Series: Slayers in Space
Disclaimer: Joss owns Buffy and Firefly
FYI: There is some slayer history here. I still don't have Faith's voice down right, sorry.
“What’s a slayer?” Wash asks in the middle of dinner. When Kaylee found out Inara was leaving again, she insisted on having a farewell dinner. It was still protein but she spiced it up pretty good.
“I had me a slayer once.” Jayne says. “She was a beaut. Small and sleak, she looked all-delicate but she could tear a man in half. Best piece I ever had, damn pissed when I lost her.”
“He’s talking about his old gun Brook.” River explains. “She fell out of his pocket when he was chasing someone.”
“Stop doin that.” Jayne growls. “Don’t want ya in my mind.”
“So, do you hear all our thoughts?” Faith asks. “That seems like it would be a bitch eventually.”
“I don’t hear everything anymore.” River answers. “Just strong emotions. I can’t push them out.”
“Give yourself time.” Faith says.
“Anybody going to answer my questions?” Wash asks.
“Why do you want to know what a slayer is?” Simon questions the pilot.
“River mentioned it on the bridge.” Mal answers. “Said Faith had to teach her about being a slayer.”
“Mei-mei, I don’t think you can be taught how to be a gun.” Simon says.
“Not a gun.” River says.
“Well, what is it?” Mal questions, suddenly curious.
River turns and looks at Faith.
“What?” Faith questions.
“You’re the elder, you make the decisions regarding identity.” River tells her.
“Whoa, nobody said nothing about that.” Faith says. “I hated hiding mine before, probably a good thing I didn’t talk to a lot of people.”
“Never made a decision.” River replies.
“You know them better.” Faith says. “Can they handle knowing and the responsibility that goes along with it?”
“They can.” River says.
“I was thinking that too.” Faith says. “You get to explain it.”
“Okay.” River picks up her fork and starts eating again.
“Well?” Jayne says after a minute. “Ya gonna explain?”
“Now?” River asks back.
“Course now.” Jayne replies. “It’s why I done asked.”
“The world is older than any of you know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons, demons walked the Earth, made it their home….their hell.” River lectures.
“That’s a nice story, River.” Simon says.
“It’s not a story.” Faith says. “She’s explaining about demons. I’ll just make it easier. Old ones, demons, vampires, and then humans.”
“That’s just make believe stuff.” Kaylee says. “We used to tell scary stories bout monsters and stuff. It ain’t real.”
“Okay, you’re saying there was demons, what does this have to do with whatever a slayer is?” Wash asks liking the tale.
“Into every generation, a Slayer is born.” River says in a British accent that makes Faith smile. “One girl in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampire, to stop the spread of their evil……”
“Blah, blah, blah, blah.” Faith interrupts. “Yeah it gets really boring after that, stuff about duty and fate and destiny. Trust me, you don’t want to listen to the rest. By the way, R, love the Gilesy accent.”
“Thought you like that.” River says, picking up her fork again. The surrounding people just stare at River and Faith.
“Mei-mei, you don’t think you’re one of these slayer things, do you?” Simon questions worried that she’s slipping back.
“Don’t think, know.” River says.
“River, vampires and demons are not real.” Simon says slowly. “It is all fiction.”
“Yeah, I mean, that’s a little too much like science fiction.” Wash says. “Wait, didn’t I say that before?”
“Yes, you did husband.” Zoe answers. “And I will remind you once again, we live on a space ship.”
“Yeah, but demons?” Wash questions.
“I’m not saying I believe them, I’m just saying that we live in space.” Zoe says.
“Ya said somethin bout strength and skills, what did ya mean by that?” Mal asks.
“Superhuman strength, fighting skills, that kind of thing.” Faith answers.
“I’ll give ya the fightin bit but that don’t mean nothin.” Jayne says. “Don’t make her this slayer thing.”
“Jayne, this slayer thing isn’t real.” Simon says. “It’s a delusion.”
“They’re sharing the same delusion?” Inara says. “Is that possible?”
Simon gets ready to answer when Faith stands up and motions for River to follow her.
“Where you two goin?” Mal questions.
“That big room.” Faith answers. “Not enough room in here.”
“For what?” Simon asks.
“We can sit here and argue about this for a damn long time or you can just follow us and we’ll prove it.” Faith says.
The crew watches them leave and then turn to look at Mal. “Well, sir, we following them?” Zoe questions.
“Why not.” Mal says standing up. “I have to say I’m a bit curious bout whatever they’re planning on doin.”
They all walk down the bay where River and Faith are waiting for them. “You guys stand over there.” Faith says, pointing towards the right side of the bay. “Inara, can I borrow that scarf?”
Inara looks down at the scarf tied around her waist. She unties it and hands it to Faith. Faith walks over to River and hands it to her. “Blindfold yourself.” Faith instructs.
River dutifully takes the scarf and ties it around her eyes. “Ready.”
Faith pulls River across the room and places her about 5 feet away from bay doors. She then turns and walks back across the room until she’s standing a few feet in front of the gathered crew. “Just watch.” Faith says. Before anybody can respond, Faith pulls a knife out and throws it across the room towards River.
Behind Faith, most of the crew are yelling or gasping. The knife whirls across the room, straight at River’s head. An inch away from her face, River quickly brings her hands up and catches the knife by the blade. She then throws it back to Faith who catches it by the hilt and sticks it back in her boot.
River takes off the blindfold and walks back across the room to stand by Faith.
“You threw a knife at her head!” Simon yells.
“And she caught it, an inch from her face.” Faith says. “Only a slayer can do that.”
Jayne stares at them before growling, “That don’t mean nothin. She can shoot without lookin, this ain’t really no different.”
“She probably just added up the distance and the trajectory to find out when to hold her hands up.” Simon rationalizes.
Faith just sighs before walking across the room to pick up a piece of leftover piping from where they repaired Serenity. Walking back over to the crew, she hands the pipe to Simon. “Bend this.”
Simon takes the pipe and then looks at her funny. “It’s steel; you can’t bend it.”
“Just do it Simon.” River orders.
Simon tries to bend the pipe but it doesn’t budge. “I can’t bend it.”
“Pass it along, everyone try.” Faith instructs.
Simon passes it to Kaylee who gives up after a few seconds. They continue passing it around until it gets to Jayne. He tries bending it but nothing happens.
“Like doc said, it’s steel.” Jayne grunts handing it back to Faith. “Ya can’t bend it by hand.”
“You wanna do the honors?” Faith questions River.
River just nods and takes the pipe from Faith. River holds it up in front of the crew and then bends it.
“How….that ain’t possible.” Jayne mutters.
River just hands the pipe back to Faith who straightens it back before handing it to Jayne.
Jayne takes the pipe and stares at it for a few seconds before handing it to Mal.
“It shouldn’t bend.” Mal says.
“It’s part of the whole slayer package.” Faith says. “Strength. Or did you forget seeing me pick Wash and that chair up and tossing it across the room.”
“What?” Jayne questions. “Ya never said that.”
“After everything that happened, I guess we kind of forgot bout it.” Mal says.
“You rationalized it.” Faith says. “Don’t worry, happens all the time.”
“There has to be a rational explanation.” Simon mutters, more to himself than the rest of them.
“Nope, just one part of the strength thing.” Faith replies.
“One part?” Zoe asks.
Instead of answering, Faith turns and runs across the bay and then jumps into the air, landing on top of the catwalks. “Coming up, R?”
River looks at the crew before running and then leaping up into the air. She doesn’t jump as high as Faith and ends up having to catch to bottom of the catwalk with her hands.
“Oh, we’re gonna have to work on the jumping.” Faith says. “Need a hand up?”
“I got it.” River responds. She swings her legs, kicks off the underside of the walk, and flips over to land next to Faith.
“Good job.” Faith says. “You guys catch all that?”
“Yeah.” Wash says. “Kinda neat. You coming back down?”
“Sure.” Faith says. She looks at River and they both dive over the edge, doing a couple flips in midair before landing on their feet in front of the crew. “Questions, comments?”
After a few moments, Jayne growls, “I think I need a drink.”
“I’m thinkin I agree.” Mal says.
Ten minutes later the crew are back in the mess, a bottle of whiskey being passed around the table.
“Damn, that’s some rough stuff.” Faith comments, after taking a gulp of the whiskey. She slides the bottle over to River who also takes a deep drink.
“River!” Simon exclaims. “You don’t need to be drinking that.”
“Don’t worry bout it S.” Faith says. “It’ll take a hellova larger bottle than that to get her drunk, another slayer thing. Not much that affects a slayer.”
“Muscle relaxers.” River comments, sliding the bottle back to Jayne.
“Yeah, those will, if they’re strong enough.” Faith agrees. “Wait a second, you ain’t been using those on her, have you?”
“Yes.” Simon says. “I had to.”
“You can’t anymore.” Faith orders.
“I believe I am her doctor.” Simon growls. “I make the rules about what medicine she does and doesn’t receive.”
“And I am the only one who knows what she is going through.” Faith growls back. “You wanna keep her alive, you best realize that.”
“Why is giving her muscle relaxers such a bad thing?” Zoe questions. “They seemed to have kept her strength thing down, shouldn’t that be a good thing?”
“Yeah, I have to agree.” Mal says. “I was nervous before bout what she would do. Now knowing she’s freakishly strong, I’m starting to get even more worried.”
“You fought in a war, didn’t you?” Faith questions.
“Yeah.” Mal says. “How’d ya know that?”
“Got that look about you, Zoe too.” Faith says. “And Jayne, you’re handy with all those guns you got.”
“Yeah, ya’re point bein?” Jayne says.
“So, somebody comes on this ship and tries to take it over and kill us all, whadda you do?” Faith questions.
“Kill em first.” Jayne drawls.
“It’s what we’ve always done.” Mal says, looking at Faith weirdly. “What’s your point?”
“What if you couldn’t?” Faith questions.
“That ain’t gonna happen.” Jayne replies.
“What I’m trying to say is what if you couldn’t?” Faith says. “What if you had the guns but you couldn’t do it. You know what you need to do, how to do it, but you can’t, your body won’t let you. You’re still gonna try, it’s your instincts, what you’ve trained yourself to do.”
“Well, yeah.” Mal replies. “We’d always try.”
“It’s the same thing with being a slayer.” Faith says, stressing the word slayer. “It’s part of what we are, part of how we react. You dope her up with muscle relaxers, it ain’t gonna change that, only get her killed if someone attacks. Because, even if she can’t physically do it, her body will still try.”
“If you don’t believe that, believe the test.” River whispers.
“Test?” Faith questions, then her eyes widen with realization. “Oh, you mean that stupid ‘rite of passage thingie’, don’t you?”
“Rite of passage?” Mal asks. “Why am I suddenly getting visuals of some scary religious thing?”
“You wouldn’t be too far off.” Faith says. “Back in the day, there was a test that was preformed on a slayer if she makes it to her 18th birthday.”
“Wait a second, what do you mean if?” Wash questions. “Shouldn’t you be saying when?”
“Said if, meant if.” Faith says. “Most slayer don’t make it to 18, don’t actually know the percentage or nothing.”
“82 percent of slayers die within 2 years of being called, 85 percent of them under the age of 18.” River comments.
“So, you were saying something about a test.” Wash replies after a few moments of stunned silence.
“Yeah, as I was saying, if she made it to 18, there was a test.” Faith says, also stunned by River’s statement. She knew slayers died young, but didn’t realize the percentage was that high. “The slayer would be drugged by her watcher, without knowing bout it. They would take away her strength, skills, pretty much turn her into a normal girl. Then she would be instructed to go to a place where a vamp was waiting. If she killed the vamp, she passed, if she didn’t, well guess it don’t matter much then, since she was dead.”
“That’s barbaric.” Simon mutters. “Why would they do that?”
“Don’t really know.” Faith says. “Something that’s always been done. Though I’m thinking most don’t survive the test.”
“23 percent pass.” River says.
“You’re like a walking book of slayer knowledge.” Faith comments.
“Had to learn it all.” River says. “Part of the training.”
“How are there two of you?” Inara questions. “Before River said Chose One. But there are two of you.”
“Hey, she’s right.” Wash agrees.
“One slayer dies, next one’s called.” River sing-songs.
“Huh?” Mal questions.
“When a slayer dies, the instant she dies, a new slayer is called.” Faith says. “I still remember the moment I was called. I was 15 and was training with my watcher. It was just a normal day and we were doing a normal part of my training when I kicked my watcher across the room. She ended up with 3 broken ribs. I was the new slayer.”
“That don’t answer how there’s two of ya.” Mal says.
“Red did a spell, activated all the potentials.” Faith answers. “We were fighting a war and we needed an army that wasn’t made up of a bunch of teenage potentials.”
“Potentials?” Kaylee asks.
“Girls that could be the next slayer.” Faith answers. “There are a bunch of em. We just activated all of them.”
“So, I’m guessin you passed the test.” Wash says.
“What?” Faith questions.
“That test you just told us about, you passed it.” Wash replies.
“I never took it.” Faith replies.
“What?” Mal questions, confused. “You ain’t 18 yet?”
“I’m 23.” Faith answers.
“So, you refused to take it?” Zoe asks.
“You can’t refuse to take it because you don’t know about it.” Faith replies.
“How did you get out of taking it?” Simon asks.
“I was in jail when I turned 18.” Faith answers.
“Why was ya in jail for?” Jayne asks when nobody else does.
“Serving 25 to life for triple homicide.” Faith replies. “They couldn’t give me the test there, although they did try to kill me a couple times.”
“Who did you kill?” Mal asks after a few moments. All these new things they were sayin were starting to make him all kinds of nervous.
“A politician, a scientist, and some guy.” Faith answers.
“Ya’re supposed to be helping River understand what she is?” Mal questions after a few seconds. “I’m startin to think that ain’t a good thing.”
“I know what she’s going through.” Faith replies. “I know what it’s like to straddle the line between good and evil. I’m here to help her from falling over the edge. Have I done things that are wrong, yes. But they sent me here because they thought I was the only one who could understand her. Not sayin I completely agree with them but here I am. I’m still sticking with the theory that they shoulda sent B.”
“She wouldn’t understand.” River says. “Still sees the world in black and white, good and evil. Doesn’t realize when you mix the two you get gray. No matter how much white you put back in, you still get gray. She wouldn’t be able to help.”
The crew just stares at her.
“Whose they?” Simon asks after a few seconds.
“PTB’s.” Faith answers.
“PTB’s?” Mal asks.
“Powers that be.” Faith answers. “And don’t ask ‘be what’ cause I don’t know. I just remember dying and then being in a white room. They told me I had a choice: either go to hell or help another slayer.”
“Never said hell, just said decision hadn’t been made.” River argues.
“So, ya was sent to help someone ya never met.” Mal remarks. “Why’d ya agree?”
“Still have things to make up for.” Faith answers. “Maybe after all this, it’ll all be…..” Faith just waves her hands in the air, not finishing her statement.
“That’ll all be worth it.” River says in a tone that isn’t hers.
“Yeah.” Faith agrees, looking at her funny.
“Is that what you try to tell yourself, Faithy?” River says smirking. “Is that the nasty little lie that kept those thighs nice and warm in your prison bunk?”
“RIVER!” Simon and Mal both yell.
“Damn, R, you kiss your mama with that mouth?” Faith questions after a second, completely confused. She knows she’s heard this before but can’t remember where.
“No, but I ate her with it.” River smirks.
“Oh, shit no.” Faith gasps, knowing who she was channeling now.
“What the ruttin hell is goin on?” Mal yells, freaked out by the look in River’s eyes. She looks soulless, if there is such a thing.
“Hey, open book. Anything you want to know.” Rivers says standing up and walking around the table. “How sweet that virgin gypsy tasted. The special smell of a newborn’s neck. My first nun-now that’s a great story.”
“River.” Faith says slowly, standing up to face her. “Push it back, it’s not your memory. It’s not a part of you.”
“You think it’s that cut and dry, don’t you?” River snarls, walking up to Faith. “That if Angel gets his soul back you’ll just hang up your spurs and ride off into the sunset knowing you put the monster back in his cage. But, I’m always here, Faithy. Deep down.”
Faith punches River, knocking her across the room.
“What the gorram hell ya doin?” Jayne yells standing up.
River jumps back across the room, kicking Faith across the face and knocking her into the wall. Faith flips back up and launches a kick at her face, which she blocks. Then the two are fighting heavily, throwing and blocking punches and kicks.
“Damnit, R, you’re stronger than this.” Faith yells, her elbow slamming into River’s face. “Push it away.”
“Can’t.” River whispers, her eyes flashing back to herself for a second, and then turning back to the empty look. “Come on, lover, you know you want it, huh?”
“First off, I ain’t B.” Faith says, punching at River’s face. River dunks to the side and brings her foot up to kick Faith in the stomach. “Second off, these aren’t my memories, they’re Angelus’, how are you seeing them?”
“Shared minds.” River gasps, starting to come back to herself. She blocks the kick aimed at her stomach and then bends over, breathing heavily.
Faith pulls back the punch she was aiming at River’s head and then pulls River’s shaking body into her arms. “It’s okay little R.” Faith whispers. “You did okay. We’ll work on pushing them out.”
River nods heavily before moving out of Faith’s arms and moving to the table. She grabs the whiskey out of Jayne’s hand and takes a huge gulp. Downing a third of the bottle, she sets it back down before turning to look at Faith. “I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, me too.” Faith agrees. They both sit down at the table and grab the plates they just finished eating off. Filling their plates again, they sit back down to eat.
Everybody just watches them in shock.
“We just ate bout 20 minutes.” Wash comments after watching the two girls shovel down food.
“Yeah, well I’ve always said; slaying makes you hungry and horny.” Faith replies between mouthfuls.
“Tell me about it.” River mutters.
“Alright, I want to know what the hell is going on?” Mal yells. “What was that whole thing?”
“Don’t really know, but I know who she was channeling.” Faith answers.
“Channeling?” Simon questions, wanting to move over and check his sister for bruises. But he knows she won’t let him.
“Not channeling, reliving.” River says. “I got sucked down, couldn’t get out. He grabbed onto me. So much darkness, so much hunger. How’d he do it? How did he live with that monster deep inside himself?”
“Don’t really know.” Faith answers. “Hell, I only spent an hour in his mind and it made me sick. But I don’t get how you knew some of that stuff. I never saw or heard some of it.”
“Left an echo in your mind.” River answers. “Deep in there. You were thinking about him and it was too much. I couldn’t push him out.”
“Who?” Mal yells.
“Angelus.” River answers. “The one with the angel’s face.”
“That’s how he got that name?” Faith questions. “Damn, and I never got to bug him about that.”
“No, Katherine gave him that name.” River says.
“Katherine?” Faith asks.
“His little sister.” River replies. “She thought he was an angel, returning to her. She loved him so much, looked up to him so much, and then he killed her.”
“Oh.” Faith whispers. “Glad I never said anything then.”
“He killed his sister?” Kaylee gasps.
“His whole family and then the whole town.” Faith answers. “Then tens of thousands of people after that. Killed more people than we will probably ever meet in our entire life, added together.”
“What the hell was he, some kind of a monster?” Wash questions.
“Yep.” Faith answers. “Vampire actually. One of the most feared.”
“So you killed him?” Mal questions, ignoring the vampire part. He still wasn’t sure he believed that part.
“She saved his life, kept others from killing him.” River answers.
“What? Why?” Mal asks.
“Cause he saved me once.” Faith answers. “He’s the reason I turned myself in, the reason I’m here in front of you today. He saved my soul, only fair that I save his.”
“I’m confused.” Wash says.
“We all are.” Zoe says.
“What I mean is I thought vampires are evil.” Wash comments. “Why would he save you?”
“He had a soul.” Faith answers. “When a vamp turns you, you die and your soul is gone. Angel’s was stuffed back in him after 150 years of killing every person he met.”
“He had to live with the voices of every person he killed.” River whispers. “So many voices.”
“So, how did River ‘channel’ him?” Wash asks, using air quotes.
“Cliff notes version: He lost his soul, I broke out of jail to capture him, injected myself with magical opium, he fed off me, I walked through his mind for a while, his soul was shoved back in, and River somehow got to whatever part of him that remains in my head.” Faith says.
“He fed off you?” Inara asks, confused.
“Bit me.” Faith says, indicting to the small scar on the top of her shoulder.
“Did it hurt?” Kaylee asks.
“Like a bitch.” Faith answers.
Simon suddenly stands up and starts to leave the room.
“Doc, where ya goin?” Mal asks.
“I don’t know, away.” Simon says, turning around. “I can’t…..this isn’t real. None of this. There is some rational explanation and I’m going to find it.”
“So, S, how’s the weather in Denial-land?” Faith questions. “It’s always the smarties that question the most. Can’t bring themselves to admit that all of this is real. So, I’ll give you physical proof that even you can’t deny.”
“What?” Simon says sarcastically. “You going to bend something again?”
“Nope.” Faith answers. “You remember that huge, gaping stomach wound I got bout a week ago? The one you said would take a month to heal completely and that I needed to take it easy?”
“Yes.” Simon answers walking back into the room. “That fighting earlier probably broke the weaves. If you’ll come to the infirmary I’ll redo it.”
“There’s a slight problem with that plan.” Faith says.
“What?” Simon questions.
“This.” Faith pulls her shirt up so that her stomach is bare. Instead of the weaves Simon had put in, there is nothing. No wound, no scar, nothing.
“That’s not possible.” Simon whispers. He walks over to Faith and starts investigating her stomach like he going to find something new. “It shouldn’t even be healed up enough for you to move comfortably.”
“It’s another part of the slayer package.” Faith says, smacking his hands away to pull her shirt back down. “Healed up a couple days ago. Took the weaves out myself.”
Simon stares at her before turning and leaving the room.
“I’m gonna hit the sack.” Faith says. “Great dinner by the way. It’s been fun.” She turns to look to River. “We’ll start the training tomorrow, okay little R?”
“Okay?” River agrees, moving to follow Faith out of the room. “Night everyone.”
“Night River.” Kaylee calls.
The room is quiet for a few minutes after they leave. Wash looks around at everyone before replying, “So, demons.”
Mal just groans and takes the bottle Jayne slides to him. “Yeah, demons. Though I’m startin to think them two are scarier than any demon could ever be.”
“Ain’t that the truth.” Jayne agrees. “Things are bout to get very interesting round here.”
“Ain’t they just.” Mal replies heavily. “Ain’t they just.”