|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Takin' Up Space
Lead, follow or get out of the way … Faith gets the SOS, but will someone pay the ultimate price for Faith’s zeal to rescue her friends?
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
Takin’ Up Space, Van Zant http://youtu.be/fXOcM7aHmbM
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
Special thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter!!
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
About 14hours earlier that same day …
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, 3:00am, Sunnydale (11:00am London time):
Billy woke with a start from his dream … not so much because he was scared … although that was part of it, but because Bess said to hurry … tell Faith to hurry. Bess had been trying to get the message to Billy for what seemed hours … she wasn’t sure how long she’d been asleep or unconscious … she waited and waited for him to come, but he never showed. When the drugs from the tranquilizer dart wore off and she woke up, she forced herself back to sleep … back to wait for him to come to her in the dream … and finally, finally he did!
For a minute Billy forgot where he was, until he remembered they were staying over at Aunt Anya and Uncle Xander’s house while their parents were away. He was sleeping on a sleeping bag on the floor of JJ’s room while Dani and Annie slept in the spare bedroom.
Billy jumped up from his make-shift bed and went to find Aunt Anya or Uncle Xander. After knocking on their door for what seemed forever, a bleary-eyed Anya opened it.
“Billy? What’s the matter? It’s not time to get up yet. I told you not to read Hansel and Gretel before bed …” she chastised him. “Your mother said it always gives you bad dreams.”
“No! It’s not that. I have to tell Aunt Faith to hurry!” Billy tried to explain as Anya turned him around by the shoulders and marched him back down the hallway towards the bathroom.
“We can tell her tomorrow, after school,” Anya replied dismissively, pressing him forward into the bathroom. “Now, pee so I can put you back to bed.”
“No! I don’t haveta pee!” Billy insisted, even though he actually did. “I haveta tell Aunt Faith about the watch bakers and to hurry!”
Anya sighed – having three extra kids was about to drive her insane. “Go pee. Baked watches can wait until tomorrow!”
“Today is tomorrow!” Billy pointed out.
“Later tomorrow … err… today!” Anya argued. “Now pee. You don’t want to wet your PJ’s, do you?”
Billy scowled at her, but turned around and did as she said. When he was done, Anya marched him back to JJ’s room and pushed him gently through the door. “Go back to sleep now,” she told him, closing the door behind him and heading back to her room.
She thought taking care of one child and Xander was a lot of work … she’d only had Buffy and Spike’s rug-rats since Saturday night and she had discovered a new level of exhaustion she never knew existed. It took forever to do anything – watching TV was like refereeing a wrestling match, getting their baths took forever and usually ended up with someone running out of hot water, and getting them dressed for school in the morning was a nightmare all its own.
She’d never been more happy that Xander never did pull his lower lip up over his head and earn the right to insist they have more than the one. How Spike had talked Buffy into having so many kids was beyond Anya ... Buffy was obviously insane, either that or Spike had learned to pull his bottom lip over his head. She made a mental note to talk to Spike when he got back and make sure the vamp didn't share the secret of that talent with her husband.
Billy crossed his arms over his chest and stuck his lip out in a pout that could only come from the Summers blood in his veins when Anya closed the door. Bess said Papa told her to tell him to have Faith hurry to the watch bakers … or the … something about watches and bakers … or baked watches … that they were in trouble. He knew something was wrong when they didn’t call on Sunday or Monday. Annie was so worried she didn’t even argue to watch ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ or 'American Idol', which were her favorite shows at the moment. He could tell the adults were concerned too, but they told Billy and his sisters that their parents had probably just gotten busy and they forgot the time change and then it got too late to call – that they’d probably call the next day.
Billy stomped one foot down and huffed out an exasperated breath, then he turned and went back out in the hallway, this time heading to Annie and Dani’s room. He flipped on the overhead light and his sisters moaned tiredly. Was it time to get up for school already?
“Annie! Wake up!” Billy exclaimed, shaking her shoulder. “We haveta find Aunt Faith. Bess said that Papa said to hurry!”
“Huh?” Annie moaned, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Dani also sat up tiredly, trying to figure out what was going on.
“Papa told Bess to tell me to tell Aunt Faith to HURRY! We have to find her!” Billy explained clearly … or he thought it was perfectly clear, anyway.
“Papa?” Annie questioned. “You talked to Papa? On the phone? Why didn’t you get us up!?” Annie asked angrily.
“NOOOOOO! You aren’t listening!” Billy told her in exasperation, dropping his arms to his sides dramatically and stomping one foot on the floor. “In the dream … Bess told me that Papa said to tell Aunt Faith to hurry to the watch bakers … they were under the bakery and they need her to HURRY!”
“The watch bakers?” Annie questioned, trying to puzzle out what he was talking about. “You don’t bake watches…” she pointed out, then looked at Dani. “Do you know what he’s talking about?”
Dani shook her head … she had no idea what a watch baker was either.
“Plleeeaaase can we just call Aunt Faith?” Billy begged his older sister, folding his hands as if in prayer in front under his chin, tilting his head and giving Annie his best ‘lost puppy’ look.
Annie shrugged and got up out of bed and all three siblings padded down the stairs to the kitchen. Annie switched on the light and dialed Faith’s number, which was on the board next to the phone. Faith picked up just before it went to voice mail. “You better be dead, Xander … ‘cos otherwise I’m gonna kill you,” she muttered tiredly into the receiver.
“Aunt Faith, it’s me … Annie.”
“Cocobean?! What’s wrong?” Faith asked, using her nickname for the Weckerly’s eldest chocoholic child, suddenly alert.
“Billy had a dream and he said that the girl mom and dad went to find told him they were in trouble and needed you to come to the watch bakery…” Annie explained as clearly as she could.
“And HURRY!” Billy added, standing on tiptoes and yelling into the phone.
“The watch bakery?” Faith questioned. “A dream? Is he sure it was real and not just … you know, a dream? Did he eat too many Snickerdoodles before bed?”
“No … I think only one … he’s pretty sure it was real…” Annie assured her as Billy pulled the phone out of his sister’s hand.
“Bess said that Papa said for me to tell you to come to the watch baker ‘cos they needed help and they were under the bakery and hurry!” Billy related excitedly to Faith.
Faith sat up on the edge of her bed, which she’d only just fallen into an hour before, and rubbed tiredly at her eyes as she tried to figure out what he was talking about. “Are you sure she didn’t say the Watcher’s Council …” Faith questioned, realization dawning on her slowly, “… on Baker Street?” she asked Billy.
Billy furrowed his brows and pursed his lips together in thought. “Maybe …” he finally acquiesced. “But for sure she said ‘hurry’!”
“Ok … I’ll call Giles, see if he knows what’s going on … he called earlier too, wondering if we’d heard from them,” Faith told Billy.
“But you’ll hurry, right? Not tomorrow?” Billy questioned.
Faith snorted a soft laugh and nodded – and she thought Buffy was pushy when she was on a mission. “Yeah … not tomorrow,” Faith agreed. “Hey, Skywalker …”
“Yeah?” Billy answered.
“Don’t worry about anything. You dun good. Tell Bess to tell them we’re on the way, ok?” Faith assured him.
“Ok … thanks,” Billy sighed before handing the phone back to Annie to hang up.
“Does she know where the watch bakery is?” Dani questioned, worry creasing her features.
“Yeah … and not tomorrow,” Billy nodded, still worried, but satisfied that he’d completed his mission; it was his first.
“Hey … sorry but the fun’s over …you gotta go,” Faith announced to the long, lean, well-muscled, tan, curly-haired brunette on the other side of her bed, pushing on his shoulder. What was his name? Aidan? Hayden? Braden? Jaiden? … Definitely something-den.
“Awww … c’mon, baby … just let me rest a minute more and I guarantee lots more fun,” he protested.
“Seriously … get out,” Faith insisted, pushing him hard enough to roll him off the bed and onto the floor. She really had been counting on a few more rounds with the guy before kicking him out, he’d proven to be pretty talented, which was a little unusual – the cutest guys didn’t always have the best technique … oh well, maybe another time. “I’ll call you.”
“You’re brutal…” he moaned as he got up off the floor and started picking up his clothes and pulling them back on.
“You have no idea…” Faith muttered as she dialed Giles’ cell phone. When she got his voicemail, she left a message, letting him know what Billy had related and asking him to call her back. Next she called Wes, who was even less happy at being called in the middle of the night than she had been.
“Are you certain? The delivery method seems a bit … dubious,” Wes pointed out after she told him what was going on.
“Well, we haven’t heard anything from them in, like, two days,” Faith pointed out. “Giles didn’t even know where they were. Do you have any better explanation other than they found the dungeon, right where B thought it was, and now they’re ‘Monte Cristo-ing’ it too?”
Wes rolled his eyes. “I still find it difficult to believe the Council would partake in such … atrocities,” Wes argued.
“Well … then they won’t mind showing us their basement, will they?” Faith questioned.
“Let me call Quentin … I’m sure there’s some perfectly reasonable explanation …” Wes suggested.
“That’s fine … we can all call Q, but don’t tell him we’re on the way across the pond,” Faith warned him.
“Oh … are we on the way across the pond?” Wes wondered.
“We are … or will be, just as soon as I can get some of the other girls gathered up,” Faith informed him.
“How many girls are we taking?” Wes asked.
“As many as I can get away from their Watchers without raising suspicion … just girls I know, just ones I trust,” Faith advised, pretty much figuring that out on the fly. She’d have to get some Slayers to back her up … but not their Watchers. Most Watchers weren’t like Wes … most would blab … she needed the element of surprise on her side if what Billy said was true.
“I see … Do you really think a full-out assault is necessary … or wise?” Wes pondered.
“If you’re gonna go, go all the way,” Faith reminded Wes of her life’s mantra. “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.”
Wes rolled his eyes again as he pondered his Slayer’s plan; he wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to Faith’s … ‘colorfulness’ and willingness to jump in with both feet, regardless of who or what she was fighting. “How do you intend to afford tickets for an army to get to London without getting funds from the Council?” Wes continued, trying to be the voice of reason.
“That’s what rich relatives are for … I’ll call Will,” Faith assured him confidently. “And I only need an army of about … ten or twelve.”
Wes blew out a deep breath. “All right, if that’s what it will take to satisfy you….”
“Actually, what it would’ve taken to satisfy me just got kicked out of my bed … this is a far distant second,” Faith sighed before hanging up.
Willow and Tara, of course, agreed immediately to help out financially and get the Slayers that Faith needed to London. They also joined in the phone campaign, calling Travers to find out if he’d seen Buffy and Spike – but they could do nothing but leave messages, Mr. Travers, they were informed, would be in meetings all day. Willow even checked on getting the corporate jet to fly them … but that was just a little beyond her authority to swing without some valid business reason (which she didn’t have) and a few miles of red tape (which she didn’t have time for).
Faith began calling a select group of Slayers … ones that knew Buffy, ones that Faith trusted, ones that she knew she could count on 110% to keep their mouths shut and to fight whomever it was that had Spike and Buffy … ones that wouldn’t care if it was the Council they had to defeat. Of the list she called, she got a hold of Vi, Kennedy, Amanda, Molly, Rona, Dominique, Chao-ahn, and Caridad from the original group of Potentials that Buffy and Spike had trained at the Coven in Canada. Amanda and Vi were in California, but Chao-ahn was in China and the rest were scattered around the United States. They all agreed eagerly to help and understood the target and how important it was that they come without their Watchers or even tell them where they were going. Vi, Kennedy, and Amanda each had another trusted Slayer in their unit that they would bring with them, Faith dismissed Chao-ahn, it would just take too long to get her there, so that made a total of eleven Slayers, including Faith. That should be enough to storm a citadel of middle-aged, tweed-clad Watchers… eleven Slayers should be able to take it with one hand tied behind their backs and blindfolded.
As Faith confirmed with each Slayer, she texted the information to Willow … cities and names, and Willow and Tara set to work arranging flights … it was a logistical nightmare, but before long, each Slayer had their tickets to London waiting for them at the airport closest to where they lived. Faith texted everyone to meet at The Thornbury Castle in London, a pub not far from the Council headquarters that they were all familiar with from past trips. When she was done with that, Faith texted some other contacts she had in London that could provide them weapons … since they were traveling light and fast with just carry-on bags, there would be no way to bring weapons with them, with one exception: the scythe. Faith packed her own bag quickly and headed to the mansion to get the scythe … they’d gone through this before with it a time or two and had finally come up with documents about it being an ancient archaeological artifact, which wasn’t entirely untrue, and a crate that she could pack it in that the airlines would allow her to check through like luggage … for a hefty fee, of course. Before long, eleven Slayers and one Watcher were on their way to London …
“Oh shit!” Faith exclaimed just as they turned the seatbelt sign off after take-off.
“What?” Wes asked.
“I totally forgot to tell Anya that I couldn’t get the kids after school! Shit! She’s gonna kill me…” Faith moaned, rolling her eyes.
“That’s rather unlikely,” Wes pointed out as he picked up the Airphone from the back of the seat in front of him.
“Who you gonna call?” Faith questioned, with a roll of her eyes. “God, that phrase is never gonna be useable again, is it?”
“I sincerely doubt it,” Wes agreed before turning his attention to the unbelievably expensive call that was connecting. “Clem! It’s Wes … I didn’t wake you, did I? Good … listen, we have a small favor to ask. You get on well with Spike’s children, right?”
(Same day, 12 hours later), Tuesday, 11:00pm, London:
Wes rapped on the window next to the main entrance door of the Watcher’s Council headquarters with a coin, which sent the sharp sound echoing through the lower floor of the building … if anyone was in there, they would hear it. He’d rather not have to break in … which would sound an alarm, if someone was working late and could open the door for a fellow Watcher, that would be better. Faith and the rest of the Slayers waited just out of sight behind some bushes off to the side of the door … if Wes could get someone to open up, they were ready to storm in behind him.
After about five minutes of tapping on the glass and nearly giving up, Wes saw a security guard running down one of the hallways and he increased the tempo and strength of his knocking. The guard looked harried, but veered off from his original path and came up to the door. “Closed!” he announced tersely, waving his arms for Wes to go away.
“Yes, I know … I’m Wesley Wyndam-Pryce …” Wes informed him, holding up his official Watcher’s identification for him. “Philip was supposed to leave me a research book in his office … my flight was delayed or I would’ve been here earlier. If I could simply retrieve it…” Wes called to him through the door.
“We’re a little busy just now – come back in the mornin’,” the guard suggested and started to turn away.
“Pardon me! This is quite urgent … a matter of life and death,” Wes insisted through the door. “I assure you I won’t be a moment…”
The guard stopped and rolled his eyes. Everything was a matter of life and death with these berks… “Fine, hurry up, then,” the guard sighed as he punched a code in the alarm panel, disabling the alarm, and then unlocked the door.
Wes stepped into the doorway to keep the guard from closing it, then motioned for Faith and the other Slayers to hurry from their hiding place. Before the guard could react, he had his back against the wall and a blade pressed against his throat. The guard’s eyes were wide with fear and shock as Faith held the scythe against his jugular. This really wasn’t what he’d signed up for when he originally took this night watchman job three years ago at the stodgy, upper-crust building in downtown. He had been in college and this seemed like the perfect job – it was quiet, nothing much to really do, he could study at night, attend classes in the morning and sleep in the afternoons. But it slowly turned into more than that as he rose in the ranks and pay scale and now he was in too deep; like the Mafia … you could join, but leaving (at least in one piece) wasn’t an option after a while.
“Where are they?” Faith demanded as she pressed the scythe against the frightened man’s throat.
“I don’t know what you’re…” he started.
“Don’t give me that company line!” Faith cut him off, as a trickle of blood mixed with the guard’s sweat and ran down the blade. “Do you know me?” she questioned.
The guard swallowed hard and shook his head ever so slightly, stopping abruptly when the blade bit into his flesh further.
“Well… Jim,” Faith began, reading his name from the nametag on his shirt. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Faith, the Vampire Slayer … ever heard of me?”
“No…” Jim whispered.
“Geez … a girl works all her life to get a bad-ass rep and for what?!” Faith moaned, rolling her eyes. “Well, here’s the 4-1-1 … I don’t follow the rules and when my friends send me SOS messages, I don’t stop until I find them. Now, you can tell me where they are, or we can send your body back to your family in little pieces …”
“I don’t …” Jim started again but stopped when he saw bright-hot anger flash through Faith’s eyes. “Who is it you’re looking for?” he asked, changing tactics.
“Buffy and Spike … she’s a Slayer, he’s a vamp. Perhaps they’re enjoying the accommodations of your dungeon …” Faith suggested.
“Dungeon?” the guard questioned, laughing nervously. “I’m just a night watchman … I don’t know anything …”
“Fine … then you becoming dead won’t be any great loss to anyone, will it?” Faith pointed out.
“I … wait! Really … I … my wife just had our first baby … I assure you I would tell you if I knew anything!” he argued.
“Yeah, I hear ya, but you know what? It seems to me that as soon as people step across that threshold,” Faith began, tilting her head towards the main door, “it turns them into gigantic dweebs who wouldn’t know the truth if it kicked them in the teeth,” Faith insisted, which caused Wesley to clear his throat and cough. “Almost everyone,” Faith amended.
“Search him!” Faith instructed no one in particular. Wes and Amanda stepped forward, one on each side and began pulling everything out of the guard’s pockets and off his belt… keys, wallet, some loose change, a cell phone, a pack of gum, and a retractable billy-club and a stun gun. Wes snapped the club to full length and looked at it closely, using his handkerchief to wipe it from bottom to top. He held the red-stained handkerchief up for Faith to see…
“You really should clean your weapons after you use them, Jim … just whose blood is that? I don’t see any knots on your hard head or teeth knocked out, so I’m gonna guess not Buffy or Spike … maybe Giles?” Faith surmised.
Faith looked at Wes. “Try Giles’ cell again.”
A few moments after Wes dialed the number of the new smart-phone that Willow had sent with Giles, they heard a sound coming from down the hall … a phone beeping. “Let’s go…” Faith directed, pushing the guard ahead of them and down the hall towards the sound. When voicemail came on, Wes hung up and dialed again just as the guard started past Travers’ office. Faith reached out and grabbed Jim by the back of the shirt and yanked him back and into the Council Head’s office. On the edge of the credenza behind the desk was Giles’ phone, ringing obediently.
“Ok … you’ve got one more chance to turn back into a human,” Faith told her new friend, Jim, as she picked up the phone and waved it in front of his face, a picture of Edmond flashing on the screen. Giles had replaced all the caller-id pictures on the phone with pictures of his son when he was playing with it on the plane. “Your wife just had a baby? Well Buffy and Spike have three worried munchkins waiting at home for them … and one on the way. Or hadn’t you noticed? Giles has a newborn baby boy waiting for him … I can promise you, that if they don’t make it back to their kids … neither will you.”
The guard looked from the phone back to Faith and swallowed hard. “If I tell you anything … they’ll … I won’t make it home either bloody way,” he explained, looking even more nervous than he had before. This really wasn’t what he’d planned for his life … isn’t it funny how, if you let it, life can take you in directions that you never intended to go? Landing you in destinations you didn’t even know existed prior to arrival.
“We can guarantee your safety … but we must have your full cooperation,” Wes assured him.
“No one can guarantee anything in this bloody place …” Jim moaned, rubbing tiredly at his eyes as he tried to think … think how to get out of this impossible situation.
“We don’t have all day here, buddy … take us to Buffy and Spike and you can go – disappear … start over,” Faith prodded him.
Finally, the guard looked up and met her eyes and nodded slightly, resigned to his fate. “There’s a key on the ring,” he started, indicating the keys that Amanda had in her hand, “the red one … fits a special lock in the lift … goes down below.”
“How many guards will we encounter? How are they armed?” Wes asked as he took the keys from the Slayer, found the red key and held it up.
Jim nodded, indicating that was the correct key, then shrugged. “Round-about … fifteen to twenty, I’d wager … every manner of weapon from wooden stakes to stun guns to crossbows to knives…”
“Where exactly are our friends?” Faith questioned.
“Last I was down there, they were locked in the blue room with Mr. Weatherby … and some others. At the end of the corridor, last door on the left – can’t miss it,” the defeated guard told them. “That’s really all I bloody know …”
Faith turned to Vi. “Tie him up …” she instructed the red-head.
“Hey! You said I could go! Help you and I could go, disappear, leave bloody town!” Jim protested.
“You can … just as soon as we get our friends out. Can’t have you getting cold feet and calling someone to warn them we’re coming,” Faith explained.
“Awwww … bloody hell,” the guard moaned as Vi sat him down on the floor and tied his feet and hands securely. “You were right about one thing, everyone who comes through them bleedin’ doors is a liar…”
“Almost everybody…” Faith corrected as Vi finished and the army of Slayers, along with Wes, started for the lift.
In the elevator, Wes opened the locked panel with the red key. Behind the panel was one additional button … also red. When all the Slayers were sardined into the lift, Wes pushed the button, the doors closed slowly and the antique elevator jerked and hesitated, then finally came to life and started its descent. Although they had been on the ground floor and were theoretically only going down one more level, it seemed to take forever on the old lift … like they were going down several stories at half the speed of … smell.
Faith rolled her eyes and sighed … when they were handing out ‘patience’, she’d jumped the turnstile and opted for a double dose of libido instead … there were times when she wished she’d stayed in that other line.
When the old lift finally jerked to a shaky stop, all the Slayers stood on pins and needles … ready to pounce … and they stood, and stood …
“Jesus H. Christ,” Faith moaned as she pressed the button to open the doors, but still nothing happened. About the time Faith started to slide the blade of the scythe between the two doors to pry them open, the old elevator seemed to free-fall another couple of feet, knocking all the Slayers slightly off balance, before the doors opened slowly … making a grinding sound like stone sliding over stone.
Right outside the lift were four guards, waiting for it to arrive … luckily, they were just as unprepared to meet the Slayers in the lift as the Slayers were to meet them at that moment, but both groups recovered quickly as Faith, Kennedy, and Amanda stepped out of the elevator first. They had discussed their plan at the pub … try to disarm and disable any humans they encountered without actually hurting them … if that wasn’t possible, defend yourself fully.
Faith dropped one hand off the scythe and swung a fist at the guard closest to her, catching him in the jaw and sending him spinning backwards … and the battle was on. Amanda and Kennedy also punched the guard closest to them as they rushed out of the small lift and into the antechamber of the dungeon itself; the same room Billy had first brought Spike and Buffy in his dream, the room Buffy and Spike had chiseled the doors open on when they first broke in from the bomb shelter.
The fourth guard turned and ran back through the heavy metal doors that led to the cellblock as he pressed the alarm button. He stopped on the other side of the doors and tried to close them, secure them. Normally, they were always locked, but there had been so much activity the last couple of days, that it had just been too much of a hassle to keep locking and unlocking them, so someone had finally made the executive decision to leave them open. The guard got the first door closed and nearly had the second one secure when three of the Slayers hit it full force, sending the door banging open violently and knocking him down on his ass.
“C’mon!” Faith yelled at her group as she kicked the downed guard in the jaw hard enough to knock him out as she went by.
Halfway down the long corridor that led to the blue and white rooms, with cells filled with vampires on each side of them, the small army of Slayers were met with a larger army of guards. Jim had told them fifteen to twenty … Faith guessed there were at least thirty coming at them with weapons drawn.
“Do what you have to!” Faith instructed her small but powerful army as she hit the first man that reached her with the flat side of the scythe. Soon Slayers and guards were embroiled in a battle of life and death. The guards were better trained and better armed than Faith had envisioned, but her Slayers were equally well armed, skilled, and powerful. It would’ve been a simple exercise if there had been fewer guards or if the Slayers weren’t holding back, trying to disarm and neutralize, but not permanently injure or kill them. With so many fighters crammed into such tight quarters, each Slayer’s attention was being pulled in two or three directions at once while, at the same time, trying to remember these were humans, not vamps … and nearly all the guards seemed to have stun guns. Many of the Slayers were hit with the electric shocks … if it was just on the arm or leg, it wasn’t so bad – it hurt like a motherfucker, but didn’t take them down, but if the guards got lucky and hit their neck or chest, the Slayer would collapse like a house of cards.
Then, from out of nowhere, tranquilizer darts started flying into the fighting throng of Slayers and guards … some hit guards, some hit Slayers. Uninjured and untranqed Slayers pulled the darts out of the ones that got hit as quickly as they could, but before long there were only four Slayers left standing … and still over a dozen guards.
The floor of the corridor was littered with unconscious and injured combatants, making movement for those left standing difficult. Faith, Amanda, Kennedy, and Vi stood in a small circle, their backs up against each other as they faced the remaining guards. They were bruised and bloody and exhaustion was starting to set in as their chests heaved with exertion from the fight. The guards lunged towards them with swords and knives, daggers and clubs and the girls parried their thrusts as they tried to exact some damage of their own each time a guard came within reach.
Suddenly, the tranquilizer darts, which had stopped flying a few minutes ago, began again – hitting first one guard, then another … then another. Faith looked past the guards and further down the hall and breathed out a small sigh of relief – Wes had the tranq gun. He’d stayed back in the antechamber when the Slayers charged down the hallway. When another guard emerged from the elevator with a tranquilizer gun, Wes had fought with him … and finally won, taking control of the weapon and tranqing the guard in the process.
As their buddies fell, the remaining guards who were between Wes and the Slayers turned their backs on the Slayers to see who it was that was such a bad shot with that damn tranquilizer gun. When they realized it wasn’t their man with it, they started towards Wes as he reloaded the gun. As soon as they turned their back on Faith and Vi, who were facing that direction, the two Slayers left their position with their backs against Kennedy and Amanda and took the offensive away from the guards that remained on their side of the hallway.
Still trying to not actually kill them or hurt the humans too badly, but simply incapacitate them, Faith and Vi used nightsticks that, by now, littered the floor of the hallway. The Slayers hit the guards in the back of their heads as they rushed away from them and towards Wesley … knocking three more of them out cold and sending two more scrambling to try and get away from them.
All the uproar in the hallway, along with the presence of so many Slayers, had all the vampires in the cellblock agitated, on the verge of being incensed. They yelled and screamed and reached out through their bars at the fighters … neither guards nor Slayers were immune from being grabbed, tripped, and scratched by the caged vamps that lined the corridor. In his effort to escape the Slayers, one of the guards got too close to the bars and the vamp inside took full advantage. The guard screamed out as the vamp caught him around the ankles and tripped him, sending the exhausted guard down on his face and chest. The vamp roared in victory as he pulled one of the guard’s legs through the bars up to mid-thigh. Before Faith could react, the vamp had sunk his fangs into the back of the guard’s leg, finding the femoral artery on the inside of his lower thigh.
The guard screamed out as he tried to kick at the vamp to get free – he tried to turn over to hit the vamp with his billy club through the cell bars, but the angry vampire was too strong and his fangs were sunk too deep into the guard’s flesh. Faith rushed up and slammed the nightstick she had down on the back of the vamp’s head through the bars as Vi continued after the other guard that was still headed towards Wesley. The vamp screamed out and released his hold on the guard and Faith pulled the frightened man away from the demon and back to the center of the corridor, trailing a wide swath of blood in his wake.
As Faith was trying to stem the bleeding by cinching the guard’s belt around his upper leg, she suddenly heard sounds of renewed fighting, along with panicked screams, coming from down the hall where she and Vi had left Kennedy and Amanda. When she looked up, she saw Kennedy and Amanda trying to drag the downed Slayers that still littered the floor away from a throng of incensed and hungry vampires that were closing in on them from the other end of the corridor.
“What the fuck!?” Faith screamed as she jumped up and started back towards them. “VI! WES!” she called back over her shoulder, jumping over the prone bodies of Slayers and guards alike as she flew back to help the other two.
“What the fuck happened?!” Faith questioned, but there was no time for anyone to answer her as she put herself between the vampires and Kennedy and Amanda, who were trying to fight them off and pull their unconscious friends away from the danger at the same time.
Faith’s question was answered when she saw most of the cell doors on the other end of the dungeon had been opened, freeing the vampires. Apparently, the guards on Kennedy and Amanda’s side had retreated down the hallway, freeing the vampires as they went. Why fight yourself when you have a small army of demons that would be happy to do it for you?
Faith began swinging the scythe with wild abandon at the necks of the approaching mob, turning two or three at a time into piles of dust … but still more came. She could hear Vi and Wes, along with Kennedy and Amanda behind her, trying to get all the unconscious Slayers away … back down the hall to the antechamber. They were leaving the guards … they’d have to come back for them … if they could.
Faith stood her ground, digging deeper than she’d ever done before as she took on the horde of vamps all by herself. She was exhausted … she felt like she’d been running full speed since Annie had called her and Billy delivered his message. Even on the plane she couldn’t really relax … actually, just sitting and waiting was just as mentally exhausting as actually doing something. Faith swung the scythe again and again as the vamps closed in on her … where were they all coming from? How many were here!? She was on autopilot now … pure adrenaline seemed to course through her veins and she barely even felt it when the vamp’s fists and feet and fangs connected with her flesh and bone – until she found herself flat on her back, her legs kicked out from under her.
Before Faith could spring back to her feet, she was blanketed with growling, hungry vamps that were fueled by the sweet aroma of Slayer blood. She struggled under them, managing to stake one or two, but she could feel the fangs of the others slicing into her flesh … her legs, her arms, her torso … her neck. It seemed no matter how much she struggled, kicked, punched, stabbed at the throng, even if she dislodged or dusted one, there were two waiting to take its place. Faith could feel her strength fading … her adrenaline high waning, as she used every last bit of energy she had to fight … but it was no use, there were too many.
Faith remembered Buffy telling her that when she died fighting Glory that she had a feeling of complete peace … that she knew it was what she had to do and that she’d never felt more sure of anything in her life. Faith didn’t feel that way at all… she felt cheated. Cheated out of a life full of Aidens …or Bradens … or whatever-the-hell his name was, cheated out of reaching her goal of sleeping with every hard-bodied male in southern California … maybe even all of California – hell, maybe even the whole United States! She’d tried love once and once had been enough for her – Angel cured her of that crazy notion, but she’d never be cured of wanting to feel a hard body under her, pressing inside her. Love was ok for Buffy and Spike … they’d always been sentimental saps … and even Xander and Anya and Willow and Tara, but she just wasn’t a ‘love’ kinda girl … was she?
Faith suddenly felt an awful realization descend on her heart as the vamps drained her life's blood … all those guys were just a smoke screen, her tough talk and flippant attitude, just a defense mechanism … she did want love. She suddenly wanted that feeling of walking on air that you can only get when you’re in love; she wanted to have a silly grin plastered on her face that you can’t wipe off no matter what, she wanted someone to know her … she wanted someone to let her into their heart, she wanted to let someone into hers. And now it was too late …
From somewhere deep within her a desperate, angry scream pierced the damp, dank air of the dungeon and the adrenaline that she thought had run dry suddenly surged within her again. As Faith began fighting with every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears she had left, she suddenly felt dust raining down on her from above. She closed her eyes and began gagging and choking as her face was covered with it, filling her nose, eyes, and mouth with dry grit. Then she felt herself being dragged out from under the remaining vamps and someone was yelling at her to let go of the scythe and pulling it from her hand. She could hear the other Slayers, Vi, Kennedy, and Amanda, fighting the vamps and Wes telling her to try and breathe normally as he pressed a palm on a particularly deep bite wound on her neck. Faith continued to cough dust from her lungs as tears streamed from her eyes … if she had been asked, the tears were from the grit that filled them … but deep inside she knew they were more than that – they were tears of relief … tears of frustration and regret and epiphany and perhaps more than a little fear – not fear of the vamps, but of the epiphany.
Faith blinked and rubbed at her eyes to try and clear them as she started to stand up.
“You’re injured, just stay still,” Wes instructed her, pressing down on her shoulder to keep her in a sitting position.
“They need help …” Faith insisted, trying again to stand.
“No, actually … they don’t,” Wes assured her, tilting his head towards the Slayers who were fighting the remaining vamps about ten feet away from where Wes had dragged Faith.
When Faith looked, she could just barely make out Amanda through the cloud of dust, swinging the scythe like it was an extension of her own body, dusting the last three remaining vamps with one blow as Kennedy and Vi flanked her, wielding stakes.
When the dust had settled, literally, they had managed to save all the Slayers but had lost five of the guards to the vamps. Faith leaned tiredly against the cell bars at her back and closed her eyes. She’d never been in that epic a battle and never been that close to death since soulless Angel had attacked her and put her in a coma …
“Here…” Amanda offered, kneeling down next to Faith and extending the scythe to the elder Slayer.
Faith opened her eyes and took the magical weapon from the girl’s hands. As Faith gripped it firmly with both of her hands, as Buffy had shown her to do, she felt a surge of magic prickle her fingertips and rush through her whole body. Faith could actually feel her bruised and torn muscles mending, feel her skin closing and healing as she held the scythe … the only thing it couldn’t fix was the empty feeling that had opened up in her soul – that feeling of desperation and loneliness that she never allowed herself to feel before, wouldn’t be wiped away so easily.
Faith released one hand from the scythe, breaking the magical circuit and took a deep breath as she looked around her. Wes had a black eye and a split lip from the fight he’d had with the guard with the tranquilizer gun, there were still only four Slayers standing … the rest were either still knocked out or woozy from the Phenobarbital cocktail they’d been injected with from the darts. The scythe didn’t seem to have any effect on that … just like it didn’t seem to help a hangover (yeah, Faith had tried it, even though Buffy told her it didn’t work).
Faith pushed herself up as Kennedy, Amanda, and Vi waited for her to tell them what to do next.
“Jim said they were in the blue room at the end of the hall …” Faith began as she started walking determinedly down the long corridor, now ankle deep in vampire dust. “That’s probably where the rest of the guards retreated to, so we need to go in guns a’ blazin’,” she advised as the other three Slayers fell into step with her.
The others nodded their agreement, each picking up a new weapon as they made their way across the battlefield. Tucking the stakes into their waistbands, they gathered up swords, daggers, stun guns, and billy clubs along the way. At the end of the hallway, they found two doors …they ignored the white one, concentrating on the blue. The four Slayers pushed and kicked at the heavy door, but it wasn’t budging. Faith tried to pry it open with the scythe, but it moved only slightly … but they were determined, they wouldn’t give up.
Suddenly, the door began to give under their pressure and the Slayers redoubled their efforts. “Get ready…” Faith admonished them when she felt the door giving. “They’re gonna be waiting … we have to strike first … ask questions later,” Faith instructed and all the Slayers nodded their agreement … this was no time to show mercy, they’d nearly lost the last battle trying to hold back and not kill anyone … they weren’t holding back any longer.
Suddenly the door gave way and swung open, clanging loudly on the stone wall behind it and Faith and Amanda both lunged forward, their weapons thrusting through the doorway to take down whatever or whoever was in between them and their friends.
Faith’s eyes went wide with surprise as she and the leader of the opponents on the other side of the door both tried to stop their deadly thrusts at the last moment … but it was too late.
Takin’ Up Space, Van Zan
Friday night seemed just like any other
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