Collapse and resurrection

Author: norgco <>

Series: Follows on from Salvation, which follows on from Pardoned

Summary: A memorial ceremony leads, eventually, to Faith's past arriving to see her. Buffy talks to Lex.

Rating: Pg15 maybe

Disclaimer: I own none of this except the characters you don't recognise.

Feedback: Please.

Chapter 1

Slayer HQ, Cleveland, sunset, Tuesday 10 January 2006.

Giles recorded voice was clear and a little emotional as it read out the piece of poetry over the building public address system.

They shall not grow old,
As we that are left, grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun
And at the morning
We will remember them

The reading ended and 'the last post' played, a mournful bugle sound, and then everyone fell out of attention facing west and went back to whatever they had been doing when sunset was announced. An Australian watcher had suggested it, a daily ritual of the Returned Serviceman's League in her homeland.

"Slayers are human beings, not just disposable assets for the friggin watchers council" was how Morgana had put it. "We shouldn't just casually walk away from their corpse's and shout NEXT!"

Slayer HQ Cleveland, Training Room 3

Faith was in the boxing gear room, as she thought of it, and returned to hitting the heavy bag with a vengeance. The bags were replaced a lot more regularly than a normal set of users, even heavyweight professionals, would need, but it was just the cost of realistic training. Harder and harder, faster and faster she punched, kicked, kneed and elbow struck the bag until one particularly heavy kick snapped the chain and threw it into the wall.

Gravity had very little time to work before she reached the bag and kept punching. Harder and harder, faster and faster, until eventually the bag was a torn ruin and she was punching the wall with the bag filling piled up at her feet. She was sobbing uncontrollably, unable to see the wall anymore through her tears, still smashing into the plaster.

Finally she stopped and sank to the floor, the wreckage of her hands slowly healing under the wraps and the gloves and all the blood. Xander stepped hesitantly forward and crouched in front of her, carefully not touching her. The rest of the occupants of the room remained where they were, which was standing well back with looks of fear on their faces. Faith and Buffy were the two slayers who had survived longest as chosen, Buffy cheerfully admitted to being a diagnosed psychotic, now Faith was acting crazy.

Would they all go through this if they lived long enough? Was insanity the fate of slayers who were not killed in action?

"Faith, I'm not gonna ask if your ok 'cause obviously you aren't, but can you get up and come to our room 'cause your scaring people?" He said it with a smile on his face, but the fear in the eyes of the new slayers who had run up to his office to get him was very real. And very sensible, for that matter.

"They're dead." The Boston slayer mumbled.

"Who's dead?" Xander answered.

"Everyone." Was the response. "Mom, dad, Jeff, first watcher, everyone's dead. I failed them, they're all dead."

"I'm not dead." He said with a false cheer in his voice, looking for something bright to say.

"Only 'cause Angel stopped me." Then she started back on the serious crying, as he helped her to their room.

Lex Luthor's bedroom, Metropolis, morning of Thursday 12 January

"See Lex, all of us from the original Scooby gang have all seen WAY too much action, apparently Faith was in the middle of a breakdown when she arrived in Sunnydale." Buffy was lying on her stomach with one hand running over the Billionaires chest, playing with his chest hair.

"Really?" He said in a calm, clear tone. Sometimes the blonde slayer wondered if he had majored in cool, instead of business as he claimed.

"Really, much of the mental breakage with our Faith, way much." She said, then looked up from her gazing at his chest and added. "By the time she reached us Kaikistos, who was just this total ubervamp with hooves, old, old bad guy, had turned and made her stake both parents and her first boyfriend, then tortured her watcher to death in front of her."

The relationship between them was the most normal either had ever had, which was a depressing statement if one thought about it. While Lex was, once again, a man drawn to the dark side, and arguably already well on the path there, he had not actually raped, tortured and then killed the entire population of an orphanage or convent, as two of her previous lovers had. 'Spike hadn't even been embarrassed about that despite having regained his soul'; she thought 'again with the why didn't I stake him?'

"Oh, and thanks for giving Xander a job, it's kind of you." The blonde slayer had decided to change topics, shoptalk was depressing and her time with Lex was too precious to waste on something like that. The one eyed man had just that morning been officially offered a position as a management trainee with Lexcorp's consulting division.

"Something given has no value." The bald man quoted back to her, Robert Heinlein being the nearest thing to a left liberal author allowed in the Luthor household during his childhood. Which said a lot about his father to anyone who has actually read Starship Troopers, or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. "I didn't give him anything, he's a diamond in the rough in a world full of smooth, flawless MBA's with no actual talent for anything except office politics and applying rote solutions from management textbooks. I organised an interview, he earned his place all by himself."

Faiths psychiatric hospital, a few days later.

Alexander Lavelle Harris was in the waiting area when they arrived. His contract with Lexcorp gave him far more flexibility with his hours than normal, due to his commitments to SlayCo. Commitments that Lex had sadly pointed out would ensure he would never be a high earner.

Flashback to the previous day

"What do you think I will be making smooth guy?" Xander had asked, a little worried. Partly by his lack of a good moniker for the billionaire.

"Not a lot, not more than 2 or 3 million dollars a year and even that will probably take a while." The man who's definition of poverty was not everyone's had responded. "This year I doubt you will break the hundred thousand mark, even with bonuses."

End flashback

"We are here to see Faith McCormack, I believe she is a patient here?" The eldest of the group said. They were all women, inevitably given what they were. The receptionist told them to wait with the other person seeing her, so they came over and stood in front of him. "So, you are here to see Faith too, we are told."

"That's right your nunship."

"What is your relationship with her, if you don't mind me enquiring?" Or even if you do mind me enquiring, her tone implied. "I must say all of this is more confusing than helpful in some ways. Such a bright, obedient girl, then suddenly she starts getting into trouble and disappears. We have been praying for her for years and suddenly that nice Mr Luthor calls and says she's here and arranges for us to see here"

"I'm Xander Harris, I'm a friend and FAITH WAS CONVENT EDUCATED?"

"My dear Mr Harris her life long ambition was to join our Order and be a missionary teacher." Another of the nuns in the back responded. "She always had her heart set on working in our orphanage in Khartoum after meeting some of the …"

"Mother Superior, he's fainted."