EvidenceA/N: Thanks to everyone who has reviewed or even just read this series. It's been emotional.
Clark could see the cloud of Fairies from his perch on the roof of Lex's mansion. He looked down and blanched. "I told you I was afraid of heights," he said to Lois, unable to keep the accusation out his voice.
"You'll be fine," replied Lois from her safe position inside the attic window. "It's not like you'll get hurt even if you fall."
Clark sighed and closed his eyes. He tried to recapture the feeling of levitation from his previous experience but he'd been so drunk on red meteor rock that he couldn't really remember. "Here goes," he whispered and stepped off the roof.
He waited for the impact and when it didn't arrive he opened one eye. He was floating two stories from the ground, just outside the windows of the mezzanine level of Lex's study. Lois had rushed down from the attic and was at the window. She waved and Clark waved back but all he received in reply was a frustrated shake of the head and he realised that she's been waving him away.
Concentrating hard, Clark turned towards the woods. Putting his arms out, he pointed his fists in the direction he wanted to go and was away.
Daisy had retreated to Faith's pocket, trusting that the Slayer would protect her in the upcoming battle. The Red Fairies were circling above but not coming down, as if they were waiting for a signal. Another cloud of blue smoke heralded the arrival of Pete and Tara. The Witch gave Faith the thumbs-up before settling down next to Tad to prepare magical defences.
Faith looked up at the Red Fairy horde and rolled her eyes. "Can we get on with it?" she yelled at the sky. She put out her hand to catch an object that fluttered down, it was Little Bill. "What's the sitch?" she asked the Fairy messenger.
"Our Queen—may she live forever—demands an audience with the Slayer. And assurance that the Slayer will not harm her." He spoke quickly and in an off-hand way which suggested boredom.
"I promise not to hurt your Queen," replied Faith, "as long she promises to give up this ridiculous war and return to Metropolis."
"Never!" shrieked a voice from the circling mob. A red spark came tumbling down to hover at Faith's eye-level. "I shall rule the fey from Kansas to California!" The Slayer ignored her and nodded at Tara and Tad who dropped a lit match on a small pile of spell ingredients. It went up in a puff of red smoke. "What was that?" howled the Red Fairy Queen, flying closer to Faith but remaining just of reach.
"A message," shrugged the Slayer. A moment later almost two-thirds of the Red Queen's army flew in and landed on the moss covered floor of the clearing.
This seemed to drive the Queen into a greater rage. "What did you say to them?" she screamed at Tara and Tad.
"Just let them know that they'd be safe if they came down," replied Tara confidently. "There's still time for the rest of you," she called softly up to the remaining Fairies.
A few more fluttered to the ground. The Queen, incensed beyond reason, returned to the small number of loyal followers. "You might want to look up," remarked Faith in a conversational tone.
The airborne Fairies looked up see Clark hovering above them, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked pleased with himself. "Now?" he called down to Faith.
The Slayer shook her head. "Let's give them one more chance." The Queen flew back and forth furiously rallying her troops. Her numbers had been severely depleted but she still had enough followers to do some serious damage. Giles and Faith were both tapping their feet, as if measuring the time. "Now," said Faith finally.
Clark emptied a bag of Fairy dust over the fey below him, disorienting them but not killing. The Queen, with a sudden realisation, flew directly at Faith, followed by her still-strong army. The Green Fairies and Red deserters had all gone to ground but the air in the clearing was thick with tiny enraged creatures.
Faith and Pike fought back to back with weapons of iron, the Slayer wielding a pair of daggers, the drummer a short sword. Giles leapt about the clearing snatching Fairies from the air and crushing them into the ground. Tara and Tad, assisted by Pete, used magic to bind the creatures, stripping them of their powers as a child takes the dust from a butterfly's wings. In the sky, Clark worked containment, slapping those who tried to flee back to earth.
It was over in minutes.
Slowly, the surviving Fairies, those who had chosen peace, emerged. "Thank you," said Daisy to Faith, climbing out of her pocket. "I will take it from here." The Fairy Queen clapped her hands and emitted a series of squeaks. She flew up into the air, pausing only to kiss Faith gently on each eyelid, before leading her people out of the clearing and away.
"Everyone five by five?" asked Faith. A series of nods and groans confirmed that they were. "Let's go home."
Clark landed and offered to carry Giles who had somehow managed to snap off one of his legs during the fight. No one noticed when Faith leaned down to pick something off the ground and put it in her pocket, they were distracted by another plume of blue smoke.
"Oooh," came a dismayed cry. "The hopeful one has destroyed Mummy's little playmate. The cards are out of order!"
Faith turned to see a tall woman with dark hair standing in the deep shade just beyond the clearing. "Is that…?" began Pete.
"Hello Drusilla," said Faith
The vampire seemed not to hear. She took a step forward and put her arm out into the sunlight. It began to smoke. She lifted her foot to take another step but was prevented by Giles crashtackling her to the ground.
"What are we going to do with her?" Tara asked Faith.
"I have an idea," said Pike, handing Faith a stake.
The Slayer shook her head. "It's not up to me."
A week later everyone was back in Metropolis for the weekend. The Dingoes had stuck around to see how things turned out and to play a couple of frat parties but were planning on heading down to California the next day. After kicking the TV Club out, Faith had taken over the common room.
"Why does the exposition always fall to the Watcher?" complained Wes from his beanbag.
"What else are Watchers for?" replied Pike with a smile. "They train and explain."
"I want to know about the Fairy dust," said Lex. "It didn't kill them."
"No," replied Wes. "The compound that Faith sprinkled on the fey was an antidote that would protect them in case they were exposed to the more dangerous mixture. The Fairies who defected were given some on the ground. Pete figured out a way to dilute the other dust so that it would disorient and weaken but not kill." Lex didn't look happy with the explanation but he let it go. Pete beamed at being given the credit for the innovation. He'd spent a lot of time over the past week with Tad, studying the basics of magic.
Tara had been giving the high-schooler some instruction too but had spent much of the week in Metropolis closeted in her room with Oz. The two, Lois had discovered, were meditation. It was not Enya, nor Nikka Costa that Tara listened to on her headphones, but the droning voices of politicians recorded from C-SPAN. "Like white noise," explained the Witch. Tara and Oz were sitting close together on the couch, carefully not touching as they listened to Wesley explain.
"What the hell was the vampire doing mixed up with a Fairy war?" asked Chloe.
"Drusilla has always liked her pets," began Wes. "We think that she was probably contacted by the Red Queen and they discovered that they had a mutual interest in the death of the Slayer. The Red Queen wanted more territory and Dru was willing to help her. We've received reports that vampires along the line of communication had been attacking local Fairy tribes, no doubt on Drusilla's orders. The impact on magic users was probably unintentional, just Drusilla broadcasting her muddled thoughts along the ley lines."
"According to my reading," began Lois, "Fairies tend to stick to their own territory, only seeking more when their tribes increase. Why did the Red Queen want so much land?"
"I think Faith can answer that one," said Wes.
The Slayer went to the small kitchenette and opened the freezer. She removed a small plastic bag and threw it to Lois.
"Ewww," commented the reporter, more fascinated than disgusted. "Is this what I think it is?"
"It's the body of the Queen," said Chloe, looking over her shoulder. "But I thought…"
"That when Fairies die their bodies separate into the earth and magic that make them up almost immediately. They vanish," finished Pete, coming over to look. "She looks kind of familiar."
"Lana!" exclaimed Clark, also taking a peek. He began to pace the length of the room, only settling when Lois embraced him and led him back to a seat.
"She's not a true Fairy so she didn't die like one," said Faith. "She must have had just enough magic after our last little battle to transform."
"She's really dead this time?" asked Clark.
Faith nodded. "There's the evidence."
"How did she become a Queen?" asked Devon. "If she's just some chick who turned into a Fairy."
"Fairy monarchs are elected," replied Chloe. "So she could have just done away with the old one and gotten herself voted in."
"That still doesn't answer one question," said Pete. Everyone looked at him expectantly. "Where's the pizza?" Chloe launched a cushion at her friend's head.
"Giles is bringing it," said Faith. Just then the chair arrived at the door with a stack of pizzas balanced on his seat, he was hobbling a little due to one of his legs only being held on by duct tape. Everyone tucked in but Tara hung back. "We got vegan just for you," the Slayer encouraged the Witch.
"I was just thinking," said Tara. "What's going to happen to Drusilla?"
Faith shrugged. "That's a family matter."
Back in LA Drusilla was in a cage in the basement of the Hyperion Hotel. Outside the prison stood Angel, Spike and Willow. "Do you need me to explain it again, luv?" asked Spike quietly.
Willow stepped forward, a stake in one hand, an orb in the other.