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The Middle Child

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Summary: Faith Winchester was raised a hunter, but destined to be a Slayer. She just had to leave her family behind to find that out!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Faith-CenteredFaithsVoiceFR1828,5631121,65511 Jul 1022 Aug 10No

Finding Her Way

A response to my own challenge, #5625: Daughter of a Winchester. As I say there, I'm not actually sure where I want to go with this, so I've left it open to y'all. Anyone who wants to can add a chapter- I'd love to see what you guys come up with!

I own nothing, Joss and ME own Faith and Slayers, Kripke and the CW own all Winchesters. I'm just exorcising a plot bunny. Don't tell Anya!

Warning- strong language, and mention of non-het pairings/trios (nothing graphic)

Also, I the author stand with Television Without Pity when they call John a “worthless bastard of a so-called father”, but that's not how his kids see it, so that's the skew of the story.


Ch 1- Finding Her Way


Faith and Sam had played Go Fish until they got bored, then switched to War, and now Faith was trying to teach Sammy about poker. She wouldn't usually dare, but Dad and Dean had said that the hunt was going to be quick, and it was already after midnight, so they probably weren't coming back to the motel at all tonight. Sam wanted to learn poker, he wanted to prove to Dad that he could be as good at something as Dean, but it was late, and he was starting to yawn. He tried to hide it, but a big sister could tell.

“Time for bed, Sammy.” She gathered the cards into a neat pile and shuffled them together, then stood and held out a hand to her brother. “Up, we need to brush our teeth.”

“Aww, but Faith... C'mon, I almost got it. A straight is better than a flush, right?” He rubbed at his eyes, trying to wake himself back up. “Or is it the same as a flush?” He allowed himself to be led into the grimy little bathroom.

“We'll go over it again at breakfast, ok?” She smiled at him, and he nodded and started to brush his teeth. Faith did the same, then tucked him into one bed and climbed into the other. It was weird, not being in the same bed as her little brother, but she knew she would have to get used to it. When they were little, Dad would usually have all three of them sleep in the same bed, just to save money, but as soon as Dean's voice started cracking (and hadn't she and Sam made fun of him for months?), Dad had started getting a cot, and either sleeping on it himself, or having Dean sleep on it. Faith knew she'd be going into puberty soon, and she was NOT looking forward to how Dad would react. Not only sleeping arrangements, but how she dressed, how she acted, everything, Dad was going to make her be more 'lady-like' about freakin' everything. Faith made a face in the darkness. “Stupid Dad, I'll still be a Winchester when I have tits.”

*~*~*

Faith crossed her arms and stood in front of the motel suite's door. “I'm going on this hunt with you guys.”

John stopped two paces in front of her, crossed his arms in the same pose, and glared back at her. “No, you're not. You're going to stay here where it's safe.” Sam was surprised to realize how similar his dad and his sister were. He tended to think of Dean as the one most like Dad, with their leather coats and heavy metal and protectiveness of the younger half of the family, but Faith, like Dad, had a stubborn streak a mile wide, and she seemed to have picked up his knack for knowing where the beasties would be, and how to take them down. Sam was getting pretty good at the research, and he knew it helped, but what took him three hours in the oldest sections of the local library sometimes took her five minutes of watching the thing. Not that she was actually allowed to fight any of them...

“Safe.” She snorted. “Cause Sammy would be so much safer out there.” John opened his mouth, but Faith barreled on. “C'mon, Dad. I know you and Dean were talking about taking Sam out with you on this hunt. I mean, God!” She threw her hands up, nearly smacking John in the face, and he flinched backwards slightly. “Dean's been going on hunts with you since he was fourteen, you're talking about taking Sam out and he's barely thirteen, but I'm fifteen and a half, and you lock me up in motels like a half-price princess waiting for her knight in crappy armor!” She leaned in closer, until she was nearly nose to nose with John. “I'm a better shot than either of the boys, I have better reflexes, I'm better trained, you should be proud of me like you are of them, but no!” She pushed past him, paced over to the window, then spun back and stalked toward him. “You just want to wrap your precious baby girl in a pretty pink blanket and never let me do a fucking thing!” John glared at her foul language, while Sam gasped and Dean smirked, and Faith took the moment of collective shock to scoop up the duffel bag she had yet to unpack and head for the door.

John grabbed her elbow as she went past. “And just where do you think you're going, young lady?”

Faith jerked her arm out of her father's grasp. “I'm going to prove to you that I don't need anyone but myself to protect me. Have a nice life.” She took the last couple of steps, yanked open the door, and stormed out. By the time John gathered his wits enough to run out after her, she was nowhere to be seen.

He hurled curses into the night air, but when he came back inside, his shoulders were slumped. He gave the boys a mournful look and dropped into a chair. “I just... I wanted to protect your sister from the thing that got your mother...” Sam spent a second wondering why they weren't rushing into the night with flashlights to try to track her down, but he knew his dad's stubborn pride would never let him chase after someone like that, not even his own kid.

*~*~*

One of the things Faith had longed for the most was a stable place to live, and steady friends to spend time with, and now she also needed somewhere it would be hard for her family to find her. The only logical option, in her book, was a big city, preferably somewhere far away from the family's usual haunts. She hitched a ride to the nearest city, St Louis, spent an evening hustling pool (Dean would be so proud- no, not going to think about them anymore), and found a motel.

The next morning she headed for the bus station. “What's the next bus that's headed to the East Coast?”

The clerk gave her a nervous smile. “There's one to Boston that leaves in twenty minutes.”

Faith nodded. “Perfect. How much?” She counted out the cash, then went and picked up snacks and comics for the trip. She got on the bus acting all cool, but inside she was kind of excited. Not only was this her first time traveling any sort of distance in anything but the Impala, it was also the longest she'd ever gone without some member of her family nearby. She was finally free to be something more than just “one of the Winchester kids”. She spent the first few hundred miles daydreaming about who and what she wanted to be when she got to Boston.

The first week, she stayed in a motel, checked out neighborhoods, made note of gang signs and locations, and planned. Then she went back to the bus station and into a bathroom, where she changed into her rattiest jeans and an over-sized t-shirt she'd stolen from Dean, laid on a thick Midwestern accent, and wandered back out and down the street. Within two blocks, she had a tail. She continued to walk aimlessly, gawking and staring at anything that caught her eye. Her tail caught up to her and slung a friendly arm around her shoulders. Faith wanted to grab the girl and toss her across the street, but she settled for flinching away from the contact.

The other girl pulled her arm away and held up her hands in mock surrender. “Sorry, didn't mean to freak you out. You just looked new to the city, figured I'd see if you needed directions anywhere.” The girl was obviously a street kid, in jeans that had seen better days, boots with the steel toe poking through the leather, and a leather jacket two sizes too big for her; perfect.

Faith peered out at her through her hair, the perfect picture of a kicked puppy. “Ah dunno. Ain't really got nowhere to go. Do-” She injected a note of desperate hope into her voice. “Do ya know a place?” She backpedaled a little, both verbally and physically. “Don't wanna do nothin' wouldn't be right with the Lord, though. Ah heard how the girls are in the city!” In her head, Faith smiled. Dean was always telling her she'd never be any good at the roles they had to play to be effective hunters, but this girl was believing every word that came out of her mouth.

The girl laughed. “We won't make you do anything you don't want to, promise.” She held out her hand. “Name's Meg, by the way.” They shook, and she gestured down a side street. “You looked like ya didn't have anywhere to go. C'mon, our place is this way. Most of us are runaways, a few of us hook sometimes, nearly everyone pickpockets or shoplifts or whatever, but we're not gonna make you if you don't wanna. We can teach you how, though, if you'd rather. And, um...” She quieted as they came out on a busy street, crossed, and slipped into another alley. “We can teach you to get around, too. But, um... Look, I know a lot of people don't wanna talk about why they're here, but you look like you got a story, an' most of us felt better once people knew, so don't be afraid to say.”

Faith shrugged. “Guess Ah don't mind. Pa... he drinks, an' he hits. An' now... now, he's started lookin' at me th' way he looks at th' waitresses, th' way a Pa ain't oughta. Ah had ta go. Weren't like Ah were leaving much behind.” She looked over at Meg suspiciously. “Little town like mine, ya expect folk to be friendly an' helpful, but Ah hear in th' big city, folk aren't so friendly. Why you bein' so nice an' so open with me?” The hunter in Faith was already listing all the ways and reasons this could be a trap. If it was, though, or even if it wasn't, she didn't have to stick around. She could find another gang, even another city if she had to.

Meg sighed. “You just got this look, like you're one of us. If you are, you got nobody. I seen some of the kids who come here, they got nobody lookin' for 'em, they just get ate up. They start hookin', they get into coke or meth, an' they're gone. So now I keep an eye out, an' I try an' help, and grow our little family. An' that's what we are, family. You don't got nobody anymore-” She paused, and frowned over at Faith, who was feeling more relaxed, though she didn't show it. “So, um, what am I going to call you?”

Faith gave a shy smile, shaking her hair back a little. “Ah'm Grace. Grace Hunter.” She ran over her invented background once more,and relaxed into the role, prepared to live as Grace for as long as she needed to.

Meg grinned and gestured at a boarded-up warehouse behind her. “You've got somebody, now, Grace. You've got a home and a whole family of somebodies.” Faith smiled back. This was exactly what she'd been looking for.

*~*~*

Over a year and a half she'd been in Boston, and in some ways they'd been the best time of her life. The gang had a house now, for one thing. Sure, it was technically a squat, but nobody else wanted it, and they were actually pretty comfortable in it. The food and the beds were just as bad, but she was free to do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted, she had a couple dozen potential henchmen to do it with, and most of what they wanted to do was drink and fuck. There were frequent bouts of mayhem for the sake of cash or fun, and a general pissing-off of authority. She even managed (most of the time) to not think about her blood family, out there in the Impala somewhere, fighting monsters.

She never dreamed about them anymore, for instance, or about the things she'd seen back then. Not until the night she woke with vivid images in her head of fighting monsters bigger and nastier than anything she'd ever seen or heard of. She stood, feeling sick, and staggered over to the dingy old bathroom. She splashed some water on her face, then leaned on the sink and looked at herself in the cracked mirror. She was pale, her dark eyes wide, and for a moment she felt herself falling into her own eyes.

A sudden creak startled her, and she looked down to see that she'd gripped the sink so hard she'd cracked it. Now, considering she'd fucked Analiese on it just last week, she knew it was strong, so there was something wicked weird going on here. She took a couple of deep breaths and tried to work it out. In the middle of the second inhale, she realized how incredibly much she could smell. Two people had fucked in the bathroom recently, she was going to bet Katie and Mike, someone down the hall had smoked some pretty good pot earlier, someone else had spilled cheap vodka, and the neighbors had had Italian for dinner.

“Ok, so. Stronger, better sense of smell... Haven't been attacked by anything lately, and I know the house isn't haunted. Don't feel possessed... Can I be injured?” A little voice in her head was screaming about how morbid that question was, but the rest of her knew she was in shock, and was glad, because it made it easier to be logical. She went in the kitchen and pulled out a steak knife. She held her left arm over the sink and made a long, shallow cut from the inside of her wrist up towards her elbow. “Ow, shit. OK, yes, pain, ow...” She left the knife in the sink and found a couple of paper towels to clamp onto her arm. “Maybe not such a good idea. Maybe I'm dreaming, or hallucinating, or something. Gonna go back to bed, figure this out in the morning.” She stumbled off to bed, but hardly to rest, as her dreams kept her tossing and turning.

In the morning, the first thing she noticed was that the cut she'd made now looked like a week-old scab, which she quickly picked off. Also, with everyone else up and moving, she realized her hearing was as good as her sense of smell. She turned to the rusting hulk of a bed-frame that had taken four guys to move up here, grasped the edge of it, and lifted it two inches off the ground. She held it there a moment, just to see, then set it down again.

She dropped onto the mattress with a sigh. “Something wicked weird is going on here, and I have no idea what. What would Dad do?” She laughed a little to herself. “Make Sam do research, of course. Great, guess I get to spend the day in the library.” She got dressed and headed downstairs, reminding herself to be careful about her reactions to everything until she got used to her new abilities.

*~*~*

It had been a week now since Faith had changed, and she was no closer to an answer. She'd done as much research as she could stand, but nothing she could find even came close to what had happened to her. It was wicked frustrating, especially since the dreams had gotten steadily worse, 'til now she was itchy under the skin during the day, too. Much as she tried to deny it, she HAD to get out and kill those critters. She wasn't completely sure, but since they had fangs and bit people on the neck, she was guessing they were vampires, and that she was supposed to fight them. Since the dreams also showed her that they could be killed with a stake to the heart, she'd gone out in the afternoon and scrounged up some broken chair legs and the like.

Now it was dark, and her gang was starting to get down to serious drinking. Faith slipped away, gathered up her makeshift stakes and the couple of knives she always carried, and headed out to the nearest park. Well, ok, it had once been a park worthy of the name, but now it was mostly a junkyard and a place for the crack whores to go between tricks... or with tricks. Faith figured it would be the perfect place for bloodsucking critters to go for an easy meal.

Walking into the park, she felt a sudden shiver, and a tightness in her chest. It seemed to have a direction, and when she turned that way, her new and improved eyesight caught some movement through the half-dead vegetation. She crept over to check it out, and, sure enough, two creatures were standing there, talking, not even bothering to hide their fangs and ridged foreheads.

Faith put on the scared-hick persona she hadn't used in nearly two years, and 'stumbled' out from behind the bush. “Please, sirs, Ah'm lost. Can ya help me home?”

The vampires looked at each other and laughed. The taller one stepped forward. “Sure, little girl. We can help you.” His face came fully into the light from the streetlight, and she let out a little shriek. The other one stepped around behind her to block her in.

Faith glanced over her shoulder and grinned as she pulled out a stake. “Perfect positioning, thanks guys.” She brought an elbow up to smash into the nose of the vamp behind her, then slammed that fist into the other one's cheekbone. They both staggered back, and she grinned in satisfaction. The one in front of her lunged at her, and she brought her knee up into his groin. He dropped to his knees with a groan, and she plunged the stake into his chest. He exploded into dust, taking her stake with him, and Faith stumbled back a little, coughing and choking. “Damn, gotta remember that part. Yeuck!”

Unfortunately, she stumbled right into the arms of the other vamp, and he grabbed her and brought her close, his breath rank in her ear. “Oh, little girl, you are going to pay for that. I'll make you beg for death.”

Faith shivered, but more from the smell than from any fear. “You ever thought about breath mints? Maybe a toothbrush now and then?” She slammed her head back, breaking his nose more, then turned and kicked him in the stomach. He dropped to one knee, and she took a moment to consider him. “Nah, I don't think it would really help. I know!” And she drove her stake into his heart, remembering this time to pull it out again. He exploded in a most satisfying way, and she brushed the ash off her clothes. “That was easier than I expected. Wonder if there are any more of 'em around...”

She headed out into the neighborhood, looking mostly in alleys and abandoned lots. She turned up and dusted three more before she started to get tired. “Home... Bed... I wonder if anyone's still awake? Damn, I am wicked horny. And kinda hungry. Definitely time to go home.” She headed back, and was pleased to find Analiese and Eric mostly naked on the couch. She dropped down next to them, and they pulled her in for a three-way kiss, then started to help her peel her clothes off.

An hour later, she'd worn them both out, and had to help them stagger upstairs. She went off to her own room (no sharing a bed for Faith, not since Sammy) and fell asleep with a grin on her face. She felt damn good, like this was what her life had always been building towards. And that night, her dreams were more subdued, more like what she'd have if Dad and Dean were overdue from a hunt. That, she could live with.

*~*~*

A week later, and the dreams hadn't gotten intense again. Of course, she was going out hunting every night, averaging half a dozen vamps every time, and every time it felt amazing. The only thing better was sex, and she was getting plenty of that, too. She'd been with everyone in the house in the last week, and now she was debating whether to start over again or go out and pick people up at clubs.

Either way, right now she was focused on the two vamps that had come out of a seemingly-abandoned townhouse, and were heading downtown. She was tucked up in an alley down the block, and just before they passed, she stumbled a couple of steps out of the alley. “Hey, guysh... Y' wanna gishe- give a girl a good shtime?” She blinked at them and grinned drunkenly.

The vamps' grins were positively shark-like as they pulled her back towards the alley. One of them was practically drooling on her. “Oh, baby, someone's gonna have a good time...” As soon as the shadows were deep enough, he let his demon side show. Faith smirked and straightened up, relishing the look on the vamps' faces.

“Well, I know I'm going to.” She was already kicking the drooler in the nuts and punching the other one in the jaw. The drooler clutched his crotch with one hand, but swiped at her with the other. She swayed out of the way, grabbed his wrist, and bent it back until it snapped. “Ah, ah, ah... No sex in the champagne room.” The other vamp grabbed for her, and she ducked under his arms, then drove the heel of her hand into his nose, driving it up into his brain. He dropped, twitching, and she slammed a stake into him. The drooler grabbed for her again, and she let him pull her close. “You know, I did say 'no touching'. Maybe this will help you remember.” She smirked as she staked him. “Or at least not do it again.”

Faith sauntered out of the alley, pleased with herself, and tensed when she heard clapping behind her. She turned and saw a grey-haired woman in a business suit leaning against the wall and smiling at her. “Very nice, my dear. You certainly need some training, but you're doing quite well so far. You must be Faith. I'm Diana.” Her accent was upper-class British, and she held out her hand crisply for Faith to shake.

Faith backed up a couple of steps, shaking her head. “Dunno who the fuck you think I am, but my name's Grace Hunter, and I gotta to go.” She looked around as if she was nervous. Really, she knew she could take this old broad in a fight, but she was curious how the woman knew anything about her, especially since everyone in Boston knew her as Grace.

Diana chuckled. “Nonsense, my dear. You're Faith Winchester, and you've just been fighting vampires. Quite ably, I might add. I'm here to be your Watcher, and help you train to be the best Slayer you can be. And possibly clean up your language a bit...”

Faith was genuinely frowning now. “What the hell's a Watcher? Or a Slayer, for that matter?”

Diana blinked in surprise. “You truly don't know? But you fight as if you have been trained. You cannot have gained all these skills in the fortnight since you were Chosen.”

Faith backed up a couple of steps. “I was chosen? By who? For what? Why me?”

Diana sighed. “Perhaps we should get more comfortable before I explain it all to you. My flat-” She saw Faith tense at that. “No, of course not. There is a rather nice park only a few blocks away...” Faith shrugged and gestured for Diana to lead the way. Diana smiled. “There, now. A little bit of mutual trust, and see where it gets us?” Faith just eyed her suspiciously.

When they got to the park, Diana sank onto the nearest bench with a tired sigh. “Oh, dear. I fear my age is starting to catch up with me. Never mind that, come, child, sit with me and I will explain.” Faith perched on the arm at the other end of the bench and fixed her gaze on the old woman. “Right-o. Now, in the beginning, this world was not the paradise you have been told about, but rather a hellish place where beasts and monsters roamed the land, fighting, killing, even eating each other. Humans arose, and began to drive the monsters out, but the last demon, before he died, bit a human and mixed their blood together, and thus vampires were born. That first vampire bit another human, and mixed their blood, and soon there was a new scourge upon the land. And so the mystics gathered, and chose a young woman, and imbued her with the strength and the speed to fight the vampires and save her people. And when she died, the power passed to another girl, and another, down through the ages, until it passed to you.”

Faith shivered. This was some heavy-duty shit, and for a moment, she wished she could talk to Dad, or even Dean or Sammy, but she shoved the thought aside. “So that's it? I'm this 'slayer' because some ancient 'mystics' decided I have to fight vampires? Do I get anything out of it?” She paused for a moment. “Besides, you know, the strength and the senses and all that shit?”

Diana rolled her eyes. “Really, dear. Language. And, yes. No one knows how the power chooses, but you are now a Vampire Slayer. And you gain not only mystical enhancements, but also the knowledge that you are saving people from one of the most efficient predators our race has ever known. Though, as your Watcher, I can certainly offer you a place to stay, plenty of food, a selection of very nice weapons, and perhaps some new clothing.” Faith opened her mouth, but Diana answered the question before she could ask. “The Watcher's council was formed to be the protectors and guides of the Slayer. We train her to be the best warrior she can, we patch her up when she is injured, and we do research when she encounters demons and other unusual magical creatures.” She paused, and raised an eyebrow. “You are remarkably accepting of all this. Most people, when they learn of the supernatural world, go into shock, or try to deny it, or some such.”

Faith shrugged. “I go with what I can see, and since I can see better now than ever before, it's even easier to go with it.” She sure as shit wasn't going to mention her lifelong involvement in the hunter's life. Hell, it was going to take her a little time to be ok with getting back into it, but she could tell this British biddy wasn't going to let her walk away again. She hopped up to her feet. “So, does this place of yours have air conditioning?” Diana nodded, looking surprised. “Cool, lemme grab my shit, an' I'll be ready to go.”

*~*~*

The summer had been amazing, she had learned so much, and she'd actually bonded with Diana. After all, this was the first adult female she'd ever spent any length of time with, and she was very grandmotherly. Not that Faith paid attention to more than half the advice Diana gave her, but she liked that someone cared enough to give her advice. And she sure as hell listened to the stories Diana told, especially once she mentioned that for as long as there had been Slayers, they had been one at a time, but now there were two, herself and a girl in California named Buffy. Diana knew plenty of stories about this “Buffy”, and she was happy to tell them all. She seemed to think they would help Faith learn to be a better Slayer. Sure, Faith was learning some shit, but mostly it gave her late-night post-Slay fantasy material.

Plus, she was dreaming about her, and they were wicked intense dreams. Faith saw Buffy facing off against a six-foot-tall praying mantis, and a pack of fish-man demons of some sort, and a giant blue critter that sucked life out of people through its hands. She even saw her die, felt the sting of fangs at her neck, the cold of the puddle stealing her breath. Faith woke up from that one gasping and clutching at her throat. But every dream made Faith more determined that one day she would meet the Slayer who had died and come back to keep fighting.

In the meantime, she'd cleaned up most of the bigger threats in Boston and the surrounding area, and had even gone on a couple of 'field trips' down South. Of course, she'd also come closer to being arrested than she ever had with Dad, but that just made the whole thing that much more fun. She was a damn good fighter, and she wasn't even giving it her all. After all, why should she? She hadn't come up against anything she couldn't handle at her current level.

Until the night she came home from patrol to find Diana's severed hand nailed to the front door with a note that just gave an address. Faith went inside, loaded down with every weapon she could possibly carry (including a sawed-off shotgun and a box of rock-salt-filled shells she'd hidden from Diana), and headed for the place, which from the address was probably a warehouse. She was calm, detached, probably in shock, but feeling very logical, just like the night she'd been Called. When she got to the warehouse, first she walked once around the perimeter, assessing it, and killing any guards she found. Then she climbed up on the roof and let herself in through an access panel.

She could smell blood, and the tightness of breath she always felt around vamps was wicked strong, and she used those sensations to lead her into the maze of hallways on this level, her whole being focused on finding Diana and getting her out of there. Faith slipped silently down the hall to the stairs and down them to the main floor, which was all one room, and fairly well lit, at least in the middle. Diana was on her knees in the middle of the pool of light, swaying but conscious, the stump of her wrist crudely wrapped with rags. At the edges of the light, a dozen or so vamps were watching the scene avidly.

Walking around Diana, occasionally flicking a cat o' nine tails at her and smirking when she flinched, was one of the ugliest creatures Faith had ever seen. It- he, whatever- was seven feet tall, with cloven hooves instead of hands and feet, and with forehead ridges that made a normal vamp look like a Klingon. Faith assumed he was actually a vamp, because of the way her spider-sense was tingling, but he was the biggest, nastiest vamp she'd ever seen or ever hoped to see. The panic overtook the shock-calm for a moment, and Faith had to fight to get her breathing under control before the vamps heard.

The mega-vamp paused, looked around, then turned back to Diana. “You are brave, I grant you that.” He whipped her, and she gasped but didn't cry out. “A pity, I do want to hear you scream. I may have to start torturing you soon.” He reached down, tore the shirt from Diana's body, and tossed it aside, then whipped her twice more. Faith saw blood trickling down Diana's torso, and both panic and eerie calm disappeared in a wave of red anger.

She advanced across the warehouse floor, fired the crossbow at the nearest vamp, then brought the shotgun around and fired two shells at the mega-vamp. One impacted his chest, causing him to stagger, and the other hit him square in the face, turning one eye into a red ruin. Faith howled in triumph, dropped the shotgun, and drew a stake. The rest of the henchvamps came at her in a rush, obviously hoping to dog-pile her, and she turned into a whirling dervish, kicking and punching at any undead body part that presented itself. Her stake flicked in and out of unbeating hearts until she was surrounded by nothing but ash.

Faith turned, assessing the situation as she caught her breath, so the blow that should have crushed her kidneys instead broke three ribs and sent her flying across the room to hit a support beam, and probably crack another rib or two. She cried out, and the mega-vamp advanced on her menacingly. “Poor broken little Slayer. I will enjoy myself greatly with you. And your blood will be all the sweeter for your pain and fear.” She scrambled backwards, pulling out weapon after weapon and throwing them at him, but those he did not deflect simply bounced off his hide. Her last stake she held in reserve, and when he got close enough, she jumped up, ignoring the pain from her ribs, and drove the stake into his chest with all her strength.

He laughed, his breath foul. “Foolish child. Did you really think that would work?” He tossed her back across the room, to skid to a stop near Diana. Up close she could see the bleeding and the bruises were much worse than she had thought.

Diana reached out her remaining hand. “Faith.... Don't try to fight him. You're not ready. Learn more. His name is Kakistos. Go, now, while you still can.”

Faith grabbed her hand, holding it tight. “Not without you. I came to rescue you.”

Diana shook her head. “I'm dying anyway. Just get away, please. Just-”

Kakistos was suddenly looming above them. “How touching. But not quite what I had in mind...” He clapped his hands on either side of Diana's head, and, with a sharp twist and a horrific sound, tore her head off her body. Faith screamed, and scrambled backwards. Her hand encountered the barrel of her shotgun, and she sobbed in relief. Kakistos was taking a moment to savor Diana's blood- no, she couldn't think about what had just happened, just what she had to do next. She dug two more shells out of her pocket, loaded the gun, and fired at the monster's legs. For now, she just needed to slow him down so she could get away.

The sudden and painful disintegration of his kneecaps caused Kakistos to roar, but since he was also falling to the floor, there was little he could do about it. Faith took off through the nearest door, not caring about the blood (Diana's blood, no, couldn't think yet) covering her, just wanting to get home. Fortunately, it was late, and not many people were out.

When Faith could think again, she found herself in the shower, frantically scrubbing. She took a deep breath and let the water flow over as she thought out loud. “Can't stay in Boston. I just can't. I need backup. Sure as hell not going to try and find Dad and the boys now. Where else? California. Sunnydale. B fought worse things than him. She can help. Yeah...” She was all business as she got out of the shower, dressed, and packed up her clothes and weapons, but as soon as she walked into Diana's room, she broke down in tears. She spent half an hour sprawled across Diana's bed, crying her eyes out for the woman who had been the closest to a mother she had ever known, then got up, washed her face, and finished her packing.

*~*~*

A week later she was in a motel room in southern California she'd paid for with a fake credit card, trying to decide on an outfit. Apparently there was only one decent club in town, and Faith was willing to bet that's where most vamps did their hunting. She decided on nice strong leather pants, but one of her more revealing tops, got dressed, and headed out. As she got close to the club, she could feel a few vamps already there, and also some other creature, one that caused a feeling she had never had before. The vamps made her chest tight, but this being made her feel like her chest was expanding, filling, nearly lifting her off the ground. She couldn't help grinning.

She entered the club, looked around, and headed directly for the dance floor. She definitely needed to take her mind off things for a little while. She danced by herself for a song or two, then looked around at the other dancers. One stood out for her as a vamp who had been changed in the 70s, hell, she figured he was still wearing the outfit he'd died in. She slunk up to him and started dancing seductively in front of him, shaking her hair off her neck. He grinned in appreciation, and gestured out the door. She nodded with a grin and let him lead the way out.

Typical vamp, as soon as he got her in the alley he went for her neck. She punched him in the solar plexus, then kicked him in the knee. She was distracted, though, when the floaty-feeling sharpened and came near her. She looked over and saw two kids coming out of the side door, kids she recognized from her dreams. The tall, dark-haired guy was generally on the edges of the action, but the short blonde was not only central to the action, but also the source of the feeling that had Faith grinning.

The blonde also had a stake in her hand, and Faith let the vamp punch her and send her nearer the two. “Hi, I'm Faith.” She punched the vamp in the jaw, then kicked him in the knee. “You must be Buffy.” He grabbed at her, but she dodged, so all he did was scratch her arm a bit. “Can I borrow that?” Faith snagged the stake out of B's hand, staked the vamp, and passed the stake back. “Fun town you have here.” She grinned at B, who just groped for words while her friend drooled slightly.
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