Is Death Her Gift?

Summary: What if Faith had been sent to collect Dana in "Damages" instead of Andrew? Buffy/Faith.

Author's Note: Second ever BTVS/Angel fanfic so review please and thank you for reading! :D

The Human Slayer

The call from Wesley had finished up a couple of minutes ago. Faith was in her den in the warehouse building she and Giles had remodeled as the home of their rogue slayer sanctuary in Chicago. Nimbly, she pounded away on a large punching bag, her forehead and neck glistening with sweat. She'd known it was Wesley on the phone—or rather guessed—because she'd noticed that Giles grew quiet, almost disturbed and as Faith remembered it from her time in Sunnydale, Wes was one of the few people able to uppercut the older watcher with equal portions of annoyance and dread enough to stun him into brooding silence.

When the hushed conversation had ended, Giles had taken his time coming to tell her the news. He cleared his throat in the spacious meeting area where they tended to host Scooby meetings when the old gang members popped in for a visit and stopped to clean his glasses twice before slowly moving to lean against the doorway to the den. Faith felt him watching her before she looked up and saw him there. Slayer senses came in handy, always. Giving the bag a few more level punches for good measure, she pulled back and looked over at him, figuring what the stitch was automatically.

"New girl in L.A.? She asked, grabbing her towel from a nearby coat rack and running it over her damp shoulders.

"New girl in L.A." Giles confirmed, "but not of the usual variety, I'm afraid."

Faith popped the top off of the water bottle on her desk and took a few swallows before leaning back against the polished wood.

"What's different about this one?"

Giles didn't know how to say it. I mean, there was no polite or politically correct way to put it. The gruesome simple truth that he hoped he was managing to get across was that a girl named Dana—who had spent months being raped, stabbed at, and God only knew what else by a serial killer—had been called to become a slayer and that girl was now not only severely mentally unstable, but she had just broken out of hospital and murdered two men while also taking the time to mutilate one of the bodies post-mortem. Going after her would be anything but a routine mission and Giles didn't feel right asking Faith to do such a thing, but there was no one else who was able to do what she did.

Faith listened to the details of the mission as Giles stumbled over them, respecting her enough not to gloss over the very real possibility that this girl wouldn't be one she would be able to save. That it was possible that she was just too far gone already to be able to be reached. The truth was doing a number on Giles though. Never before had Faith seen her mentor look so old and run down. In the dim light of the overhead lamps, the wrinkles around his eyes and the creases on his forehead stood out as if they had only recently been stamped there. She knew he couldn't be comfortable with asking her to do what she knew she had to, but Faith was also having a hard time swallowing it.

Never before had she gone into a mission already knowing that it was almost certainly a lost cause, but here Giles was—basically telling her there was no hope and acting like he was already consoling her for the loss. That alone was enough to scare Faith out of her usual bravado and into the comfortable arms of her defensive tendencies.

"Hold up, G. I didn't sign on for this bullshit. This Dana girl isn't like the two-bit hard luck brats you usually send me after. From what you're saying, she didn't choose to go evil or become a monster. She was made one by years and years of torture which makes her an innocent. I can't do it, G. I can't take her down and what if I gotta? Most missions I'm good for, but not this one."

Giles pushed away from the doorjamb and paced in front of the open French doors to the den, grumbling, roiling more with his own fear and distaste for this assignment than any sort of ill feelings directed at Faith, but damn it a rogue slayer—especially one this dangerous couldn't be allowed to live. Faith couldn't wimp out on him now, not when he needed her.

"For the love of God, of all of the times for you to grow a conscience—," Giles began, and then he rethought his line of reasoning when Faith narrowed her eyes at him. "I do feel for what you are going through, Faith, I sincerely do, however, now is not the time to be backing away from your calling. May I remind you, Faith, that this is your job! You are the one who saves the dangerous ones who don't have anyone else to turn to and if they cannot be reached, you subdue them because there is no one else who can do it."

Faith remained quiet, regarding him through hard, dark eyes. Giles couldn't tell if she was going to deck him or start throwing things, but either way this conversation had to be had. The recent Slayer Organization was still new. The Watcher's Council was in the throes of being rebuilt but none of what they were trying to accomplish was stable yet and something so seemingly insignificant as one girl gone wrong with sharp pointy objects could unravel the entire tapestry before Giles and Buffy and the Scoobies even had a chance to finish it off. Faith had to understand that the work she did was essential. Too many nights, he had allowed her to drink herself into oblivion and drown in her own self-loathing. Too many nights he had allowed the amount of stress her job put on her shoulders to weigh her down, but not now. Now she had to suck it up for the greater good because she was needed.

"Are you paying attention?" Giles asked, stopping to stand in front of her and trying not to be put off by Faith's obvious bad mood at the topic. "You bloody well better be. No one else in our little hodgepodge of hellmouth survivors has your propensity for darkness—your own personal expertise. Your insight. You know what it's like to have touched that evil within yourself, to have given into the power, and have to come back from it stronger than you were before. That is why these girls need you, Faith. That is why I chose you. The fact that not all of them can be saved is a hard, but unfortunate fact of life and we must accept it."

"You got cotton in your ears, old man?" Faith seethed at him, trying for all she was worth to rein in her temper. "I don't have a problem with the job, that's not what I'm on about. It's a stitch I can handle most of the time. I know I am doing for the good. I've only had to put down two girls out of fifteen so far and that to me is something to be proud of, but this job—this mission—isn't the same. This girl, she's not playing with a full deck and she might not even be able to. She's been yanked so many ways, she doesn't know which way is up anymore and the only way this kid can find any peace is to hack away at orderlies and male nurses with bone saws and to top it all off, now she has super powers? This is some kind of wicked fucked up, G. You know the job I do, it isn't exactly something that gives me the warm fuzzies. Most nights, I can't get the faces of the girls I put down out of my head and every morning, I gotta remind myself of all the ones I saved from the gutter otherwise I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. It's the only thing keeping me sane, but if I do this—I'm not sure even that will be enough to keep me from losing it. This isn't right. This girl—she doesn't deserve to die, G. She doesn't. I can feel it. She's just one fucked up kid. "

Giles removed his glasses from his nose and wiped his face with one broad palm.

"I know," he sighed, defeated, really looking like he'd aged ten years in the last six months since the latest apocalypse had been averted. "I know and I wish I could tell you that you wouldn't have to kill her, but we can't let her continue on as she is. She can't keep killing, Faith. Those people—they're innocents too."

Faith took a deep breath and released it quickly as both of her fists slammed down into the desk beneath her, her knuckles going through the solid cherry wood. She really, really didn't want to have to do this, but what else could she do? Finally, Faith conceded and stood up heavily as if her body suddenly weighed a hundred more pounds.

"When's the next flight to L.A.?" she asked, yanking off her hand wraps and tossing them into a dark corner of the room.

Giles sighed gratefully. He hadn't realized how truly worried he'd been that he wouldn't be able to get Faith to go along with the mission until relief settled into the pit of his stomach and his entire body relaxed.

"Wesley's booked you a seat on the first one out. It leaves in three hours," Giles said, turning to leave. "And Faith? You're doing the right thing."

Faith waited until she heard Giles' footsteps fade away into another part of the building before a loud, primal scream erupted from her lungs and she kicked the punching bag for all it was worth. The chains holding the abused thing busted under the strain, sending the large bag barreling dangerously through the paneling of the side wall. Faith sank to her knees, feeling herself retreat from the world in a way she never had before. She really, really didn't want to do this. Having to put down other girls like her—girls that reminded her so much of the fuck up she used to be that it wasn't funny—was killing her inside. Angel told her redemption wouldn't be easy. He'd told her that it would be forever, but he didn't say that it would hurt this much and be so confusing.

What was it really aside from the word itself that separated what she did from murder? Killing was killing. Taking a human life was taking a human life no matter which way you turned it. She was trying to do good, she really was and when she looked at the faces of the girls she'd saved from horrible lives, Faith knew she had. But it came with a price, for every girl she saved, there was one somewhere out there that she couldn't. As pessimistic as life had made her, Faith always went into every mission with the hope that she could rescue the slayer she was after from evil and that hope remained with her even mere seconds up to the dealing of the killing blow. She never gave up on any of them and it felt wrong to be going into this, already being expected to fail.

Story of my life, Faith thought, standing again and cracking her neck to distract her from the stinging behind her eyes.

Almost everyone she'd ever known had given up on her; had expected her to turn out a fucking mess just like she had. Everyone but Giles, the Scoobs, Angel, and Buffy. Even when she was evil, they'd seen a different side to her. Shit, it still surprised her that Buffy had been able to see the good in her. Even when they were fighting, even when they'd switched bodies, and back again, she'd seen the look in Buffy's blue eyes—beyond the hurt, beyond the betrayal, there had lingered the belief that Faith really was good somewhere deep down inside. Faith would never admit to it, but she was more than grateful for that notion while it lasted, until hatred finally replaced it.

Whatever. That was ancient history.

Faith stretched briefly then moved over to the opposite wall where a small leather duffle bag sat sandwiched between two bookcases. She always travelled light. It came in handy if a mission suddenly went awry or the cops were alerted to the commotion of destruction and chaos that was two slayers fighting. She had a couple of pairs of clothes already packed to leave at the drop of a hat if she needed to—like now—along with a few low profile weapons that were stowed in foam and carted with the protection of special collector's licenses so she didn't get arrested going through security at the airport. Faith lifted the worn brown bag, comforted slightly by the sturdy creak of the leather and the familiar weight of the things inside.

On her way out into the main room of their loft, she stopped in front of the wall of windows admiring the city skyline against the backdrop of an orange sunset. The Loop was lit up in the fading light as the shadows of the buildings settled over the dark waters of the Chicago River. Faith took a few minutes to enjoy the scenery, knowing in a few hours she'd be halfway across the country enroute to a murder.