‘When The Bullet Hits The Bone’Help I'm steppin' into the twilight zone
The place is a madhouse, feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go, now that I've gone too farTwilight Zone
Golden Earring, album:
Lyrics by George Kooymans
AN: W00t! Da first chapter! And what a labor of torture it turned out to be. You wonder why it took me almost a year on end to start posting the next part? Look no further then this chapter. I don’t really know why though. Probably because by then I still hadn’t fleshed out the full story yet.
In a spot overlooking Botany Bay, the famous Sydney Harbor bridge and the Opera House Yamcha stood waiting. Close by was Tien, who was even now cooing the baby that Bulma held in her arms.
“Who’s a nice little fella?” Tien said as he played with his finger in front of the baby’s face, “who’s a nice little fella?”
Bulma looked like a proud mother as Tien played with her son.
But not his, Yamcha snorted mentally. Even though he’d known for quit a while, he still found it hard to comprehend. It should have been his kid. She should have been his girl. But he let her get away. Slip into his hands.
Part of that was her fault of course. She pushed him. Hard. Often way to hard. And it wasn’t like he was so adverse to the idea of settling down with Bulma. Or with other women for that matter. It was just the way she wanted to settle down so fast.
And change him.
What was it with women that they felt the need to change their men? I mean, if the guy’s not perfect, why not go out looking for one that’s more to what you had in mind? He liked being who and what he was. He was no nine to five kind of guy. He was not the kind of guy who was going to work on a career. Why couldn’t Bulma realize this? I mean, it wasn’t like she was a traditional kind of gal herself. Her parents seemed fine with who he was, why couldn’t she?
Of course it wasn’t to late. She may have had something with his Royal Assholeness, but he left her as well. Bastard left her pregnant and alone, then disappeared into the sunset. Bastard left her vulnerable for those two scouting androids. And it was he who had saved her. So the bridge wasn’t completely burned. Fire had damaged the superstructure but the foundations were still intact for a rebuild.
But then he’d have to accept her child as well. HIS kid.
And some things were just to damn hard for a man to swallow.
He wasn’t a complete asshole. He knew these were the times when more families broke up then stayed together. Where kids grew up with single parents, weekend fathers, and where a man looking to find a significant other often had to accept she came with children from another man. Those were the times and Yamcha was okay with that. He had no selfish desire to pass on his genes and in a way there was an advantage to dating a woman with kids. They weren’t on some desperate doomsday clock to get kids before the big P set in and at least there weren’t going to be any sleepless and sexless nights with babies demanded constant attention.
And then some things were just to damn hard for any man to swallow.
And that included taking care of the child of the man who had belittled him, humiliated him and used him for a punching bag ever since he had entered the Brief’s household more then four years ago. Cause while the child was innocent, in Yamcha’s mind he would always reminded him of Vegeta. Of how he had soiled his life and how he had soiled Bulma’s.
No, it was definitely too late for the both of them.
As he looked up Yamcha could finally see Goku and the others as they descended from the sky.
“We’ve been waiting for you for a while now,” Yamcha said cocky as Goku touched down, “You’re late.”
“Hey, Yamcha,” Goku said as he took his friend in an embrace so tight it would have crushed a lesser men. Now it only nearly crushed Yamcha instead. Damn Saiyans and their infinite reservoirs of strength.
“it’s been too long!”
“For Kami’s sake Goku, it’s been only nine months,” Yamcha said back as the Saiyan finally let go, then he turned to Krillin and made a few shadow boxing moves, “How you doing, Krillin? Did you and that nice girl…..”
The look Krillin gave him said it all. So it didn’t work out. But hey, at least the little guy finally got some. Better to have loved and lost, right? Even if it was just a one night stand.
Yamcha wanted to say hello to Gohan but Bulma beat him to it.
“Hi Gohan,” Bulma smiled at the kid, “You’ve grown.”
Upon hearing her Goku frowned.
“You shouldn’t have come, Bulma,” Goku said disapprovingly, “It’s too dangerous.”
“Nice to see you too, Goku” Bulma said deadpan, “Don’t worry. I’m just here to have a good look at the androids. After that I’ll leave. Besides, it’s not like I never stared down a couple of homicidal androids before.”
“Never mind that,” Krillin said as he stood there gawking at the child in Bulma’s arms, “You’re holding a baby! You and Yamcha finally got married or something?”
Aw crap, Yamcha thought, Bulma just had to drag the little tyke along, didn’t she? Couldn’t leave it at home with gramps. Ah well, best to get it over with quickly.
“It’s not mine,” Yamcha said as he closed his eyes, “We split up quite some time ago. And you’re never gonna guess who its dad really is.”
Without batting an eyelid Goku reached over to the child and rubbed underneath the child’s chin.
“Trunks, you’re Vegeta’s son, aren’t you,” he said smiling.
For a moment everything was dead silence, except for a loud smack as a certain Namek facepalmed himself.
“How…, how did you know?” Bulma said flabbergasted, “We wanted to keep it a surprise.”
The Saiyan suddenly glanced over at Piccolo who gave him the ‘you’re on your own’ look.
“Busted,” somebody said as Goku began to scratch the back of his head and grinned sheepishly.
“Know? I just had this feeling,” Goku smiled nervously, “He sorta looks like Vegeta’s.”
Tsssk! Worst excuse ever! Yamcha thought as he looked on, then he glanced at Piccolo who now had his ‘how could you’ look, then back at the nervous looking Goku and finally at little Trunks. And suddenly it clicked. Well I’ll be damned! So that was who Future Saiyan was. Suddenly it all made sense.
“You even got the name right,” Bulma said as she eyed Goku suspiciously.
“Who, me?” Goku said as he began to laugh like it was all a big joke, “I guess I must be psychic then.”
“Hmmm,” Bulma said suspiciously.
“That’s Vegeta’s kid?” Krillin asked, still having trouble wrapping his head around the concept.
“Enough,” Piccolo called out impatiently, “We’re not here to chat. Where’s Vegeta?”
“I don’t know,” Bulma said, “But I’ll know he’ll come. He’s trained hard for this day.”
The Namek looked at the person next to him and raised an eyebrow.
“So he has returned then?” he said surprised.
“He’s been back for a while,” Bulma nodded, “although I haven’t seen him much. We sort of broke up.”
“He’ll come,” Goku said as he began to sport a very Saiyan like smirk, “Vegeta will definitely come for this one.”
“I didn’t let Chaozu come,” Tien said, “To be honest he’s not strong enough.”
“Leave your mancrush back at home again?” Yamcha grinned at Tien, “You know, if you leave him home every time you go out he might start thinking you’ve found a new boyfriend.”
“I’m not gay,” Tien sighed tiredly.
“It’s probably a good idea Chaozu didn’t come,” Goku said and looked up for a moment before turning to Bulma, “What time is it?”
“09:30,” Bulma said as she barely glanced at her own watch.
“You should leave now before the child gets hurt,” Goku said but Bulma let out a loud snort.
“Androids first, then I’ll leave.” she said absolutely fearless.
“So where’s Belmovekk?” Krillin asked Yamcha, “surely you set out at the same time, right? After all, you’re both from California.”
“He said he wanted to wait until Goku was here,” Yamcha said, “Then he’d come.”
“Wouldn’t he be late then,” Tien asked somewhat surprised, upon which Yamcha shrugged.
“I think he wants to show off,” he said.
No sooner had he said it as out of nowhere Belmovekk appeared, two fingers resting on his forehead, along with two others with their hands on him.
“Told you he was going to show off,” Yamcha said frowning at the other Saiyan’s display.
As he let go of Belmovekk Xander turned to Goku’s Z-fighters.
“Lucy, I am home,” he said in a bad Ricky Ricardo imitation.
“Gee, Xander,” Buffy said behind him, “couldn’t you have made a better pun?”
Then Buffy heard a familiar voice
As she turned around she saw Faith standing there next to Piccolo, the both of them in identical poses, arms across her chest.
“So, B., how’s it hanging lately?”
A-Day minus 255
She couldn’t believe Jolly Green had talked her into coming along with him.
How she hated the place.
Even now as she flew across the Gulf of Mexico, most of their long journey over, Faith couldn’t help but think she’d rather turn around and fly all that distance back again, just to put some distance between her and that accursed place.
Of course Jolly Green wouldn’t stand for it.
Curse him and his evil debating skillz!
Except Faith wasn’t quite sure that Piccolo was male. After all, he had been spawned by what he called his father. And he claimed he could do it as well. Which would technically mean Piccolo was female. Of course a simple male/female dichotomy didn’t apply to Nameks. They were a single sex species, capable of reproducing without the help of others.
Up to a point they could even control what kind of genes they wished to pass on. Piccolo himself was the result of such an act as his sire, Piccolo the Demon king, had made him into a fighter. As a result his aptitude for magic, which had been quite high for his sire, was low.
But Piccolo was a tactician pur sang. He didn’t waste time dwelling on what he didn’t have, he’d try and find ways to work with what he had. She had come to admire that in the time they had spend together.
Theirs had been a strange relationship from the start. When she had waken up without her powers all she could do was sit and wait, let her anger and hatred grow as she had to sit there impotently on top of that rock.
She had sat there angry until she felt her powers return. Then she tried to escape.
And ran straight into Piccolo.
After which she immediately got her first lesson.
Do not annoy the Green One.
Unfortunately the lesson didn’t take hold as for a whole month straight she had tried to escape at every opportunity. And each time Jolly Green had found her. Sometimes within seconds, sometimes after days, one time after she thought she had finally gotten away. There was just no escaping the Green One. And each time he drove the message home. Not with self righteous words. But through ‘other’ means.
Do not annoy the Green One.
For a whole month she tried to get away before she finally accepted that there really was no escape.
And that was when the Namek began to train her.
For two more months she fought him tooth and nail passively. Resenting her captivity by sabotaging his attempts to teach her. The fights were long and tiring. Then one night she sat up awake, looking at the full moon and she wondered what happened to Little Brother. The only friend she ever really had. Oz. Other then saying that the mayor had been defeated and killed, Piccolo refused to tell her anything as to what had happened in Sunnydale
It was at that moment as she contemplated the fate of her once dear friend that she realized that she was truly alone in this world. And it was her own fault. Oz may be dead because of the choice she had made.
It was at that moment that she began to cry, sobbing uncontrollably. Naturally Jolly Green noticed her distress. Even when he was sitting there cross-legged, arms folded across his chest, eyes closed, looking very much asleep, he never was as Nameks never slept. Again proving that part of him was somehow female the Namek was able to multitask on his meditations and keeping an eye on her.
She had been crying for the first time in three months that night. For three long, long months she had been playing the tough biker chick routine. Kami knew she had been testing his patience. There had been words. There had physical reprimand. There were times he contemplated handing her back lock stock and barrel to Belmovekk.
And it wasn’t just because she was had been trying to escape for a whole month straight. That at least had been fun. A nice cat and mouse game to while away the time babysitting. She had proven cunning, resourceful and persistent. He couldn’t turn his back on her for a second only to find her gone.
It was when she stopped running that things went sour. She constantly fought him, never listening to a word he said. It was maddening!
Gohan had never fought him like that. In fact the kid seemed quite happy to accept his tutorage. Of course, letting the kid survive in the wild for half a year might had something to do with that. Being that long without human contact made you cling all the more to someone once you finally did meet someone again. And while Piccolo wasn’t human he had inherited much of the knowledge of his sire, the Demon King, the master of mind games. Oh yes, he would never admit it to Gohan but besides training the kid to fight Vegeta he was also trying to win him over, turn him against his father.
What he didn’t count on was that the bond that had developed between him and Gohan. Since he wasn’t a demon like his sire he failed to keep himself detached emotionally. The bond that grew out of that was what rescued him from the dark path set out for him by his sire.
But he couldn’t redo what he had done with Gohan with the girl. For one thing the girl was way more powerful then Gohan had been. And way further advanced in her martial arts. Gohan basically knew nothing. And she could fly. There was no way in hell that he could leave her alone for six months straight.
So he stuck around. Sacrificing valuable training time to keep an eye on her. And regretted ever letting Belmovekk talk him into taking into this gig as she fought him tooth and nail trying to teach her anything. She was like Vegeta, only with tits. How on Earth that old coot Belmovekk taught her anything was beyond him. It gave him new respect for Belmovekk. And lots of dislike for foisting her off on him.
And then she cried.
Gohan had cried. Cried for days. Sometimes it looked like he cried just about for everything. But that was normal for a small kid. The girl had never once cried so far.
She had been sitting there, staring at the full moon (Thank Kami she wasn’t Saiyan). Thinking by the looks of it. Then she began to cry, sobbing uncontrollably. Had this happened earlier he’d suspected her yet another escape attempt.
“Are you alright, kid?” he asked her. She didn’t respond, she just went on crying. Great, it looked like she was suddenly in full scale emotional breakdown. Goku’s wife had similar moments. Usually around that certain time of the month. He had made it a mental note to always keep track of Chichi’s time of the month so he could scoot off in time for some ‘private training’. He felt sorry for Goku and Gohan for abandoning them to their mother at such a time but hey, some sacrifices were just too great to ask for.
The girl never broke down during her time of the month. At least he hoped not. It was bad enough that she became even more obstinate and hostile at those moments, Kami forbid that crying would become part of the deal as well.
Damn it, what was he supposed to do? He was Piccolo, the Demon King. Or ex-Demon King. He didn’t do emotional. He was the guy who told people to suck it up instead.
“Just go over to her and hold her,” a voice said in his mind. He had a pretty good idea who that was.
“Stay out of my mind, you old coot,” he thought back angry. Damn did he hate that weird psychic connection that existed between him and that self-appointed celestial do-gooder Kami in his celestial lookout in the sky.
“Just hold her,” Kami thought back calmly.
“I told you before, I don’t do emotional,” Piccolo replied.
“You don’t have to do emotional,” came Kami’s response, “she’s not Goku’s wife. She doesn’t need an emotional punching bag. She needs a friend. Now more then ever.”
Reluctantly Piccolo unfolded himself and went over to the crying girl.
“Are you alright?” he asked as he tentatively reached out towards the girl. No sooner had he done so as she turned around and threw her arms around his waist. As her muffled cries came from his steadily moistening waist Piccolo looked up unsure of what to do.
“Don’t you dare laugh, old coot!”
Then he put his arms around her and held her in his embrace.
He looked so uncomfortable as he held her it would have been funny if it weren’t for her emotional breakdown. But he held her in his embrace, providing her with the right emotional feedback for now. For now someone was looking out after her. She held on to that.
After that their relationship changed. In many ways Jolly Green was as emotionally crippled as she was. She had suffered from years of child abuse and emotional neglect, he for a long time only had hate to guide him in a world that wasn’t his own. She had done evil things. He had done evil things. When she looked into his eyes there was no condemnation, no accusation. And she needed that.
She stopped fighting him after that. For the next three months she let him train him. Just lose herself in the training. And Jolly Green was wicked smart when it came to training. He may not have a state of the art gravity gym. But he knew how to get the most out of his environment. It was like she was in a gravity gym after all. All jazzed up from training she would have dinner while he drank some water. Evenings were hard though as all that penned up energy from training made her horny as hell. And it was hard getting laid wherever she was. Which meant she had to resort to her sock puppet of love.
Oh did Jolly Green hated it whenever she did that thanks to his sensitive ears. Never did she see him tense up more during meditation whenever she had a happy time.
She still wasn’t sure when it happened but one day she called him Jolly Green and she realized it was no longer to hurt him, or to tease him. She meant it affectionately. And he smiled back as she said it. They had crossed over from strange bedfellows into something else entirely.
It wasn’t like the connection she had had with Wilkins. Wilkins had showered her with affection, compliments, given her gifts, gone out of his way to be nice to her. And while she now realized he was pure evil incarnate, she still believed the little bit of humanity that was left in him was aimed at her. She still believed he genuinely loved her. Which made it all the more difficult that she had to let him go and everything he stood for.
Piccolo was different. Like Big B. he was sparse in his compliments towards her and he firmly believed in the tough love approach like B. had. But he never was out to humiliate her to ram down a point. And when he paid her a compliment it was like the sun shined on her. And unlike Big B. he was hers. All hers.
After her breakdown things had changed. She stopped fighting his attempts to teach her, she even began to pay attention. He could even begin working on his own training again.
To bad training made her sexually charged. His experience with Gohan never prepared him for a situation like this. It was like she had a rash down there or something, the girl couldn’t stop touching herself. It was disgusting. Kami knew how much effort he had to exert to keep her out of his meditative thoughts. It was like she fiendishly delighted in rubbing it or something to annoy him, constantly moaning loudly out of sight. He dreaded that one day she would come up to him and ask him to ‘scratch her itch’ for her.
Still, she was fun to have around. A force of nature really. In that sense she was Gohan all over again. Until her arrival Gohan and his had been the closest bond he had ever experienced with another person. The bond still existed, but as Gohan returned to live with his parents it had changed. The bond that had grown between him and the girl was different. It had to be, Gohan was a small child who looked up to him. Faith was a woman by the standards of many Earth societies. But like Gohan she craved approval of a father figure. That was how that accursed mayor had gotten to her in the first place. And they were alike in many ways. They both had to grow up on their own without the help of others. He in the wilderness, she in the urban wilderness. And they were both weapons created by others for purposes not of their own.
Underneath them the Gulf of Mexico gave way to the coast and interior of Mexico. They had been flying at top speed ever since leaving his hidden lair. Which meant one more hour over flying Mexico, then come out over the Gulf of California, then he had the choice, either use the gulf to fly north over the Mojave desert, bypass Los Angeles in the west and approach Sunnydale from the east. That was the short route.
The other route meant taking the scenic route. Over fly the gulf, cross over Baja California and then use the Pacific to bypass Los Angeles in the east and finally come in towards Sunnydale from the sea. To bad it was anything but scenic. Not only did it add half an hour of travel time, flying over water was boring as fuck.
But the shorter route also took him perilously close to several major US military installations. So it was probably best to take the scenic route. From what Belmovekk had told him the military now left them alone, the android search over, it still didn’t mean he was going to give up his privacy.
Besides, the scenic route would take them near his old haunts in Baja California. The place where he grew up. Give him a chance to show her the place. She probably wouldn’t give a shit about it anyway, but any excuse for him to return was good enough as far as he was concerned.
“It must have been one hell of a battle.”
They were both standing at what the locals nowadays called ground zero.
B. used to call it high school.
Faith now called it a war zone.
“Bite your head off,” Piccolo echoed standing behind her, “Belmovekk’s soldier boys call it the Battle of Sunnydale. The name stuck.”
They were standing on what used to be Sunnydale High. Nothing remained of the place, including the surrounding neighborhood. And while some reconstruction had begun of the residential areas, nothing had happened to the actual school grounds itself as weeds had begun to reclaim the ground.
Faith turned her head around and looked at Piccolo.
“And nobody thought it was strange that you guys tore up the place?”
Piccolo looked around and began to stroke his chin.
“Maybe it’s the Hellmouth,” he mused out loud, “they’re know for their amnesic effects. In the end people prefer the world as they want it to be over the world as really is. And I’m sure your former boss had something to do with it as well.”
Faith nodded. Wilkins had tried to explain it to her once and within a minute she had zoned out. From what she remembered Jolly Green was on the mark though, with Wilkins just enhancing an existing effect.
A couple of kids ran by, toy guns in their hands and plastic helmets on their heads. Shouting simulated gunfire they ran right past them like there wasn’t some seven feet tall eighties reject wearing green alien standing right next to her. Faith looked incredulously at the kids, then at Jolly Green.
“Don’t tell me you now also fall under the Sunnydale effect?” she asked him.
“Not exactly,” Piccolo replied a little smug, “just a little something our Saiyan friend gave me. A compunction.”
“A compunction,” Piccolo explained, “a little sorcery spell that makes people not take notice of me. They see me, but they don’t take noti…”
Piccolo stopped talking as he saw the familiar look in Faith’s eyes. Sometimes she had the attention span of an amoeba. Especially when it concerned things she couldn’t give a damn about.
“Should have just said it was something magic, Jolly Green,” Faith shrugged, then she looked around, “I’ve seen enough. Let’s go.”
“You want to go and pay your respects? Piccolo asked but Faith shook her head.
“Not really,” she said sullenly. I just want to stuff myself with some fast-food and go to sleep in a real bed for a change.
“Suit yourself,” Piccolo shrugged. Then they turned around and left the former school grounds.
“God I could kill for a double meat special,” Faith sighed, “I used to hate those things. But after six months living in the jungle with you I could even lick the inside of a stale pizza box. Nothing makes you crave junk food more healthy food.”
“Sorry I fed you good food,” Piccolo replied not sorry at all, “You do know why they call it fast food, right? Because it speeds you up to the grave.”
“I don’t care, Jolly Green,” Faith said as she smacked her lips, “God, do I crave a double meat special right now, it’s not natural.”
“Neither is the double meat special,” Piccolo said deadpan, “it’s not even meat.”
“You’re kidding right?” Faith said aghast, “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“One hundred percent processed vegetable pulp,” the Namek smirked and tapped his nose, “the nose never lies, kiddo.”
“I hate you so much right now,” Faith said with glaring eyes, then she shrugged, “Alright, some pizza then?”
Faith stood in a large room that had no windows. Standing before a large four-poster bed with a large trunk for clothing in front of it, she found that he bed looked familiar. Too familiar for comfort. She turned around and saw a large wall full of weapons hanging on it. It was then that she recognized the place. It was the secret apartment the mayor had given her, underneath City Hall. At first for secret stays when the Scoobies hadn’t suspected that she’d switched sides. And then permanently when they had finally did learn of her defection. That was when she finally moved in what she would come to call ‘the basement’.
To this day she still didn’t know which she hated the most, her underground tomb or her dinky motel room. One was one step above living in a pig’s sty, the other one step above feeling like being buried alive.
‘The basement’ was not that far from the large cavernous space Wilkins used as his counterpart to the gravity gym, so she could train. She was also pretty sure this was the place where Trick had hidden from her all this time.
She walked to the wall with the weapons hanging from it and picked up a large blade. When she was last here this one had been a favourite of hers. Being versed in the arts of chi fighting she had no need of weapons anymore. Besides, even her first Watcher had told her before she learned the arts of chi that she herself was the ultimate weapon.
It still felt damn good to fight with them though. It must be the Slayer that was inside her, as it came with instinctual knowledge how to handle anything that could stab, hack, slash, punch and dismember. Or shoot arrows. It fell short though when it came to modern firearms. When the Slayer was being created they apparently had a vast but specific arsenal in mind, but just not firearms. Which was probably why Slayers tended to shun away from them.
Faith hung the blade on the wall. This was all fun and stuff, but this was part of her old life. She had closed off this particular period in her life.
No sooner had she done so as she heard a giggling sound
She turned around and walked towards ‘the basement’s’ exit. She opened the door and stepped through. Instead of finding herself in one of the many tunnels underneath Sunnydale City Hall she suddenly found herself on the grounds of Sunnydale High again. Only this time the place looked even worse then when she had stood there with Piccolo. Some parts of the building still seemed upright, if you define upright as in ‘not being completely demolished’. There was far more concrete rubble and mangled steel littered the field.
As she walked she came across a body and she knelt beside it. It was the body of a young man lying crumpled on the ground, his body torn and twisted unnaturally as if every bone in his body had been broken. A black woolly hat still clung to his head but only barely. On his forehead she could see there was a black tattoo of what looked like two upright standing feathers inside an oval circle.
A loud explosion interrupted her examination. Overhead two people came by, a short one and a guy with short spiky hair. Like jets they charged overhead, then they swung upwards and split up, flying apart at a 90 degree angle until coming to a sudden stop and the both of them launched simultaneous energy attacks towards something out of her sight.
Another explosion followed, then the two fighters flew away like death itself was on their heels. Whatever they had shot at, it clearly wasn’t enough. From a distance another energy attack lanced towards the invisible target, again to little effect.
And then a body fell out of the sky and crashed down hard next to her. A body of someone very familiar.
“B.?” Faith exclaimed as she recognized her fellow Slayer. B. was in very poor shape as her clothing were torn and blood came from at least a dozen visible wounds, scrapes and bruises. At first B. looked like she was out cold, then she began to stir and cough. She even began to cough up some blood. Definitely not a good thing.
Without thinking Faith ran over to her fellow Slayer, knelt down next to and put her hand underneath B.’s head.
“Relax B.,” she said as she tried to make B. feel a little more comfortable, “It will be alright.”
B. opened her eyes and stared directly into hers.
“This is all your fault,” she said accusingly.
“I…, uh,” Faith stammered as the accusation hit home. She wanted to say something when B. lashed out and punched her squarely on the jaw. Faith was launched in the air backwards and then fell on her back. After she had landed she reached for her jaw and looked at B. in shock
“B.? What the….?” she said flabbergasted. Before she could finish her sentence B. did a flip that brought her back onto her feet and then threw herself at Faith. Instinctively Faith rolled on her side and kicked towards B., throwing B. off of her before she had a chance to land on top of her. Now it was B.’s turn to land backwards, but she somersaulted and landed on her hands and knees. Crouched in this position she glared angrily at Faith.
“You will pay for what you caused here today,” B. said through gritted teeth. Then she threw her hands forward and launched two energy beams at Faith. Faith crossed her wrists in front of her and focused her chi in front of it to deflect the attack.
It still hurt like being struck with a running freight train though.
It took immense effort for Faith but eventually she managed to push back B.’s attack and threw at back at her. B. on the other hand effortless swathed her own attack aside and send it harmlessly into the sky.
“I. Will. End. You. Bitch!” Buffy yelled slowly and threw herself at Faith again. This time Faith was better prepared and the two began to battle it out evenly.
On and on it went until the giggle returned. While not loud it was enough for both Slayers to stop and take notice.
“Did you hear that?” B. said as she wearily eyed Faith while trying to ascertain what else was out there.
“Yeah, I heard,” Faith panted.
Then the giggling noise was heard again, and this time, because both Slayers had stopped fighting, it sounded even creepier.
“Truce?” Faith suggested. B. gave her another weary eye.
“It still doesn’t mean I trust you,” B. almost spat at Faith, but the gist was clear. In Sunnydale the creepy had to take precedence over personal vendettas.
Another bout of giggling followed and Faith turned around.
“It came from here,” she said, then turned her head towards B. again.
Only this time B. didn’t reply as her fellow Slayer was gone. Vanished into thin air. Even the scene had changed as well as she was no longer amongst the rubble of Sunnydale High, but instead in some underground tunnel. She stood in a puddle of water as over her head a light bulb flickered. The straight tunnel was man made as electricity cables hung from the concrete ceiling going on in what seemed like forever.
“B.?” Faith called but there came no reply. Except for some more of that infernal giggling. Which by now was really getting to get on Faith’s nerves.
“Show yourself,” Faith yelled angrily but no one or nothing showed itself. Instead the giggle gained a mocking undertone.
“You’re so going to get it now,” Faith muttered as she began to run towards where she thought the giggle was coming from.
It took like seemingly forever to traverse the tunnel until she came to a set of doors. The doors itself were ripped out, like a Saiyan had come through and pushed it aside like it was a mere shower curtain. Through the doors she entered a large space, also completely manmade, the inside looked like said Saiyan had used if for his personal stomping ground. Debris and dead bodies were everywhere, all bathed in red emergency lighting.
“Damn!” Faith exclaimed as she saw the carnage. Another bout of giggling drew her attention back to the matter at hand.
“I’m gonna get you,” Faith yelled and made her way through the hall to get to where she thought the annoying laughter was coming from. She stepped through another doorway, the door again brutally shoved aside like it was a mere curtain. More giggling convinced her that she was on the right track. As she passed through this new corridor she went passed door after door all ripped open and with more carnage behind each one of them.
After what seemed like forever passing through a maze of halls and corridors Faith finally had the idea that she was gaining on the mystery joker. The fact that when she came to the end of the corridor there was still a massive intact door also was a dead give away. She paused momentarily to examine the door. It was a security door that seemed to be standard in this place, no window to see through, nor a means to open it. Just a barely visible outline of a number on the door itself.
Faith placed her ear on the door and tried to listen. As she did she could hear the giggling coming from the other side.
“Oh, you’re going down, mister,” she said as she stepped back. Then she kicked against the door with so much force it buckled, came free from its hinges and crashed into the other side of the room.
“You and me, right now,” Faith said angry as she stepped into yet another large hall. The place looked like a hospital, with all sorts of medical carts and implements. But although this time there was no visible exit present there didn’t seemed to be anyone present. No mystery giggler.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Faith said both surprised and annoyed, “what kind of sick twisted joke is this?”
“It’s a fair question I might add,” a voice said to her left. Faith nearly jumped into the air. As she turned to her left she saw Giles standing there.
“G.?” Faith almost whispered.
“Have you any idea how much your betrayal cost us?” the Watcher said impassionedly, “how many people died because you betrayed us?”
“I, uh, I, um, didn’t mean to,” Faith stammered but Giles seemed unforgiving.
“Tell that to your victims,” he said.
“176 people were killed during the Battle of Sunnydale,” Willow said as she stepped out of nowhere and joined Giles’ side, “did you mean for that not to happen as well?”
“No, I, uh,” Faith babbled as she took an involuntary step backwards. As she did it was Xander who stepped into view.
“176 people, Faith, that’s an awful lot I didn’t mean to. What does it take for you to take responsibility for what you did?” Xander said as he joined the other two.
And it was an awful lot of I didn’t mean to, Faith thought. Jolly Green had never told her how many people had died, just that some had been revived with the Dragonballs. But not everybody could be revived. The Dragonballs were potent. But they couldn’t revive a person if there wasn’t anything left to revive. And while through sheer luck the battle had mostly been contained to the Sunnydale high campus, there had been ‘collateral damage’.
And that was totally ignoring the fact that her former boss had planned to feed on everybody inside Sunnydale after ascending. And that she had helped him plan for that.
“You should never have returned, Faith,” the voice of Buffy said as she joined her clique, “I think it would have been best for everybody if you stayed away.”
“I, I’m sorry,” Faith said downcast.
“Sorry don’t bring them back, Faith,” Buffy replied coldly.
“Maybe you should have killed yourself,” Willow shrugged, “do as all a favor.”
Faith looked down and bit her lip.
“I’m sorry,” she said again, “I wish I could do it all over again.”
“Can’t undo what you did,” Xander said shaking his head, “you can never do that.”
“Still….,” Giles said as he took off his glasses and began to polish them, “’spose there’s one thing you could do.”
“What?” Faith said hopeful, “I’ll do it!”
Buffy put up her arm and pointed behind Faith.
“Take care of Him.
Faith turned around to the other side of the room, where all the medical carts where, all centered around a large table. On the table lay something, covered underneath a white cloth. Like a corpse on a medical examiner’s table. Then the corpse or whatever it was sat up straight and began to pull the white cloth off itself. And whatever it was she had a feeling she wasn’t going to like what was underneath the cover.
But before it could reveal itself she felt the presence of something standing behind her.
“Hello Faith,” an effeminate voice boomed behind her. Then something long and snakelike wrapped itself around her neck and began to squeeze the life out of her.
With a gasping shock Faith awoke, her hand reaching for her neck, only to find there was no snakelike appendage wrapped around her neck.
“Damn!” Faith exclaimed, shaken by the dream she just had.
Sweaty and panting she looked around to find Piccolo. Only to suddenly remember she no longer was out in the boonies, but in a motel room in Sunnydale. Her old motel room to be exact. Chosen out of a sense of both perverse nostalgia and also because it had been actually free for rent. Naturally it looked exactly the same. Down to some old stuff of her which she had left behind hidden in an air vent.
Puffing Faith left the bed and made for the bathroom. Stumbling around in the dark she stepped in some of the opened, cold and still greasy pizza boxes from dinner.
“Aw crap!” she muttered as she felt some of the grease had gotten unto her feet. Inside the bathroom she switched on the lights and leaned on the sink. Next she sighed deeply, then she looked up and looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“You look like shit,” she said to her reflection in the mirror. Which perversely was the first time in six months she had seen her full face in a large mirror, having to make do with just a small hand held mirror for all that time.
“Speak for yourself,” her mirror image replied smirking, “I look happen to look fabulous myself.”
Faith rolled her eyes and shook her head dejected as she stared into the sink.
“I’m still dreaming, ain’t I?” Faith sighed.
“’fraid so,” her reflection replied all chipper.
Faith gasped for air as she awoke in her motel room.
“Damn! That’s the last time I have the Sunnydale surprise for dinner,” Faith said as she pulled away her blanket and got out of bed. Only to land her feet in the cold, stale and greasy pizza box.
“Why do I even bother?” Faith muttered dejected as she walked to the bathroom. Inside the bathroom she switched on the light and stared into the mirror. Closely watching her likeness for any strange moves she turned on the tap and ran some water and splashed it on her face.
Again observing the mirror for any non-reflective movement she finally sighed. Either she had the mother of all nightmares. Or….. well, she’d shudder to think of the alternative. Slayer related dreams were harbingers of evil. Which meant she should confer them to her Watcher.
But she had no watcher. Well, officially Pestley was now her Watcher. And Jolly Green had told her he occasionally sent in phony reports to keep the Council happy wherever he was. But for all intents and purposes she was a free agent. Unless you counted Jolly Green as her Watcher. Which meant that she should be having a chat with Piccolo.
She again looked deeply in the mirror and touched her neck. Which still felt like something long and snakelike had touched her there.
Then she shook herself from her revelry. Maybe another time. If it was really important, whoever was behind those Slayer dreams would send her another one.
It had been a busy night at Willy’s bar in Sunnydale and its undersized barkeeper had just closed the bar. Now came the thankless job of cleaning up the place. Holding a small bucket he went round every table and picked up the ashtrays and dumped their contents in the bucket. Some of these demons smoked like industrial chimneys. And you’d think that this being Commiefornia they would introduce a smoking ban in all public places, but no. It was therefore a good thing he had hired a mage to place a re-freshener and air cleaning spell on his bar. And still the place reeked of tobacco every night.
After he finished cleaning every ashtray in his bar Willy went towards the back and dumped the bucket’s content in a garbage bag. Next he returned to his bar.
Only to find the one person in the whole world he’d never, ever
, wanted to see again sitting on one of his barstools.
“Hello, Willy,” Faith said as she put a bottle back behind the counter after having just filled a glass for herself, “Did you miss me?”
“Only like AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea,” the bartender replied ash faced. He glanced at the front door. It was still closed. And he was pretty sure he fixed the last point of entry she had used. He moved behind the bar to make sure the bottle she had taken was out of reach. Damn, she had even taken one of the more expensive ones.
“How did you get in here?” he asked somewhat annoyed, “I made damn sure no one could get in here again. Other then through the front door.”
“And the sewer hatch? Faith said as she sipped from her drink.
“And the sewer hatch,” Willy sighed. He had even closed off the sewer hatch before closing the front door.
“And the small window in your bedroom?” Faith smirked.
“Especially the small window in….,” Willy said, then he looked aghast, “Oooh.”
Curse the sudden onset of this extremely hot weather. In December would you believe it! Of course, if she had come in through the bedroom window…..
Faith leaned over and smirked some more. Oh oh, she had seen it.
“You know, Willy, you should really install a password on your computer,” she grinned, “You never know who might walk in and have a look.”
Oh God, it was bad.
“You know, some of that stuff is illegal in most of the lower 49 states, Willy,” Faith continued, “Or so I’ve heard. Then again I’ve been out of the loop for half a year, could be all 50 by now. Still, its good to know that despite hanging out with demons all the time you’re still attracted to the human species. Even if they are a bit underage.”
It was very bad. Where was the hole opening up in the ground to swallow him now?
“The girls, Willy,” Faith said as she shook her head disapprovingly, “the girls, they look so wicked at that age. Makes you want to spank them. Did you want to spank me whenever you saw me? I guess you did, you naughty boy.”
Willy didn’t respond. Instead he took the bottle Faith had taken and poured himself a drink. Then he picked up the glass and emptied it in one gulp. Seeing that the bottle was now in reach again Faith reached out and re-filled her glass.
“Don’t worry, Willy,” she said as she put down the bottle, “your dirty secrets are safe with me. Somehow it makes you normal as far as I’m concerned. I mean, which guy doesn’t like looking at hot young tail, right?”
Willy looked at Faith with the look of a man who had his most inner secret ripped out from in and now had nothing left to fear anymore.
“Did you come here for a reason or just to make fun of me?”
Faith put down her glass and tilted her head to side to give him a rueful look.
“Willy,” she said piteously, “what’s a little friendly banter between friends? Especially after I’ve just returned to town after six months?”
Willy took out a wet cloth and began to clean the bar while muttering something that sounded surprisingly much like ‘then maybe you should have stayed away, you crazy psychotic bitch’.
Faith let Willy mutter on, then she hopped off her barstool and walked over to a wall. On the wall a large poster hung on a very prominent position.
“A new Edict?” Faith said incredulously as she read the poster’s content, “haven’t they learned from the last time?”
“They did,’ Willy said snide, “This time they personally appointed an oversight committee, letting it be known that if something goes wrong the committee members will be the first to die. Plus they have the Librarian chair the Committee. They really don’t want a repeat of the last time when your boss subverted the Committee.”
“Ex-boss,” Faith said chidingly, “So G.’s now heading the Committee, huh?”
“The guy has to do something these days,” Willy shrugged, “After all, they totally leveled his library when they took down your bo…. Ex-boss.”
“I suppose,” Faith said as she briefly touched the Edict placate, then she faced Willy again, “I’m surprised though that the town’s full of demons again. You’d think that after B. and her friends chased everybody out of town they’d think twice before getting back.”
“You know the Hellmouth and demons,” Willy said and nodded towards where the damn thing was centered, “It’s like catnip to them, draws them in like moths to a flame. Some of them return cause its home to them. Others come her with big plans and then run into the Edict and stay, biding their time till the Slayer trips up. Others stay because they like the emanations coming of the Hellmouth. And many leave, going to LA instead. I’ll tell you this though, its took a long while for business to return to what it used to be. Especially with the new administration in place.”
Faith raised an eyebrow.
“New administration huh,” she said as she picked up the bottle again for a refill, “I guess somebody had to take over after Wilkins went down. But surely the changes can’t be that great? I mean, this is Sunnydale. Nothing ever changes here.”
Willy took the bottle away from her, gave himself a refill and then put it away.
“And how much do you think was due to your bo…. ex-boss?” he said,” the guy ran the place for a century. This place has been under military rule for over four months. For four months we had to salute our mayor because he was a friggin’ three star general. We only had an election two months ago. For four months the military has been digging through your ex-boss’ former administration. They replaced all top officials in City Hall and the police department. Hell, for four months the military was
the police. The army base outside of town has been expanded. Rumor has it they’re even bringing in a full army tank brigade from Germany to be stationed nearby.”
“They really don’t want a repeat of the last time, do they?” Faith chuckled as she visualized tanks driving into demons, a pleasing visual image, then she downed her glass in one gulp. Meanwhile Willy put his hands on his bar and looked into Faith’s face.
“Look, Faith,” he said, “I don’t think you came here to invade my privacy to ask about stuff you could have heard from just about anybody. What is it you wanted?”
Faith began to smirk as she leaned over.
For a guy who ruled Sunnydale for over a century Wilkins’ grave looked pretty inconspicuous, Faith thought as she stood before his grave. Tucked away in an obscure corner in one of the lesser cemeteries of Sunnydale Faith had found the grave of her former boss. As by Willy’s directions.Richard Wilkins III
Son of Mayor Richard Wilkins II and mayor of the town of Sunnydale from 1978 to 2000.
Not much of a life to show for, she thought as she reached out and touched the tombstone.
“Ahum,” Faith said as she cleared her throat, then she looked around to see if they were alone.
“Hello boss,” Faith said a little hesitantly, “It’s been a while hasn’t it, boss? No need to say hi or give me a hug. Come to think of it, I most definitely don’t want either at this moment. After all, it’s still Sunnydale, right?
Anyway, since I’m in the area I thought I’d come by and pay my respects. Sorry I wasn’t there for you, boss. Sorry I got nabbed and left you to face the music alone. But I told you, be careful, didn’t I? You should have known better after a century on the Hellmouth. Nothing good comes from saying stuff like everything goes as planned. Good guys or the bad guys.
I want you to know that while I now know you’re evil to the bone and I’m glad you lost I bear no ill feelings towards you, boss. You took care of me when I was in a sticky situation and you made feel like me again. I felt I could be myself again when I was with you. So for that, thanks, boss.
But you also mad me do evil things. Kill people, manipulate them, spy on my friends. You used me, but I guess that comes with being a Slayer. But while I harbor no resentments I have to live with the consequences of what I did. You’re gone, but I still have to face the music. That’s the ropes I guess.
I’m with a good guy now, boss. Although I’m technically still not sure if Jolly Green’s a guy or a girl. Let’s just say he takes good care of me, nor does he judge me. I guess it helps that he used to be evil himself once. So he knows how it feels. We have fun together, we kick each others ass, although he mostly kicks mine. But its all in good fun.
Anyway, I guess this is our last goodbye, boss. I hope you’re having fun wherever you are. Better then the fun having you, right? Goodbye, boss and farewell.”
Faith took a step backwards and allowed herself to shed one tear, one tear to roll down her cheek for the man she once considered like a father.
“You can come down now, Jolly Green,” she said without looking up. Behind her Piccolo floated down from the nightly sky until he touched down on the ground.
“Have you been following me for long?” Faith asked as she wiped away her tear.
“I never lose track of my students,” Piccolo said gruffly.
“I bet you do,” Faith said without looking back, “I know he’s evil, Green Jolly. I know he used me. And yet…. Part of me misses him terribly. He was the first guy who made me feel like I belonged. Made me feel part of a family. There must be something wrong with me.”
Piccolo reached out with a taloned hand and put it on her shoulder to give it a gentle squeeze.
“There is nothing wrong with how you feel, Faith,” he said gently, “He’s part of your past. Saying goodbye to it as you just did is a good thing. Way better then running away from it.”
“I used to be very good at running away from my past,” Faith said still staring at the tombstone.
“You can never run away from the past,” Piccolo said, “you can only come to terms with it.”
Faith turned her head and looked at Piccolo.
“For a guy who claims he doesn’t do emotional you’re rather good at it,” she said.
Piccolo smiled and gently tapped his ears and then his eyes.
“These work, you know.”
A-Day minus 254
The next day Faith and Piccolo made it to the Sunnydale Community Center. As they entered the building that once housed the original Committee in its basement they made it for the large Eastside hall. Inside Eastside hall the place was packed with people. Faith even spotted a few demons amongst the crowd, although they were well camouflaged.
They wanted to enter when two men stepped in front of them. One of them was dressed in a US Army military dress uniform. The other looked like he wore something straight out of a science fiction convention, holding a large staff with a scoop on the one end and a large bulbous swelling at the other. On his head however was a black tattoo of two upstanding feathers inside an oval circle.
“Good day, sir,” the man in the US Army uniform said sternly but politely, “Could I see some invitations please?”
Piccolo halted and folded his arms across his chest.
“I’m on the list,” he said gruffly. The soldier reached for a register list and picked it up.
“And who might you be?” the soldier asked dead serious. Upon which Piccolo rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“You know damn well who I am, Burns,” he said a little aggravated, “so quite being an ass and go play being a toy soldier somewhere else.”
“Sergeant-Major Burns, Piccolo,” the soldier said as he tapped his rank insignia on his upper left arm with a pen, then he grinned, “I’m just making sure no one gets in who doesn’t belong here.”
“Whatever,” Piccolo snorted. The sergeant-major then turned to Faith.
“And you must be Faith,” he said, his jovial tone gone and replaced by a more stern one, accompanied by an equally stern frown, “do you have any last name, Miss?”
It was going to be a bloody long day.
“Just Faith,” she replied curd. The soldier raised an eyebrow in response.
“Don’t you have any parents, Miss?” he asked.
Faith looked up at Piccolo.
“Only one,” she said as a smile grew on her face, “and he doesn’t have a last name.”
“Okay,” Burns shrugged and he and the buffed up Scifi nerd stepped aside so Faith and Piccolo could enter.
“Told you they would look funny at me,” Faith muttered as they walked inside.
“Have a heart, kid,” Piccolo replied, “he only knew you as the right hand girl of the mayor. And he was responsible for the death of sixteen of his friends. Six of which were mauled up so badly not even the Dragonballs could revive them.”
“I see,” Faith said dejected as she lowered her head. Again more of her past was here to haunt her. Piccolo saw her slump and halted.
“Hey,” he said sternly, “whatever else you did, the mayor’s responsible for what happened to Burns’ friends, not you. If Burns wants to be an ass, let him.”
“If you say so,” Faith replied, then she looked around, “Can you see them?”
Piccolo looked around, then he shook his head.
“They’re not in here,” he said, “they’re probably in the garden outside.”
There was at least one advantage of half the people in the room knowing you used to be the sidekick to a villain hell-bent on becoming a powerful demon. People got out of their way quickly as she made her way for the large doors that gave access to the gardens behind the community center. Then they stepped out in the sunlight of the Community Center gardens. She was going to see them again.
It was going to be hard. There would probably be recriminations, hard stares, accusations and general hard times. But there was at least one single light in the darkness. She was going to see Little Brother again!
She looked around the gardens. There were rows upon rows of white chairs in the garden. Some were occupied, but most of them weren’t, with most of the guests still inside the community center. Or still arriving. An isle was left clear down the centre of the rows of chairs, leading to a small dais, surrounded by lots and lots of flowers.
“God, isn’t it sickening,” Piccolo said in disgust as he pointed towards the wedding grounds in front of him, “Love is such a sickening emotion. And to waste all such expense on a mere ceremony, it boggles the mind.”
Faith looked at Piccolo.
“God, Jolly Green, I never figured you for a hopeless romantic,” she said deadpan, “It’s the wedding of B.’s mom to Big B., waddaya expect? If you don’t like it, why did you drag me here in the first place?”
She knew the answer to that the moment she said it.
“Fine,” she said imploringly, “Never mind, you don’t like weddings. You’re not the only one. Go get tanked up or something.“
“I can’t drink alcohol, remember,” Piccolo said with a growing smile.
“Then go get one of those fancy schmancy mineral waters,” Faith as she made a shooing motion, “go find your buddy Goku and play sidekick with him or something.”
Piccolo looked at her. He didn’t want to leave her alone. But by now he had gotten to understand her quite well. She was so much on edge she was practically broadcasting it with her chi. It made her push against the one person she trusted. Maybe it was better to get one of those, as she put it, fancy schmancy mineral waters. After all, Belmovekk knew about his tastes, he was sure to have provided for him in some way. And he could always keep an eye on Faith from a discrete distance.
“Since Goku’s not here to play with I’ll think I’ll go find myself one of those fancy schmancy mineral waters,” Piccolo said and walked away.
“You do that!” Faith called after him. Then she turned around and cursed inwardly.
Stupid stupid stupid!
Way to go, Faith! Why turn on Jolly Green when she could have really used having him around when she’d face B. and her friends? Why did she always do such stupid shit?
It was then that she saw her fellow Slayer and her friends.
Faith sat with a look of pure flabbergastation on the stairs somewhere in the basement of the community center. Around her waiters and waitresses moved with trays of food and drinks which meant she sort of sat in the way. But she didn’t care.
She had imagined meeting B. and her friends many times these past months. Played through countless scenarios in her head ranging from a Jerry Springer like shouting fest to dueling to the death. Never once did it occur to her that it would be just pure plain and undiluted awkward.
Everybody seemed to feel uncomfortable. No one seemed to make recriminations. They just seemed both pleased and uncomfortable at the same time. But the worst part was that Oz, Little Brother, her little brother, was gone. The one person in this whole sorry mess she actually did look forward to see was no more. Had left town and Red had traded him in for a timid little blonde. A blonde girl that is.
She never figured Red to be bent. B. on the other hand? Maybe if she had a few drinks inside her and removed that ramrod from up her ass…. And if the girl in question was a 2 centuries old vampire with a soul. Then B. could possibly be a little bi-curious. But Red a full on carpet muncher? Little Brother had once told her Red had nursed a secret crush on the Xandman since, well, since forever. To switch that abruptly over to carpet snacking though, it boggled the mind. Shouldn’t you at least have a bi-curious phase beforehand?
No wonder Little Brother left town. At least that’s why she figured he’d left. She never managed to get the full story as she excused herself and ran away to hide here in the basement where she was now.
Who’d figure that B. got herself a real living boyfriend? And one from the military to boot? B. had shown nothing but disdain for the military as far as she could tell. When Murray and his buddies had come to town she practically loathed the guys. But that could have been her usual charm.
“Are you alright?”
Faith looked up and saw a girl with a tray of filled Champaign glasses looking at her.
“I’m fine,” Faith said after a deep sigh.
“Are you sure?” the girl asked, then she rolled her eyes, “Oh what do I care. My supervisor, some stuck up girl barely my age wanted me to tell you to go sit somewhere else.”
“I’m fine where I am right now,” Faith replied curd.
“That’s what I said,” the girl echoed, then her eyes grew big, “Ohmigod! You’re the other one aren’t you?”
“The other who?” Faith asked wearily as she looked up towards this strange girl.
“The other Slayer,” the girl said, then she used her free hand to snap her fingers, like she was trying to remember something, then her face lit up, “You’re Faith right?”
To flabbergasted to say anything Faith just gazed at the girl. Who again snapped her fingers.
“Didn’t you switch sides and go work for the mayor who wanted to be a demon?” the girl asked deadpan.
“You know?” Faith eventually gasped, but the girl waved her free arm dismissively.
“Of course I know,” the girl said like it was the most common thing in the world, then she leaned over conspiratorially, “now I don’t want to blow my own horn but I had a big part in the downfall of your former boss you know. If it weren’t for me they would never have figured out even the basic details of Ascension. You wouldn’t believe how ignorant these people were I tell you. I…”
Faith looked with big eyes at the girl, then her brain kicked in.
“Who the fuck are you?” she asked incredulously. The girl looked slightly hurt at being interrupted, then she recovered.
“Anya,” she said, “Anya Jenkins?”
Faith gave her the ‘I don’t have a clue who you are’ look.
“Again, who the fuck are you?”
Anya rolled her eyes in exasperation, then she looked at herself with a hint of sadness.
“I wasn’t always like this, you know,” she said as she pointed to herself, “Condemned to work stupid minimum wage jobs for currency. I used to be someone. I used to be somebody. I used to be Anyanka.”
Faith shook her head.
“Nope, still not ringing a bell here,” she said. Causing Anya to shake her head incredulously.
“I don’t believe it,” she said flabbergasted, “I used to be one of the greatest and most feared vengeance demons, patron saint to scorned women.”
“Nope, still not ringing a be….,” she said and then it hit her, “Now I remember. You’re the one that brought B.’s evil twin into this world, Xander’s love toy.”
“Technically it was Willow Rosenberg who brought her into this realm,” Anya quickly countered defensively, “I was….., looking for something else.”
“Whatever, girl,” Faith waved dismissively, “I wasn’t there so officially I don’t care.”
Taking that as a sign she wasn’t going to get ripped on for her part in the affair Anya relaxed considerably.
“I wish I’d gotten to know her better,” Faith sighed wistfully, “B.’s evil twin always sounded like she was fun.”
“Fun’s relative,” Anya said as she remembered the incident that definitively had cost her her demonhood, “I think she wanted to disembowel me with a knife. A very sharp knife.”
“See?” Faith smiled, “Sounds exactly like my kind of fun.” .
“Not when you’re at the receiving end,” Anya countered. Faith wanted to respond to that but decided not to.
“So you went from ‘big-ass-snap-your-fingers-make-a-wish-demon’ to being a teenage waitress?” she said instead, “It must suck to be you then?”
“You have no idea,” Anya sighed dejected, “my work is demeaning, my boss an idiot and my colleagues imbeciles.”
Anya said it out aloud just as two of her colleagues past them, shooting angry glances at her which she seemed to oblivious to notice. Faith did notice however.
“Wow, you must be a real hit at the office party,” she said, but Anya just shrugged.
“If that was the worst of my problems I’d be lucky,” Anya continued, “But I now have all these urges and problems I never used to have. Once a month my body hurts and bleeds in strange places. And when I see an good looking man I get the urge to interlock body parts with him. And yet when I suggest we interlock body parts they always run away or make excuses.”
Faith had to do her utmost not to burst out laughing. She managed to contain it to a polite snigger.
“Was it something I said?” Anya asked curiously, but Faith shook her head. To make it up she even gave the former demon a few tips on how to dress to impress and which bars made for guaranteed pick ups. Which Anya found to be extremely helpful.
“Anya,” Faith asked tentatively after that, “you’ve been in Sunnydale since my former bo…. Well, since the mayor got killed, right?”
“Tss, not by choice,” Anya snorted, “if it weren’t for your former boss’ magic I’d skipped town long before. Trust me, I saw things that day I never want to see again. And I have seen some things in the time that I was a vengeance demon. And after the battle I couldn’t leave because the soldiers took over.”
“What happened here?” Faith asked curiously.
“Well, they defeated your former boss and destroyed half the town in the process. And I think the rest of the town got lucky in that respect. And afterwards the soldiers came and they cleaned up the last of your former boss’ cro…. “
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Faith interjected, “I meant, what happened to B.? What happened to Red? And where’s Oz?”
“Of course I know,” Anya said somewhat insulted, “I may be an ex-demon but I’m not stupid. I see things. And I still talk to people.”
Anya leaned over again conspiratorially.
“You know, if you use demons to keep an eye on things, they also tend to keep an eye on you. You want, as they say, dirt? Here’s the dirt. After her vampire boyfriend left town Buffy the Ice-princess went into uber-bitch mode and started to pick a fights with the new commander of the army base. Well, you know how it goes. Love can turn to hate and sometimes if fate really wants to screw with you hate turns to love. We’re still not sure when it happened but at some point they started to interlock body parts. Occasionally they still yell at each other though. I’m not sure why they do. Whenever I yell at a guy after locking body parts they always run away.
Now the Witch and the Werewolf broke up before that. Rumor has it they were arguing quite a lot already, with your name being mentioned a lot. Then some girl came to town and she turned out to be a werewolf as well. Well, you can imagine that when two werewolves are in the same town during a full moon body parts just are bound to interlock. They can’t help it, it’s in their blood.
Naturally they saw differently. She was angry with him, he was angry with himself. I’ve seen it happen countless times. Pretty soon after that they broke up and he left town to parts unknown.”
Damn. Little Brother had left Dodge completely. The one person she was hoping to see really wasn’t there any more.
“Are you alright?” Anya asked, “you appear to be… disturbed. Are you day dreaming? I do that from time to time. Especially when Stacey keeps on blabbering, stupid cow thinks she’s better then me just because she’s an assistant supervisor. Who does she think she is? She’s barely 18! If anything they should make me assistant-supervisor cause I’m.”
A blonde girl wearing an irate expression came towards them.
“Speak of the devil,” Anya muttered under her breath.
“Why aren’t you working, Anya,” the girl wearing, “we’re swamped here and you’re just gossiping here.”
“I was talking, Stacy,” Anya said, but Stacy wasn’t impressed.
“You can talk in your break. Since you’re not on your break and the company pays you $5.50 an hour you shut up and go deliver those drinks.”
Anya wanted to say something but changed her mind. Instead she turned around and began to walk up the stair muttering something only Faith could hear which sounded suspiciously like ‘evil powerhungry teenaged shit for brains who should be lucky she was no longer a vengeance demon or she’d show her the true definition of who was in charge’.
No sooner had she muttered those words as Anya bumped into Xander who was coming down the stairs. Losing her balance she fell backwards and it was only Xander’s highly trained reflexes that caught both her and the tray of glasses from falling.
“Careful,” Xander said as he steadied her and the tray and let go.
“You!” Anya said wide opened eyes, then without saying anything further she ran past him upstairs.
“Damn, that girl’s everywhere,” Xander muttered as he watched Anya leave hurriedly, “I can’t turn into any place without running into her.”
“Small town,” Faith shrugged.
“I’d almost say that fate is messing with it,” Xander said giving the former vengeance demon a brief glance, “if it weren’t for the fact that both of them deny any involvement.”
“You believe it?” Faith asked. To which Xander shrugged.
“One of them at least,” he said, “So you’re hiding in here now huh? I thought you were pretty spooked.”
“It was, uh, kinda too much,” Faith said slowly, “Everybody bends over backwards saying sorry. And yet……”
“….. and yet you don’t feel like forgiving yourself,” Xander said, then he reached out and patted her on the shoulder, “That’s okay, Faith. I know the feeling. You’re still with the rest of us. It’s the power of guilt you know. It’s what separates us from the bad guys and demons. We at least feel guilty of the bad things we’ve done.”
Faith jumped up and straddled the wall with her back.
“Who are you and what have you done with Xander?” she said wearily.
“Haha, very funny,” Xander said not very amused, “can we go now? Before we run into that crazy girl again?”
“Just lead on, boss,” Faith said with thinly veiled amusement as she signaled for Xander to take them upstairs again. Giving her a brief glare Xander turned around and they went upstairs.
“So what’s the deal with Red’s latest fling?” Faith asked curiously, “Last time I checked Red was firmly into the Y chromosome. Why did she defect to big muff country?”
Xander looked over his shoulder.
“I figured you’d be more interested as to where Oz’d be?” he asked but Faith shrugged.
“Me and crazy ex-demon chick covered that already,” she replied, “You know, you really should be more careful. You guys are the talk of the town. The non-human part of it.”
“Figured as much,” Xander snorted, “Bastards are getting way to comfortable again. I think it’s time to sacrifice a few more demons again. The tree of freedom requires regular waterings of demon blood.”
“Amen!” Faith echoed.
“Says the girl who shacks up with the guy who can’t stop saying he used to be the Demon King in about every sentence.”
“Hey!” Faith protested, “leave Jolly Green out of it. He’s cool!”
“Jolly Green?” Xander chuckled, “poor Pickles, forever destined to never hear his real name again. I guess he wished he never met any of us.”
“Red. What’s with Red’s new girlcrush?” Faith said instead as they left the stairwell and walked past the weary looking sergeant-major. No sooner had they entered Eastside Hall again when they saw Willow come in from the other side, arm in arm with the object of Faith’s curiosity.
“Tara’s a nice girl,” Xander said, “nice and a little timid. So be gentle. They met when a couple of weird demons came to town and took away our voices.”
“How can they take away your voice?” Faith asked.
“Magic, what else,” Xander shrugged, “Those guys weren’t that powerful. But damn were they big on the creepy. Bastards didn’t even walk, they just floated above the ground. Thought they were invincible because they had taken our voices and only the screaming voice of a maiden could stop them. I guess they didn’t count on what that crazy sergeant-major calls ‘peace through superior firepower’.”
The both of them chuckled.
“Funny how all those demons and mystical evils the Council scared us with no longer matter once you got enough power to blow up the planet,” Faith said.
“Don’t count them out though,” Xander countered, “It seems like the supernatural has a funny way of keeping up with us, and the really powerful demons who used to ignore us are now taking interest. We have to be careful.”
“No more ‘I hunger for a true challenge’, my, Xander you have
Xander shook his head dejected.
“Sometimes I think it’s better for me to have made a wish to a vengeance demon then to have said those words,“ Xander sighed, then his face regained his old impish self as he leaned over and whispered in her ear, “If you really wanna laugh you should keep an eye on the Big Guy whenever he has to be near Will’s girlfriend. It turns out that besides coming from the planet Krypton, Saiyans also come from the planet Redneck. I swear, every time the Big Guy has to give Tara a hand he acts like she could pass the ghey on to him.”
“And he gets away with it?” Faith asked incredulously.
“Let’s just say that if he could Tara would be in a different state right now,” Xander chuckled, “the only reason she’s here is cause Wills doesn’t give a crap as to what he thinks, Buffy chewed his head off over it and Joyce just had to utter a single word.”
“Porch,” Xander grinned, “God, it’s like the universe itself stepped in to make sure every male Saiyan has an Achilles heel and it just so happens to have two X chromosomes.”
Then his face turned serious for a moment.
“I wish I could say the same for female Saiyans though. They’re way more dangerous and devious.”
“How would you know?” Faith asked curious, “I thought there were only three Saiyan males left?”
“Long story,” Xander said evasively.
A tall pendulum clock chimed after which many of the visitors began to move towards the garden.
“It’s about to begin,” Xander said and let out a nervous sigh, “How do I look?”
Faith looked him over, then she reached out and straightened his tie.
“Somehow you don’t feel right without some casual shirt,” she said somehow frowning.
“Formal occasions require formal attire,” Xander shrugged stoically, “We can’t all go to weddings in leather pants and tank tops.”
“Hey, it takes a lot of effort to look this trashy,” Faith objected, “Especially as there are no shops in the wilderness you know.”
Xander didn’t reply, he just smiled. Then he led the both of them to the garden.
You could say what you want about Mayor Wilkins, but in a way the Sunnydale Community Center was his gift to the town of Sunnydale. A beautiful building in part classical style with elaborate gardens behind it for people to recreate in (by day of course). And a very popular place for couples to get married in. Which made it all the more ironic for Faith that the Saiyan, his greatest enemy, had chosen this place to tie the knot in.
In the garden Faith could see Jolly Green as he stood with his friends. Goku was there, including a child and a dark haired oriental women, who were probably his wife and son. Two men, a small noseless guy and a large man with a wooly hat stood with them. Then another man with a scar on his face joined as he dragged an old guy by the arm who was sporting a big lecherous grin. He had pervert written all over him. Scarface didn’t look amused and pointed to small noseless and then to the old guy who was already eyeing another passing waitress.
On the other side of the garden Faith could see some other familiar faces. She saw Murray standing there with his friends. No longer wearing his wooly hat but proudly donning the same Klingon armor she had seen on some others like him. There was that old sour puss, Jack, in his blue uniform, looking ill at ease. There was the blonde major, also in blue. But the archeologist, Daniel, he wasn’t there. Instead there were three others who Faith didn’t recognize. There was a short portly man who by the looks of it was a very high ranking officer. Next to him was a red haired female officer. The only one not in a military uniform was a blonde haired man in civilian clothes who looked around him in absolute fascination, like he had never seen a human/alien wedding ceremony before.
“Look” Xander said as he halted as they had neared the rows of seats being filled, “Piccolo has said he’d rather not be seated, he’s gonna watch from the sides. You could join him. Or if you’d like you could come sit with us.”
Faith thought that over for a moment. It was tempting to stay with Jolly Green. It was safe, it was comforting. But the old Faith, she would have laughed at doing the safe comforting thing. The old Faith would jump into the thick of things just for laughs. And despite all of her faults the old Faith had some traits that were worth finding again.
Seeing that Jolly Green looked at her and nodded encouragingly Faith decided to take up Xander’s offer.
“I’ll sit with you guys,” she said, be it with not much enthusiasm. Xander noticed her reticence but smiled encouragingly none the less.
“You can sit on the front row,” he said, “just pick a seat.”
“Uh, thanks,” Faith said, then she made her way past some of the attendees on their way to their seats. One the front row Red’s current girlcrush was already seated. For a moment Faith was tempted to sit next to her as she was a relative unknown. Another safe choice but she decided not to as she was sure Red would come and sit next to her.
Towards the end sat a lonely girl. And by the looks of it she was as ill at ease as she was, sitting a little slumped in her seat as she staring ahead bored.
Sensing a kindred spirit Faith sat down next to her. The girl briefly glanced towards her, then she resumed her bored stare.
“Hi,” Faith said, “my name’s Faith.”
The girl again glanced briefly at Faith, then she resumed her stare. It was bordering on rudeness, but then again Faith had written the book about bluntness. So it didn’t put her off. On the contrary, now her interest was aroused.
“Nice day for a wedding, huh?” she asked.
“I suppose,” the girl shrugged indifferent.
“Can I have your name?” Faith asked the girl.
“I have no name,” the girl said flatly.
Okay, that was getting odd.
“Everyone has a name,” Faith said. The girl glanced at Faith, then she gave a slight shrug.
“My name is not my own,” she said in that same flat tone of voice, “neither are my memories.”
Okay, now she really had Faith’s interest and let her senses touch on the girl looking for anything weird. But at first glance then a set of impressive implants enhancing her more then ample bosom she seemed fully human. And yet….
“Then how do they call you?” she asked the blonde girl as she turned her senses from passive to active scan. Then the girl looked towards Faith and she could see into her eyes at the same time as she was sensing. And she recoiled in horror as the girl replied.
“They call me Angela.”
“And if there is anyone here today who will voice an objection, let him speak now or forever hold his breath.”
Isn’t that amazing, Faith thought as she briefly looked around herself and saw some others do the same. Some people do watch too much television and expect the cliché objector to come forward at this moment.
Then again it had been a strange wedding.
With Big B. being an alien she had expected some weird alien shit be part of the ceremony. Some weird alien ritual or custom that had to be addressed. Like the bride and groom having to ceremoniously fight through the ranks of their best friends together. Or the shedding of blood. Or some other strange test.
Instead it was as normal as any other Earth wedding.
Be it that there just were a lot of aliens present instead. Goku, Jolly Green, Murray’s friends. Oh, and the bride and groom skipped on having any best man or bridesmaids. With B. having to play both roles on her own.
“Turns out Saiyans aren’t that keen on the whole best man concept,” Xander had explained when she asked him about it, “They know it exists in other cultures but they tend to be a competitive lot. They probably feared that anyone not chosen as best man would challenge the best man to a duel to the death. Or so the theory goes.”
“Then why’s B. up there?” Faith had whispered.
“Compromise, somebody has to deliver the rings,” Xander shrugged, “besides, there’s still a little surprise in stall for her. You just watch.”
“Ooh, I love surprises,” Faith began to grin conspiratorially, “Especially when they don’t happen to me. You in on something?”
“Let’s just say I have a little unique insight about Saiyans,” Xander said sly as he tapped his forehead, “Comes in handy from time to time.”
It took her a few moments before it clicked in her brain. But then again, the possession had happened a long time before she had come to town. And when she had come to town listening had never been her strong suit.
Another person who was even worse at listening was Xander’s new girlfriend. She didn’t pay attention to anything. You could probably have the Darth Vader marching band with Wookie percussionists play hail to the chief with Captain Kirk and Spock singing soprano and the girl would just sit there looking bored.
Which meant she was exactly like his previous girlfriend.
Except that one didn’t know when to shut up. Once she got going there was no stopping the ditz. At least this one hardly said a word. So technically that meant Xander had traded himself upward.
That is if you ignored that the girl gave Faith the creeps. Big time! And that said something from a girl who had been on the run from a vampire master and been in the service of a demon-wannabe magician.
When she probed the girl it felt like she was peering into a vast bottomless chasm. One so deep you either recoil out of fear from falling in, or you just have to get closer and closer to the edge to get a better look. Where you start looking for pebbles to throw in so you can listen how long it takes for them to hit the bottom.
Only in this case once you peered into the abyss it felt like something was peering back at you. Something monstrous, something filled with raging anger, something…. something not nice. Something that would give both Kakistos and the Mayor nightmares and sent them cowering up the attic blubbering for their mother.
She would have jumped up and run screaming for Piccolo herself if it weren’t for Xander returning and sitting between them. How he could stand to be with her, Faith had no idea. It made him the bravest man she ever knew though.
“Then by the authority vested in me by the state of California I hereby declare you husband and wife,” the minister said in the present, “You may kiss the bride.”
All the guests began to applaud as Big B. took B.’s mother in his arms and kissed her. And not quite to B.’s comfort either. Which was something Faith could understand. Seeing your parents make out was never something you wanted to see. Especially when it was your mother making out with somebody who wasn’t your father.
Faith had to admit though, B.’s mother looked radiant, positively happy. Good for her. She deserved some happiness.
Instead of the newlyweds taking the victory lap through the guests and returning to the community center Big B. let go of his wife and turned to B. Then he gestured her to turn around and face the guest. After which he took her by the shoulders.
“Let it be known to anyone that I, Belmovekk, son of Rabar, of house Movekk, Disciple of Aldur, recognize this girl, Elizabeth Anne Summers, as my own. Let no man or woman contest that from this day forward she is both my heir and daughter.”
Buffy had survived the entire wedding unscathed when suddenly Belmo had asked her to turn around and face the crowd. And then he dropped his little bombshell onto her
Before she could turn around ask Belmo what the fuck, Faith fell from her chair laughing.
AN: If you’re wondering why Goku and his friends still don’t know Bulma had been made pregnant by Vegeta, let’s just say that after Belmo dropped her off somewhere on the other side of the universe, she’s still too pissed off at him to attend his wedding. And Yamcha sure wasn’t going to tell the others about it, not unless the evidence was right there in the face.