Faith, Chapter 1
– This is a work of fan-fiction. It uses characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Marvel Comics without permission or endorsement from their original owners. These characters are respectively copyright Mutant Enemy and Marvel.Warnings
– This fan-fiction contains non-explicit sexual content, detailed descriptions of violence, cursing and character death. Notes
– This is my first large fan-fiction (and the first I’ve actually posted online in about fifteen years). Any feedback is greatly appreciated. This story takes place after the Buffy and Angel finales, and soon after Marvel’s Civil War crossover event. It is primarily targeted at a Buffy-based audience. You should be able to follow this story without detailed knowledge of the Marvel Universe.
Special thanks to Meneldur, who’s beta reading for this story as of 'Buffy, Chapter 7'.Small Town Heroes
Faith dreamed of the end of the world.
The wooden long ship slipped over a wave, then fell forward into the stormy waters with a slap that sent Faith stumbling across the deck. Rows of soulless men pushed on their oars, driving the ship up the next wave and further into the storm. A giant god of war stood at the bow, his screams whipping at the men to keep pushing forward. Old scars crisscrossed his body under a layer of thick black armor decorated with human skulls, and an executioner’s axe waited in his hands.
He looked back at her and made a come-hither motion with a single nod, inviting Faith to join him at the lead point of his ship. Faith just stayed where she was, wet and shivering in the aft of the ship. She didn’t know who these people were, but dream-logic let her know why they were here. They had come to kill the broken men.
The sun hung low in the sky, thundering with blue and gold lightning that cast long shadows as it pulsed in the center of the storm. The war god pointed his axe at it and shouted his men forward.
Next to Faith, unseen by everyone else, another man held the ship’s wheel and steered them forward. He was unnaturally beautiful. Icy pale skin stretched tight over firm muscles. A long mane of black hair wafted in the sea breeze, making him look like something from a cheesy romance cover. He had an eye patch over his right eye—the same side as Xander. He held the wheel in his right hand. His left arm ended at a stub above the wrist.
There was something familiar in The Pale Man’s single eye, though she was sure they’d never met. “The apocalypse, second coming, armageddon, judgment day, ragnarök, end of sthe world, day of reckoning,” he said. “Whatever you want to call it, it's been a long time coming. Excited?"
Faith leaned forward, clutching at a steel railing. The ship had now become a modern aircraft carrier. "Not really," she said. “I've got better things to do."
He laughed. “This is the big one. The wheel’s finally come around."
“You seem happy enough."
"I've been waiting a very
Faith studied him, memorizing the details of his appearance for when she awoke. Big things were happening and this guy was going to be important. "So, Stranger, I’m guessing you'd be the new big bad. Nice to meet you. It's a shame that I'm going to be putting my boot through your skull. You're kind of pretty.”
"Kind of pretty?" He sounded offended. "You're joking. Look at this body. I’m a god's gift to women—literally.” He let go of the ship's wheel and draped his good arm over her shoulder. The wheel spun free and the ship lurched, causing Faith to fall into his grip. He dipped her down, looked her in the eyes and then pinched her ass. She shoved him away.
“You're wrong on two counts, Faith. First, I'm not the enemy. You’ve always been on my side. Second, I'm not a stranger. We've known each other for a very long time."
"I don't think so."
He laughed again and Faith wanted to punch him. "I'm hurt. All I've done and you still don't recognize me. I gave you my heart, Faith."
A thunderclap rolled over them, and Faith looked back to the blue and gold sun. It was crackling with lightning and sinking from the sky, drawing closer to them. The pale man looked at it and grimaced. "I'm getting out of here. Even I don't want to be around when she
gets here. Be a good girl… no, wait. Be a bad girl. That’s what you're better at."
He made a motion like he was throwing something with his stump hand and Faith caught the scythe as it came spinning at her. The dream shifted and she was also holding a round shield in her other hand. It was decorated like an American flag with red and blue concentric circles and a central white star. The Pale Man was gone when she looked back up.
No one was left holding the ship's wheel, which was now spinning violently. Faith fell to her knees as the ship rocked, then lurched up and grabbed the wheel. She held it steady for just a moment until it spun out of her grasp. Faith wasn’t the captain here and she couldn’t steer. She was just a passenger.
That was when the broken men came for them. They rose from the waves, emerging from the black waters all around the ship. The first one was a beautiful African woman with long white hair. She floated on the head of a great storm cloud until she was far above them. Lightning crackled between her outstretched arms and then arced down towards the ship. The deck exploded into hot ash and molten steel.
The war god shouted and pointed. A group of the war god’s soulless men charged forward, unslinging laser rifles from shoulder straps. Another blast of lightning slammed into them and they were gone.
The rest of the broken men poured up and over the side of the ship. They were led by a man whose single red eye breathed fire. His army were demons and angels, beasts and crystal beauties, children and old men. One man had skin made of steel and he crushed the skulls of the soulless in his huge fists. He fought alongside a woman made of air who dragged them down through the floor of the ship and into the dark watery ocean.
It wasn’t even close to a fair fight. The soulless men were being torn apart by the broken men. Then the giant war god strode into the battle. He swept his axe in wide arcs that sent the broken men scattering. It almost looked like he was going to turn the tide of the battle alone, but then the soulless men all hit him at once. Lightning arced from the white-haired African woman into the war god. A blue angel slashed at him with metal wings. They were all there, burning and hacking at the god, and when they finally stepped back he was dead.
The sharp wind stung at Faith’s eyes and scattered her dark hair behind her. The ship was no longer on the sea, but falling from the sky. The ground was a distant point on the horizon, but coming fast as they plummeted.
For some reason one of the broken men came at her, a short man with three steel claws protruding from each hand. Faith knocked him down with her shield and walked away. Something else was happening and she had better things to do.
The blue and gold sun had set onto the deck and Faith could see that it was actually a blond man and woman locked in an embrace. There was nothing romantic about the action, as the woman had the man on his knees with her hands wrapped violently around his neck. The man was in his final struggles, clawing at her hands and gasping for air. After a few seconds, he went limp and the woman let him drop to the deck.
The man may once have been beautiful, but his face was swollen and bloody. He wore a golden bodysuit under a flowing blue cape, with a stylized glowing ‘S’ on his belt. He pulled himself up to his knees and then looked up at Faith in surprise. "Why are you here? Isn't this my dream?"
"Pretty sure it’s mine," Faith said.
"Oh, good. I thought it was my dream. Will you stop this?"
"Hell if I know,” Faith shrugged and walked past him to the blonde girl that he had been fighting. She was injured, but not nearly as bad as the golden man.
“Faith. Come to save me?”
“And me,” Willow said from behind Buffy. Willow didn’t have a face. It had been replaced with a steel skull under her tangled red hair.
“Thank you,” Buffy said. “Thanks to both of you. I knew I could count on you two.”
The ship had almost reached the ground now. The wind was howling around them with a terrible scream. Just a few more seconds until they crashed.
Willow put her hands on Buffy’s shoulders, holding the slayer still. Faith hesitated for just a moment, raised the slayer’s scythe into the air and drove its point deep into Buffy's heart.
“Ma’am?” Faith came awake with a start. “I'm sorry to wake you. Can you put your seat in its upright position?”
Faith nodded as the stewardess moved on. Damn, a slayer dream. She stared uneasily out the small window as the plane descended and tried to get a glance of Cleveland, but it was already dark. She thought back over the slayer dream as she waited for the plane to land and unload ahead of her. Armies and pale men and gods and stabbing Buffy—looks like she was in for some good times.
Thanks to Buffy the world was full of little baby slayers, and most of them were foolish twits that loved doing this apocalypse crap. They daydreamed about saving the world while pretty celebrity boys looked on and threw them la-de-da ticker-tape parades. Why couldn't the Powers pick one of them?
Faith didn't do apocalypses. She was the Council’s troubleshooter. She was all over it when someone’s ass needed slaying. She cleaned out vampire nests, hunted down demons and generally killed just about anything that needed a killing. It was the mid-level stuff she loved. Not so small fry that you’d die from boredom and not the big stuff where the world ended if you screwed up.
Faith forgot the dream for just a moment as she took a deep breath while stepping from the plane onto the jet bridge. She only had a moment of the fresh air, but she made it count. She held the freezing air in her lungs until the cold burning sensation faded, then let out a nice long breath. Damn, that tasted good. She was finally someplace with a proper winter.
The one nice thing about the council was the headquarters in snowy Cleveland. After several years of globe-trotting Faith had come to realize that she was extremely unlucky (or more likely cursed). The traditional winter months typically found her in the Southern Hemisphere or along the Equator, while the traditional summer months found her in America or Europe.
The end result was that between California and her travels Faith hadn’t seen proper snow since leaving Boston many years ago. Despite everything she had been through, despite her calling as a slayer, despite her time in prison, despite constantly traveling the world, despite even the fact there was nothing left for her in Massachusetts, Faith was and always would be a Boston Southie. She needed her snow like a junkie needed his snow.
Faith weaved around fat people with slow roller bags as she ran up the boarding ramp, then jumped onto a pair of empty seats in front of an airport window and leaned against the glass. Her dirty hands left smears on the window. “Fuck yeah!” The ground was covered with snow.
A mother scooted her little snot kid away. An airline worker glared at her, but didn’t have the balls to say anything. Cleveland had been hit hard by an early storm this year and there had to be at least two feet of snow on the ground. Snow plows were patrolling the runways. It was perfection.
Faith eyed a security door leading onto the runways. She could kick the door open, take a leap into one of the snow banks and take off running. It's not like anyone here could actually stop her. Want, take and have. Forget the slayer dream, forget stabbing Buffy with the scythe, forget the Watcher’s inquiry board. A little freedom never hurt anybody.
She cursed under her breath. Maybe the Faith from a previous day would have done it, but she was older and more mature (though not too mature). She peeled herself away from the window and made her way out of the terminal. She regretted nothing. She still was still one of the good guys. If the Watchers didn’t like that then they could blow her.
Even by her own admission things hadn’t gone well in Colombia, and now she was back to see the Watchers. They wanted her there so they could sit around her in their tightly buttoned shirts and make their ‘inquiries’. They’d hem-and-haw about her previous ‘incidents’. Like they weren’t the ones sending her out to kill. At best they’d probably want to get touchy-feely with a shrink. And in the worst case... she wasn’t game for a second stint in prison.
Maybe it wouldn’t matter. No matter how much the Watchers complained about it, Buffy Summers was still head honcho numero uno at the council. The old guard might cause problems, but Faith’s old friend was the only one who really mattered. The last time there’d been an incident, which admittedly hadn’t been as serious as this one, Buffy had come down on Faith’s side. If Buffy sided with her again then things would be okay. Buffy knew what it was like to fight and make split-second decisions when lives hung on the line.
Faith paused while passing an airport gift shop. Her Colombian ghetto garb wasn’t really appropriate for Midwest winter wear. She eyed a thick sweater advertising the Cleveland Browns. She wasn’t a fan or anything (Patriots girl all the way), but it would be better than what she had. Faith was wearing a red tank-top that showed off plenty of tanned skin and toned muscles with thick cargo pants and an awesome pair of military-grade combat boots. She strived for the Linda Hamilton/Terminator 2 ‘kick your ass’ look.
Airport security had recognized the look. She’d been stopped and searched three times as she passed through various security and customs check-points on her way out of Colombia. Each time security had thoroughly patted her down and each time they’d ignored the enchanted ‘ignore me’ shoulder bag that contained two knives, four stakes, a hand-crossbow, a change of underwear and an IPod. One security agent had even searched Faith twice, seemingly convinced that she was hiding something. Faith had dangled the magical shoulder bag in front of her and laughed.
She eventually decided to pass on the sweater. It was too damn ugly. She’d rather feel winter cool than look that uncool. Exiting through the airport security area Faith easily picked the Watcher out of the waiting crowd.
“Hello, Faith.” He actually took of his hat when talking to ladies. “I am Ronald Hemsworth. Welcome to Cleveland.”
Faith immediately pegged him as an old-school Watcher, so probably not a friendly. Even if the clothes weren’t a dead give-away, who the hell is named ‘Ronald’ these days?
He asked a few pleasantries about her travels, which Faith answered with mono-syllables.
Ronald then surprised her by sliding a long overcoat off his shoulders. “Here, take this. It’s cold out there tonight.”
“Naw, keep it. I’ve got thick blood,” Faith smiled at him as they stepped into an open air parking garage and made their way to his car. She slid into the passenger seat and rolled the window half-way down. Ronald immediately rolled it back up from the drivers-side console and cranked up the heat.
“Seat belt, Faith?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“I must insist. My car and thus my rules. All passengers must wear their seat belts.”
“Look, I’ve just spent an entire damn day traveling. I’m sore and cramped. Besides, I’ve got super powers—I can take it.”
“We’re not going anywhere until you put on your seat belt.”
“Whatever,” Faith grumbled as she pulled on the belt. She slid the seat all the way back and propped up a boot above the glove box. Ronald eyed the foot on his dashboard but didn’t say anything. They sat in silence as the car made its way out of the parking structure and onto the freeway.
“Spill it, Ronald. What’s on your mind?” The Watcher had been nervously glancing at Faith as they drove, trying to work up the courage to say something like a teenage boy trying to ask if he could cop his first feel.
“Do you mind talking about what happened in Columbia?”
“You wanna hear about the soldier boy I met on my first night? Didn’t know you Watchers liked to hear about those kinds of juicy things, but I don’t mind sharing. That man had some skills.”
“No, Faith. You know what I’m asking about.”
“Starting the inquisition already? Couldn’t even wait until I’m unpacked?”
“There’s no inquisition, just inquiring. We’re not here to blame you. We just want to understand what happened. We want to make sure you’re alright.”
“Yeah, sure. You’re overflowing with concern for little old me. You’ve got so much concern that it’s overflowing into a witch hunt.”
“A witch hunt? Faith, the only witch hunting I do involves recruiting new employees. I am genuinely concerned about you, and I’ll thank you not to insinuate otherwise.” Ronald took his eyes off the road long enough to stare Faith down until she dropped her gaze.
“You killed three men. We understand that there were extenuating circumstances. We had given you bad intelligence, you had to make decisions in the heat of battle, lives were at stake, but the fact remains that three men are dead. No one wants to be second guessing your decisions, Faith. But, we do need to understand what happened.”
“Alright, fine. Let’s be clear about this. I kill—that’s what you sent me there to do. Except, instead of demon drug lords I found regular drug lords. How is that any different? I just had to kill a different kind of monster. What did I do wrong?”
“No one is saying you did anything wrong, Faith. We’re just concerned, especially given your history.”
“No, this has nothing to do with my history. That’s the history of a kid screwing up and doing some stupid things for the wrong reasons. This time I was doing the smart thing for the right reasons. These weren’t good people. You should have seen what they’d done to that village. They had freaking sex slaves in their little palace. They had these little girls tarted up like it was a damned harem. They had guns, they had vamps for hired muscle, and all I had a big-ass knife. I walked away, they didn’t.”
“And was that the only way, Faith? Let’s be honest, were you truly in any danger?”
Faith didn’t respond.
“We have rules against killing humans for a reason. It’s not just for their protection, but for yours as well. Taking a human’s life is not a trivial thing to be casually dismissed. You take everything from them. You destroy their chance of redemption. If you’re truly the kind of person who can do that and not care, then we have a reason to be concerned.”
“Do you kill things for a living, Ronald? And I don’t mean sitting behind your books dispensing advice. Have you ever wrapped your hands around a demon’s neck and squeezed until its eyes bled? Have you ever heard someone truly beg? No? Then don’t lecture me about killing.”
Ronald didn’t respond, so Faith continued. “I ain’t sliding back to my old ways. I’m still sane, and I know exactly what I’m doing. Those men deserved what they got.”
“That’s actually part of our concern. Your long term mental health, more specifically. In the old days a Slayer lived for only a few years. She fought and died young, and another one was called. Now we have an army of slayers, and you don’t need to die young.”
“What are you getting at here?”
“I’m talking about retirement, Faith. It’s an option that we never had before, and quite honestly we don’t know what to do with now. You’ve been fighting the forces of darkness for almost a decade now. It says something that your three years in a Southern California prison was a probably low-stress vacation.”
“A vacation? I think you’ve been watching too many girls-in-prison flicks, Ronald.”
“A wonderfully guilty pleasure, I admit. In any case, you’ve been fighting for a long time. I don’t know how anyone could have a normal life after that, but maybe it’s time to start thinking about it. Walking away now wouldn’t be easy, but if you keep going down this path then it’ll soon be impossible.”
Faith thought back to her slayer dream. She'd dreamed of killing Buffy. Then she shook her head. “You’re kidding me. You guys want me to retire? Maybe I could go live in a trailer home and start collecting cats? Or maybe marry a nice accountant and start popping out crotch-fruit? I’d rather be dead.”
“There’d still be a place on the council for someone of your experience, Faith. Perhaps think of this as shifting you away from the front lines.”
“Buffy’s been doing this longer than me. She’s not retiring.”
“No, she’s not. But over the last year she has started to take less of an active combat role. She’s been focused on training the young slayers recently. She still goes on occasional patrols—in fact she and Rona should be on patrol right now.”
“Well, Buffy can do whatever she wants. But if you try to take this away from me, then I’ll show you what it really means to fight a slayer.” She stomped her foot against the dash and the entire car shook.
“You’re getting angry, Faith. This isn’t how I wanted to do this. Why don’t we discuss it latter? Your friends will be there. Buffy is in town, of course. Though I should warn you, she’s is going a little overboard with the Christmas spirit.”
“That’s still a month away.”
“Three weeks. Also, it looks like we’ll be having plenty of snow for Christmas. Another big storm is moving in.”
“Now you’re finally talking my language, Ronny. I’ll take some more of this fine, fine snow.”
“Faith!” Buffy squealed as she opened her arms wide for a hug. Faith jumped up from the couch where she had been watching TV and started backing away.
“Ah-ah, no way. Shoo off, B.” She kicked a leg up, using a boot to keep her sister slayer at more than arm’s length.
“No hug?” Buffy fake pouted.
“What the hell is in your hair? And your clothes. And stop touching my boot.” Faith lowered her foot. The girl was covered in something pink and smelly.
“Demon blood, some guts and intestines, and a bunch of dirty snow that failed to wash it out.”
“Tell you what. I’ll let you give me a hug if you let me give you a bath.”
Buffy blushed. “I’ll pass. No hug from Faith, and a lonely shower for Buffy. I’m kind of wiped. I’m thinking about just hitting the hay. Can we catch up tomorrow?”
Faith thought about the dream and what Ronald had said. “Kind of need to talk.”
“Okay, but let me take that bath first."
“Go," Faith said. "You stink."
Buffy waved and bounded up the stairs. Faith watched her go. “She’s in a good mood,” she said to Rona.
“Well, she was bitching about her hair for the first hour while we waited for a pick-up. But then she got used to it and decided to share the love a little. When did you get into town?”
“Couple hours ago. And she’s been in a good mood in general? She happy?”
“Think so,” Rona shrugged out of her winter coat. “Doesn’t mope about Italy much anymore. Dates a little here and there. Likes training the younger girls. I think she’s doing okay.”
“Cool.” Faith kept looking down the direction Buffy had left. “So what’s happening? Things get a little messy out there?”
“Intelligence was way off on some demons. We handled okay enough, although we had some weirdness at the end of it.”
“It’ll be in the report. Might be something, might not.”
“Hey, I swung by the convenience store down the street. Picked up some stuff with German words in it.” Faith held up a six pack of beer. “Wanna catch up? I got some venting to do.”
“We’ve got underage girls here. No alcohol allowed.”
“Come on, girlfriend,” Faith emphasized the last word in a mock Harlem-girl voice. “Live a little. Besides, there’s a rule that says anyone who’s stopped an apocalypse is always allowed a drink.”
“Don’t call me ‘girlfriend’ like that. You’re not black enough to pull it off.”
“Hate to break it to you, Rona, but I’m blacker than you. Shall we compare our old boy toys? I’m the one who dated Wood for a year. And which one of us has actually done hard-time, while which other one has a college education?”
“I can’t believe you just said that. That is so offensive.”
“Take a joke.” Faith tossed a can and Rona had to lunge to catch it. “Now come on or I’ll have to drink all of it, and we both know that’ll be a bad idea.”
Rona hesitated, glanced back to the office where Ronald was working, then sighed and followed Faith into the kitchen.
“Really? So, what are you going to do?” Rona asked.
“I ain't going to do anything. I’m not doing it. Hell, I’d rather go independent before I hang up my spurs.”
“Are you sure? Don’t you ever get tired of all the traveling and fighting? What if you just took a vacation?”
The doorbell rang.
"I've got it," Ronald called from the office.
“It's 2 AM," Faith said. "Who could that be?"
"Probably just someone coming back from patrol," Rona said. "Though they're not supposed to ring the doorbell. It wakes the house."
Faith started to say something else, but never got the chance.
The world suddenly exploded in a chaotic burst of light and sound. Then everything went black.