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- the workings of an easily distracted fangirl

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Fic: Paths Crossed - Chapter Four
xover//dean/faith weapons - me
whiskyinmind wrote in fandomsbitca
Faith watched as the door swung closed and replayed the little encounter in her head. It definitely hadn’t gone the way she had expected. She'd just been out for a little distraction tonight after a long day and had figured he looked the kind of guy who might be up for it. She got the impression that normally he would have been, but somehow, when she watched him with the older guy – who she had to admit she had almost made a move on before Dean had shown up – his focus seemed to narrow. Something about that felt familiar to her. Familiar enough that she'd actually felt a flash of jealousy when she'd seen the cutie behind the fake bar giving him the eye.

So she'd had a word, and yeah, so it was a little mean of her, but hell – no one had ever accused Faith Lehane of being a saint.

The salute the older guy had given her – and the twinkle in his eye – had almost been worth the price of admission alone and she'd found herself grinning and acknowledging the salute as if they were co-conspirators. Even from across the room she'd felt like part of something huge, something she'd only ever seen from the outside.


And wasn't that just a joke? Every time Faith had screwed up in her life – and god knew that she had screwed up royally on multiple occasions – it had been because she'd felt on the outside. She was past that, she had a family of sorts now. Okay so she got a little uncomfortable if she stayed with them for any length of time, but wasn't that what family was all about? What was the old saying – the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

No, her 'family' were all there for her – and for each other – when they were needed. All she had to do was call them. She didn't need to be jealous of two guys in a random bar in New Orleans. Knowing that and believing it were two different things though, and right now she just felt incredibly and undeniably lonely.

So she'd planned to hit on the younger of the two; to use him to prove to herself that human nature was the same everywhere, and maybe to relieve some of the tension today had built up in her. Years ago, when she'd first been trying to make an impression, she'd been overtly sexual, confrontational, but the truth was that her daily activities really did get her wound up until she was ready to pop. It was still true to an extent, although ten years down the line she was a little less blatant about it all.

Time and tide had taught her a few home truths – and a good man had helped along the way. She smiled a little as she thought about the time she'd spent as part of a couple. Robin had been good to her, good for her, but ultimately they just didn't work together. He used to call her a wild rover, like it was some kind of pet name or something. Later, when things had begun to fall apart, it had been thrown at her as an insult. Of course she'd had a few choice words of her own to hurl at him – dating a High School principal had done wonders for her vocabulary anyway – and when they'd finally admitted what everyone else already apparently knew and broke up, he'd told her that he'd felt guilty for holding her back, for keeping her chained down. A couple of weeks after that, she'd hit the road and never really looked back. They still talked, now and then, and things were okay now. He was engaged now, to a trainee watcher, which had surprised Faith a little – maybe she'd cured him of his Slayer kink.

On the road she was in her element. She'd taken on the role of mobile trouble-shooter; one of the team of researchers would give her the heads up about a situation and she'd be one of the first on the spot to check it out. It was a little uncanny how she would always tend to be near the trouble spot before it flared up but, after so long in this gig, she was no longer surprised by anything that seemed out of the norm.

Normality was just a state of mind after all.

But tonight, in this place, with all these people around, she had surprised herself. She was acting out of the norm and she had no explanation for it at all. Her plan to ease the tension was pretty much blown out of the water as soon as she actually spoke to Dean, it was comfortable, like they were old friends even before she knew his name. Hell, it was almost like a regular conversation with Xander of all people.

But Dean wasn't an old friend, someone she'd known – in more ways than one – for a decade now, he was someone completely new and there was no way he should have been able to find and push the button in her that moved him from potential one night stand to friend. But he had, and it was freaking her out more than just a little.

Was there some kind of mojo involved? It would make sense after all – but he'd actually seemed as clueless as she currently felt. And then there was that whole deal with the folder as well, he'd clearly been pissed at himself for leaving it behind and she got the impression that he was definitely not used to making such a mundane mistake. When she saw how freaked out he'd gotten she had been kicking herself for not taking a look at it before giving it over – but that had seemed like such an unforgivable invasion of privacy that there was no way she would do that…

She stopped that train of thought dead in its tracks. Of course she would do that. Inappropriate invasions of privacy where pretty much what she was all about for the most part. Someone – or something – was screwing with her. And, from his reaction and the confusion he had been trying not to show, Dean had been affected too.

Faith finished off her beer and headed out into the night, pulling the cell phone out of her back pocket as she went. Five minutes later, and having tried very nearly all the numbers in her contact list, she finally managed to get through to someone.

"Will, just the witch I wanted to talk to." She grinned as she spoke, not exactly the case but how was Willow to know that? "So I'm down here in New Orleans and someone's fucking with my mind. Looks like they're screwing with the phones as well - I couldn't get through to Giles. Feel like taking a look into what kind of mojo that would take and who I can beat up to stop it?"
She listened for a minute, "Hey Red, that's some mouth you're getting on you!" Faith paused as a thought dawned on her. "There aren’t any Council operatives in the city right now are there? Name of Dean? Goes about with an older guy – didn't catch his name."
She doubted it, but it had been a while since the days when the entire Council had been made up of the few who had made it out of Sunnydale.
"No? Okay then, nah, it's not important…" She rolled her eyes. "Yes he is kinda cute, but…"
She laughed. "Sorry Willow, the line's breaking up, got to go. Give me a shout if you think of anything that might be messing with my brain."

Faith flipped the cell phone closed, disconnecting the call before Willow could say anything more, and bit her lip. So this Dean guy wasn't an operative for the Council – chances were good he was just an ordinary guy and this whole vibe she was getting from him was just a side effect of whatever was screwing with her.

But then… when she'd seen the vamp earlier, when she'd been about to hunt that bloodsucker down, he'd been right there beside her, poised and ready for the fight even though he hadn't seen anything amiss. Those weren't the actions of an ordinary guy; that was what she would have expected from an operative.

She shook her head, he was out of sight now anyway – all the time she'd spent debating whether to follow him had meant she'd missed that particular opportunity. Of course… she glanced down at the slip of paper she still had in her hand. It could be a fake number, but somehow she doubted it. He didn't look the type to give out his number at all; he looked more the type who would collect them instead. She flipped open her cell again and debated calling him to hash this out but thought better of it. She had a vamp to slay; she'd call him once that was done.

As she punched the number into the phone's contact list, she wondered why she hadn’t just thrown it away. What was it about this guy that made her so sure she would call? And that also made her sure the number wasn't a fake?

Even in the dark of night the house seemed to glow with an almost eerie light. Eldritch, Julian thought the word was, he didn't know why he'd come here, he was pretty sure he'd been heading for home and then…

Random memories flashed in front of his eyes – a little bit like someone had spliced in random frames of a horror movie into a an episode of The O.C. Not that he watched The O.C. or anything like that; it was just that his mom liked it. Yeah, that was a pretty good explanation – it was just that he couldn't get away from it while his Mom watched it. It had nothing to do with him; he was just a victim of circumstance.

He did wonder briefly just who he was trying to convince with his little mental tirade. He didn't normally think about this kind of thing but for some reason since he'd woken up alone in the basement, he had been thinking more clearly than he ever recalled doing before. Even if his memory wasn't up to much.

The clearest memory he had was the aching hunger and the almost irresistible urge to beat the cocky expression right off the face of that do-gooder who'd been standing in the street. Julian tried to follow that memory through – he had always tried to avoid violence in the past, mostly because he knew he'd be beaten to within an inch of his life if he'd gotten himself involved in a fight of any kind; so the thought that his automatic reaction in this case had been to go to the violent-son-of-a-bitch place seemed a little alien to him.

He remembered the guy opening the door of that bar and walking in, he remembered being about to follow him in and then…


Except… eyes. Someone had been watching him, had seen something about him that he didn't recognize about himself, and had hated him for it.

The next thing he remembered was standing in front of this house thinking about how odd it was glowing in the darkness and wondering how he'd gotten here and why. He was a couple of blocks from home. He knew this house, it was QRB's. Anne Marie's. His mom had envied it and tried everything she could to make their place have a fraction of the elegance she saw in this place.

Looking at in the pre-dawn light though, all Julian could see was how unbelievably old it was and how… strange.

Something was wrong with the house – despite the glow, a sickening darkness seemed to be coming from it in waves. Even over the smell of blocked drains that he'd grown used to but which still dominated the whole city, he could smell something decaying. Rotting.

It was the same stench he'd noticed in his own house and he couldn't help the grin as he realized that finally his Mom's place had something in common with here even if she didn't know it.

The stench should be driving him away – he knew that – but he was drawn to the house by something he couldn't explain.

Without quite understanding why, and without feeling in control of his own body, Julian pushed open the gate and walked up the drive to where Anne Marie Benoit was standing beside the open door with a foreboding smile on her face.

He figured there was no real point in looking for a motel or anything like that, not unless he wanted to drive out of the city and come back in the morning. Right now Dean just didn't feel up to that. He needed time to sort things out, get the hunt over with and then get the hell out of New Orleans and maybe, between them, he and John could figure out just what it was that had been screwing with his head.

Dean headed back towards the street he'd identified as being the focus of the whole thing and parked a couple of blocks down from the house. He thought he saw movement at the door as he pulled up, but after watching for a minute or two he saw nothing more so he figured maybe he was just being ultra paranoid.

He sat back, welcoming the familiar creak of his jacket against the seat back – at least some things were normal in this whole screwed up situation – and picked up the manila folder from where he'd tossed it on the passenger seat. The torn-off corner brought a wistful little smile to his face and yet again he found himself getting distracted in thoughts of pretty brown eyes and a sweet dimpled smile changing into a wicked-as-all-get-out grin in a heartbeat.

Dean gave himself a mental shake and opened the folder.

Anne Marie Benoit, daughter of Marie Benoit, granddaughter of Marianne Benoit and great-granddaughter of the first Anne Marie Benoit. Not a lot of originality when it came to naming the girls in the family, he thought, wondering a little at the way they all kept the same family name. Still, it was New Orleans, not quite the hotbed of sinful and depravity a lot of the folks out in the Bible Belt thought it was, but the reputation was there for a reason.

Whatever their marital status, all of these women had lived in this house their whole lives and all of them had been voodoo priestesses. Including the current occupant.

He leafed through the file, Anne Marie was apparently a model citizen, on any number of committees and charity groups, president of some country club association, volunteer at fundraising events for select charities and general pillar of society – he was pretty sure he would have loathed her even if it weren't for the whole dabbling in dark forces thing. That was just the icing on the cake.

In a way, he figured her whole all-round good sort act was a natural (if such a thing could ever be seen as natural) extension of her messing with voodoo. All those book groups and committees would just gave her all the more opportunity to dabble in other people's lives, to control them.

He sat upright and had to physically stop himself from smacking himself on the head.

Controlling other people. Controlling what they did and thought. How could he have been so stupid? Of course the whole fuzzy thinking thing was down to that – any idiot should have been able to see that.

Except of course for him, oh no, Dean Winchester was apparently the special kind of idiot who couldn’t see what was going on right in front of him.

He shook his head again and forced himself to think clearly. Knowing that Ann Marie was trying to cloud his thoughts – and presumably his judgment – was all well and good but it didn't actually help in any tangible way.

He checked his research, he had all this down in black and white; he knew this. The only way to stop her would be to destroy the talismans, or was it talismen? How the hell was that pluralized? Where did the word come from anyway?

He took another deep breath as he realized he was getting himself distracted again and focused on the words scrawled in his own – somewhat messy – handwriting. Destroying the talismans should do it, provided he could find them all and provided she didn't have anything extreme in the way of protection standing between him and them.

He knew that zombies as the shambling brain-eating undead were pretty much fantasy and only really seen in George Romero movies; but zombies as normal people acting under the control of a priest or priestess? They were real enough, and with the city being the way it was right now there could be any number of them in that building right now and no one would know. Too many people were still on the missing lists, too many victims of a hurricane, who could have been manipulated by this vindictive bitch into doing whatever she wanted them to do.

Hell, for all he knew Faith could be one of them.

Dean didn't think so but he knew he had no grounds for that belief other than his gut instinct and, while Anne Marie was still fucking with his mind, he didn't even trust his own instincts about himself, never mind some random stranger he'd met in a bar.

He didn't quite know what weapons would work against what someone like Anne Marie could throw at him, so he took whatever he could carry from the trunk plus the .45 tucked into his belt and the knives he had dotted about in strategic – and hopefully easily accessible - places. He let the trunk drop closed, killing the impulse to slam it – not because he thought the noise would give him away, she probably knew he was here already, but because there was no way he would take his frustration with himself out on his pride and joy.

Dean strode purposefully towards the house, if he kept his mind on the hunt then just maybe he could keep her out of his head and he could get the job done.

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