamed. Strangely, it hadn't occurred to him that her insults were aimed to protect him and the baby from her life. He thought she was hostile because she hated her dependent state - incarcerated, wounded, heavily pregnant. The revelation hits him hard. He thought he was screwed up, lying to his friends. But compared to Faith' monumental screw-up, his own problems seem ridiculous.

"You want to give our daughter to strangers to protect her."

"Children of inmates are adopted anonymously," the doctor explains. "Foster parents don't know whose child they're adopting."

"But... but we could organize, um, our own anonymity..." Xander looks back at the doctor. "Couldn't we?"

"You think the rest of the world is as stupid as you are?" Faith's voice is dull and bitter. "If you have a death wish, it's your problem, Harris. I won't be helping you. I have enough blood on my hands."

He notices that the doctor's sighing and looking at his watch. Ignoring him, he sits down on the edge of her bed and takes her hand.

"Faith. Listen. You don't have to go through this alone. We'll find a way to protect you and the baby."

She chuckles softly. "We?"

"Yes. Me and my friends."

"Your friends would dance on my grave and celebrate my death with fireworks."

He shakes his head. "You're wrong. Giles is already contacting the Co... our friends in London who want to help. Willow's helping too. She learned a lot of, um, useful stuff - you know, computers and all..."

Her eyes narrow as she listens closely. It occurs to him that she's mostly concerned about Buffy's reaction, so, after a brief hesitation he adds, "Buffy doesn't know yet, but she's a lot of problems, her mother was operated today - thankfully, the operation was successful, so... I'll tell her and I'm sure she'll be on our side." He can see that she's about to say something sarcastic about Buffy so he keeps talking, hastily. "Do you know who assaulted you? Have you recognized them?"

She shrugs and winces in pain. "Never saw them before, but it doesn't mean a thing. A lot of people and non-people in LA were annoyed with me."

He shoots a quick glance at the doctor and says matter-of-factly. "What do you know about the Levantine order?"

She is genuinely puzzled. "The what?"

He notices that the doctor's looking at him with renewed interest. Shit. "Um... the... the computer game, "The Levantine Order" - have you heard of it?"

He feels stupid. Like a fanboy playing a spy game.

She rolls her eyes. "No, Xander," she says. I have never heard of your stupid kiddie gameboy."

"But Diana Dormer did."

She tenses. "What she's got to do with this?"

"Diana did play this game. You know, the one with monks and apocalypses. Did you ever hear anything about it from her?"

The doctor's looking at him oddly. If he asked him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before granting custody, Xander wouldn't be surprised.

Faith thinks his words over. "She never talked about anything like that. And she would never..." Her voice trails off. "So," she says after a pause. "You think it's our friends in London who are behind it, after all?"

He hates to admit that he's absolutely clueless. "We'll find out," he murmurs.

The doctor looks at his watch again and Xander stands up.

"I'll be back soon," he promises. "Just remember - everything will be okay."

On his way back to Sunnydale he tries not to think about all the movies where such sort of promise turned out to be anything but.

Next: chapter 8 - In Which Xander Confronts Buffy… Sort Of

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December 2009


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