Gotta say, one of the more pleasant afternoons of my entire life.
TITLE: Right Hand Man
AUTHOR: kerkevik_2014 & written for red_satin_doll
CHARACTERS/SHIPS: Faith, OC (Ben Sisko), Faith/Tara by implication with mention of many others.
A/N: I debated moving the above notes down here, but they seem fine where they are. This is titled for the track immediately prior to Pensacola, but is very obviously set a considerable time later. The geekier among you will have no trouble figuring out who Ben Sisko is named for; maybe he's an ancestor, maybe not; maybe that descendant was named for him, who knows. Also I couldn't figure out, withing the context of a drabble, how to describe the image I had of Ben in my head. There he's very striking; just over six feet tall with natural red hair, but very proudly african-american other than, I like to imagine, a very irish ancestor persistently popping up in his family tree. In my head too is the knowledge that his decision to join the Navy is because of Alex Haley and his writing of Roots.
If you listen to the song this seems to bear little resemblance, but the image of the Faith the song might have been about and the Faith that we see here, and that I have in my head; hoping to present to you are marked by the end of a transitional period for her. That was Pensacola; this uses that and presents what is Faith in another period of transition.
He said something about the game, but she was just struck by a touch of grey in the bright red hair.
She remembered that smile on a much younger face.
Suddenly she realised Ben Sisko was grinning at her.
"Why you laughing at me Jock-strap?"
His face softened; the scar below his right eye reminding her of Rona and the way scars looked on her.
It also reminded of her that night in Florida; the night she knew it was time to be who she really was.
"I can't believe you came looking for me."
He frowned at that. "That's a very strange thing to say."
Faith looked out the Coffee Grinder window; imagining a life she could have had.
She found she couldn't.
There was an odd smile on her face, the newly-decorated naval officer commented.
"I was trying to imagine how it might have been..."
She stopped herself, wondering who this nervous; babbling girl of a romantic was who'd body-swapped with her.
Trying to cover herself, she reached out and touched, very gently, the Medal of Honor ribbon he was wearing.
"Thank you," she said in a croaky voice.
"Didn't take you for the patriotic type," he joked; ignoring why he'd won it, she looked into a pair of softly smiling eyes. He took her hand and kissed it.
"How did you find me anyway?"
He drank a little of his beer, relaxing back on his seat. "Colonel Finn came to the ceremony because of her."
Faith wondered to herself how it might have been to have seen Riley after so much time, but said nothing.
"She introduced us," Ben continued as Faith; wryly noting her own assumption, wondered how Sam had met her. "We talked; got seated together; she mentioned your name, and I got to remembering a certain night in my freshman year, when someone saved my life."
"She mentioned you," a wicked twinkle appeared on his face at Faith's discombobulation.
"Discom - huh?"
He shrugged; muttered something about not being really sure what it meant, repeating Faith's name had been mentioned; by Colonel Sam Finn; the President's daughter, and...
"Once or twice; maybe a dozen," he responded when she queried his words.
After a few moments Faith realised he was smiling over the top of his beer.
"Ok, Jock-strap, what is it this time?"
"You know I was married?"
She looked at him quizzically, she'd seen the pictures of the kids; met Thao after the Red Sox game in Philly; then she saw something in his expression that would have made her stand up, if he hadn't pressed her hands down.
"She likes you; like a lot," Faith tried not to look at him, but couldn't do it.
Where it came from she did - well she knew all right, it was just unexpected. "Worried you turned me queer?"
After a few moments of mutual shock; he finished his beer and stood up. "Walk?" He asked holding his arm out in the direction of Liberty Park. She nodded; paid the bill and followed him out the door. They strolled in silence to the park; across to the mounds of the Cahokia replica and watched some kids playing Soccer aways off, as the sun started to go down. From the corner of her eye she spotted two of the younger slayer not keeping an eye on them for their parents.
She made a note to mention that she shouldn't have been able to spot them so easily.
"I wondered what our kids might have been like as well." Faith looked up, slightly embarrassed at how easily he was able to read her. Phenomenal since it had been years since his wife had been killed; longer since she'd thought of him; them, and this was, what? the third time they'd met.
She couldn't figure out why she seemed so unable to speak. "Have you told her?"
"What? Told... told her what?"
He chuckled; bent down to pick up a stick, and threw it for a dog that had taken it back to the wrong human. "My mother said the same thing to me when I was trying to figure out why I couldn't stop talking about Nhung Ngu."
Faith couldn't think of a thing to say.
"You miss her?" She nodded. "Can't wait for her to get back from DC?" She shook her head. "Wonder what you'll do when she does get back?"
"You miss her?" She turned it back on him. He looked softly back into her eyes. "Every moment of every day; I talk to her every night about my day; what Thao's done; what the kids have done?"
"Everything?" She queried, suddenly finding a wicked smile from somewhere deep.
He laughed; much like he had after they'd fought the vamps on that beach in Florida all those years back. "Ooh yeah! Can't imagine a more effective deterrent than the thought of their mom greeting them at the Pearly Gates."
Faith laughed; wondering somewhere inside her what it would have been like having a family. Her glance wandered to the two slayers being relieved by others; one she knew as the mom of one of the kids playing Soccer. She thought of the Carpenter; G-Man; Angel and Wesley - even Andrew and their nights playing strategy games, at which he, very annoyingly, allowed her to win occasionally.
She thought of Dawn; Lisa and their kid, for whom she was a very shady influence of an aunt. She thought of the grudging respect she'd gained for Rona and Vi; Chao-Ahn and all the Slayers she'd trained and fought besides.
"I have a family," she whispered wonderingly. She looked at him and saw a speculative look on her face.
"I just never thought..."
"You'd feel that way about a woman? So what?"
"How do you know?"
He held his hands up. "You have to figure that out yourself?"
She was about to query that when he added, with a wry grin, "My mom told me," adding again, after a brief chuckle, "Thao says his mom was getting ready to use a Louisville Slugger on me and drag me off to a church!"
Faith decided she liked his wife. "Will we see each other again?"
"Plenty I should imagine, since Colonel Finn recruited me, with some nudging from Professor Maclay."
"Tara?" Filing that away another thought bothered Faith. "Her..? I mean, your wife?"
Ben shook his head. "They've been keeping an eye on me for a long time; ever since college; ever since..."
Faith looked puzzled. After a few moments of contemplation, he told her, "They like their senior officers to have a lot of life experience behind them. Colonel Finn was asked to the ceremony to talk with the President about setting up a Navy unit. I'm to command it. Getting promoted to Commander; furloughed to New Orleans, which I don't mind as all my sisters still live down there; where I'll be secretly promoted to Captain, and put in charge of setting up the command for the entire Gulf and Caribbean."
Faith couldn't help but be impressed, but the concern must have still been on her face.
"Vamps were responsible for her death, but you, and that night, made it a foregone concluson that I'd get involved eventually."
He touched the spot of grey in his hair. "The kids will be leaving school soon; maybe college. Our youngest will; well she'll be going into the Navy or I'll become a white man!"
They grinned and started walking, at her suggestion, over to Slayer Central, so she could introduce him around.
"Meet the boss too if she's home?"
Faith nodded, not bothering to point out that Buffy was rarely not at home though Xander was in town, so they might be having a night off.
She started talking about Sunnydale, and her first meeting with Tara; which she figured might be wise before he met Buffy.
If she was home.
And before, she realised, she went home to call Tara in DC.
To check when she should get to the airport to pick her up, of course.
"I've still got those panties if you ever want them back, you know."
She did think about breaking his shin when she kicked him.
Goddess watch over us all,