Blood and Madness
Disclaimer in Part One
It was about what she'd expected; sort of a storage/workshop/garage area with bins of old computers gathering dust and still-functional lab equipment stored in rows of tall shelves that went to the ceiling and divided the space into a miniature maze.
Faith hopped out of the elevator, knife raised, only to find the immediate vicinity deserted. Shouts came from across the way, where she could make out the vague outline of the overhead door leading outside. Billows of white smoke were everywhere, though, and half the lights had been blown out when the grenade went off a few moments earlier.
"It's the bat! It's the Bat
! Help me--!"
Someone's terrified shout ended in an agonized grunt, and the girl picked that as her aiming point as she darted into the smoke. Two seconds later she was there; one of the guys who'd been robbing the place was on the ground, a misshapen thing
looming over him. The long club the creature held smashed down once before Faith got there, slamming brutally into the writhing man on the floor. It swung again and the Slayer caught the weapon in her left hand, disarming the thing with a wrenching twist. The dimness, the smoke, and her still-pounding head tried to trick her eyes, and she blinked in confusion as the thing drew itself up to it's full height.
"Huh? There's Bat
She had an impression of pointy ears, a dark and ridged face, and... beard stubble? Then the thing's arms swept out wide, spreading it's wings (or cape? Or was it more like a slightly ragged blanket she was seeing?)
"Beware!" It shouted, stumbling backwards in a hurry as it realized she'd disarmed it. It had a guttural, gravelly voice, like it was gargling broken glass, and she had a little trouble making out the actual words. "I am darkness! I am the night! Wherever evil hides, I will find--"
The growly voice cut off suddenly as she stepped forward, spinning the aluminum baseball bat she held in and around her hand like a cheerleader's baton, then lashed out in a move that was almost too fast to see. She put less than half her full strength into the strike; there was something very weird going on here, and there was a sick, uneasy feeling in her stomach that had nothing to do with the aftereffects of her sudden arrival in this place. The bat struck the Bat with a crunch, and the creature was thrown backwards to land in a messy sprawl against an industrial sized deep freeze.
Faith blinked once, weighing the baseball bat in her hand. It seemed solid enough, but the impact on the maybe-demon had felt... off. Blunted, somehow, like hitting something rubbery instead of flesh and bone.
Glancing down at the man at her feet, she saw that while he was bloodied and bruised from the creature's attack, he was still very much alive. She could hear sounds of struggling from at least two places nearby, shattered lights were buzzing and popping overhead, and a clatter caused her head to snap around, eyes searching. A small, cylindrical something, about the size of a cola can, rolled across the floor. One end of the thing was sputtering and sparking, leaving a thin wisp of white smoke that really didn't add anything to the haze already hanging in the air. It's a dud
, she realized, taking a wary step back anyway. Bat demons who use smoke grenades... and get ripped off by whoever's selling them fifty-year-old surplus crap?
!" Someone snarled from just a few feet away, his voice holding all the music of rocks in a blender. Faith whirled, realizing she'd been stupid, had let herself be distracted, had let the one she'd knocked down get back up. "Tell them all!" He barked at her, even as he fumbled with something that was tangled in the folds of his cape. "Tell your friends that Gotham has a new face! A face of Justice!"
He shouldn't have gotten through that little speech without her smashing him to the ground. He wouldn't
have managed, except for the fact that as she gathered herself to leap at him, he finally managed to free the thing he'd been struggling with, and as he raised it she checked her movement before it had really started.
The incredulous thought flickered through her mind, accompanied by a stab of something that was definitely not
fear. Faith was never
Still, when she saw the Bat demon (???) pull out a fucking sawed-off shotgun
, well, she was understandably... startled. And so she stood there like an idiot for about two seconds, being startled, when she should have already finished her lunge at the thing. Too late now--if she tried it then the blast would probably cut her in half, which would ruin even a fast-healing Slayer's day. Throw the bat
? she wondered, her pounding head flitting from one idea to the next with desperate speed despite the headache. Or throw the knife? Dive at him, or try and talk or just run like hell it's not my fight anyway shit shit shit how about I just act calm and back up reeeeaaaal sloooooow....
"Bobby!" A woman's voice, the woman she'd glimpsed before, and a moment later she came stumbling around the corner. "Bobby, where are you? There are like, ten of them! We need to get out
of here before--"
Sliding to a stop, the blonde stared in wide-eyed horror at the scene before her: her friend motionless on the ground, Faith standing frozen with her knife and bat both half-raised, and a maybe-demon with a shotgun whirling to face the new threat, weapon tracking up to align with her face, just three feet away.
Faith exploded into motion, crossing the intervening distance in a Slayer-powered leap. The angle was wrong for her to knock the gun from the thing's hands; all she could really see was the Bat's left side, and most of it's back, all shrouded in that cape or whatever. Beyond it's pointy-eared head, the girl thief was cringing back, her hands raised uselessly before her face. With only a fraction of a second to decide what to do, conscious thought wasn't a factor. Instead, Faith went with her instincts; crashing into the creature and using her weight and momentum to drive it--hard--into the shelving along the wall.
Boxes of old laboratory glassware exploded under the impact, showering thousands of glittering shards to the ground even as the Bat went down hard and Faith made sure she landed on top of it. She could have done so in such a way as to cause some serious damage, but she was trying to be careful, trying to be a good Slayer, because there was still
this bad feeling inside her that said something about this situation wasn't quite what she thought it was-- --BOOOOMM--
Faith screamed; as the bat was torn out of her hand, as something between her and the fallen Bat exploded, and a thousand tiny little white-hot talons clawed at her side and her arm, she screamed. Not in fear (never in fear), but in shock, and hate, and rage.
The baseball bat was gone--that was fine, she didn't need it anyway. Her right hand slammed down, this time with all her strength behind it. The protective layers of rubber and plastic meant less than nothing to that magically-enhanced blade, and it punched downwards until its twin points were inches deep in the concrete floor. It was the Bat's turn to scream then; hoarse and disbelieving even as she ripped the knife free, then rammed it home in his chest again, and again, and again
. When she was finished, a ripping backhand cut across the throat easily severed bone and muscle as well as flesh, and the pointy-eared head rolled free of the body.
"'The only way t'be sure," The girl whispered to herself, even though by then she was pretty sure it had been a man in a costume, not a demon after all. Of course, at that point she didn't exactly care
Surging to her feet, she glanced down. Her arm was still there, still working more or less all right, despite the blood running down in rivulets from the mass of torn flesh the pellets had left behind. The side of her chest was bad too, starting just out from her left breast. She was lucky that the blast had mostly missed, that the barrel of the gun had been pinned between her arm and her side, instead of jammed into her stomach. Even so, if her arm had been close in to her side at that moment, the point-blank shot would have removed it from just above her elbow.
"Motherfucker, you are going to die
"--Gotham's Knights have found you! No one can escape the Justice of our vengeance and... Justice
Faith shook her head violently, reminded that this wasn't over, that there were more of these Bat... well, they were Bat men
, not bat demons, looked like.
And she had just killed one.
Turning her head, she saw the blonde girl staring at her just a few feet away. Even with the smoke, and the bad light, and the chaos and shouts from all around, Faith could see the girl quite clearly.
Blonde hair. Pale skin. Wide, green eyes.
What the girl saw when she looked back at Faith, the Slayer could only guess. A psychopath? A monster? A bloodied, pathetic loser, waiting for someone to finally put her out of her misery?
"Aaaaaah! Paul! Paul, get it off me, get it off me!"
More gunfire, so close that a ricochet whined past just over her head. Her insides twisting with guilt and shame, Faith didn't even try to push back the rage filling her. For a man, a normal human
to have some so close to offing her, she must really be as lame as Willow and the others said.
Shifting her grip on her knife, she blurred past the blonde girl, into the billowing smoke.
The Bats really were just men, there were actually only five of them, not ten, and with Faith not holding back it took her less than two minutes to find and finish the last of them.
Not that she'd killed all
of them; two had ended up with just lots of broken bones, though one would probably never walk again, if the abrupt bend in his spine meant anything. As for Faith herself, she was more or less okay, physically. The entire left side of her body was covered in her own blood, sure. There was a bruise along one side of her jawline from a set of brass knuckles making contact, and sore knee received when she'd slipped and fallen while ducking beneath a wildly swung Samurai sword (seriously, one of them had had a fucking Samurai sword
!). Her ears were ringing a little too, from all the noise in the confined space--enhanced senses weren't always a good thing. Other than that, though, she was peachy.
Trembling uncontrollably from adrenaline overload and barely contained rage, hanging in a place exactly equidistant between tipping into a magnificent orgasm and being violently ill, but peachy all the same. They were right
, she realized, with a sort of distant horror suffusing her thoughts. Every time they said I was crazy, they were right. A normal person wouldn't feel this way after doing all that. A normal person would feel bad, not so freaking good, and turned-on, and ready to keep right on rarin' and tearin' just to keep on feeling this alive....
Two of the guys she'd saved, the thieves the Bats had been so determined to stop, or punish, or whatever, were standing there looking at her even as they tended to their own wounds. They were joined by a third, then a fourth, though the last one was only able to hobble painfully. They looked unsure of what to do, now that the skirmish was over.
"You guys wanna try me now, too?" She asked them mockingly. A little motion of her bloody knife beckoned them closer. "Come on then, let's go." At least three of them were armed, so far as she could see. Cheap pistols clutched in white-knuckled fists, they were plenty freaked out by what had happened; it wouldn't take much to start another round of bloody chaos. Who knew, maybe this time around she would manage to get her sorry self killed; that would solve a lot
of problems for everyone, wouldn't it?
!" she screamed at them, her entire body a single line of unbearable tension. When they still didn't' move, Faith snarled silently and started forward. If they wouldn't give her what she wanted, then she would damn well take it.
It was the girl, Annabelle, edging into view from behind her crew. Faith swallowed, hard. Having someone like that, someone blonde, and petite, and goddamn gorgeous like that looking at her was almost as painful as getting shot. There were places in Faith's soul that were still raw and bleeding from the wounds inflicted by eyes like that; green, judging eyes....
"Back off, lady!" she snapped at the other girl, though the blonde had already come to a halt some distance away. "Just... just stay away from me, or I will fucking
Damn it, now she was all confused and tangled up again, when for a second there it had seemed so clear. A scream, a leap, and a fair chance that everything would finally just end
with a lucky bullet spraying her brains all over the room. Now, with the girl staring at her so strangely, it was all confused again.
Annabelle looked from her, to the various Bat men lying on the ground, and then back to her, those amazing eyes wide.
"What did you do
?" she breathed.
Faith's laugh was harsh, and filled with self loathing.
"What I always
do, looks like; turned everything to shit." She tried to push her blood-splattered hair back from her face, realized that was the hand holding her knife, and used the other one instead. "God, the Watchers are gonna shit bricks when they find out about this. We'll have them here, and probably Buffy and Angel, too." Looking at the dead (and half-dead) bodies scattered about, she gave a groan of disgust. "What is
it with me? Can't I do anything at all where it all doesn't go wrong?"
That was an empty question; she already knew the answer. Which is why it was so surprising when the blonde girl answered it for her.
"Wrong? This?" She smiled at Faith--surrounded by a miniature bloodbath she smiled
. "This isn't wrong. This is awesome
Faith's reply was hesitant, and brilliant as usual.
?" She was still trembling, still on the brink of overload, and this wasn't helping her confusion at all. "Didn't you see what I did?" A wave at the carnage all around only drew attention to her own bloody hand. Covered in blood, like always; she was filthy.
"I saw what you did," Annabelle told her. "You saved us from them. You were amazing."
Faith blinked, and swallowed through a throat gone very dry.
"But I'm bad
." She sounded like a little girl when she said that, like a scared, lost and lonely little girl. Somehow, though, at that moment, she couldn't bring herself to care. "This... all this, this is wrong
Annabelle didn't just smile at that, she laughed.
"Oh my, you aren't from around here, are you?" She took a cautious step forward, and spread her arms wide, taking in everything around them. "This isn't wrong; this is Gotham
." Another, equally cautious step, then another, and another. "And you aren't bad, Miss mysterious stranger; you're a hero." She was right in front of Faith now, close enough to reach out and lightly touch the taller girl's face with delicate fingertips. "You're my
The unbearable tension that had been wound so tightly within Faith's skull eased by one tiny notch--only one, because she still didn't trust this.
"I killed them," she whispered to the girl. "They're humans, and I killed them."
Annabelle tilted her head consideringly, then turned slightly to survey the bodies.
"Well, you didn't kill all of them," she replied, reassurance and understanding in her soft voice. She held her arm out to the side, hand open, and one of her goons hurried forward to place a pistol in small hand. Wordlessly the girl took aim at the nearest breathing Bat, then shot him in the head.
A moment later and the second survivor was deal with in the same fashion. Tossing the gun back to her henchman, she returned her attention to the stunned Slayer.
"There, all finished."
It took Faith a second to regain her composure, to close her gaping mouth and find her voice again.
"You...." She shook her head, trying to adjust. The other girl wasn't judging her, wasn't condemning her, wasn't dismissing her in that smug, superior, elegantly brutal way that Buffy had always used to wound her so deeply. "You're not mad?"
That laugh came again; golden, and carefree, and joyously wicked.
"Are you kidding?" She leaned into Faith, ignoring the blood and gore that covered her, and stretched her head upwards to steal a brief, passionate kiss. Pulling back just slightly, she grinned up at the brunette.
"I'm not even a little bit mad. In fact, I think I'm in love
With a mischievous little smile she interlaced her fingers in Faith's free hand and tugged on it. The Slayer took a deep breath, let it out, and finally let go of everything that had been holding her back, everything that had dragging her downwards for so long.
Regret, remorse, guilt; she left them all behind. Following the beautiful girl out into the night, she never once looked back.