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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)DreamSmithFR1856235,317305733,45428 Sep 0725 Oct 07Yes

Chapter Three

See Chapter One for Disclaimer

She will take the Sword of Night into her hands, and with it bring forth fire from the sky.
Wind and water shall be hers to command, as the race of man shall be hers to command.
When the darkness becomes bright, you will know these things are come to pass….

--Writings discovered in a ruin near Athens, in 1853
Believed by some to relate to the End Times

The rain had finally arrived.

Faith lowered her head and kept walking, still not certain of where she was headed. Anywhere, away; that would be enough. Her denim jacket kept her dry for a couple of minutes, but the rain was falling more heavily with each passing moment, and it wasn't long before her clothes were soaked through. It was a cold rain, too, despite southern California's reputation as a warm and sunny place. She looked up, blinking away the streams of water than ran into her eyes. She could see in the dark as well as any vampire, but the sheets of rain made it difficult to discern anything more than a few yards away. The buildings that lined the street were mostly warehouses, or machine shops of some kind. Bars covered every window, and she could see that at least some of the doors were wired with alarms; not very inviting.

There was nothing to do but keep walking, so that's what she did.

The occasional car that passed by threw her shadow up against the dirty brick of the buildings, but now that it was raining, she seemed to be the only person dumb enough to be out walking. Her cold, wet clothes clung to her, oppressively heavy, but she ignored it. Her boots were full of water, squelching unpleasantly with every step. She ignored that too. So it was raining, so what? Rain happened, people got rained on every day. Sure, some people had places to go to; warm, dry places. They even had plenty to eat, and money that they never had to work for, let alone do anything wrong or disgusting for, money that their mother gave them just for being such a perfect little blonde-no. Don't go there, Faith. Don't think about how much you hate her, how much you hate them all. Their wonderful lives, with their stupid little gang of heroes who never really had to worry about the dirt and grime of the real world. They thought killing monsters was so different from killing a human being, didn't they? Well, they were wrong. It was exactly the same; she knew, because she'd done a lot of both, and when you looked into a monster's eyes as its life faded away, it was very clear that you were watching a person die. Buffy thought that she lived on the brighter side of a black and white world, but it wasn't that way at all. So, okay, maybe she and the other Slayer occupied different spots on the 'shades of gray' spectrum. Did it really matter all that much? At what point were you able to say 'that girl is good, and that one is evil'? Faith didn't feel evil, not really. It was just that… well… a lot of the time, when she had a second to wonder if what she was doing was wrong, she found that she didn't especially care.

She realized that she had stopped, that she was standing by the side of the road in the pouring rain, distracted by the pointless thoughts; and they were pointless. It didn't matter what anyone else thought of her, or what they said about her; it really didn't. Buffy and her friends had no relevance to Faith now, none whatsoever. They were part of her past, gone for good. She hated them, she loathed them… and in unguarded moments she envied them. What they had, what they flaunted at her, those things made her feel smaller, weaker than she was supposed to be. Buffy's life made Faith's whole existence seem like a lie, and the more she thought about it….

Stop it.

This was worse than useless. She had gotten away, and they couldn't hurt her anymore. Now she had to stop hurting herself. She had to let it go, she had to move on. If she didn't, then the rest of her life would just be a series of appearances in their lives as the 'pathetic villain of the week', someone for Buffy to beat up while Xander cracked lame jokes and Willow and her girlfriend made doe-eyes at each other. That's all she would be, if she went back. Anything was better than that fate.

A flicker of light off to the side caught her attention, and she peered gratefully at the welcome distraction. The rain was still falling heavily, but it was doing so in erratic sheets now, and a hundred yards or so in the distance, a cluster of highway overpasses seemed to crouch sullenly. The flicker came again; firelight. Someone was keeping warm under the shelter provided by the massive concrete structures. Looking around, Faith located a place where an opening had been cut in the chain link fencing that bordered the road. Ducking through, she shouldered the strap of the backpack and struck off across the barren lot.

Various bits of trash and debris littered the muddy ground, and it only got worse as she approached the looming overpasses. There were several of them, closely grouped and forming a huge, cavernous space that thrummed almost subliminally with the passage of the cars and trucks above. As she walked forward and out of the rain, she scanned the denizens of the place. There were a couple of dozen people visible, scattered about either alone or in groups of two or three. Most of them looked to be older, homeless types, but some were her own age, or close enough. Runaways, probably. That, or possibly just people who had gotten onto the fast track to loserhood even earlier than she had.

Whatever, none of them were her problem; all she wanted was to be someplace dry. There were three fires going, built in battered steel drums or within little circles of broken concrete. The people were gathered thickest around them, but she wasn't feeling very social. Also, whatever they were burning made her wrinkle her nose in disgust, and it helped her make the decision not to approach. Instead, she found a shadowy nook next to one of the massive gray supports that held up the roadway overhead. It wasn't very warm, but at least she wasn't getting rained on. Despite that, her wet clothes were like ice, and she was shivering constantly now as her body tried to warm itself. She toughed it out, ignoring the temptation to move over beside a fire. It wasn't like she could get sick or anything. No matter how uncomfortable it was, it wasn't possible for the climate of southern California to really hurt someone with her special advantages. With her back to the gritty surface she pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, clasping her hands together.

She kept a close eye on the others who shared her refuge. You never knew what kind of person you might meet, in a place like this.

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