The Last Stage from Sudrow’s Wells.By Dave Turner.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy) or ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’. Directed by John Ford from a story by James Bellah, screenplay by, Frank Nugent and Laurence Stallings. I write these stories for fun not profit.
Crossover: BtVS with the classic western film, ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’.
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar; Written in glorious English-English which is different to American-English.
Timeline: Post BtVS Season Three.
Words: 14 Chapters each of 2500+ words.
Warnings: Watch-out! There’s an Injun behind every bush!
Summary: ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’, xover. In a sequel to ‘Big Iron’, Faith and her watcher, Albert Cardwell VC, find themselves on the trail of a vampire Indian and his ‘Spirit Dancer’ followers. Little do they know where the trail will end.0=0=0=0Authors Note;
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon was originally set in the 1870’s not long after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I’ve shifted the time period to the 1890’s so Faith and Albert can join in the fun.0=0=0=0Sometimes I look up high and then I think there might
just be a better life.
Away from all we know, that's where I wanna go,
out on the wild side
and I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero.
The Electric Light Orchestra, ‘Wild West Hero’.0=0=0=0Monument Valley, Arizona, 1896.
It’d felt like they’d been riding for forever; Faith realised, however, it had only been a couple of days. They rode across an undulating expanse of sand dotted with sage bushes; near by she could see the weirdly shaped mesas that thrust up out of the desert floor like huge castles. Off in the far distance she could make out the shape of snow capped mountains, this was nothing to how she’d expected a desert to look.
It was cold, the pervious night; after the camp fire had died it had become mind-numbingly cold. So cold that she’d lain shivering under her blankets with her jacket on and extra pairs of socks on her feet. Of course this didn’t seem to bother her companion, Major Albert Cardwell, VC, late of Her Majesty’s Corps of Guides. When Faith’d mentioned how cold it was, Albert (as she called him, never ‘Al’ or ‘Bert’), laughed and told her some funny story about his adventures up on the Northwest Frontier of India. When he’d finished he’d rolled himself in his blankets and quickly fallen asleep while Faith lay there shivering. Faith liked her watcher, she had a good relationship with him, but on nights when she was lying on the hard ground and freezing her tits off, she could quite merrily have murdered him in his sleep.0=0=0=0
The fight with Buffy had gone badly; at least it had for Faith. She’d found herself staring at the wound in her stomach and the bloody knife in Buffy’s hand. But at least she’d stopped Buffy from using her blood to revive Angel and with any luck the vamp was long dead…or would be. After falling from the roof of her apartment block, Faith was surprised to wake up in a hospital. She’d been even more surprised to discover that it was a hospital in New York in 1894. She’d not taken this discovery at all well and had almost found herself committed to a lunatic asylum.
Her humour wasn’t improved any when she was eventually picked by the American branch of the Watchers Council; they’d been flabbergasted to find an active slayer in the United States while the current slayer was still alive in Russia. Their astonishment, however, knew no bounds when they also discovered in which year Faith had been born.
Under the circumstances the American Watchers Council thought it best to let Faith do things her way and assigned her a watcher who was ‘radical’ enough for her not to murder out of hand. This was how she’d ended up with her very own ‘Albert’, not that her Albert was anything like the Batman Albert she’d read about in comic books.
Major Albert Cardwell, VC, was a man of average height, his dark brown hair was going slightly grey around the temples and there were a few strands of silver in his clipped moustache. Faith guessed his age at more forty than thirty. He was tough, knowledgeable and an expert with a bewildering variety of weapons. He was totally cold blooded towards the things they hunted across the ‘Wild West’ and he loved Faith like she was his own daughter. Although he was a man of his times, Albert attempted to understand Faith; she knew that at times she drove him to distraction, but he tried not to be shocked by the things she said or did and her attitudes to people and things.
Turning in her saddle, Faith looked back at Albert who rode his horse a few yards behind hers. Pulling on B’s reins, she waited until Albert had caught up with her before urging her horse back into motion. Sitting slumped in his saddle, Albert read from a small book. Leaning towards her watcher, Faith tried to see what he was reading. From the way the words had been printed on the page, Faith guessed that it was poetry. Her watcher was weird, he spent hours like this reading translations of old eastern poems. It could have been worse, she thought, he might have insisted on singing.
Whatever, Faith sighed, something had been troubling her for sometime and she needed to get it off her chest. Unsure how Albert would take what she wanted to say, Faith had put off saying anything until they were alone. Looking around at the empty desert she guessed that they were about as alone as they were going to get. Taking a deep breath and trying to control her rapidly beating heart, Faith opened her mouth to speak.
“Sex, Albert,” she blurted out.
“Sorry?” Albert looked up from his book and blinked owlishly at her.
“I said,” Faith took another deep breath, it didn’t sound so bad when you actually said it out loud, “sex.”
“Erm,” Albert took off his little round spectacles that he wore for reading and regarded Faith quizzically, “I hope you’re not going to ask me the one about where babies come from, my dear. I was rather under the impression you were quite aware of all the details.”
“Yeah, right,” Faith nodded, “I am, but what I want to know is; how does a girl get some?”
“Get some what?” Albert’s perplexed look got deeper.
“Look,” Faith sighed and tried to explain what she meant, “I’m not a slut or anything, I never used to jump in the sack with the first guy that came down the pike. I used to choose ‘em, use ‘em and lose ‘em, y’know being the slayer isn’t good for the long term relationships. Hey,” Faith smiled and laughed quietly, “ya only gotta look at B…”
“You mean ‘Buffy’ the other uptime slayer?” Albert had put his book away and was giving Faith his undivided attention.
“Yeah,” Faith nodded her head, “walking disaster area y’know?”
Albert raised an eyebrow waiting for Faith to explain herself further.
“See,” Faith paused to pick her words as carefully as she knew how, which wasn’t very, “what I want to know is; how does a girl go to get some sack time with a hot guy ‘round here?”
“Ah!” Albert’s face relaxed as he gave Faith a kindly smile, “As I understand it, my dear, you want to know how a young woman gets to have carnal knowledge of a young man. Am I right?”
“Colonel Knowledge?” it was Faith’s turn to frown.
“I’m sorry, old thing,” Albert reached over and patted Faith’s arm, “but you don’t, not until you get married. If, that is, you’re the right sort of young woman which I know, deep down, you are.”
“Hey!” Faith stared at her watcher, “That’s not fair! I’ve seen you sneaking off to the local whore house when you thought I wasn’t looking.”
“WHAT!?” Albert coughed and spluttered a little, but tried to explain, “You see, my dear, men have different needs from women. It’s generally accepted by the medical profession that women get no, erm, gratification from the act of, um, ‘love’.”
“WHAT!” Faith nearly fell off her horse in surprise, “If that’s what they think they can’t be doing it right!”
“Well, indeed,” Albert tried not to smile too broadly at Faith’s comment, “to be honest, I’m inclined to agree with you, but…”
“But nothin’, Albert,” Faith sounded sad even a little whiney, “look I’ve been here two freaking years now and the only thing I’ve had inside me is my freaking finger!” This comment elicited another bout of coughing and spluttering from the retired officer. “Like,” Faith said matter-of-factly, “what did ya think I was doing while you were screwing around down at the cat house?”
“I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” Albert reconsidered, “Of course I do now but I can understand how you must feel and you must believe me…”
“Must I?” Faith said miserably, she knew what was coming.
What was coming was a long lecture on why she couldn’t do something. Albert would be reasonable, even sympathetic, but in the end he’d tell her ‘no’.
“Yes, old thing, I’m afraid you must,” Albert sighed heavily, he felt like he spent all of his time saying ‘no’ to Faith, like she said, it just wasn’t fair. “As I understand it from what you’ve told me; morals up-time are somewhat looser than they are in the here and now. If you did half of what you’ve said was considered quite normal in your time here…well, I’m afraid you’d get quite the wrong sort of reputation.”
The two riders lapsed into a silence that lasted for several long minutes until Albert spoke again.
“I have a small volume of erotic Persian poetry in my saddle bag if you want to borrow it…” he paused before adding helpfully, “…it has illustrations.”
“Thanks,” Faith shrugged miserably, resigning herself to living like a nun for the rest of her life, “but I don’t think it’ll help.”
“Well its there if you need it,” Albert said without actually looking at her.
Maybe, thought Faith, this was the reason the slayer didn’t live very long. It wasn’t the monsters that got to her it was the sexual frustration that eventually wore her down and made her welcome death. Well, she urged B into a slow trot and pulled away from Albert who’d started to read his book again, that wasn’t going to happen to her. Somehow, someday she’d have sex again, even if she had to marry someone to do it.0=0=0=0
It was about an hour after their little discussion about the ‘facts of life’ here in the nineteenth century and Faith was resigning herself to spending another night out on the cold prairie, when her sharp eyes picked out a smudge of smoke in the distance.
“Smoke,” she called back to Albert.
Taking off his reading glasses and putting away his book, Albert urged his horse forward until he was riding next to Faith.
“Where?” he squinted into the distance not seeing what Faith’s sharp eyes had picked out.
“There,” Faith pointed, “beneath that ridge line.”
Indicating a long ridge of redish sandstone, Faith waited as Albert pulled his binoculars from the case hanging from his saddle horn; he scanned the area that she’d pointed to. After a few seconds, he lowered his glasses and turned to smile at Faith.
“That’ll be Fort Starke,” Albert laughed quietly at the relieved expression on Faith’s face, “no cold camp tonight, Faith my girl!” Albert urged his horse into a fast trot, “Come-on,” he cried, “warm beds and hot food await!”
As they got closer to the post, Faith could pick out the details of the fort. It was a large log and adobe constructed fort like all the ones she’d seen on the TV. Watching old westerns on cold, wet Saturday afternoons had been the only entertainment option for a young girl from the wrong part of Boston. By the time she was twelve or thirteen, and starting to take an interest in boys, she’d become quite an expert on the old west as it was presented by Hollywood. Oddly this had helped with her first fumbling attempts at getting to know the guys in her class better. Girls who could talk knowledgably about the wild west were few and far between.
As they rode closer, Faith could see the three big blockhouses atop the walls, one at either corner of the front wall and the third over the gate itself. The blockhouses with their firing slits were all made from heavy, weathered timbers. It did make Faith wonder for a little while, where, in a landscape totally devoid of trees, had they got all the lumber to build them from? Her musings were interrupted when the guard on the gate brought his rifle down from his shoulder and challenged them. Riding up to the soldier who held his rifle across his chest in a not very threatening way, Faith let Albert do all the talking.
“Good afternoon, trooper,” Albert smiled pleasantly at the man, “I’m Major Cardwell,” Faith noticed that Albert didn’t mention that he’d been in a completely different army to the trooper who guarded the gate. “I’ve come to see the post commander, Major Allshard.”
“Sir!” the sentry snapped to attention, “The Major is in the post headquarters building.”
“Thank-you, young man,” Albert gave the trooper a friendly nod, “alright if we go in?”
“Sir!” the trooper stood back to let the two riders pass.
Walking their horses into fort, Faith looked around. It was fairly big fort, probably designed to hold a lot more men than it actually did at the moment. There were long, low adobe barrack blocks and stables built against the outer wall. The rear wall appeared to be made up of the cliff face of the ridge under which the fort nestled. Dismounting and leaving their horses by the blacksmiths forge, Faith and Albert walked across the wet sand of the fort’s parade square towards the post headquarters building.
This was a wooden building, but unlike the others it was two stories high. The ground floor appeared to contain offices and storerooms while the second floor looked like it held quarters for junior officers and visitors. Faith gazed wistfully up at the windows above hoping that there was a free room there with her name on it. Their footsteps rung hollowly as they climbed the steps up to the veranda in front of the troop office. Giving the door a quiet knock, Albert led the way into the office beyond.
“Major Allshard?” Albert asked as he walked into the office.
There were two desks, both covered in papers; the walls were lined with wooden filing cabinets and cupboards. Maps and scraps of paper were pinned all over the walls, it was just what you’d expect the headquarters of a lonely outpost to look like.
“I’m Allshard,” replied a short-ish man in a blue uniform as he turned to face the two strangers, “and you are?”
“Major Cardwell,” Albert strode across the room and held out his hand to Allshard and shook hands with the puzzled officer. “This is my colleague Marshal Lehane,” Albert gestured to Faith.
As normal, Albert failed to mention that he was a retired officer from a completely different army and that Faith was; ‘A’ a girl and ‘B’ not really a Federal Marshal. True, if Major Allshard was to check with Washington DC he would find documents confirming that there was in fact a Marshal F Lehane on the books. But that was about as likely to happen as the good major flying to the moon.
“W-what can I do for you?” Allshard was clearly confused by the appearance of the two strangers.
“Oh!” Albert sounded genuinely surprised, “I take it by your reaction, that no one informed you we were arriving?”
“No,” Allshard shook his head and gestured for Albert to take a seat.
“Oh-dear,” Albert sat down and scratched the back of his head, “How odd.”
Walking over to the pot bellied stove in the corner of the room, Faith took off her gloves and held out her hands to warm them by the heat of the stove. She’d heard all of Albert’s little act before. First you burst onto the scene as if you’d every right to be where you were. You threw around a few impressive sounding titles, leave out some important pieces of the truth and then express surprise that the locals hadn’t been warned of your arrival. Even in towns with telegraph offices it could take several days to verify a story, especially if you claimed your orders came from somewhere in Washington. Mostly the local authorities went along with whatever you said, it was a lot less trouble that way.
Having regained the feeling in her fingers, Faith unbuttoned her heavy jacket and took it off, it was quite warm in the office. Taking off her hat she shook out her hair and heard a quiet gasp from behind her. Turning, Faith saw the other occupant of the room, a sergeant, staring up at her. Once she’d taken off her bulky sheepskin jacket and released her hair from under her hat it was fairly obvious that Faith was in fact a young woman. Putting her index finger to her lips in the traditional signal for silence, Faith winked at the startled man and walked over to take a seat next to Albert’s.
Major Allshard was saying something about how even without orders he’d do whatever he could to help. His voice slowly faded away to nothing as his eyes came to rest on Faith’s obviously female form. Noticing the direction of the Major’s gaze, Albert turned to Faith and gave her a slightly annoyed look. He usually liked to control knowledge of Faith’s ‘female-ism’; once he’d done it so well that it had been a week before anyone noticed that Faith needed to squat when she had to pee.
“Oh-yes,” Albert gave the American Major a conspiratorial wink, “as you’ve no doubt noticed, Marshal Lehane is, in fact, a woman.”
“Howdy,” Faith gave the cavalry officer a casual wave.
“Now, down to cases,” Albert continued before Allshard could say anything, “I believe you’re having a spot of bother with an Indian fellow who goes by the name of ‘Walks-by-Night’ and his band of ‘Spirit Dancers’ am I correct?”0=0=0=0