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Virtue of a Warrior

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Summary: Faith faces her greatest test; and she faces it alone. No Buffy to love/hate, no Mayor to take care of her, no vampires to slay. In a city awash with blood, Faith must finally face her greatest enemy: herself

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Dark > Faith-Centered(Current Donor)DreamSmithFR1856235,317305733,27228 Sep 0725 Oct 07Yes

Chapter Eighteen

See Chapter Nine for Disclaimer



"C'mon, B! What's the point of having all this power if we can't abuse it?"
--Faith



Alex looked around nervously, trying to see if anyone seemed to be paying undue attention to the two of them. The side street where he and Faith were standing was nearly deserted, but it was mid-morning, and there were always at least a few people in sight. Any of them would easily be able to see whatever the girl was planning to do to the car in front of them. He shot her a worried glance, but she was still casually running her hands over the hood of the dark blue sports car parked at the curb. Trying to ignore the rapid pounding of his heart, he craned his head to scan the street again.

"Will you please cut that out?"

He jerked his head around to face her, his face hot with embarrassment.

"Sorry. I'm just trying to see-"

"Relax." Faith gave him a lazy smile, but her eyes were looking past him, flickering left and right as she did her own check. "I've had lots of practice at checking for witnesses, and none of these people'll look twice at us unless you keep acting like that."

Alex tried to follow her advice, straightening his shoulders and taking a deep breath. A pair of young women strolled past on the sidewalk just a few feet away, and Faith groaned loudly.

"Oh, mannn!" She took hold of his arm and leaned her body into his chest. "Honey, I'm not sure why, but it just won't start. Could you check and see if it's the battery?"

He looked down into her face (well, not far down, since they were nearly the same height) in surprise, and she gave him a little wink. The women had walked on with barely a glance at the two, and he told himself again to just relax and let Faith do what she obviously knew how to do. Except, she seemed to be in no hurry. Her body was still pressed up against his, the taut curve of her backside rubbing against his groin, and she'd taken his arm and wrapped it around her waist. The dark hair that brushed his cheek had the clean herbal smell of Kelly's shampoo, and it was that realization that helped him push the Slayer gently away.

She tilted her head and gave him a falsely innocent look before turning her full attention to the car.

"Okay, first we need to open the hood. Now-" She gave him a wry look, her raised eyebrow prompting him to step forward so that he stood beside her. "-When we pop the hood, the alarm on this might go off." He absorbed that and nodded uncertainly. She flashed him a quick grin before continuing. "So, don't freak out or anything. It'll only last a second. 'Kay?"

Her strong, slender fingers found the seam where the car hood met the front grille. He frowned down at that.

"Don't you have to pull a handle inside before you can raise-"

Her fingers whitened with effort, digging at the small gap, and with a faint creak the smooth metal began to bend upwards, widening the space and allowing her fingers better purchase. His eyes widened, and he started to say something else, when a loud whooping sound blasted out of the car. Instantly, Faith pushed her hand further under the curled-up metal, and with a grunt he heard even through the second whoop, she ripped the hood open. The loud -POP- as the latch gave way made him step back, and he almost didn't see her free hand flash across and tear one of the battery cables away from the terminal in a single, smooth motion. In mid-whoop, the alarm went quiet.

It had sounded for less than two seconds.

Faith casually snapped the support rod into place to hold the hood open, then stepped back. Wiping her hands, she gave him a satisfied look.

"We're in good shape." Taking a casual look around, she leaned close to him. "It's a cheap one. The better kind has a battery back-up under the dash, and those are a pain in the ass." Finally noticing his lack of response, she faced him fully and frowned. "Hey, everything okay in there?"

He fought not to stare all around at the people he knew were staring at them.

"You said this would be safer than… that other thing I was going to do." No matter how briefly, the alarm had gone off. Everyone within a block must have heard it. "Somebody is calling the cops right now."

She reached forward and took him by one wrist. He tried to pull back, but those fingers could bend metal, and they held him as easily as shackles would have. Shackles. Now there was a chilling thought.

"C'mon. Lean in here like you're checking it out." He didn't have much choice, and a moment later he found himself leaning over the grimy engine. "Now, stay cool. Yeah, the alarm went off; for like a second. These things go off by themselves all the time, and nobody cares unless they stay on for a while." Stealing a look under his arm back at where she stood, he saw her leaning forward and peering uncertainly at the car's inner workings, looking for all the world just like someone's helpless girlfriend, fretting over her broken vehicle. He turned his attention back to the incomprehensible engine before him.

"Now what?"

"Now I do the same thing to the trunk, get the jumper cables out of there, and you fool around with them while I break into the car and steal the stereo. So sit tight for a minute."

She walked towards the rear of the car, out of his line of sight. A random passerby walked past, but as far as Alex could tell from his viewpoint, the man didn't pay him any special attention. He waited for the jolt that would tell him that Faith had ripped open the trunk, but all he heard was the faint creak of hinge mechanisms working. A few seconds later she walked back and handed him the cables. As he straightened to take them from her, he caught sight of the barely-suppressed excitement on her face.

"What?"

She just smiled.

"I'll tell you later. Here, hook these up, but take your time."

The Slayer moved to the driver's side door, and he started fumbling with the cables. Three separate groups of people came past in the next few seconds, and Alex nearly had a heart attack when one man stepped up and looked in at the engine.

"Hey. Battery dead?"

Alex fought to keep his voice level as he responded.

"Y-Yeah. Dead battery."

The man nodded sympathetically.

"Well, my car's right over there. You need a jump?"

He stood there, fighting to find an answer, but his mind had gone completely blank. Long seconds passed, and the man was looking at him curiously, when he finally managed to force the words out.

"No. Thank you." Deep breath. "My friend-girlfriend has a car, and she's going to bring it over. But thanks."

An arm slid around his waist, and he looked over in surprise as Faith slipped up under his arm. Snuggling close, she lifted her face to his and captured his lips in a kiss. He was paralyzed, unable to react as her tongue slipped into his mouth, teasing his own. She tasted like sugar and cinnamon, and there was something, something like… well, 'electricity' was such a common term for it, but it came close to describing the sensation. Some kind of energy was there; she was all but glowing with it. When she released him and pulled back a few inches, he found himself momentarily unable to remember what Kelly even looked like. He loved her as much as he ever had, but now, at this precise instant, all he could see was this girl; her face filling his eyes just as the taste of her still filled his mouth. Just as her firm, vibrant body filled his arms.

Faith held his gaze for a long moment before turning to look at the man.

"That's right. My honey here drove all the way down to get me going again. I'd hate to disappoint him." She gave him a dazzling smile. "Thanks for the offer."

The man gave the two of them a long look, and then shrugged.

"Okay. Take it easy."

With that he walked away, and Alex leaned back against the car and swallowed heavily. He wasn't sure which had sent his pulse further into overdrive; the fear that the man might see through their act, or the sudden, incredible attraction he felt for the dark haired girl standing beside him.

"Nice work."

Faith was standing with her hands on her hips, looking after the departing man. He looked up at her, still a bit dazed, and she reached out to chuck him gently under the chin.

"You feeling okay? It wasn't so bad, was it? Now, gimme that gym bag. We're nearly done."

Numbly, he handed her the worn sports bag they had borrowed from Sylvia. He stood and watched as she opened the door and sat in the driver's seat. Well. If she was going to keep the casual act going then so was he. Yeah, that was the best thing. It was only a way to keep the guy from being suspicious.

As she efficiently removed the expensive-looking compact disc player from the dash, he examined the outside of the driver's side door. A triangular flap of the metal just below the handle had been pushed inwards, exposing a series of rods and catches that he realized must control the locking mechanism. Once they were exposed, it would have been quite simple to open the door. He leaned closer, peering at the edges of the opening. They were clean lines, not torn with brute strength, like the hood had been. He couldn't figure out how she had managed to do that, in just a few seconds and without making any sound. Just as he was about to ask her, she bounced up out of the seat; the sports bag no longer empty. Giving him a thumbs up, she closed the door and moved to the front of the car. In a casual, unhurried fashion, she removed the cables and closed the hood. It was warped, and no longer closed properly, but from any distance of more than a few feet it looked normal enough. Coiling the bright yellow cables, she dropped them into the bag and led him away from the car.

"See?" She swung the bag up in front of his face, then laughed and pulled it away when he tried to grab it. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

He looked behind them, but no one seemed to be following. The poor car they had victimized sat there, looking somewhat forlorn and rumpled around the edges.

"I can't believe we got away with that in broad daylight."

She shrugged.

"I know what I'm doing. If somebody had been watching it, I would have picked another one. If someone had started yelling, we just walk away. Right down here." They entered an alley, and she reached across to poke him in the stomach with one finger. "If we have to run, you follow me. When I say so, you keep going. I'll stop long enough to take out whoever's chasing us, then I'll catch up with you. Got that?"

He nodded unhappily.

"I got it. I just hope it doesn't come to that." He glanced again at the bag she carried. "What did you get?"

As they walked, she peered inside.

"Um… a nice stereo, some CD's that were laying there. Not much, really." She closed the bag and slung it over her shoulder. "I'm guessing we might get twenty or thirty bucks for this from a fence, so we'll need to do quite a few more if we wanna clear some decent money." She sighed heavily. "Guess we have a long day ahead of us."

Alex wasn't sure how many more times he could repeat what they'd just done before he had a nervous breakdown, but he didn't say that. Instead, he asked her the question that had been bugging him since he'd seen the car door.

"How did you get in? That door didn't look like you forced it with your bare hands."

She got that secretive smile on her face once more.

"I thought of something when I was getting ready to pull the trunk open. My knife-" She patted her hip, though he couldn't see anything under the long leather coat. "-Has this trick it does where it gets really sharp. Really, really sharp."

He considered that for a few steps.

"Like, super-sharp? Sort of like… magic?"

"You betcha. And it's going to make this sooo much easier."

Magic. Demons. Slayers. It was a stranger world than he had even dreamed, just yesterday.

"I suppose it will. What now?"

They emerged into sunlight, and another street stretched out in either direction. Parked cars lined the street, some of them expensive looking. She smiled as she looked at them.

"Now we get busy."

* * * * *

Five hours later, the gym bag was full to the point of bursting with expensive goodies they'd removed from unguarded cars. That was fine, since in one of those vehicles Faith had found another, larger bag. They'd made a decent start at filling that one too, but hunger had forced her to call a break.

Now she and Alex were sitting at an outdoor table and she was wolfing down her third cheeseburger. It might not be health food, but she could feel her body tearing it apart and using the raw material to rebuild what she'd lost during that damned coma. It might just be the positive feelings from their successful day of hunting and gathering, but she felt stronger now than she had just that morning. It was a good feeling, and she leaned back in her chair as she munched on some french fries, basking in the feeling of contentment.

There was also the basking in the sensation of Alex's eyes on her, which was nice too.

It wasn't his fault, not really. It was all her. A man's brain just wasn't wired in such a way as to ignore a sexy female body, especially when it had been pressed up against his own all day long. Faith had made a point of keeping as close to him as possible, as often as possible, and at this point the poor guy was just about on the verge of spontaneously combusting from the sexual tension. It wasn't that he was casual about ignoring his commitment to his girlfriend or anything, either. He'd done a pretty darn admirable job of pretending there was nothing at all going on between the two of them today. It was just too bad for him that she had a secret weapon.

It hadn't been long after becoming a Slayer that she'd noticed the boys were even more willing to party with her than they had been previously. As a Slayer, Faith never had to worry about spending a lonely night alone, and a little experimentation had clued her in to the reason why. It was all about energy and emotion. Just as she could often sense an attack or ambush before it actually happened, so could she also sometimes sense what people were feeling. It wasn't nearly as easy, or as clear as feeling the presence of a vampire or demon, but when she had skin-to-skin contact with someone it did sometimes happen. Even better, she could make the energy flow the other way, too. A Slayer was supercharged; with more energy in her… she supposed Willow would call it her 'aura', than a dozen normal people. All she had to do was project a part of that into someone else, and she could sort of 'steer' them in the direction she wanted them to go. It wasn't mind control; not even close. It was more of a gentle nudge to their emotions, and it was undependable as hell. The only thing she'd ever done with it was to turn another person on, and even that didn't always turn out right. God knew she'd tried it often enough on a certain blonde…. Probably other Slayers were immune, anyway. Still most people were vulnerable at least some of the time, and when it did work, it worked wonders. That Riley guy hadn't stood a chance; it had been almost too easy to make him ignore whatever instinct was telling him that something was wrong with his girl that night. She'd been able to reach right inside and twist him into knots.

Like she had been doing with Alex, all day now.

He thought she wasn't noticing the way he watched her, his eyes drawn to her every time she flexed or stretched. Maybe even he wasn't completely aware of what he was doing; he did seem to be a little confused. Poor guy. He was hooked like a fish. He might fight it for a while, but she doubted he would struggle very hard, or for very long. After all, he was a man, and in the end they all wanted just one thing from her. She couldn't wait to see the expression on Kelly's face when she arranged for the other girl to find the two of them together. Then maybe everyone would see just how wonderful and all-powerful 'true love' really was.

Faith grimaced at the thought.

They should thank me. Nobody should walk around believing that life is some kind of freaking faerie tale. That kind of garbage clouding your head can get you killed. Besides, watching the two of them making eyes at each other all the time is making me sick. They're worse than Buffy and Angel ever were.

From his seat next to hers, Alex spoke, breaking the silence.

"I've been thinking about what happened this morning. I've been thinking about it a lot, actually."

Faith took a sip of her drink, and then picked up her last burger half-heartedly. She was feeling pretty full, but you didn't waste food that tasted this good. Not when you never knew if your next meal might be coming from the dumpster out back. She took a bite, waiting for him to say what was on his mind.

"That fight, with Itai and the others…. You hurt those guys pretty bad."

The way he looked at her, the intensity in his eyes, the condemnation, caught her by surprise.

"Sure I did. In case you didn't notice, they tried to hurt me first." She took another bite, chewing slowly and swallowing before speaking again. "They started that little dance, not me."

Alex shook his head in denial, his eyes still holding hers.

"But you did start it, Faith. Everybody was talking, and maybe everyone could have walked away."

She sat up straight, forgetting about the food in front of her.

"That is such bullshit! That bastard was lying about letting you go, and you know it."

He couldn't argue with that, and his voice softened slightly.

"Maybe. But if it had kept things from turning into a bloodbath, then I would have been okay with a little lie. I wasn't about to go anywhere with them, you know." She snorted at the notion that he would have been given a choice, but Alex refused to be diverted. "You started that fight. You provoked them because you wanted it to happen."

"Damn right I wanted it!" Any thought of trying to focus on him, to seduce him, was forgotten in her rising anger. "In case you haven't noticed, that's what I do Alex. I fight. If I'm not kicking somebody's ass, then I'm just wasting my time."

She had forgotten for a moment all the other people sitting at tables nearby, and her raised voice was making some of them look over with interest. Alex glanced around until they went back to their meals, and then turned back to face her. When he spoke his voice was soft, but the intensity was still there.

"You like to fight?"

Well, duh. He really doesn't know me very well, does he?

"Absolutely. I love it."

He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.

"No, really. It's not just that you're good at it, or get forced into doing it by fate or chance or whatever. You'd rather fight than not. Even if you get hurt."

Why was this such a problem for him to grasp?

"Are you not listening to me? I just said-"

"You want to fight people."

"Yes!"

He winced slightly at the force of her response, but he continued with dogged determination.

"You want to hurt people."

"Yes!!"

Dammit, why was he freaking on this? He sounded like that idiot Giles, or worse, Wesley.

"Why?"

Huh?

"Because!" He just looked at her, waiting, and the fury that had been building in her for the last minute was stopped as suddenly as if it had run into a wall. She stumbled on. "Because, they…."

She knew why, somewhere deep inside herself she knew, but it wasn't something she wanted to dig for. Some things were better left alone. Alex, however, seemed to be in a persistent mood.

"Why? Why do you want to hurt them?"

Because I can, or they look like they deserve it. What does it matter?

"Please, answer me. I want to know."

She was getting fed up with this whole conversation. She'd rather give him a roll in the sack than a trip to the hospital, but if he stayed in her face like this for much longer….

"You want to know what lives in my head? Tough. I don't feel like being analyzed today, doc." Stuffier men than him had tried, and gotten nowhere.

"We want to help you deal with your problems, Faith. You need to deal with this rage you have inside you, you need to leave it behind before you can begin to heal."

Stupid bastards. What if she didn't want to leave it behind? Rage was the only thing she had, the only thing she was allowed to have. Without it, she would be nothing but a hollow shell, staggering around like a puppet with some dried-up old men in England pulling her strings.

She came back to herself with a start.

"Why are you asking me this, anyway?" Not that she was really interested in why. She just wanted him to drop it. Pushing her tray away she stood up. "Let's just get outta here. We can hit a few more cars on the way-"

The kid actually had the gall to grab her by the hand, holding her there. She stared down at him, her jaw hanging open, and he gave her his most earnest look.

"Faith. I need to know."

She pulled her hand away, despite his attempt to hang on. Her blood was up, and the instinctive desire to backhand him and watch the blood and teeth fly was hard to hold back. She managed, though her voice was roughened by the effort.

"Why!?" She demanded. Or maybe it was a plea; she wasn't quite sure. However it came out, it made his face soften slightly.

"Because I think the answer to that is the key to a lot of what's inside you. You're important to my life now, to Kelly's life. You show up out of nowhere, you turn our lives upside down…." He reached out, carefully, and caught hold of her hand again. "You turn my whole world upside down. This stuff with Slayers and monsters and magic, you think that's easy to take?" He shook his head slowly. "It's not easy, but you're proof that it's true. I have to believe it's real because you're real." She still didn't know what he was saying, but the anger was draining away now, leaving that other need behind. She looked down to where his hand held hers. His bones were so fragile; it would only take a little squeeze to crush them. It was like holding a kitten's paw in your hand. Oblivious to her thoughts, Alex was still speaking. "I'm trusting you to get us all through this. I think you can do it, too. But I need to understand you."

Baby, if you understood me at all then you would have pissed yourself and run away screaming a long time ago.

She smiled at him; a slow, lazy kind of smile.

"Is that so? Hm." Putting her hand on the back of his chair, she pivoted it away from the table. Before he could move, she'd straddled his lap and sat on his thighs, facing him from just a few inches away. She could feel his body respond to hers even before she willed the warm wash of energy into him.

That's it, that's right. Want me.

She watched him struggle with the knowledge that she was the one in control, that none of his questions mattered in the face of what she wanted. She wriggled slightly, pretending not to notice how he had to clench his jaw so tightly to keep from groaning in reaction.

"Wow, I've never had somebody be this interested in the 'real me' before. It's kinda nice." She leaned forward, her breasts just touching his chest as she ran caressing fingers across his temple and back through his hair. People were watching, but that wasn't a problem for her.

Alex pulled his head back a little and tried to look her in the eye.

"That's not an answer." He whispered, holding himself absolutely rigid as she leaned forward a little more, beginning to kiss him lightly along his ear, down the side of his neck. Her free hand dipped down between their bodies, and she smiled wickedly at what she discovered there. His body couldn't lie about how he felt, now, at this moment.

"What was the question again?" She murmured, brushing her lips across his, lightly at first. His breath was coming faster, his skin flushing in reaction to her body's proximity. Almost against his will, his hands slid up her arms, to end cupping the back of her head as she kissed him again, more fiercely this time. She molded herself up against him, hooking her ankles behind the chair and grinding her pelvis against his. He groaned softly, and she smiled into his mouth for an instant, her ears catching the scandalized whispers from those around them.

Alex, in that moment, was an open book to her. Her empathic sense was reading his every urge, his every desire, and there was only one thing written there; he wanted her. All the desperation in his own life, all the frustrated longing he had for something better than he had, that was all swept aside. He wanted nothing more than to lose himself in what he was feeling, to drown himself in the girl who was offering him such an irresistible means of escape…. Until a single image brought it all crashing down. When Kelly's face flashed into his mind, Faith saw it too, through her connection. They both recoiled at the same instant, panting as they stared into each other's eyes.

He brought one hand to his lips, and through the swiftly fading link she could feel the disgust he felt for himself as he wiped her lipstick from his mouth.

"Is that all you know how to do?" He said, accusingly. Faith blinked, still dazed by the abrupt ending of the most intimate mental connection she'd ever experienced. Were her psychic abilities getting stronger?

"What do you mean?"

Alex kept up the harsh stare, though she'd felt that it was mostly himself he was angry with, now.

"Hurting someone."

What? She leaned back a little more, puzzled.

"This hurts?"

She had been as careful of him as she knew how to be. She tried only to hurt her lovers when she meant to….

"You know it does. It hurts Kelly. It hurts me. And it hurts any chance of us being real friends."

What? He has me, all over him like this, and he's worried about her?

A rush of cold poured through her, and she felt her lips twist into a bitter smile.

"Gee, sorry. I shoulda known better." She grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him forward again until they were nearly nose-to-nose. "You can't stand having a freak like me get this close, huh?" Shoving him away, she surged to her feet and took a step back. "I thought you were being so cool about it, you've been treating me like a real person, even when you knew I wasn't one. Guess I shouldn't expect that from anybody, huh?"

He got to his feet, frustration plain on his face.

"That's not it, Faith. Not at all." He took a step towards her, but she raised a hand in warning.

Don't. I swear, you so much as lay a finger on me right now and I will rip you a new orifice.

He took one look at her and stayed where he was. He really was a smart guy sometimes, this Alex.

"Listen; you can get as close as you want, just… not like that." He raised a hand for a moment, then let it fall. "I can see that you're a real person. Anybody could. You're so real, so amazing, that it's scary." She gave a harsh laugh at that, but he kept going. "Not scary like that. And it doesn't mean that I can't be your friend." Oh, like she hadn't heard this riff before, from other kindly faces. "But I won't do anything to risk what Kelly and I have. I can't hurt her like that."

Faith looked away, lowering her head so that her hair spilled forward to hide her face.

I get it. You can't hurt her, but you can reject me, is that it?

She knew she was crazy to have hurt feelings after he refused to let her break up his thing with his girlfriend. That didn't change how it felt, though.

Here I go again. Playing out the same part. I'm Evil Faith, skanky Faith, taking on the brave heroes of love and light and goodness. I've been here before, haven't I?

Yes, she had been here before. The only difference was, this time there was no rival Slayer, or souled vampire, to get in her way. This time there were only well-intentioned, horribly vulnerable human beings.

Faith wanted to be good, she really did. It was just that people made it so hard for her. If she could win a few fights for these people and be loved for it, that would be great. But if they wouldn't give her what she wanted, what she needed, then somebody was going to get hurt very, very badly.

Without another word she picked up the heavier of the bags of stolen loot and headed down the sidewalk. She heard Alex follow a few seconds later, but she didn't look back. She had a feeling the look on her face just then was not something she wanted him to see.

* * * * *

"Well? What do you think?"

Whistler opened his eyes, the distance vision image of Faith and the boy fading away to leave only the sight of BellDonnna's face as she floated anxiously before him. In answer to her question, he shook his head with weary resignation.

"What I think is that we are in deep shit." He rubbed at his aching eyes; maintaining his power of remote viewing for any length of time was difficult even when he was well rested; after the long night just past he was definitely off his game. The two of them were in his car, parked just down the street from the fast food place where Faith and the boy had been sitting. BellDonna had been floating directly over the two, invisible, even as the demon observed from a distance. She had the advantage of being able to move with the speed of thought, and had been back in the car even before he could open his eyes. Staring now down the street, he could see them moving away down the sidewalk. "That kid is screwed up but good. She's pissed off at the boy now, and I can tell they're getting pulled deeper into this Yakuza thing with every move they make." He gave a heartfelt sigh as he stared at his companion. "The cracks in that girl are spreadin' faster and faster. I don't think it's going to be long before she loses it altogether."

The spirit entity gave him a cool look.

"Maybe if you hadn't thrown those monsters at her last night while I was gone, she'd have a little better grip on herself."

The demon winced a bit at that, but moved immediately to defend himself.

"Hey, I saw what looked like a good chance to move her into a better frame of mind and I took it. She's a Slayer; they're supposed to feel good about fighting stuff like that. Makes 'em feel all dutiful and everything."

She gave him a withering stare.

"You know, from what we were told I'd think you would know that this girl is different." She looked suddenly thoughtful. "Even her aura is different. Just now, when she linked with the boy; I didn't know Slayers could do that."

"Every Slayer is different." He said, dismissing that particular concern. "What, do you think they just stamp 'em out with a cookie cutter? The nature of the person is going to affect what-"

She scowled at him, her golden aura flashing with her ire.

"I know that. All I'm saying is that this one is very… odd. Her energies are in flux, like she's fighting her way through some kind of fundamental…." Seeing his longsuffering expression she turned away in a huff. "Fine. Ignore what I see. What's your brilliant plan now, oh wise demon?"

Leaning back in his seat, he squinted up at the dirty skyline above.

"I don't know. You say the big cheeses still aren't sure it's her?"

"Nope. You know the drill. 'Our gaze is too wide to see every hopping flea; only the greater patterns of the universe are clear in our sight. It falls to you, our capable followers, to discover and guide the minutia upon which all fate revolves'." She gave a helpless shrug. "All I got from them is that they're pretty sure it's her, and they're pretty sure that it's now that all the bad things get started." She gestured towards the now vanished Faith. "You really think that she could be the one who kills millions of people, and sends the whole world back to the dark ages?"

He grimaced, then turned the key to start the car.

"She sure likes the killing enough. If it was just vamps, and demons gone bad like the other Slayer, then I think we'd be fine. This one, though…." He shifted the car into gear and pulled out into traffic. "I think she hates everything on the planet; and maybe herself more than all the rest put together."

* * * * *
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