This is the spot where you're going to find all the odd stuff and little bits of trivia I didn't include at the front because it would ruin the story to give it away ahead of time. You can skip this part if you don't like glimpses into the writer's mind. Wouldn't blame you: it's a dismal swamp full of old clutter and warped byways.

I've always liked this character, along with Dawn, Xander, Cordy, Wesley, and a few others. An' it were up to me, following "The Gift", Buffy'd have stayed croaked and it would have become Faith the Vampire Slayer. And while I've read almost all of them and enjoyed quite a few... I've never quite bought the concepts that Faith would have settled in training mini-slayers and/or ended up settling down with Xander and living happily-ever. For the one, she's too edgy to last long as a teacher or administrator without going buggy and killing someone... and she doesn't really seem to really like a lot of the people involved in the Post-Chosen IWC, ties that bind notwithstanding. Too much bad history there to get beyond easily. While I could see her liking Xander... they're a bit too different to click as anything except friends and comrades in arms. I could see her clicking with Dawn, Vi, and Wes: it just worked. Robin just didn't click: a bit too slick a fellow in my view.

So rather than bitch in comments on someone else's fics about directions and interpretations, I headed off on my own instead and this is the result. More entertaining, at least to do, and it annoys fewer people.

Not that annoying people really bothers me, you understand, but I like writing. ;

Naturally, Faith's heroes are her own, and as I don't really have access to the inside of her head I just tried to fake it convincingly, I had to kind of guess at it. But... given the background and personality of the character as established, and the glimpses of her personality given, I think it's safe to assume that with few exceptions, she's going to lean a bit to the broken heroes: the slightly bent ones who know what it's like to feel the blackness inside and strive past the darkness in their souls to reach for something else. Not pure, not clean, and not by any means white hats... but still managing to reach out of the black and end up however precariously on the side of the good.

People that speak to what she's trying to become and leave signposts along the road map to how it might be done.

For anyone who didn't catch all of the dream references because they don't quite have the same eclectic reading history I do, the decidedly odd group of individuals on the gates are, in no particular order:

Karl Cullinane, Ahira, Andrea, and of course Walter Slovotsky from Rosenberg's Sword and the Chain novels.

Legolas, from LOTR by Tolkien. Possibly an exception to the 'slightly bent dark hero' thing, possibly not.

Elric of Melnibone and Stormbringer; by way of Michael Moorcock.

Travis McGee by way of John D. MacDonald.

Jacob McCandles, Big Jake; ala John Wayne. We thought you were dead, too...

Nicos Bando from Barry B. Longyear's Infinity Hold.

Jianna and Wave, of Dafyyd ab Hugh's Heroing.

Corson and Nyctasia from J.F. Rifkin's Silverglass.

Mack Bolan aka The Executioner, ala Don Pendleton.

Mike Hammer, by Spillane. No doubt snarling curses all the while at the Pit and the mind of the young dame that drug him in there.

Jame of the Kencyrath from P.C. Hodgell, Godstalk.

Hell Tanner of Damnation Alley from Zelazny.

And last but not least, Vlad Taltos, former Jhereg, of Steven Brust's Jhereg cycles and whom without which Faith would never have made the Spire...

Sword of Morgaine from C.J. Cherryh and somehow separated from its owner. Boy, will she ever be pissed when she notices...

Pit by way of Larry Niven and Pournelle's Inferno and the Place Where Only That Which You've Loved Can Save You also from Rosenburg.

Seventeen because that's a mystical number (just ask Vlad) and one to draw them.

Plus a cameo from Will Turner in a guest role in the Adventures of Captain Faith Sparrow, in one of Faith's alternate dream lives.

I'm going to leave the wizard as an exercise for the student. If you've read any or all of the source materials... you probably already have a good idea of some of his thousand or so names, anyway. If not, nyah. Read more. As Faith said: doesn't matter. None of them are now nor ever were his True Name, anyway.

Other Credits: "Bat Out of Hell" lyrics by Jim Steinman, filtered through mine and Faith's heads. "If you could read my mind" from Gordon Lightfoot, and filked a bit by me. "Nowhere Fast" also from Steinman. Other movie, song, and book quotes scattered through are from far too many sources to list: if you're widely read and viewed, you probably caught most of them.

I'm certain there's going to be some readers who may object to my interpretation of Faith-as-reader, and her knowing some of the references herein. All I'm going to say to that is: the girl's got like, facets and shit, and she did spend an awful long time in the crowbar hotel. It's entirely possible that at points in my misspent youth, I've known and talked to a few more ex-cons than possibly Whedon and some folks. When you're in stir, especially when in for the reasons established that Faith stayed in, you find some way to assassinate the clock and make the bars go away... or you die. Find God, join AA, study things you'll never use, become a yard monster, get a degree... something that makes the bars fade. Or read. A LOT. Anything that takes your mind off of the excruciatingly slow tick of the clock and keeps you even semi-sane, stops the rot that kills your soul inside.

Faith chose to read. Losing herself in other worlds gave her a way to recover some sanity and try to stay sane in this one. Deal with it.

Other readers may have issues with my interpretation of Faith as being a pretty damned intelligent young woman. All I can say there is to refer to that misspent youth I mentioned, and reflect that it's possible I know a bit about coming back from the dark and the mean and the violent, and the kind of person it takes.

There aren't many stupid recovering street rats. Not living ones, anyway.

There is no way that that character as was portrayed is stupid. Ignorant maybe, and semi-educated, at best... but that's not the same thing. She's not used to thinking of herself as smart, certainly. And she's hot-tempered and impulsive and forgets to think when her temper kicks in, definitely And, like a lot of abused kids from bad backgrounds... at some point she's probably been brutalized early on into believing she's stupid and will never amount to much. But being at the top of the food chain in a dangerous lifestyle kills smart people: stupid ones die fast. Think it through.

Lack of sex: Umm... wah. Don't care how promiscuous someone is portrayed as being, after a relationship crashes in on you along with your hoped-for-future, a lot of time that's the last thing someone is in the mood for. Having been through a few bad breakups... I'm familiar with that. She'll probably get back to the mood eventually, but I'm not sure the "Get some, get gone" days are due for a return.

If some of the spellings strike you as odd, they're British. Colour, humour... I'm not a Brit, but I've been friends with too many of them in my life. Damned language is insidious. So is the accent. Faith's spent too much time around British Watchers, and she's probably been infected a bit too. Deal with it.

As always though... you can't ever address all the nits someone might pick, so if the voices in my head are really bothering you, kiddo - apologies, but move on, and write your own. Fanfic's a big place: don't waste time here if it annoys you. Arguing with the 'bear only frustrates you and amuses me. Just ask my friends.

Anyway, hope ya'll enjoyed it. Future installments and vignettes will be posted as I get a Round Tuit and finish them.

We'll probably see a lot of Faith's travels through the inside of my head, in one form or another. She certainly left me enough plot hooks...

- Ironbear