We were going back only this time it was Angel coming to save the Slayer in distress. Ok, so maybe not distressed or in need of saving but we came back to finish out the fight. That had to count for something even if the end is upon us or what ever. Like I hadn't heard that one before. Ha!
Angel pulled up to the curb across from Buffy's house. He had the saddest look on his face. He'd given up Connor and the weird part was none of the other's could remember him. Angel had packed up all the baby things, anything the teen had left behind and put it away. More like he hid it and though I hadn't asked before I was thinking it was time I did just that.
"What happened with Connor?"
Angel glanced at me sharply, the flash of yellow in his brown eyes much clearer in the dark.
"Preternatural hearing a bit off? Connor, your son, what happened to him?" I asked again and hopefully this time it was much clearer. I was getting this niggling feeling he was trying to hide something but… well; it wasn't like I couldn't find out if I really wanted to. He just knew I wouldn't without his permission.
"How do- why do you still remember?" he asked instead of giving me the answer.
"Angel, what did you do? Where's Connor?" the concern was clear, I wasn't going to hide it. Sure Connor was a pain in every one's ass but the kid was family. I can't believe I said that but it's true. After everything that's happened there's no denying I've grown attached to all of them, even Gunn with his annoying tough thug act. He's really a big softie…
"They gave him a family. He's happy now." But I could see he wasn't. As a parent we want what's best for our kids but it hurts none the less when you have to give them up. I couldn't believe what he'd just said.
"Angel… I'm sorry." I truly was because from what I'd seen of Angel he had so much love to give- it was those gypsies and their curse that did it. They couldn't just kill the demon in him no, they bring back the man and torture him with a soul for all eternity which, come on that's going to be like for ever! Nothing's going to kill Angel.
"Why do you still remember?" he asked again. "None of you were supposed to remember. That was the deal."
"That was your deal?" I couldn't believe it. "Seriously that's all you asked for? To give Connor a happy life? Without you?"
He nodded, unable to say anything else. I let out a pent up breath and sat back more than deflated. He didn't ask for anything for himself, not like I had and I'm sure the others had asked for something as well. I couldn't believe he'd been that selfless… Of course Wolfram & Hart gave him what he asked for- more pain and unhappiness.
"You really are one of a kind, Angel. It's not fair…" it really wasn't.
"Guess it's like Jasmine's effect. Doesn't work on you." Angel answered completely avoiding my sympathetic look or what I had just said. "So."
"So." We sat there for a minute until I figured I couldn't put off facing the Potentials and every one else I had told off. "Krap, I hate having to walk in there after-."
"All those things you said?" Angel cut in with absolutely no hint of sympathy in his voice. "Yeah, they deserved it from what you told me. Do a little fire show if they get out of hand again. Should put them back on track."
"Fire show, huh? That's your advice. Scare them with fire, great." I scoffed getting out of the car and pushing the seat forward for Mayahuel to slip out. She'd been quiet as a mouse the entire ride. I wouldn't blame her for imagining all sorts of torture to impart since I practically tore her away from little Temoc, brought her back to the Hell Mouth for some death and dying. She handed me my duffel before reaching for hers and once we stood on the side walk I felt like getting back in and driving off with Angel. What the hell was I doing here anyway?
"We go in, now?" Mayahuel asked softly at my side. I wished it wasn't but Angel wasn't about to let me go home… not with his precious Slayer in need of soldiers who wouldn't kick her out of her own home.
"Yeah, time to go in." I answered moving around the car. If I had to be here then I would and I'd make sure Buffy was safe. I'd been dreading having to hunt her down but Angel said she was back home. That was one thing I hadn't been expecting but maybe the Potentials learned their lesson. I wondered if anyone had apologized.
"Señor Angel." Mayahuel went to Angel's window, much to my surprise. She knew what he was, it frightened her… "You watch over my brother, si?"
I couldn't help the smile seeing Angel's perplexed face. Here was this little girl asking him to take care of another kid. He was probably scared Temoc would end up wanting him dead just like Connor had.
"Uh, sure. Yes." He said with a crooked smile and if he meant that to be re-assuring he would have done better just being serious.
"Gracias." Mayahuel turned away and headed up to the house while I winked at Angel's uncomfortable face. He drove off with a scowl I knew would wear off as soon as he saw the little blond Slayer. Maybe this time they would end up happily ever after. He sure deserved some happiness…
"Who let you in?"
"Aah," I turned around pasting a smile on my face clearly recognizing the voice. "Kennedy, you're still breathing. Too bad." I finished with fake sympathy that only earned a much uglier glare from the Potential.
"We lost some girls and you're making cracks?" Kennedy raged. Clearly I'd hit a nerve.
"If I remember correctly you were all gung-ho for killing the bad guy." I stepped closer being eye to eye with this one, thanks to the heel of my boots. I would have really hated having to look up for this. "You saying you changed your mind?"
"What's going on?" a new voice, softer yet threaded with steel had both of us turning to answer. Well, I just wanted to look cuz I was curious.
"Hola. I'm Phade Vartan, this is Mayahuel De Garzes." I held out a hand and pointed over my shoulder at Mayahuel who was still standing in the hall. "She's a Potential, we came with Angel from Los Angeles. I haven't seen you before." I kept ignoring the huffing breaths from Kennedy.
"Vala Rey. I'm the Slayer." She shook my hand and I laughed.
"Creo que oí mal. You're who again?" I looked her over thinking she was pretty young though not enough to be a Potential. Her black hair was pulled into a braid but the swatches of blue and purple were visible. She wore leather cuffs around her wrists and a triple looped leather strip around her throat, the ends tucked into the black t-shirt. She kinda reminded me of Faith with her dark eyes rimmed in black liner but it was the look in them that hinted at who she was.
"Me oíste. I'm the Slayer or… I was before I died." She answered looking me over.
"Oh, well. Happens a lot around here doesn't it. Buffy's died twice that I've heard of. Are you sure there aren't more of you hiding somewhere…?" she barely smiled though it wasn't a happy hey you're funny smile.
"Not that I've come across." Vala said.
"They can't stay." Kennedy threw in. She stood with hands on hips glaring at us.
"Last I looked you're still a Potential and this is not your home." Vala told her and to my amazement there was no argument.
"Me caes bien, Vala." I told her with a huge grin.
"Gracias." She replied though her brow was furrowed. Hadn't she heard the stories yet? I was like the big evil bitch here.
More of the Potentials came out but I ignored them and followed Vala to where Rupert was holding court in the basement. Mayahuel broke off as soon as she saw Sabine. I didn't mind since she took my duffel with her and I was more than relieved to see the girl was still alive. They were the only two I felt any responsibility for.
"Looks like you're getting ready to fight a war." I commented seeing all the weapons easily at hand.
"We are fighting a war. Le guste a quien le guste." Vala answered.
"No te gusta, verdad. I don't agree with it either. The Powers That Be have a sick sense of what's right and wrong when they throw little girls to their deaths." Vala stopped in the middle of the stairs and just stared.
"Me caes bien." She repeated and then a soft smile graced her lips.
It was a start, I already counted one Slayer a friend though Faith was more like the little sister I never had. Vala, on the other hand, she was a grown woman closer to me in age than any of the Slayers and I could see she'd been exerting some adult authority with the Potentials. Shut Kennedy up real quick.
"Phade?" and that's my cue. Pasting on a smile I came into the basement far enough the others could see me. Three of the older Potentials were down here with Rupert, Willow and Anya.
"Hello." Oh yeah, they don't look happy to see me. "The door was open." Why I felt like I had to explain myself is beyond stupid but the words were out so too late…
"Willow, take care of that." Rupert kept his pale blue eyes on me.
"Sure, Giles." The red head didn't move but I could feel her use of magic. It was like a warm wind passing over my skin. I hadn't felt anything like it before, this was the first time and I noticed there was a smell, like spring all flowers and sweetness…
"Is there a reason you're here, Ms. Vartan." Rupert's voice cleared the fog in my brain and the picture I'd been holding vanished like a whiff of dust.
"Hmmm. Yes, yes there is…" and my reason, my reason would be…
'Focus, stupid. You're fighting the Slayer's war.'
There it was, that insulting little voice I'd thought long gone by now but it had given me a reason.
"I'm here to fight-."
"You left." Anya cut me off, a furious look on her pale face. Was I at fault here?
"Yes, I did. Angel dropped us off. You're obviously short staffed-."
"You're too late. Girls have already died." Anya crossed her arms, the blond curls bouncing with her agitation.
"Shut up." I was getting pissed. So what they didn't like me any more because I told them off, they had it coming and here I was acting like I was in the wrong. Well, screw them only I was stuck here because- bec- well, just because of Angel?
"I'm not here for any of you, well, Buffy and Faith but not any of you because I still stand by what I said before I left and I'm not taking any of it back."
Ok, that sounded so much like a spoiled brat. Wonderful. I stomped back upstairs refusing to feel like I was wrong.
"Phade," Vala's voice halted my pacing. I hadn't even noticed the back and forth or the curious eyes peering into the kitchen. "Que fue eso?"
"No te han contado el chisme?" when she shook her head 'No' I was surprised. I was sure Kennedy would have taken the opportunity to bad mouth me. "Let's take a walk."
"You're armed?" Vala smiled. I should have known then…
We headed south into the abandoned town. When Angel had driven us in I'd noticed how lonely it all felt, like an old western ghost town but just without the tumbleweed and old west stuff.
Two women, seemingly vulnerable… we had to have made an enticing pair. I'd noticed Vala's holster had a couple of loops in each side. They were big enough for a stake. She'd put on a long black coat over her jeans and t-shirt. It hid the short sword strapped to her hip. The sound of our boot heels echoed along the empty street and there were no lights in the windows, not like my other visit when there had still been people.
"Those really work?" I asked meaning her guns. Unless she had silver bullets I didn't see what use they would be. Of course I had mine because Ryan wouldn't let me go 'unprepared'. It had taken a while for me to feel comfortable using a gun but I still prefer my Sai or a sword or my bow…
"Yes. I've kinda grown partial to these." Vala laughed patting her side and it was clear she had thought of something from before.
"Care to share?" she seemed hesitant but nodded anyway.
"I was thinking of my dislike for guns. During my training I was never taught to use them. We Slayers have more traditional weapons…"
"Yeah, you mean ancient death traps. How do you manage not to get killed while re-loading the crossbow?" I wondered out loud. I swear sometimes my brain lo-jacks my mouth.
"I don't like them either." Vala said into the night. "Maty let me use a bow."
"A bow?" My eyes lit up like it was Christmas. "You have a bow?" she probably thought I was crazy the way I was behaving. "I'm not loony, I swear. It's just that you're the only one outta that bunch not to worship the damn thing. Even Buffy prefers the bulky contraption."
"Yes, Giles has pointed out the many qualities of the crossbow." She rolled her chocolate eyes and I couldn't keep the giggle in. I got embarrassed at my little girl giggle and covered my mouth like that's gonna make her forget the sound I just made. Ha!
"So what happened?" I knew what she meant. It was only fair after all but still, I rolled my eyes heaven ward.
"I told them off." That was an understatement, if ever. "They were being stupid! Ok, so maybe they don't like where Buffy was leading but she is the Slayer- err, current-err, what ever you know what I mean. They've been following her from day one and all of a sudden it's 'Oh, we don't like this idea. Time to get a new leader-Slayer.' And just their luck they got a spare but you know, I don't blame Faith." I really don't. She was just the excuse; they used her and look what happened. She gets hurt and its back to Buffy in charge, like it was Faith's fault they walked into the trap. "Rupert was the biggest disappointment. He's supposed to be the adult here and he was the worst…gah! He was like this spoiled brat having a fit cuz he wasn't getting his way. A grown man… but those two; Willow and Xander. They're supposed to be her best friends and him with his speeches all warm and fuzzy feeling but he finally gets hurt and it's 'Oh, I can't-.'"
"He lost an eye, Phade."
"He-." So she had a point, Xander lost a body part a very important body part he can't just re-grow… ok, no time to get off track but maybe later I can research the re-growing parts because that's always handy. "Fine. He has a valid excuse but what about Willow? The little witch is siding with her bed buddy over the best girlfriend who I'm sure has saved her life more than once."
"It is a betrayal." Vala agreed. "You have to understand we are fighting a war and not just with vampires or demons. This is the First."
"Big deal, this one goes down like all the ones before." I waved her off more focused on my resurfacing anger at the unjustness of it all. And Willow going all stupid over a good fuck- gah!
"No, not like all the ones before, Phade. This isn't a game. I've never seen anything like this before not even when I… This is big." She finished instead. Vala was right; I was letting myself get distracted by pettiness.
"Ok, but I still don't see myself trusting them with my life. Especially those two, Kennedy and Rona."
"I don't either." We looked at each other, me being the incredulous one. "They're instigators."
"Yeah…" was she really seeing what I had from the very first?
"Rona, she's young and frightened but she had reason to be. That's not an excuse, Phade and I don't see her being much help in the fight to come. Then there's Kennedy. You know, once a Potential gets to a certain age the Watchers know she won't be called and so she's thrown into Watcher training. Makes them… amargas. Nunca pueden dejar atras lo que no tuvieron."
"No shit but I'd rather assume Ken has a stick up her ass." Vala's look was amused but at least we agreed on the important things. Betrayal was not ok and it was never forgivable.
"Eres tremenda." Vala commented with a laugh.
"Yep, I am." I wasn't going to deny it. "So… how'd you die?" now this was personal, she might not answer, she might get pissed off but I was curious. How did the Watchers miss a Slayer?
"Perdon?" Vala's voice grew softer and I didn't know her well enough to know if it was a good or bad sign.
"Curiosity." I shrugged hoping I hadn't put my foot so far up my ass I couldn't pull it out. "It hasn't killed me yet but they keep telling me its just luck." I tried the funny since I had nothing else.
"Really, you don't look like a cat." She said it straight faced and I blinked. Had she made a funny?
"Uuh, no. I guess I don't…" then I remembered the box in my closet with the tail and ears. "But I got the ears and tail put away…" that got a smile.
"You're curious about how I got… 'lost'." I nodded but it wasn't like she was paying attention to me any more.
"I died and just like Buffy, when she died, another was called. Had Giles known or even Buffy they could have hidden her away somewhere, changed her name and let her have a… normal… life…" it didn't sound like Vala had lived 'normal' she didn't even sound happy but that could just be because she was back in the thick of things.
"Why are you here? I mean if you were 'lost' and they couldn't get you why come back to this?" she looked around at the deserted street probably seeing what I was seeing…
"Bringers." I glanced at her sharply. The blind monks that had been gutting little Potentials and even went after Faith in prison; I guess it makes sense they would know about Vala. "They found me and once I figured out what was going on I came here. I wasn't planning on telling them who I was but Giles…" she laughed, a not happy sound. "The man is a damn encyclopedia of knowledge." Clearly Rupert had made another friend.
"What'd he do?" I couldn't help but wonder how he outed the woman beside me. Curiosity was getting worse, like an itch I had to scratch. Oh talk about itches! I didn't get nearly enough time to scratch this latest one with Ryan before it was time to go off and save the world again. What was wrong with me anyway? I was way too horny for this to be normal-.
"He threw a knife at my head."
"He what!" that was the last thing I expected her to say and if the baddies hadn't known we were out they sure as hell did now. I wasn't quiet.
"Knife. My head." Vala repeated clearly amused. "Don't worry, I caught it and gave myself away." She kept walking not bothering to search the inky shadows for hidden dangers. "Buffy and Faith were having heart attacks and brain pains trying to figure out how I could do that. I think they wanted to hurt him, Giles and then he told them who I was and it looked like they wanted to hurt me."
"You don't look hurt so I'm guessing they didn't." I retorted feeling like imparting some pain on the old Watcher. Where the hell did he get off throwing knives at women?
"No, they didn't." Vala confirmed. We walked in silence for a while noting the lack of un-life in town. You'd think they'd come and get us, two lonely females walking in the dark deserted town… so maybe they're not that stupid. Deserted town, two females, they're bound to figure out one of us is a Slayer.
Silently, we both headed towards the cemetery. Spending almost four years with Angel it was pretty much programmed into me, finding the evil un-dead. Sooner or later we were gonna hit pay dirt.
"So where have you been all this time?" Vala looked at me as if I hadn't just asked her that. I shrugged. What? I was curious and it wasn't like we had anything else to do.
"Oh fine. It doesn't look like we're going to find anything soon." Vala cast her eyes around probably hoping a vampire would jump out at us but… no such luck.
"Pay dirt." Vala said halfway through the interesting part of her Las Vegas encounter with what she called NightStalkers. They sounded like some funky band but according to Vala they hunt vampires.
She nodded to the pair of… big bulky-.
"What are those?" Vala asked. They were huge, twice our size at least with pointy ears and dressed in…
"Furs? They really wearing furs?" I wondered if they'd be as smelly as they looked.
"Yes, that's fur but they aren't werewolves." Vala sounded sure and I wasn't going to contradict her-.
"Ooh! Uber vamps!" I exclaimed with a little too much enthusiasm. I turned to Vala a little embarrassed by my childish behavior; it was like I was reverting to 15 and all because I was feeling excited about not being the only woman with super strength. I mean there's Faith and Buffy but they're way younger…
"Sorry, little excited here. Uber vamps. I overheard part of Anya's study group last time I was here. About the only thing that kills them is direct sunlight or beheading. Their chests are like steel so staking is going to be difficult and they're supposed to be the Alpha dogs of their species. Faster, stronger and a smidge brainier."
"Nice to know. Anything else?" Vala asked reaching to her side for the gun.
"Yeah, no guns." I set a hand on her arm. "I'm pretty sure the bullet's likely to bounce off and I don't feel like being riddled with holes."
Vala stuck the gun back in its holster and reached to her hip for the sword; A really nice Japanese sword with a slightly curving blade and decorated hilt. It was slim and looked light as a feather in her hand.
"No guns." She agreed swinging the blade through the air in a lazy turn. "It would've been too easy."
"You know, I really do like you." I replied. We smiled at each other before moving into the field of stones. I was guessing it wasn't every day Vala found some one she could talk or hunt with. I know it's not an everyday thing for me. I usually have to keep checking to make sure they don't get killed and take care of my end of things.
"Where's yours?" Vala asked raising her sword suddenly concerned at my bare hands. I patted my back where the Sai were safely in their scabbards and told her not to worry since I wasn't a Potential. We had somehow by passed my whole being a Fury and demonstrations of what I could do. She didn't look too convinced but the Uber vamp swiped at her head.
"This is going to be fun. So, you know how bad I've been wanting a good old fashioned knock down, cemetery brawl?" the only answer I got was a menacing 'grr' and nails. Nails! I mean come on, can't they make a fist?
I ducked the second swipe at my head, even one handed he could take it off without trying. I smashed a fist into his face for emphasis. "See? Works much better."
I was having fun; feeling like this was my first hunt. I reached under my jacket feeling the hilt of the Sai in my hands. With every swipe the Uber took at my head I backed up until it 'grred' at me sticking his head so far forward I couldn't let it go to waste. The Sai slid out easily and slashing them across took the Uber's head without a problem. His body went up in a burst of ash which I stepped past smiling. It really did feel good to be out and killing again; vampires that is.
I took a moment to watch Vala kick ass. She didn't move like the other Slayers or like the vampires either which I'd heard from Angel was part of their Slayer-ness. Her body took advantage of the Slayer strength and agility, using the tombstones and landscape to her advantage. It was clear she'd had training, the techniques were flawless but the almost animal like movements she switched into were beautiful to watch. Two of the Uber vamps took themselves down trying to box her in. Now that was a sight.
"Atras!" the warning came a little late. Strong arms clamped around mine and I was off my feet. Vala was cut off from coming to my rescue by another set of Ubers only I was beginning to think they weren't Ubers and then the bitch bit me!
"Aah!" my scream was followed by a pained roar. I could feel blood, sticky and foul smelling on my neck, the brief flash of silver lit the night enshrouding the cemetery and then I was free. "Come on! Bite me!" I yelled. I slashed at the Turoks face. It was pissed off about having lost its teeth on my stone neck but I was pissed off as well.
"Phade?" I ignored Vala and ashed me a Turok-Han going after another one just as it lunged at me. I wanted blo-no, not blood, ash. I wanted to make lots of piles of ash. Itsy, bitsy puffs of ash. This is when I don't mind being strong, as a matter of fact I wish my arm could reach far enough to pat myself on the back.
My Sai whistled through the night sinking deep into the furred back. The first puff wasn't satisfying enough so I went for another. They tried ganging up on us. Had we been normal or just Potentials they could've torn us to shreds, easy peasy. Only they picked a Slayer and a Fury… not the best idea they'd had.
"Duck!" to her credit Vala didn't ask me where like some other idiot who shall remain nameless. She dropped to her stomach and lay flat on the grass. My Sai made another puff but that left the other Turok-Han stumbling against a headstone. I didn't think; just shoved both empty hands into the statue in front of me. A dozen missiles burst forth directed by my will, the small spheres lengthened until they were sharp spikes. They were stone not wood so there was no ash but the Turok-Han now looked like a porcupine.
Vala moved fast, turned over and sent it flying with a kick. She went after it sword swinging while I dealt with the last two Turok-Han. No one had said these came in a pack.
I ran forward, used a low headstone to push off of and put a flaming fist through its chest.
"Allergies," my eyes were glowing. I know because I could see everything back lit. "They're a bitch."
The Turoks roar was cut off as my arm flared to life. His body went up in a fiery puff and then with both arms still aflame the last Turok-Han didn't have a chance.
"A Fury." Vala's disbelief was kinda funny. I mean here she is, the senior Slayer and she's giving me grief cuz I'm a Fury. "I get you don't mean like the mythological half bird half women or even the trio of females in mythology who turned insane those…"
"Who killed a family member?" I finished for her. See I do read up on my history. "No, as far as I can tell I don't work for the Powers That Be and I'm one of many. All of us existing at the same time. There's no Chosen one krap."
"Aren't you the lucky one." Vala murmured with just a hint of acid. I couldn't blame her, I felt the same way about the Powers That Be and their stupid idea that only one girl was enough to fight evil. It's pretty obvious how that hasn't turned out well considering all the dead girls between the first Slayer and Buffy. Maybe she was wondering why the Powers That Be didn't follow the Od VaiLumen's example and activate the other Potentials. I'd wondered about it from the moment I heard the 'One girl in all the world…' spiel.
"So the fire…" guess it was only fair since I'd been asking her all sorts of personal questions. Vala spoke Japanese even some Czech.
"A Fury has mastery over the elements." I sighed because I was having trouble understanding how stone was an element. It was just rock… "So far I've got three. The fire though I'm not so good with the control. Stone, my best element so far and water. Which I so hate." I rolled my eyes wondering at the curse of the seaweed lady.
"Water? But fire and water don't mix. How is that possible?" Vala made a good point. I hadn't even thought of it before but I hadn't had much time to think about a lot of things. There was always some sort of emergency or catastrophe cropping up just when I got close to getting more information on these powers.
"I don't know but I'm missing a Guardian and I'm thinking that once I get him it'll mean I'm ready for this war."
AN: as promised the next installment of Phade's journey is here and I just might get the second chapter posted by the end of the week. Let's hope...
Reviews? Any one have an opinion...? and yes, Iam crosing over with my Slayer fic.