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Rose Red

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Summary: The final battle for the Earth is a bittersweet victory.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Dark > Faith-CenteredVampireCowFR1511,019151,03013 Aug 1113 Aug 11Yes
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters thereof are the property of Joss Whedon and minions.

Her blood had become so tainted it was nearly black. Faith staggered away from the corpse she had made, the corpse that spewed blood like tar, and tried to sense what remained of her slayers. Her soldiers. Her children. The world had gone all Topsy-Turvey on her again, but this time there was no Mayor to take her in and give her direction. There was no Angel offering her shelter behind bars or an Englishman willing to scratch her back if she scratched his. There was only the harsh, cold world of her childhood stained in the blood of the sacred, the damned, and everything in between.

One of the Mini's, not so mini anymore she mentally amended, limped toward her. "Miss Lehane?"

Faith wanted to look at the girl, wanted to pat her on the shoulder and say: "It's going to be okay! Stick with me, kid." She wanted to do these things, but all she could see was the body of Kennedy, a girl so much like herself that shortly after they met each had threatened the other, and only Faith had walked away without bruises, laid out from where she had sent it. The girl had a craving for power, and she didn't care where it came from. Faith could clearly remember her yelling at, and ordering around the Potentials, back when they had been Potentials, even when she was no better than them. Not better trained, and certainly not of higher moral fiber.

Now Faith added her body to the mental file. Added broken bones, and the sight of white breaking through tanned skin when Faith fought her alone, and unarmed. Kennedy died defending her Witch. Her Goddess. Blinding Faith hadn't been enough.

"Yes?" The word croaked out of her mouth. Faith had to use the wall for support. Her body ached, parts of it were blistered from magical flame, but she had to hold it together. Had to. Couldn't think about the thing still oozing black tar of the soul behind her. Stolen souls. Slayer souls. But they were free now, they were all free, and all that power... Faith shuddered and squeezed her unseeing eyes shut against the tears. "Yes?"

"Is it over?"

Was it over? No. It was never over. Giles told her that. Giles told her everything in that twilight before night had taken him. Told her what he suspected, what he knew, what he had done to ensure her survival. Humanities survival. Deal after deal after deal and it wouldn't be enough so long as she lived and continued to tip the balance. Because it wasn't the Powers that kept the balance. The Powers-that-Be were weak, were nothing compared to the true goddess and unless something was done the Earth itself would rebel to right the wrongs. It was the sun that kept vampires at bay. The living wood that killed them so easily. Water that burned the demon within and fire that purified. Nature. The elements. The things every being great and small feared.

"For now." Faith stumbled forward, and the mini caught her. Together they walked out picking up survivors where they found them.

"Ding dong." Amy Madison giggled hysterically from were she had been impaled by a bolt of magic, her broken mind at last shattered beyond repair. "Ding dong!"

"The witch is dead." Said the slayer by Faith's side.

"The wicked witch." Faith breathed, and tried not to remember fuzzy sweaters and hesitant, sparkling eyes. Instead she forced herself to remember the blackness, those tainted windows of the soul, and the feeling of cruelty chaining her heart while draining away life to stoke its own fires. "The wicked old witch."

Because it had to be done. There was no point in blaming anyone, the little red head had been learning and using soul curses when others just tried to get color-change spells right, but the power had drawn her in more than the religion. She'd reached further than anyone had a right to, and she had wanted more. She took it. Didn't ask. Didn't study. Just took. Drained from every Potential the Power, drained it and stored it within her own ill-adapted body. Some died when she ripped it away, and for the longest time no one knew because only she could feel them. Only she knew where the newly activated slayers were, and if she took a little from here and there to help her find them, who was to know or care? She was strong. She was doing what no witch had been powerful enough to do in several centuries.

What no witch before her would have even considered doing, no matter how dark the arts they practiced, had they the ability.

"She's dead." Faith fell to the floor, knees hitting painfully hard against the cement, and cried. Buffy hadn't been Buffy in a long time. She had become this kind of caricature of what a Slayer was supposed to be: idealized and distorted in a cartoonish way. Buffy died with Glory, but no one else had admitted to the fact.

Giles had admitted, when he was drunk beyond belief, that he wondered who had been transformed, like Amy had once been transformed, into the fawn to serve as the sacrifice. How many children the mother that served as the Wine had left behind.

"She's dead."

Buffy hadn't been The Slayer for a long time. At least Red had made that mistake, enough for Faith to act, in her thinking. Buffy wasn't the Slayer, she was a slayer. The line had passed to Faith, and all that power was now trickling back. She was doomed, and she knew it. "She's dead, and I'm alive."

She would always be alive. Immortal, like the demon that resided within all Slayers. Only now it was going to go back to her, always, bound as it was to the scythe and the line. But now she was the line.

Faith was alive, and everyone who ever hurt her was dead.

Everyone who had helped her would die eventually, leaving her alone.

She cried.

The End

You have reached the end of "Rose Red". This story is complete.

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