SUMMARY: Car trouble strands Xander and Faith in a small farming community. A zombie gang intent on eating human flesh interrupts the restful interlude in their cross-country flight. Some people just don't understand the meaning of "low profile." Xander/Faith friendship fic. Post-"Chosen" AU.

RATING: Rated PG-13 for language and violence.

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. Literally. Suing me will not help you, but I will cheerfully hand you my bills. ME owns everything.

FEEDBACK: Yes! Yes! Yes! Private or public. Good or bad. While I won't remove bad reviews and will take constructive criticism to heart, I reserve the right to ignore you if your review boils down to two words: "It sucks."*grin*

PASS IT ON?: Please let me know if you want it for your Web site or to share on your mailing list. However, credit me and keep my name on it, otherwise I will be very, very annoyed.

Authors' Notes: This "virtual" season eight is AU in that the basic premise is based on another fanfic called Revelations. In that story, the AU element is "what if Willow's magic blast at the end of Grave had long-lasting consequences for Xander."

Although it's technically not necessary, if you want to get fully up to speed on the background for the Where Fools Go series, please read Revelations and the first ep, Where Fools Go: After Happy Ever After, both here on Fanfiction. net.

Special thanks to: Sydney Taggart who's been instrumental in helping organize my ideas for the series, co-wrote the first installment, and served as beta reader for this installment. All mistakes are mine, so no blaming the beta. In addition, special thanks to Nwhepcat, who planted the odd idea of Faith and prison libraries in my head.

Where Fools Go, Ep. 2:

Steady Red, Storms Ahead

By Lizbeth Marcs

We were living parallel lives that summer, going about our regular chores and amusements while at the same time wondering what would come after the flooding.

--William F. Weld, Stillwater

Charlie Baudel was trouble. Ask anyone in town.

Not a surprise, really, if rumors about that girl's family was true. She lived on the trailer trash side of the tracks and her parents, well, had a few more kids than they could handle. You should just see the clothes they see fit to dress those children in the good townsfolk tittered.

Although how sane parent could ever handle a monster like Charlie Baudel was a mystery, they were quick to add.

These people, like most people commenting about things they knew nothing about, took no small amount of joy in the mean-spirited, Puritan-inspired branding of a girl who didn't fit in just right.

Simply put, these people didn't know jack shit about Charlie Baudel. True, she lived in a trailer, but that trailer was kept neat and clean. Also true, there were a lot of Baudel juniors running around and while Charlie would be the first to admit it was tough being the only girl, she would also be quick to point out that her parents loved every single one of their children to death. In short, Charlie Baudel wasn't acting out against a bad home life she didn't have—she was reacting to small town minds intent on crushing her whole family under its boot heels.

There was something else the townsfolk didn't know about Charlie Baudel: she was a superhero.

Frankly, no one was more surprised than Charlie herself when she figured it out. One day she's just Charlie, next day she's lifting up the family car to rescue a cat stuck underneath.

She didn't tell anyone. Nunh-unh. Last thing her 16-year-old self needed was the townsfolk to call her a liar on top of everything else. Hell, even her parents probably wouldn't believe her and her brothers would probably make fun of her. After all, she's a Baudel, and everyone knows that the Baudels are nothing special, especially the Baudels.

At first she was elated. Then she was terrified. She pinged back and forth between the two extremes for a couple of days before she took herself to a cornfield and sat herself down, chin resting thoughtfully in her hand.

Her neighbors and teachers may have been shocked to realize this, but while Charlie was a lot of things, one thing she wasn't was stupid.

So, if she was a superhero, that meant she was important and special. That goes without saying. There were a lot of things she could do with super-strength. Rob a bank, for example, and get enough money for her family to clear out and start a new and better life far, far away.

Except super heroes don't steal. If they did that, they become super villains, and Charlie wasn't going to be a super villain. It'd break her parents' hearts for a start, and she didn't want that. Besides, they taught her better than that.

Well then, she could perform feats of magic, maybe get noticed by a Hollywood producer and earn enough money to buy her family a new house in sunny Califon-i-ay which, Charlie had to admit, would be way cool.

'Cept it didn't work for Spiderman, did it? He got hisself so wrapped up in makin' the big time that his Uncle Ben died. Charlie sniffed sadly while she watched dreams of saving her family from the town dwindle to a pipe dream. 'Sides, superheroes are heroes 'cause they do stuff fer free. It's like a superhero rule or somethin'.

Well then, maybe she could teach the townsfolk a real lesson about showing respect. That idea got thrown out too since she might actually hurt someone since she was a superhero.

Her thoughts circled on this track for some time, while the crickets chirped a symphony in the heat. At some point, she reached the conclusion that only a real Baudel could reach.

If she was going to be a superhero, she was going to be the best superhero she could, just like Superman.