Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at Not for kids. Harsh language, violence, death, and mention of torture.
Spoilers: Up to just before Faith, Hope, and Trick.
Disclaimer: Some of the characters depicted herein belong to that idiot Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: Sometimes, evil is all too human.
Author's Note: Had to do this. Saw the Punisher movie, and this plot bunny started gnawing at my ankle like Monty Python's vorpal bunny.
I'm sure you guessed by now what I was going to do. Anyone who knows me will tell you up front: You hurt Xander's girls, and Xander will hurt or kill you.
I took my time preparing. She probably didn't stop driving until she was well out of town.
Before I left Sunnydale, I checked into a rundown motel -- the sort of place cops avoided like the plague -- to grab a few hours' shuteye. Next morning, before I headed out, I grabbed a copy of the morning edition.
What kind of hell hole was this Sunnydale? Not even the papers back home would bury a pair of double homicides -- each with a side order of attempted homicide -- way back on page eight. The obits were just as insane, running numbers that rivaled the last turf war back home.
That the Chase girl lived was a bit of a surprise, and learning that the blonde wasn't their daughter... well, I regreted it, but there wasn't anything I could do about it by then.
Didn't matter. I had other things to do. Two of the killers were dead, but there were more who still lived... and more importantly, there was the man who hired them.
I assembled the usual array of weapons -- crossbows, holy water, stakes, sword... battle axe, mustn't forget the battle axe -- but that was just icing on the cake. It was hardly the kind of firepower I needed for this.
So I raided Dad's collection: A sawed-off Remington twelve-gauge, a Colt forty-five, and a little Browning twenty-two automatic with a silencer. That last one caught my attention.
Now I just needed to find her. I actually didn't know it was a "her" I was looking for at the time; all I had was a car and a set of plates to go by. What is it with me and psycho females?
In any event... I had a pretty good idea where to start.
Willy looked up and paled. "Harris?"
"Willy," Xander said coolly. "We need to talk."
"Hey, pal, you're not the Slayer," the weaselly little bartender snapped back. "You can't push me ar-..."
Y'know, there's no view quite like the interior of a forty-five barrel to make you appreciate life. Willy certainly thought so.
He told me what I needed to know. Her name was Francesca Calavera, and she was Family. I could hear the capital F there. So what was a mob princess doing in Sunnydale?
Getting revenge. I knew Dad occasionally went out of town for the occasional job... and now that I think about it, he always did seem to leave when Mr. Chase was on a "business trip." What I didn't know -- and what explained the silenced twenty-two -- was that they were freelance hitmen with ties to the underworld.
Tsk, ya think ya know somebody...
Anyway, according to Willy, there were good odds Francesca was headed back home in order to settle accounts with the man who hired them. I didn't care about him, but it gave me a place to start looking.
All that was left was saying my goodbyes.
"I have to do this, Cordy," Xander said. "I have to stop her."
"I call bull," she snapped, apparently having recovered all of her fire in the past few days. "You're in this for revenge."
"So what if I am?" he whirled on her. "She's dangerous, Cor."
"I'm not gonna talk you out of this, am I?"
He shook his head.
"Well, be careful, you big oaf," she said, pulling him into a kiss. "And come back alive so I can kill for being so stupid."
He gave her a half-smile, "I'll call if I can."
"You do that."
Willow, apparently, had figured out what I was planning to do. She waiting for me with a surprise.
And boy, was I surprised.
"Take these," she said. "You'll need them."
Xander stared at the items Willow had given him.
"Willow, where did you get an Uzi and a Desert Eagle? And enough ammunition to fight a small war?"
"Um... well..." she blushed and looked away from him toward her house.
"Never mind," he said, holding his hands up. "I don't wanna know."
I had a sneaking suspicion her father was involved. Ira Rosenberg was a religious scholar and had gone on numerous pilgrimages to the holy land.
A man like that had connections I didn't want to think about.
Last stop was Giles. I would have talked to Joyce... Buffy's mom, but I couldn't let myself.
If anyone could have talked me out of it, it was her, and I didn't want to risk that.
"Make her bleed, Xander," Giles -- or, rather, Ripper -- said icily. "Here."
Xander accepted the sword with a nod. It was one of Buffy's favorites, and it would be appropriate if he could gut Calavera with it.
After that, I was off. I didn't look back. I knew I wasn't going to survive this, and even if I did, the law would be after me like lawyers after an ambulance.
Two crossbows -- one full size, one pistol type -- two swords, a battle axe, plenty of stakes, a Colt .45, a silenced Browning .22, a sawed-off Remington pump-action, a .44 Desert Eagle, and a 9mm Uzi. Plus a few other surprises packed into the Rosenberg Box.
Quite an impressive arsenal. I was ready for a war.
I was about to start a war, and I knew it.
There were still a few people I cared about, people I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge before I set the city on fire.
Take Shellie, for example. She's a nice girl -- woman, really; she's older than me by a fair bit, actually -- who works at a local "gentlemen's club" bussing tables. She doesn't dance, but she gets tipped very well nonetheless... unless she's sporting bruises. If I were to name one fault with her, it'd be her taste in men. She seems to fall for abusive drunks and mentally-unstable murderers.
Then again, who am I to judge the murderers?
The waitress gasped and stepped back in shock, "Frankie? I thought you were dead!"
Frankie smiled faintly, "I'm not sure I'm not. Pack your bags, Shell. You've got to get out of town."
"Because," Frankie said softly, "ever since Roark bought it, there's been a truce in this city. Damien broke that truce, and I'm going to remind him why it's a bad idea to double cross a Calavera."
It didn't take long. There weren't that many people in this town I cared about. My next stop was Old Town. The girls there had the firepower I'd need if it went all-out, and they wouldn't like Damien Jury any more than I did.
My father kept the hookers there happy. A simple tribute system -- no pimps, no drug dealers -- and they got to enforce their own laws there, just like under the old agreements. Knowing Damien, he wouldn't be satisfied with that.
He'd have started making in-roads, and a lot of girls were gonna be hurt.
I'd heard of the place Francesca was from. If Sunnydale was the mouth of hell, then this urban warzone was its armpit.
Who knows how many demons and vampires lurked there? It reeked of enough human evil to mask it, as far as I was concerned. The sign was easy to read as I drove in.
This... did not start as a crossover. It was supposed to be mainly original characters, twisting on the usual Punisher plotline. Until I saw this movie (from which I copied the sign's contents verbatim).