Written for Drusilla for the Rooftop Secret Santa
Characters: Raphael, Faith
Rating: PG- 13 for language
Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS or TMNT, this was written for enjoyment only.Hesitation
Faith rolled her neck as she walked down the New York City sidewalk and daydreamed of a hot shower. The icy cold wind blowing in her face was partly to blame for that wishful thinking, but mostly it was the fact that she’d spent the last four hours patrolling the city’s sewers as she’d waited for the sun to set.
She’d been down there enough in the last two days that it made her miss Sunnydale, where the monsters just strutted around in plain sight instead of being sneaky and shit, skulking around underground and just popping up for the occasional meal once the sun went down. The other Slayers all thought she
had it bad guarding the Hellmouth in Cleveland, but truth was, she’d rather be there than here. Usually anyway… This time of the year was a little different.
While Slayers rarely had sick days or had to call off from injuries given their healing abilities, one thing that was inescapable when it came to needing time off was family. And, being Christmas, that was a problem. Amanda and Callie, the assigned Slayers for the New York area, both had obligations to head home for the holidays. A lot of girls were lucky enough to be able to Slay close to home, but sometimes that just didn’t work out and assignments carried them far away. Without any actual world ending crap going on, the Scoobs, the Watchers and her tried to work it so the girls could get home every now and again.
Willow and Kennedy had been at the Hellmouth with Faith and a group of rookies - that was more than enough to cover the area for a while, so Faith had volunteered to cover New York. Holiday spirit and the goodness of her heart and all that shit. Yeah, right. Truth was, Christmas kinda sucked for Faith and watching Willow and Kennedy cuddling under the mistletoe or listening to the girls talk about what presents they were buying for their family members rubbed her the wrong way. She was more than happy to skip out until the good cheer was gone. Even now, after spending the daylight hours underground with the city’s waste, she’d rather be here than there.
But now the sun was down and the night was upon them, meaning she could look for monsters aboveground. So far it had been slow, nothing really going on in the Big Apple. Not tonight and not the night before either. So when Faith heard the scuffle and the pleading going on in the alley ahead, she was actually relieved and a little excited about getting to let loose.
But when she saw that the problem was a group of guys in black harassing a girl, she hesitated. Not because she didn’t want to help, but because these were people, not demons. After all she’d been through, that was a line she didn’t want to nudge with a thirty foot pole. But she couldn’t exactly stand by and watch either, so after a moment of indecision, she decided she would step in and just… discourage
them a little. No need to get Slayerific on them, they were people, not demons. People. Not Demons. She kept repeating this to herself as she approached the group.
It wasn’t until she’d gotten closer that she realized they weren’t just dressed in black, they were dressed like… well, like… ninjas. Again she hesitated. Because, come on, grown men running around the city dressed like ninjas? That’s just sad.
But pathetic as it may have been, it didn’t stop the fact that apparently dressing like that made them feel big and bad, made them think they had the right to terrorize someone else. So, again, she made the decision to step in. She’d just planned on grabbing one guy and pulling him back, maybe knocking him down - usually with lowlifes like this, all their bravado melts away when they see you’re not going to play the victim. But she’d just started reaching for the guy closest to her when he whipped around and hit her. He
And then he hit her again
. By the time she realized that she, a Slayer
, was getting her ass kicked by some jerk-off in black footie pajamas, he’d already landed three blows.
Still, she hesitated.
So, he knew how to fight? Thought he was a real
ninja or some shit? Ninjas were people, too. People, not demons
, her mantra blared in her head.
She grabbed his arm when he struck out at her again, every ounce of concentration on controlling her strength as she yanked him off balance, intending to send him into a group of garbage cans for a big, loud distraction. Something that sounded worse than it was but would get the attention, and hopefully fear, of the others.
But again, it didn’t quite work out like she thought it would and instead of tumbling into the cans like he was supposed to, he did a little roll and flip before sweeping her own feet out from under her. Blinking up at the little slice of sky she could see from between the two buildings above her, she wrapped an iron fist around her burst of anger and dragged it back down. People, not demons.
She sat up slowly, intending to up her game a little, but still concentrating on not letting the Slayer out to play. Instead, found it was just her and the girl they’d been harassing in the alley. The latter was crouched by the wall, crying, but the ninjas were gone. Sweeping her eyes around them, she barely caught the sight of a black booted foot sliding into a sewer grate before it fell silently back into place.
Okay, so they thought they were ninjas and knew how to fight? They were still human
. As long as they weren’t harassing someone right in front of her, it wasn’t her place to step in - it was the cops’ job. Speaking of which, she could hear the wail of sirens getting closer, probably what had scared them off. But even as she told herself these things, she hesitated in letting it go. Three things kept her from just walking away.
One, that they’d cleaned her clock. She was the Slayer
. She didn’t get her ass kicked by ninjas - real or otherwise. She fought the legions of Hell, she couldn’t let some ass-clowns that got their jollies running around the city in black PJs get the best of her.
Two, that she’d let
them get the best of her. She’d been so concerned with watching her step that she’d let them trounce her. She’d made one mistake a long time ago. She was better than that now, she couldn’t let it defeat her like this.
And even if she decided it was the cops job to handle human bad guys, or that her issues didn’t get a say, the final fact was that they’d disappeared into the sewer. That one she wasn’t letting go of. That was where the big, evil and ugly took residence - at least that’s what she’d been told, she hadn’t seen any action down there first hand yet. Come to think of it, the girls had told her there wasn’t really much Slaying to do, but she’d thought they were just saying that to get her to agree to cover so they could get home. Anyway, them running to the sewer made her wonder (more than a little hopefully) if maybe there was more to these ninjas than met the eye. So with a glance at the sobbing girl and one at the end of the alley where she could see a police car sliding to a halt, Faith jerked up the grate and jumped below.
She hit the bottom with a splash and a cringe as dirty water sloshed around her ankles and the smell of every fucking nasty thing she could think of invaded her nostrils. And here she’d thought she was done in the sewers for the day. Bullshit ninjas were getting their asses handed to them for this…
Being down there wasn’t anything new to her, so her sight and smell adjusted immediately. It was
a first to be tracking ninjas though. Her embarrassment was at a high at the moment though and she was determined to find these guys and restore her pride to its proper spot on the food chain. The ‘people, not demons
’ mantra was still there, but she’d dulled it to a steady background noise instead of letting it consume her. Slayers worked best on instinct and when she tried to stifle that… Well, obviously the results weren’t good. She had to trust that she could handle this without killing anyone by accident. She could do that. She wasn’t a kid anymore, damn it.
She concentrated her senses for a moment and was rewarded by a distant scuffle. Not much to go on, these guys were good, but better than nothing. She followed. Her own steps falling to the left of the water in silence as she stalked them like the predator she felt like.
Fifteen minutes later, her patience was reaching its end. The bastards not only moved almost silently, they were fast, too. When she heard the sounds of fighting up ahead, her first reaction was giddy relief that she’d finally caught up to them. But it was shortly followed by confusion. Who were they fighting down here?
Coming upon the scene, her confusion didn’t lessen any. In fact, it shot through the roof. There, in a sewer tunnel that looked like any other she’d been through, was the group of ninjas, fighting with what looked like a giant turtle demon.
So… what was she supposed to do? Help the guys that she knew were bad news and she’d been looking for to do exactly what the turtle thing was doing now - kicking their asses. Or did she help the ninjas because they were human?
Demon or bad guys? Demon or bad guys? Part of her was content to just watch them kick the crap out of each other, but that decision was taken away from her seconds later when one of the ninjas spotted her. He and another one broke off from the group and came towards her, drawing the attention of the demon.
“’Ey, leave her outta this! Or are you such a group of wussies that ya gotta pick on a girl ’cause ya can’t beat me?”
The demon’s words stopped the two from advancing and even surprised Faith. Was he… trying to protect
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about me,” she called with a cocky grin. “I’ve got unfinished business with these guys.”
She didn’t listen to the rest of what he had to say, instead she dropped into a crouch to dodge the swing from the ninja on the right. The one on the left tried to kick her while she was low, but she grabbed his leg. Once again, she found herself hesitating as she pulled him off balance though. Self-doubt reared its head, making her wonder if she was really capable of fighting a person without killing them.
The ninja brushed off her pathetic attempt at a takedown and followed it up with a snap-kick to her face.
She caught the next kick and shoved, hard
- sending the ninja flying into the opposite wall. Fear immediately flooded her. What had she done?! He was human
! Human, not demon! Fuck!
Her burst of panic was rewarded with the other ninja cracking her in the head with a pair of nunchucks. Fucking great, they even had ninja weapons, just what she needed - them upping their game. She ducked and dodged, but most of her attention was still on the figure against the far wall, her heart pounding in her ears as she mentally begged, Move, move, MOVE!
She eyes sharpened as she caught sight of his hand twitching and relief flooded through her. Her elation was cut short when the opponent she’d disregarded managed to get behind her and wrap his nunchucks around her neck. The feel of the cold chain against her neck and the sudden loss of air didn’t do much besides piss her off, but once again she hesitated, not wanting to strike out at the guy in anger. The fear of what could happen was still sharp in her mind. She’d just made up her mind to flip him over her shoulder when a sai came flying toward them. After a “thump” she was released and spun to see the ninja a few feet away, rubbing the spot between his eyes vigorously. His head jerked up and even though she couldn’t see his eyes behind his mask, she could feel the heat of his glare. He took a step towards her, but there was a barked order from one of the other ninjas and he paused. Then he, along with the others, all took off in different directions - the one that she’d thrown was a little slower than the rest, but she was relieved to see he was up and moving.
“What the hell was that? Ya coulda been killed, ya stupid broad!” The demon suddenly yelled, advancing on her.
What she felt right then wasn’t fear or adrenaline, it was embarrassment. Because he was right. She could’ve been killed in a sewer by a bunch of idiots that thought they were ninjas. How fucking pathetic was that? As he came towards her, she saw the sai in his hand - its twin the one that had hit the guy choking her. He’d saved
God, did that piss her off.
“You get your rocks off like this? Thinkin’ your some kind of badass? Here’s a news flash – you ain’t! So take yourself home and knit a fuckin’ sweater or some-”
Faith dealt with her humiliation the only ways she knew how - she punched the demon right in the face. He rocked back and then reached a three fingered hand up to touch his mouth.
“Lady, what the-”
Again she went at him, a flurry of punches and kicks raining down on him from her. Some he blocked, some he missed. And when it became clear that she wasn’t going to let up, he finally fought back. He was quick - a lot quicker than those ninja guys. Too bad for him she’d loosened her leash. She got in some nasty blows that left him reeling, but he didn’t back down, he just shook them off and came back for more.
A few minutes in, she decided to up the stakes a little and pulled a wicked knife from the sheath under her coat. He, in turn, put to use the sai still in his possession and actually managed to lock it in her blade and flip it off into the scummy water. She didn’t waste any time worrying about it though, instead throwing herself into a backflip and scooping up the sai he’d thrown earlier.
The ting of metal striking and sliding echoed down the tunnels and Faith found her fury and embarrassment melting away until she was grinning like a crazy person. It was the chuckle from the turtle after a particularly brutal exchange of blows that finally stopped their fight. It wasn’t laughter at
her, it was the kind that said he was having as much fun as she was.
They broke apart and took a few steps back from each other. She was feeling a little winded, but mostly invigorated. He, on the other hand, looked ready to drop. Heaving breaths rushed in and out as he leaned his weight back against the wall behind him. His eyes were watching her carefully though, ready to go again if she wanted to. That, more than anything else, earned her respect.
She took the opportunity to really get a good look at him while he caught his breath. He was seriously a giant fucking turtle. A turtle with teeth and muscles. Wearing a red bandana. And here she’d thought she’d seen everything.
“Why the hell’d ya let those Foot bastards win if ya can fight like that?” He asked, looking her up and down from his position against the wall.
Her good mood evaporated and she spun the sai in her hand in agitation, trying to decide whether to answer him or not.
“‘Foot’?” She asked, deflecting. “That some kinda lame New York insult?”
“The Foot Clan - it’s a ninja crime ring.”
“Fuckin’ seriously?” She snorted. “That’s even worse.”
He returned her snort with one of his own. “You’re the one that let 'em stomp all over ya’.”
“Because I’m not supposed to be fighting people!” She burst out. “I’m the freakin’ Slayer!”
“The Slayer,” she said, waiting for that flash of fear in his eyes that all demons got when they realized who and what she was.
But that look didn’t come - just a facial twitch that would’ve been a raised eyebrow on something that actually had brows.
“A slayer of what?”
“Demons, duh. What kind of sad excuse for a demon are you anyway? Don’t they teach you who the Slayer is in evil preschool or some shit?”
“Demon? Lady, don’t take this the wrong way, but… did you skip your meds this mornin’ or somethin’?”
“So you’re gonna try and say you’re not
a demon, Mr. Talking Turtle?”
“Hell no, I’m not a fuckin’ demon. I’m a turtle who walked through some green goo when I was little and mutated.”
They both looked at each other a moment before he gave a sheepish shrug.
“Okay, so that doesn’t sound so much better…”
“You’re trying to tell me you’re not a demon? You’re just a giant mutant turtle?”
The worst part was that Faith actually wanted to believe him. He wasn’t setting off her Slayer radar at all. But a mutant turtle? She stared at him thinking it over before giving a shrug.
“Okay, so you’re a giant mutant turtle. You want a freakin’ cookie? Okay
“You’re just going along with it? Just like that?”
She shrugged again. “I’ve seen a mayor turn into a giant snake, I’ve switched bodies with another person and fought the first evil ever in the world. I can buy giant mutant turtles and ninja crime rings, I guess. Actually, if I knew New York had awesome shit like this I woulda come around before now.”
He just stared at her a minute before shaking his head and laughing a little. “You’re one strange lady, ya know that?”
“Names Faith,” she said, offering a hand.
He looked surprised a second before slowly pushing off the wall and putting his own green hand in hers.
“You’re pretty badass, Raphael,” she said, flipping his sai in the air and catching it to hand it back to him handle first.
“You, too,” he said, taking the sai back and looking at her with narrowed eyes. “When you’re not holdin’ back anyway. What was that crap about not fightin’ people about?”
Her shoulders tensed immediately and she felt her jaw tick as her teeth clenched.
“They’re too fuckin’ fragile,” she said, not meeting his eyes. “It’s too easy to…”
“You hurt someone?”
“I killed someone,” she said, her voice flat as she stared off down the tunnel, not wanting to see the look on his face. She was sure disgust looked just as bad on a turtle face as it did a human one.
His words were sure – a statement, not a question, but she still answered. “Yeah, it was an accident. But that doesn’t matter. Doesn’t make the guy any less dead.”
“So ya think ya gotta hold back when ya fight now?”
“I don’t think
I have to, I know
I have to.”
“That’s a real good way to get dead.”
“Like I said before, I don’t fight people, so it doesn’t come up much.”
“Doesn’t mean ya shouldn’t be able to. Especially if you’re gonna be around here for a while.”
She had no answer to that. He was right after all.
“Were ya holding back just now? Against me?” He asked.
“Ya realize ya didn’t try and really kill me once, right?
Hmm, he was right, she realized. She hadn’t really been holding back, but she hadn’t felt the need to kill him either. As if some part of her had automatically marked the “non-lethal moves” column.
“Should trust yourself more.”
She blinked at him for a second, his words slowly sinking in. Was it really okay
to trust herself? After all she’d done… She didn’t think that would ever be possible again. But, was he right? Could she-
Her stomach growled loudly, echoing off walls around them and pulling her from her self-analysis.
“Ass kickin’ always makes me hungry,” she shrugged, embarrassed more at the turn their conversation had taken than the complaints of her stomach.
“Come on, I’ll introduce ya to my brothers - they should’ve ordered some pizza by now,” he said, motioning down the tunnel to the left. “I wanna hear more about demons and mayor snakes anyway.”
Faith agreed, for the first time in a long time with no hesitation.