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.
Pairings: Buffy(Beth)/Faith, Willow/Tara
Rating: R X (extreme violence, torture and non-consensual sex)
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.
Feedback: A definite Must Have. Makes us write much faster, Thoughts, Opinions. We can be reached at either "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" or "mailto:email@example.com" .
Authors Note: There are graphic scenes of violence and rape in this, the authors do not condone in any fashion such actions against anyone.
Beth had lost track of time in here sometime ago, with only the artificial lights there was no telling time accurately. They could have been here for days or even weeks and they wouldnt have been able to tell. The last message she had gotten from her fellow prisoners was that Gomez didnt come back from his last trip.
As Beth was musing over that last message the door to her cell opened and in came Frick & Frack, the names she had given to the two guards who brought her to and from the sessions in the Room.
The two guards were smiling a lot today, more then she liked, as they brought her down to the Room. They opened the door and she was shoved in the room, but instead of seeing the wooden table and chair today they were missing and inside were five men of different ages. Ranging from 19 or so to the oldest who looked like he was in his 40s.
From behind, she heard Frick Okay boys, here she is. Have fun and a hard blow to her head knocked her down stunning her and knocking her to the ground.
Like jackals the five men jumped at her, Beth started to fight back and stopped suddenly feigning exhaustion. <I only have one chance at this and I need them close to do it. They may take me down, but Ill be damned if Ill let them enjoy this,> she thought angrily. She knew that this was always a possibility, but her captors had seemed satisfied with the beatings and torture until now.
The oldest of them stepped over Beth and motioned for the blonde boy to move forward and hold her down. The other three had moved closer to watch but were just out of reach. Beth watched as the boy mistakenly held her left arm instead of her shoulder and the oldest moved on top of her while one hand fumbled at his pants.
Just as he had freed himself and was moving to grab Beths torn camo pants and pull them down. <Now!> she thought and her right fist whipped forward with all her Slayer strength into his throat crushing it. As he grabbed his throat gurgling, Beth ripped her arm free from the boy and her left foot lashed out into his kneecap shattering it. The boys high-pitched scream filled the room, as he started to fall Beth bounced up to her feet and landed a second kick to his crotch, moving behind him she grabbed his chin and the back of his head and twisted. There was a sudden sick SNAP! as his neck was broken, she let go and let him drop to the floor.
She felt the constant pain in her body dull as the adrenalin flooded her system and Beth looked for her next victim. A grim smile crossed her face for the first time as she looked at her attackers.
The other three men had backed away carefully from her and then had spread out to keep her from attacking all of them and to keep her on the defensive. They knew that eventually she would tire, and then she would be theirs.
The brown haired, would-be rapist on her left charged her as the one on her right charged her, one managed to grab an arm and a hard blow from behind stunned her as she was slammed her against the wall and held. The one rapist in the middle walked forward and rubbed himself against Beth. His smell nauseated her, Now you learn a womans place, whore!
As he leaned forward he grabbed her breast and mauled it with his has hand as he tried to shove his tongue down her throat.
Beth let his tongue near her lips again, except this time she bit down on it hard and tasted blood, as he screamed and yanked himself away blood pouring down his lips. Beth felt a hard blow on her broken ribs and as the pain blinded her for those seconds her head was slammed against the wall several times and she collapsed to the floor barely conscious. The brief surge of energy she had felt was gone and exhaustion had taken its place.
Dimly she noted that several people had walked into the room, her jaw was forced open and a bitter tasting liquid down her throat. She felt several more blows to her head, but her head was clouded and foggy now, she couldnt seem to focus on anything. Then she felt someone tear her shirt exposing her breasts and someone else pulled her camo pants off her and ripped her underwear off. No! her mind yelled but her body wouldnt listen and found herself unable to even cry out even when she felt the first person thrust himself into her, the pain as he entered her was almost as unbearable as what was happening to her. She felt him thrust in and out of her until she heard him grunt and then pull out of her to be replaced by the next person. And so it continued, over and over until she lost consciousness, her one thought she used to hold onto her sanity/self, <Im a Marine, I wont break. Im a Marine, I wont be broken this way.>
Beth woke up slowly, her head was pounding and she tasted blood in her mouth. For several seconds she lay still and then the memories of what happened assaulted her. Jumping up she leapt at the door kicking and punching it as she screamed obscenities at the guards.
After several minutes the pain in her hands, knees and feet overcame her anger, looking down she saw her hands and feet were bloody from beating on the door. Falling down to her knees, Beth let her head drop against the cement. Anything, even pain felt better than the memories of what happened to her and the vulnerability she felt now.
The door opened suddenly and the guards threw Taylor into the room, slamming the door shut and locking it.
Shintaro moved over to Taylor who was unconscious, his face was beaten and swollen. Welts covered his back where he had been whipped. Give me a hand over here, Shintaro motioned to Ramirez to help him move Taylor.
I don't think we should move him Shin, he looks pretty bad, Ramirez said taking in the wounds on Taylor.
I said, Move your ass and help me move him by the wall Ram!
Okay, okay. Don't get your panties in a bunch. Ramirez moved over and helped Shintaro carry Taylor away from the door over by the wall. What happened to him anyway?
The guards gave him an extra round for Beth's yelling earlier, Shintaro replied.
He shivered and spit out the blood from his mouth, Shin.
Shintaro stopped what he was doing and turned around towards Taylor, Hey Tay, you okay?
Anything? Taylor asked.
Nothing yet, she's been quiet since her... Shintaro winced at what he was about to say, Well since yesterday. The guards haven't been over there since they dropped her back.
Taylor shifted closer, wincing as the dried wounds reopened. He took the rock from Shintaro and started tapping. Come on Beth, come on.
*What do you want Taylor? I'm busy.* Beth wasn't sure if she should be happy to hear from Taylor or afraid, if he found out it would hurt him knowing that he couldn't protect her.
Shintaro moved back to where Taylor was huddled against the wall. Is she okay? Some of the other members started to murmur.
Shut up guys, Taylor turned his back to them, *Busy doing what? You okay?*
*Putting myself back together after yesterday Tay, what do you think! I said I'm fine, just leave me alone.* Beth felt the need to break something as she was overwhelmed by the memories again.
*Dammit Beth don't pull that crap with me! What the hell happened in there?*
Sighing, Beth knew she had to answer Taylor. He was the one person here she couldn't lie to and get away with it. *They hurt me pretty bad Tay, it was really rough. I just need some time.* <Please, please don't ask what happened Taylor.>
Taylor sat back for a second trying to sort through the emotions running through his head. He could almost imagine the situations that had happened in 'that room'.
*Tay, I'll be okay. I'm a Marine and we're tough. Just promise me you'll take me out for dinner one night and I'll tell you about it. Okay?*
*Semper Fi Beth, and I promise*
Tay what's going on? one of the guys asked, he didn't know which one and he didn't care. I don't know, she won't say. Sighing he placed his head on the wall taking in its coldness. The same coldness that was taking over his heart.
Who is it this time? Carlson wheezed out, Taylor looked over at him propped up against the wall. They had worked him over really well. Now it was only a matter of time before the internal injuries were too much for him in this weakened condition. All they could do was to give him support.
Taylor pounded at the door as the guards went passed. Hey ASSHOLES leave her alone.
Shit not again," Taylor heard Carlson from behind him.
One of the guards stopped and leered at Taylor, and replied in English After yesterday no-one wants to keep their hands off the whore. Besides, she's going to the solitary today. Commandant didn't like the noise she made, and she needs to learn her place.
The door flew open and Ramirez's body was thrown into the room landing in a heap.
Taylor moved over to him, turning him over onto his back. He saw Ram's face was beaten to a pulp, several teeth were broken and missing and there was blood dripping out of his ears.
Gently as possible he moved Ram towards the wall and put him in an upright position. Ram, Stay still okay? Let me check the rest of you out. As he started to check Ram for any more injuries he felt a hand touch him on the shoulder and saw it was motioning with his hand to come closer.
Taylor moved closer and put his ear near Ram's mouth
Tay...sorry. Ram mumbled softly thru his broken teeth. Have to tell...I'm dying.
Taylor looked at Ram, Don't worry, you'll be okay Ram. He tried smiling reassuringly at him.
Ramirez shook his head, Never wanted what happened to Beth... Ramirez was overcome by a coughing spasm and unable to speak for several minutes. Weakly he spit blood out of his mouth, grimacing in pain. .....was sent to kill Beth, make sure she never left... Ramirez eyes fluttered for a second before passing out.
Taylor stared at Ram as if he had never seen this person before. What?!? Grabbing Ram he shook him until he saw his eyes open slowly. Why? She was a fellow Marine, you're friend!
Coughing weakly Ramirez looked at Taylor, I'm not Marine...work for... cough spasms shook Ram's body again, finally the coughs subsided. She's a threat to people...others will follow if I fail. Grimly he smiled, Guess I won't get that bonus.... his last words trailed off as he stopped breathing.
No damn you!!!!! You can't die, I need answers!! Taylor shook Ramirez's body but he knew no more answers were coming. He was dead and not going to answer anyone
The guards opened the door to his cell and several Marines flinched away as the guards came in. Roughly he was grabbed to his feet and out of the cell. Taylor saw a guard dragging Beth down the corridor from her cell. Her head was down and her hair, much longer now, obscured her face. As they got closer he whispered, Beth, you okay?
He saw Beth stop and turn towards him whipping her hair away from her face. Five by five, Tay, she said, but what scared him was the feral almost predatory look in her eyes. Gone was the young woman he knew, this was the look of a killer. Without even flinching Beth slammed the heel of her foot on the instep of the guards foot. Screaming he let go of her, she turned around and pulled the knife at his hip out and slammed the blade into his chest.
Taylor swung his elbow at the face of the guard behind him hitting him but a blow to his head stunned him, looking up he saw his other guard lifting his club to hit him. Dazed he realized he couldnt stop it and waited for the mind shattering blow.
He barely saw Beth slid up behind the guard, and plunge the knife in the guards ribs by his heart. The guard had a look of surprise cross his face before he slumped to the ground. Several more guards charged in tackling them to the ground, he heard them beating on her as more held him down. Yanking him upright they pulled him away, his last sight of Beth was her unmoving on the ground, her face bloody and swollen.
Ten days later
Fuckin' hell! Where the hell is it! Beth crawled along the ground, feeling for the corner of the room. She hissed as the dirt mixed with the open wounds on her knuckles.
From her left she heard the slightest of noise. Who's there? The noise continued and she realized it was a steady tapping. Please don't stop! Please don't stop! She doubled over as she turned, feeling the sharp pain in her side. Somewhere in the back of her mind she realized that her ribs must be broken. Please don't stop. She gasped out.
She felt her hand hit something cold and hard and leaned against the wall that separated her hole from theirs. That's how she thought of it now, just a hole that she was locked in for days at a time, with little sunlight. They had been reduced to the lowest of lows but some nameless enemy.
The tapping was a little louder now but still weak and she didn't know if it was the blood in her ear and her heart pounding, or if it was from Tay and Shin.
Beth raised herself off the floor slowly, and used her hands to feel her way as she sat up and leaned backwards against the cold stone wall.
She moved hands over her head, feeling the dried blood on her forehead and over her brow. She felt a large knot on the back of her head and let her hand trail down to her left ear, which felt numb still.
Carefully she moved her hands over her face, the skin felt puffy and very raw. They moved over the sides of her face to her eyes...she felt her hand tremble as she touched her eyelids. Pain shot through her and she jumped back hitting the wall. She could feel that the raised skin that was her eyelids had swollen shut from the repeated beatings. It had been days, as far as she could tell, since she was able to see. Leaning her head back against the damp wall she tried to prepare herself for the worst, that her sight could be gone forever. <I'm a Marine. I will not break!> she thought to herself, it was the only thing she had left now.
Taylor dropped the rock frustrated, he hadn't heard a sound from Beth's cell in 10 days. <Dammit Beth, are you alive?> Taylor felt the tears fall from his eyes, the desire to just give up was almost overwhelming. <Sanderson, O'Hara, almost everyone's gone but Shin and me>. He heard a faint thud from the wall. His breath caught in his throat, <Come on Beth, just one tap. Let me know you're alive.>
What felt like hours later he heard a faint tapping on the wall. <Beth?> Taylor listened to the taps, *Shin, Ram, Tay. Anyone there? It's Summers.*
Frantically Taylor grabbed the rock he had dropped. *Beth. Thank God you're alive! I thought you were gone too. What was that stunt in the hallway Beth? You know we have to wait till the right time.*
Beth frowned and instantly regretted it as a cut reopened. *Hallway?*
*Yeah, when you killed the two guards and told me everything was Five by Five.*
<What the Hell!> She didn't know anything about hallways and guards and she definitely didn't channel Faith. *Did you hit your head or something Tay?*
*Beth, 10 days ago you killed 2 guards right in front of me in the hallway. You looked right at me when I asked you if you were okay and said you were Five by Five whatever that means.* <Why doesn't she remember?> Taylor thought.
Beth leaned her forehead against the wall. <10 days ago? It couldn't have been...> *How long we been in this shit hole, Tay?*
Taylor was worried now,<First Beth doesn't remember killing the guards and now this> *Beth, we've been here for about 2 months. Don't you remember?*
Beth almost dropped the rock as she flinched back from the wall. She started to look around the room, but now it was no good. All she saw was the darkness that was her companion now. Beth shook her head, <It doesn't matter, I have to be strong. My heads probably scrambled from all the beatings this week.> She started tapping on the wall. *Tay, what day is it? I need to know how much time I've lost.*
*It's Sammy's 6th birthday today. I promised him I'd take him out for his birthday, Beth*
Beth noticed Taylor went silent suddenly after that last message, *Tay?* she tapped and got no response, *Tay? Answer me if you're okay damnit!* <Why won't he answer me?>
Beth finally heard a reply after several minutes of silence, *Beth, I failed them, I failed them all. Shin, O'Hara, Sanderson...even Sammy. I promised them we'd get out of here and they're dead......*
*Tay, knock that crap off. When I was heading to Sunnydale, you told me I didn't kill Finch and I didn't fail my family. I didn't fail them just like you haven't failed anyone, especially not Sammy. They were all soldiers, the knew the risks with this op going in.*
<Yeah, I did say that,> Taylor thought, *Beth, but...*
Beth cut off his reply before more doubt could enter his mind, *But nothing Tay, you told me I can't take responsibility for anyone else's actions and that if I'd done my best that was all I can do. Well the same applies to you. When you stop feeling sorry for yourself, then we can talk.* <Hopefully that'll give him a kick in the ass, I can't let him quit on me.>
Giles heard the phone ringing in the kitchen, walked over and picked it up. "Giles residence."
Rupert, good day. This is Carol, it took some time but I have some information and someone who can assist you with your inquiry.
Giles bit back his first words, anger here would not help him. Carol, my daughter is dead. I no longer need your assistance. But thank you. He hoped she would let things drop, but he didn't think she would.
Yes, I am well aware of Miss Summers demise Rupert. However that does not negate the deal we made for my assistance however. Besides, where is the Ripper? Don't you feel the slightest desire for revenge for her death?
I damn well want to avenge her death! Giles whispered angrily into the phone. I'm sorry Carol.
Don't apologize Rupert. You should be upset and what I gathered can help you get the vengeance you want.
I have a wife, a daughter... Giles said his excuses sounded hollow in his own ears.
Nonsense Ripper. You have a blood debt to collect for your daughter and I have the means for you to get it. Her voice was hard and cold as ice.
Giles felt his lip curl into an evil smile, What is the price?
Ahh Ripper you know me too well, Carol's voice replied cheerily.
A life for a life Ripper. That is my price for your revenge.
Done. A life for a life. Ripper answered.
The information will be delivered to you in 24hrs. along with the name of the contact who can help you further.
And the life Carol? Ripper asked impatiently. Whose life am I to take in exchange?
Soft laughter came over the phone, A Slayer Ripper, she goes by the name of Faith Spencer. She is to be delivered to the Sunnydale High School library, alive and, well relatively unharmed as it were. My clients are paying for a live Slayer, not a dead one.
Faith looked at her watch for the 5th time as she waited in the dimly lit parking lot.
The message she had gotten was short and sweet as usual, but the meeting place was different. Instead of a meeting in a public area she was in an empty parking lot in south LA at 10PM at night, not her favourite place to be.
A black limo followed by a dark blue Lincoln Towncar pulled into the parking lot and stopped at the center of the lot. The doors opened on the Lincoln and out stepped 4 large men, dressed in black and openly carrying Uzi's.
The four spread out in front of the Limo and finally the door to the Limo opened and an older man of medium height and build stepped out of the car. He was dressed in a dark, conservative suit, taking several steps away from the Limo he stopped and leaned on the cane he carried.
Faith felt her Slayer sense on overdrive when she saw the old guy from the limo step out. <What the hell?> she thought. She brushed her hand against the stake on the wrist sheath on her arm. Stepping forward she walked towards the old man and his bodyguards.
The nearest bodyguard stepped in front of her, "Weapons check" and pulled out a metal detector wand and moved up and down her waist, legs and back. "Okay, she's clean." He stepped aside to let her go by.
Faith walked forward toward the old man and stopped several feet away, her Slayer sense was screaming at her now. But she couldn't tell what was setting it off. <I don't think they're vamps, when was the last time a vamp carried a gun.> "What's up and why the cloak & dagger in the middle of south LA?
Faith saw the older man smile, Ahh, you are as charming as your file says Miss Spencer.
<What the hell? Hows this guy know my name?> Faith felt herself start to tense as she kept an eye on the 4 bodyguards.
Do not be concerned Miss Spencer, or do you prefer your Nome-de-plume, Winters? When he saw no answer was forthcoming, Very well. We have an operation especially suited to your talents, it would require you to leave the U.S. however.
Who are you and how do you know my name? Faith asked angrily.
The old man smiled at her, You may call me Samuel, and the reason I know your name is because I had you recruited to the agency Miss Spencer. Technically you could say I'm your boss.
Faith saw Samuel seem to grin at some private joke. Well I'm thrilled to no end that I've met the boss, but I'd like know why I'm meeting you now.
Faith, may I call you Faith? Faith, we have an operation that your unique abilities are well suited to, but before I can continue I need to know if you are interested. What is your answer?
<Nothings keeping me here anymore> she thought. Im in.
Faith saw the man smile, Excellent, he replied. Follow me, turning he headed back towards the limo, opening the door and stepped inside. Faith walked over to the limo door and entered the car.
2 Days later
Faith waited several hours until the cemetery was empty and made her way back towards Beth's grave.
A drop of water hit her face and she didn't know if it was the rain or the tears from her eyes. Either way, she didn't care.
They say you're dead. I don't believe them. They gave you the Purple Heart and call you a hero. You aren't a hero B. You're a slave to your birthright. You come and go when it tells you. You're just a pawn in their master plan. Willow tells me that you were an aunt. I'll look after him for you. I'll make sure he's always protected. That day in my apartment I wanted to tell I... I... Dammit B why'd you have to be so noble.
She sighed, taking in the simple headstone;
Elizabeth Anne Summers, LCpl, USMC
B - September 13, 1982 D October 17, 2003
Sister, Best Friend, Protector.
She was taken too soon from us.
What do you want Red? Faith didn't turn to look at her, she didn't need to see the pity on Willow's face. She wasn't worthy of it.
I know you loved her. I just...well...
I know it's hard, but you don't need to blame yourself Faith. And you don't have to play the hero. No one expects you too.
Get to the point Red. I don't have a lot of time. Faith growled.
What are you talking about? Willow asked curiously.
I'm leaving for a while Red, wont be back real soon.
Faith turned and started walking away from Beth's grave and Willow.
<Stupid Willow, very stupid!> Faith wait!
Faith heard Willow call her name and stopped walking, What now Red?
Buffy loved you Faith. She just wasnt ready to admit it.
Maybe, but that doesn't matter now though. She's dead. Take care of yourself and Tara, Red. Faith walked away without ever turning around.
Willow watched Faith walk away, she had the strangest feeling though that she was watching Faith walk out of her life forever.
Faith walked over to her motorcycle, sat down and started it up. She wiped the tears she felt on her face with the back of her hand. <Take care of yourself Red, I'm never coming back here again.> Gunning the engine Faith flew down the road out of town and Sunnydale, CA.
The normally quiet office was bustling with activity, excitement over the latest batch of intercepts had enabled them to narrow down the possible sites for several POW camps and HQ wanted that made top priority.
So here he was for the 2nd day straight looking over pieces of signal intercepts, UE documents, maps and possible sites as he tried to narrow the list down to something acceptable by the brass.
Sir, looking up at the speaker at his desk Connor looked at the sergeant standing in front of his desk. Yes Sergeant, what is it?
This just came in priority from the 2nd MarDiv, he held a piece of paper in his outstretched hand. Connor took the paper and looked it over.
Where was this found? Connors asked trying to keep his excitement under control, <This could be the break we are looking for>.
It was found in a bunker about 50 kilometers East of Aurillac by a recon platoon sweeping that area sir.
Thank you Sergeant, dismissed.
Connors waited until the Sergeant had left his desk and hit the intercom button for his clerk. Thomas,
Yes sir? a young voice answered.
Drop whatever your doing, get me a list of all Marines wounded, killed or missing in or around Bordeaux in the last 2 months. I need it yesterday, this may be the break we've been waiting for.
Aye sir, Thomas replied.
3 days later....
13th MEU Headquarters
How accurate is this sir? Major Stewart asked.
Col. Gunther chewed his cigar for several seconds before replying. The spooks are pretty damn sure the letter isn't a fake and that they've located a POW base with our Marines in it. The Commandant called me about this personally, he wants to see a plan to pull our people out of there by the end of the week.
That's not much time, but we can have something on your desk in 48 hours sir. Maj. Stewart replied.
Excellent. This could be nothing Bill, but if our people are there, they've been in the UE's hands for almost 2 months and I don't want them there one second longer. We don't leave our people behind, we lost a lot of good people in that clusterfuck of an assault, if we can get some of them back we'll do whatever it takes, understood?"
Maj. Stewart came to attention, Aye sir.
Whats the status of the refit for Alpha and Charlie companies?
We have Alpha Co. back up to 100% strength, Charlie Co. is different story sir. The company took 45% casualties during the assault, if this were any other unit Id recommend we transfer the orphans from the unit and rebuild from scratch. But theyre working hard sir, they all want a shot at payback with the hueys, itll take time to integrate the replacements though.
Anything else sir? Maj. Stewart asked.
No, just have that plan on my desk in 48 hours. Dismissed.
4 Days later
She walked quickly around the room, she had been here for a while she knew and that she had to get out. The exit to the room was always kept locked and the others watched her carefully, and were never alone when they opened the door.
<WANT OUT!! Want out now!!!> she felt the anger inside her build at those others that were keeping her here. They had hurt her and she would hurt them back.
An image of a man popped in her mind. She knew him, he was a friend and he was locked in here as well. She knew that the others that kept her here would become careless and then she would strike. She would get out, and get...getTay?
Lying down in corner she curled herself up to stay warm and close her eyes to sleep. Her eyes flew open as she felt one of the others was near and then she heard the CLICK from the door. Quickly she got up as she heard the door opening and leapt for the door to grab it and get out. As she landed near the door, something hit her on the back and she felt a powerful electrical shock course thru her knocking her down. She struggled to get up off the floor and keep moving <Need out! Get Tay and find mate> when she felt her body convulse under the repeated electric shocks and collapse to the ground as she lost control over her body and felt her limbs shaking uncontrollably.
She lay there as she heard the door shut and waited for the shock to subside so she could move again. <Will get out, will find mate.
Minutes passed before she could finally move again, as she cautiously got up from the floor.
<Need out! Want OUT! Out, Out, Out!> She moved over to where she smelled the food. Crouching down she felt around with her hands to find it. Her hand hit the plate and she snatched it up quickly. She cocked her head slightly, before heading over to the far corner of the room. Sitting down she grabbed the food in the plate and felt something crawl across her hand. Her free hand darted out grabbing the bug. She shoved it into her mouth and started chewing. She could hear them moving around her. <Don't go. Food, Need Food! Where's my food? Stay!> She jumped up, and felt something fall. Patting the ground she felt around till felt the plate.
Greedily she shoved the food and bugs into her mouth until she felt the empty plate. Moving to the corner, she started to yawn, <Want mate, miss mate...> sleep was overtaking her. Her last thought was an image of a tall, dark haired woman, <Need mate...> then darkness.
Joyce walked slowly down Main Street when she arrived at the mall and stepped inside. Moving a little faster she walked towards the Food Court as felt her stomach rumbling. <When was the last time I ate? Yesterday I think>. When she collided with someone and was knocked down, looking up she saw the person she had walked into, "Willow!" she said surprised. She hadn't seen Willow for over a month and had missed talking to her.
Willow looked up as she heard her name called and saw Joyce, <Oh great, just what I need right now. I really don't want an argument.> Hi Joyce, she replied in a subdued tone of voice. Sorry about that, you okay? Good, Im gonna go now, things to do and that. Bye. She turned and started to walk when she heard Joyce calling her name again.
Will stopped frustratedly and turned around. Why? I know that you blame me about Beth and I really don't want to have a confrontation in the middle of the mall. So why don't I just go Joyce.
Joyce looked at Willow, confusion was written on her face at Willow's words, <Angry at her? What's she talking about? I thought that she blamed me for Beth.>
Will, why would I be angry at you? Wait, why don't we go and sit down so we can talk. I think there's been some confusion here. Joyce walked over to Willow and stopped in front of her.
"I don't have time. I'm.. I'm running an errand."
Joyce reached out to touch Willow on the shoulder, but Willow flinched and moved slightly back.
Don't! Hey eyes flashed green fire, Whenever I called the house or stopped by to see you or Dawn, you were either 'out' or you couldn't be seen. For 3 weeks I tried to see you, be there for Dawn and just be supportive during that time. I understand it hurt a lot to lose Beth, but how about the rest of us Joyce? We were hurting just as bad then and you shut us out.
Joyce dropped her hand to her side, That's not what I meant to do Willow, but seeing you and the others...Can we talk, please?
Joyce, I don
Fine, how about Friday's? They're usually pretty empty during the week and we can talk there.
Once they were seated at a booth Willow looked over at Joyce, Okay, what do you want to talk about Joyce?
Willow, I didn't mean to shut you out. I just couldn't see anyone for a while. It hurt too much and I shut myself off from everyone. When she was the Slayer and I found out, I understood that she could be killed. But this is so different, what was the point? She wasn't fighting evil, no giant creature killing innocent people. Just a stupid war, somewhere where she was alone. They don't even have a BODY for me to bury Willow.
I thought you shut me out because you blamed me in someway for Beth dying. I felt I was to blame for what happened and that hurt so much Joyce. I loved Beth as my best friend and family. She was the first person who talked to me, not as a brain or a nerd, but as Willow.
I'm sorry, I didn't know that. But I'm not sorry for what I did. I needed some space and time to deal with losing Beth. I'm not any closer to understanding it, but I'm here for you now.
Willow could see the sincerity in Joyce's face, but she couldn't let go of the anger over being shut out. Losing Beth was probably the hardest thing in the world for you Joyce, but shutting out Xander, Tara and me the way you did was wrong. Willow saw the surprise on Joyce's face, We're her family and we were in pain when she died too. Standing up Willow slid out of the booth, I'm happy you're here for me now, but you're a little late, about 2 months too late. Goodbye Joyce. Willow turned and walked out of the restaurant.
Joyce sat at the table in shock, she hadnt expected Willow to act the way she did. <Maybe I was wrong, but I can't change things and I won't apologize. She just doesn't understand what it is like to lose your child.> Joyce got up from the booth, opened her purse and dropped $2.00 on the table and left the restaurant and the mall feeling worse than when she had come in.
Taylor saw the door open as he looked up from the ground where he was resting. Three guards came in, two grabbed him by his arms, lifted him up and pulled him out of the cell.
Taylor could hear the guards talking among themselves in French, Ceci devrait être amusement à observer, elle le déchirera aux morceaux. *This should be fun to watch, she'll tear him to pieces*
The guard holding his right arm answered, 10 francs indique qu'il ne dure pas 5 minutes. *Ten francs he doesn't last 5 minutes.* Looking up he saw them dragging him down the hall, one guard at the end opened a cell door and he was thrown inside.
The door slammed shut behind him and he looked around the dark, damp cell. It was mostly dark towards the walls, with only light some light to illuminate the center of the cell. He couldn't see anyone, but he knew someone else was in the cell, peering into a dark corner he made out the shape of a person.
Whos there? Beth, Is that you?
The figure moved forward on all fours towards him, he could hear it sniffing as it got closer. Finally it moved into the light....Taylor saw it was wearing torn and tattered rags and was covered with filth and dirt and long, dark matted hair.. Looking closer he could see the torn clothing were once BDU's....The head looked in his direction and he saw thru the long hair a face he never thought he'd see again.
<Oh my God!!> Beth? Is that you? Slowly and carefully he reached out towards her. As his hand neared her face he heard her growl menacingly <Did she just growl at me?> Taylor thought in surprise.
Taylor thought about taking a step backwards. He saw her move closer and then lean towards him until she was inches from him. She cocked her head at him and sniffed. He saw her stance relax as she leaned back after she had sniffed him several more times and she looked up at him. Her face was still hidden by the long hair covering it. Slowly he moved his hand towards her face and moved the hair away from her face.
As the hair was moved away he saw that she had been beaten so severely her entire face was a deep purple and black, and was puffy. Her eyes were swollen slightly, but she made no attempt at any time to open them even though he was sure she could.
Beth, open your eyes and look at me. Let me see those beautiful brown eyes.
Taylor saw Beth shake her head, No want to,
Taylor touched Beth's cheek gently, Please Beth, open your eyes. Look at me.
Beth jerked back from him. NO!!! No want!! Hurt... Hurt Bad!!!
Want out, want out now! You take out Ttt..Tay? Taylor heard Beth mumble. She 'looked' at him, Why not go? Want out! Want to see mate! Beth pulled his arm hard, trying to move him towards the door.
<Mate? What's she talking about?> No Beth, I can't go out either. We have to stay for now. I promise I'll get us out later though, okay? he lifted his hand and touched her shoulder gently, feeling her shoulder bones under his hand. <Good god, she's as thin as a rail? How's she alive? It doesnt matter, I'm going to get her out of here.>
Beth turned her head towards the door and then back at him, Go later? Go see mate later! she whispered. Taylor nodded sadly, Yes, go see mate later... When suddenly Beth jumped up and the door flew open and 3 guards rushed into the cell.
Beth ducked under the club swung by the first guard, Taylor saw her grab the guards arm and twist it. He heard a bone SNAP as she shattered his elbow, as the guard screamed in agony she slammed her elbow into his throat. He dodged the first swing from the guard who rushed him, but he felt a club smash his head from the other side.
As they grabbed him and dragged him out he saw two more guards lying on the ground by Beth and then he saw another guard step in from behind her and shoot her with what looked like a stungun. Her body convulsed as the electricity coursed through it as she collapsed to the ground. What the hell are you doing to her!! Taylor jerked his arms trying to get back to Beth. Let me go! Beth!!
His eyes locked on the spasming body of his best friend. Beth...
1630 Revello Drive
Xander knocked on Giles study and waiting, shuffling from foot to foot. He was more nervous than normal. <Of course I'm nervous! Beth's dead, Will's not talking to Joyce or anyone for that matter, and Dawn sounded like she was about to burst into tears!>
Moments later Giles appeared, his hair was messed up and he looked like he hadnt shaved in days. He looked surprised, Xander what are you, um, its good to see you.
Giles you were never good at lying. Can I come in? I need to talk to you.
Giles shut the study door, before sitting down heavily in his chair. Xander, was there something specific you wanted to talk about?
Giles cleared his throat, What about Willow was it that you wished to talk about?
Well, what the hell is going on between Mrs. G and Willow and why has Dawn been so upset lately? Xander asked.
Giles raised an eyebrow, Xander why are you asking me? he said patiently. He really did not want to get in the middle of things as it were, between Joyce and Willow.
Giles, Xander said exasperated, You know why Im asking you. Will hasnt spoken to anyone for the last week, ever since she spoke to Mrs. G and Dawns been a train wreck looking for a place to happen. You have to do something like talk to Dawn and get her talk to Will.
Giles stood up and started pacing, It is not my place to interfere in Joyces personal life in such a fashion.
Then what about Dawn? This isnt just about Willow and Mrs. G anymore, not when its affecting Dawn.
Giles stopped pacing and turned to face Xander, What are you talking about?
Giles, shes been in four fights in the last 3 days. The last kid she got into a fight with went to the hospital for stitches. Xander felt the nervousness go away to be replaced by anger.
What?! Why wasnt Joyce or I notified?
Because Dawn told them you were in England and Mrs. G was out of state for an art conference and since apparently Im listed in Dawns school records as an emergency contact they got in touch with me. I managed to calm the kids parents down so they didnt press assault charges against Dawn. But this has to stop, and I dont mean that you should go up and yell at her. I can tell you from personal experience that that does not work. Giles, ever since Dawn found out Beth was dead shes walled herself off emotionally from anyone so she cant get hurt. And now that things finally blew up between Willow and Mrs. G. things have gone from bad to worse.
Xander continued speaking over Giles outraged look on his face, With face missing, Dawn hasnt had anyone except for Will to talk to. And now with the fight that blew up between Mrs. G and Willow she feels shes being pushed to choose between them and thats not fair to Dawn. I gotta tell you though, I can understand how Willow felt about Mrs. G Giles and I agree with her. But thats not the point, someone needs to talk to Mrs. G and Dawn and since youre her dad now you get the job. Xander paused for a breath as he saw the angry look on Giles face.
A knock on the door stopped Xander from continuing and he turned to see Mrs. G step into the study, Well this is my cue to leave Giles. Mrs. G, Ill see you later. Xander walked out of the study and closed the door behind him. As he got to the front door Xander paused with his hand on the doorknob and looked at the stairs. <Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound.>
Letting go of the doorknob Xander turned and quietly headed up the stairs and towards Dawns room. Xander walked down the hallway and stopped before a door that had several stickers on it; Stay Out!!, Enter At Your Own Peril and Vampires Suck!. Xander chuckled at the last one and wondered where Dawn had found it.
Raising his hand Xander knocked on the door, Go AWAY Mom!! he heard Dawn yell from inside the room. Dawn, its Xander.
The door opened up a crack
The door opened a crack as he saw a red-eyed and sniffling Dawn. Hey Xand, what's up?
Can I come in Dawn?
Sure, Dawn stepped away from the door and Xander pushed the door open and walked in. He saw Dawn sitting on her bed holding Mr. Gordo.
Hows that hand? You put ice on it like I told you?
Dawn lifted an ice bag she had resting on the bed, Yep, I just took it off. Its helping with the swelling. Thanks Xander.
No problem, Xander smiled nervously at Dawn. Look Dawn, I know things are really tough on you now. And Im not going to snow you with stuff like It wont hurt as much or Itll get better with time cause thats bull. But you cant keep getting into fights like this Dawn
Or what Xander? Theyll throw me in jail? Dawn answered bitterly. They already took Beth away from me, Faiths disappeared and now Willow too. So what are they going to take from me now?
Xander walked over to Dawn and stopped in front of her, Dawn. What would Beth or Faith sayactually scratch Faith, shed be cheering you on. But damnit Dawn, youre gonna get kicked out of school at this rate.
It doesnt matter Xander, tears fell from Dawns eyes and left tracks down her cheeks. Dawn pulled Mr. Gordo into tight hug, he was all that she had left of Beth now.
Yes it does Dawn. Beth loved you more than anything in this world and she wouldnt want to see you self-destruct this way. Xander kneeled down and put his hands on Dawns shoulders, Shed want you to move on, not forget about her, but to live your life. She once told me that living in this world is the hardest thing, cause its filled with pain and loss. But the only thing is had going for it is the people we love and who love us. Xander pulled Dawn into his arms and held her as he felt her shake and cry.
Faith sat in the empty briefing room, <Well empty except for me and Samuel that is> she thought wryly.
Faith saw him turn on the projector and a map of France lit up on the wall, it was centered on the cities of Lyon and St. Etiennes.
Our agent is being held in what was initially thought to be an abandoned experimental prison facility for those criminals the French government felt were incapable of rehabilitation. Faith saw the image change, now it showed a large, two-story black building. Nearby were several other buildings <Guard barracks according to intel> further out from the buildings were guard towers, fences and razor wire.
Now we have found out that there is a large underground facility that is only accessible from the main building. The underground facility was used to house the prisoners that were kept here prior to the war and is now being used to extract information from POW's. However, that is of lesser importance.
The image changed again and a picture of a man showed now. He was Hispanic and about 5 11. This is the agent, his name on this operation is Ramirez. There was a click and the image disappeared and the lights came on in the room.
Samuel walked stiffly, leaning heavily on his cane as he walked forward towards Faith.
It is of paramount importance that we get him out of there, however, if for some reason you cannot bring the agent out. Then you are to terminate him. We cannot afford for the information he is carrying in his head to get out.
Faith spoke up for the first time since entering the room, What about any POW's that may be down there? We cant just leave them there.
We are not sending you there to rescue POWs. Samuel saw Faiths features harden. Sighing silently, However, if you run into any you have our permission to free them and bring them back to the extraction point. Samuel watched Faith carefully,
You are there to get our agent out, do not get sidetracked from your primary mission in a misguided attempt to find POWs there. Our intelligence shows that there are none and only our agent is being held there at this time. Are we clear on this Miss Spencer?
Faith nodded, Yes.
If you do find any POWs you will either get them out or terminate them. We cannot mount any further operations to rescue soldiers stupid enough to get themselves captured and the military does not have the available resources to mount any attempts to retrieve them. So you will be doing them a favour. Do you understand?
Faith hid her feelings at the casual mention of murdering any POWs there. <I cant save you Beth, but maybe I can help one of the Marines there. And Ill be damned if Im gonna just kill them at his say-so.> Perfectly.
25 kilometers SW of Lyon
Experimental Prison Unit 52 Gehenna
Faith spied the building from her position outside the fence, the layout of the prison was exactly as she expected from her briefing, with a large two-story building in the center and further out, the guardhouses on the corners. Faith shifted the M4 Carbine she was carrying on her back as she waited. Checking her watch Faith watched the seconds count down until her distraction. The seconds counted down, 15...10...5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Now she whispered and suddenly there was a large explosion followed by gunfire in the west half of the compound. A grim smile flicked across her features, Show time, she murmured and made her way down to the fence. Minutes later she was inside the compound and moving towards the prison building and where the NSA agent was being held.
Once inside Faith moved quickly and silently to the stairs that would take her down to the cells, turning the corner she saw a guard at the doorway to the stairwell with his back to her. Holstering her pistol, she pulled out a wicked looking knife with a blade 6 long and slightly curved. Quickly moving towards the guard she smashed him over the head with the hilt just as he started to turn, dropping him. Turning the body over, she saw it was just a boy, Sorry, but I don't kill children, she muttered and pulled out a syringe and vial she had gotten from Angel, pushing the needle in his arm she filled his veins with the medicine. Angel said this drug would keep anyone out for several hours, I hope hes right. Faith pulled him into the stairwell and sat him so to the casual observer he was sleeping. Grabbing his assault rifle, a FAMAS-2 French Army assault rifle, Faith removed 2 more clips from his belt and pushed them in her pocket before she headed down the stairs.
Most of the prison level was empty even of guards so far, moving to the last set of cells Faith took out the keys from a guard who no longer needed them and opened the door. Inside was a man lying down, a Marine by his tattered fatigues, and she moved forward towards him. Faith reached out to grab his arm and felt a powerful arm grab her and pull her down and the marine was on top of her pinning her.
Who are you? he asked.
My name's Faith and Im here to get you out.
Do you expect me to believe you just waltzed in here? he asked suspiciously. Looking at his dogtags Faith could make out the name S.J. Taylor.
Well waltzed in isnt a word Id use, however if we don't get out of here now, we won't be leaving, period. Looking at his figure she could see the left side of his face was a large bruise, his eye was swollen shut and his nose was crooked and looked broken. Slowly he let go of her and let her up. His movements were now slow and he seemed to favour the ribs on his left and limp. Can you walk? Faith asked as she handed him the assault rifle and clips.
You're kidding right? he grinned back at her. Walking out of the cell the two headed down towards the end when a shot rang out and Taylor grunted as he fell forward. Spinning around back the way they came Faith saw 2 guards. Firing a short burst, she killed one guard as she leapt into a cell and bullets filled the air where she had been. Looking back, she saw Taylor lying in a pool of blood. Faith fired several rounds blindly down the hallway hitting one guard and quickly popped her head out and saw the second guard jump into a nearby cell. Two can play at that, she thought viciously. She removed a grenade, pulling the pin and started counting One potato, two potato, three potato and threw the grenade bouncing it in the cell with the guard. A loud WARUMMMPH!!!! and a short scream echoed from the cell. Checking inside she saw the guard or what was left of him at least.
Faith, Hearing her name Faith ran back towards Taylor.
I thought you were dead.
Not hardly, but pretty damn close though Taylor smiled an effort that caused him to cough up blood. There's still one Marine from my squad here, you have to get her.
Get her? Faith asked. I thought there werent any women over here.
There are only a few, Beths been in my squad before the war started.
Come on we gotta get you outta here.
Beth...Buffy? she whispered. Faith started to move Taylor but a loud grunt of pain came out as she started to lift him up.
Look Im not gonna make it out of here I can't even walk, but I can save you and her by buying you some time. She's at the end of the hall, just bring me the guards ammo first. Quickly grabbing up the ammo and weapons Faith brought them back towards Taylor how had pulled himself partially in the doorway.
I can't leave you Taylor, I was sent to either bring you out or... Faith trailed off.
They aren't going to take me again and they aren't going to get past me till they kill me.
Seeing the young woman hesitate I'm a Marine, that means there is no I'll do my best or try. You do it, period. A wolfish smile crossed his face and Faith saw the look in his eyes and nodded.
Give'em hell Taylor.
One thing, do me a favour and when Beth is better tell her I said I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise, Faith hurried through the door.
Leaning back against the doorway, Taylor thought about Faith and how she reminded him of Beth. They both carried themselves the same way, a casual grace that reminded him of a tiger he watched stalking a gazelle. Settling back he heard the sound of footsteps from the stairs and waited for the first moron to pop his head out so he could take it off. <Its time they learn why you dont fuck with a Marine,> he thought as a wolfish smile flashed on his face never reaching the cold look of Death in his eyes.
Faith moved quickly down the corridor to the cell Taylor had told her where B was. Unlocking the door and opening it Faith saw a figure lying in the center of the small cell.
Beth... You awake B? The form launched itself at Faith, slamming her into the wall. Before she could regain her wits Faith felt herself thrown roughly to the ground and her head slammed into the floor stunning her. She heard a growl and looked up at the dirt and rags covering the person on top of her. Faith saw the matted long hair hiding the face. She reached up and moved the hair out of the way and saw Beth's battered face. Beth's eyes were closed and she leaned in close to her neck and sniffed. Faith watched as Beth did this several more times before a look of recognition came over Beth's face.
B, we have to get out of here. We have to go now!
"Out? We go out now? Good." Beth moved off of Faith and took measured steps and stopped near the door. Mate come too. No stay here, bad. Faith watched as Beth turned and cocked her head back down the hallway where she had come from. T..Tay. Tay come too. Go now. More they come soon.
Faith heard gunfire from down the hallway where Taylor was. Okay B, we're gonna go now. Follow me close okay? Faith moved past B and stepped out into the hallway, <Shit, we're not going back that way. There should be another stairwell about 5 meters back.>
Faith felt B touch her on the small of her back as she started moving quickly back towards the stairwell. She reached back to take B's hand to guide her when Beth pulled her hand out of Faith's.
NO! Not hold hand, can walk. Faith sighed mentally, Okay, I won't hold you're hand B. Faith took B's hand and put it on her right shoulder. Now I'm not holding your hand B and you know where I am, k?
Faith heard machine gun fire from the doorway where she left Taylor followed by a large explosion and the gunfire stopped. We'll see Tay later B. He'll be okay, but we have to go now. Faith opened the door and started inside the stairwell, B's hand was still clutching her shoulder as they slowly made their way up. <Take care Taylor. Thanks.> Faith turned her attention back to climbing the long stairwell and getting her and B out of this hellhole and towards the landing zone where the copter waited to take them home.
Stopping at the edge of the tree line, Faith surveyed the once open ground. Bodies lay strewn about the field, and several small fires and 2 large, flaming wrecks that were once helicopters.
Faith moved towards the edge of the field and stopped, staying in the shadows. She took B's hand off her shoulder and turned to look at her. Beth's breathing started increase.
Mate okay? We go home now. Home, we go home now! Faith put her hand over B's mouth to stop her from talking. I have to go check this out, you stay here B.
Mate leave? Mate angry. Not come back. B is Bad. Faith saw the crestfallen look on B's face and moved back over to her. I'm just leaving for a few minutes and then I'm coming right back. I promise. Faith reached out and lifted Beth's chin gently with her hand. I'm not angry, really. I'll be right back. But you have to stay here and be quiet. There might be bad people out there. Okay?
She saw a smile blossom on Beth's face, Be back? Good. B stay, be quiet. Faith felt her heart melt as she saw the smile on Beth's battered face. Leaving Buffy hidden Faith moved thru the field quickly and quietly using every ounce of skill she had to avoid being seen. As she approached one wreck she could see it was the copter that was supposed to fly her out, about 30 yards away was the second copter. Looking at the second chopper she saw it was a Blackhawk and the markings on it said US Marines, <What the hell is going on here?> Faith stopped at the first body and flipped it over. She saw the unit patch on the shoulder, a triangular blue field with two red 1's in the center. <Shit! Marines here? What the hell?> She pulled the Alice Pack off the Marine and stripped him of weapons and ammo, stuffing them in the pack and shouldered it. Faith checked the rest of the bodies and found they were a mix of Marines and her NSA retrieval team.
<This is just frigging great!> Faith moved from body to body grabbing anything she thought could be of use and headed back to where she left B. She got back to the hiding spot where she left B, but there was no one in sight. A figure pounced on her from behind knocking her down, pinning her and she dropped both Field Packs.
Back! said a loud whisper from behind her. Was quiet! Surprised mate! Faith could hear the smile in Beth's voice and turned over to see B hovering only a few inches above her and a broad smile on her face. <What is with this mate thing she keeps saying?> Faith thought.
Yes I'm back B. I promised. We have to go now. We arent going home this way.
We get Tay. Tay hurt. Tay take home. The smile started to slip off her face. Go home now!
Please B, we have to be quiet. She pulled Beth away feeling the skin and bones underneath her fingers and shuddered. If we're not quiet, the bad guys will get us again, okay?
No go back, never. Where Tay? We go get Tay. Go home.
Faith thought quickly what to say, No, Tay's not back there now. He'll meet us later. Faith pulled out an energy bar and removed the wrapping. Hungry? I have food B. Beth's eyebrows shot up, Food? Yes hungry. Faith pushed the bar into B's hands and watched her almost swallow it without chewing. Okay B, lets go now. <We have to get out of here before the fires bring every soldier in this country down around our necks.>
Continue to chapters |11-13|