The Slayers Cave
"I know sweetie, I am too. And my head hurts like the dickens." Willow, Buffy and Xander were walking home from a particularly fun-filled night in Sunnydale. As a group, they'd decided to let Buffy sleep off her "binge" at the dorms.
"What are dickens and why do they hurt?" asked Xander dully, his usual light banter was weighted with guilt over serving cursed, evil beer to Buffy.
"I don't know," answered Willow. "But my throat and chest hurt like the dickens, too."
Xander chuckled suddenly. "I'll bet Parker's head hurts like the dickens."
"Yeah!" said Willow. "Parker's head go kablooey."
"Kuh-kub... Go boom! Parker go boom!"
Willow and Xander laughed at the vision of Parker earnestly apologizing to Buffy for being such a jerk and then getting clonked on the head. Buffy, unsure what was so funny, laughed with them.
They didn't see the vampires until they were surrounded by them.
A week ago.
Faith's eyes opened. She saw blurry only confusion. Where am I? Her mouth felt like it had been packed with cotton. She swallowed. After a few moments her vision began to clear. She turned her head towards the soft beeping noise. A heart monitor was steadily ticking off her heartbeat.
Ok. I'm in a hospital or something. What the fuck happened? Her mind swirled around lazily until it settled on her most recent memory: Buffy standing in the doorway of her apartment.
Buffy. I hate Buffy. Buffy who has everything. Friends, watcher, cool mom, cool boyfriend. Ok, maybe the boyfriend part wasn't so good, seeing as how they could never do it; ever again. That has to suck. But she's so whiny and mopey about it, that, after a while, you didn't even give a shit about that. It was just... she was just...irritating.
She heard some one coming so she closed her eyes and feigned sleep.
The nurse was a woman. Faith could smell soft, light perfume. The woman touched her arm. "Hi Faith," she said softly, kindly. "How's my favorite coma patient? Still sleeping I see." Coma? How did I get in a coma? Oh yeah. Buffy.
The nurse gasped as a hand suddenly, too quick to seem real, grabbed her by the throat. "How long have I been sleeping?" Faith's voice was a scary rasp. The nurse trembled in terror and couldn't seem to speak. Oh yeah. Right. She probably needs some air. Faith loosened her hold a bit. "How long, dammit?" she rasped.
"Three or four months. I don't know exactly!" She grasped the slayer's wrist and tried to pull it away from her throat but she couldn't get it to even budge. The girl's grip was like steel.
Faith saw the IV's in the back of her hand. "Take the needles out me," she ordered. The nurse was starting to feel a little faint.
"Please. I can barely breathe," she pleaded. The hand went from her throat to her hair so quickly that the nurse was sure she must have blacked out for a second.
"The IV's. Get them out of me, now."
The nurse frantically began to pull the IV's out. She was careful and tried to do it as painlessly as possible; partly out of habit and partly because she didn't want to anger this girl even more. The fist in her hair didn't let up; didn't weaken.
When Faith was free of medical paraphernalia, she punched the nurse in the head to knock her unconscious. She gingerly got out of bed and looked at the woman lying on the floor. She felt a tiny twinge of guilt. It's not her fault that a I woke up on the wrong side of the month. Damn. Faith gathered the nurse in her arms and placed her gently on the hospital bed.
And then took her clothes. But she did cover her with the sheet so she wouldn't get cold or flash any passers-by.
With her heart in her throat, she walked out of the hospital into the dark night having no clue where she was gonna go.
Her rumbling stomach gave her her first idea.
The growling vamp took precedence, however. It came at her in a flurry. She smacked it in the nose with the heel of her hand. It stumbled and fell and she grabbed a handful of hair and pounded its head repeatedly into the pavement. She stood back and surveyed her handiwork. The vamp was wearing jeans and a leather jacket which Faith divested it of quickly. The shoes were crappy and too big so she left them. She snapped off a branch from a nearby tree and dusted the vampire.
Since it was getting chilly, she put the jeans on over the scrubs.
There was about $700 in one of the jacket pockets.
Faith smiled for the first time in months.
After she got some food she sat down in the park to think and plan.
First, she needed a place to stay, shelter. Second she would have to get some clothes. Third, revenge.
She figured the Watcher's Council probably wanted her dead or captured. Boss Wilkins was most likely dead. He wouldn't leave her to rot in the hospital if he were alive. Her eyes burned thinking of the mayor so she pushed it out of her mind for now.
Staying at a motel was probably not a good idea. She thought about camping out in the woods. That might work. She could get a tent and a sleeping bag and a little gas stove. Maybe roast some fuckin' marshmallows while I'm at it. What the hell? Who says revenge has to be all broody all the time?
The sun would be up soon. Then, shopping.
The thrift store had everything she needed. She found a little two-person hiking tent and a sleeping bag and a butane stove. She also got a little cooler and a small frying pan and pot. A set of camping flatware and a little plate and mug and she was set for gear.
Clothes and toiletries were added to her stash of stuff. She loaded it all into a rucksack headed off to the nearby woods.
This being Sunnydale, home of the Hellmouth, a favorite demon tourist attraction, Faith had to choose her campsite carefully. After hours of searching she'd almost given up the idea of camping when she stumbled upon it. An old church, if you could call it that, made from rough hewn logs. It looked like Abe Lincoln's cabin with a big cross on the outside wall. The entire surrounding area was undisturbed and pristine. Demons probably avoided this area the way a human would avoid a sewage treatment plant.
It had no roof and no doors but it did have a stone hearth and flat floor.
Faith stood inside the four walls, dropped her rucksack and smiled big again.
She spent an hour or so setting up her camp. When the sun set she went off in search of Buffy.
As it turned out, Buffy was easy to find. She was matriculating at the local university. She partied at the local pub, slayed on campus, and lived in the dorms.
College dorms were also a great place to shower. No one questioned Faith or stopped her as she wandered the halls.
Faith had woken up just before Halloween. She followed the Scooby gang to a frat party on Halloween night. Since she wasn't in costume she decided against crashing. She settled for watching.
Buffy was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and had her hair braided and looking cute. Now why would the word cute come to mind? Saccharin is better or maybe nauseating. Yeah. Nauseating.
The gang trooped into the house chatting companionably. When the door closed it disappeared. Faith actually blinked and rubbed her eyes. Nope. That door was gone as if it had never been.
Her first instinct was to slay the evil. She had to force herself to back down. Well. That evil, hungry house will do the job for me. I'll just wait here and make sure it finishes the job.
She supressed the almost constant impulse to leap from her hiding place and bust through a window. At some point in the evening a pretty girl in a ridiculous bunny suit showed up. The bunny looked around for the door like she was in an Abbot and Costello movie. When the frantic screams from the top floor drew the bunny's attention, Faith knew that she must've seen the wall close on the window. The bunny ran off. Faith chewed on her thumbnail, her heart pounding crazily in her chest. She almost cried out in relief when Giles showed up with a chainsaw.
Faith waited until everybody exited the house. She did a Scooby gang head count before she snuck back to her campsite. On the way back she paused to slay a couple of vamps, stealing whatever valuables they had before dusting them. One vamp, who used to be a woman, had a bracelet of pearls and diamonds. Not knowing if it was real or fake, Faith kept it ‘cause it was pretty.
The next few days Buffy was boring. She went to class during the day and slayed at night. Yawn-fest. Faith also continued to slay and was amassing a little stash of cash and valuables. Faith showered at a different dorm every night to avoid complications.
Xander was tending bar at the local pub. Faith followed Buffy there and decided to take a risk. She slunk inside and found a dark corner to sit and watch the blonde slayer. She was sitting at a table surrounded by frat boys drinking beer. Underage drinking, Buffy. You bad, bad girl. Does Angel know you're slumming with horny frat boys? A waitress came to take Faith's order, not bothering to ask for ID. The place was crowded and noisy. Faith ordered a beer.
"What kind of beer?" asked the harassed waitress.
"Whatever ya got on tap," answered Faith impatiently. "And keep it comin'."
Faith watched Buffy most of the night. This time, for some reason, she didn't get bored. The dim pub lighting played with Buffy's hair. The attention of the frat boys made her eyes sparkle green. The more beer she had, the more she laughed and smiled. Faith matched her beer for beer.
The few people who totally missed Faith's don't-talk-to-me vibe were given a terse, "Fuck off," from the brooding brunette.
When the evening wound down Faith left the pub and hid in the shadows waiting for Buffy to leave. Waiting and watching.
The next morning Faith had trouble getting her little stove to work. "Broken?" she muttered. She finally settled for a breakfast of cold lunchmeat and crackers. Her cooler was getting a little light.
"Damn. Need more food."
The grocery store seemed a little louder and more confusing than usual. Not bothering to grab cart or basket, Faith went immediately to the deli and grabbed one, no, two sticks of hard salami and a couple of blocks of stinky cheese, just ‘cause they were stinky. As she passed the bread aisle, she grabbed four loaves of fresh sourdough bread and headed for the door. Bright red apples and tomatoes drew her eye.
"Ooo! Pretty!" Balancing her groceries in one arm, she started to pile on the pretty red produce. She also managed to grab a couple of red bell peppers and orange bell peppers for good measure. Having got what she came for she headed for the exit leaving a trail of dropped apples and tomatoes as walked.
A checker noticed her attempting to leave.
"Miss? Miss?" Faith didn't notice.
By now a couple of employees noticed the girl trying to leave. A young man reached her first.
"Miss? You can't leave without paying for those."
"You have to pay for your food before you go," he said a little louder.
Her brow furrowed with confusion as she tried to process this information.
The checker started to get a little worried. Is she retarded or something?
Finally she said, "Ok," and let herself be led to the check stand. She noticed her dropped produce and went to retrieve it as the checker started to ring up her groceries. When he gave her the total, he got another furrowed brow of confusion.
"You have to give me some money now," he said slowly and clearly.
"Ok," she said finally and dug into her pocket. She laid a wad of cash on the counter and looked expectantly and the checker. He sighed and took out the appropriate amount and gave the rest back to her. When he started to bag her groceries her brows lowered dangerously. It took her a while to figure out that he wasn't trying to take her food.
When he was done he said, "Ok. You're all set." She grabbed her food and left.
Back at her campsite, Faith stashed her food and went off in search of Buffy.
The pub was crowded that night too. Buffy was drinking beer with the same group of frat boys and again, Faith sat in the corner and watched. This time she got a pitcher of beer, matching Buffy drink for drink.
When the crowd started to thin, Faith got scared of being seen and snuck out to wait for Buffy. Soon she emerged and jogged for home. Faith followed.
"I'd heard that The Slayer was here at Sunnydale U," sneered the vampire. "So which one of you is Buffy?" he asked casually.
Buffy suddenly smacked her chest with her hand. "Buffy strong!" Willow and Xander winced at the vamps as a few of them chuckled.
"This is kind of embarrassing," said Willow, weakly
"Yeah," said Xander. "And I so hate to be embarrassed right before I get eviscerated and drained of all my blood."
"Kinda puts a damper on the night."
"And I thought the night had turned out so well. All things considered."
Buffy, meanwhile, was eying the vampires with her new primitive gaze that had frozen Xander's blood earlier in the night.
"Uh oh," said Xander. "She's got that look in her eye. I think she's gonna try and take ‘em all on."
"Are you kidding me?" squeaked Willow. "There's at least fifteen vampires!"
"Eighteen, to be exact," spoke up a vamp, raising a finger to get the Scoob's attention.
"What?" asked Willow trying for more mature squeak this time.
"There are eighteen of us. We decided to try the whole strength in numbers thing. You understand. We're tired of being picked off one by one by the slayer. So a bunch of us got together and, well, here we are."
A loud scream suddenly sounded next to the red head, causing her to jump and shriek. Xander grabbed Willow and hugged her to him in fear. All the vampires jumped, startled by the scream, which, as it turned out, was Buffy's battle-cry.
She launched herself into the midst of the crowd of vamps. She was a whirling dervish of destruction. Vampires flew into the air in all directions. Vampire dust puffed around obscuring vision and clogging the air.
When the dust cleared, Willow gasped at the sight of Buffy being restrained by vampires.
"Buffy strong! Buffy hurt bad things! Buffy kill bad things!" She struggled against the half a dozen vampires holding her arms. One vampire was standing in front of her looking at her strangely.
"Well, now the bad things are going to kill you. Ironic isn't? I love irony." His fist smashed into her face.
"Yeah boss! Beat ‘er up. Get her all nice and tender before we eat her!" One of the vamps holding her laughed gleefully.
Boss obliged, beating Buffy unmercifully, viciously about the face and body. Willow and Xander watched helplessly as Buffy cried out in pain and sagged in the vampires' grasp.
"They're not looking at us," whispered Xander. "Maybe we can stake one or two of them and get Buffy out of here."
"I don't like our odds, but it's better than doing nothi..."
A fierce scream, similar to Buffy's battle-cry, split the night.
"That's not Buffy ‘cause Buffy's unconscious," said Xander, peering into the night trying to spot the source of the cry.
Willow saw her first. "There!" she pointed.
Then Xander saw her too. "Oh God. Is that?..."
"I think it's Faith!"
The dark-haired figure hurtling across the grass was belting out another battle-cry. She grabbed the "Boss" and tore his head off, bare-handed. Her eyes were wild with fury. Her hair was waist-length and suspiciously dreadlock-y.
"Holy tornado, Batman. She looks like the Tasmanian Devil on PCP," murmured Xander in awe.
Willow's mouth dropped open as she witnessed the slayer carnage. Not a single vampire escaped her wrath. In seconds, there was nothing but dust.
Cave-Faith stood over the injured, unconscious form of Cave-Buffy. Her head tilted to the side as she considered her. Willow and Xander stood silently, watching.
Finally, Faith bent down and gathered Buffy gently into her arms. She stood and looked at the pair of Scoobies.
"Faith strong," she grunted. "Faith protect. Faith protect B." And, cradling the blonde slayer in her arms, she sprinted off, swallowed by the dark night.