Solstice by SLynn

Chapter 10: Steadfast

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Emily Dickinson, "Time and Eternity"

She was so tired she couldn't sleep.

This was not her first time in hiding. No. She had hidden away before. Once.

The difference was that then she'd been alive.

Constance was ten once. A little girl in a strange new world. She'd lived on a farm where each autumn there had been apples to pick. The leaves had been so beautiful. It was the last time she'd truly been happy.

She had had a mother and father, like anyone else though she could not now recall their names or faces. She'd even had an older brother. His name had been Abel. He was the only person she ever recalled loving before.

Her family had been strict and devoutly religious, as were all families at the time. Each week they were preached to about the wages of sin. The evil in the world, but Constance had never given it any real thought. She was still a little girl, and little girls tended not to think about those sorts of things.

She was safe each night in her house. She had her family. She had all she'd ever thought she'd need. Until one night, evil invited itself in.

The town would blame their deaths on Indians, but Constance knew the truth. She'd seen them. She'd seen what had happened first hand.

It had been late, very late. The fires had all but gone out and there had been a knock at the door. Her father was still awake and had reluctantly answered. He'd have done better not to, but thinking there was trouble and being a Christian he'd invited them in. A couple. Strangers he'd assumed were lost.

But they weren't.

Constance had come down for water. Had heard them at the door, and frightened without knowing why, had hidden. She'd watched from the pantry as the two attached and killed her father, as they drank his blood. Petrified with fear, she'd barely breathed. She heard them move about the house, no doubt doing the same to her mother and brother who lay asleep upstairs. For what seemed like hours she'd stood there, her eyes locked with those of her dead fathers.

And then the footsteps came. Slow and deliberate. Nearer.

The door swung open and a man kneeled down to her. He still had blood on his pale face.

"Looks like we missed one," he said with an evil grin.

"Leave her," the woman said from over his shoulder, "It's getting late my love."

With one last look into her eyes, he did just that leaving Constance alone with her dead family.

She stayed that way for three days. Their farm was outside the village and they only went to town twice a month, excepting Sundays for church. After her family didn't show for the morning service, their nearest neighbor came by to check on them.

In all that time she'd never left the pantry.

Of course, the town was in an uproar. And of course, they had blamed the local Indian tribes.

Constance, at first and when she was able to talk again, had tried to claim otherwise. After all, she'd seen them. She knew the truth. It wasn't Indians, they had been white. Whiter then snow. They had been devils with pointed teeth.

No one believed her. They thought she was delusional and traumatized from the event. And while she was traumatized, she was not delusional.

It was then that she had met Samuel.

Samuel, she had seen before in town of course, on the occasions they had gone in. He'd offered to take her in. To take care of her. As near as anyone knew, she had no one else. Samuel, a trusted member of the church council had lost his own wife and daughter to Indians three years earlier. He would know best how to get through to her.

And he had. He never questioned her account of that night when her family died, he'd even encouraged her to talk about it. Samuel had believed her and she trusted him. For three years they lived as father and daughter. And then, she learned the truth. As it turns out, he had been sent there specifically for her.

Just after her thirteenth birthday, Constance received her calling as a slayer. Samuel told her everything then. He was her watcher. He was to train her to fight. Fight evil, the same type of evil that had killed her family.

What was she to feel at such a moment? Relief that she wasn't crazy after all? Shock that there was such things in the world? Anger that the truth had been withheld for so long? She felt it all intensely and dove into her training with zeal.

And she was good. Better then good, superb.

But it never felt like enough. Despite the abnormal strength and regeneration abilities, even the seemingly sixth sense that detected evil, she didn't understand it. She wanted to understand it. She wanted to understand that power that drove people and the like down such a path.

Samuel had forbidden it.

He'd never denied her anything before, but felt that she was too young to research the dark arts. At fifteen, and nearly an adult in her world, she thought differently.

It wasn't the first time they had disagreed, but it was the first time she'd disobeyed. Not just him, but anyone. Constance had grown up doing exactly as she was told. But her desire to know, to really know what caused all the evil in the world, the darkness, overtook her.

She found what she could, where she could, and threw herself into it. Constance took to stealing books from women and men she knew to be witches and memorizing their every word. When Samuel was away, which business sometimes took him, she read and re-read everything he had.

And she grew strong.

It became an obsession and it overtook her.

Five years passed and Samuel had long suspected but could never prove what she'd been up too. By then she'd learned all she could. Constance had risen in fame as a slayer from those things that will always seek out such power. But it was different. They sought her out now, not to fight, but to learn. Constance now led the local covens. She controlled them all subtly and silently.

Samuel knew something must be done. Had written word to the council that Constance was now completely out of his control. But his letter never made it. She'd seen to that. She knew he was on to her. Suspecting her of no longer being the slayer, but of perhaps being the one who needed to be slayed.

So she did what she'd been planning for so long.

She played her first game and had won.

Now, with the power of Zothos's soul within hers, she was truly unstoppable. A god among men. And her first act, aside from Samuel's death, was the destruction of that village. Of all those people who had doubted her sanity and power. Of all those people, despite their own dealings with darkness, had claimed righteousness. She wiped them all out. Easily. Leaving only her own dear home intact, the farm house that had fallen into disrepair after so much neglect.

After her initial rage had subsided she realized that her body had died. She had long been dead, nearly ten years. The Constance she was had died with the rest of her family on a cold night a long time ago.

She needed recovery.

It was then she first sought the forest. Sought to regain her strength in the wild. To plan and plot. To find out new things. Nature was the best teacher and Constance had become a good student.

She hadn't been afraid since then, until this moment centuries later.

Constance was afraid. She was weak and hurt.

She didn't remember waking or leaving the catacombs. Her last real thought was of him. Constance had thought of nothing else. His face, his eyes, the look about him.

It made her stronger, but she wasn't foolish. She walked purposely into the surrounding hillside intent on what she must do.

She must go back to nature. To return to her roots. Rediscover her power.

She must heal.

There would be plenty of time for other things. Time to plan. Time for revenge.

She could wait. It would make it all the sweeter. And Constance had always been patient.

Steadfast like her name.

The End

A/N: I hope you've enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and as always, thanks for reviewing!

BTW -- I never intended to bring Constance back so soon or to end this story so soon, but I realized I just needed to get it out of the way and leave the door wide open. The next Buffy story I write will not have her in it.

Also, I realized I didn't use half of the characters I normally do, this was almost entirely Xander (not that that's bad!), but I'm going to try and stretch more next time as well.

I also know I ended this kind of oddly. I wanted to get more of Constance's story in somewhere, and better here then no where. Plus I wanted Xander and Buffy to end on a happy vibe.

A note on fanfic -- I realized once more why I read and write so much. Because in fanfiction Firefly still flies, Buffy never got with Spike (sorry Spuffy fans) and no one who write CSI: Miami fan fic would ever kill off Speed. :(

Again and again, thanks!