“Thus having spoke she turned away
And though I found no words to say
I stood and watched until I saw
Her black coat disappear
My labour is no easier
But now I know I’m not alone
I find new heart each time
I think upon that windy day
And if one day she comes to you
Drink deeply from her words so wise
Take courage from her
As your prize
And say hello from me.”
Uriah Heep (Lady in Black).
One Week after the Battle of Summers Hope.
Walking into the kitchen of what had been Buffy Summers’ house; Faith took off her gauntlets and sword belt before laying them on the kitchen table. She’d just come from burying one of her Bearkillers who’d died of his wounds. She shook her head in despair; these people hadn’t even got a doctor. True Mistress Willow and their paramedic had done everything they could for her young A-Lister but it hadn’t been enough. Now Faith had three families to visit to tell them how their son or daughter had died in a faraway land.
Nodding to Colin, who sat on the floor near the range playing with the children that seemed to infest the house, Faith walked through the room and down a corridor until she came to Giles’ study. Not bothering to knock she opened the door and went in. Giles was sitting behind his desk with his ‘wife’ sitting to one side. They had obviously been in deep discussion when she’d burst in. They’d jumped apart guiltily as if they’d been plotting something.
Looking around the room Faith saw all the books and papers, some had been packed into boxes others still rested on the shelves. Faith sighed, it was just like these people; Buffy had said that these books and papers were important and were to be packed up and put aboard the boats for evacuation. They’d not even managed to do that right.
Noticing that they hadn’t put out a chair for her, Faith looked around the room; did they think she was going to stand in front of the headmaster’s desk like a naughty schoolgirl? Spotting a chair Faith removed the papers that littered its seat and pointedly moved it across the room. Sitting down she crossed her legs and clasped her hands in her lap unconsciously copying a pose favoured by her long dead watcher.
“Miss Lehane,” Giles began slowly after a glance at Willow, “we need to talk about your future.”
“Mr Giles,” Faith looked sternly across the table as she fought down her temper, when she spoke her voice was like ice, “I’ve haven’t gone by that name in ten years. My title is Lady Faith, Steadholder of Believue and A-Lister of the Bearkiller Outfit…and if you think you’re going to pull any of your watcher crap on me we can stop this meeting right now!”
Sitting back in her chair Faith watched the effect her words had on these two jokers and congratulated herself on not pulling her knife and gutting them both. Smiling a small smile as Giles did fish impressions Faith momentarily did consider having them removed from their positions of authority. That Lady Cordelia would make a good leader; she might be a pushy bitch but her husband was ex-navy and appeared to be the only one who could organise things around here.
Putting aside any idea of a military coupe Faith realised that the ruling body of the Bearkillers probably wouldn’t like it anyway, she prepared herself for what would come next
“Yes I’m sure it is,” Giles spoke like he was talking to a petulant child, “but by what authority? Just because you say something is so doesn’t make it so.”
“BY WHAT AUTHORITY?!” standing up Faith knocked over her chair and slammed her fists down on the desk, “By the authority of my sword and bow, by the authority of the men and women who freely follow me…” Faith stood up and looked down at the old watcher and his women in contempt, “by the authority of the blood we spilt to keep us free from tyranny.”
Picking up her chair Faith sat down again and smiled internally, that was a pretty good speech, most unlike her, Miss P would be proud. But, this guy was really ticking her off…maybe she’d reconsider the gutting option.
“But,” Giles had found his tongue again, “what about your slayer duties?”
“What about them?” Faith shot back, “I have more than enough duties, I don’t want to take on any more…and if you’re talking about vamps and monsters? Well, if you haven’t noticed they’ve both been a little thin on the ground lately, I have other things to worry about and so should you,” like the welfare of your people, she added to herself.
In fact Faith had an agreement with the Rangers so they’d report anything weird or otherworldly straight to her; after all Astrid Larsson knew all about vampires and werewolves. Faith was getting fed up with all this fucking about playing word games, to be honest now Buffy was dead she didn’t really care if these people lived or died…but. But she had her duty, she owed it to the Outfit to try and make something of the situation…and what the fuck was she doing coming to see these assholes? They should be coming to her, cap in hand, begging her to take them somewhere safe!
“Look,” leaning forward Faith rested her elbows on her knees, “this is how it’s gonna be.”
It was late in the afternoon and Faith was looking out from the palisade near the gate, in her minds eye she pictured the fight that had taken Buffy. Although she had lost her temper with the other slayer she now wished she had got to know her better. If she was honest with herself she’d probably have done no better than Buffy. Faith admitted to herself she’d been lucky in the people she had met; Miss P, Mike Havel, Lady Juniper even young Astrid. They had all taught her things, made her a better person than she might have been. Everyone she had killed had needed killing; everyone she had saved had made her better than she was and had helped to save her.
Looking out over the battlefield she saw the low hill where Buffy and her own A-Listers where buried. They had piled stones over the graves and Faith hoped that one day she could come here and take them all home. Caleb’s body had been burnt with those of his followers, Giles had been eager to find his head saying that it might become a powerful totem for the savage tribes that still roamed the area.
Claiming that she had just thrown the gristly trophy away Faith kept the truth to herself. She had given the head to Samantha who had boiled it until all the flesh and brains dropped off of it. Then after giving it a polish she had returned it to her mistress. Faith had thought she had killed the bastard once before and been wrong; this time she was going to be sure that once killed he stayed dead.
There was a polite cough behind her, Faith turned to see Giles standing a few feet away.
“Umm I’m sorry if I disturbed you,” his tone was much altered since Faith had explained the reality of the situation to him.
Nodding her head Faith gestured for him to continue.
“I’ve spoken with Willow and the err, the others,” Faith could see Giles was having difficulty saying what he needed to say, “and we’ve decided to take you up on your offer of relocation.”
“Good,” Faith smiled, people said she had a charming smile when she wanted, “I think you’ll find the old marina at Depoe Bay is a much better location than this.” She gestured to the harbour, “It’s closer to civilisation so the prospects for trade are good and of course you’ll be near Bearkiller territory,” yes they would and the Bearkillers could use a port that they could control. “You won’t have to worry about insane priests or eaters, of course you will be expected to contribute to the common defence but we Bearkillers will help train your militia.”
“Of course,” Giles regained some of his old confidence as he spoke, “we’ll need to build some more boats before we can move everyone.”
“Not a problem,” Faith agreed, “I’m leaving Colin and Samantha here along with Edward, he’s still not fit enough to face a long ride, they’ll help look after the security side of things,” and keep an eye on you rabble she added silently.
The two leaders talked for a few minutes finalising details for the relocation of the settlement’s population. Finally Faith handed Giles a small bundle, wrapped in leather and tied with string, which she’d been holding behind her back.
“Originally I only came down here to find Buffy,” she explained, “and give you this,” she handed over the bundle, in a way it was sort of a peace offering.
“What…?” Giles started to pull at the string, the wrapping fell away to reveal half a dozen leather bound note books.
“Miss P’s Watcher’s Diaries,” Faith felt a tug on her heart as she’d handed over the books, “she’d have wanted you to have them.”
“Mom?” It was early in the morning of the day Faith had decided to head home and Penny was standing in front of her hopping from foot to foot as if she wanted to use the privy.
“What’s up sweetheart?” Faith belted on her sword before turning to check Bad Horse’s harness.
“Mom, can Joan come with us?” Penny wrung her hands together, “Pleeese mom.”
“What?” Faith turned around and looked down at her daughter, “I don’t know, what does she want?”
“She says she wants to come with us,” Penny had stopped hopping and was now looking up at her mom with her big brown eyes looking for all the world like a cute kitten. “She says she doesn’t want to stay here…her mom y’know?”
“Yeah I get that,” Faith nodded her head, “What does Master Giles and Mistress Willow say?”
“They say she’s got to stay,” Penny explained sadly thinking that her mom would side with the adults, “but she doesn’t want to she says they’ll be mean to her.”
Smiling at her girl Faith didn’t really think the adults, whatever other faults they might have, would cause any harm to the girl. But, Joan and Penny had become quite close in the time they had been together and…Faith nodded her head as a plan formed in her mind.
“I don’t see why not,” Faith watched her daughter almost explode with joy at the news.
“JO!” Penny yelled, “Mom says it okay!”
Looking up Faith saw the girl run towards her dragging a pack behind her.
“Thank-you Miss…sorry Lady Faith I…”
“Look,” Faith looked sternly at the two girls, “Joan can stay until everyone here has moved then she’ll have to move back to live with her own people,” Faith watched the faces of the girls fall. “But, I don’t see why you two shouldn’t visit it’s not as if we’ll be that far apart.”
“Like Rudi and Princess Matti?” asked Penny referring to Lady Juniper’s son and Princess Mathilda from the Association lands.
“Yes that’s right,” Faith smiled.
This could all work out pretty well, while the girl was with her she could guide her into doing things the Bearkiller way; and while Penny was with Giles and Willow they might think she was a spy and it might keep them on the straight and narrow. Plus when Joan grew up she could be put forward as the Steadholder of Depoe Bay (or whatever they decided to call the settlement).
Sending the children off to find Joan a horse Faith prepared to deal with Giles and Willow who’d no doubt be annoyed at her decision, well let them; if the worst came to the worst she could put that Cordelia woman in charge. She’d noticed how Giles reacted to any suggestion that Cordelia be given any position of power. Turning Faith went back to checking out Bad Horse’s gear, the animal turned his head to look at his mistress.
“And what are you looking at, you black hearted monster?” Faith pushed his head away, “I think I must be getting as sneaky and evil as you.”
Snorting Bad Horse nodded his head.
One week earlier shortly after Buffy’s death.
A village on the edge of the resettled zone in Southern England.
A young woman tossed and turned in her sleep as she dreamt of monsters that rose up out of the night. Her thrashing woke up her husband who lit a candle and listened in concern at his wife’s fevered ramblings. Gently he shook her shoulder and watched as she opened her eyes.
“Nightmare?” he asked with a reassuring smile.
“Yeah,” she replied pulling herself up the bed on her elbows, “I thought the Brushwood Men had taken the kids.”
“No Brushwood Men here,” he grinned, “try to get back to sleep we’ve both got a busy day tomorrow.”
Blowing out the candle her husband turned and kissed her on the cheek and laid back down to sleep.
Lying in the dark the woman listened as her husband’s breathing got slower and he drifted off back to sleep, she just lay there staring up at the dark ceiling. These days the night was really dark and full of monsters; and not just the monsters that her watcher had told her about when she was a girl before the Change.
She rolled onto her side but try as she might she couldn’t get back to sleep. She felt restless she wanted to get up and roam the night. She felt she should be out hunting down the monsters that lurked on the edge of civilisation. She felt…strong.
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way.
Ok the last bit isn’t really canon, I know the ‘Slayer Line’ runs through Faith, but there was no way I was going to kill off Faith and I needed a way of leading into the third and final story of this series. All I can say is ‘Alternate Universe’, the rules are slightly different there (yeah, as Miss P might say, ‘maybe I don’t believe it either’).
There was so much I had to cut out to keep this story to a manageable length (80,000+ words!). I’d have loved to have done the fight where the Bearkillers hang glided into one of the Protector’s forts. I’m sorry I only gave the Mackenzie’s a couple of mentions, but I only had so much time to write in. Plus I wanted Buffy and Faith to meet even if it was only for a couple of days.
The third story (working title ‘The Fire Rekindled’) will cover what happened in England to the next slayer in line (anyone like to guess who that’ll be?) and the Watchers Council. When this fic will see the light of day I don’t know but I will do my best.
Finally I’d like to say a big THANK-YOU to everybody who’s read, reviewed and recommended this story, cheers.
I'd also like to say thank-you to Mr Stirling for writing the original stories and to acknowledge the use of some of his words during the writing of my fic.