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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)DreamSmithFR1856235,317305733,45028 Sep 0725 Oct 07Yes

Chapter Twenty-One

See Chapter Nine for Disclaimer

The records of Faith from her days as a Slayer are few and far between. Obviously, the Watcher's Council, which at that time had already sunk far into decay and apathy, had quite a low regard for this particular 'Chosen One', and seemingly barely made note of her existance; other than their foolish attempts to capture, kill, or 'discipline' her. As far as the Watchers personally assigned her, Rupert Giles admittedly never worked closely with Faith, and Wyndham-Pryce's first real act upon arriving in Sunnydale was the abortive attempt to ship her to England as a prisioner. As a result, we know little of Faith's powers at that time. It seems clear that her prophetic dreams were both less frequent, and less accurate than those of her contemporary, Buffy Summers; if for no other reason than her obvious failure to forsee the confrontation with Summers that led to the coma.
There are, however, tantalizing hints of another mental ability, of which she made occasional use during this period.
And of course her most famous mental ability would not emerge until she fled Sunnydale, and events led her to her defining moment.

--From the BBC Series 'Myths made real'
Original Air date: September 14, 2008

Faith had been sitting and glaring at the wall for quite a while now, but it just stood there, unimpressed.

I can't believe how stupid I am. All this time, and somehow I still surprise myself with how brainless I can be.

She scooted down lower in the chair and re-crossed her ankles, settling her booted feet on the table once more.

Of course the fences wouldn't buy anything from us. Alex told me yesterday that these Japanese are running everything shady around here, now. What did I think, that they just ignored the guys who buy stolen property? No, I didn't think, that's the problem. I've gotten so tangled up in all this crap with Alex and his girl; I'm not keeping my eye on the ball.

An entire day, wasted. There was no way she could sell the stuff herself, not without searching the city looking for someone who was willing to deal in spite of the ban the Storm had placed on them. There just wasn't time for something like that. The cops were looking for her; the crooks were looking for her. She needed to get out of town, and she needed to do it now. She needed to have done it an hour ago, actually. She had a little money, and some clothes. That was enough for her go get to the next place the train passed through. It wasn't brilliant or anything, but it was as much of a plan as she ever had. If you don't like the game, don't stand around and cry; take your ball and leave. Simple enough for even a pathetic excuse for a Slayer like her to understand, right? All she had to do was get up and get gone. Yep, that was all she had to do.

She scowled at her boots and stayed where she was.

Damn it. Am I going to let them beat me again? That's what happened last time, you stupid bitch, can't you even remember what happened two days ago? I'd won, I was free and clear, and then I went back. I had to play hero, and guess what it got me? But if I run away now, that means they win too, doesn't it?

The leather coat creaked as she unfolded her arms and reached out to play with the knee of her jeans. Her hands were still a little numb from using the knife so much; it persisted in snapping and biting at her every time she drew it from the sheath. Out of sheer stubbornness, or maybe a desire to punish herself for the day's idiocy, she took the blade from where it hung at her hip. As it slid out, the icy force inside it began to gnaw at her palm. It was a familiar, almost comforting sensation by now, and she welcomed the distraction.

I noticed the super-sharpness thing wasn't working as good, towards the end there. I think it's getting a little tired.

If it used the life energy of her victims to power its magic, then it probably needed to recharge. Well, that wouldn't be a problem; there were always people around who needed killing. The part of her that spent all its time observing her surroundings caught the whisper of movement as someone walked through the nearby doorway. She automatically ran through a list of ways to kill whoever it was with the objects within reach (fourteen ways, counting the knife she held), but a moment later her peripheral vision showed her that it was only junkie-girl, wandering around like the ghost she was. Her presence only twisted the knotted cords in Faith's head all the tighter, though she didn't let her expression change.

Kelly stood off to the side for a minute before slowly shuffling up to the table.

"Can I sit down?"

Leave me alone. You're not a person, you're an insult. Not someone I want to talk to, or make nice with, just one more brick the universe threw at me, trying to make me leave. It's enough; I get the message, okay? I got it a while back, actually, there's no reason to throw any more.

That wall was really pissing her off, standing there all smug and everything. She could knock it down, if she wanted to. She could go over there and start kicking it apart, brick by brick. It would take awhile, but she could do it.

She was a Slayer; she could do anything at all.

Faith snorted softly at the thought.

Yeah; I'm the goddess of badassness and destruction who can do whatever she wants, and get whatever she wants. Suuuure I am. If that's so, then how come I can't seem to do anything? Why don't I have anything?

Kelly eventually got tired of waiting for an answer, or maybe she just couldn't stand up any longer. Even from the corner of her eye, Faith could see that the girl didn't look good. It took her two tries to pull the chair out and get herself down into it safely.

Well, Boo hoo, ask me if I care.

She turned the knife over and over in her hands, watching the light glint from its perfect form. It was so beautiful, so pure in what it did. She'd been a little like that, when she was the Mayor's hit woman. It had been comforting, not to worry about the consequences of what she was doing, not having to think about why, just how. She shoved the blade back into its sheath with more force than was really needed. Those days were gone. Well, more like they had been stolen, but there was nothing she could do about it now. It hurt too much to think about that, so she pushed it away, back into the shadows where all the other regrets and sadnesses lived. There was quite a crowd back there by now, but if everyone minded their manners, then there was still room for a few more.

"Alex said you and him got a lot of stuff today. He said it wasn't your fault that it didn't work out right." Faith refused to look at the girl. The sight of her was something she didn't care to subject herself to. "It's nobody's fault, I guess. Things are just bad here." Kelly's voice was hoarse and shaky, and she was sniffling a lot. Withdrawal already; she was way gone into her habit. "They've been bad a long time, but these Japanese people make it a lot worse. They don't care about anything but getting their way."

Why are you speaking to me? Do you really want me to kill you? Just because I haven't, yet, doesn't mean that I won't. Damn, even her inner voice sounded petulant, but she couldn't help it. Of course, the way things are going, If I lay a hand on you then you'll turn out to be some kind of demon goddess, and end up wiping the floor with me. That would be just perfect, wouldn't it?

Kelly shifted uneasily in her chair.

"Besides stealing stuff, did you and Alex… do… anything, today?"

Faith's eyes flicked to the girl's face, almost against her will.

Oh, now I get it. Well, well, well.

The addict was sitting all huddled in on herself, her gaze locked on the small vase of dried flowers in the center of the table. She looked terribly vulnerable, and the Slayer felt her heart rate increase slightly as anger burned slowly through her.

No, you silly little twit, we didn't do anything else. Your boy Alex wouldn't let me do anything along those lines. Thanks to you. She stared at Kelly, taking in every minute detail. The girl, with her gaunt face, thin from lack of proper eating, looked like a poster child for 'Adopt a street urchin'. The brown hair, amber highlights faintly visible despite it being wildly unkempt. The skinny little body, clumsy and feeble, twitching with small tremors now, as the craving for her drug began to take solid hold. It was hard to believe, even now. That's how pathetic I am; that I lose to this. My looks, everything I can do, and it's not enough to make him care about me. Not so long as he's got this lameness to come back to. Unbelievable.

Who was she kidding? This wasn't even someone you could kill; it would be too easy. There was something she could do, though; a way to get back at least a little of what this girl, and this city had taken from her.

"Oh, we did some things."

Kelly jumped a little when Faith spoke, then looked at her with dread in her eyes.

"Things? Like… what?"

Leaning back a little, Faith reached up and back with both arms, giving a long, languid stretch. She smiled at the other girl.

"Well, we had lunch, and we talked a lot. You know, getting to know each other." She sat up in her chair and shrugged, as if it were no big deal. "All that stealing and stuff, there's a lot of adrenaline pumping; we had to take some time to cool off, afterwards."

It was darkly satisfying, watching Alex's girlfriend get all pale and panicky-looking. Kelly started to breathe a little faster, and when she swayed in her chair Faith thought that she might actually pass out right then and there. That would have been hilarious, but the girl managed to pull herself together enough to go on.

"No. No, he wouldn't do that."

The Slayer's eyes widened in mock confusion.

"Do what? We just ate, and talked, and walked. There was a little bit of kissing and groping too. He was real nice to me." Her smile became a leer. "Really nice. But don't worry, we didn't have sex or anything; it's too soon for that. He's a real old-fashioned guy, your Alex."

Kelly was still panting a little, like she couldn't get enough air.

"I t-told you that he wouldn't do it with you, n-no matter what you tried. He l-loves m-m-me." The dark-haired girl shrugged as if it didn't really matter, leaving the junkie desperate for a change of topic. "W-what did you talk about?" She finally managed.

Faith propped her chin on her hand, looking on as the girl sat there and shivered.

"I don't know; different things." Her lips twitched slightly before she went on. "He did ask me about the whole 'kicking heroin' experience."

Kelly looked at her blankly, regaining her composure a bit as she tried to follow this new twist in the conversation.

"What? What do you mean?"

The Slayer shook her head sadly, staring down at the table as she drew invisible patterns along the smooth surface with the tip of one finger.

"I know, I thought it was weird too. I mean, he has you to ask if he really wants to know about that, right?" She glanced up at the other girl, and Kelly nodded hesitantly. "Well, anyway, he asked what it was like when I quit using, and I told him how it was a little uncomfortable, but not too tough if you were serious about stopping."

"What?!" The girl seemed caught between outrage and tears. "That's a lie! I've tried to quit, I've tried a couple of times, and I almost died!"

Faith pasted a look of sympathy and concern across her face, then stood up and moved to stand behind the girl's chair.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you." She put her hands on Kelly's shoulders, kneading them gently. "I'm not saying it would be easy for you. It's just that I didn't have any trouble with it."

The girl had twitched when Faith had first touched her, as if she wasn't sure if she wanted to pull away or not. The reassuring tone seemed to decide her, and she stayed where she was.

"I d-don't understand how that's possible." She was half-sobbing now, and it was a good thing she couldn't see the sneer on Faith's face. "I really did try to stop, but it hurt so much…."

"Shhh, I know." She kept up the massage of the addict's tense shoulders, but most of her attention was focused on trying to find that little 'push' that she could sometimes manage. For whatever reason, this time it chose to come when she called it. She smiled as she felt the energy flow from her hands and into the girl, but the expression never reached her eyes. "It's not fair for him to expect you to stop using when it hurts, is it?"

Kelly shook her head violently back and forth.

"No, it's not. And it did hurt, too. Not just a little bit, either. It hurts more than anything you can think of."

Faith's hands worked their way down to the girl's upper arms, stroking her flesh firmly, carefully, streams of invisible force flowing through the skin-to-skin connection.

"Well, not more than I can think of, but then I'm not like you. Some people just aren't able to handle it, is all. It's not your fault that you're not as strong as some people. Not as strong as I am, for one." At the same time, she projected with all her might.

Yes, it is my fault. I'm weak; weak and selfish. Alex loves me, but I don't really love him. I just use him because he can get my fixes for me.

Kelly shook her head, denying something she couldn't even consciously detect happening.

"No, I-" She shivered again, more violently this time. "I did try, 'cause I know he wants me to stop." She tilted her head back, trying to look Faith in the eyes. "I'd do anything for him. It's just-"

The Slayer shook the girl gently.

"Hey, it's okay, believe me. I know."

Weak. I'm weak, and I'm ugly. He cares for me but I really don't care about him. Even if I did, a little, I'm bad. I don't deserve him. I hurt him every time he sees me.

She smiled looked down at the top of that brown-haired head and sighed.

"Alex really does love you, you know." The girl relaxed just a little. "I mean, if he didn't love you, he wouldn't go through so much for you. Just today, we had a couple of close calls, with cops and stuff."

Kelly struggled a little under her hands, but it was weak.

"What…. Did they chase you?"

She sounded confused, almost dazed. The power flowing from Faith's hands was meeting almost no resistance at all. This was stuff the girl already felt, somewhere, so it was easy to push her in that direction.

"Yeah, once. I took care of it though." She had, too. Alex thought they'd just outrun the guy, and Faith hadn't bothered to tell him about the mangled, semi-conscious car owner she'd left behind a dumpster. "I can pull my own weight. I can help Alex when he needs help. Not that you don't help him; I'll bet you do all kinds of things for him."

I drag him down; he would be someplace better if it weren't for me. I'm a leech, sucking him dry, I'm an anchor, tied to his leg and pulling him down to drown. He's risking himself for me, and all I do is sit around, either flying or crying. What kind of love is that?

Faith was pushing hard, and she could almost feel the girl starting to crumble.

I'm so pathetic, so weak. I'm worthless. Nobody loves me, nobody ever has, no one ever will. I'm alone, and I deserve it. Why should Alex love me? What is there about me that someone could love?

Her hands were growing warm with the rush of power, and the force of it was leaving a singing tone just behind her eyes. It was growing louder.

I should leave, now, before I do any more damage. Alex is a good person, why stay and hurt him? I'm bad, an evil bitch that should have died a year ago, but was too stupid to know when to quit. If I walked away, he would be better off. Then at least when I do kick off I won't be in anybody's way.

The singing tone was louder, and it was souring, the note becoming painful in its dissonant intensity. Her head was splitting, but the rush of emotion continued, seeming to echo back at her from the other girl, resonating between them in ever-more powerful waves.

Leave him, walk away and find someone to kill me. That's the only way out, unless I want to go on this way for years; burned out, pathetic, alone. Nobody cares, not even me, really. I'm just too stubborn to admit it. Hate them; hate them all; Alex, Sylvia, Kelly, Buffy, Angel, Joyce, Willow, Xander, those girlfriends of theirs…. I hate their wonderful little lives, their happy little families, their lovey-dovey friends, everything they have and I don't. I hate them, and I'll hurt them as much as I can, till they suffer like I suffer every day. Till they know what it's like to be me. And when they feel like I do, I'll kill them, just to put them out of their misery, because I know what it's like to be me, and I know I'd rather die than go on feeling like that for one minute longer than--

Faith was on her hands and knees, and she didn't remember how she'd gotten there. Her head was pounding like someone had hit it with a sledgehammer, and Kelly was hunched over in her chair, sobbing uncontrollably. The Slayer's own eyes were blurry, and there was a hollow ache inside her chest. Slowly, disbelievingly, she raised a hand to her face.

Tears. There were tears trickling down her cheeks. Gritting her teeth, she forced them back. Deliberately, with enormous effort, she got herself back under control. Her breathing eased, her rapidly beating heart slowed.

Back, push it all back, into the shadows where it belongs. It can't hurt me there.

Her head felt… odd. The shadows at the edges of her mind seemed closer; more restless than they had before. Something had happened; she'd lost control of what she'd been doing.

Well. Guess I'll think twice before I do anything like that again.

She climbed to her feet, brushing her hands against each other. Kelly was rocking back and forth, whimpering to herself between sobs.

"I'm dragging him down, I should just leave, I'm bad, and I hurt everything I touch…."

For a long moment, Faith couldn't tell if it was the girl speaking, or her own thoughts that she was hearing. Very carefully, she backed away from where the addict sat. She would have to keep her distance from this one; there was something about her that made the shadows stronger.

They were so strong already, surging over her whenever there was blood to call them. She didn't want them to take control of the rest of her life too, but she didn't know how much longer she could hold restrain them. Everyone had a limit somewhere, even Slayers.

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