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- the workings of an easily distracted fangirl

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Fic: Paths Crossed - Chapter Five
xover//dean/faith weapons - me
whiskyinmind wrote in fandomsbitca

Tracking a vampire was usually easier than this, but she had no idea who she was tracking. Faith had only seen him for a split second as the door had closed behind Dean and all she had had time to register was that he was young, male and a vampire.

The fact that he was nowhere in sight when she'd reached the street made her think he'd seen her for what she was, if not who – she didn't need the kind of recognition some of the newer Slayers seemed to, she much preferred keeping to the shadows unrecognized until she was needed. Having her name bandied about just didn't feel right. Probably had something to do with the fact that she had been skipping out on outstanding arrest warrants for most of her adult life, now she thought about it.

The bar and its patrons would seem to have been the perfect one-stop shop for any self-respecting vamp – all he'd have to do is wait in the shadows outside and pick people off as they left. It was still dark, Faith checked her watch, not even three in the morning yet, so there was no other reason this particular vamp should have left unless he either had something better to do or had recognized her as a threat.

The last thing she needed right now was to walk into a freaking vamp orgy when her mind was so unfocused. This whole damn town was getting to her – the destruction all around was horrific but the realist in her knew that the chaos and uncertainty made this place as much of a magnet for those beings that preyed on humanity as any Hellmouth they had ever identified.

Hell, that was the reason she was here after all – following a vamp who had come here thinking it would be easy meals. She had followed him to this neighborhood but had lost him for a couple of days whilst the hurricane passed through – she'd spent all her time helping out wherever and however she could. No one pointed out that a girl her size and age should not be able to drag a fallen tree out of the way of what little traffic there was, and for the first time in a very long time she actually felt good about being able to help people.

People thanked her; they spoke to her. Normally the only people she got to speak to while she worked weren't exactly people and they tended to be more into throwing insults in her general direction right up to the point she would drive a sharpened piece of wood through their undead hearts and putting a stop to their pathetic tirades.

Being here though, she kinda liked that feeling of being a part of something.

Faith rolled her eyes – there she went again, she was part of something, hell she'd spoken to Willow a few minutes ago and had actually been joking with the woman who had grown up from being the wannabe-Wiccan against whose throat Faith had once held a knife fully intending to kill her outright. The fact that she and Willow were almost friends now? Blew her away every time she thought about it, and only went to prove how much a part of something she was. Only family forgave that kind of thing.

As if on cue, her cell phone vibrated against her hip bone, she always kept it on silent in case it went off an inopportune moments and she always managed to make Dawn flush scarlet when she talked about how to pick a phone based on the strength of the vibrate function alone. She grinned at the thought of the younger Summers' – and the soon to be Mrs. Robin Wood's – blushes, and fished the phone out of her pocket. She checked the caller display and laughed as she flipped it open.
"Okay Willow, you're starting to get freakily good at that whole mind-read-y thing. What, you're still in Cleveland right? That's got to be a distance record right there."
She stopped and frowned as the other woman spoke urgently.
"Right. I'm in New Orleans." She confirmed and listened a little more before barking out a short laugh. "No way – voodoo? Really?" She sobered a second later. "Yeah, I know, sorry, not funny. It's just… really? You think someone casting some voodoo mojo and screwing up my head? Why?" Although now she came to think of it, her mind was actually pretty clear and had been since she left the bar… "Dean." She said out loud. "Sorry, that guy I mentioned earlier – could it have been him?" That didn't make sense, even as she asked the question she knew it wasn't the right question to ask but she was close. She could almost taste the answer in the air.

Off in the distance she heard a creak and then a thud that sounded like a car door closing. She started running in the direction the sound came from. "Willow, I gotta go – what do I do if I find whoever's doing this whole voodoo thing?" She cocked her head to one side. "Uh… Okay, talismans. Break 'em. Got it. I'll call you back."

Faith flipped the phone shut again and broke into a sprint as she spotted a sleek black car parked out on the street and a figure heading in through the front door of a house that reeked of evil at the far end of the street. From what she could see the guy was pretty heavily armed – she could make out a shotgun in one hand, a wicked sharp looking blade in the other and she could see from the way he was walking that he had another knife tucked into his right boot along with something that was snagging the dark leather jacket at the small of his back. She hoped for his sake he wasn't stupid enough to have a handgun in there.

She must be seeing things, she figured, because that figure looked for all the world like Dean.

Julian looked round at the living room and thought again that his mom really wouldn't have wanted to model her home on Anne Marie's if she had ever actually had the chance to see the place like this. It was nothing more than a wooden shack with a couple of rooms filled with dark unknowable things hidden in dark corners.

The woman he had always thought of as the Queen Rich Bitch was standing before him looking vastly different – she was wearing a long intricate necklace which seemed to be made mostly of bone – and it looked, even to his untrained eye, like the bones were human – and she had a freaky looking headdress full of feathers on her head. Her hair was loose for the first time he ever remembered seeing it and was blacker than coal dust. She had steaks of some red paint-like thing across her face – at least he hoped it was paint because the thought that it might be blood was making his stomach growl for some sick and twisted reason that he didn't want to think about right at that moment – but the most freaky thing about her right now was her eyes. They were black. Not just that really dark brown color some people thought of as black, and not just the irises either – or whatever the colored part of the eye was called.

Black as night.

How come no one had ever seen her for what she was? Or this house, for that matter?

He shuddered as Anne Marie turned that gaze on him and grinned wickedly.

"Your momma saw nothing more than what I wanted to see, chil" Her voice was almost like a sibilant growl – if such a sound were possible. "This is my home, only those as have permission gets to see it as it is. In its true form if you want."

"And I have…" Julian heard his voice crack in the middle of the word and cleared his throat before starting again. "And I have permission? How? Why? Who are you? Really?"
"All those questions, chil', and still you ain't asking the right one." She was suddenly in his face, leering at him. "Right question you should be asking right 'bout now is this – who are you?"

He blinked and leaned back trying to get away from those strange all-black orbs which seemed to be seeing right inside him and scouring him clean from the inside. "Wha'?" He managed to say before she suddenly reached down and grabbed one of the rats that was milling around her feet.

She held it up between them and grinned again – showing all her teeth – as she grasped its neck and twisted, tearing its head clean off its body. Julian shuddered again and felt the headache start again from the center of his forehead. The hunger pangs were suddenly back and to his disgust he found himself staring fixedly at the corpse of the rodent she was holding out to him. "Take it chil', it's what you want. Take it."

He lunged forward, tearing it from her outstretched hand and felt his brain try to switch off as he brought the vermin riddled thing to his mouth and tore his teeth into it.

"No." Her voice cut into his mental retreat and he stared at her in horror – both at himself for what he was doing, and at her for stopping him switching it off. "Look at what you is doin' chil'. Look at what you is."

She circled him slowly, stopping behind him and breathing into his ear. "You is a vampire, and you is mine."

As she said the word 'vampire', Julian felt the flood of memories start and he knew in his sinking, unbeating heart, that she was telling him the truth.

He was a vampire.

He was eating a dead rat in the front room of the house of the woman who his mother had idolized – and Anne Marie was telling him she was his… what, his mistress? Damn that sounded hideously kinky, especially since the sight of her was revolting him more so than the rapidly cooling rat blood pooling on the floor at his feet.

Julian Masters let his head drop back, opened his mouth and cried out in utter anguish. Anne Marie capered around him like some kind of demented wood nymph on acid and cackled with laughter.

Dean pushed the front door open carefully, pulling down the dangling chicken feet as he did so – they probably weren't the talismans but it would definitely not hurt to be rid of them even so.

He could hear odd voices from inside the house but there was something else, something… he shook his head, trying to clear it. The fuzzyness was back and stronger than ever. He closed his eyes for a moment, blocking out the sight of the ultimate in suburban housewife's fantasies – or at least what he'd always thought was the whole fantasy thing right up until he'd caught an episode of that show Desperate Housewives – that had been an education in more ways than one. One of the major things he'd learned was that John Winchester apparently watched trashy television. Dean was planning on seeing if he could get the DVD box set of Sex In The City for his father's birthday as a joke. Of course John might actually *like* that show in which case Dean would just have to accept that hell had indeed frozen over and embrace the pain...

He was getting distracted again, no – worse than that – he was letting himself get distracted.

Dean forced his eyes open and blinked rapidly; the hallway had changed. What had been a bright airy entrance now had the dank fetid smell of a swamp. The walls were flickering with some kind of glowing green lichen… thing and the floor felt like moss under his feet. He passed a hand over his eyes and suddenly the magnolia walls with their tastefully bland Modern Art pieces were back.

He allowed himself a tight smile. Definitely in the right place then.

An inhuman screech came from somewhere nearby, freezing Dean to the spot as it felt like his spine was fusing together into a block of ice. There was another sound there as well – was that laughter? He shivered a little as the icy fingers again danced their way up and down his spine. God, he was getting melodramatic again. The sooner this whole thing was done the better – and the next time John asked if he wanted him to stick around to see the hunt through to the end, Dean was definitely going to be saying 'hell yeah' and damn the consequences.

Suddenly the noise stopped and the silence seemed to echo and bounce around the chameleon-like hall.

There was a creak of footsteps from somewhere deep inside the house and Dean was moving on automatic. At a dead run he reached the door just as it began to open and threw himself as quietly and as he could manage against the wall behind it.

A wave of malevolence seemed to seep out of the room and the dank fetid swamp smell was back all of a sudden. He held his breath as a hand appeared around the edge of the door and the woman – Anne Marie Benoit he guessed – looked out into the hall.

She didn't venture any further out and he found himself praying silently to any gods who might be listening that she would give him no reason to kill her. From all the research he'd done there was no indication that she was anything other than human and there was something deeply disturbing him at the thought of ending the life of a person – no matter what she had done – but if it was done in self defense, or if he were protecting someone else, then that would be different. He wouldn't have to add murder to the list of things he was ashamed of having done in his life.

It sounded good in his head, but he was honest enough to admit it wouldn't be that way - it would just be one more thing that kept him awake at nights.

The hand withdrew and the door creaked closed again. He let out the breath he hadn't even know he'd been holding and eased away from his hiding place. Knowing he probably couldn't trust anything he could see didn't stop the need for knowing where he was, so he scoped out his surroundings as quietly and as quickly as possible – keeping all of his senses on full alert for any movement or sound from within the house.

There had definitely been two voices earlier. Someone had been screaming and someone else had been laughing at them; so that meant there was an additional threat right there. Dean was starting to think this whole situation sucked out loud – he had no clear idea of how many people were here, no concept of how many rooms there were or how he was going to even find the talismans in this maze, never mind destroy them.

It didn't matter, all he had to do was to stop letting himself get so damn distracted and stressed about this whole thing and just get on with it.

He reached the stairwell without encountering any more challenges and poked his head around quickly. He didn't really want to go up there, but overtaking that was the fact that he really didn't want any nasty surprises to come down and trap him.

Besides, he reasoned, heading up there would take him deeper into the house, further from the outside world and therefore more likely to be the hiding place of wherever Anne Marie was keeping her altar.

He knew the fact that Anne Marie was in the room he had just bypassed meant that it was most likely where she kept her altar, but he told himself he was covering all the bases here. And doing that meant checking out every room in the house.

He held the shotgun out ready as he took a tentative step onto the first stair tread. He might doubt himself and his judgment – and right now he was seriously starting to doubt not only that, but also his courage; which was making a tiny voice inside his head that he recognized as a combination of his own and his kid brother's mock him mercilessly – but he could have the utmost faith in his weapons.

The front door of the house creaked open behind him and he spun, shotgun aiming automatically and only just managed to stop himself from firing.

"Faith?" he said, not quite sure whether he could trust what he was seeing.

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