It Makes a Fella Proud to be a Soldier.By Dave Turner.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or ‘Over There’. I write these stories for fun not profit.
Crossover: BtVS and ‘Over There’.
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar; Written in glorious English-English which is different to American-English..
Timeline: Post BtVS Season 7; Over There, Season 1.
Words: 13 Chapters.
Warnings: Some strong language and violence.
Summary: ‘Over There’ xover; Willow’s blood froze in her veins as she read the caption; ‘Sergeant Faith Lehane receives the Bronze Star for Valour…’ she didn’t need to read the rest of the article, standing up she walked quickly towards Riley’s room. 0=0=0=0Authors Note:
Canon up to BtVS season 4 ‘This Years Girl’, AU from that point onwards; major changes to canon concerning Riley, Buffy and Faith’s actions.0=0=0=0 The heart of every man in our platoon must swell with pride,
For the nation's youth, the cream of which is marching at his side.
For the fascinating rules and regulations that we share,
And the quaint and curious costumes that we're called upon to wear.
Now Al joined up to do his part defending you and me.
He wants to fight and bleed and kill and die for liberty.
With the hell of war he's come to grips,
Policing up the filter tips,
It makes a fella proud to be a soldier!
Tom Lehrer.0=0=0=0SNAFU.Part One.3rd Infantry Division Area of Operations, Iraq, July, 2005.
“Ya sure this is the right road?”
Looking across the cab, PFC Esmeralda (Doublewide) Del Rio glanced at her partner, PV2 Brenda (Mrs B) Mitchell and raised a weary eyebrow. Their new Corporal had been ragging on them all morning, they’d both hoped that she’d stay back at Liberty when they’d been detailed to go out and repair a Hummer. But oh-no, that would be way too easy, Corporal ‘Bitch’ wanted to come along too.
“I’m sure, Corporal,” Doublewide told the non-com with only a hint of a world weary sigh, “Staff Sergeant Hicks said, first left after the burnt out truck an’ this here is first left.”
“Okay,” Faith admitted grudgingly, “maybe you two know what ya doin’ after all.”
Looking down at the map in her hands, Faith studied it for a moment trying to get her bearings. Looking up out of the windshield, she studied her dusty surroundings for a moment before admitting to herself she was lost.
“Sorry,” Faith sighed quietly, junior non-com’s weren’t supposed to tell privates they were sorry, they were supposed to know everything even when they didn’t.
“Y’what?” Doublewide turned and looked at Faith as if she’d suggested something improper.
“Look,” Faith admitted, “I shouldn’t have snapped at ya back there, I…”
“Time o’ the month?” Smirked Mrs B.
“Yeah,” Faith started to feel pissed again, “somethin’ like that.”
The truth was, Faith didn’t know if she liked Mrs B. The short, blonde, teenager was a pig-headed little bitch and probably a liability to the squad she was attached to plus the entire army. But, she’d not done anything to make Faith feel like she wanted to snap her scrawny neck; which was precisely how Faith felt right at this moment. The fact was that Mrs B reminded her far too much of the face-less woman that came to her almost every night in her nightmares, this didn’t exactly improve her feeling towards the girl.
This was the woman who’d killed her father and had come after her with his blood still dripping from her knife; the mere thought of it made Faith shiver slightly in the desert heat. Closing her eyes for a moment, she once again saw the park and her father (or at least the man she assumed was her father) sitting next to her on the blanket. They talked and laughed enjoying their picnic until…. Until the blonde in grey walked up behind her father, he turned to look up at her almost as if he was expecting her. Faith remembered the glint of the knife flashing through the air and the blood spurting from her father’s throat.
Remembering how she’d screamed and how she’d crawled away from the murderess; Faith also remembered how the woman had come after her chasing her until… Well, she must have caught up with her because the next thing Faith remembered was waking up in hospital eight months later. Everything had changed, or she thought it had because she couldn’t remember anything before that fateful picnic; at least nothing that mattered. Faith could remember her name, she could remember songs she’d heard and movies she’d seen, but who she was, she’d no idea. Everything before that day was a big black hole. Opening her eyes, Faith saw the ever present dust rise around the truck as it bounced along what was laughingly referred to as a road. No more than a kilometre away, she caught her first glimpse of the deserted little town that was their target.
“Jeez,” Faith breathed softly, “what a shithole.”
“You got that right, sister,” agreed Doublewide quietly.0=0=0=0
Turning the truck into what had been ‘Main Street’, Mrs B brought the vehicle to a halt. Sitting there between the two privates, Faith studied the town for a moment. The village-town, whatever, was a typical Iraqi ‘dump’. Only this ‘dump’ had been made more interesting by someone having fought over it at sometime in the past; Faith couldn’t decide if it made the town look better or worse. Twenty or thirty metres up the narrow street stood a Hummer, its hood open and an ominous dark stain under the engine where something had soaked into the sand. Near the Hummer stood four typical desert grunts all looking at the truck expectantly waiting for Faith and her party to make their entrance.
“Come-on guys,” Faith shifted in her seat and checked her rifle, “let’s get this show on the road.”
Opening her door Mrs B jumped down onto the sand, turning she accepted her rifle off Faith. Doublewide climbed out the other side and heaved her tool box down from the cab; Faith was the last to jump down onto the sandy road. Holding her rifle casually in one hand and resting the butt on her hip, she looked up and down the street checking out the buildings for danger, she felt nothing.
Not long after leaving the hospital in Sunnydale, Faith had found she could sense danger, at first she’d assumed that everyone could do it. It wasn’t until she was in Basic that she discovered she’d been wrong. Okay, everyone could sense danger to a certain degree, but they couldn’t actually point to the bush hiding the machine-gun or tell if someone was waiting around a corner. It’d puzzled her instructors and confused her, but over time she’d learnt how to use and then sharpen her skills.
Walking towards the soldiers, Faith noticed the Iraqi civilian standing in the middle of the street for the first time. Someone had placed him in a stress position; arms out from his sides and knees slightly bent. A sadistic drill instructor had tried something like that on her once in basic, she’d given up long before Faith had.
“What happened to him?” Faith asked a tall soldier who wore spectacles, the name tag on his body armour said ‘Dumphy’.
“He got caught,” Dumphy gave Faith a crooked smile.
“What happened to y’vehicle?” Doublewide wanted to know as she walked over and looked into the engine compartment of the Humvee.
“Got shot,” Dumphy replied his grin getting wider.
Sauntering over to the Hummer, Faith gave it a once over, she sighed and shook her head, it looked as if it’d received a long burst of fire directly into the engine.
“See what ya can do, Doublewide,” Faith pushed her helmet up off her forehead a little, Doublewide was a way better mechanic that she was, “yell if ya need a hand, okay?”
“Don’t worry, Corporal,” Doublewide opened her tool box and rested her rifle against the side of the Hummer; “I’ve got it.”
“Who shot it, Dumphy?” Faith smiled noting the reaction of the infantryman; this was something else Faith had slowly realised that was different about herself, she had really good eyesight and could read things from further away than most people expected.
“Don’t know,” Dumphy was talking like an idiot from Hicksville, Faith wasn’t fooled by the act, “and I saw him do it.” Faith noticed that Dumphy had lost his smile, there was something going on here that he wasn’t happy about. “Shooter’s in with Sergeant Scream,” Dumphy jerked his head towards a semi-derelict building to his left.
Nodding her head, Faith glanced over at the building; Sergeant Chris ‘Scream’ Silas was something of a legend within the battalion; a long service veteran who knew his business.
“Y’all got resupply?” Asked a soldier with the name ‘Williams’ printed on his body armour, “I’ve got like two MRE’s left.”
“Yeah,” Faith jerked her thumb over her shoulder towards the truck, “in the back of the truck, there’s water too.”
“Oh yeah!” Williams punched the air as he moved determinedly towards the vehicle.
As she followed him with her eyes, Faith saw Mrs B standing in front of the prisoner in some sort of weird martial arts pose. ‘The Striking Crane’, or something, Faith remembered it from watching one of the ‘Karate Kid’ films. Shaking her head in disgust, Faith wondered how she could remember some crappy film from the 80’s but not who she really was.
“Leave the prisoner alone,” Faith ordered.
Reluctantly Mrs B relaxed her pose and wandered off to stand at the side of the street. Faith gave the teenager a hard look as she turned and walked over to see how Doublewide was getting on.
“Man, I wish I had my husband here,” Doublewide complained as she struggled to loosen a nut.
“Don’t we all?” Faith grinned as she reached out and took the wrench from Doublewide’s hand, “It’d sure make these long cold nights more interesting.”
“No, that ain’t what I mean,” Doublewide explained “he’s got a toolkit that makes this government issue shit look like the second-rate shit it really is,”
“Wouldn’t you mind sharing his ‘toolkit’ with the rest of us girls?” Faith undid the nut easily and handed the wrench back to Doublewide with a smile.
“Whatever,” Doublewide sighed and went back to work.
Walking on over to the truck again, Faith climbed up into the cab and pretended to be checking on something. In reality she was trying, once again, to come to terms with the strangeness that was her life, which included ‘superstrength’. Sometimes she scared herself she was so different to everyone else. The things she could do frightened her. Most of the time she tried not to stand out too much; it would be nice one day to let her ‘mad skills’ run free for a while.
Ambling over to where Doublewide worked, ‘Dim’ Dumphy and ‘Angel’ King looked at the semi-wrecked engine then at each other, they shook their heads defeated by the internal workings of the Hummer and turned their attention to Doublewide.
“So what’s the story on the new Corporal?” Angel asked nodding his head towards the truck.
“Her?” Doublewide pulled her head from the engine compartment and wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “She came up from Kuwait last week,” Doublewide glanced towards the truck; the new Corporal had ears on her like a bat, she didn’t want to be overheard. “Story goes she beat the crap outta four Marine Recon guys over a game of pool or somethin’.”
“No way!” Laughed Dim.
“What her?” Angel looked at Faith in surprise, “Like by herself?”
“Uh-huh,” Doublewide nodded her head, “that’s what they say. Anyways, the Marine Colonel was so embarrassed by having the crap beaten outta four of his big, rough, tough, marines by one itty-bitty army-girl he wouldn’t press charges; didn’t stop the army sending her up here though.”
“Guess they thought that if she likes to fight so much,” Dim looked in the direction of the truck, “she might as well do it up here.”
“What do they call her?” Angel asked.
“Oh yeah,” Doublewide smiled, “you’ll luuuv this…Corporal ‘Slay’, coz she sure ‘slayed’ those gyrines!”
“No shit!” Dim laughed quietly.0=0=0=0
The long afternoon slowly turned into evening; Faith made herself known to Sergeant Silas who dismissed her from his mind almost immediately. This didn’t bother Faith that much, the guy looked tired and probably didn’t want to bother about some nameless new corporal just now. Most of her time was spent wandering between Doublewide, who was still working on the engine and Mrs B who was trying to goof-off. Faith tried not to rag on the teenager too much, she was a driver not a mechanic so there wasn’t much for her to do anyway. But Faith couldn’t help feeling that Mrs B was a screw-up waiting to happen and that didn’t fit well with Faith’s regular army sensibilities.
Faith loved the army, it gave her the order and security she seemed to crave. Plus it was one-hundred percent better than anything that had happened to her after she’d walked out of Sunnydale General. She remembered waking up in a room somewhere in the hospital’s basement. Apparently she’d been in a coma for about eight months and no one had expected her to come out of it. Somewhere along the line her medical insurence had run out and the bills had stopped being paid. The hospital, unable to just switch off her life support, had moved her down into the basement and put her on minimal care.
When she’d woken up it’d come as a complete shock to everyone; Faith couldn’t remember who she was or what had happened to her. The hospital authorities had moved her into a better room (one above ground) and the police had come to talk to her; she couldn’t tell them anymore than she’d told the doctors. A couple of weeks after waking up, Faith found herself well enough to get out of hospital but the hospital authorities wouldn’t release her. Apparently they wanted to do some tests on her to find out why she’d woken up and why she was in such good physical condition.
Then, one evening, two Sunnydale PD detectives came to see her; they told her they’d worked for the mayor. Faith had sort of worked out that her father had been the mayor but had been killed in an accident; however, for some reason no one would give her the full story. The detectives gave her a large envelope containing a driver’s licence, a social security card and about two thousand dollars. They also gave her a bag containing some clothes and advised her to leave town that night; they didn’t explain why.
That night, Faith sneaked out of the hospital and got a bus to LA. For a couple of months she drifted from motel to motel, never staying in one place too long just in case someone was looking for her. As she desperately tried to piece together her life she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was after her. One morning when she was out of options and only had a couple of hundred dollars left, Faith walked into the nearest army recruitment office. Having decided there was nothing for her in her past; it was time to be the best she could be in her future.0=0=0=0
It was fully dark now; everyone had eaten, except the prisoner and the mysterious officer that Faith hadn’t seen yet. Doublewide was still tinkering about in the engine compartment and Mrs B was sitting against the wall of a building talking to the other soldiers who weren’t actively on guard. Silas wasn’t anywhere to be seen, so, Faith drifted from Doublewide to where the soldiers sat and then back again.
“You okay, Doublewide?” Faith asked on one of her visits to the mechanic, “I can have Mrs B give you a hand if ya want.”
”No thanks, Corporal,” Doublewide stood up from the engine and wiped her hands on a rag, “she’s just a driver not a mechanic. Anyways I’ve nearly finished.”
“Cool,” Faith patted Doublewide on her shoulder, “get cleaned up and get ya head down, okay?”
“You don’t have to tell me twice, Corporal,” Doublewide started to collect up her tools as Faith turned to face the street.
Just as Faith was running her eyes over the darkened street (she didn’t need night vision aids, to her the street was almost a bright as day) the prisoner gave a quiet groan and fell over.
“What the fuck?” Faith walked swiftly over coming up behind the two soldiers who’d been watching the prisoner.
“What do we do?” Angel asked Smoke, the SAW gunner, as he looked down at the prisoner.
“The man said ‘watch him’,” Smoke replied not moving a muscle, “I’m watching him.”
Faith smiled to herself, that’s what she liked; a grunt who obeyed orders!
“Don’t you think you better check him out?” This was from Dim who was hidden in a dark corner next to one of the buildings.
“Nope,” Smoke replied calmly, unknowingly making Faith smile again; anyone with half a brain could see this was probably a set-up.
Obviously Dim couldn’t see it, he got up and walked over to where the prisoner lay, Faith felt herself tense ready to fight.
“Hey,” Dim called quietly but getting no response from the prisoner, “hey,” he tried again this time nudging the Iraqi’s leg with his foot, “you alright?”
Angel looked at Smoke as they shifted uncomfortably; perhaps the prisoner had died while in their care, if so they were in deep shit. Still not getting any reaction from the prisoner, Dim reached down to shake him awake; Faith moved to her left so she could get a clear shot at the Iraqi if she needed to.
“You alive at least?” Dim was now standing right over the prisoner.
Suddenly it happened; the prisoner exploded into action and grabbed hold of Dim throwing him off his feet and into the dust. He rolled on top of the soldier as he tried to wrestle Dim’s weapon from his hands. Dim was already fighting back and by the time Faith had got to the struggling men he’d almost got the better of the Iraqi.
Grabbing the collar of Dim’s jacket, Faith heaved him off the prisoner and pushed him out of the way. Dim hit the wall of a building about eight feet away with a loud, surprised grunt as the air was forced out of his lungs. Before he’d even started to gather his wits about him and before anyone else could intervene, Faith had picked up the prisoner and hurled him against the wall of a building on the opposite side of the street. Even before the prisoner had had a chance to bounce off the wall and fall to floor again, Faith was there pressing the muzzle of her rifle against the man’s chest.
“Just give me an excuse, motherfucker,” she snarled quietly into his face.
The prisoner tried to struggle but found he couldn’t move, for a moment his eyes went wide with fear just before he started to yell.
“ALLAH! I COME! I COME TO YOU!” He shouted as other hands grabbed him and held him securely, Faith allowed herself to relax.
“Not till you tell me where my Stingers are,” came a loud male voice from behind Faith.
Turning Faith saw the mysterious officer who was there to interrogate the prisoner. He was a big fair haired man; he was so big he made the M4 in his hand look like a toy.
“I will be welcomed in paradise as a martyr,” the prisoner informed everyone calmly.
“Not if we bury ya in a pig skin, asshole,” Faith informed him, she’d read this somewhere or seen it in a movie, she was interested to see what effect the threat would have; as it turned out, not a lot.
“WHERE’S MY MISSILES!” The officer screamed into the prisoner’s face ignoring Faith’s comment.
“KILL ME!” Demanded the prisoner.
“Be my pleasure,” Faith pulled a knife from a sheath on her leg.
“YOU SAVAGES, YOU HEATHERNS!” Persisted the prisoner, “YOU DEVILS, KILL ME!” The prisoner started to shout in Arabic again as he saw Faith move towards him her knife out and ready. “Kill me…” he begged almost sobbing, “Please…”
“Stand down Corporal,” the officer looked directly at Faith before looking down at the prisoner. “You’re not getting off that easy kid.”0=0=0=0
“At ease, Corporal,” the officer was pacing up and down in front of an old battered table in the building he’d been using all day, Faith relaxed a little, “I saw what you did out there.”
“Don’t know what ya mean, Sir,” Faith replied as her eyes followed the officer’s movements across the floor.
“I saw you throw the prisoner across the street,” the officer explained, “now how did you manage to do that?” Before Faith could reply the officer spoke again, “And don’t give me any crap about training or how it was dark and I didn’t see right. I know what I saw.”
Faith remained mute, the moment she’d most feared appeared to have arrived. Up until now she’d always been able to hide or divert people away from how different she was.
“You weigh, what? A hundred-and-twenty pounds?” The officer pointed out, “I know our friend out there isn’t exactly a heavy weight but I couldn’t do what you did.”
Still Faith remained silent: it seemed like her best option.
“Okay Corporal, have it your way,” the officer signed tiredly, “go get some sleep.” Faith turned to go but was brought up short by the officer’s next words. “I’ll be watching you.”0=0=0=0
The next morning the sound of smashing furniture and yelling drifted out into the street from the house where the insurgent was being interrogated. The mysterious officer, who Faith had discovered was called Ryan, didn’t sound as if he was having much luck persuading the Iraqi to give up the location of his missiles.
Climbing down from the truck, where she’d been catching a few zees’s, Faith walked out into the dusty street and looked around; Dim; Angel and Smoke were sitting in the shade in front of Hummer. They were talking to Doublewide and Mrs B about what Ryan was doing to the Iraqi and whether any of them were going to report him; the consensus of opinion seemed to be that they wouldn’t. Sergeant Scream was sitting with his eyes closed and his helmet off, his back against the wall of a building a few yards away from his squad; Faith could tell by his breathing that he wasn’t really asleep. The same sensitive hearing that told her Scream wasn’t really sleeping told her that Tariq, the last member of the squad, was in with Ryan translating.
It occurred to Faith that with all the squad members accounted for there was no one on guard. Looking down at Scream she wondered if she should say something, she didn’t know Scream at all, so she didn’t know how he liked to work. Maybe he’d told the squad not to bother with a formal guard during daylight hours. Adjusting her grip on her rifle, Faith decided she had to say something.
“What’s goin’ on, Sergeant?”
“I’m not supposed to say,” Scream didn’t open his eyes; he just lay there pretending to be asleep.
Realising that Scream had misunderstood her question, Faith looked around with a frown on her face; she noticed that the squad was listening intently to her and Scream.
“But I will if you promise to keep your mouths shut so I can sleep,” Scream continued.
“Yeah, okay,” Faith replied hesitantly; to be honest she didn’t care why Ryan was ragging on the prisoner.
“The town where we were working roadblock duty, Barak?” Scream explained sounding a little like Clint Eastwood.
The squad had been on roadblock duty a couple of days before when they’d captured the Iraqi that Ryan was so interested in.
“Someone in that town hijacked a truck with twenty Stinger missiles in it…” Scream paused for a moment.
“Shit,” Smoke breathed quietly.
“Ryan thinks this guy knows where the missiles are at,” Scream shifted slightly before continuing, “and until those missiles are found there’s no close air support in this sector. Which means if you get pinned down, the helo’s can’t come in to help you. So I’m thinking I’m gonna give this guy some latitude, right Corporal?”
“Yeah, right,” Faith scratched her head, “like that was all real interesting Sergeant but shouldn’t there be someone on guard?”
Scream opened one eye and looked up at Faith. “Dim!” He called, “You’ve got the duty.”0=0=0=0
The day passed slowly by; Faith took herself off on patrol’s of the town, mainly to relieve the boredom, but also to familiarise herself with the layout of the place. Sometimes she went by herself, sometimes she took one of the squad. It seemed to her that they were going to be in this ville for some time, they had a load of MRE’s and water in the back of the truck which was way too much for just a quick in and out mission. It was on one of her patrols that she found herself walking next to the guy they called ‘Angel’.
“Have we met?” Faith asked as they walked down one of the hot dusty allies.
“Don’t think so Corporal,” Angel gave Faith a look out of the corner of his eye wondering if the Corporal was coming on to him.
“It’s just like I know that name from somewhere,” Faith explained, “I mean ‘Angel’ isn’t a regular nickname.”
“I got called it ‘cause I sang in a church choir,” Angel explained, “you musta heard it around camp.”
“Ya think?” Faith wasn’t convinced; this was another of those half memories that struggled from her mind every now and again to tease her.
Looking at the guy hard, Faith decided that maybe he was right, perhaps she’d heard someone say something about a guy called Angel.
“Church choir, eh?” Faith stopped to stare into a darkened building, her eyes quickly adapting from the glaring sunlight of the alley to the cool darkness of the building. “How come you’re the squad sharpshooter?” She gestured at the ACOG sight on Angel’s M4.
“I learnt to shoot at Church Camp,” Angel shrugged and gave Faith a tired smile, “just comes natural to me, I suppose.”
Glancing at the guy again, Faith decided he was right, she’d never met this guy before.
“Okay,” Faith stopped in the middle of the alley, “let’s go back to the truck.”
“Anything you say, Corporal,” Angel just stood there looking at Faith.
“You don’t like me do you?” Faith asked, she could tell by the tone in his voice.
“It’s not that, Corporal,” Angel sighed and looked down at his feet, “it’s just that I…we…the squad, we don’t know you. We don’t know if we can trust you when the shit’s flyin’.”
“Gotta prove m’self, eh?” Faith grinned like a tiger that had just spotted her lunch.
“Something like that,” Angel agreed.
“Cool,” Faith smiled, “come on, let’s go.” She started to lead Angel back towards the truck, “Y’know I only go on these patrol’s to relieve the boredom,” she grinned at Angel, “and hey, we might ‘a found one of those stashes they say are all over this crap-hole country. Hell,” Faith slapped Angel’s arm playfully, “we could’ve been goin’ home with a million bucks!”
“No such luck,” Angel winced and rubbed his arm where Faith had slapped it, man, he thought, she was strong.0=0=0=0
A/N; SNAFU, Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.