A Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sandman crossover. Faith recieves a visit from some of the endless and learns about the chosen one's biggest battle yet to come ( season 7 ).

Proelium:

I. Corpus

She's dreaming. At least she thinks she's dreaming, or else she's dead. Either way, it's better than the coma. But Heaven never looked like this in her imagination.

Faith stands in an alley at night - dim, dank and extraordinarily unappealing. It reminds her of the many of Sunnydale. It brings back that night with the deputy mayor.

She shakes her head at the memory. If in fact Faith is dreaming, then she shouldn't dwell on bad things. "Dreams are enchantment and unicorns, not dead bodies lying in desolate alleyways," she says.

The sound of wings interrupts her thoughts. She spins around warily, ready to face her dream opponents. Faith finds herself instinctively reaching for a weapon from her jacket pocket.

"That's the mind of a Slayer, always looking for the next battle. Always anticipating an attack. Don't worry, you can lay your stake aside."

The voice belongs to a woman who stands before Faith. She's dressed rather ordinary but has bleached skin with a glow that is enhanced by the moonlight.

Faith regards her companion curiously, looking at the female's design underneath her eye, the silver anhk gleaming on her chest. She ends her gaze on the black spiked hair that only offsets her brilliant white tone.

"Don't tell me, you're Death. And I'm in hell?"

Death's smile is dazzling. "You've guessed well. Very well. Yes, I am. But this isn't Hell, nor Heaven. You're not dead...yet."

"Yet? So good old B didn't put the hurt to me. Well then, where I am?" Faith retorts. She returns the stake to its rightful place. Faith feels the wood through the thin shirt she wears, snug against her heart. She shifts her weight and crosses her arms.

The scenery around them blurs, then comes slowly into focus. Faith is now standing over her own body. The flesh of the Faith-body rivals the white sheets it lays on.

Faith wonders if a body is an it, or a she.

"You're in a parallel," Death tells her. "You're very lucky. Once every century I take human form and yet, I have come to see you. I sought you in the most elusive of places. Dreams are the ultimate escape, but a Slayer is a special case. I am the essential giver of life and the taker of life. What you do, what I do, is a gift. Death is your gift."

Faith reaches out a hand, and lightly brushes the Faith-body's cheek.

She and Death are in the hospital room as doctors walk around busily and a lone nurse keeps watch, her eyes alternating between the handcuffed arms of her patient and the magazine she holds.

"My gift? And how am I lucky? I'm stuck in a dreamworld thanks to Buffy." Death puts her arm on Faith's shoulder.

"You are living still, are you not? As for the gift, you'll find out sooner or later. Well, one of you will," Death replies as she looks over at the Faith-body.

She looks peaceful," she muses, to which Faith shrugs off Death's hand, going to sit beside the bed. The nurse doesn't flinch and only continues reading her People. Gwen Stefani is on the cover.

Faith thinks of well-sychronized training to No Doubt. She thinks of blood pooling underneath the cover of darkness.

She looks at Death quizzically, then back to the nurse. "Oh, she can't see you," Death informs her. A new voice joins them.

"When a body meets a body coming through the rye," a woman sings sweetly. A girl who is more of a rainbow than a human sits in the corner. She runs her fingers through her multicolored hair and plays with the butterfly perched on her shoulder. "Gin a body kiss a body, Gin a body cry."

Faith turns to Death. "Who's the whack job with the song?" she asks. Death shakes her head.

"Delirium." Delirium stretches out her limbs and smiles. One of her eyes looks like goldfishes swimming in blue, while the other reflects a green of four-leaf clovers.

"Hello, sister," she cries melodically. "The day finds you well. For such a body, body, body."

Delirium turns to Faith, and extends a fishnet-clad hand. "Hello, Faith. Do you like ice cream? I do love ice cream. Green mouse ice cream wasn't very good, though. Nor do I think blood flavored ice cream would be."

Faith nods. Her memory's hazy, but one image, although it hasn't occured, is still present. Clear as daylight sky, she sees it, scarlet pools across a vast campus.

"Blood. Big fight coming up. Don't think they're going to win. World's going to end and I was supposed to be right there by his side." Death leaves the room, beckoning for Faith to follow.

A blow. Faith, Death and the still-strange Delirium are on a roof. Faith feels the gravel beneath her feet crunch and looks up to see Buffy stab her dream-twin. They watch dream-Faith fall.

"A body, but not yet a body," Delirium remarks. "A half-wilted lily," she sings. Death frowns and points to dream-Faith lying below.

Faith looks at herself lying prostrate. The body's limbs are stretched out oddly. She turns back to Death. "Why are you showing me what I already know?"

Death looks amused . "It isn't what you know, but what you already know. Death, that hasn't come yet. Not for you. And although you've a fractured mind, Delirium can't reveal anything you desire to know. But there's that word. Desire. You're consumed with it."

"Oh, yeah. Desire. I got it. For Johnny Depp. Ever seen What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" Faith asks. Delirium giggles and let's loose a stream of butterflies into the sky. They displays in a cloud of smoke with tendrils hanging languidly around Faith's feat.

Death gestures through the smoke. A figure stands tall and majestically proud. Faith can't quite discern if she is male or female, then as the person comes closer, she realizes it is all but impossible.

"Desire," the figure breathes. "All that you want. All that you crave. Everything you are and so much more."

"Faith. My sibling, Desire," Death introduces her. Faith nods. At this point of the dream, she's no longer surprised but rather looking forward to each new twist. Perhaps they can clue her to Buffy.

"Buffy," Desire intones. "Buffy. Slayer. She is like you, and yet so much not like you. Tell me, Faith, why are you so concerned with something that hurts you? Someone."

Faith's clueless. "Hurts me. Oh. Buffy with the knife and the stabbing act. Well, it's a long story. The abridged version is I went to play and had a little fun, big sister got jealous. Everyone loves Buffy."

Desire flicks her wrist slightly. The image of Buffy stabbing Faith is shown in Faith's mind. The scenario plays continously. Faith holds her head in agony.

"Make it stop!" she screams. Desire obliges as Death perches beside Delirium on the edge of the building.

"Quod Me Nutruit Me Destruit," Death whispers. Faith turns around abruptly.

"What?" she asks. Death sighs.

"Quod Me Nutruit Me Destruit," she repeats. "What nourishes me also destroys me."

Faith's angry now. She wants answers, not silly Latin. "What does it mean?" she says, walking slowly away from the group. Desire answers before Death can speak.

"Don't you find it curious that the being you admire, Buffy Summers will be the ruin of you? I find it very ironic myself. But of course, humans are rarely capable of comprehending what can easily be understood. You wanted Buffy, you wanted to be like Buffy, still do, even as she wipes your blood off her blade. Yet you're now enemies. You feed off her strength, her tenderness but it is her strength that brought you here, so to speak."

Death takes Faith's hand in her own "It's so very much a riddle. Like life. You'd think even I would know the answer, but only one does. Dream."

"More of your mystical gang, I suppose," Faith snaps. "I don't love Buffy. Any longer. Not since she gave it to me in the gut. Literally." She keeps her hand firmly grasped in Deaths.

Desire laughs. The sound of echoing wails fills the air and Faith shivers slightly. "You jest! Even now your dream, your real dream and not this parallel have merged, for lack of a better term, with Buffy's. You see it, right?"

II. Minuo

Faith sees it. Buffy walks in the apartment, her footsteps sounding hollow in the empty room. Her arms are crossed over her chest, a carbon copy of Faith as she watches the vision.

Boxes fill the room and a cat leaps onto the bed. Dream-Buffy speaks first.

"Who's going to look after him?" she asks, her voice echoing. Dream Faith walks over to Buffy and stands behind her.

Faith sees a glimmer of a tower below them, the floor has given way to a black, empty chasm. Lightening strikes overhead and she watches Buffy ascend the building as a girl's voice cries.

Then it all disappears. She looks over to see if Dream-Faith and Dream-Buffy noticed it but Dream-Buffy looks down. There's only the wooden floor below them.

"There's something I'm supposed to be doing," she says, almost hesitantly. Faith watches for her dream-twin's reaction.

"Oh yeah. Miles to go. Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0," she replies. Buffy grimaces in response.

"Riddles," she sighs. The vision ends and Faith once again finds herself standing in the shadows above Sunnydale with Death, Delirium and Desire. They look at her silently.

Faith sits down and lets her legs dangle over the building. "Clear. Not quite crystal but getting there," she says.

Delirium lets loose a laugh. "Clear as a sky yet murky still. Oh, Mommy's tummy is big. Someone's going to be a big sister!" Faith cocks her head to the side.

"Not me, Mom's well, Mom's indisposed of. B. Not Buffy? Buffy's going to have a mini B? Is that what this is all about? I thought this was about her fighting the good fight."

Death "It is. And you, and the end of the world. Buffy will win, she always wins. In some way. So it's better you're in a coma than to be vanquished, right?" Faith shrugs.

"I suppose. But things change. Buffy'll lose one day." At this, Delirium nods.

"Such a pity for a body, body, body!" she sings. Faith finds her hand still gripped in Death's.

The irony hits her. "Here we are hand in hand. Slayer and death. Together looking out over the world. But it's not the end and it won't be awhile, will it?" she asks. "Death is my gift?"

III. Quies

"You're no longer needed here," a male voice booms. A magnificent man with midnight hair and ebony eyes stares down at Faith. Delirium and Desire vanish without a sound.

"Hello, Chosen One. It's been such a long trip, I know. There's so much yet to learn, but so much you have gained," he says.

Faith is now alone with Death, their fingers clenched, standing before this mysterious being.

He motions for Faith to sit down. Faith releases her grip of Death's hand and obeys.

"I'm Dream. Death is a gift yet, but not for you. Death is a weapon. The emodiment of my sister, death, was yielded as a sword by your hand. The Deputy Mayor. Angel. Others."

Faith begins to reply but Death holds up a hand to silence her. Dream continues.

"I'll get this chance once so I'd advise you let me use it well. Buffy, she has a gift to give but not quite yet. Her's is one of blood and love and sacrifice. It's always about blood. But not what you have spilled. As we speak, her essence is invigorating Angel. Your blood could've done the same. Yet, you live. Why is that?"

Faith laughs. "This is twenty questions on hallucinogens. I live because she didn't kill me. Didn't drive that knife deep enough, but she wanted to."

Dream taps his finger thoughtfully. "You live because it's ordained to. A couple more years and you and Buffy will fight side by side. The final battle."

"The end. Buffy and I. Together," Faith replies. She stands up, dusting her pants off.

"I don't know. Not after what I've done, I'm a killer. And the mayor, he said the end would be now but you're telling me Buffy's going to win, so why doesn't she come back and kill me after that?"

"She'll run, she'll flee the town. She can't kill you because she needs you, but the thought won't occur to her for awhile. Stay sane, Slayer. The next few months are going to be quite a ride, but when the end comes, you'll go out with barely a sound. Not a soul actually ready to fight surrounding you. Except Buffy. Her little ragtag gang of warriors," he replies.

His voice sounds a little sinister.

"Humans say the world started with a bang. It shall not cease that way. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper," he comments. "Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Faith laughs hesistantly. "The mayor told me I'll go out with a bang. So if it's a whimper.."

Dreams sweeps her hands out over the expanse of street below them. "Exactly."