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In No Man's Land

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Summary: Second chances are important. Sometimes it takes a second turn to remember who you really are.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > AvengerscloudleonsgurlFR18929,7971114537,8743 Jun 127 Oct 13No

Tainted EDITED

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy, Marvel and all that assiociated with it belongs to its respective owners. This is for not profit or gain, merely amusement.

I would like to thank all those who are tracking this and the read it! :D And to the reviewers, Fantasymania, Jediknight, Areilonia, slatergirl, HananeElmokkadem, souldriven and everyone! Thanks!

This will take place in the Marvel Universe with Buffy overtones and maybe one or two Buffy characters finding there way there. THis is a slow building fic, so bear with me, it's building up to the next story.
Before you bash, Lizzie’s Joyce is based off the Joyce from BtVS movie, showing the bad side to Joyce.

Illustration
Another Banner.



Chapter Two

"Tainted"


"Sometimes the curiosity can kill the soul but leave the pain
And every ounce of innocence is left inside her brain
And through the looking glass we see she's painfully returned
But now off with her head I fear is everyone's concern

You see there's no real ending
It's only the beginning
Come out and play"

----Her Name is Alice, Shinedown



It was near midnight and she couldn’t sleep.

Lizzie rubbed her eyes before looking back at the computer screen. It had been interesting learning about the world through use of the web. She closed the youtube video of a man turning into a giant green rage monster, and sighed. Rubbing her temples, she reached to turn off the lamp when a voice echoed down to her room, “How can you say that?”

It was her mom.

Lizzie tilted her head, looking curiously at the door. She pushed the wheels, rolling forward to the door and leaned to peer out of the crack. “I’m not the one who wanted to put her in there, Hank, you were. You left her there and never once tried…”

“I didn’t try?” Hank shouted. “Going off with your boyfriends to Miami? And you call that trying?”

A sound of a hand hitting flesh made Lizzie wince in sympathy, but only for a split second…then, then anger took its place. White hot anger and suddenly she wanted to scream out loud as she could. Gripped the wheelchair as an anchor to push everything back in. She took in a shaky breath that somehow managed to get passed the lump in her throat. Reaching out with a shaky hand, she shut the door blocking out the rest of the fight.

And numbly, Lizzie crawled into bed staring up at the ceiling.



*FLASHBACK*

"Whistler, Whistler, wake up." Lizzie knelt beside the balance demon, shaking him lightly. This is bad, Lizzie thought as the room began to quake, and why do I have the feeling it's going to get worse?

The room changed, rapidly into a desert filled with black sands and an red sun beating down upon them. Lizzie rose to her feet, looking around at the world that laid in ruins and flames. “What the hell?”

“Ditto,” Buffy said, narrowing her eyes. Her senses were on high alert, but nothing felt out of place. Just…something that seemed to be familiar with a twinge of wrongness, but somehow it belong here.

Squaring her shoulder, Lizzie also looked about them but spare a glance in Whistler direction and blinked in shock. “The First Slayer?”

“What?”

There in the middle of the room sat the First Slayer, but something was wrong…very wrong. Her vicious eyes that were dark brown, were bloodshot and glowing an inhuman red. Her limbs were twisted in different angles, broken angles that she shouldn't even be able to move, but she did. Buffy raised an eyebrow, “Seriously? This again? I see you didn’t take my advice on the shampoo.(1)”

The First Slayer snarled, then lunged forward slamming Buffy into the ground. Buffy hit back, but her arms went right through the First Slayer. “Oh! Come that’s so not fair!” The First Slayer didn’t care and punched and clawed at Buffy.

Lizzie rushed over without a second thought and slammed into the First Slayer, pushing her off of Buffy. The two went rolling down the hill and Lizzie’s world went red and wet. She flailed trying to swim up to the surface, gagging at the copper taste of blood filling her mouth and two arms wrapped her waist with a crushing force.

Kicking the body behind her as hard as she could, her lungs burning with the need for air and fingernails dug into her stomach, viciously scratching it. I need air, I need air,’ Lizzie thought throwing her head repeatedly into the First Slayer and finally the arms let go.

She kicked upward and blood the surface of the oasis of blood. She heard something behind her surface as well and threw herself towards the black sand where Buffy stood, trying to step towards them, but seemed blocked by an impossible force. “Look out!” The Slayer cried.

Before Lizzie could even respond, a hand wrapped around the back of her throat and suddenly she was whirled around to face a growling slayer who roared into her face. Lizzie’s nose wrinkled in disgust, and she coughed out blood, “Two words: breath…mint.”

Then she was slammed back into the blood.

END FLASHBACK


“Lizzie, Lizzie,” Joyce’s voice drew her from her dreams.

Her green eyes opened, the hazel flecks appearing yellow in the morning light. “What? Is something wrong?” Lizzie pushed herself, preparing for something bad when her mother placed a hand on her shoulder.

“No, nothing’s wrong.” Joyce said, with a small smile. “Here’s your medicine,” she pressed the pills into Lizzie’s hand. “Also I wanted you to know I’m heading off to work and your father is working from home today. I just wanted to let you know.”

“Oh…kay,” she said slowly staring up at her mother. “Is that all?”

A frown appeared on Joyce’s face, but she nodded, rising from the bed. Guilt pierced through Lizzie’s chest and she swallowed. “Have a good day.”

Joyce paused in the doorway before nodding. “You too, sweetie.”

As soon as the door shut, Lizzie slumped down against her pillow staring at the pills in her hand, before rising and heading towards the bathroom to flush them down the drain when her father’s voice reached her ears, “I understand Mr. Von Strucker, but I just need more time, please…yes, sir I'm very aware of the consequences...I'm very loyal to your cause...”

Lizzie looked across the kitchen to where her father’s office door sat wide open. Her father looked up as if sensing her there and quickly shut the door. Her eyes narrowed as her stomach twisted in suspicion. Some thing here was not right and it wasn’t her.



Her mind kept replaying Hank’s actions. She really tried to let it go, she wanted to make it work with her parents despite all her resentment and misgivings. A hand came down upon her shoulder and Hank said, “Lizzie Bear, it's been so long since you've been home, I almost forgot you were here."

In that moment, every instinct made her want to hit him and she looked up at him, keeping her face smoothed. You did. Lizzie thought, looking up at him. Otherwise, you would have kept your voice down during a private phone call. She mustered a smile, "Well, I'm glad I'm home."

"I am too," he said. "I am too."

Could you sound anymore unconvincing? She thought, not looking at him.

He coughed awkwardly before stating, “I’m going to go grab us something to eat. I’ll be back in a minute, okay?”

“Alrighty.”

Paranoia.

Lizzie had this, and she was quite entitled to it. Joyce began distancing herself from the family and Lizzie had accidentally picked up a call from someone named Ted (hopefully not a robot) who called himself Joyce’s boyfriend. Joyce had been flustered and Lizzie simply let it slide.

But she wasn’t sure she could let what Hank was doing slid. She wasn’t even sure what it was he was doing, but when a black van appeared in the driveway across from theirs with someone always watching the house, Lizzie knew in her heart that this was bad. She let the curtain fall back over the window watching the same jogger pass by a third time.

She really wished she knew what kind of bad. She placed her head in her right hand with a deep sigh. She needed to know what was going on. Knowing, she could form a plan, figure out how to fight, how to protect. Glancing at her computer bag that sat in her lap, her mind sprung an idea.

Hank had the same, identical computer bag (according to her mom there was a sale) and he kept everything in there, even his wallet saying, “It’s convenient.”

Yes, it is, Lizzie thought, moving towards her father’s office. Reaching up, she twisted the knob. Locked. She ran her hands through her hair when they hit her hair barrette. Jackpot!

She hastily pulled out of her hair, and mentally thanked Joey, a boy in middle school she dated who taught her how to pick locks. Stick the hairpiece in the door, she leaned forward and listened as she twisted and turned it…until Click. She turned the handle and the door easily opened.

Pushing it in, she moved into the office space, eyes looking for her target. And found it she did, still on a file cabinet to her left. It towered over her tauntingly. “Great,” Lizzie thought, reaching up and tugged the computer off the cabinet. She flinched as it the side of her wheelchair. Then she took her own bag, apologizing, “I’m so sorry about this my dear friend,” then aimed at the filing cabinet and threw it. She winced as it landed. Hard.

“Phase one: capture…completed,” she narrated, making her way out of the office and locked it behind her just in case Hank came home then she could claim they accidentally switched bags again.

Lizzie chose the kitchen counter to settle down at with a soda and Hank’s laptop right in front of her. Turning it on, she waited glancing at the clock when the screen popped asking for a password.

She raised an eyebrow and pondered out loud, “Okay…If I was the ever living definition of a douche bag what would my password be?”

Tapping her finger across her chin, she thought about before trying his birthday. Nothing. She tried hers and her mom’s birthday. Same result. She typed in every important event or person—anniversary, parent’s names—everything she could think of. She even tried a few choice words that she had to call Hank, this world’s and Buffy’s world’s, but none work. Glancing at the clock, she knew she only had a few minutes before she had to switch the bags back. Scratching her head, she said to herself, “How it is that on tv it looks so easy like typing one, two, three…”

She stopped and looked down at the keyboard then shook her head in dismissal. “Nah, it’s never that easy…” Or is it? Couldn’t hurt to try, but I know it can’t be that… The computer screen lit up and she blinked in surprise. “I guess it can. Trust Hank to have no imagination.”

She looked at all the icons, wondering where to begin before deciding to go into the C:Drive and search for all files and then in one big window, every single files on that computer, hidden and not, popped slowly but surely. There was sure to be something incriminating on them, they had to be. Lizzie moved the mouse across the screen debating on which on to try her luck while taking a sip of her soda. She went to set it down and it fell to the ground, splashing soda all over the kitchen floor.

“Shit.” She leant down, and her other arm pressed on the keyboard. The computer beeped making her sit back up. Her eyes went wide as a bunch of windows popped up, pictures of their family, a few contracts with some people, but it went too fast for Lizzie to make it all out. Finally it stopped. “What the hell?” It was a picture of the human anatomy with notes written all around it. Her mind focused on one thing: Super Soldier.

“This…this…” Lizzie did not know what to make of this. Her eyes moved to the window barely sticking out behind the main one and she frowned, “Hydra? What the hell does a ugly monster have to do with anything?”

Her hands twisted together as she took a moment. She would never be able to go through all those files before Hank got home, she’d have to download them to a portable drive—the door knob jingled as someone began to unlock it. Lizzie looked up frozen in panic, Crap! Damn! Move, move, move!

Her fingers began to quickly dance across the keyboard, closing everything on the computer and the door opened as soon as she got it to shut down. Hastily she shoved it the bag and set it on the counter when she realized on glaring mistake, if Hank had already used his laptop or gotten anything out of it, then he would know that it was impossible for her to ‘accidentally’ grab the wrong bag.

Too late, she tried to appear nonchalant as possible when he set the Chinese takeout bags on the table. “Hey, dad.”

“Hey, Lizzie bear, what’cha up to?” Hank said.

“Uh,” she said, spotting her soda mess from earlier, “making messes. I tried reaching the paper towels, but there were kinda out of reach.”

Hank glanced up at the paper towels to his, “That they are. Don’t worry about it, sweetie, I’ll get it.” And he did so without complaint while Lizzie’s heart was racing with worry.

If you say something, then it’ll look better, Lizzie thought let out a long breath. And there’s the chance he used the office computer not his laptop. Crossing her fingers, she said, “Hey, Dad.”

“Yes?” He asked, throwing the paper towels away.

“I think I accidently got computer bags mixed up again, you know after we got home from the doctor’s appointment earlier.” She paused, putting on her best apologetic face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I know you’re really busy with work—”

“It’s an accident, Lizzie Bear,” he waved it off. “It happens, I worked from the other computer anyways." He looked over his shoulder, "You didn't mess with it."

"No, dad," she told him patronizingly. "I think I tell my red laptop from your black one."

"That's good," he muttered, the repeated it under his breath as he got the Chinese takeout of the bags sorting through it.

I know you are lying Hank because out of both of us, I'm the better actor. She opened her mouth to say more to see if he would slip up when the front door opened and Joyce's voice rang through the house, “I’m home.”



Lizzie moved the food from one side of the carton to the other then back again as her parents chatted over everyday things like bills and work. Apparently instead of majoring in art like Buffy's Joyce, this Joyce was a nurse. Hank was still Hank, busy days and nights at the office. And Lizzie was thankful for that because it left her alone for the majority of the day.

And Lizzie now more than ever wanted to be alone.

"Elizabeth?" Joyce asked, looking at her daughter's plate. "Aren't you hungry?"

She looked up at Joyce, mustering a weak smile. "Not really."

"Come on, Lizzie, it's your favorite," Hank said, after sharing a look with Joyce. Lizzie felt her lips curl in a slight snarl, did they think she didn't see the way they stepped around? Afraid of saying something hurtful, or afraid to face her in general? She smoothed out her features before informing him, deadpanned, "I just don't have an appetite. Can I go to my room?"

Joyce looked hestitant but nodded. "Yes, yes, you may."

"No." Hank snapped.

Lizzie paused while Joyce sighed, "Hank..."

"No, this is what happened before," her father spoke, staring straight at Lizzie. "I've tried to be patient with her, but she stays distance. What if the doctors were wrong Joyce? What if she isn't better, but worse?"

"Stop," Lizzie felt an angry flicker of rage in the pit of her stomach, "talking about me like I'm not here."

"Hank she's..."

"She's different. She's not our Elizabeth anymore!"

"Damn right I'm not!" Lizzie roared, standing straight up out her chair. Joyce's eyes widened and Hank's mouth dropped open. The surprise of standing would have consumed her too, but the rage was too great. "Did you seriously think that you could put me in that place, that horrible place and expected me to come out back the same? Did you seriously think that? How stupid are you?"

“Elizabeth, please! We know how hard this has been on you, it’s... it's a hard situation's for everyone, you just have to remember we love you—” Joyce’s reply was cut off by Lizzie scoff.

“Hard?” Lizzie demanded, licking her lips. “Hard? For you? I was drowning, I was drowning in these—” She cut off unable to find words and pressed her hands on the table. “I was already in a prison, I was already locked in that crazy,” she forced the words out, “fantasy world, and I couldn’t get out. And you…you decided to add pad locks and chains to that. A prison in an even worse prison! How could do that to me? How—”

The burn in her legs became too much and suddenly she found herself on the ground. She looked down at the floor, letting her hair fall into her face. She wouldn’t let them ever see her cry.

“Elizabeth—” Hank knelt down.

“No.” Her voice was like steel, making him stop. She rolled over onto her belly and reached up with one arm grabbing the chair then the other gripped the seat. And she pulled herself up, then reached for the back of the chair and twisted around before plopping down into the chair. Slumped over, breathing heavily, she took in the silence knowing if she didn’t say this, she would never get the courage to say it again, “I tried to understand it, I really did,” her voice trembled a moment, one moment before becoming hard and emotionlessly. “But I can’t. Maybe it’s because I was the one in there with those doctors who hurt their patients more than even try to care for them; maybe that’s why I’m so blind to your perspective.”

She lifted her head, glaring back and forth between parents. “I’m going to my room.”

Lizzie's hands gripped the wheels and rolled away from the kitchen table. She then pulled away, and made her way to her room. At least I will have some major upper arm strength, Lizzie thought, her lung burning will the small effort. Opening the door, she went into her sanctuary and shut the door blocking out the world for a moment.

The room was originally the guest room, but her old bedroom was upstairs. So Hank had moved everything down here. The tan walls surrounding her, with a twin sized bed pressed into the corner with a dresser at its foot. A desk sat on the adjacent wall, with a black sleek laptop onto it. She went over it and opened it up, turning it on. Crossing her fingers and peering over them she wanted for the computer to load...


*FLASHBACK*

“Whistler, Whistler, if you don’t wake up, I’ll rip out you ribcage and make that hat! And I’ll use your spine as a walking stick!” Buffy ranted furiously at the balance demon who was still unconscious. “Do something she’s--dying! Hank, make them do something!”

Doctors rushing around, trying to get Lizzie’s heart starting once again and Lizzie--
was sent flying into a near by boulder. Seriously, out of all the places to land, she had to land on the only random boulder is the desert. Groaning, she looked up at the First Slayer who on her in a instant, “Is all the repressed anger because you don’t feel like you fit in? Because there is show called the Real Housewives--” The First Slayer backhanded her and Lizzie heard her cheek bone crack as she fell back to the ground.

Glaring, biting her lip trying to fight the pain, she lifted both legs to her chest then kicked out as the First Slayer jumped at her, sending the primordial woman flying backwards. Lizzie scrambled to her feet, putting up her fists, “Round two, you bi--”

The world titled and something sent a painful jolt through her chest causing her to rise off the bed, but it didn’t bring her back. The long and never beep from the heart monitor as the line once again fell flat.

“AHH!” Lizzie screamed as the First Slayer clawed at her back before flipping her over and holding her down. Buffy was there, swinging, fighting, but she just moved through the First Slayer like the ghost Whistler claimed her to be. The First Slayer ignored the attempted and place a hand over Lizzie's heart.

From that hand a consuming darkness began to bury itself into her heart. “STOP! PLEASE! STOP!”

Lizzie was going, she was going, she was almost gone.

The First Slayer turned into a wispy shadow, slowly disappearing into Lizzie when a bolt of red light slammed into the First Slayer making her disintegrate. The constricting pain in her chest lessened and Buffy stood over her, "Are you okay?"

Lizzie nodded, breathlessly. Whistler stood up wiping off his hands, Lizzie said, "I don't remeber you being able to do that..."

"The Powers loaned it to me."

"Could have used it earlier...when I was getting my ass handed to me..." Whistler was deeply frowning, cutting off Lizzie's witty response. "What's wrong?"

"Kid, I am so sorry about that," Whistler rubbed his hands together. "The Powers thought the Slayer might get territorial and try to come through..."

"What was wrong with her?" Lizzie asked. "I know she isn't a people person, but she didn't look like that."

"That's because she's broken, just a piece of a whole," Whistler answered, rubbing the knot forming on his forehead. "The Slayer essescene tried to beat its way through and all that could through was that and well, it's not pretty."

"I think she knows," Buffy glared. "Seeing how she was all about getting personal with Lizzie, trying to tear into her chest."

"What?" Whistler's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"

"Look," Buffy pointed at the place on Lizzie's chest, black as charcoal from the First Slayer's assualt.

Whistler knelt down and peered over the wound before reaching out to touch it. A blackness rose over it, like a moving shadow and he sighed. Lizzie asked, "What...what is that?"

"I'm really sorry kid..."



END FLASHBACK


Lizzie sat there in front of the mirror looking at the ugly black scar upon her chest, as well as the other running across her back from left shoulder blade all the way to her right hip.

It would forever be a haunting and grim reminder.



END OF CHAPTER


I may edit this later.

NEXT CHAPTER: ONE FINAL FLASHBACK AND FULLY DIVING INTO LIZZIE'S WORLD.

References: (1) Buffy's comment on shampoo was an tip of the hat to Season Four Episode.

(2) Hank and Lizzie having the same computer bag will come into play at a later date, that's why its in there.

RRs are appreciated.
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