Summary: Buffy and Faith find out what a Slayer really is.
Five Thing Minimum: fire, shelter, minor injury, girl scouts, food, wool blanket
Notes: This story begins canonically, except that Faith came to Sunnydale a bit earlier. Dedicated to Jess: my soul mate, my best friend, and my constant source of inspiration. And to Mei-Mei, who sat and watched much Buffy with me for research purposes, despite her hatred for Adam. I love you both.
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First, there was the EARTH.
Then came the DEMONS.
After demons came MEN.
The men found a GIRL to slay DEMONS.
They chained her to the earth.
Filled her with DARK.
Faith hung back as the others dug greedily through the Slayer "emergency kit". Unless there was some kind of bad ass weapon in there that could destroy an incorporeal evil being, she wasn't interested. Fairy tales and shadow puppets--could you get more useless in a time like this? She slowly inched towards the door, hoping to sneak a cigarette on the porch before anyone realized she was missing. Her hand was on the doorknob when Xander called her name.
"Yeah?" They were all looking at her pointedly, and she flushed, a little embarassed that she had no idea what they wanted from her.
"Matches," Dawn piped up helpfully. "Or anything flamey, really. For the shadow casters."
Faith sighed, giving up the idea of escape and coming back into the livingroom. She tossed a pack of matches to Dawn, and Xander's face fell a bit, which almost made her feel bad. Almost.
Dawn passed the pack to Xander and hit the lights, and he carefully lit the wick in the center. The flames licked the air, sparking and popping as the fire burned through thirty years worth of dust coating the wick. It was strangely entrancing, and Faith sat on the arm of the couch, her interest piqued just a bit.
"First.. there was the earth," Dawn read. Was that seriously Sumerian? Baby girl grew up a *lot* in just a few years. Xander carefully fitted the first piece onto the caster. The whole thing was wrought iron and incredibly creepy. Like a lazy susan of doom.
Dawn continued reading, stuttering here and there, and Xander continued filling the caster as tribal drums beat loudly in the background. It didn't bother Faith until the wind kicked up, and she pulled her denim jacket--thoughtfully provided by Fred after she'd played Prison Break with Wes in LA--tighter around her. Wind and creepy drums, she could cope with. Buffy looked nervous, though. She took a little pride in the fact that she was handling the oddness better than Miss Slayer-of-the-year over there. At least, she was until the caster spun so fast that some sort of blue flickering light emerged from it and grew. And grew.
"Is that a--" but her voice was too low, and was drowned out by the others trying to convince Buffy not to jump into it.
..jump into it? You'd have to be completely batshit insane to jump into that thing. Who knew where it led? Or what it was? Maybe it was an illusion, maybe it was a black hole. Maybe it led to the Salem Witch Trials and they'd both be burned at the stake.. that'd be ironic as hell. Or--and Faith perked up at the thought--maybe it was a portal to the '60s and she could hop in there and score some amazing weed and chill out with Janis Joplin.
During the time she'd decided to poke her head in and see where she came out, Buffy had apparently decided that head-first was the best approach, and reared back to dive in. What an idiot.
"Aw, fuck." Faith had the presence of mind to grab her matches off the table as she ran by, stuffing them in her pocket and grabbing hold of Buffy's booted ankle as she dove in behind her.
The portal closed, and the others stood around in shock.
"Well. I guess we were wrong. Buffy diving in wasn't a horrible idea. Faith diving in after her, leaving us without any Slayers at all.. That was a horrible idea." Slowly, everyone's eyes turned towards Anya, who looked back innocently. "What?"
Roll into it, roll into it, I coach myself. Roll into it, and you'll be fine. I let out a loud grunt as I belly flop to the ground, forgetting what I'd just told myself. Everything goes white for a minute and I don't even bother trying to breathe. Then slowly, things began to come into focus. Light, a few bare trees, and sand. Lots of sand. Sand in my mouth. I spit a few times, rolling onto my back and taking a deep breath.
Buffy leans over me menacingly, her brow doing that furrowed, pissed-off thing it does. "You're an idiot."
I close my eyes again, hoping I can make her disappear, but when I open them, she's still there looking all stern and righteous. "Coulda said the same about you." Did, in fact. I just had the tact to not say it out loud. Until now, anyway.
She leans closer, and I could totally see down her shirt if she wasn't wearing that god-awful ugly-ass turtleneck. "What happened?"
I groan. "Shoulda rolled into it."
Is that a smirk? She reaches down and I take her hand, letting her help me up. "For a Slayer, you really lack grace."
I shrug. "Grace isn't part of the package, as I understand it. Strength, the ability to sense vamps, and a crappy retirement plan. That's the Slayer deal. Nowhere in the handbook was I promised grace."
She gets a funny look on her face. "You got the handbook?" I pause, looking back at her confusedly. She shakes her head. "Never mind. Where are we?"
I look around. Yep, just as I thought. Desert. In the middle of nowhere. Adjacent to nothing and just slightly south of Fuckedville. "Definitely not Woodstock," I mumble, only to get another funny look from her.
She sits on a nearby rock, sighing heavily. "I really gotta stop jumping into big swirly lights. Never ends well." My turn for a funny look. She glances up and shrugs. "You don't wanna know."
"You're probably right about that." Too far. She looks pissed off again. "I just meant--"
"Forget it." She waves her hand. "It's fine. Let's just.. figure out where the hell we are."
"I don't know," she snaps, "Look around, see if anything's familiar."
I sigh heavily, looking around. "Oh, sure. How did I miss that before?"
"What?" she whirls, trying to see where I'm looking.
"That big old sign over there that says 'If you lived here, you'd be home now.' The one above the one that says 'We're in the middle of the fucking desert and we're both gonna die because you're an idiot!'" I sink onto the ground, putting my hands over my face.
"Screw you," she whispers unconvincingly.
"You wish," I respond, probably just as unconvincingly.
We sit like that for awhile before she groans in frustration and stands, hiking her skirt up a little to keep it from dragging in the sand. I look up, waiting to see what she plans to do. Her brow furrows a little and she takes a step forward.
"I've been here before."
I suck air through my teeth. "What are you talking about?"
She gets a dazed look on her face. "In a dream. There was.." she points to a few scattered rocks. "There. Tara was there. She spoke for her.."
Her voice lowers to a whisper. "The first."
I stand up. "The First? The First is a her?"
"What?" she looks at me, confused. "No, the first.. of us."
"The first.. Slayer?" Wow. I never really thought about it. I guess the line had to start somewhere.
Buffy nods, biting her lip. "I've seen her twice. Senaya, is her name."
I swallow hard. "So.. should we look for her or something?"
At that moment, three men holding long staffs approach us, and instinctively we back up against each other, waiting for an attack, but they just stand in a semicircle, quietly staring at us. I tilt my head a little to whisper in her ear. "What's with the three wise men?"
"No clue," she responds, her back pressing against mine in a way that makes me feel suddenly warm. Great time to think with your libido, Faith. When you're about to get clubbed to death by Moses and his desert-wandering homeboys.
"So," she glances around at them, her voice raising a little as it does when she's nervous and trying not to show it. "Which one of you has the myrrh? Cause I always kinda wondered what that was."
They circle us slowly, thumping their sticks against the ground in a way that's at once entrancing and unnerving. They start speaking, in a language I can't even identify, and Buffy responds. And again, I feel like second string because I can't understand them and apparently she can.
Second string. The spare Slayer. Just an extra one, lying around in case the first one gets broken or lent out and not returned. Whatever.
That's my last thought before a staff is swung on me, and everything goes dark.
When I open my eyes, everything is blurry. As my vision starts clearing, I can see I'm in a cave of some kind, and my wrists are chained to the wall. I can feel an all-too-familiar wave of panic coming on. That trapped feeling, the overwhelming knowledge that I'm in a position I didn't put myself in. As the memory of that fear comes back, so does something else. A trick, something I did as a kid whenever I was afraid.
I clear my throat a little, and my voice is tinny, echoing through the cave as I start trying to work my hands free. "I am thinking it's a sign, that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss, they're perfectly aligned.."
Something in the cave lets out a growl,
and I shiver, pulling my wrists harder against the iron cuffs. I let out a soft grunt as they dig in, bruising the bone as I struggle, my voice lowering to a whisper. "But it's thoughts like this that catch my troubled head when you're away when I am missing you to death.."
"Hebu! Nyamaza!" snaps a male voice, and I close my mouth quickly, shaken by the suddeness of it. "Mzuri sana. Tutaondoka na tutaruhusu wewe rudi kwako. Kwa bahati nzuri, gumu shujaa." One of the men from earlier moves into the light, bending forward on one knee, just slightly.
I press my back flat against the wall as he approaches me with his staff held like a broadsword. What a way to go. He couldn't have just eviscerated me in my sleep, like any respectable cave-dwelling evil.. thing? If you gotta go, go out with a bang, I always say. "As much as I'm enjoying this little safari to the Twilight Zone, I've got a blind date tonight. So if you could just go ahead and kill me now, I'd appreciate it."
"Uko mlezi. Unataka kuuawa?" His dark features curve up into a smile and I close my eyes, wishing the blow would just come. But when it does, it comes above my head and shatters the cuffs around my wrists, allowing me to drop to the ground.
I stare at his feet. "I'm not one for hero worship, but I'll just.. uh.. stay here. In case worshipping is the kinda thing that'll save my neck. And my other parts."
"Uko mlezi," he says again, before his sandled feet begin shuffling away. I stay like that for a long time, maybe an hour. They don't come back, and shaking, I climb to my feet.
I glance around the cave frustratedly, and let out a scream. "What the fuck was.. all of that? Where the fuck am I? What the fuck is happening?" I pause, listening to my echo for a moment. "..and where the FUCK are you when I need some help, B?"
I sink onto a rock and rub my bruised wrists hopelessly. I kind of want to cry, but.. hell. I'm sure I've been through worse than this and not gotten all weepy about it. I also kind of hope that they let Buffy go, too, and she's out there wandering around somewhere, just as lost as I am. Except maybe she'll have found water.
Something shuffles further into the cave, just out of my sight. I decide to make a hasty getaway, and start to stand, but the sound comes closer. A lot closer.
"I ain't 'fraid of no ghost.." I whisper.
There's just a little bit of light seeping from the entrance of the cave--a fact that makes me suddenly realize I've been in here all night--and it's just enough to see a small, pale figure moving towards me.
"Oh, fuck this shit." I'll deny it if I'm questioned later, but I turn and haul ass towards the exit, fast than I've ever moved in my life. I almost wet my pants when I hear the thing following me and gaining quickly. Oh god, I'm gonna die. Some staff-wielding cave-ghost is going to kill me. I'm going to die out here in the desert, alone. I'm going to die slowly, painfully.
The worst thing is, I'm going to die and no one's going to miss me.
The thing that's chasing me hits my back and I hit the ground, sliding through the dirt like the Sox's first home run of the season, with this thing on top of me. I close my eyes and my mouth, cursing myself for not rolling into it.. again. I could have used the thing's weight to my advantage and flipped it right off me. Instead, I stop just short of sliding head-first into a rock, and close my eyes again, waiting to be ripped into.
I feel the thing's fur.. fringe? Something soft, brushing against my neck as it.. sniffs me. It's sniffing me? Maybe it's like.. a cave dog. It climbs off me and I feel a very human hand on my back as it sniffs me again.
I gather up as much courage as I can and cautiously turn my head to see what it is.
There, crouching on the ground, naked (naked?) and covered in sand, is a very confused-looking Buffy.
"Oh, jesus christ. I thought you were a cave dog!" I start to roll over and she growls, stunning me into stillness again. "Uh.. B? What's.. what's with you?"
She points a finger at me accusingly and opens her mouth, letting out some kind of a grunt. I scoot back slowly to sit against a rock, and she lets me, but follows me with her eyes like she expects an attack of some kind.
"Buffy, what did they do to you?"
She shakes her head quickly and looks up at the sky, then takes off running in the opposite direction of the cave.