Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Supernatural. Written for fun, not profit. Rights remain with original owners.
A/N: This is one of those stories I've been trying to write on for a few years. I don't know why writing this was like pulling teeth, but by the end, I was back to having fun. I hope you enjoy this, and I appreciate feedback, as I'm considering continuing this canon divergent in a sequel, if the inspiration stays with me.
Setting for this story: As for the Buffy verse, it's been over a year since the repercussions of Season 7's series finale. As for Supernatural, the story picks up with Season 2's "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1," but the story incorporates minor elements from later seasons. Nothing too confusing if you quit watching at a certain season, since there's a "butterfly effect" that happens when we introduce a slayer.
This isn't going to be a blow-by-blow retelling of "All Hell Breaks Loose". When Faith enters the scene, things go sideways and another path is taken altogether.
Dreams were good.
It wasn't always so. When she'd been...sick, she'd had nightmares, but not anymore. Old Faith was a night owl; New Faith enjoyed her sleep, when the job allowed it.
Most people would assume that a convicted murderer would dream of blood, of sin and hellfire. But she enjoyed her dreams. How ironic it was that the other girls, slayers she'd met, had nightmares, and that she, the black sheep, was blessed with sweaty fantasies of hard bodies and images of a make-believe life of sundresses and day jobs.
Faith knew why. It was because her real life was so screwed up. Dreams were the only escape she had from the real nightmares that haunted her during waking hours. Which was probably why she was pissed to have her happy time taken from her.
"You've got the wrong girl," she snapped, squinting into the bright desert landscape before her. "I'm out of the loop. Call B if you wanna play this game."
An approaching mirage, the first slayer appeared before her at a half squat. Her dark skin was gray from the white painted across her face. Her strength was in her grace as she approached, her limber limbs twisting at every angle as she bled in and out of existence, appearing before Faith, then beside her, where a boulder disturbed the rolling landscape.
In another blink, the first slayer was on top of the huge stone, her back to the sun hanging there. Faith was nearly blinded by the bright light surrounding "the Primitive," as the white old guys seemed to always refer to her in their Watcher journals. Faith wasn't going to start testing out that nickname any time soon.
"A slayer's gift," the Primitive hissed, staring down. "A slayer's gift is death."
Faith would have rolled her eyes if they weren't stinging. Long, twisting locks of her dark hair caught the wind and slapped her neck as she tilted her head up, refusing to look away.
"Yeah, friend of a friend told me about this song and dance," Faith bit. "Death is our gift, got it. Call me Santa. Now let me get back to sleep."
The first slayer jumped down from the boulder, hunched over, but her eyes seemed to stay on Faith. "Death is his gift," she said.
There was anger there, in her words. Faith pretended it didn't send a chill down her back.
"I guess you don't hear too well," Faith replied. She paused, raising a brow. "Wait. His?"
The slayer disappeared out of existence, leaving the full might of the sun glaring at Faith. She winced, looking away.
"She's a little vague."
Faith took a step back, recognizing the voice. Buffy was standing beside the boulder, her arms crossed in front of her, wearing the same expression she always gave the other Chosen slayer: distrust and disappointment.
"You're not B," Faith said.
"Nope," Buffy replied, false pep in her voice. She approached slowly, staring off at the land behind Faith, her eyes distant and old. "So, redemption, huh?"
Faith didn't answer.
"I know you want it," Buffy continued. "The real me knows too, deep down. It makes you something very close to her old squeeze, so she doesn't mention it. But I guess you probably know that already." Her green eyes shifted to Faith. "After all, we are inside your head."
"OK, I'll bite. Who are you, and what do you want?"
"The spirit," Buffy answered. "I am Sineya and all those proceeding her. I am the slayer in your blood and in your soul." She cocked her head, as if taking in the other woman's appearance for the first time. "I'm spread thin these days."
"That's half my question answered."
Buffy smiled slightly. "I need someone to go."
Faith blinked, her tight muscles rolling under her skin. "I'm not ready."
"Not to die," Buffy scoffed. "Jeeze, Faith. I thought I was the dramatic one. Nope, I just need a slayer to do a job. And it requires a change of address."
"Slayer dreams aren't usually this..."
"Informal? Informative?" Buffy, the slayer spirit, provided. She shrugged. "Only one way of getting through that thick head of yours, I guess." Her slight smile faded. "Even now, after all this time, they still see you as the dark one. As the unforgivable one. That's why they make you do the dirty work, Faith. No matter how many good deeds you do, you'll never be clean again."
Buffy stepped closer. "Not in this world, at least."
"I'm not trying to find forgiveness," Faith said. Her frown was heavy and pulling at her cheeks. She fought the urge to swing out at the other slayer's form. "I do what needs to be done."
"Like take down those vampire children not too long back?" the spirit asked, amusement in its ancient eyes. Before Faith could reply, Buffy continued, "You 'd do what needs to be done,' I know. That's exactly why it has to be you."
Buffy jerked her head in Faith's direction, her eyes on something past her shoulder. Faith turned, surprised to find a bed sitting on the desert sands. She was somehow less surprised that there was a man lying, stomach first, over its soft covers, fully dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved button-up. This was more like her usual dreams. Granted the guys were usually awake and halfway to their birthday suits, but a girl couldn't have everything.
"Nice," Faith commented. "Could climb that boy like a tree."
Buffy didn't answer, so Faith approached the bed. The man muttered something in his sleep, a name, and rolled his head against the pillow, his sweaty bangs tangling beneath his head. He gripped at the sheets with a tight fist, jerking slightly in his sleep. A nightmare. Faith wasn't sure why, but she felt the need and sat down on the bed beside him, putting her fingers in his hair. He was maybe a few years younger than her, but something about the frown on his face reminded her of a little boy.
"You do what needs to be done," Buffy said. "That's why it has to be you."
Faith looked up sharply. "What are you saying?"
"His name is Sam Winchester," Buffy said.
"You want him dead." Faith felt sick. "And I'm the one who kills humans." She stiffened slightly. "What's in it for me?"
Buffy sat down beside Faith, a hand on the young man's leg, as if to sooth him. It was an oddly tender gesture, considering what the spirit was suggesting.
"A new world where no one knows what you did. A world without other slayers." Buffy smiled again, her white teeth shining in the sun. "There is no such thing as redemption, Faith. Not here. Not for you." She gripped the man's leg more tightly, as if he might slip away. "But this one act can give you your freedom. And you can have your chance to save the world, without standing in someone else's shadow."
"Who is he?" Faith asked.
"Just a man. A special man, perhaps."
Faith shook her head. "What he do?"
"Does it matter, Faith?" Buffy asked. "Would it matter if he was innocent, if his life is the one that needs to be taken? For the good of all mankind, for the good of this one man's soul…Would it matter?" The spirit stared at her. "Buffy says she could do this kind of job, but she wouldn't have it in her, not when it comes to such a pretty face. I know. I'm in both of you. But you can get past this skin he wears. You can kill him before he becomes a monster. You can save him from himself."
Buffy leaned closer. "And you can save yourself in the process."
Faith released a shallow breath, pulling her hand away, curling her arms up against her chest. "What do I have to do?"
The spirit's grin returned, and Buffy blinked out of existence. The Primitive took her place, coiled like a predator on the bed beside Sam. Her answer was simple.
Buffy, who had forgotten her headset, held the cell phone against her ear with one shoulder, using her free hand to grab hold of a vampire and toss him in the direction of Tabby, the blue-haired junior slayer to her right. Knowing the girl would rid her of that one, the older slayer turned back to the fight before her, aiming a high kick into a stick-thin female vampire's face.
"Say again, Xander?" Buffy called into the phone. The battle between the team of slayers and the vampires was loud and made even more so by echoes off the tall walls of the warehouse.
"I said." Xander paused to sigh. "Our witches just got in contact with Will. Any way you can hold Darien off for another two minutes before she gets there?"
"Easy peas-y. Would you also like me to make out a grocery list after I'm finished? Since I'll have all that time to spare?" Buffy asked, rolling her eyes. She ended the call before Xander could comment on her grumpiness being tied to her disastrous date the evening before. The phone was kicked out of her hand before she had a chance to pocket it. She glared at the offending vampire.
"That was my third this month," she snapped.
He was dust a split second later.
Buffy pushed her way past the dozen vampires charging the slayers, leaving the minions for the handful of other girls to clean up. Her eyes were on the warlock, Darien Smith. He was standing at the warehouse's center, before a large symbol drawn onto the cement floor. His arms were outreached, his lips moving. Buffy could barely hear his chant over the noise.
Her body tightened, her knuckles white where she was gripping the sword in her hand. She didn't want to use it. Not on him. Darien was one of Willow's students, one of the few males she'd started teaching. His sister was a trusted slayer currently working in Australia. He was one of theirs. And he'd turned on them.
Buffy shook her head, unsure of what to think of the chaos around her. The guy was still a human, she knew, even though he had called together a small army of newborn vampires, gaining their 'loyalty' through promises of an apocalypse and slayer blood. The vampire army was weak, though, and the seers working under the New Council had foreseen nothing remotely resembling an apocalypse coming from Darien's actions.
She had no clue what he could possibly hope to gain from this attack, but his motives didn't matter anymore. Civilians had died thanks to Darien's little gathering. And now he was playing with dark magic. This had to end.
Buffy swallowed hard, trying to close herself off as she approached him. She was surprised when a hand touched her shoulder. She turned, swinging out and barely missing the brunette behind her.
"Faith?" Buffy snapped. "What the hell are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be on the other side of the country?"
Faith's reply was a fist to the face. Buffy bounced off the floor, a few feet further back than she had been.
"Sorry, B," Faith called.
Buffy lay stunned as she watched the other woman move forward without hesitation. Her instinct was to jump up, stop her, but then she remembered what she was about to do to Darien and she hesitated. Maybe Xander had called Faith in for just this. It was a bitter thought, giving this task over to someone else, but Buffy remembered sharing donuts with Darien last week while chatting about Channing Tatum's abs. Buffy remembered the happiness in Willow's voice when she mentioned the young man's progress.
She didn't want to be the one to take him out. Buffy hated that she had the second necessary to realize as much as she watched Faith charge forward.
Faith was nearly at a run, and the slayer was a yard away from the warlock when the floor opened up in front of him, a perfect circle where the symbol had been painted. A pool of white light took its place. Buffy tried to call out a warning, but her voice left her when she saw Faith grab hold of Darien and tossed him behind her, away from the portal's opening.
It should have stopped, the hard clenching in her gut, but Buffy still felt like something was about to go wrong. Then she saw it, the strange way Faith was hesitating on the edge of the circle, staring down into the portal. Buffy wasn't sure how she knew what was about to happen, but she did.
Buffy stood up, her brow furrowed as she watched the other slayer look over her shoulder once more.
Buffy was confused by the determination on Faith's face, and the small smile she was wearing. It looked like a goodbye.
"What are you…?"
The muttered words drifted. Buffy's mouth opened to shout another warning, but she cut herself off again. Faith's grin grew into something bitter as she raised her middle finger in salute, then took the short leap into the center of the circle. The dark haired slayer disappeared in a flash of blinding light.
Buffy blinked away the spots dancing over her vision. The portal was gone, the painted symbol smoldering in its place. The noise around her died down, but for one sound.
Darien laughed manically, rocking against the ground.
Buffy ran to the warlock, grabbing him up by the collar of his shirt until he was on his feet again.
"Where'd she go?" she snapped, holding him high. "Where'd you send Faith?"
Darien's grin was wide, menacing. "Somewhere fun. It's been a real blast, but I gotta go. Boss is callin'."
His eyes turned an inky black, and he pushed her away. Buffy dropped him, letting him fall butt first to the cement floor. Buffy took a step back, her eyes wide and her sword raised to one side, ready to strike. The warlock kept his grin a moment longer before his head snapped up and his mouth opened impossibly wide. Billowing black smoke pushed its way out of his throat and formed an arching cloud over his head. The black mass froze in the air a moment before it dove into the symbol painted on the cement, sending up a spray of glowing embers.
Darien fell back onto his elbows, his head lolling lazily. His eyes focused on Buffy after a moment.
"What's going on?" he asked, his voice hoarse. He jumped at the blade beside him. "Whoa. What's with the pointy accessories, Buff?"
Buffy lowered the weapon, her expression dumbstruck. She heard Tabby's steps as the younger girl approached from behind.
"What was that black smoke?" Tabby asked.
Buffy shook her head, remembered a time that wasn't hers: chains and old men holding a young girl to the earth, a force ripping through the girl's body, giving her a gift and stripping her of her humanity.
She'd seen smoke like that before.
"A demon," Buffy answered. "That was the essence of a demon."