A/N: It has taken me some time I know to update but it was always lingering in my mind, unfortunately school, social things, other stories, and writer's block hindered me from delivering it to you sooner. But here it is, the final chapter of my tale. I want to say thank you to everyone who has read this and left feedback, and a thanks to those that just read (I know you're out there). I hope you have enjoyed this, it's been a pleasure writing it. Personal thank yous at the end and another A/N due to the content of this chapter.
Chapter 28: Home
Faith leapt onto the table kicking out at Imhotep with her right leg but he caught it easily flinging her with one hand. She flew over him, body colliding with a statue, and she fell with the debris. Faith coughed, groaning as she sat up. Her hands were empty, the scythe missing.
"Saw that coming." She catapulted her body upwards, hands clenched as her feet found the ground again.
Imhotep grinned as he faced her. "It is futile to struggle Slayer."
"Well, don't you sound all Star Trek?" She charged towards him, ducking his fist, and rolled under his arm. Facing the table, she tossed herself over and grabbed for the scythe beside it.
He beat her to it, a solid kick to the face sending her backwards. Imhotep snatched up the weapon as Faith landed on her back. "Such a powerful weapon for such a weak little girl."
"Somebody recently told me talking to yourself is a sign on insanity." She ignored the pain as it shot up her back, a thin line of blood trailing down her arm, and she forced herself once again back on her feet. Faith looked to the trail distastefully and sneered as she refocused in on Imhotep. "That all you've got?"
"So glad you asked." He raised the scythe and charged.
Faith waited and at the last second ducked and rolled again popping up behind him. A firm kick sent him stumbling backwards but he remained upright.
She hesitated glancing away to see Alex tied near a huge statue. "Be right there kid!"
Imhotep swung the scythe and she ducked, blade missing her by mere inches. She rolled again kicking out and it was enough to place distance between them. "What's the matter Mo? Getting tired on me?" He roared in anger and Faith grinned. "Gotta tell you, I could do this all day."
"That is something you do not have Slayer."
"Funny cause I was gonna say the exact same thing to you."
A yell came from behind them and Imhotep was taken by surprise as the blonde vampire leaped onto his back. He made a grab for Spike who was proceeding to strangle him and Faith grinned, propelling herself towards Alex.
"Get me out of here!"
"That's my thinking little man." She looked around, spotting a large sword on a statue near them and pulled it, turning to swing it at the ropes tied around Alex. The ropes fell at his feet and she turned to see Evy and Rick along with Jonathan and Ardeth fighting against more of Imhotep's priests.
Spike yelling caught her attention and she pushed Alex forward. "Go somewhere, hide."
He seemed to hesitate but then nodded scampering away. Faith stood clutching at the sword and she grunted as Spike's body collided with her, sprawling them to the floor.
"Watch the bloody sword Slayer."
Faith rolled her eyes pushing Spike to the side and grabbed at the sword again. "Watch where you're being flung blondie." She bounded to her feet clutching the sword and managed to raise it just as the scythe came down at her face. Faith reflected the blow, twisting and punching Imhotep squarely in the side. He moved back barely shaken by the punch and swung the blade at her again.
The sword and scythe struck, metal clanging metal, and he easily overpowered her, free hand gripping her by the neck. Imhotep raised Faith off the ground, the sword falling from her hand and she struggled, clutching at the fingers around her neck.
Spike moved to help but was thrown back as the scythe hit him squarely across the chest. He tumbled into the statues near them, body falling still.
Faith kicked out at Imhotep as Caleb appeared beside them, her struggles loosening his grip but it was not enough to free her.
"Where's the witty comeback?" The First laughed. "Oh that's right, you're a little choked up at the moment." He nodded his head towards the statue behind them. "Time is wasting; the portal must be opened with the slayer's blood."
Faith's eyes widened as Imhotep nodded and took a step near the statue Alex had been tied near, her back towards it.
A roar from a familiar voice made her stop her struggling and she grinned seconds before Ardeth sliced cleanly through Imhotep's arm. She fell coughing as she crawled towards Ardeth and she grabbed his outstretched hand gratefully, Ardeth pulling her to her feet.
"Damn it, what is with you people?" The First screamed, "Can't you just die?"
Imhotep growled simply picking up his arm and they watched as he screwed it back on, the flesh mending, scar disappearing to return as if it had never been damaged.
"Well, that's handy." Faith muttered. Her eyes landed on the scythe he had dropped after Ardeth's attack. "Keep him busy."
She ignored Ardeth calling out and took off running the other direction.
"Get her!" The First screamed. "The portal cannot be opened without her blood!"
She bound up on the table, fighting against a few of Imhotep's priests as they attacked her. Ardeth swung his sword at Imhotep to distract him but it was useless, the priest too powerful and he sent Ardeth flying back with a well-aimed punch.
Faith ignored the urge to run to his side and flipped forward over the dead mummies, landing on her feet, and she rolled, hand snatching up the scythe. She looked up just in time to see Imhotep over her, sword in his hand ready to strike her.
He cried out as another sword was thrust cleanly through his midsection and he turned, hands gripping at the weapon's handle to stare into the face of Anuck-Su-Namun.
She sneered and Faith grinned jumping up with her weapon in hand. Anuck-Su-Namun screeched, flinging herself at her former lover and the two tumbled towards the table, punches and kicks flying.
Faith ran to Spike, finding the vampire finally sitting up and rubbing at his temple. "Nice time to take a nap."
He ignored her remark, allowing her to pull him up, and glanced around at all the fighting. "What do we do slayer?"
"We have to open the portal."
"Are you blood out of your mind?' He stared at her in shock. "Wait, don't answer that."
"No choice." Faith shook her head. "The only way to get rid of Imhotep is to open the portal and toss him in." She tapped at his chest. "Then we seal it with your trinket."
"It's not gonna be that easy."
"Wouldn't be fun if it was." She tossed him the scythe. "Do it."
Spike gritted his teeth but nodded and he flinched as he raised the weapon, blade slicing cleanly across Faith's torso. Faith cried out but remained upright as the blade began to glow, the blood covering every inch of the metal. She grabbed the scythe and with a yell raised it and struck the statue of Anubus as hard as she could.
Faith and Spike were blasted back as the statue erupted in a stream of red light, wind whirling around the temple. The walls began to shake as Faith sat up, coughing as the sand settled over them. She crawled back to her feet, Spike moving in the corner of her eye and she nodded towards him, directing her attention at Imhotep as he struck at Anuck-Su-Namun and she went flying over the table.
"Yo Mo!" Faith taunted, "I don't believe we were done dancing!"
He sneered at her and approached, Faith stepping back towards the statue as it continued to glow, the figure of Anubus shaking from the pulsating energy flowing from it.
She ignored Ardeth screaming, the sounds of Evy and Rick around her and kept her eyes on Imhotep. He raised a hand to strike her and it was then she moved. "Now Spike!"
Spike nodded throwing himself at Imhotep and they tumbled forward, a bright swirl appearing in front of the portal as it began to open. Imhotep's steps faltered, Faith moving to trip him and she watched as he fell forward, the light surrounding him. Faith leapt forward, body colliding with Spike's just as he fell into the light as well and they tumbled onto the ground in a mangled heap.
Imhotep screamed as he began to fall but it seemed he was beginning to stay upright and regain his footing.
Faith shielded her eyes as she rolled off Spike. "It won't hold him!" She screamed. "The necklace! We have to use the necklace!"
"I'm not close enough now!" He snatched the necklace from around his neck, the clear jewel in his hand. "I won't reach him."
Faith's eyes went towards the portal. "But she will."
Spike's eyes swung to see Anuck-Su-Namun standing at the portal in front of Imhotep, the scythe in her hand. She raised the weapon driving it deep into his shoulder and Imhotep cried out as he fell back once more. Anuck-Su-Namun twisted her eyes to Faith and Faith nodded, moving to grab the necklace from Spike's hand. She tossed it and the Egyptian caught it easily.
Their gaze broke and Anuck-Su-Namun propelled herself forward, arms wrapping around Imhotep as they were enveloped by the red light, sucked completely into the portal.
The light disappeared, the wind stopping, and Faith sat back, eyes on the statue as it stood still, the scythe buried deep within the stone.
"Uh huh." Faith grinned wiping at her clothes. She glanced up as Evy, Rick, and Jonathan with Alex stepped forward, just as dirty and tired.
"Where's our annoying buddy?"
Faith looked around. "As usual he had his ass handed to him and bailed. Bummer." She climbed to her feet, hissing at the wound stinging across her stomach. "That thing certainly slices and dices."
"You told me to."
She grinned patting Spike on the shoulder. "That I did."
"You are alright?"
Faith's eyes rose to Ardeth's and she nodded. "And you?"
He grinned sliding his sword back into the belt at his hip. "I am five by five."
Faith laughed, sighing as she allowed herself to relax. "We sure did a number on this place."
"Indeed." Ardeth nodded. "I believe it is best we leave."
"Couldn't have said it better my self old chap." Jonathan chirped.
Faith studied the statue, the scythe in the stone, and nodded. "Yeah, it's time to leave."
"Love to stay and chat but I'm being summoned to another meeting." Faith stood up from the log in the tent as Rick chuckled.
"Have fun with that." He glanced up from beside Jonathan. "It was a pleasure fighting alongside you."
"Likewise." Faith nodded. She glanced to Jonathan and smiled. "It's been fun."
Evy stopped her as she began to escape the tent. "I wish to say…"
"I know." Faith nodded. "You don't have to say it. Without a past, there is no future or some shit right?"
She was surprised as Evy launched herself forward, engulfing Faith in a tight hug. The English woman wiped at the tears on her face as she pulled away, and Faith nodded in understanding. She glanced down to pat Alex who had appeared on the head, grinning as he automatically made a move to straighten his locks.
"Be seeing you kid."
He hugged her as well and she returned the embrace.
"You have served us well."
Faith shrugged. "I do what I can R." She eyed Spike as he coughed. "We do what we can."
Rasil nodded with a grin. "You have fulfilled your destiny."
"It's kinda my thing." Faith snorted. "So how do we get home?"
"From the desert which you came."
"You're kidding right?" Spike chuckled. "You want us to what? Wander out there until we come across a road back to Sunnydale?"
"A road did not bring you here, a road will not take you to where you seek to go."
Spike started to speak again but paused at Faith's firm grip on his shoulder.
"Just leave it." She muttered. She glanced towards Rasil. "Thanks for all your help man."
Rasil inclined his head still smiling and she rolled her eyes before motioning Spike outside the tent.
She stopped as she came face to face with Ardeth.
Spike cleared his throat. "I think I'll go find that, uh, yeah." He nodded towards the sand and took off, leaving them alone.
Faith studied the Medjai chief's eyes, raising a hand to brush stray hairs from across her face but he beat her to it. She watched him, feeling his finger tips glide across her cheek, and he tucked the hairs behind her ear.
"You must leave."
Faith nodded. "This isn't the place for me, we both know that."
Ardeth removed his hand, the warmth departing from her cheek. "I believe this belongs to you." He motioned with his other hand and Faith stepped back eyeing the scythe.
"You went back for it?"
"You are going to need it for the journey home."
Home. Faith nodded accepting the weapon. "Don't think that if I had the choice to…"
Ardeth stopped her, placing a finger on her lips and he nodded. "I know Slayer." He smiled, a gentle understanding smile. "Our destinies are sometimes not by choice, we must do what we are called to do."
"Being your wife wasn't so bad."
Ardeth chuckled. "You're right, having a stubborn, tactless wife wasn't so bad."
"Hey, now, I …"
Ardeth bent, brushing his lips against hers and Faith sighed as he pulled away. "May Allah be with you Faith as I will always be."
He departed, his tall figure shaded by the glow of the descending sun and she watched him go, letting him. Faith gripped the scythe, sighing as she broke her gaze away from Ardeth to let her eyes linger on the blade. It glistened in the light, sparkling. Home.
"Are you just a tiny bit curious as to where we'll wind up?"
Faith chuckled, shooting Spike a look and shrugged. "As long as it's somewhere destiny free, I don't care."
He laughed as well and they continued to walk, the desert stretching out before them. "Wonder if we'll ever find this portal thingy…."
She fell silent, the scythe firmly in her hand. Their steps matched, the two moving side by side until she paused.
"Slayer?" His eyes were drawn to the weapon, noticing the gleam and brightness in its color. The scythe began to shake, edges still coated with Faith's blood and she raised her eyes to his, a smirk across her face.
"You ready for this?"
Spike grinned back, hand reaching out to grab the handle. The light erupted from the scythe, enveloping them as it glowed and Faith closed her eyes, the vision of a tall Medjai chief forever burned into her mind. She felt the power of the scythe overtake her and the memory was lost in a sea of those long forgotten, one burning truer than the rest. Home
The air became quiet, the tracks of a pair of feet the only sign of existence of life upon the sand. This too soon became swept away. A slayer's duty had ended.
A/N: Well, there you have it, the finale, the end. I hope that you liked what you read but I am aware that some of you will not exactly agree with how I left it. This is fine but I dwelled over this for a long time while brainstorming and fighting writer's block.
Faith to me is a lone wolf character and while she and Ardeth were nicely matched in more than one way, we're all aware that Faith is still a character that is struggling to find her place in the world, redeem her bad qualities, and discover who she is as a Slayer and as a woman. Love is not exactly at the top of her list, more like finding acceptance and I believe she discovered a lot of that in this fic.
Now, some of you might debate this is not a happy ending, some may just say it's sad and it sucks (god I hope not) but opinions are what we're all entitled too and you are more than welcome to that. Unfortunately, I just wasn't feeling a "happy, everyone wins and Ardeth and Faith go riding into the sun story" at this point in time. Perhaps a sequel or another story but not this one. Both did their duty, both had their fun (when is being with Ardeth naked or clothed not fun? LOL) and when the duty was over, so was their time together. I do believe however that because of it Faith is a better person and there's always the thing of how she saved the world (cough-snotbuffy-coughs). That I hope you did enjoy. Well, time to stop blabbering. Here are some personal thank yous:
Anelle, Reven Eid, Alatarial Elf, and Rayon m de Lune – Thank you so much for taking the time to review my story. Glad to see some new faces and old ones keeping up with my stuff.
DrummerGirl76 – I hope you're not too bummed out by the ending, it just seemed to fit better, not every story can be all rainbows and butterflies. Thank you for being a constant reviewer.
Damia – Thank you as well for always leaving fb. It was a pleasure to read your comments.