Chapter 6 - In Which Willow Proves That Lies By Omission Are The Most Effective Ones
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 lusciousxander and 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
Giles is truly concerned. Shocked, even. Xander watches him closely, but Giles' reaction seems genuine. He immediately calls Los-Angeles but gets no answer. He leaves a voice mail: "This is Rupert Giles, please call me in the Magic Box," and hangs up. "There is nobody there. Last time I talked to Wesley he told me that Angel was closing his business, so..."
Xander can see that Giles' initial shock is turning into his usual "research the threat, find the threat's soft spot, deal with the threat" attitude.
"Does Buffy know?" Giles asks.
"She knows that Faith is pregnant, but she doesn't know about the assault yet," Willow replies. "I just found out and haven't had time to tell her."
"Wait. How did you find out about it? How did you find out about Faith in the first place?"
Here we go. Xander knows that once Giles starts asking questions, he's busted.
Willow grins. "Internet Explorer has a "history" option. Press "control" and click "H". The program displays the pages that you've been looking at."
Giles looks so embarrassed that Xander pities him.
"Once I found out about the assault, I asked Xander help me to investigate," Willow continues smoothly. "He went there and told the guards that he was the father of Faith's baby. They believed him and told him a pretty interesting story..."
Xander is squirming under Giles’ inquisitive gaze. Willow's lies are too close to the truth, and he's getting uncomfortable listening to them. He knows that lying by omission is more effective than just making things up, but everything inside him revolts against the way Willow is weaving her story.
Giles shakes his head disapprovingly. "Do you understand how risky it was? What if the real father had already visited her? What if they remembered his face?"
"Well, I was lucky, wasn't I?" Xander snaps. "I found out that the only person who had visited her was Wesley. But she refused to see him. I also found out that the guys who assaulted her last night were demons."
"Demons. I can't believe how imprudent you've been. But why didn't you tell me that you were going to visit Faith? We could have gone there together, it would have been less risky."
"I asked him not to," Willow says without batting an eye.
"What?" Giles exclaims. Xander is momentarily forgotten.
"I asked him not to tell anybody," Willow says calmly. "I couldn't dismiss the possibility that it was the Council who did it."
Giles is bewildered. "But why did you investigate it in the first place? The less we meddle with the Council's business the better."
Xander can see that Willow's mind is racing. "I'll tell you everything," she says slowly. "But first I need to know one thing: have you told the Council about Faith's baby? Please, Giles. It's very important."
Giles shakes his head. "No. I didn't."
"Have you told Wesley?" Xander asks.
"I have tried to reach Wesley two days in a row, but their phone is dead, as you might have noticed. And now that I've answered your very important question, could you please, explain what is happening here? Why have you started a dangerous investigation on your own, Willow?"
Xander's heart sinks.
"Because you asked me to," Willow says.
"I did no such thing!"
"You asked me to work with the Levantine scrolls."
"I asked you to decode them, not to..." Giles is clearly confused. "Wait. How are the scrolls related to Faith's pregnancy?"
Willow looks Giles in the eye.
"I don't know exactly," she says slowly. "But they are related. One of the scrolls has a list of recently fallen Levantine warriors who took part in the prevention of an apocalypse. One of them was a woman. A British woman. Her name was Diana Dormer."
Willow falls silent. Apparently she thinks it's a good explanation. Apparently, Giles doesn't think so. He frowns and looks at Willow questioningly.
"She was Faith's first watcher," she explains. "She was killed by Kakistos in 1998."
It takes Giles several seconds to digest the news. He looks worried. "I hope you didn't try to hack into the Council's site. Their firewall spells could burn you alive."
"No, I didn't," Willow says and Giles sighs in relief. "But I think it wasn't a coincidence that one of these monks came here and was killed. I think he wanted to warn us about something. Something very important."
Giles rubs the bridge of his nose. Xander can see that he's hesitating.
"Maybe," Giles says finally. "Maybe the monk knew something. Maybe it was connected to the Faith situation. But you're wrong about The Council. They aren't interested in killing Faith. I know that much."
"Corporate solidarity," Xander murmurs.
Giles glares at him. "I can assure you that you're wrong. The Council were trying to cooperate with Faith before she gave herself up to the police. As soon as she started slaying in Los-Angeles, the Council's stock started rising so quickly that they figured out they'd better take her back. They tried to contact her, but she avoided them, so they were following her activities from a distance and trying to find a way to..."
Xander is so shocked he can't speak. His heart is suddenly pounding so loudly that he's scared everyone will notice. So, Faith followed his advice, after all?
"Wait-wait-wait," Willow murmurs. "How come we didn't know about it? Why didn't you tell us, Giles?"
"I only found out today. Faith didn't advertise her activities and The Council has classified her file. I had to use my old contacts..."
Giles tells them about an old friend of his, a watcher who "wrote a thesis on our mutual acquaintance". Xander doesn't even think about the weirdness of Giles' contact; he's putting too much effort into keeping a poker face.
"Lydia told me that the first reports of a girl slaying vampires and demons in Los-Angeles started to come at the beginning of spring," Giles continues. "Initially nobody in the Council paid serious attention to them. Then she killed archduke Sebassis who was considered unkillable. Officially he died from a stroke, but every demon in LA knew who gave him that stroke. The Association of Non-Human Species and The Fellowship of Differently Animated Plasmavores sent ambassadors to London and offered the Council a truce and their cooperation. Travers started negotiations with them and ordered his operatives to find Faith and offer her the Council's forgiveness. Several days later his people ended up in hospital. Apparently Faith told them she was fed up with the Council and the only way to make it right was to work alone..."
Xander turns away. If only he'd known. He would have gone to Los-Angeles, found her, helped her... If he'd only known.
Thankfully, Giles isn't paying much attention to him. "...as you see, Faith has got a lot of enemies here in California - enemies who would be happy to see her dead. The last big player she killed before giving herself up to the police was one Cyvus Vail, a powerful wizard who had quite a number of connections and minions..."
Xander straightens his shoulders and takes a deep breath. "We have to help her." Saying it aloud feels like diving in cold water. It's refreshing.
Giles shakes his head. "I don't think she'll agree to accept our help. Like I said, the Council..."
But Willow has already put her resolve face on. "We have to try, Giles."
"I'll go see her tomorrow," Xander hears himself saying. "Her doctor promised to let me see her. I have more chance of convincing her than the Council's men."
Giles studies him closely. "You do care about her."
"Of course we care," Willow says hastily. "We don't know anything about that conspiracy against her. We have to find out more about it. It could be really dangerous. Um, Giles - there is something else I have to tell you about the scrolls. I did a revealing spell to decode them..."
Giles frowns. His displeasure with Willow's magic abuse is written on his face, but he is too tired and overwhelmed with the news to give her a good talking-to. So, after a requisite warning about danger of strong spells Giles says he will try to contact Travers and talk to him about their chances of getting Faith out of jail - but, of course, the chances are slim. They also agree that tomorrow Willow will bring Buffy up to date and Xander will visit Faith and try to find out more about the assault.
"...You were brilliant," Xander says to Willow as they walk to her dorm. "You saved my sorry ass."
Willow sighs. "I hate lying. I don't know what happened to me today. I wouldn't do it if it weren't for you." She elbows him. "It's all your fault."
Obviously he's looking totally miserable, because she chuckles and hugs him. "I'm kidding, dummy."
"I'm a coward. Okay, maybe I shouldn't tell Giles, until we know for sure that The Council isn't involved. But I should have told Anya. Except I'm so terrified I can't make myself call her. And now I'm dragging you into this mess."
"Don't blame yourself for what I did. After all, I didn't lie. I said you said you're the father of Faith's baby. I just didn't say it was the truth."
"Uh-huh." He forces a wry smile. "And that Diana what's-her-name? Great idea."
Willow tenses. "Um, Xan... I didn't have time to tell you before we talked to Giles. I wanted to - honest! - but you've got me distracted..."
A pang of fear slowly uncoils in the pit of his stomach. "Willow. What is it?"
"I didn't make it up. The name of Faith's first watcher is there in the scrolls. Diana Dormer was a member of the Levantine order."
Next: chapter 7 - In Which Our Heroes Finally Meet