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Evil!Oz Fic

Odd Side Out
Summary: Faith hunts down a Scooby gone feral. A certain person, who should be smacked silly, was griping about the lack of good Evil!Oz stories. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I wrote one, kinda. This might come as a surprise to anyone who has read all of my work. Or it might not.
Crossover: Smallville
Rating: PG-18 or higher. Nothing explicit but this does contain adult situations, torture, suicide and character death.
Warnings: See Rating
Spoilers: Post-Chosen, mention of canon Willow/Oz. Later than Season 1 for Smallville. Nothing specific.
Disclaimer: I own neither universe, isn’t it a shame.


***
“Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.” John Dryden
***

***


“Well, that’s one type of ‘No Trespassing’ sign.”

Faith spoke the words to the wind. Thankfully it was blowing the stench of the dead body away from her. The bounty hunter had been torn limb from limb and the gun had been smashed to splinters.

It was a warning she had to ignore.

Faith stepped around the blood, flies and human remains and walked into the cave. She double-checked the safety on her crossbow and listened. She heard the soft ‘plink’ of water dripping and the softer ‘patter’ of little feet.

She heard the gentle strum of a guitar. Her prey was here.

Faith’s eyes had barely adjusted to the dark when she spied the candlelight flickering around the bend. She walked on, quiet, but knowing she had been heard all the same. The guitar never stopped.

“If it isn’t the wolf.”

Oz did not look away from his guitar. “Hey, Faith.”

Faith trained her crosshairs on the slight young man and took in her surroundings. The candles were strategically placed to allow for the most light. The ground was dry here and a single blanket was folded in the corner for sleeping. A huge pile of firewood awaited a flame. Rolls of paper, blueprints-she guessed, were neatly organized into piles. There was a canteen near the bed and a small, brown paper bag. Food-probably. Sparse didn’t even begin to describe it.

“You’ve got to stop. Red would never approve.”

“She’d understand.”

Faith couldn’t argue that. “You can stop, Oz. You can go back. I did.”

Oz met her eyes for the first time. Faith blinked. They were so cold, dead. Was that how she looked once?

Then Oz did the last thing she would have expected.

He swung the guitar.


***


“Shit.”

Faith woke up with a blinding headache. What the hell had happened? She had been talking to Oz and then . . . he threw the guitar at her head. She hadn’t gotten her crossbow up in time. She must have been knocked out. Faith moved her hands and realized that they were manacled over her head.

The clinks would have alerted Oz to her wakeful state.

“Shit.”

She finally opened her eyes. Oz was seated on the floor, one of the blueprints spread out on the ground in front of him. He had rocks holding down all four corners. The broken parts of the guitar had been left where they had fallen. Faith could see the open space where her body had collapsed.

Oz was ignoring her.

Faith tested the strength of her bonds. They held fast. How the hell had Oz hidden these from her?

“They’re strong,” said Oz. “I’ve used them.”

Faith’s arms were stretched high and her feet were chained to the ground. Either way, she could get no leverage. “This is the last time I do a favor for B,” she muttered.

Oz looked at her, and for a moment, softened. “How is she?”

Faith shrugged. “How do you think, asshole? Red, Little D, and Giles, not to mention a half-dozen new Slayers are dead. Xander is drugged to his gills and restrained, on a suicide watch. She can’t walk, let alone fight. She is guarded, 24-7, against the hordes of demons who want to kill her in her weakened state. And then the last Scooby is going on a killing spree.”

“It’s revenge,” Oz retorted.

“And the two hundred plus people who are dead, how are they revenge?”

“They got in my way.”

Faith could not believe that her only resort was to try and talk sense into Daniel Osbourne. “Oz, this is not a good way to honor their memory.”

Oz rolled up the blueprint and placed it in a far pile. He took off his shirt, toed off his shoes and then stripped off his pants and underwear. He folded the clothes and piled them on his blanket.

Faith shook her chains. “Sorry Wolf-boy, but this is a little too kinky, even for me.”

He closed his eyes and stood there naked. Then fur sprouted and he grew taller.

“Oh, shit.”

Faith was chained to the wall in the midst of a perturbed were-wolf. She knew that the wolf would smell fear, so she decided that she was mad. Okay, so she was beyond mad and well into the realms of extremely pissed.

The wolf still ignored her. He stepped on the remains of the guitar on his way out of the cave.

“Damnit!”

Faith knew now, more than ever, that Oz was in complete control. They were all in deep shit.


***


“Well, well, well.”

Faith woke up to her worst nightmare. It was a bounty hunter in Oz’s cave where she was chained to the wall. He was ogling her like she was a feast.

“This is a nice surprise. I track down the wolf and get a chance to take out the oldest Slayer.”

“B’s the oldest.”

The dark-haired man looked insulted. “Please, she can’t even stand from what I hear. She doesn’t count anymore. No challenge.”

Faith smiled grimly. “Then you’ll unchain me to make it more sporting?”

He snorted. “I’m not stupid.” He raised his gun. “Sayonara, Slayer.”

His head jerked oddly. Then his eyes went blank and the gun fell from his fingertips. The body collapsed into the bare arms of Oz. The slight man showed no emotion as he tossed the body to the side. His eyes skimmed Faith’s form, checking for injuries. He found none.

Faith could not bear to see those green eyes so cold. She checked out the body. Oz had shoved the broken neck of his guitar into the back the bounty hunter’s skull. Oz was still butt-naked as he dragged the corpse out of his hideout.

He returned momentarily and dressed in silence.

“So how many died this time?” Faith asked sarcastically.

“Counting the hunter?”

“Sure, why not?” Faith’s attitude was flippant.

“Forty-seven.”

Faith strained against her bonds. “Some of them were innocent.”

Oz raised an eyebrow. “They worked for Luthor.”

“He’s the biggest employer in the state, the country even! A lot of people work for Luthor.”

“Dangerous job.”

Faith growled and jerked. “Luthor doesn’t care about those people anymore than you do.”

Oz shrugged. “He cares about image.”

“And you’re destroying that image with every attack.” Faith knew how Oz worked. “With every sleazy experiment you unveil and he can’t cover up.” Luthor had a lot in common with Dick.

Oz rifled through the stack of blueprints and chose one out of the lot. He spread it out on the ground, held it in place with four rocks and began to make notes.

“Oz? Oz! Damnit Oz. Talk to me!”

Oz was back to ignoring her, studying the blueprints and making plans.


***


Faith dozed.

And she dreamed.

Giles, Willow and Dawn were standing in a circle across from ten men in black suits. Faith yelled a warning but she could make no noise. She saw Buffy there, trying to get their attention, trying to drag them out.

But she was ignored as well.

Then there was a flash of light, of red, of pain.

All that was left was Faith, standing in the gray, and Buffy collapsed on the ground.

Faith stood by her side. “Get up, B. You have to get up!”

Buffy shook her head. “No, I don’t. You fix this.”

“Not on my own!”

“We each have our own style, Faith. Use yours. Mine . . . mine just changed.”

Faith awoke with a gasp.

Oz watched silently.

Faith took a few moments to catch her breath. Then she made a demand. “Let me help you.”

Oz smirked and walked away. He blew out the candles, shuffled to his bed and fell asleep.


***


Faith dozed. The last ten days had been exhausting. All the brains had been killed in the non-magical attack. That had been surprising.

A bomb. Boom, and they were all dead. Luthor had killed them. The explosion had happened before Red could erect her shields. They had all died instantaneously.

Buffy had been injured rescuing a Slayer from Luthor’s clutches. In the midst of the escape, Buffy had felt the death of Willow through their mystical link. Even Faith had felt her death, though not to the same extent.

Buffy had faltered and one of Luthor’s goons had shot her in the back.

That made Faith in charge.

Faith and the newly released Slayer, Marie, had dragged Buffy’s body away to safety. They had hidden for days, dodging Luthor and the cops on his payroll. The delay had exasperated Buffy’s injury.

Marie and Faith had smuggled Buffy into Canada and from there they flew to England. Buffy was now flat on her back. Xander was inconsolable with grief. He had not even been in the same country and he still blamed himself.

Buffy ordered Faith to be in charge of the Council, too. Faith had nearly one hundred newly called Slayers looking to her for guidance and the members of the Watcher’s Council, both new and old, jockeying for position and power.

Then things had gotten worse.

One of Luthor’s manufacturing plants had been attacked in Georgia. A single person had circumvented the security and killed all the men and women in positions of management. Quickly, quietly and efficiently, they had taken out Luthor’s key players. The bloody and broken bodies had led investigators straight for Luthor’s secret lab.

Lionel Luthor had had a hard time explaining that one, even as he was blaming Buffy and Faith for the damage.

But people get upset if you’re experimenting on human beings without their knowledge.

Then a second Luthor plant had been attacked, same MO in Michigan. Then a third in Arkansas. There was a vacuum in Luthor’s chain of command that no one wanted to fill. Each time a new experiment had been revealed and Luthor had more explaining to do.

By the time the fourth plant had been destroyed, Buffy had seen enough on the videotapes to suspect Oz. Faith had been the only Slayer who could take out the grief stricken were-wolf or to talk him down, which was preferable. Faith had jumped at the chance to get away from the politicking of the Council. She would just have to kick a lot of ass when she got back.

Buffy had encouraged the trip. She couldn’t stand the thought of anymore death, but she knew that Faith would make the right choice.

Buffy would be worried. She would be frantic. Faith had been out of touch for over a day now. The oldest Slayer was across an ocean and helpless to do anything. Buffy had once been in Oz’s head. She knew the thought processes he was capable of.

Oz was intelligent. He was patient. He was driven. He had self control. He lacked the normal big-bad down falls. He didn’t have much of a temper, per say. He didn’t have an ego. He didn’t want wealth. He didn’t want power. All together, he was a frightening Big Bad. He didn’t even have the courtesy to brag about his plans or accomplishments.

He wanted Luthor to suffer; that much was painfully evident.

And while normally, Faith would jump in and help, if not all out cheer, Oz had killed close to three hundred bystanders on his way to Luthor.

Oz awoke. He lit a single candle. Then he stripped.

Again he folded the clothes neatly and piled them on his thin blanket. He stood in the middle of the cave and changed. The were-wolf ambled out of the cave with nary a backwards glance.

“Oz! Oz, it doesn’t have to be like this!”

Faith got no answer and the manacles refused to release her. She cussed like a sailor.


***


This time Oz did not return for a full day. Faith was extremely hungry and she feared dying of dehydration. Who would find her here?

The one candle Oz had lit for her was flickering and dying.

Faith heard a sound, a shuffle. Oz rounded the corner in his human form, naked. He was limping, he was holding his abdomen against some injury. With his other hand, he dragged the body of Lionel Luthor behind him.

Oz left the body in the middle of the cave as he retrieved another set of chains and manacles. Oz strung up Lionel Luthor against the wall as he had Faith.

He lit a few more candles, dressed, and offered Faith some water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Is it strawberry?” she asked with a smirk.

He nodded. Faith accepted. After all, she was at his questionable mercy. He fed her bite, by bite, careful to keep his fingers away from her teeth.

Then Oz tidied up the cave and sat in the middle. He began to meditate. Faith could do no more than wait.


***


Lionel Luthor awoke with a groan.

Oz twitched in his meditation and subsided deeper into his trance.

“Where am I?” the man asked.

Faith glared. They might be in the same position but it’d be a cold day in hell before she would assist Lionel Luthor with anything.

Faith stared straight ahead. This was Oz’s show. He could answer the man’s questions.


***


It had taken four hours before Lionel had finally shut up. He had cursed and threatened, to no avail. He had tried to bargain and buy off Oz. The problem was he had no idea why Oz was gunning for him.

Oz had meditated through it all. Faith had put herself in as close to a trance as she could.

Now that Lionel simmered into silence, Oz roused himself from his lotus position.

He puttered around the cave for a little while. He gathered ingredients and mixed together something magical. The vibes it gave off made Faith’s skin tingle, in the not-good-at-all-tingle feeling. Oz fed and watered Faith again. The water was clean and the PB&J tasted good enough if one was hungry.

Oz never ate.

Both Faith and Oz ignored Lionel and his demands. Oz added a few things to his mixture and then dug out a small package from his pants pockets.

“Here, Faith.”

Faith stared at the two small foam cylinders in shock. “Huh?”

“Earplugs. You’re going to need them.”

Faith shrugged and turned her head so that Oz could put them in. He did gently and efficiently. Then he put earplugs in his own ears.

He picked up a knife and cut all of Lionel’s expensive clothes off him. He shoved the knife firm into Lionel’s thigh. He pulled the knife out with a twist.

Lionel screamed in pain.

Oz picked up his bowl and spooned the mixture into the hole he had made. He repeated the procedure with Lionel’s other thigh.

Lionel never stopped screaming.

Faith was glad for the earplugs.


***


It had taken close to twenty-four hours for Lionel to die. Oz had fed Faith and given her water every so many hours. He had not eaten and he had not given Lionel anything more than the mixture that ignited fire in the older man’s bones.

Oz released the corpse from its chains and dragged it to the woodpile and tossed it atop. Then he gathered all the blueprints and stuffed them in various holes in the pile. He lit each and every one. Then he picked up Faith’s discarded crossbow and detached the arrow with its silver tip.

Then he smiled at Faith.

She realized his intent and started screaming and struggling. “Oz! Oz, you don’t have to do this! Oz! Stop! Please,” she begged.

Oz shrugged and shoved the silver tip into his bleeding, wounded stomach. He fell unto the burning pile. He shuttered and died.

Faith screamed, she cursed.

The bodies and the wood had caught afire. They started to smoke.

Faith coughed and cursed.

“Damn you, Oz!”


***

***

Restructuring
Summary: Faith hunted down a Scooby gone feral and got caught. I was going to leave Odd Side Out as it was written, but was convinced otherwise. (whining) But I liked that ending . . .
Crossover: Smallville
Rating: PG-18 or higher. Nothing explicit but this does reference adult situations, torture, suicide and character death.
Warnings: See Rating
Spoilers: Post-Chosen, mention of canon Willow/Oz. Later than Season 1 for Smallville. Nothing specific.
Disclaimer: I own neither universe, isn't it a shame.


"Slayer Summers?"

Buffy awoke to a pain-filled world. Her back, oh God, her back was shooting pain to the rest of her body.

"Slayer Summers?"

Buffy tried to identify the trembling voice. It had to be one of the Council trained Slayers. They were unfailingly polite.

"Slayer Summers?"

"Huh?" Buffy squinted. "Jenny?"

"Yes, ma'am. Can you get up?"

Buffy groaned. She had been shot in the back a week ago and now Jenny wanted her out of bed? The doctor had declared that she might never walk again. When had Jenny started believing in miracles? Oh, yeah, just after she had heard how the Hellmouth had been closed and how a new Slayer might have a chance of living to the ripe old age of twenty-five.

Buffy wanted to be drugged out of her mind like Xander. She wanted to forget Willow and Dawn and Giles. She wanted to forget that her family was dead. She wanted to mourn. She wanted to die. How dare they die first!

"Slayer Summers, please?" The voice wavered. "The Council's in an uproar. They've been ordering the younger Slayers this way and that. Some Slayers are making their own clans. They're starting to fight amongst themselves. And no one's heard from Slayer Faith in three days. Please Slayer Summers, we need your presence."

She didn't care, she didn't care. Buffy finally looked at the teary-eyed, blonde fourteen-year-old. Jenny had a wheelchair placed right next to the bed.

Damn, she cared.

Buffy propped herself on her elbows. Malory watched from her post at the window with her crossbow. Namoko, from Japan, and Esther, from Israel, guarded the door with swords. All three of them looked on hopefully.

Buffy sighed. She wanted to rebel, to throw a tantrum they'd never forget. She wanted Giles. She wanted Willow. She wanted Dawn.

She sighed again. "Get me some clothes." She was not going to be seen in the damn hospital gown.

Jenny hurried to comply.


***


Jenny had gently dressed Buffy and helped her into the wheelchair. Buffy couldn't believe that after seeing her at her weakest, Jenny thought that she could make any difference. Sitting upright made the pain worse. She wouldn't be able to do this long, but she would do this for Giles.

Malory handed Buffy her pain medication and Buffy nodded her thanks as she swallowed them dry. The rest of her protective guard hovered around like avenging angels. It was odd, having her very own security team. It meant that she could not protect herself, that she was important enough to be protected.

Buffy tried to find some comfortable position in the wheelchair but gave up. Hopefully this would not take too long.

Unfortunately she doubted it.

She reached for the wheels to propel herself but Malory batted her hands away. "Save your strength."

"I'm not going to be pushed in there like a damned invalid," Buffy snapped.

None of the Slayers dared to mention that that was Buffy's true state.

"Think Xavier."

Buffy turned to the open door. It was Andrew, of course. He was one of the few that her bodyguards let come and go as he pleased.

Knowing that Andrew had spent most of his time racing from her hospital bed to Xander's, Buffy softened. "What did you say?"

Andrew took a step into the room. "I think you're like Professor Charles Xavier of the X-men. He was in a wheelchair. He was the leader. Scott or Jean always pushed him around in public."

Of course, Andrew would have a comic book reference for this sort of thing. Buffy actually got the comic book reference because Andrew had been reading them to her. It soothed her to think that someone else, even fictional, had it worse off than her.

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "So are you going to push me?"

Andrew brightened as if Buffy had asked him to hold England's crown jewels or Mr. Pointy. He scampered behind her and pushed. Buffy heard him grunt.

"Uhg. You're heavy." Buffy could have hear a pin drop in the following silence. "No, no. That's not what I meant to say. You're not heavy at all, in fact the doctor wants you to gain weight so there’s like no way you could be heavy, it must be the chair. And I am such a weakling when compared with all the Xenas in the house . . .”

Buffy giggled. She heard the slightly hysterical edge to the sound but at the moment, laughing was better than crying. “Andrew, push.”

“Yes’m,” and he pushed Buffy out of her invalid’s room and into the hallway.

Buffy had not recognized the room she had woken up in and at that point, she had not cared enough to ask. Now as she was being wheeled to the front hall, Buffy recognized her surroundings. She had been placed in the master bedroom she had rejected when Giles and the Scoobies had first moved in. It had three exits close by and was on the first floor.

As Andrew wheeled Buffy toward the main entrance and a loud argument, Buffy bypassed several Slayers at their posts. The way that each Slayer brightened at seeing her scared Buffy. She did not want this task and almost ordered Andrew to take her back to her room.

Buffy's chair rounded the corner and Buffy took in the sight. The Slayers were facing off against the Watchers. They were all yelling at the top of their lungs. The Giles in Buffy demanded that she wait, watch and analyze the problem. She decided to take Andrew's advice to heart. She was in charge. She was the Professor Vavier of the Slayers.

"Hey!" Buffy yelled at the top of her lungs. She would also take change in her own way.

The silence was deafening. Buffy could see a variety of emotions on the many faces in the room. Some were very pleased to see her; some were not.

"What is going on here?" she asked.

Neither the leader of the Slayers, Lysette, or the leader of the Old Watchers, Matthew Doyle, met her eyes.

"What does an Old Slayer have to do to get news around here?" she asked. "Where's Faith?"

Matthew Doyle sniffed. "She refused to take a Watcher with her. She has not reported in for three days. It is assumed that she is dead."

"Who flew out there to check?" Buffy demanded.

Silence answered her.

Buffy resisted the urge to throw something at the man. She decided to do the next best thing. "Danny," she waved a hand at Matthew's second in command.

"Daniel Solomon, ma'am," he corrected instinctively. Matthew glared at him.

"Danny, you take," Buffy turned to the wicca section of the impromptu meeting, "Monica, who's your best caster? We have a search-and-rescue to do."

Monica nudged a woman forward. The forty-something lady curtsied. "Linda Groves, ma'am."

Buffy pointed from Daniel to Linda and back again. "Lysette, who's doing the best in workout?"

Lysette straightened. "Janet, Helen, Chi . . ."

"Good." Buffy cut her off. "Janet, Helen. You're the muscle. I don't care if you four hand out fliers with Faith and Oz's picture on it. Find them." She twisted in her chair. "Andrew, I want them on the first plane to Kansas." She pointed to Daniel. "You're in charge. Don't make me regret it, 'cause I'm sure Linda can do the job. Call as soon as you reach Tinyville and every five hours after. Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am." Daniel nodded.

"Smallville," Andrew whispered behind her.

"Whatever." Buffy eyed Matthew again. "Who left to retrieve the . . . bodies . . . of our . . . group in Arkansas?" She refused to cry. She refused to cry.

Matthew didn't answer again.

Buffy glared. She switched her gaze to the men and few women behind the Old Watcher. They all shrank back. "Greg, Joe." Buffy named off two more Old Watchers who stood behind Matthew. She did not give them a chance to offer their whole names. "You two take Chi and . . ." Buffy looked to Lysette again.

Lysette never hesitated. "Glenda, Nickole, Sarah Krause, Sarah Janz . . ."

"Glenda and Nickole." Buffy turned to Monica again.

"I'll go," the head of the coven offered.

Buffy shook her head. "No. I need you here. Pick someone who can handle the blood."

Monica looked over her group. A tall woman with dark hair nodded. Monica motioned to Buffy. "Veronica has volunteered."

"Good. Andrew, first plane to Arkansas." She waited.

Then heard a familiar voice. "I want to go with them."

Buffy shot a startled glance to Andrew. "You didn't tell me he woke up," she hissed. If Andrew hadn't been standing where he was, Buffy would have socked him in the arm.

Andrew ducked his head. "That's what I was coming to tell you but you were getting up and . . ."

Buffy humphed. She turned with a hesitant smile to her old friend. "Xander, are you sure?"

His smile was shakier, but there. "Yeah. I need to go." He looked unsteady on his feet and white as a ghost. His single eye still looked a little drugged. "It's time that someone did something."

"Agreed. You take care of them for me." Xander nodded. Buffy looked around the room. "Well? What are you all waiting for?" The various people named rushed off to pack. Andrew left her chair where it was and it started to roll back. He had forgotten to put on the breaks.

Before Buffy could panic, one of her protectors stepped in to stop it. It must have been Namoko, all the other guards were within view.

Buffy turned yet again to Matthew Doyle. "How are Cathy and Vi doing in Cleveland?"

He straightened. "They claim to be doing well but I sent Robert Douglas and Daniel Stevens to the Hellmouth for assistance."

Buffy remembered the final two of the Old Watchers with nothing more than disgust. She decided to counteract Matthew's power play with one of her own. Buffy turned to Lysette. "Get me Cathy and Vi on the phone. I want to hear from them how they are doing." She glared at Matthew. "If they feel that they could use the extra brains, they can keep the Watchers. If not, Rob and Danny II get sent back here." Buffy did not pause to give the Head Watcher time to agree or protest. "Are there any apocalypses on the horizon?"

The question caught the graying man flatfooted. "I . . . have not . . ."

"You're now Head Researcher. I want to know if there are any new apocalypses to worry about and when. Got it?"

Matthew nodded stiffly. While the position held considerable more esteem than his previous post, it was not nearly as important as the job he had been gunning for. Head Researcher also had a higher probability of being wrong.

"I want a list of possible apocalypses on my desk before noon, 'kay?"

Matthew nodded again. "And what desk would that be?" It was a sadistic question. Revenge for such an outrageous demand.

Buffy refused to flinch. "I'll be taking Giles' office and Giles' desk."

"Understood."

Buffy sought out Jenny, the young Swedish girl that had started this mess, with her eyes. "I want everything that was on Giles' desk by my bed. I'll look it over this afternoon."

The blond nodded her response.

Buffy turned to Lysette. "The Sarahs can help you with training but you're in charge for most of it. Come by my room tomorrow and we'll go over patrol and training schedules." Buffy took a moment to glare at Matthew. "You be there too. As much as I hate to, I'm going to send the new Slayers to you once or twice a week for research training." A couple girls groaned and others smiled at their dismay.

She looked to Monica again. "I want to set up a series of safe houses everywhere in London and England. Then we'll spread out. Work with Doug," he was a newer Watcher that Giles had liked, "buy the property and then do whatever you need to do to make them safe magically. Ask for whatever you need and Doug will try his hardest to get it for you. Right now, we're too bunched up. I don't want to make us a target like the Old Council." Buffy addressed the room at large. "We'll be stepping up the patrols. Everyone patrols in pairs. No one goes anywhere by themselves. And we'll cut down on my security. I don't need fifteen Slayers to protect me."

Malory cleared her throat. "You have twenty-two Slayers protecting you." And they had made use of everyone.

Buffy screeched. "Twenty-two!"

Monica spoke up. "I'm sure that you can discuss your security when you discuss the patrol schedule with Miss Lysette, but until then, you should catch up on Mr. Giles' paperwork."

Buffy glared. She was sure she had just been steam-rolled. Namoko took that as her cue and turned Buffy's wheelchair around. No one said another word until Buffy had been returned to her room.

Jenny and Namoko placed Buffy on her bed. She lay back, reviewing the previous discussion. The pain in her back that she had been ignoring returned with a vengeance. She was so tired. She was worn out. This should not have been her job.

Buffy choked, she twisted suddenly and vomited onto the floor. A tiny part of her was glad she had managed to miss the bed. Buffy curled up in a ball. Her eyes were unseeing. She could feel and hear Jenny and Malory cleaning up her mess.

But she was too tired to care.

She slept.


***


Buffy slept.

And she dreamt.

Giles, Willow and Dawn were standing in a circle across from ten men in black suits. She saw Faith yelling a warning but she could make no noise. Buffy tried to get their attention, trying to drag them out. Buffy was desperate. She didn't want her family to die. It should have been a simple exchange of information. How could they have known that Luthor would kill what he couldn’t control and buy off? He was human, evil, but still very much human. Buffy tried to grab Dawn's hand.

But she was ignored as well.

Then there was a flash of light, of red, of pain.

All that was left was Faith, standing in the gray, and Buffy collapsed on the ground.

Faith stood by her side. "Get up, B. You have to get up!"

Buffy shook her head. "No, I don't. You fix this."

"Not on my own!"

"We each have our own style, Faith. Use yours. Mine . . . mine just changed."

Buffy awoke with a gasp.

She was furious with herself. "Damnit! I forgot to tell her that help was on the way!"

"Slayer Summers?" That was Jenny again.

"No worries," murmured Buffy. "Just a dream."

It took several hours for Buffy to fall back asleep. She cried silently for a very long time.

How dared they die first!


***


Janet was a native of Maine, USA and Helen was a native of Berlin, Germany. Linda and Daniel were both borne and bred English. They were a motley crew.

Helen had been raised by the Council but had lost her Watcher to the Bringers. All in all, Janet was the only one who did not have an English accent. She found it ironic that the English accent often smoothed the way in America and her American accent often caused problems in Europe.

Or it could have been Janet's short temper, but she was blaming her accent.

The foursome had arrived in Smallville with very little problems. They had separated looking for clues. If Maine had been a hick fishing state, Kansas was a hick farming state. The similarities were obvious. People here were boring and self-centered, but Smallville had one shining star.

A hunky guy by the name of Clark Kent.

"So," Janet purred. "You've really lived around here all your life?"

Clark blushed a little but nodded.

"Do you know anyplace that would be a good hiding spot?" Janet asked. "Abandoned shacks, houses, caves?"

Clark looked stunned, but quickly schooled his features into a mask. Bingo, Clark knew the answers, Janet just had to worm them out of him. Pretty Boy idly picked up the flyer Janet had been handing out to all the coffee house patrons. "You think that your friend Faith and this Daniel Osbourne are in this town?"

Janet shrugged. "Faith said that she had found something last she called." She motioned to the phone in the corner. "The proprietor, Linnie, said that she used that phone."

"Lana," he automatically corrected. He seemed to sigh the name.

Janet narrowed her eyes. Rats. It looked like the hunky farmboy was taken. "Whatever. Faith had a room at the motel but she never returned for her stuff after she left three days ago. Linnie . . ."

"Lana."

" . . . said that Oz was in here looking for a gig." Janet leaned over the table, revealing a good amount of cleavage, and whispered. "Oz has this thing against the Luthors." Faith would appreciate her tactics. The boy's eyes strayed down and then hurried back to her face.

The statement made those pretty eyes open wide. "Lionel disappeared two days ago."

Janet took a sip of her coffee. "So if you were mad at the Luthors and had kidnapped Big Bad Elder Luthor, where would you hide?"

Pretty Boy Kent opened his mouth, but suddenly Janet felt someone jerk her arm.

"Miss Williams, we have been looking all over for you." It was Daniel-I-have-rotten-timing-Watcher.

Daniel took advantage of her surprise to haul her out the door. Janet yanked her arm back by the time they had reached the sidewalk.

"You idiot," she hissed. "I was this close," she held her thumb and index finger an inch apart, "from getting a list of potential hideouts from the Pretty Boy."

"You were flirting," he accused.

"Well yeah," Janet flipped her dark hair. "How else was I supposed to get answers from a boy who's never been outside the town limits?"

"We have no evidence that Mr. Osbourne was even in this . . ."

Janet cut him off. "I do. Linnie, in the coffeehouse, said that he asked if they ever had live music."

"Oh." Daniel paused. He straightened his glasses. "Perhaps, you should return and complete your questioning."

Janet turned on her heel and stalked back into the coffeehouse. She stopped dead in her tracks. "Damn." Where had the Pretty Boy gone? He must have snuck out the back door.


***


Clark took advantage of his super-speed as he raced to the caves. He knew of only one place that someone could hide in Smallville. It was a wonder that he had not already searched there with Lex. Except that they had concentrated their search to Metropolis and the more populated areas of Kansas. Lex was determined to find his father, though he fully admitted that it was to prove his own innocence more than any altruistic motive.

Once he was close enough, Clark could smell the faint scent of smoke, the burning of flesh. Outside the none-painted parts of the caves were two mangled bodies. Both were male and neither one was Lionel Luthor. Clark feared the worst as he plunged into the caves.

The smoke got thicker with every step. Clark hurried. The pockets of smoke and fumes swirled around his feet from where it had settled. It was an ominous sight.

Clark rounded a corner and the cave widened.

A pile was smoldering in the center. Clark used his x-ray vision. He found two male bodies, neither with any broken bones, as a part of the had-been fire. Their flesh had been burnt away and their skulls had exploded with the heat expanding their brains. It was an unsightly mess.

It stunk.

Clack could not see enough, even with his x-ray vision, to identify the bodies. Somehow, Clark knew that one was Lionel Luthor. He wondered how that would effect Lex.

He was about to turn around and exit the macabre grave, when a slight movement caught his eye.

A dark haired girl whimpered.

In a flash, Clark was at her side. Without thinking, he pulled the chains out of the cave wall where they had been driven in. Clark picked her up and raced out of the cave.

When they were far away from the dark, dank cave and away from the suffocating smoke, Clark stopped. He placed the girl, he recognized her from the flyer as 'Faith,' on the cool grass.

She immediately started coughing.

"Faith? Faith?" he asked softly.

She squinted her eyes open. "Who'you?" she slurred.

"My name's Clark."

A weak smile graced her sooty face. "Hey good-lookin', how come I don't remember our night together?"

Clark blushed. "I never . . . we never . . ."

"Shame." She closed her eyes and relaxed in the grass.

"Miss Faith? Miss Faith? Please stay awake."

She frowned. "Name's Faith. No Miss. And I wanna sleep."

"You need to stay awake," Clark pleaded. "I need to get you to a hospital. There's no telling how much damage the smoke did to you."

Faith suddenly jerked upright. "Damn. Oz."

Clark tried to hold her down. "No one else was alive in the caves."

She stilled. Faith was quiet for a very long time. Clark feared for her life but her heart was beating and her lungs were breathing.

"Faith?"

"How about that hospital?" she asked.

"As soon as I can manage it."


***


The next time Faith awoke, she was in a hospital bed. She heard the whispers of the staff, the horrible smell of the sterile environment. She wrinkled her nose.

"I think she's coming out of it."

Faith furled her brow. Who was that?

"But my homage to her super-heroine-ness isn't done!"

That one had to be Andrew. The dweeb. She was half-afraid to open her eyes and see what his homage entailed.

"Andrew, I told you the only reason that you'll get away with that monstrosity is if Faith's too hurt to climb out of the bed to kick your ass."

"B?"

"Faith!"

"She's waking up!"

"Faith, open your eyes now. Let me see those pretty brown eyes," a male voice coaxed.

"Xander?"

"She spoke again!"

There were the sounds of a scuffle as various people hurried into the room. Then Faith heard a 'whap-whap' sound.

"Out. Out," Buffy ordered. "Stay out of my line-of-sight."

Somebody whispered a 'sorry.'

Faith turned her head toward the voice. Finally she opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was Buffy. Across the way, leaning on her elbow, holding the pillow she had used as a weapon, Buffy rested in the other hospital bed.

Buffy offered a watery smile. "Hey, Faith."

"Hey, B."

"How are you doing?"

"Five-by-five."

"Good." Buffy lay back on her bed and stared at the ceiling.

Faith looked to Xander, trying to ignore the huge poster board with pictures of her. She winced, her prison mug shot was front and center. "Xander, how long?"

He dropped his eyes. "Everything . . . happened two weeks ago. You were missing for four days and you've been here for another three."

"Did I missed . . . the funerals?"

"No."

Faith looked at each of the girls. She should have missed the funerals. No one would meet her eyes. "B?"

"You have two days, Faith. Doc says that you'll still be here."

"Yeah? What does he know?"

"A lot with what I'm paying him."

Faith turned to the new voice. The stranger was young, bald, and rather well built. Over half the people in the room stiffened with his entrance, Xander included. Faith dismissed the stranger and zeroed in on the teenager following him.

She smiled. “Hey Good-Lookin’, when do I get to thank you for saving my life?”

The farm boy blushed bright red at her insinuation. Baldy laughed at the blush.

“Faith Giles?” the bald man asked.

Faith was hard pressed to keep the surprise off her face. She nodded, slid her gaze to Buffy who mouthed, ‘he would have wanted it.’ Faith was not sure of that, but concentrated on Baldy. “Who wants to know?”

The bald man did not attempt to come closer to her bed or offer his hand. “I’m Lex Luthor.

Well, that explained the chilly reception. Faith did offer her hand, which surprised the Luthor heir. “Nice to metcha.”

“Likewise.”

Faith dropped his hand. “So you here to clean up Daddy’s mess or continue his work?”

Something flashed in Lex’s eyes that Faith did not catch. Lex shook his head. “Deaths cannot be cleaned up, ever.”

Faith nodded. “Well then, be seein’ ya.”

Lex accepted the dismissal without a word and walked out the door. Farm Boy did not have the same poker face as Lex. He was insulted on behalf on his friend, but had sympathy for the Scoobies’ loss and understood their prejudice.

“So Farm Boy, when do I get to show my thanks?” Faith asked again.

Farm Boy blushed again. “It was nothing. I just happened to be in the area.”

One of the new Slayers’ heads jerked up. Faith couldn’t remember her name, but knew that she had an attitude and had a tendency to drop her left shoulder when going for a right cross. Her eyes met Faith’s and she mouthed ‘liar.’ Faith wondered if he was a shy hero or hiding something.

Farm Boy placed a large vase of flowers by Faith’s bedside.

“Wow.”

“My mom sent them. Everyone hopes you get well soon and are sorry for your loss.”

Xander spoke up from his place between the two hospital beds. “Did she send in anymore pies?” Xander turned to Faith. “Mrs. Kent bakes the best killer-as-in-non-homicidal apple pies.”

Everyone burst out laughing and Faith knew that someday life would go on.


****


The funeral day was warm and sunny as the nine members of the new Council were laid to rest along the shores of Sunnydale Lake. But there was a chill in the air. Very few words were spoken and then people started piling back into their cars to leave to the airport.

In the end, Xander stood behind Faith’s wheelchair and Andrew stood behind Buffy’s. They did not say anything. Then they too left.

All that remained were the headstones.

Rebekka Scheulch, Hero

Daniella Lopez, Hero

Lavada, Hero

Sarah George, Hero

Marie Pelletier, Hero

Kennedy, Hero

Willow Rosenberg, Friend Forever

Rupert Giles, Beloved Father and Mentor

Dawn Summers, her season was much too short



***

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
nyx_girl
Jan. 11th, 2014 09:47 am (UTC)
This was amazing even if it was a sad story.
faithburke
Jan. 12th, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's a repost from the now defunct story website and I was pleased that it held up well since I wrote it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )