Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot, all else is either Joss's or Laurell's.☻☻☻☺☻☻☻
Faith rolled her shoulders irritably, Slaying made her both tense and relaxed at the same time. She used to be OK with that, when she had someone to help her work those… extra kinks out.
But gratuitous sex was one of those pre-Robin things she didn't like to think about.
Sighing, the brunette twirled her stake between her fingers, surveying the cemetery with an expert's eye. She stood and stretched knowing it wouldn't really help, just doing it for the satisfaction of seeing Shauna flinch at the sharp crack of her vertebrae realigning.
"Do you HAVE to do that?"
Faith favored her with a saucy grin. The younger Slayer was good, REALLY good, else she wouldn't be training with her, but the girl needed more hands-on experience and a healthy dose of maturity. "Why, does it bother you?" She inquired, proceeding to tilt her head to the side, making her neck crunch in an echoing manner amongst the silent graves.
"You KNOW it bothers me," the redheaded Slayer grumbled, wincing at each snapping sound.
"And that, my padawan, is why you're out here with me, instead of patrolling alone," the dark Slayer punched the redhead in the shoulder amicably.
"'Padawan?'" Shauna grinned evilly, "Someone's been hanging out with Andrew a little too much!"
"They're good movies," Faith defended, "Least, the last half is, the new ones are shit."
"Whatever, mark my words, next thing you know, you'll be dressing up and going to conventions!"
"Mark my words
? What, have you been at the prophecies again?"
Shauna scuffed her foot in the green grass sheepishly, "Maybe."
The brunette rolled her eyes, ignoring the slow footsteps creeping up on her right, "When you start spouting 'thees' and 'thous' I'm sending you back to Giles."
"Hey guys," Buffy smiled brightly, stepping out from behind the grave to their left.
A look of shock and disgust crossed the dark Slayer's face in an instant before she leapt for the shorter blonde, wrestling with her on the grass. Shauna looked on in shock as the features of the blonde blurred and shifted to match the darker Slayer's, both faces baring their teeth in the same almost-smile.
"Sheyrshifter, Shauna," one of the Faiths panted, gaining the upper hand for a moment, "Super-strong, often take the place of smarter, deadlier predators in search of their true prey."
"No!" The other Faith shouted, "Shauna, don't get involved, let me handle this."
The redhead stood, unsure, until one of the Faiths abruptly snapped the other's neck and stood, panting, to brush herself off.
"Faith?" Shauna took a tentative step forward, her Slayer instincts overpowered by her thirteen-year-old hormones for but a second.
The Faith-alike smirked, "Guess again."
One last sharp crack sounded in the cemetery followed by the softer sound of a body hitting the damp earth before all was silent once more.☻☻☻☺☻☻☻
Whistler found himself in a position he found typical when dealing with Slayers, no matter the size or hair color.
"Look," he choked out around the fierce grip pinning him to the pristine marble wall by his throat, "Lemme down, and I'll explain!"
Slowly the fingers wrapped around his larynx relaxed, arching until he could breath more easily. Whistler gasped a few times before the fingers tightened, digging long silver-painted nails into his sensitive skin.
The balance demon eyed the dark fury before him and wondered, not for the first time, if his bosses wanted him dead, "The Powers have decided that there're too many Champions in your world. All the Slayers running amok, it screws with the balance, there's too much GOOD."
Faith's eyes widened disbelievingly, "Too much good? Are you shittin' me? You want the Slayers to go back to what they were? Controlled by the tweeds and with a shelf-life of six friggin' MONTHS?"
"No, no," Whistler gasped, Faith's fingers had clenched automatically in her anger, "The baby-Slayers were a good idea, and you've made evil concede quite a bit of coveted ground but… we had to give a little."
"Give a little WHAT?" She growled dangerously.
"The Scoobs, the original gang and the extras, you've all gotta go."
"So we're what, collateral damage?" Faith laughed bitterly, "Use us up and spit us out, huh?" She let Whistler go and stepped back, negative energy practically pouring from her skin. The pristine white marble grew darker around her as if she was tainting the very air with her emotions.
"Not exactly," one lime-clad arm reached up to touch his throat, as if to reassure himself that it was still there and not dripping blood from the volatile woman's hand, "Think of it as… a really nice vacation package. They're sending each of you to a new world, one where you won't really be able to affect the balance. You won't have to fight the good fight - or hell - ANY fight, unless you choose to."
"And the catch is?"
The bowler hat bobbed a little as Whistler gulped nervously, "None of you can go to the same world, you all have to go alone."
Darkness exploded from the body of the Slayer as she contemplated what that meant: give up all of her friends, forever? Xander of the laughing eye and the many jokes; Willow with her babbling and her magic; Buffy and the bond that had at last begun to form in the aftermath of the First; Giles, the closest thing to an Uncle that she'd ever had; Dawn, little Dawnie, mascot and surrogate little sis… How could she lose them all, and did she even have a choice?
"No," Whistler answered her unspoken question, sidling just a little farther out of reach of her nails. "You don't have a choice, but we're doing it gradually, so that the New Council won't be a shambles when you're gone. The dark forces gave us ten years to get rid of all of you."
"And what, I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop? I get to go first?" Faith snorted, "What makes you think that Red won't get us all back?"
"She's next, the demon that killed you will get her too."
Brown eyes widened with incredulity, "How? How in hell can ONE demon get rid of me AND Wills?"
Whistler shuffled his feet uncomfortably, "The Powers may have juiced him up a little.. But Buffy will take him down."
Faith rubbed at her forehead irritably, "Great, it gets me, but not Saint Buffy, that'll go great in the Watcher diaries."
"We're planning to take Buffy in a car crash," Whistler offered.
Instantly the brunette's eyes flamed, "Aw, HELL no, you ain't takin' B that way! She's a warrior, she's gotta die like one. Send her out fightin' somethin' big, like a rogue Turok, or something."
The balance demon's head cocked to the side, as if he was listening to someone far away speak. "Your suggestion is being taken into consideration," he shook himself abruptly, "Anyways, the Powers want you to know that they appreciate all your hard work and-"
"Blah blah blah, do I get to keep my Slayer powers wherever it is that I'm going?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Why not? It could be like a - a severance package!"
"Other universes will not support the 'Slayer' mythology. However," he held up a hand to halt the coming protest heralded by a growing spot of black on the floor by Faith's feet, "They WILL change you into the closest approximation when you get to your new home."
Faith thought this over, the darkness growing and shrinking around her as her thoughts flitted from pro to con. She had no romantic ties to hold her to her version of Earth. Robin was dead, and had been since the one-year anniversary of the closing of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. According to the demon, the rest of her 'family' would be leaving soon anyways. Cordelia, Angel, Spike, Gunn, Fred, and Wesley had already gone to their 'reward,' though Faith was now wondering if the Powers hadn't had a hand in that too.
There was nothing left for her on Earth, time to go… somewhere else.
She flashed him a shit-eating grin, "Beam me up, Scottie."☻☻☻☺☻☻☻
A brief flash of light heralded the 'birth' of Earth's newest resident. Faith tumbled from a reality-tear three feet above the ground and landed with a soft, "Oomph," on the soft forest debris.
"Damn Powers are hell on good leather," the former Slayer grumbled as she stood, brushing all sorts of mulch and assorted woodsy flotsam from her pants and jacket.
She felt the difference almost instantly.
The power of the Slayer was like an itch in the back of her mind, part of her, but not FROM her. It whispered and scratched, telling her 'demon, slay.' It was gone now, and for the first time in almost eight years, Faith felt free of it's subtle influence.
Her body was filled with something else now, her skin was prickly and full, as if there was more inside it now than there had been. She was not alone, but her new resident was far more natural in her body than the Slayer ever had been.
Faith felt magic, the wonderous and earthy natural power of the woods similar to the earth magic that Willow so often harnessed. It danced along her skin and bubbled like hot lava through her veins. She felt the woods sing to her, the melody fierce and sharp in her ears.
Suddenly her breath came hard in her lungs as a new song joined the woods. This music was soft and compelling, irresistible and eternal. It sounded like death to the part of her that had once been Slayer, the part that had railed against all demons, even Angel and Spike. But that part was no longer dominant in Faith, only it's impression remained, telling her psyche what used to be - even though it no longer had an effect on what was.
Faith threw back her head and roared. The savage sound echoing through the woods and silencing the local wildlife. They recognized the predator now in their midst in ways that the brunette still could not comprehend.
"What the fuck?!"
Legs that began to twitch and thrash no longer held her, and she fell to all fours as a scalding-clear liquid burst from her skin and coated her writhing form. Fur as black as night sprouted from her skin and her teeth grew long and sharp.
A few agonizing minutes later, the transformation was complete. Faith tested out her new muscles, and new legs. Her body moved with a sensuous grace that the Slayer could have only envied.
Faith-the-Slayer was dead.
Faith-the-Werepanther howled the news of her birth to the heavens and to the smiling face of the moon. The heavenly body smiled benevolently down on it's newest child as she raced through the woods, the joy of motion her only companion as she danced to the sound of the moon-song pumping through her veins.
The tattered and soaked leather lay on the ground, the only marker on this Earth for the death of the Slayer, first and last to be in this alternate world.☻☻☻☺☻☻☻
Author's Note: Like it, love it, loathe it with the fiery intensity of a thousand hot suns? Lemme know!