Pairing: Faith/Pyro (crossover with Angel)
Disclaimer: None of the characters mentioned herein are mine.
Notes: Spoilers for X2 and early Angel episodes that everybody's probably seen already. Title courtesy of dangermouse42. Apparently, it means "the phase between the early stage and the fully developed stage of a fire, where the radiant heat can become so intense that all combustible materials in the room ignite". Seemed suitable, somehow.
It was a Saturday night in Los Angeles, and Faith was out for a bit of fun. She’d just accepted a contract with Wolfram and Hart to do something she’d wanted to do for years, namely kill Angel, and they were paying her handsomely besides. So she had money in her pocket for a night on the town, and she intended to use it. She had a drink in her hand, plenty more to come, and a nice comfortable bar to sit in for as long as she wanted. She just needed one more thing… a nice bit of salty goodness to share her good fortune with.
Ah… now he’d do just fine. The cute young guy in the corner, playing with his lighter, looked like exactly her type.
This wasn’t exactly what Pyro had expected when he’d signed up to join Magneto’s crew. What kind of a dumb name was “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”, anyway? He’d have expected a man with Magneto’s intelligence to come up with something better than that. Of course, maybe he was just pandering to the others. Toad and Sabretooth weren’t exactly the brightest of sparks, and they probably thought the name was the smartest thing they’d ever heard.
But he was getting sidetracked. He’d thought they’d be doing something direct to help the cause of mutant freedom. Not like the Professor, who just sat and preached his stupid Dream while his people were being kidnapped, threatened and killed. But instead, their first stop after leaving Alkali Lake had been Los Angeles. And Magneto and Mystique had ditched him, given him some money and told him to amuse himself while they went to try and make a deal with some law firm.
So there he was. Bored out of his skull and stuck in some bar in the city, with nowhere to go but the hotel where they’d booked him a room to stay in before they came to get him in the morning, with nothing to do but fiddle with his shark lighter and wish he could let the fire out to play. Oh, but what was this? Things were looking up! The girl with long dark hair who’d been staring at him had apparently decided she liked what she saw, and was heading over.
Faith headed over to the guy and sat down without ceremony.
“Hey. Name’s Faith. What’s yours?”
“John, but you can call me Pyro.”
“Pyro. Nice handle”, she replied, and saw him glance up at her with something that looked like surprise in his eyes, just for a moment, before they shuttered down again. So – he wasn’t used to people reacting to that announcement with such simple acceptance. She could relate – it wasn’t like nobody had ever reacted to her with hostility.
“So, what brings you here, Pyro?”
“I’m waiting for some friends. We’ll be moving on tomorrow”.
“Well, what d’ya know? I’m busy tomorrow myself. Looks like we’ll just have to make do with tonight, then, doesn’t it?”
“I guess so”. He was back to being guarded again. Well, she’d just have to change that. She had a feeling she and “Call Me Pyro” had a lot in common.
A few drinks and a lot of small talk later…
“Where are you from?”
“I lived in New York State for a few years. At the school I went to. But I’ve left there now. Before that… well, it doesn’t matter where I was before that. I don’t have any roots there any more.”
“I get that. Me, I was from Boston. But now I’m from pretty much wherever will take me. I guess that’s here, now. I’ve got a cushy job, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. Why’d you leave your school?”
“Ahhhh, that’s… a long story. It started a couple of days ago – I nearly burnt my best friend’s house down”. He laughed bitterly. “Had a run-in with the cops – which was actually before the fire thing – and that was why I did it. Nearly killed a couple of them, and I was pretty much persona non grata after that. I guess the real reason I left is because I couldn’t take their rules any more. Bobby – that’s my best friend – he was always into going along with whatever the authorities said, and so was his girlfriend. But that was never my thing, when I could get away with it. So when the chance came to hook up with someone who wasn’t so obsessed with following the rules, and doing the right thing – I took it in a second. And that’s how I ended up here. Things are going to get better from here on in, whatever I have to do to make it happen. How ‘bout you? What are you doing in LA?”
“Wow – I knew we had a lot in common, but I never figured on it being that much. I’m here ‘cause I’m not into rules either. I knew someone, out in the ‘burbs, who sounds a lot like your Bobby, ‘cept she was a girl. Buffy. Such a stuck-up little tightass, she was. “You can’t do that, Faith – it’s wrong”. One little accidental death, and she was all for turning me in. And then she stabbed me in the belly and landed me in a coma in the hospital for eight months”.
A sharp intake of breath from Pyro.
“Yeah. I just woke up a few weeks ago, and I’m going to have me some revenge. You remember the cushy job I mentioned? I’ve been hired to kill the love of darlin’ little Buffy’s life – which I would have done anyway – the very guy she stabbed me to save. It’s a very long story, but things are finally going my way. Anyway, enough about me – you got a place to stay tonight?”
“Yeah, my friends booked me a hotel.”
“Bet it’s not as good as mine. Wanna come see?”
His reaction to this wasn’t as good as she’d hoped. He looked positively reluctant. She was soon to find out why.
“Listen… Faith… before I go back with you, there’s something I probably ought to show you…”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
He flicked his lighter open, and watched the flame intently for a moment. Then it moved, and formed into a fireball that settled over his palm, before he clenched his fist and put it out.
“Hey, cool! So, are you a magick-user, or what?”
Once again, he looked staggered by her reaction, or lack of it, but only for a moment before the cool mask came back down.
“No, I’m… a mutant. I can manipulate fire. That’s how I did those things I told you about. Bobby and his girlfriend, they were mutants too, but they never really understood what a gift it was – they just saw themselves as freaks, and they kept on and on about wanting to be normal. The people I hang with now get the truth. We’re mutant freedom fighters… Doesn’t any of this bother you?”
“Nope! I think it’s wicked cool. And I’ll let you in on a little secret of my own, Pyro – I’m special too, although I’m not the only one. Buffy was like me, but she was more like Bobby – she never saw the possibilities.”
Pyro looked intrigued in spite of himself.
“Come back to the hotel and I’ll tell you all about it. Show you a few things I can do, as well.”
Pyro didn’t need asking twice.
The next morning, Faith woke up alone. Hey, it wasn’t the first time, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. She had got used to it a long time ago. What did surprise her was the scribbled note on the pillow. Usually they just left. Maybe this guy was different after all.
The note read simply: “Call me. Pyro” with a cell phone number written underneath. A slow smile spread over Faith’s face. Call him? Huh. But after all, why not? Why pass up a chance of something lasting longer than a night, with the one guy she’d ever met who was so much like her?
Yeah. But first she had things to do. After she’d finished her business with Angel, then she’d call him.