Becoming Kate by NautiBitz



CHAPTER FOUR: "Slayers Don't Cry"


Kate wonders how she can function at all, let alone sit behind a desk in a bright classroom, listening to her teacher drone on about the Pythagorean Theorem.

Tired as hell and hopped up on coffee and adrenaline, she has one recurring thought: tonight, tonight, tonight. At some point during the all-nighter in the library, a decision was made. Tonight is the night. The resouling spell is a go.

This time tomorrow, Faith might be Faith again. Kate tries not to fall into fantasy, what could be. There are so many variables, so many potential pitfalls. If it doesn't work, she can't be crushed. She has to soldier on, as her dad would say.

The classroom door opens. Kate looks up to see an old woman in a cloak enter, pause beside the teacher's desk and point directly at Kate, croaking out, "Midnight. Dixon Crypt. To the death," and bursting into flames, and into nothing.

The students gasp. Kate wonders if she's fallen asleep and is dreaming, but they're all hyperventilating, staring at her and the place the woman stood. Not a dream.

A message from Faith.


"Tara," Anya soothes. "We can do this. We will do this."

"I-I know. It's not that. It's Riley," she frets, looking across the library at the double doors. "I haven't seen him since last night and he's never late for anything."

Riley rushes in through the doors, panting. "Hey. Sorry I'm late."

"First time for everything," Anya says.

"Ri," Tara sighs in relief. "You almost had me worried."

"Don't worry about me," he assures her. "It's you I'm worried about."

Kate enters from the office, William following. "I'm going."

"And is there anything at all I can say to stop you?" He tries one last time, jumping in front of her to square her shoulders and look her in the eye. "Other than the obvious fact that you're walking headlong into a trap?"

Her expression is one of absolute resolve. "No."

"Alright then. Be careful, will you?"

"I will," she says, and approaches Tara and Anya. "If it takes too much out of you, or if it doesn't work, don't worry, okay? I'm not expecting anything."

Tara nods. "Just... don't die."

"Noted." As she walks out, she says, "Big honkin' trap, here I come."


"Is everyone ready?" Anya asks the group, sitting around her on the floor, save for Riley, who's been elected to be the lookout.

Holding a heavy baseball bat, Riley paces at the doorway and watches them apprehensively.

Tara takes a deep breath. "I think so."

William takes her hand and holds it tight. Anya clasps her hand over his. He smiles at her tenderly and inhales, eyes returning to the Orb of Thessula. "Let's begin, shall we?"

Tara initiates the chant, and they slowly join in.


Kate steps cautiously through the cemetery, checking her watch (11:59, one minute, one minute) calling out, "I'm here! Just like you asked. You can come out now and reveal your diabolical plan..."

Faith rounds the crypt before her, shoulder-leans against it, hip jutting out. "You're early."

"Yeah, well, punctuality... virtue." Stymied, she looks around, and looks back at Faith, who is still staring, still smiling, still standing there. "This is it? It's just you?"

She laughs. "Yeah. It's just me. Who'd you expect?"

"I don't..." She straightens. "So... Which is it, standing around talking or fighting to the death? 'Cause I don't have a lot of time."

"No," Faith smiles. "You really don't." She turns away, then shoots back with a surprise kick to Kate's stomach.

Kate buckles slightly before recovering with a punch-kick combination, catapulting Faith to the ground. She stands and regards the fallen vampire. "Wow, Faith, that kick really sucked. You're not going easy on me, are you?"

"You like it hard, don't you?" She flips up, elbows Kate in the face before she can duck.

"Okay, that was hard," she acknowledges as she snaps Faith's head backward with the heel of her palm.

And suddenly, the vampire stumbles, looks lost and afraid. She falls to her knees, clutching her stomach.

Kate stands back with a gasp.

Faith bellows in pain. A gold light flashes in her eyes. She blinks, three times, tears falling, seeing Kate as if for the first time. "Katie?"

Kate trembles. "F... Faith?"

"Katie? What — what happened? What's going on? I, I feel like I haven't seen you in weeks..."

"Faith?" She steps closer.

"Baby?" she whispers. "Were we fighting? Oh god, did I... Did I hurt you?"

"Faith," Kate whimpers and collapses onto her knees in front of her lover. "Oh god, Faith..." Their fingers thread through each other's hair. "I didn't think they could do it, but they did..."

"Katie!"

Their mouths fuse, out of hunger, loss, loneliness. Tears of joy fall from Kate's eyes. "Faith!"

They kiss again, and Faith bites Kate's lip.

The Slayer draws back and watches the woman she loves turn into Willow. "What?"

Willow giggles. "I always wondered how a slayer would taste." She licks her teeth. "Little bit tangy."

A sinking feeling at her core turns to a chill. "You set me up."

Willow smiles. "Big time."

Kate runs for her friends' lives.


As the three slip into a deeper consciousness, Riley glances through the door's porthole window, nods once, and rushes up to the center of the circle to smash the Orb to bits.

Jolting awake, William hollers, "What the bloody hell—?"

Faith bursts through the door, flanked by Buffy and several male minions. "Funny, I don't remember ordering any soul." She winks at Riley. "Good job, Iowa."

The three look up in trepidation at Riley, whose grin is now framed by fangs and facial ridges.

"Oh no, God no," William utters before being knocked out by a fierce swing of Riley's bat.

"Sorry, sir," Riley sneers, and drags William towards the book cage. "But an order's an order." He throws him in and locks the door.

While Buffy catches Tara and twists her arms behind her back, Faith nabs Anya and complains to Riley, "I wanted him awake. Messenger, remember?"

"I know," he says, head ducked. "I just... didn't know I could hit so hard."

"Yeah. Gotta know your strength, Iowa. B, get in there and wake Willy-boy up."

"How am I supposed to do that?"

"I don't know," she returns, irritated. "Suck his cock or somethin'. I hear you like that."

"Fuck you." Buffy flings a frightened Tara over to Riley and takes the keys, then gets into the cage, locking it behind her.

Tara looks up at her friend, beseeches, "Riley? Ri... p-please... I know you're in there somewhere..."

"Shut up," he barks, cupping a hand over her mouth, then looks to Faith. "What if Kate comes back before..."

Faith smirks. "Unless slayers can fly, we got plenty of time." Anya is a handful. Kicking, punching, biting, wriggling, yelling, doing the best she can to break free. Faith thinks it's cute. "You're a little firebrand, aren'tcha?" She tosses her over to two flunkies. "Take care of this one for a while. But no snacking, got it?"

Buffy sits on William's lap. Slaps him. Punches him. "Wake up! Rise and shine! Up and at 'em!"

Nothing.

"Hello... 'Watcher'? Aren't you supposed to be all awake and watchful?" She grunts in frustration, and opens his pants.


Kate runs down dark streets, through backyards and thoroughfares and parking lots, the shortest path from A to B but not short enough. She can't believe how stupid she is, how incredibly stupid she's been...

Her ears pound, her breathing escalates into panicked cries. Each random car that passes won't stop when she hails it, because the people inside don't care, don't want to know...

That the sky is falling, and there's not a damn thing she can do to stop it... but run.


Buffy rips open William's shirt. "Mmmm, nice pecs. Who'da thunk?" Her hands dip back into his briefs. "And, gotta say, not hating this muscle either." It stands at attention, despite his being out like a lightbulb.

She squeezes it, hard, and begins to pump it roughly, hearing Anya cry out, "What is she doing to him?"

She laughs and answers, "Just getting him up."

"Faith," Riley says, still subduing Tara. "She's trying to spell us. What do I do?"

"Have a little on me," Faith offers as she paces the room. "But just enough to make her weak. Think you can do that?"

"I'll do my best, Ma'am," and Tara squeaks as Riley bares his fangs, breaking the skin on her shoulder.

Anya yells out in protest, trying to break free from the flunkies' grasp.

"Ooh, ooh, baby, that's right," Buffy hisses and coos as she brings William off with her hand.

Slowly, he stirs, gasps, and unable to do anything else, comes, groaning loudly.

"He's awake," Buffy announces with a sly smile, eyes on his appalled, humiliated glare.

"Good," Faith says. "Now, quit fondling the prisoner and get your ass out here."

She smiles wickedly at William and ducks down to kiss him, biting his lip.

He growls and flails beneath her.

"Ooh, sweetie..." she tuts, too strong for him. "Can we keep him?"

"NOW!" Faith yells.

"Fine," she sighs and stands up, kicks him in the chest to keep him down and shuts the door, locking him in alone.


Almost there, almost there...

She can see the school building in the distance.


Faith struts before the book cage with Anya in her arms, William watching helplessly, unable to escape, pleading with her to take him instead.

"Aw, you're like a hero or something," Faith says, and shoves Anya face first against the book cage. "Want one last kiss, hero?"

He looks down, pained.

Faith smiles, and tugs Anya back. "Or is that 'first kiss'?" Holding Anya by the hair, she turns her face toward her. "Don't tell me you two have never done the deed! Aw, man, that's gotta suck."

She forces a kiss on Anya's unwilling mouth. "This what you've always wanted to do?" She lifts the hem of Anya's dress and runs a hand between her legs. "How 'bout this?"

Anya struggles to get away.

"Please," William sobs quietly, "I beg you..."

"Relax, Willy-boy. I'm not gonna fuck your girlfriend. Not that she isn't a fine piece of ass. It's just, you know, I'm a little short on time." Without ceremony, she places her hands on either side of Anya's head, and snaps her neck.

"NO!" He thrashes, wails, rattles the cage... but it doesn't change the fact that the woman he loves... the woman he loved, is dead.

Willow teleports to the library at exactly the spot where Tara lies, half drained and broken. She pouts. "I missed all the fun."

"What took you so long?" Buffy says.

"I was watching her go," she replies. "It was funny. All the running?"

"Yeah?" Faith asks. "How close is she?"

"Close." Willow cuffs Tara by the neck, lifting her high in the air. "Kitty thought the Slayer would get here in time," she tsks, and yanks the struggling girl close. "Kitty was wrong." Face morphing, she crunches into Tara's jugular vein.

William cries out unintelligibly.

Tara loses consciousness, and the world falls away.

Willow drops her conquest to the floor, and licks her lips. "You're right, Faithy. Witch blood does taste like boysenberry."


Please, oh please, oh please...

She rushes through the doors. At first, it seems okay, she doesn't know why, it's just quiet and bright and normal in there... and then she sees Tara's body.

Oh God, Tara!

She runs to her side, checks her neck. No pulse... oh god, oh god, oh god... then sees another body in her peripheral vision... Anya.

"No no no no no no no," she hears herself say, trying to make this all go away, start over from an hour ago, start over and stay here, stay here and DON'T leave, DON'T walk into the trap...

William is in the book cage on the floor, sputtering to himself.

"William!" she cries, her vocal chords struggling against her closing throat. "Oh god, oh god..." She peels off the cage lock and runs in to him. "William?"

He looks not at her, but through her. "Kay... Katie... She's... they're..." his face screws into a painful grimace, "all dead!"

Tears fall from her eyes. Oh Christ, he had to watch it... "I'm... I'm so..." Can she even say she's sorry? Would that ever be enough?

"She wanted me alive," he bitterly spits out. "Tormented, by..." He exhales in a sob.

She steels her jaw, steadies her voice. "Where are they?"

"I don't... I don't know... but Riley..."

"What," she prompts him, ready now to hear anything. "What happened to Riley?"

"One of them," he whispers.

Her eyes widen, and her decision is made. "I'm gonna find them and make them pay."

He breathes a few labored breaths and says simply, "Good."

She watches him crumple, a lost shipwreck of a man.

Kate stands, walks out of the book cage, and is met with the barrel of a .45.

"Freeze!"

"Dad?"

The gun lowers. "Katie?"

"Dad—"

"What the hell?"

Three other cops walk in to survey the damage, nodding at her, all most likely thinking the same thing: 'Your girl's got a lot to explain this time... '

"Dad, I really can't—"

"Oh you damn well better!" He grabs her arm. "Did you have something to do with this?"

Her voice shakes. "They're my friends."

"Jesus Christ," he says, registering the dead girl's face. "Is that Tara?"

"'Nother twin puncture wound," one of the cops reports indifferently, as if it isn't one of the most wonderful people in the world lying lifeless on the floor.

"Not this one," the other says from Anya's direction. "Looks like her neck's broken."

A third cop is trying to get William to stand up by pointing a gun at him.

"Leave him alone," Kate snaps at the cop. "Dad, he didn't do it. He was locked in the cage when I got here."

"You wanna tell me who DID do it?"

"Her name is Faith," she says simply, looking up at him. "And I'm going to kill her."

"What?"

"She's the one who sent you that picture."

He blinks. "What?"

"Yeah. You want to know what's going on? I'll tell you. I'm a lesbian, and a vampire slayer, and not only that, but now I have to go kill my vampire ex-lover by shoving a sharp piece of wood through her heart."

He is speechless. For once in his life.

"Bye, Dad."

"Katie—" he looks back at the other cops, explains, "She's traumatized."

"Got that right," she rasps bitterly, walking out the door.

He follows, grabs her again. His voice lowers to a hiss. "What the hell do you think you're doing, running off all that bullcrap—"

"In front of them?" She yanks her arm away and grits, "I don't give a shit what they think, or what you think. Not anymore."

"Katie!" he yells after her as she walks away. "Goddamn it! Katie! You leave now, I don't wanna see your face again! You are not my daughter! You understand me?"

She halts for a moment, clasps her eyes shut, and walks forward again, with purpose. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters...

He watches her go, fists opening and closing. "Fucking Christ! Katie!" He runs after her, turns the corner, but she's already gone.


"And then where will we go?"

"Mmm... Mexico," Faith decides at random, her fingers weaving into Willow's. "Get us a couple a hot tamales."

Willow chuckles. Buffy rolls her eyes and gets up, opens her pack of cigs and crushes it in her hands.

"What's wrong, baby?" Willow asks.

"This hideout? Not very hidey. I feel like a sitting duck."

"You mean you feel like sitting on some dick," Faith laughs, hands behind her head. "Watcher dick, am I right?"

"You told me to do that, if you'll recall."

"I didn't tell you to enjoy it."

Willow pouts, "She doesn't want me anymore."

"What?" Buffy asks. "I do too."

"But I want you more," Faith asserts, pulling Willow closer and sucking on her neck.

Willow giggles and squeals. "You do, don't you?"

Buffy gapes, shakes her head, exhales... and walks out. Enough of this shit.

Riley's lookout at the front door. "Going somewhere?"

She shrugs. "Getting takeout."


Kate is beyond frustrated. She can't find them in any of their usual haunts, she's been everywhere, and it's nearly morning.

"Looking for someone?" a female voice inquires behind her.

She turns. It's Buffy. It's BUFFY? Enraged, Kate lashes out at her.

Buffy ducks and backpedals. "Hey, hey! Whoa! Y'know, I didn't do any of the killing tonight—"

"I don't care!"

She stops Kate's fist in mid-air and reasons, "Look. You could try to kill me but that'd take time you don't have. Better yet, you could use that time to end this thing." Green eyes bore into blue. "I know where they're holed up."

Kate frowns. "What?"

"You wanna know or not? Time's a-wasting, Slayer."

"Why would I believe you, when you and Willow are..."

"History?" A bitter laugh. "I could never give her what she wanted. I mean, I'm not even..." She shakes it off with a shrug. "She's all about her mommy now."

The Slayer's hand drops. She stands back and waits.

"They're in that old shed at the docks. The one with the shark fins all over it?" She spins on her heel to walk away. "Farm boy's keeping watch."

Kate is dumbfounded. "Where are you going?"

"Away. Somewhere that's an else. You and me? We'll deal with each other another day." She halts, seems to consider something, digs into her pockets and hands Kate her Zippo lighter. "You want this? I'm quitting. Makes my clothes reek."

Kate stands there, turning the silver lighter in her hands as Buffy disappears into the night.

Another setup?

A cold, detached inner voice answers immediately:

Nothing left to lose.


"Sorry, Riley," Kate whispers to herself as she lets the crossbow sail.

It pierces him right through the heart. He looks down and back up, scanning the dark and where it came from... and bursts into a million particles of dust.

She drops the crossbow, picks up the jug of gasoline. Peeks through a hole in the boarded-up window, sees the two of them there, fucking atop their dinner. It turns her stomach. It gives her strength.

She acts on autopilot, dousing the shed with gasoline, every inch she can reach. Lets a trail drip behind her as she steps over broken clam shells toward the street.

She flips the Zippo top open and drops it, maps out a resolute path before her and takes it, without looking back.

She'll leave this town tomorrow. She'll shut out the sound of her one true love screaming to her end. She'll close this chapter and burn the book.

From now on, she'll only be Kate. Not the vampire slayer, not the police chief's daughter, not the high school student, not the lovesick fool, responsible for the death of everyone she knows.

Kate doesn't cry. Ever again.


THE END


Characters and settings property of respective creators.
Story, dialog and prose property of NautiBitz.
All rights reserved. (IE, it is not okay to borrow it for your fic.)