Disclaimers: Buffy and Co. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and UPN. Were just borrowing them for a while.
Violence Disclaimers: There is definite bloodshed and violence in this, if that bothers you then go elsewhere.
Rating: PG13 for now, NC17 later.
Authors Notes: Any inconsistencies or mistakes with Latin are those of the authors.
Spoiler: Not really, no. The story starts 3 years after what would have been Season 5. So everything after the beginning ep of Season 5 never happened.
Distribution: As our girl Faith likes to say, Want, Take, Have. Just let us know where it ends up.
Summary: An AU where Buffy is framed for the murder of Deputy Mayor Finch and ends up in the US Marines.
Status: In Progress
Feedback: A definite Must Have. Makes us write much faster, Thoughts, Opinions. We can be reached at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
1 meter = 3 feet
The Next Morning
Beth woke up as the sun broke through her window and hit in her eyes, sitting up she moved out of her bed. Looking over at the clock on her nightstand, she saw the time on the digital alarm clock showed it was 8:30. Stretching as she moved around her room, Beth moved the furniture to the edges of the room so the center of the room was open.
Standing in the center Beth closed her eyes and slipped into the first kata position she had learned. Starting slowly she moved thru the basic martial arts moves into the next level of Katas which were more complex and required more concentration. Slowly all thoughts and worries left her mind, all that was important was the flow of her movements and nothing else. As she relaxed the speed and complexity of the movements increased.
Beth heard the door open and Dawn walk in, but even this did not interrupt her concentration.
Slowing she came to a stop and picked a towel off the bed wiping her face, Morning to you to Dawn.
What are you doing today? Beth asked.
I want to spend some time with my little sis, you up for a trip to the mall? Dawn looked at Beth surprised, Yeah, of course!
Good, give me a few to clean up and grab a bite and we'll head over then.
Beth noticed that there were two groups of people shouting at each other and holding signs as soon as Dawn pulled the Jeep into the parking lot outside the mall.
Beth what's up? Dawn asked noting her sisters clenched fists. She knew she tended to be a wild driver but she had gotten better in the last year.
My drivings not that bad. I've gotten better, just ask Anya, Dawn said proudly when she noticed the two groups of protesters at the front of the mall.
Damn them, Im gonna.
No. Beth stopped Dawn from continuing, I'm going to spend the day with my sister and people like that are not going to stop me and you arent going to start a fight with them either.
But Beth, why? Dont you see what theyre calling you? Baby-killers!!
I dont like it but thats their right to do that, and th Beth stopped herself from continuing. She didnt want to bring up that she was probably going overseas soon, she wanted a day with Dawn where they could just be together with no worries.
You're going over there soon aren't you? I heard you and Mom talking last night.
Beth placed her hand on Dawn's arm, I wish I could say no, but I think it's why I got to go on leave.
Dawn grabbed Beth tightly in a hug, I don't wanna lose you again Beth, she said softly.
You're not, I promise, Beth moved back to look at Dawn.
Good, cause I'm gonna hold you to that promise then. Now lets go, we've got stores to see and shoes to buy.
Beth chuckled to herself and the two headed into the mall.
Beth had managed to steer Dawn away from the protest scene. Even after she had spoken to Dawn about leaving the protesters alone, Dawn wanted to go over and argue with the protesters there, but she knew that it would have been a waste and it would have just ruined their day together. So they had gone inside using a side entrance.
So far this morning Dawn had been happily talking away about boys, school and whatever else came to mind as they toured the various clothing stores in the mall. She actually liked listening to Dawn talk, it was something she had missed.
Yes? Dawn answered as they continued walking.
Dawn stopped suddenly and looked at Beth and saw the regret on her face.
Sorry for what Beth? You haven't done anything wrong.
No, I'm sorry I wasnt there for you when you needed someone to talk to, or to just listen to you. I know it wasn't easy for you at school, being known as the sister of a murderer.
Dawn put her arms around Beth and held her close for a moment and then stepped back and looked Beth in the face, There's nothing to be sorry for Beth. I'm okay, relatively normal considering my sisters friends, Dawn grinned at Beth, and I have you back in my life now. As for the rest, well I found a friend I could talk to about stuff, and she was there for me when I needed her. But she's not you and no-one will ever replace my weird big sister, the Vampire Slayer.
Beth couldn't help the smile that crossed her face, that was one thing that did worry her. About what Dawn had gone through and she wasn't there.
I'm not weird, I just have eccentric friends is all. Beth replied as she smiled back at Dawn.
Riiiight, and this explains Spike how? Dawn teased her.
You better start running squirt, cause I'll get you for that one!
After Beth got her revenge on a now repentant Dawn, the two headed into the food court for lunch.
So what do you want for lunch? Beth asked as they weaved up one side looking at the various food stores.
Beth looked around the court noticing only a few tables left. I'll get the food, you get the table. Dawn started to agree but noticed some of the protestors from outside were near the Chinese restaurant, China Pavilion. I'll get the food Beth.
Ok. Beth replied as she saw Dawn had already headed towards the restaurant. Looking around for an open table Beth saw one had just emptied a few feet away and walked over to it and sat down claiming it as theirs for lunch.
Leaning back in the chair Beth looked around the food court, <God things have changed here. This place was just being built when I left.> Beth mused to herself.
Looking over, Raoul saw his friends by the Chinese place getting lunch for everyone, <Protesting something as wrong as this war is making me hungry today>
As he was looking over Raoul saw a flash of forest green and black. Moving over he saw a female soldier in fatigues sitting down at a table about 10' feet away. Hey guys, we got a soldier-girl in here. Let's go over and say hi he said with an evil gleam in his eyes.
Three others walked over with him as they walked up behind the soldier. He was hoping to surprise her and have her surrounded before she could react. <Damn soldier, bet she thinks she's better then us>
As he got within a few feet of the soldier she was out of the seat and facing them, <Damn, how the helld she know we were here?>
Beth had a sudden feeling about something from behind her and stood up and turned. She found herself facing four young men in their 20's, all were wearing clothes with anti-war protest logos. <Great, just what I wanted to avoid. Well I'm not losing my temper here> Beth thought to herself.
Hey soldier-girl, what'cha doin here? Why don't you go play being soldier somewhere else, we don't want your kind here, Raoul said loudly. He motioned his friends to surround the soldier, Are you listenin to me girlie? I said we don't like your kind here. You gonna do something bout it?
Beth noticed his friends move to cut her off, but she kept her attention on the leader of the group. As much as she wanted to say something, she knew that it would only make things worse. Why don't you just move on, I'm not looking for trouble here.
Raoul looked at his friends and then looked at the scared soldier girl, Ooooohhh!!! She wants us to move on guys. Raoul poked the soldier in the chest hard, I think you're looking for trouble, I heard what you people did to those kids in Paris. You shot women and children and tried blaming radicals and the United Europe for it, you ought to be shot.
They've got the bullets that you used as evidence, seeing she hadn't reacted Raoul poked the soldier in the chest again and stepped closer to her. You're nothing but murdering scum wearing a uniform.
Beth was trying to be patient and not break this idiots fingers, one at a time, but she knew she couldn't. She had to stay out of trouble and starting a fight wasnt staying out of trouble, when she heard Dawn's voice from behind her
HEY STUPID!! Dawn yelled at the leader and shoved the protester in her way to the side and stepped up in front of the leader of this group. She had seen Beth surrounded by these idiots and had heard what they had said, and it made her blood boil. Yeah, I'm talking to you ugly. She poked him in the chest hard.
Dawn saw the leader look down at her, surprise written all over his face. Are you listening to me or do I need to write it down for you so you can understand me. Oh wait, Dawn smiled evilly, I forgot, you never graduated elementary. So how can you read?
Raoul couldn't believe that this girl was talking to him this way, You don't underst...
Dawn cut him off, No, you dont understand. This is my sister you're talking to and I don't like what you're saying about her. I'm proud that she's my sister and that she's in the Marines and you should be thanking everyone like her 'cause they're the reason you can whine and complain all the time, Dawn poked the leader again, Now you have about 10 seconds to apologize and drag that smelly carcass of yours along with your friends away from me before I hurt you.
Dawn turned her back to the man and looked at Beth, Hey Beth, you okay? she asked as she smiled at her sister.
I am now that my sister is here, thanks and Beth pulled Dawn into a hug. Dawn looked over at the leader, Why are you still standing there? Go! Shoo!! Dawn waved her arms in shooing motion.
Finally the protesters drifted away from her and Beth, Morons, Dawn said under her breath.
Later the next day
Faith pulled her motorcycle West Freemont Avenue. She couldn't shake the feeling from the cemetery. Someone or something had been watching her, she didn't feel threatened but still she couldn't shake the apprehension that was forming in the pit of her stomach. <Come on Faith your just tired>.
Faith entered her apartment, juggling the bags of groceries. A flashing red light caught her attention and she made her way over to her answering machine. Faith this is Will, I just wanted to let you know that Buffy is back in town and she's heading to L.A. She knows that youre out of the hospital but that's about it. Page me if you need me. Oh and she goes by Beth now. Bye!
Faith stumbled backwards slightly as Will's words sunk in, <Buffy, mmm....Beth is coming here?> And then it hit her <Oh shit, this is not going to be fun.> Moving over to the table Faith put the bags down and then flopped in one of the chairs and leaned back holding her head <Bu..B's gonna be here? >
Faith got up and moved over by a shelf with several pictures on it, picking one up she gazed at the picture of her and Beth together, smiling at the camera. <Why'd I have to screw that up? This is one thing I can never fix, she trusted me and I betrayed her.> Placing the picture back on the shelf, she moved back towards the phone, Thanks for the warning Red, at least I have a few days till she arrives here.
As she started to pass the phone she saw the red light was still flashing on her answering machine <Whoops, missed one> and hit the "PLAY" button for the last message
Faith, This is Gunn, I need a favor. There's a small nest of vamps that's setup shop over in the old meat-packing district over on East Haledon. My crew can't get to it and Wes and Angel are tied up with something from Wolfram & Hart.
Faith quickly grabbed the few items in the bags that had to go in the 'fridge and put them away. <Hot damn! Demon butt to kick and time to forget what's bothering me> Faith thought excitedly as she ran towards the elevator to get downstairs and to her silver and black motorcycle.
Beth walked up to the doors of the Hotel Hyperion, which was the home of Angel Investigations. Pushing open the double-door, Beth stepped into the lobby and walked towards the front desk. As she approached it, she saw Cordelia sitting behind the front desk talking to Wesley.
Cordelia saw a female soldier walk into the hotel and walk towards her and Wesley, as the soldier got closer to them she saw a face shed thought shed never see, Buffy?!?! running out from behind the desk she grabbed Buffy and hugged her. B-But Cordy stuttered. How are you? What are you doing in LA? Raising a hand Beth halted Cordys barrage of questions.
Hi Cordy, Wes. How are you?
Wesley stepped forward, Buffy, its good to see you. What brings you up to LA? he asked cordially.
Actually Im here to see Angel when from behind her she heard the front door fly open, Hey, Cordy! You can tell Gunn to scratch one vamp nest. Turning Beth saw the one person she hadnt wanted to see today, Faith.
Stopping suddenly about 10' feet away, B??? <SHIT! I...I thought she wasn't gonna be here yet. I can't talk to her. Damn she looks hot in camouflage though>
Hello Faith, she said with a cold smile that did not reach her eyes. Its been a while, glad to see youre up and about and moving on with your life. Beth said bitterly. Turning back to Cordy, Tell Angel Ill call him later, and walked past Faith without a word and out of the building.
After Beth had stormed out of the hotel, Faith looked up at the ceiling and shook her head, Thanks for the warning Red, great timing there, she muttered under her breath. Looking back at Cordy she saw her staring at her. What with the stare Cordy? On second thought, don't tell me. Im out of here, and Faith stomped angrily out of the hotel door.
Several Hours Later
Hi Cordy, its Beth. Is Angel there? Beth asked tersely.
Beth?? Cordy asked puzzled, Uhmm, hold on one sec.
There was a brief pause and then a click in the background, Angel,
Angel, hi. her tone softened as she heard Angel's voice, at least now she'd get some answers.
Buffy, I heard you were coming up to LA. What brings you up here?
For a couple of reasons, I need to see you and get some answers.
There was a short pause, Okay, we can meet at Caritas, its a karaoke bar.
A karaoke bar Angel? Beth asked curiously.
Don't worry, you'll understand when you see the place. I'll meet you there at 6PM.
Beth arrived at the address and stared at the non-descript looking building. Her fatigues had gotten her several strange looks in this part of town so far, sighing she entered the building and her first sight was that of a large metal detector down the hallway and a demon bouncer who seemed to be taking weapons from anyone before entering the bar.
Walking forward Beth walked thru the metal detector, and heard music coming from the doorway into the bar. Stepping in she saw a large bar on her right and towards the back was a stage with a microphone.
However the sight that actually surprised Beth was that the bar's patrons were humans and demons! In the center of the floor she saw the tables and at a side table to the left she saw Angel and a green-skinned, horned and red-eyed demon talking.
Beth headed over towards the table, and saw the demon Angel was talking to turn around and look at her strangely for a few seconds.
You're right Angel. Turning he stood up and took the young woman's hand and kissed the back of it, You my dear have a very interesting aura for a Slayer.
Beth stood shocked, first that he had kissed her hand and second that he had known that she was a Slayer. She remembered most demons trying to tear her hand off, not kiss it.
Please take my seat, I was just leaving, The Host said to her. Angel, we'll talk or in your case, sing later. And he left with a flourish and headed over towards a Slime demon, Rilo! It's been a while
She sat down in the seat that the green demon had just left. Angel noticed the look on her face. That's the Host, he's a bit...different, but he's harmless. You look good.
Interesting friend you have, how did he know I was the Slayer? Did you tell him? As she sat down she looked around the room carefully.
Beth saw Angel shift uncomfortably in his seat briefly, He guides humans & demons, its something you need to do to understand better. Now what was it you wanted to talk to me about? he asked seriously.
Beth looked in Angel, Faith.
Angel leaned back a little now that he knew what Beth was digging into, What about her? She's done a lot of good the last few years.
Leaning forward, What's the deal with her? First Wesley, now Faith. Everyone who tries to screw up my life comes to work for you now? Beth said angrily.
Irritation flashed across Angels face briefly, Thats not true Beth and you know it. So stop looking for a fight you can't win.
Then why is she working for you?
She's not, she was doing a favour for a friend, Gunn. And even if she was working for Wesley and Gunn, what business is that of yours Beth?
She took my life from me thats what! she yelled. Several of the patrons looked over at the table and just as quickly saw the look on Beths face and decided to pay attention to something else.
Shaking his head, No, she didnt. She was in a coma, Wolfram & Hart and the Mayors ex-cronies did that Beth, they wanted you out of the way and thats what they got for a while. You dont know what shape Sunnydale was in after you were gone. Once the word got out that there was no Slayer, vamps and demons came out of the woodwork, and Giles, Willow and the others had their hands full trying to keep things under control. After Faith came out of her coma, you dont know how hard she worked for over a year to clean out Sunnydale and make it known that it was off limits to demons.
Beth just sat there in surprise as she digested what Angel had told her, <Butbut, shes evil >
Leaning forward towards Beth, Angel saw her shocked expression and knew that some of what he was telling her was sinking in. Beth, she did a lot of evil and shes trying to atone for what she did. Im not saying you should forgive her, I know youre angry that shes moved on and youre in the Marines. But you cant judge her by what she was without looking at what shes done with her life since then. <Now that Ive got her thinking about her, maybe shell talk to Faith, those two have a lot to work out. >
Beth slumped back in the chair II dont know Angel. I just see her and I dont know if I want to hug her since shes alright or punch her since Im so angry at her. Im not sure what to do.
How about talking to her then? Angel signaled the Host who nodded.
What are you talking.... as Beth looked over and saw Faith walking towards them.
Faith stopped in front of her Hi B, or is it Beth now? she asked. Faith was dressed in faded blue jeans, tight-fitting black shirt and a light, leather jacket. Beth just stared, Faith the woman she had both dreaded and wanted to see was now right in front of her. <Be Nice> she could her Taylor's voice in her head. <Screw nice Taylor>.
It's Beth, and why are you here? Beth asked angrily as she looked at Angel.
Standing up, Because you two need to talk, and as I've been told, there's no time like the present. I've got a Polgara demon to see and you two have things to talk about, and Angel was gone.
Faith sat down in the chair Angel had just vacated, Look Beth, Broody's got a point...
And that would be what Faith? There's not a lot to talk about.
B, Im sorry for what happened
Beth cut Faith off before she could continue, Sorry? For what exactly? You have a rather long list to choose from.
Yeah I do B, every night I see all the evil I did and every day I try to do something to make up for it.
Well you know what Faith, I'm happy you're finally doing good. But you know what? We both know who really killed Finch, but I'm the one who had my life stolen from me, not you! Beth angrily stood up. She could feel her cool start to seep away.
Pacing right up into the dark slayers face, All I have now is the Corps, and I can't even retire cause its a lifetime sentence till I'm dead! So you think about that while you're doing good now cause now matter how much good you do you can never give me my life back!
You know what B, I don't have to take this...I didnt do anything to you, the Mayor did, Faith stood up, refusing to back down to Beth, Everyone's got their problems B, some are worse than others. But speaking from experience, getting three meals a day, a roof over your head and a home is a hell of lot better than some of the things I had to do to get by from day to day. So don't go acting all high and mighty on me, cause it aint gonna fly with me.
Turning, Faith strode out of the bar, as she exited the building Faith felt the tears burning her eyes as she struggled to control them. <Damn, shit, damn. She's in the Marines for life? When I screw up I really do a great job. No matter that I told her it was the Mayor, we both know if I hadn't of killed Finch by accident....>
Faith hopped on her motorcycle, quickly starting the engine and gunning it as she flew down the street. Her only thought right then was to get away and think.
Beth watched the door close behind Faith, as she tried to get hold of her temper. Anger flooded her veins as she slowly controlled the urge to hit something or someone. But in the back of her mind was the fact that she felt better after confronting Faith.
Angel watched Faith slam through the door and made his way over to Beth.
I'd say that pretty much went about as bad as can be expected, do you feel better now Beth? Angel asked as he sat down.
Beth felt her temper start to flare and stamped down on it, refusing to let Angel know how angry she was. What did you expect to happen Angel? After what she did, did you think I was gonna tell her all is forgiven?
No I didnt. But then I didnt expect you to attack her either, you have changed and not all for the better either Beth, Angel replied.
Beth sat down angrily, not sure what she was more annoyed about. That she knew Taylor would say the same thing or that Angel was right.
Shes not the same person she was. But then neither are you. Weve all got dark places in our souls. But youre so busy being angry at the world for what was taken from you, you cant seem to realize that your life is coming apart because of it. Stop blaming everyone for what happened and move on with your life.
You're one to talk Angel. If I remember correctly, you're Mr. Brood, now all of a sudden you're Mr. Groove, hanging out with demons.
That's a low blow Beth.
No, you know what's a low blow Angel, you telling me that my life is falling apart. You don't know anything about my life.
No? Elizabeth Anne Summers, convicted of the murder of Deputy Mayor Allan Finch on Feb 15, 2000. Judge granted you the choice of life in prison or life in the Marine Corps. You chose the Marine Corps and attended basic training that summer and then advanced combat training in December 2001, later assigned to 13th Mobile Expeditionary Unit, Charlie Company, 1st Platoon. When you were assigned to your latest unit you met Corporal Steven J. Taylor, father of Samuel Taylor and married to Mary Elizabeth Giardello-Taylor.
But more than that Beth, you didn't just take the fall for Faith because she was a Slayer or because you put her in a coma or whatever the reason is that you convinced yourself why you protected her so strongly from everyone who came after her. All this anger and resentment you keep telling yourself you feel and to push her away isn't real, you're using it as an excuse not too see the truth that you're deeply in love with Faith and that she feels the same way towards you.
Angel raised his hand to stop any denials that he knew were coming his way. Look Beth, Angel stood up and moved in front of Beth, don't say it. Just think about what Ive said, don't just dismiss it out of hand. Okay?
Angel turned motioning to the Host and exited through the side door.
Later the next day
Faith leaned against the cool wall of the warehouse, as she tried to rest a moment. Dropping the bloody sword, Faith checked her wounds and saw most of them werent too bad, they'd be healed by tomorrow. But this little hideout with the six Vamps and the two Thorgal demons were more then she had expected.
Picking up her sword Faith wiped it off on the body of the closest demon and then covered it up with a blanket that was lying nearby, and started walking towards the exit. As she exited the building Faith looked around and headed over towards her motorcycle. She stored the sword and kicked the engine to life, pulling out she stopped at the corner. The street was empty except for a few bums across the street, but something felt 'wrong'. Shaking her head, <Damnit Faith get over it. Youve been nervous ever since you ran into Beth yesterday> Faith gunned the engine and took off down the street and towards her apartment.
Beth made her way down the stairs of the building and came out on the street, for a second day Beth had been watching Faith. She had found out where Faith lived before she went to Angel's yesterday. <Damn, damn, damn! Why couldn't you just have stayed evil Faith? This way I could hate you. She did look good though,> Beth shoved her hands in the pockets of her winter camo jacket and headed towards her rental car.
As Beth headed towards the car, she cast one last look at where Faith had pulled out and saw something that caught her eye. Walking over she crossed the street and saw a small wallet sized picture and picked it up.
Looking closer, Beth saw it was <DAWN?!?! What the hell????> Dawn was dressed in a formal dress and over her shoulders was a black, leather jacket. Turning the picture over Beth noticed the writing on it. Faith, thanks for a great birthday!! Glad you could make it. Love, Dawn. At the bottom was the date, April 1, 2001, <Dawn's birthday, what the hell is 'she' doing with Dawns picture and why is she spending time with her?>
Walking back to her car, Beth got in and started towards Faiths' apartment, <Im not sure what's going on, but its time I talk to Faith and find out what.>
Beth pulled her car over and parked it next to the building where Faith lived. Getting out Beth walked in to the bottom level of the warehouse, which was filled with piles of rusting metal pipes, wooden pallets and other junk. But about 75' away she saw a freight elevator and headed towards it.
Once at the elevator Beth pushed the "CALL" button to bring the elevator down, over here she did notice the area was swept clean of junk just as the elevator arrived.
Faith heard the elevator when it went down and waited for her 'guest' to arrive. As the elevator gate opened she was shocked to see Beth stepping out.
B, you here to tell me more about how Ive screwed your life over? Faith asked angrily.
No Faith, Im not. Actually Im not real sure about a bunch of things now. Pulling the picture out of her jacket pocket, But you dropped this, I thought youd like it back. Beth held the picture out towards Faith.
Oh, thanks B, Faith took the picture and flipped it over and saw it was the Dawns picture that she carried. <Oh shit >
Nice picture. But Faith, why do you have a picture of Dawn? Beth asked as she walked further into the apartment, which seemed to be the entire second floor of the building. She could see the kitchen, bedroom and living room since there were no walls, only sheets to give the illusion of individual rooms. But the other half of the floor was partitioned with a wall and only one door could be seen to enter it.
Turning Faith watched Beth as she walked by and moved towards the couch. You wanna sit?
Beth sat down on the end of the couch, So why do you have a picture of Dawn Faith?
Faith sat down on the opposite end of the couch, facing Beth and sighed loudly. After I came out of the coma I knew I had fucked a lot of things up in my life, especially people who had tried to help me. I went looking for you, but no one was talking to me at the time not that I was surprised, so I went to see your Mom and hoped she listen to me. I told her everything B and she let me prove that I meant what I said to her about changing.
She did? What about Dawn though? Beth asked, very curious now.
Well that came later, at first I started helping Giles, Willow, Tara & Xander. Mostly on the sly, since they didnt trust me. But after a while they saw I wasnt the old Faith and gave me a second chance and so did your Mom. I was sort of visiting your Mom a lot and I saw Dawn a lot, she was having a lot of problems so I tried to just listen to her when she needed to talk.
Faith shifted uncomfortably, she didnt like talking this much but she knew that she had to tell B everything. Shes like a sister to me B. Id do anything to protect her, shes family. That goes for Xander, Red & Tara too, but especially Red. When I moved out here, she called to check up on me and how I was doing or just say hi, constantly. She helped out with the Wicca-stuff when I needed it, youre lucky to have her for a friend B.
Beth leaned forward and looked Faith straight in the eye, Faith, how bad was it in Sunnydale with me gone? Angel said it was bad, but he clammed up about it.
Faith looked around, anywhere but at Beth before she exhaled loudly and looked at her. It was real bad, there was a curfew from sundown to sunrise. Vamps roamed the streets at will during the night, and demons were constantly moving in. When I started helping them they were in pretty bad shape. They were doing their best, but there were too many vamps. Red & Tara were able to hold their own mostly, especially Red, she got real powerful and she was casting more powerful spells almost every night.
Oh, Beth replied softly and clamped down on her feelings of guilt for failing her friends.
Faith heard Beths reply, but she saw the look on her face before Beths face turned into an emotionless mask. Scooting over Faith put her hand on Bs. BBeth, it wasnt your fault. You couldnt have done anything even if you knew Faith felt Beths hand clench.
But I should have.
NO. You couldnt have done anything B. Youre gonna have to let it go, I know whatll happen if you dont. Youll end up angry at the world and blaming it for everything, youll be just like I was. Dont do that. Please. Beths hand relaxed under hers. Faith suddenly realized she had moved very close to B while she was talking to her, but B didnt seem to mind.
Suddenly Beths beeper went off, grabbing it she moved it up to read the message, *RTBRFD* (Return To Base, Ready For Deployment) Faith, somethings up with my unit I have to go. Can we talk later?
Yeah, Id like that too B, With one last look at Faith Beth turned and made her way back into the elevator.
Only the dead see the end of war.
Beth hopped out of the humvee and grabbed her duffel, looking around she could see the base was a beehive of activity with men and vehicles. Beth started walking towards her barracks and saw the lights on inside as she got to the screen door.
Opening it she stepped in and saw most of the platoon inside, Hey Summers, glad you could make it to the party, Ramirez called out to her. Looking for the voice, she saw Ramirez lying down on his bunk, Thanks she answered sarcastically, its just where I want to be.
A hand touched her left should her and she turned and saw Taylor, Hey you, Beth noticed the soapsuds in Taylors hair. They catch you in the shower again? She couldn't help but grin at the otherwise normally neat appearance he kept. In the few years she'd known him he'd only been less then perfect a few times.
Very funny. The base is on full alert, scuttlebutt is that we're due to move out in 24 hrs. The whole battalion, Taylor said with a serious look on his face.
The smile dropped from Beth's face as she realized what he meant, they were going to France. Alright. I'll catch up with you then. I'm going to get my gear ready.
No need, it's already done. The company's got a briefing to go to in the mess hall.
They arrived at the mess hall, which was now mostly filled and grabbed two seats towards the back and sat down. The mood in the room was somber, the usual loud chatter and joking was absent.
Suddenly the loud voice of the Battalion First Sergeant crashed thru the room COMPNY ATTENTION!! Everyone in the room jumped to attention as the battalion XO, Major Stewart and his staff walked into the mess hall. At ease, said Stewart.
Men, the battalion has gone on full alert for deployal. We will be leaving Camp Lejeune in the next 60 minutes for berthing on the troop ships Rodger Young, Valley Forge and the Guadalcanal to join the USS Wasp (LHP-1) and the carrier battle group USS Constellation to become Task Force Tango Chaser, anything left behind will STAY behind and we are not leaving a single bullet, artillery shell or spark plug behind. Do I make myself clear?
YES SIR the reply echoed from the entire company.
Good. You'll receive more intell on the battalions orders shortly after we leave dock. Dismissed. Major Stewart and his staff exited the room.
The First Sergeant called out, You heard the Major, you have 20 minutes to gather your gear, grab your socks and get your asses to the parade ground for transport. DISMISSED.
2 weeks later
Tara walked past Will's computer drying her hair from the shower when she heard it beep twice. Stopping she turned and saw a news page displayed on the monitor. Wills honey! You're computer just beeped me. Tara called out to the bedroom.
Did it? It must be one of the bots I have running on it, said Willow as she walked out of the bedroom. She was dressed in grey sweat pants and a tee-shirt. Let me take a look.
Willow picked up the water bottle next to the computer, sat down and started reading the screen. The bottle fell from Willow's hand as she read the news screen her bot had picked up. Tara!! Forget class, Willow yelled out as she hit the Print button. Moving to the closet she pulled out a green jacket and shoved her feet in her shoes.
Will, what's wrong??? Tara asked worriedly.
Everything, Ill explain on the way.
20 minutes later....
Willow arrived at the Summers house with Tara and Xander & Anya in tow. Knocking on the door hard for several minutes she heard someone opening the locks and the door opened to reveal a sleepy looking Mrs. Summers dressed in a dark blue, terrycloth robe. Will
Mrs. Summers, we need to come in, Willow stated icily, now.
Willow, it's 7:30 in the morning. Cant this wait?
No it can't, as she pushed the door open and walked into the house. Turning, she faced Joyce, When were you going to mention that Beth is in the infantry and that she's in France? Willow said angrily. When they brought her home in a bodybag?!?
The rest of the Scoobs had walked into the house, Tara came up behind her lover and put her hands gently on Willows shoulders, Will hon. Calm down, maybe she didn't know.
Turning her head, Willow looked at Tara, Yes she did. Beth would have told her about something like that. Isnt that right Joyce. Willow spit the name out angrily.
Yes I knew, but I didnt want to worry anyone else. Dawn doesnt even know.
Yes she does, came Dawns voice from the top of the stairs. Dressed in her pajamas and a robe she walked down towards Willow and her mom. I asked Beth about it and she told me she was going to France. She knew she was going Mom.
Silence had descended over the group until Xander finally spoke up, Howd you know she was in France Will?
I had several bots running to pick up anything about the war and Beth. One of them found something this morning. Pulling a folded piece of paper out of her pocket she handed it to Xander who opened it up and started reading the article aloud.
Today elements of the 7th Marine Expedition Force/2nd Marine Division starting landing, seen here are units of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (BLT) disembarking in Bordeaux, France and moving to reinforce the US Armys 94th Combat Engineer Battalion (Heavy) and the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) that are presently about 50 kilometers south of Bordeaux. One of the first women Marines assigned to a combat unit was seen disembarking with the rest of her unit here as well, Lance Corporal Elizabeth Summers, a member of the C Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. (See right photo). According to sources in the Pentagon Xander trailed off.
I knew you had a lot on your minds and I didnt want to worry you, is that a crime? Joyce asked.
No, but when were you going to tell us? We have right to know, shes like family to us.
Later that week
August 28, 2003
Mom, Giles & Dawn,
Hi, I know that my other letters didnt reach you but hopefully these will. By the time youre reading this Im going to be somewhere off the French coast and by tomorrow Ill be in France. Most of the scuttlebutt is that things have been pretty quiet where we are going, since it seems the fighting has moved XXXXX of us at XXXXXXXXX. While we were aboard the USS XXXXXXX XXXXX, they kept us pretty busy with drills and training during the crossing so there hasnt been much time to think about anything. I guess thats the idea though.
Well I have to go, its lights out now. Tell Dawn I love her and I miss her. I love you and Giles and Ill be thinking of you while Im here. Talk to you later.
75 kilometers east of Bordeaux, France
Gripping her rifle tighter Beth let her eyes scan the countryside for the slightest movement when she saw the point man signal and her squad started to spread out when suddenly she heard the high-pitched whistle of incoming artillery shells.
INCOMING!!!!!!!!! she heard someone yell out and everyone dove sideways away from the dirt road they had been walking on. Beth heard three loud explosions and the shockwave threw her forward. She could hear several people crying out Medic! as well as bullets flying around her.
Beth knew she was going to die, right here. She didn't think it, she just knew. When she felt a hand grab her shoulder, Beth! Come on. We've got to move, she heard Taylor's voice and knew he was right but her body wouldn't listen to her. All the training for this couldn't prepare her for the reality of combat, and she froze.
Grabbing her arm roughly, Beth, look at me, Taylor saw Beth turn her head to look at him. You have to move. We stay here we die. Now move your ass Marine, NOW!!
Taylor saw the overwhelming fear leave Beth's face, replaced by determination as she started to move forward on her belly, keeping low just as she was trained. Taylor knew that most green soldiers always reacted this way, <You just had to get them moving and their training would kick in> he thought, and started after Beth.
Beth crawled towards a rocky outcropping about 10 meters ahead, stopping to cover her head as the arty continued to pound countryside all around her. Pulling up behind the rocks she turned to see Taylor crawling on over as well, Glad you could make it, she quipped, the initial fear she had felt had subsided now.
The shells tore up the ground behind them, We gotta get that spotter Beth, the platoon's getting ripped to shreds.
Beth took off her helmet and moved sideways to peek her head out and look ahead as she tried to stay flat to the ground as possible. As she poked her head out she saw a 3-man UE recon team about 15 meters away, and pulled her head back behind the rocks. Theres a 3-man team of hueys about 15 meters ahead to the right of the top of rise in the road.
Moving right next to Beth, Okay. This is what we're gonna do. You're gonna move back about 5 meters, I'm gonna draw their fire and you're gonna haul your ass across the field and into the forest. That'll put you on the same side of the road as them.
Beth nodded as she listened.
You have to get thru the forest and swing behind them. I'll get whoever I can and in exactly 3 minutes we'll attack them from the front, while they're occupied sneak up and hit them from behind. We clear Summers?
Yes. You hold them by the nose, and I'll kick them in the ass. Beth looked at Taylor before she moved back, Watch your ass, she mouthed to Taylor and moved back into the field where the artillery was dropping.
Beth felt the ground shudder with each of the hammerblows from the artillery shells, when she saw Taylor toss a grenade and fire on the 3 UE soldiers. Jumping up, Beth ran across the field towards the forest across the road. Rocks and dirt pelted her from the artillery, but she couldn't fail, she had to get across too many people were relying on her.
What seemed like an eternity ended as she ran into the forest, her ears rang and she felt blood dripping down her face from her forehead. Moving through the trees, Beth used every ounce of skills she had learned during her training and as a Slayer to keep quiet and move as quickly as possible behind the UE soldiers, which she could just make out through the smoke.
As she moved towards the edge of the forest she moved behind a large oak and leaned her head out to take a look She could see she was further down from them then she intended, she was about 20 meters away. Beth heard gunfire from beyond the rise as the UE soldiers started firing back at someone. <Shit!> Beth jumped out and started running towards the enemy soldiers .
Beth was almost to the rise when one of the UE soldiers turned and saw her. Beth held the trigger down and felt the rifle jerk as it fired, the spray of bullets riddled the soldier almost cutting him in half.
She saw Taylor and one other Marine come over the top and one of the UE soldiers shot the Marine killing him. Taylor was fighting with the other soldier, hand to hand, as the last UE soldier turned to shoot him in the back.
Beth fired at the UE soldier, missing him. But her bullets had distracted him and he turned to face her and pulled the trigger. She heard the CLICK, CLICK from the firing pin as his rifle misfired; dropping the rifle, he pulled out a wicked looking combat knife.
Taking a step back Beth dropped her own rifle, which was empty, and slid her combat knife out as she moved into a knife fighters crouch. Beth dodged several fast attacks by the huey, who also parried her attacks as well.
Beth brought her right arm up to block a kick, when too late she realized it was a feint and felt his knife cut a long slash down her left arm. White-hot pain lanced her arm and she dropped her knife, stumbling back several steps. Beth felt the blood flowing down her arm as she saw the soldier grin evilly at her and started to close with her. Adrenalin flooded her system, causing the pain in her arm to fade. Beth looked into the hueys eyes and smiled as she felt something long forgotten return. Beth easily side-stepped the knife blade as he lunged towards her, grabbing the arm she slammed it against her leg twice and knife fell to the ground. She threw several lightning fast punches into his stomach and chest, the last blow she felt something crack under her fist.
Beth heard the huey scream and grab his chest, jumping up Beth landed a spinning kick on his head throwing the huey backwards and onto the ground. She took several steps towards the huey and stopped as she saw him struggle back to his feet, facing her. Seeing he was beaten, Reddition maintenant! Vous vous etes battus navez aucune chance! **Surrender now! Youre beaten. You have no chance!** Beth wanted him alive, there was no need to kill him now, it was over.
Reddition a vous?!? The UE soldier yelled, Jamais. Matrice chienne!!! **Surrender to you? Never. Die bitch!**
Beth saw the soldiers left hand reach down to grab his sidearm, darting forward she closed with him just as his hand came up with the pistol. Her training kicked in and with a sharp twist to the right with her left hand she heard several bones from his wrist snap, as her other fist lashed out and crushed his throat. She stepped back from him as the huey grabbed his throat unable to breathe and fell to the ground at her feet, seconds later he had stopped moving and was dead.
<Oh my god, what have I done?> Beth thought as she looked at the dead soldier lying at her feet.
Taylor turned in time to see the blow to the UE soldiers throat and the look of utter horror pass over Beth's face before she had covered it up with a look of indifference moments later.
He could see blood dripping down from a large gash on her forehead and her left arm, but he couldnt see any other injuries. Seeing Beth was all right Taylor turned his attention to getting the platoon or what was left of it organized.
Black, Shintaro. Start searching, see who's alive or dead. If they can walk send'em over here. And find Deakins, he had the radio. Go! Turning back towards Beth, Summers, check these bodies for any ID, unit patches, maps, anything we can use for intel. I want to know who the hell that just jumped us and where they are.
As he turned to walk down the hill he heard Beth, I'm on it, he could see Shintaro and Black, and at the bottom of the hill were several more Marines, all of them were wounded.
Beth looked down at her feet to the soldier she had just she had This was someones husband, a father to a little kid. For a moment she was back in the library leaning over Kendra's body, closing her eyes for a moment Beth forced the image out of her mind and starting searching the three soldiers for maps, ID and anything else that might be of use.
It took about 20 minutes, but he had the final tally for the platoon. Shintaro had found the radio and what was left of Deakins, fortunately he had taken the brunt of the blast and the radio was left intact.
Corp, here's what I managed to pull off the 3 huey's, her voice was dull and monotone. Her face was as blank and devoid of any emotion as her voice.
Taylor looked up when he heard Beth's voice and saw the expressionless look on her face. Taking the papers she handed him, "Good work Summers. Go have the medic patch those wounds up. I'm fine Sir. Taylor reached out, touching her arm that she had been cradling. She flinched and he didn't like pulling rank on Beth, but she had to get those wounds looked at. The blank expression he saw in her eyes scared him, but he'd have to talk to her later. <Damn, she's retreating into herself. I was afraid how she'd react. I'm going to have to talk to her about this. She has to deal with this someway.>
Beth turned from Taylor and headed towards the medic, all it had taken was him touching her arm for the shock to wear off. She cradled her left arm against her, the throbbing pain from the slash down the back of her arm from the soldier's knife when they were fighting. Her head was pounding and blood was running off her chin but she didn't notice. She could still see that UE soldiers eyes staring at her and hear the screams of her fellow squad members.
Beth was jerked back to reality when the medic touched her arm and pain shot up her arm from the contact. "Summers, sit down. That arm's gonna need stitches."
Sitting down Beth looked around her and saw the makeshift triage that had been setup for the wounded.
I have to stitch that arm up, but I can't spare any local anesthetic for it. You gonna be okay? he asked.
Looking at him Beth nodded, Yeah, I'll be okay. I've had stitches before. Beth felt the needle pierce the skin on her arm as the medic started the stitches. Wondering how many times she'd done this before, she focused her mind on something else and pushed the pain to the back of her mind.
As Beth sat ignore the pain radiating from her arm, she wondered if this was what Faith felt after she killed Finch that night. She felt almost dead inside. Like nothing was worth having to kill others, even if they were trying to kill you. Demons had deserved it, but that soldier was just a person.
Would this ache inside of her every go away? She didnt think it would. All done, she heard the medic say and she looked over at her arm and saw that the gash was bandaged and covered with gauze and she felt a bandage on her forehead as well as she touched it with her good hand.
Yeah, while you were out of it, I put some stitches on that one on your forehead. Just find someone and stay awake after we get back to base for 12 hours, then go see the doc. If he gives you the okay you can catch some sleep. Ok? Here's 2 aspirin, it won't kill the pain, but it will dull the throbbing some though.
Beth held her hand out and the medic dropped the aspirin in her hand and walked away to check on his patients.
Corp, Ive got Base on the radio Black said as he handed the headset to Corporal Taylor.
Taylor spoke into the radio headset, India One-Two, this is Bravo Five-Six, over.
Bravo Five-Six, this is India One-Two. Where is Five-Actual?
Five-Actual is Kilo India Alpha, One-Two.
Give me your sitrep Five-Six.
Bravo was caught in an ambush by advance force. We need immediate helicopter pickup and evac. We have 10 Whiskey India Alpha's and 8 Kilo India Alpha's. Over.
Roger Five-Six, we have helo evac inbound to your position. ETA is 25 mikes. Over.
India One-Two, Bravo Five-Six copies. Over. Taylor ended the call and handed the headset to Shintaro.
Black. Take what's left of your fire team and all the claymores. Setup a perimeter on the other side of that hill and mine it with everything we have. If they have backup coming I want a little surprise for them when they arrive
Got it. Black and 2 marines moved off from the rest towards the hill and out of sight.
Taylor kept an eye on Beth during the return trip back to base; she seemed to withdraw further into herself. Her replies to her fellow squad members weren't more then mumbles.
Tired, Taylor ran his hand thru his hair as he exited the building where he had been telling the Major and some spooks what happened to the platoon for the last 2 hours, over and over again. He started looking for Beth.
Beth stood outside of the base camp near some trees. <I'm a murderer, I killed that man. I didn't even hesitate for a second!>
Beth heard footsteps behind her, turning she saw Taylor walking towards her. Beth turned back away from him quickly drying her eyes, she heard Taylor stop behind her. Hey Beth, she heard the concern in his voice.
Hi yourself. How'd the debriefing go? Beth replied with her back still facing him.
Not bad, pretty much what I expected considering. How are you doing?
Fine. We're alive and they're dead. Not much more to say, Beth replied.
Beth, don't lie to me. I saw your face when you killed that huey, its a look I've seen before and you need to deal. Shutting me and everyone else out doesnt make it easier.
Turning to face Taylor Beth stepped in close, You don't know what you're talking about, go bother someone who cares right now, cause I don't. Anger colored her voice.
<Well at least I got a reaction out of her,> And that would be the problem Summers, you keep up this I don't care attitude you're gonna get yourself and someone else killed. So right now you have two choices; deal with this and move on or let this eat you up and get yourself killed.
Taylor took a step backwards and folded his arms, You think you're the only person who regrets killing Summers? No-one likes killing. But for us it's a fact of life, it's what we do as Marines.
She looked at him, her eyes turning icy. I'm not like others Taylor. Ive fought all my life against demons and vampires to save lives, not take them. So don't tell me about no-one liking to kill.
Taylor strode forward grabbing her shoulders, "Damnit Summers! Snap out of it, you're not the Slayer anymore!! You're a Marine now. Our job is to kill the enemy before they kill us, period."
Beth, he said in a softer voice, you're one of the strongest people I know, you don't let something stop you when you've set your mind to it. Don't let this destroy you, talk to the me, the Chaplain or write it down if that helps. But you can't bottle it up, okay?
Beth felt the anger drain away as she listened to Taylor, "It's not easy, I never understood. Not really." Turning she watched the sun as it slowly sank.
It never is and it shouldn't, that's what keeps us from becoming monsters.
It doesn't feel like enough.
That's cause it's not, but it gets us through each day and thats all that matters. Try to get some rest Beth.
Willow walked into their dorm room and over to her laptop where she saw a letter sitting on the keyboard. Picking it up she saw it was addressed to her, but it was the return address that caught her attention. Quickly she opened the letter and started reading it.
September 15, 2003
How are you & Tara? I know we didn't get to talk too much when I was there. We're not who we used to be, or at least not as I remember you, and honestly it scared me. So many things have changed for both of us, especially now. Right now I need my best friend Wills. Since I've gotten to France 3 weeks ago things have...god this is so hard Will. I think I finally understand how Faith felt and why she went into denial about it.
I always knew what being a Marine meant, the training and what we can be called on to do. But its' not the same, everything changes when you see the person, hear his breathing and look into his eyes and see the light go out of them. You cross a line....and you can't go back, you can't forget it. Everything changes. Its strange I remember in English class when we learned about Shakespeares stories, there was this one with Lady Macbeth where she kept saying out, out damn spot after she killed that king. I remember thinking how stupid that was, now I understand what she meant.
I wish...I don't think it'll ever get easier, but Taylor's been there for me. Teasing, listening and kicking me in the butt when I get like this. In a lot of ways he's the older brother I never had.
You were right about me having to see Faith though, we actually talked once. We didn't settle anything, its funny though, Angel told me I was in love with Faith! Can you believe that? Like she'd even look at me twice.
Thanks for listening to me ramble on Will, it felt good to get some of this off my chest.
Take care of Tara and I'll try to write you later,
1 Week later.
Willow entered the restaurant just after 3:00 in the afternoon. Spotting Faith she bit back a sigh. She hated doing this. Especially when she didn't know what state Faith was in after Beths visit and Angel was short on details about what did happen. All of which meant she had to feel Faith out before she told her about Beth. Putting on a cheerful smile, Willow walked over to where she had seen Faith sitting. Faith, hi.
"Hey Red, what brings you to sunny LA?" Faith asked.
Sitting down at the table across from Faith, Dropping something off to Gunn that he asked for, figured Id say hi. Hi. Willow said while trying to gauge Faith's mood.
Let's be serious Red, in 3 years you've never just dropped by. So what's up? Faith replied.
Willow took a large sip of water before answering, How'd it go with Beth? she finally blurted out knowing Faith was right.
Leaning back in her chair, Well I'm alive and that's a bonus, Faith smiled. Seeing the serious look on Reds face, She yelled at me, I yelled at her. Its not like she was gonna forgive me and that's that. Why are you so curious anyway? Faith kept her voice normal, but her insides were a knot for some reason. The look on Willow's face told her everything. <Beth was called away while she was here. Something's happened.>
Sighing to herself, Faith, Beth was called away because her unit was being sent to France.
What?!? When did you find out?
I found out 4 weeks ago.
Why'd you wait so long to tell me Red? Faith asked with a hint of irritation in her voice.
I wasnt sure Faith, I know how you feel about Beth. But I didnt know how things went when she came up here and Angel wasn't saying anything about it either.
That's our Angel, Faith smiled. It wasn't that bad Red, we did fight. But it was stuff we had to clear up some, and we talked later too. A bigger smile crossed Faith's face when she remembered how Beth had come to her apartment.
So things went well?
I just got a letter from her yesterday... Willow trailed off not sure how or if she should say anything else.
And? Faith leaned closer to Willow, Red, what's going on?
Willow saw the concern in Faith's brown eyes over Beth and that made her decision easier. Pulling out the letter from her coat pocket she handed it to Faith. You should read this at home Faith. It's the letter Beth wrote me.
Taking the letter from Willow, Are you sure you want me to read this? Faith asked.
Yeah, but she's...you'll understand when you read it. I just wanted to tell you what's going on. Standing up Willow stepped out from behind the table, I promise Ill let you know anything else I find out. You have my cell number, so call me if you need me okay?
Faith walked into her apartment and tossed her leather jacket over the telephone as she passed it heading towards the couch. Pulling the letter out of her pocket she looked at the envelope before pulling out the folder letter inside. Sitting down on the couch she opened the letter and started readingWills, How are you and Tara?gotten to France 3 weeks ago.. when her eyes landed on the last sentence, I think I finally understand how Faith felt and why, Faith felt her blood run cold as she read that sentence. <No. Im reading things into this. That cant be it,> and continued reading the letter.
.look into his eyes and see the light go out of them. You cross a line....and you can't go back, you can't forget it. Faith felt the tears burn her eyes and fall down her cheeks as she understood what had happened to Beth in France. <This was never supposed to happen to you Beth,> Crumpling the letter in her hand, Why!!! Faith yelled out as she jumped up, looking towards the heavens, WHY HER?!? She doesnt deserve to live with that!!! Faith raged out loud. Im the evil one, Im supposed to suffer. All shes ever done is save the world for ungrateful slime over and over again.
Falling to her knees in frustration at the silence, she understood the pain Beth was in and all she wanted to do was to hold Beth closely and tell her it would be all right. The nightmares would go away and shed stop being haunted by the dead, but the truth was it never went away.
Continue to chapters |6-7|