Plane to New York
30 minutes after LA Battle
"So, why are we headed to New York?" Faith asked.
"We need to see someone," Buffy said, downing a chocolate bar. "Multiple some ones. You're coming along so we can keep you out of trouble."
"Hey, we can keep out of trouble!" Faith muttered sourly. Buffy just grinned.
"Yeah, uh-huh, sure. One block, remember?"
"Bitch," Faith muttered. "So, who're we seeing?"
"Well, for one, we need to get SHIELD off our backs, which means we need to report in to Herr Fury and make with the 'splainy," Buffy said. "Also, we need to assure the Spider we aren't going to make his life a living hell. And finally..." Buffy stopped a moment. "She wants to see Eddie one last time. Not necessarily all in that order."
"There's a couple of tall orders there, B," Faith said, snatching a chocolate bar off the tray in front of Buffy. "Mean, how're you gonna get close enough to ol' Web Head without him jumping to conclusions."
"Civilian," Buffy said. Faith raised an eyebrow. "Yes, we know who he is, no we are not telling you."
"Yes, we are," Buffy said. "Now get some sleep. We're going to be majorly busy till we head back to LA."
"And then on to Sunnyhell?" Buffy nodded slowly.
"Yeah. On to Sunnyhell."
Roughly 6 hours later
Peter Parker was so busy looking through the jewelry store window for an anniversary present for his wife he didn't see the person who ran into him. Nor did he notice the note that had been placed into his pocket until he reached for his wallet to pay for the new watch.
Meet me on the roof.
Ten minutes later, Spider-Man leapt onto the roof, looking around cautiously, not really knowing what to expect.
White noise clouding his Spider Sense was the first clue.
"Why today?" he complained. "All I wanted was to get my wife a present, maybe a little snuggle time. But nooooo, you just had to come back to town, didn't you, Venom?"
"We suppose saying 'we're not the same person' isn't going to help ease your concerns?" Venom rasped out from the roof fire exit.
"Not really," Spider-Man said, getting into a low crouch, ready to leap into action.
"Well, sorry to disappoint you, Spider, but it's true," the blended Slayer said. "Our Other isn't as full of anger or greed as our past selves. She's...like you. A hero. And now, so are we."
"And you expect me to believe that?"
"No," Venom admitted. "We expect to have to convince you. We expect that it will take a long time. Unfortunately, we don't have that long."
"Oh and why's that?"
"Because we have a Hellmouth to protect, a youngling to teach and we don't have time to deal with you and your fellow heroes taking out past mistakes on us," Venom snarled. Before Peter could say anything, the mask and costume turned into a long black coat, covering a white blouse and blue jeans. Peter looked at the blonde cautiously. "Sorry about that. She still has...rejection issues and things were about to get out of hand. Figured it was time to take over."
"And you are?" Spider-Man asked.
"Buffy," she said simply. He almost choked on the laughter that bubbled up. "Hey! Coming from a guy calling himself 'Spider-Man' that's a real laugh. I wonder where your powers come from?"
"Why the name?" he muttered. "It's always the name."
"Agreed," Buffy shot at him. Spider-Man glared at her.
"Alright, say I believe you. What do you want from me?"
"Nothing," Buffy said. "Just stay off our back and keep your buddy's out of Sunnydale and we'll be cool."
"What's a Sunnydale?"
"Boca del Inferno."
"You know I think New York has 'Mouth of Hell' sewed up," Spider-Man joked.
"Nah. Doesn't have an actual portal to hell. Well, unless you count the freeway to New Jersey," Buffy sent back just as smoothly.
"Oh you are good."
"So...portal to hell, huh?"
"Yup," Buffy nodded. "Nasty too. Right under the high school."
"...Damn. You've probably used all the good 'school is hell' jokes, huh?"
"Yeah, think we've done 'em all."
"Well, you're a better conversationalist than most of Venom's Others."
"We like to think we've moved a step up from Gargan."
"What happened to him anyway?"
"Ran into a Volcax demon. Head crushed like a grape."
"Yeah, not a nice way to go. My Other still has nightmares about that."
"Hey, she has dreams too! Of course, when we first met most of those was your open head, but she's changed. She's better than she was."
"Say I do believe that. What's to say the next Venom isn't going to come after me?" Buffy glared at him, her 'coat' was almost vibrating.
"Look, we understand. You have trust issues with symbiotes. But she wants to leave that behind and we're sure as hell am NOT letting her go any time before we keel over, which we're not planning on being any time soon."
"Well, that's good to hear," Spider-Man said. "That doesn't mean I trust you yet."
"Yeah, we fig..." Buffy's sentence was cut off by roaring engines as a SHIELD transport flew above them. "Friends of yours?" she yelled.
"Not that I know of," Spider-Man answered.
'Venom, surrender immediately. You are under arrest for attacking and endangering SHIELD personal.'
"So much for changing!" Spider-Man said, stepping back.
"They attacked us first!" Buffy screamed defensively, then looked at the carrier. "IT WAS SELF DEFENCE YOU MORONS! YOU ATTACKED US FOR NO REASON!" Spider-Man had to give her points for guts. He didn't know anyone willing to scream at SHIELD. "So much for a nice, easy trip," Buffy said as the symbiote covered her body. "We hate our life."
"Oh dear, you're serious, aren't you?" Giles grew dangerously pale as he fell into a chair. After all, he'd just been told that there was a second symbiote out there and both the new She-Venom and this new symbiote that identified herself as Wrath had Slayer hosts. Which could only mean one thing really.
"Question is, which one is Buffy?" Xander asked, having long since moved past the revelation and asking the real question. "Venom or Wrath?"
"I would think that's rather obvious," Johnny said. "Your friend Buffy has been missing for upwards of three months. The new Slayer from Boston, that was held captive by Kakistos, whom we know was slaughtered by the new She-Venom, has only been missing for a few weeks, maybe only a month or two. She-Venom appeared on our scopes roughly two and a half to three months ago. By that time frame, the Boston Slayer should have still been in Boston."
"So," Willow was on the verge of tears, even as she stated the facts, "Buffy is the new host of the Venom symbiote. And has been for several months now..."
"And she either captured, or rescued, the other Slayer from Kakistos and somehow gave her another symbiote," Black Cat summarised.
"And you brought the Hulk back with you!" Cordelia screamed, pointing at Banner, who was just sitting quietly in a corner drinking tea. He looked up, then shrugged when everyone stared at him and went back to his tea.
"What's wrong with that?" Johnny questioned.
"Hello!" Cordelia gestured erratically around the Library. "We're on the freaking Hellmouth! The Hulk might be mister invulnerable, but what about alter-ego wimp guy back there chugging on Giles's chamomile supply?! What if he gets turned or something else demonic happens to him? What happens to him, happens to the Hulk, right?"
They all stared, feeling like slapping themselves silly by this point.
"I hate it when Cordelia makes sense," Willow grumbled.
"I'm just passing through," Bruce Banner informed them.
"Yeah, people that just pass through usually are the first ones to go," Xander grudgingly admitted. "Any way of extracting this guy away from Sunnydale, or any place supernatural, come to think of it?"
"Sure, just send me on my way. I mean, it's not like I could help or anything," Bruce whined before sipping some more tea.
"Excuse me, Mr. Banner," Giles spoke to the rather unimpressive individual, "But might I inquire as to your field of expertise?"
"Bio-chemistry, specialising in gamma radiation exposure," was the instant reply.
"And what benefit might you have to offer in the field of the supernatural? Specifically, in combating vampires and demons atop an interdimensional rift identified solely as the Hellmouth?" the Watcher dropped the other foot.
"Ah... by getting as far away from here as humanly possible?" he offered.
Giles smiled and nodded, "Good man."
New York City Rooftops
"What the heck did you do to piss them off so much?!" Spider-Man shouted at his black-clad counterpart as they dodged various missiles shot at them from the SHIELD aircraft hovering above.
"That was rhetorical, right?" Venom Slayer replied, shooting a webline to zip under some cover and then out again before it could be blown up.
"OK, here's a very much NOT rhetorical question," the red and blue clad hero snapped at the black and white anti-heroine. "How would you suggest we get out of this mess? Because I don't think they're going to stop shooting until one or both of us are put in SHIELD superhuman holding cells!"
"How about the sewers?" she offered, jumping off the roof and down into an alley, only to reappear on the other side of the roof after a few more rockets were launched down said alley.
"I hate the sewers," Spider-Man grumbled to himself.
"Yeah, well what's your bright idea?" Venom Slayer shouted back, having heard him despite being several meters away. Benefits of symbiote-enhanced Slayer powers.
Spider-Man didn't respond.
"That's what we figured," she called back. "Nearest entrance?"
"Down the alley you keep trying to get into and they keep shooting missiles into," he dryly remarked, back-flipping to avoid some laser fire.
"Don't suppose you've got a superhero pal you can call a favor in from, huh?" she asked, cartwheeling out of the way of another missile.
"... Not on speed-dial, unfortunately," the wall-crawler grumbled.
"Then we have to do things our way," the Symbiote-Slayer growled.
"Your way?" Spider-Man repeated, surprised. "What happened to this supposed change from the old Venom? Huh?!"
"My way is we take them down, but not out. Only things that get an instant kill from us are monsters worse than what our Other used to be. Considering that she had to rip open peoples heads just to survive while bonded to a couple of psychopaths, that's saying something. You take the weapons ports, we'll take the engines."
"Why do I have to take the place where all the exploding stuff is coming from?" he whined.
Venom Slayer just pointed up at the SHIELD craft. Spider-Man looked up, and saw that it was a Valkyrie-Class Air-to-Land Support Cruiser. He couldn't so much as scratch the engines on that behemoth, even if he had a week and few missiles of his own to work with. This new She-Venom on the other hand...
"Uh, right. Weapons, got it," Spider-Man nodded and then set up a web-sling-shot to get him up to the airship before they shot at him again.
Venom Slayer just crouched down, aimed her trajectory, and then jumped. She landed on the rear engine-pod just as Spidey was within the maximum range for a webline to the underside of the ship's hull.
"Whoa," he couldn't help remarking to himself upon seeing the sheer physical prowess of the new Venom. "Oh yeah, weapons." He quickly got to work on clogging as many missile ports with web-fluid as fast as he could.
Meanwhile, Venom Slayer was going to town on all the engine-pods within reach. It really wasn't that hard to sharpen her fists into talons and apply a bit of Symbiote, Spider, and Slayer strength, and ripping out the control wires and fuel lines to each pod was child's play. She had over half of them disabled inside of thirty seconds. The ship finally started to go down after three quarters of them were permanently off line.
"Let's move it Spider!" she called from the top of the ship. "Don't want to have to deal with their reinforcements on top of this thing!"
"All right already!" he screamed back and both quickly shot out weblines and were swinging away from the crash, which the pilots were desperately trying to make happen in a non-populated area. "You know, we could have timed taking out the engines a little bit better."
"Puh-lease," the curvaceous crusader scoffed. "We left them two engines, that's more than enough to let them have a controlled crash. We may have a destructive streak a mile wide, but we're not stupid."
Right at that moment, the SHIELD airship crashed into the Hudson and amazingly enough did not explode.
"See?" Venom Slayer then stuck her foot-long tongue out between her fangs.
"You must be from the West Coast, because you certainly don't act like anyone on the East Coast would act. Well, except maybe people from Miami. But that's a whole other can of worms," Spider-Man commented.
"So," she asked while flipping around for another webline shot, "Interruption aside, what's your answer? We really don't want anything to do with you... anymore. We're going to be in town for a few more days. Taking care of... personal business. You just happened to be the first of it. Once we get this mess with SHIELD taken care of, we'll go and if my Other has her way, we'll never be back in yours or my lifetime."
"So, stay out of your way and you'll stay out of mine?" the wall-crawler clarified.
Venom Slayer nodded her head, then added, "Basically. Though we would add that even if you get in our way, we'll still stay out of yours. Petty revenge isn't all that interesting, and you're just not worth it anymore. There are more important things that we have to focus on right now."
Spider-Man was silent, just webslinging alongside the black and white symbiote slayer for a few more blocks. Finally, he said, "OK, fine. Truce. On two conditions."
Venom stirred uncomfortably, but Buffy quieted her down with a thought. She wasn't so much a white hat anymore that she wouldn't tell a little white lie every once in a while. Just because they verbally agreed to whatever these conditions were, did not mean they had to stick to the letter of said agreement.
"What are they?" she requested.
"One; You warn me next time your in town."
"So you can keep tabs on us?" Venom asked. Spider-Man shook his head.
"No," he began seriously. "So I can get out of town for a week," Buffy snorted under her mask.
"Right," she rasped. "And the other?"
"See Fury before you visit Eddie," Buffy nearly fell off her webline. How...? "'Personal business'? Really wasn't that hard to figure out."
"Right. Smart ass," Venom Slayer muttered. "That it?"
"Yeah," Spider-Man said as they landed on a building. "Look, I'm gonna level with you. I don't trust you. As in on a scale of my regular enemies, you're right under Norman Osborne."
"Now there's a confidence boost," she said under her breath.
"But," he continued. "You obviously know what you're doing. You could have killed those SHIELD agents back there. That'll earn you some points with Fury. Sure as hell did for me. But I'm going to be keeping an eye on you. If I think you've crossed the line..."
"You'll come after us," she finished for him. "Got it."
"Make sure you do," he said, launching a webline and swinging off. Buffy smirked as her costume retracted. One down, three to go.
'Four,' her symbiote reminded her. Right, four. First stop... trying to find Nick Fury.
And make sure Faith was staying put.
"Da-yum, these guys make some moolah!" Faith whistled in appreciation at the large building. "Man, what a sweet pad. Okay, guess we'd better go and try and get this done," her plan was simple. As the 'innocent' one, she and Wrath were hoping they could talk Fury down. However, the bonded Slayer had no frickin' clue where to start. So, while Buffy was chattin' to the Spider, they were going to get a line on Fury, and hopefully make some contacts of her own.
Plus Faith had always wanted to meet the Thing. The man was her hero.
Of course, first she had to get in, and going in with her symbiote on was probably going to get her in more trouble than it was worth finding this place.
"Impressive, ain't it?"
"Damn straight it is," Faith answered the rough voice. "Wouldn't happen to know a way in, would ya? I gotta talk to the Rubber-Band Man." The voice gave an amused snort.
"What kinda business? He's a busy guy, ya know?"
"Yeah, I get that. Just tryin' to... help a friend," Faith had a feeling she knew that voice from somewhere. She just couldn't place it.
"Help a friend, huh? Maybe there's somethin' I can do?"
"What could y... holy..." Faith froze as he recognised the figure standing behind her dressed in a large trench coat.
Her wish just came true.
Benjamin J. Grim.
"Uh... well," she began nervously. "You see, Mr Grim, sir..." the large, rock skinned man chuckled.
"Geez, kid, settle down," he advised. "Jus' call me Ben and explain the problem."
"Right, Mis... er, Ben," Faith corrected herself. Even Wrath felt a little in awe (though that might have been Faith's influence) as the two hoped this wasn't going to turn into a fight. "Y'see, my friend's kinda inherited a position on SHIELD's shit list and I wanna wipe her off it..."
Thirty minutes later
"Hey, Reed, you in here?" Ben called as the two got off the elevator.
"He's in his lab, Ben, as usual," the blonde figure Faith recognised as Sue Richards said, walking out with her daughter Valeria on her hips. Okay, Faith was getting a little starstruck.
Oh quiet, you.
"Well, get 'im OUTTA the lab, Suzie Q," Ben said. "He's gonna wanna hear this first hand or he ain't gonna believe it. Hell, I'M havin' troubles believin' it. No offence, kid."
"Don't sweat it," Faith said, trying to sound confident. "I guess after all the trouble Venom's caused in the past, ya'd be a bit hesitant an' all. But I swear to God it's all true."
"Venom?" Sue repeated, gripping Valeria a little tighter. The Fantastic Four had dealt with Venom through their connection with Spider-Man. Last they heard, the Symbiote had bonded with the former Scorpion, Mac Gargan. "What about him?"
"Her," Faith corrected. "Bein' bonded to my bud an' all. And they're tryin' to turn over a new leaf, 'cept that SHIELD an' every long-john wearin' thrill seeker wanna take her in for the previous Venom's crimes. We're tryin' to get the word out to Fury she's on the side of angels, but he's the invisible frickin' man. Er... no offence." Sue just smiled, though she was a little guarded since Venom had been mentioned.
"And the symbiote on your own person?" a slightly older voice asked. Faith stiffened as Sue took a step back.
"We were getting' to that part," Faith said as Reed came into view, holding what Faith could only presume was a sonic blaster of some kind. Oh...fuck!
"Yo, take it easy, stretch, kids on the up an' up," Ben said, stepping between them. Faith just gawked at him. He... believed her? "I know I ain't super smart or have some mind readin' thing, but she coulda just busted in here. Instead she was standing outside tryin' ta get in without soundin' any bells. That don't match one 'a those symbiotes. Least the ones we're used to."
"Yeah, brainiac, just chill and hear us out," Faith almost begged. Wrath was twitching in fear. She knew what that thing could do, she had her 'mother's' memories after all. "If you don't believe me after that, you can send me off to SHIELD or whatever but just... don't fire that thing, 'kay? My other... she's just a kid. Only a month or so old, and I seriously don't think she could handle it."
"A newborn symbiote?" Reed gasped. "How...?"
"Don't ask me," Faith said. "All I know is me an' B have got this mystical destiny shit and something about that revived Venom's last seed and blammo! There's my partner."
"Mystical..." Reed began. He was already getting a headache. "Come into my lab. I think I need to make a phone call..." It was at that point that Faith's cell rang.
"Can I...?" Faith asked. Reed nodded as the symbiote retrieved her phone from it's 'pocket' for her and held it out. "Thanks kiddo," she said, answering it. "'Lo?"
"Faith, you have about five minutes to get your ass back to the hotel before I ground you for life," Oh...Damn...
"Uh... love to B, but I'm kinda being held at sonic cannon point here."
"...Where are you?"
"Now, B don't freak..." Faith began. Sue's lips were twitching at the girl, who sounded like she was trying to talk her way out of parental problems.
"Where. Are. You?"
"...WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THERE?" Faith held the phone away from her ear, meaning everyone in the room heard that. Ben snorted.
"Uh... trying to find Fury so I can talk him off your back?"
"You... you... ugh, dammit, Faith," Buffy said, exhaling sharply. "And I take it they aren't believing a word you said?"
"Actually, Ben does," Faith sounded just a tad TOO excited by that prospect.
"And the sonic cannon?"
"That would be Stretch Armstrong," Ben doubled over laughing and even Sue gave a giggle while Reed went slightly red.
"Faith, what are we going to do with you?"
"Uh... Not kill me?" Faith offered. Buffy sighed over the line.
"Stay put, try not to start any fights..."
"... And ask them – NICELY - to put their defences on hold. I'm coming to get you."
"B, I don't..."
"Crap. Uh..." she began looking at Reed. "Think you could put that down? She's on her way to pick me up and she's REALLY not going to take kindly to you pointing that thing at us. Really."
"I'm gonna take a stab an' say you aren't supposed to be here," Ben said.
"Uh... no?" Faith said. "I just thought I'd... Look, B's done me a major solid. Several, if you wanna get into it. I was bein' held as a pet/slave/chew toy for this really old vampire. Sick son of bitch," she pulled her shirt up just enough to see the large brand imprinted on her stomach, causing Sue to gasp. Kakistos' mark. "B doesn't know about this one. Scars on my back, a mix from him and the male DNA donor, yeah, but not this. We all got our marks, the ones no one else sees. This is mine," she pulled her shirt back down, her face set, determined. "I just wanted to pay her back some, you know? Figured I could get SHIELD off her back, let her do her thing without anyone breathin' down her neck. I just... didn't know where to start. Yeah, B's got the Venom symbiote now, but she's not like the other guys. She's sane. Mostly, though considering the crap she's been through – what I know, anyway – that's a hell of a trick. She's got her own thing, her own enemies, she doesn't need the cape crowd on her ass, and she definitely doesn't need to be re-enacting 'The Fugitive'. So... please. You know where Fury is, let me talk to him. Let me convince him. I gotta at least try. Please."
"Reed..." Sue began.
"She's telling the truth," the entire group turned to see Reed and Sue's young son, Franklin Richards standing at the door.
"Franklin..." Reed began.
"She's telling the truth," Franklin repeated, walking towards Faith. The young boy grabbed her hand and smiled. "I believe you, miss."
"Franklin, how do you know this?" Reed asked. The boy pointed at Faith. No not Faith. Her jacket.
"I can hear it," he said. "It's innocent, never done anything wrong. Everything they say is truth."
"Uh... wow..." Faith muttered. Sue was looking at Reed in shock. Did this mean...?
"Franky's powers are back? Hoo boy..." Ben muttered.
"I'm missing something?" Faith asked, looking between the group. Franklin just shrugged.
"Mega-mutant who's powers got burned out," he said, pointing at himself.
"Franklin...?" Reed began. Something definitely wasn't right here. Franklin was acting... older. Like...
"Yes and no, dad," Franklin said with a sigh, looking around. "It's been a while. I'd almost forgotten..." his eyes fell on his baby sister, who was looking back at him. Franklin gave a shudder before turning back to his father. "I don't have much time. I'm using a combination of Cerebra and the Sorceress Supreme to send my mind through time. Faith's telling the truth, and if you don't help them... Let's just say things are going to get very bad, very fast."
"How bad we talkin', kid?" Faith asked. Yeah, this was freaky, but the way he was talking, her and B had something to do with this. And that scared her more.
"Sunnydale a sinkhole, the Mayor an all powerful Snake demon with you and Buffy as his right and left hands," Franklin said flatly. Faith sucked in a sharp breath. Her and Buffy would never do anything like that. Unless...
"Our symbiotes?" Franklin shook his head.
"If the meetings here don't go your way, a combined group of Punisher, Black Cat, Ghost Rider, Buffy's friends and SHIELD will kill both symbiotes, leaving you alive. The Mayor offered you payback, and the loss of your Others had you so batshit insane..."
"Franklin!" Sue snapped automatically. Franklin gave her a wry grin.
"...That you take it, no questions asked," he completed. Faith's breath hitched slightly as Wrath shuddered. "Willow realised her mistake not long after it all went down. Buffy wasn't acting like Buffy. Angry, withdrawn. They didn't even realise what was happening until... Willow barely got out alive. Doctor Strange took her in and trained her. When he died against the Mayor, Willow became his heir, took up his mantle."
"An' played the time travel card," Ben said. Franklin nodded while Faith sucked in a breath.
"Fuck that shit," she growled, ignoring the hard glare she got from Sue. "No way in hell that's happening, even if I gotta keep Buffy out of Sunnydale, she ain't goin' there and we ain't loosin' our Others."
"You need proof," Franklin said. "call Strange and tell him to check the Arcana Mystica, Arcam's Mystical Gateways and The Path of the Lower Power. All the proof's there..." he winced, clutching his head. "Outta time, gotta go. Dad, I know it doesn't make sense, but believe me, I'm telling the truth," a different kind of pain flitted across his face, emotional, devastating. "God, if only we'd gotten this message the first time maybe... maybe things wouldn't have happened like they did. Maybe they wouldn't have wanted revenge for you refusing them and... there was just so much blood... so... much..." the boy blinked, the pain vanishing, replaced with confusion as he looked at everyone staring at him. "Whatcha all lookin' at?" Franklin asked, his voice childish. "An' who's she?"
"She's... a friend of your uncle Ben's," Reed said. Obviously this was the present day Franklin, with no memory of what had happened. Still, if all of that were true. "Miss..."
"Just call me Faith, doc," Faith said. "So, what happens now?"
"I'll turn the defences off and call Stephen," Reed said, leading her towards his lab. "Then I think we need to talk to Director Fury..."
(AN: Hey all! Guess who's back? That's right, partner-in-writing; Doc4! Yay! Now maybe you all can start reviewing his stories a bit more so he'll actually update and post his new stuff! Anyway, this is the updated and now-complete Chapter 9 of Venom Slayer. Followed immediately by a collaboratively finished Chapter 10! Oh yeah, we're on fire! Let us know what you think, we'll keep working at this, but if you have any ideas about where you'd like to see our Symbi-Slayer twosome to head off to next, feel free to share. The more input the better! Thanks For Reading!)