Disclaimer: Buffyverse characters belong to Joss Whedon and their associated studio owners. Other characters belong to their creators and corporate masters. I'm merely borrowing them for the duration, and I promise to put them back relatively undamaged when I'm done. Even the dead ones. ;) All of the stories in this series are fanfics, and not done for profit, only for my own amusement and the entertainment of possible readers. Or the possible entertainment of hypothetical readers. Or something.
Author's Notes: This is the first story in the "Roadverse" series, aka "Oh, the people she knows..."
AU for the Buffy/Angelverse, post series finale: Chosen for Buffy, post season four for Angel. Seems like a lot of people have tackled the "What did Xander do after Chosen?", but not as many have gone into Faith's misadventures afterwards. Since Faith's always been one of my favorite characters, and definitely my favored Slayer, thought I'd take a shot at rectifying that sad state of affairs. Definitely AU: my regard for Whedon's treatment of his buffyverse characters isn't high after Angel and the last two seasons of Buffy, so I'm completely disregarding the "canon" of the Season 8 books. Takes place about a half a year following the events of Blade Trinity, my time line
No intentional character bashing on the Author's part, BUT: this is a series set from Faith's PoV, and there's people in the Buffyverse she doesn't have a high opinion of, so her attitudes will flavor a number of the views of people in here. She's a pretty strong minded character, and I'm finding she definitely makes her opinions known. ;) Any apparent "bashing" is going to stem from that, and from whatever events are necessary to the plot line
This story has been nominated in multiple categories at The Fang Fetish Awards and was nominated in Best Movie Crossover at Twisting the Hellmouth's Crossover Awards.
Word Count: 71,994 so far, not counting notes, title, and disclaimer.
I'll do anything for Love (But I won't do That!)
Chapter 1: 'A whole world of damnation between those two'
He'd finally come to grips with "that infernal contraption", at Dawn's insistence, some months after the collapse of Sunnydale. At least enough to manage email checking; note keeping, and document writing/filing. The first listed NOT being a skill he was particularly enamored of this morning as he opened and glanced at, then reread the first item in his in box And then removed his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose: his usual polishing routine bypassed as being insufficient to forestalling an early Slayer-induced migraine...
Subject: Evil Bastard!
You need to find someone for the NY Office that can keep his "Wood" in his pants around the Baby Slayers. Like, soon - I kinda broke the current one. You need details, ask Vi: said she's ok with fillin' ya in. I left her watching the place for now.
I'm taking some time out.
PS: I'm quit. I'll give you a shout when I'm fit to deal with civilized people. Don't look for me: wouldn't be pretty.
The "G" in question, Rupert Giles sighed heavily and sent the email to his Saved folder. He opened the next email in his queue, hoping the worst was out of the way.
Hello Mr. Giles,
Robin's in the hospital, again, but it's not too serious: he'll live. Maybe. Haven't decided yet. He'll probably be calling you early, our time. I'll append his room number and hospital info at the bottom.
You're going to need to send someone out to cover the school here in the interim. I'll keep an eye on things til then. Call me.
Leaning back and absently beginning to polish his spectacles, he began regretfully doing a mental review of all the things he'd have to wrap up while his assistant made arrangements to book him a flight to New York City. Even before making a phone call to Vi for details, he had the distinct feeling that this was not going to be a long distance crisis to manage. Not for the first time, he wondered why he couldn't have possibly chosen a simpler and less stressful career path as a young man, such as possibly joining the SAS...
"Every Slayer has a death wish. That's what gets them, in the end... " She remembered B remarking on Spike's comment from her and Buffy's occasional talks during that long bus ride from Sunnyhell to LA, after The First, and the collapse. Few times that they'd talked, anyway. For all of the upbeat "Let's go to Disneyland!" post-Apocalyptic cheer in the rush of surviving that battle, it hadn't taken long for Buffy to run out of post-slayage rush and sink into a grim, almost shell shocked depression. Not long for B, not for any of them, really. Too high a butcher's bill for any of them to be really "up" about it, even that irritating twit Kennedy.
Faith wasn't sure that walking, err... staggering... down the back streets and alleys of New Jersey's Waterfront at 4am, dead drunk, swinging a fifth of WT in one hand and smacking a three foot length of heavy chain against building sides and alley walls going "Heeeerrrrrrreee... vampy vampy vampy!" qualified as a "death wish", necessarily, but it for damn' sure wasn't exactly bright. Matter of fact, pretty far down there on the list of "not bright stunts" she'd pulled in her relatively short life. She was pretty sure she'd have a "WTF was I thinking?!" moment or two when she sobered up. After she was far enough post-hangover for thinking to be an un-painful option anyway...
Truth be told, she hadn't been. Thinking, that is. Or at least, her thinking hadn't gone farther than a loop of "Bastard!" and "Just like a freaking man, anyway!" when she'd hit the first bar after bolting out of Slayers NYC, much earlier in the day. At this point, she was just past drunk enough to reflect that drinking hadn't helped any, and far too drunk for the thought to be practical. Goddamn Wood, anyway. Prick.
Leaning against a loading dock, she took a swig to wash down the ashes of her latest - only real - try at something beyond "Want. Take. Have." and "Get some, get gone" in a relationship. Not like the signs hadn't been there, looking back over the last few months from a colder, if soggier, perspective. She just hadn't seen them. Hadn't wanted to see them. Had wanted to keep seeing the Robin Wood that wanted her to give them a chance at something more than a quick roll, back in Sunnyhell, instead of the "just another slick talkin' male with a taste for young" he'd turned out as. Hadn't even taken him long past recovering from his Sunnyhell wounds and leaving the hospital, if she was reading the hindsights right. Just to Cleveland...
She took another swig, and ran what she was starting to call "The Loop" through her mind. Heh. Like she could stop running it...
She'd come in off the road from Maine, parked the bike in the side lot and parked the new Baby Slayer in the hands of one of the older girls to get her settled in. Had expected to surprise Wood - she was almost two days early getting back. Hadn't expected to be the one surprised, walking into his room onto him and one of the younger girls, what-was-her-name... Kerri? Kelli? Something with a fucking "i" at the end.
Standing frozen as there was a mad scramble of too many brown limbs in Robin's bed, him jumping up grabbing for his pants, her falling off him over the side as he scrambled out from under. Woulda been funny if it'd been someone else. As it was, freakin' comedy it wasn't.
Long silence as the girl edged, too carefully, wide around her and out the door. Hot words, from Robin, too loud, not long after when Faith's temper caught up with her shock and took over her mouth. Icy words, too pissed for heat, when she replied. Didn't take long for things to go irrevocable... things said that niether'd be able to take back.
Still hadn't had to have gotten violent. Not if the silly shit hadn't made the mistake of raising his hand to her, when she'd narrowed eyes and remarked "Well, at least you went for the barely legal, short eyes", with a smirk. Fucking insane to take a swing at a slayer, any slayer - much less one you'd just cheated on.
Maybe it was the "short eyes" that did it? Robin'd never struck her as a man who'd hit women. But everyone has their snap-point... He wouldn't do it again, not with that hand. And it'd be awhile before he was walking upright again. Hadn't killed him though, she didn't do that any more. She remembered marveling a bit, in the back of her mind, that she held back.. she'd wanted to cut loose all the way, give in to the predator inside.
Instead, she left him bent just a bit in the wreckage of the door she'd knocked him through, and stalked out trying not to blink away tears in front of the gaping mini-slayers lining the halls.
Vi'd found her out back having a smoke, leaning against the veranda rail, still working on keeping the waterworks in.
"Come out to give me 'The Talk'?" Faith growled. Any of the mini-Slayers would have shrunk from that look, fled from the barely contained rage radiating off of Faith in waves. Vi didn't - that was how you could tell she was one of the Sunnydale veterans. Girl had stones. Not much brains, to come out to face Faith right then, but hell for stones.
"No," Vi shook her head. "Came out to see if you needed to talk."
"You knew?" Faith jerked her head towards the house, an encompassing gesture.
"About this?" Vi shook her head. "That it was happening, off and on? Yeah..." She met Faith's eyes level. "You didn't really think that Xander 'snapped from Sunnydale stress' and beat the crap out of Wood for no reason, back in Cleveland? No matter what everyone said?"
Faith's look would have smoked through the girl, if Vi wasn't impervious. She looked away, instead, gazing into the smoke from her cigar. "Not really. You didn't say otherwise, though. Neither did he."
Vi nodded. "No one wanted to hear it. Buffy was wrapped up in Spike's death, Dawn was shook still, Willow and Giles latched onto Robin's explanation and didn't give Xander a chance... you weren't in any kind of a place to hear it. Majority of the younger girls knew, though. But no one was listening to them. He said not to push it." She shrugged. "Had to let you find out for yourself."
If there'd been any condescension in Vi's eyes, or a hint of a smirk, she'd have ended up with an adjoining suite next to Robin's at the hospital. Instead, Faith met her calm, sympathetic look and nodded, looking away again. "I think I owe Xan an apology. Too wrapped up in Wood to pull my head out of my ass and look at things square."
"And Xander didn't want to hurt you by telling you. You wanted you and Wood to work too bad - everyone could see it," Vi looked away. "Thought it was a bad call myself, but didn't figure it was my call to make." Faith nodded.
"He told you, though. You listened." Faith made it not a question as she met the younger woman's gaze.
"Me. Rona. One of the reasons that Rona went with him when Giles sent him to Africa, afterwards." Vi made a face. "I damned near went, as well." She met faith's eyes again with a level gaze. "You can't believe how pissed we were at them."
"So, why not?"
Vi shrugged again. "Someone had to look after Cleveland. Take care of the slayer-kidlets. Or should I have left them to Kennedy?" She smirked.
That got a laugh out of Faith, but a bitter one. "Oh, hell no!"
Vi snickered. "Yeah... Time for it to come to a stop though. He's picking them younger." They heard the sound of an ambulance pulling into the front drive.
"My cue," Faith sighed, dropped her cigar and stepped on it. "I'm gone, Vi. I can't face them... face that Kelli girl... and deal with this. If I have to be around her, I'll hurt her... and it won't be for her having sex with Wood, it'd be to take my pain out on someone." She looked off into the distance, at something Vi couldn't see. "Can't do that. S'not right."
"Where you going to go?"
"Dunno. Away," She shrugged. "Til I get my head around this." She looked Vi over and through, into her, with that intensity that set the two senior slayers apart from the later-called: made the term 'Senior Slayer' something more than just a nickname. "Can I leave this with you, til Giles can send someone?"
Vi nodded. "No probs. As long as Robin's out of it from here."
Faith looked thoughtful. "I'll email Giles, and call him. You tell him what happened - all of it. I think he'll listen to you now." She started for the door, turned suddenly back, "Thanks. And tell Giles not to send anyone after me. I'll be back when I'm back."
She'd grabbed her bag from where she'd dropped it, inside. Grabbed her bike and pulled away while the ambulance was still loading. Probably childish to shoot Robin an upraised finger as a goodbye wave as she shot past where they were loading him, but she didn't care.
Short homecoming. New record. She hadn't even had time to unpack.
That was a lot of bars and way more booze ago. Had always taken a lot to get Faith drunk, more since she'd been Called. She'd passed that point a long time back, and was now well into the point where if it wasn't for slayer-healing and slayer constitution, she'd have been courting alcohol poisoning. She vaguely remembered having a motorcycle when she'd started out. Had a vague impression it should concern her that she couldn't quite recall when she and it parted company. She wished (but NOT out loud) that the booze had put that distant vagueness between her and The Loop, but so far no dice. "One's too many; entire damn' brewery's not enough. My freaking luck." She snickered, then hiccuped when the snicker started to choke into a sob.
"Oh. So that's what heartbreak feels like. I'd almost forgotten," ran through her mind. "Bastard."
She paused, cocked her head blearily, and replayed the last several moments in her mind's eye-and-ear for something she wasn't sure she'd almost heard. Yah. There had been an echo to that snicker, and it hadn't come from her, nor from the side street she was currently on. But nearby. She focused as best she could without sending the world into a dizzy, nauseating spin. Yup. Thataway. Several voices, one whimpering, several with that smirking mean superiority that spells one thing to Slayer ears. A moment later, her inner sense confirmed it:
'Want. See. Kill.' "Hic!" With an absolutely feral grin she uncoiled from the dock she'd been leaning against and lurched off toward the sounds of death.
He'd been tracking the group all night, waiting for them to lead him to something bigger. Something worth killing.
Pickings had been slender in the months since Drake. The months since the Plague had swept through NYC and the surrounding areas, ashing the childer of the Line of Dagon, and even decimating all but the stronger of the other breeds of kindred. They'd begun drifting back, but slowly... the deaths of countless other bloodsuckers creating an almost supernatural dread of this area in the ranks of the undying.
These were a pack of minions, vampirlings, newly sired - not even pure-breeds. Not a one of them was more than a few years old. They wouldn't have dared the dead zone here, dared encountering the surviving elders of other breeds, unless a Master had moved into the vacuum as well, and drew them to him or her. He wanted the Master, not the minions. He could trail this bunch until they holed up at daybreak, mark their lairs, and resume the trail tomorrow night if needed.
He had all the time in the world.
At least up until now, when they found and surrounded a late night security guard walking the line of dismal industrial docks. And now he had a choice: choke back his disgust and watch while they killed and fed so he could continue his hunt; or move in and take them so that no innocent life was spilled tonight, no new prey were embraced and added to their pack. He growled under his breath, and choked down a curse, as they circled and taunted their windfall.
Not really a choice there, was it?
He stood and started looking for the fastest way down from his rooftop vantage and across into the alley where they were playing with their food.
He lost sight of them several times as he made his way to a rooftop at the end of the alley behind them. But, it was easy to keep track of them by the sound of their catcalls to the terrified man they were tormenting. Plenty of time... he could tell they were in no hurry to feed. They wanted sport more than blood.
Straightening above them, he began marking his targets in preparation for making his run. Four males, three female. Peice of cake, for him. He unlimbered the crossbow, planning to take first the ones that were the most danger to the human, giving him a chance to break and flee the alley. Flee the soon-to-be killing zone.
And then he froze as a new player made her less than subtle way into the scene.
A woman, not too tall, wearing a long leather coat over a set of skin hugging leathers, with a length of heavy chain over her shoulders and a half-empty liquor bottle waving from her left hand. He'd been aware of her, peripherally, as he'd been moving in, but given her uneven walk and the occasional gurgle from a bottle, had written her off as a late night drunk that probably wouldn't be factor nor a part of the fight about to happen. He'd paid just enough attention to her to decide that she was a) too drunk to notice any combat sounds from this direction, and b) on a trajectory that'd send her weaving harmlessly past out of the reach of any peripheral damage.
Ok.. so everyone's allowed to miss one call on occasion.
She staggered into the mouth of the alley, hitting one corner coming in, weaved to a stop in something approximating a cocky stance, muttered something under her breath that sounded to his enhanced hearing suspiciously like "Piss off, Spike", and said cheerily: "Here vampy vampy vampy! Hic!"
For some reason, suddenly a part of him found itself wanting to pinch the bridge of his nose, hard, and start frantically polishing his sunglasses. If it hadn't been for the sudden rush of Power rolling off of the woman in waves, he'd have been merely horrified.
As it was.. he was both horrified and fascinated. There was a certain impending train wreck feel to the developing situation. He just wasn't 100 certain who was the train...
The moment Faith weaved to a stop in the alley mouth, she knew she'd hit jackpot. Two victims, still alive, and at least fourteen vampires. Or maybe seven. Hard to count when they kept moving around in circles.
Oh, lucky her. Luck to die for. Or from, more'n likely. They froze for a second when she made herself known, and then spread out, turning. Make that: 'maybe vampires'. Red eyes, and no ridges. Demons? But they might not be in game face yet...
Two of the ones off to the side moved around to flank her, casually. The one by the potential snack, or one of them maybe, turned toward her, and said "Wow. Fast food. Marinated even."
snicker "Cool. That'sh almosht a new line." She looked him over. "Beatsh the old and trushty 'Did shumeone order takeout?' routine by a mile." They watched her with a lazy predator's confidence as she approached, completely unconcerned. A pity that she couldn't rid herself of the nagging suspicion that they might be right to be confident, this time.
She'd managed to determine that there was really only seven of them, instead of the fourteen she saw frequently. Too bad she'd have to fight with one eye closed to keep them at that number.
"Cute." The one that was obviously lead Vamp here smirked, watching her. "Marinated food that comes straight to the plate."
She shot him a blinding smile, tracking the two flankers by ear as she stopped just out of a normal human's striking range of him. "Too bad you'll never taste it, leech. You'll be waayyy too dead."
All of them laughed at that. He cocked his head to one side, looking her up and down insultingly. "Big talk. Whatta youse think ya are? A Hero?"
"Naw." She winked, stuck a cigar in her mouth, lit it. "Ahm The Shlayer. Hic!"
He froze for a second, as did the others. She dropped to one knee, smashed the top of the bottle off and sloshed the remaining contents over the nearest flanker, tossed the lit zippo after it. There was a sudden flare of heat and light, and a choking screech from that side as she grabbed the length of chain by the end and lunged, whipping it off from around her neck and forward. The end wrapped around the lead vamp's neck and she pulled back with slayer strength, separating head, chain, and shoulders in one smooth motion.
And then fell backwards on her ass as her target came apart in a cloud of flaming ash.
"Wow! Now that's Cool!" Faith's jaw dropped at the pyrotechnic display. She pushed herself unsteadily to her feet as the last of the ash drifted down, vaguely noticing two screaming torches from her left. She must've lucked out and gotten both flankers with the booze trick.
There was a curse from one of the other vampires followed by a snarl as she lunged towards the woman, only to find her momentum broken as Faith fixed her with a curious and absolutely icy smile. Cocking her head she asked, "Do all of you poof into flames like that when you croak?"
She never got her momentum back before the chain whipped forward again and took her head from her shoulders. "Look! Sparklies!" Faith turned her head to the stunned security guard and said, "Run. Now."
The three remaining vampires looked at the four piles of ash, looked at each other, their fleeing erstwhile meal, and then stared at the obviously very drunken weaving young brunette in front of them. And gulped.
Unfortunately, the only way out of the alley was past the self-proclaimed 'Shlayer'... who glared at them with one eye closed and stated emphatically: "I'm not going to shtand here until I pash out while you idiots make up your tiny little mindsh whether it's "fight' or 'flee'," and whirled that damnable chain around and threw it at the center vampire like a massive three foot bolo.
Not being a complete idiot, the center vampire ducked. Unfortunately for the female standing next to and slightly behind him, Faith's aim was a bit off - it neatly wrapped around her neck at twice professional fastball speed and crushed her spine and ripped her head off as it sped down the alley. Flaming ash drifted down a moment later.
With five of their number dead in less time than it took to trade one liners when she first staggered up, the remaining two decided they really didn't want a piece of whatever the crazy drunk chick had. They spun and lit out with vampiric speed to the end of the alley and up the back wall in a blind panic...
Straight into their other hunter...
He sheathed the sword in the back scabbard under his coat as the ashes of the last vampire drifted away. A faint smile curved one corner of his lips as he shook his head, bemused. That was almost entertaining enough to make up for losing his lead on the new master vampire, wherever he was. It wasn't often he saw vampires going into full on panic-mode - at least, not unless he'd caused it. Down below, the dark haired girl was watching enchanted as the embers of her last kill winked slowly out, an almost disappointed pout on her full lips.
Master hunting could wait, he decided. Satisfying his curiosity about the young, female vampire killer was far more interesting at the moment. He stepped forward and dropped off the building roof, landing silently in a crouch on the alley floor.
As quiet as he was, she still heard him land. Her head whipped up, and a wicked looking Hibben knife appeared in her hand as she focused on him. She overbalanced and sat down abruptly, still glaring at him over the blade of the knife.
"Hey! Don't push me! Back for more, huh?" Her eyes narrowed, then an appreciative whistle, "Sweet bod, dude. All three of you."
He shook his head, held out his hands palms out. "Not a vampire. Hunter, like you." He paused a moment, "Only one of me."
She closed one eye and looked at him, "Sho there is. Cool. Whatcha huntin'?"
"Same thing you are?" He approached slowly, careful to make no sudden movements, like someone approaching a feral and possibly dangerous animal. Which, after seeing what he'd watched shortly before, was pretty much the literal truth.
"S'cool. Need more hunters." She frowned. "Prolly not same things as me. Huntin' redemp.. redipsh... redempshun. And love." A completely lost expression flickered over her for a moment. "Not doin' so hot in the love department. Total fuckup."
She levered herself uncertainly to one knee, then with a suddenly horrified expression, turned to one side and abruptly lost a major supply of booze, noisily. "Ooooooooohhh... "
He winced in sympathy. She raised her head, gave him an extremely serious look, and then in a small voice said, "I think I'm going to pass out now." Falling forward, she did.
Rolling his eyes, he walked over to her, and shook his head. Definitely not what he'd had planned for the night. He obviously couldn't leave her here as a late morning snack for any stray vampire wandering through, or for the cops. And it didn't look like he was going to be able to ask where she lived and then make sure she got there on her own...
"Redemption, huh?" he said softly, looking down at the small form. "And love." He lowered his dark glasses slightly to look over them at her. 'There's a world of damnation between those two', went through his mind.
With a sigh, he picked up her knife and returned it to the sheath he found at her waist, then hoisted her up into a fireman's carry, recovered the chain, and started working his way back to his car. He hoped she wasn't going to throw up again, this time on his coat or his upholstery.