Divergent Destinies 5

Next Stop: Sunnydale

Author: IceWing <icewing[at]one.net>

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Although the sun was still visible above the Rockies, the October wind whipped past her, pulling with it what little warmth she had underneath her thin jacket. Over her shoulder, the girl had slung an old backpack. A backpack which contained all the worldly possessions she'd been able to cram into it. The rest, hidden in a steamer trunk she'd left behind, with the hope she'd be able to reclaim it someday soon.

She trudged along the side of the road, her body shivering as it tried to generate enough warmth to keep her if not comfortable, at least functioning. The packed snow didn't make things any easier, although she was thankful it wasn't that slushy crap that Boston always seemed to be covered with the morning after most snowfalls. It was bad enough getting sprayed with tiny ice crystals every time a car or truck went by. Being drenched with slush would have been more than she could have taken.

Ahead, her eyes picked out the brightening of the sky beyond the peak she was climbing. "Oh, please let that be a gas station." Her hands had long since gotten too cold to keep outside of her pockets in the vain hope that somebody would stop and offer her a ride west. She kept taking it one step at a time, and in a few minutes, she crested the hill and saw the welcome sight of a bustling truck stop sprawled out before her. "Oh, hell yes," she cried as she jogged down the hill to the waiting warmth.


Faith sat perched on one of the stools at the counter, her hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot coffee, which was all she was willing to shell out money for till she got to Sunnydale. She'd used up the rest of today's budget yesterday on something called the Bomber Breakfast at a little hole in the wall in Michigan, which had actually filled her up for the first time since she'd started this whole trip. Then again, if four eggs, over a pound of hash browns, a pound of bacon, and a half a loaf of toast didn't fill her up,then nothing would. She smiled as she thought about the looks on the faces of the staff when she'd presented the empty plate with her compliments to the cook. Apparently, she'd been the first person to ever finish the entire thing, and they'd told her she could come back and eat for free, at least, till she failed to finish off the entire plate.

Thinking about the food made her stomach rumble. Loud enough that the truck driver who had sat down next to her looked over.

"Been on the road a while, I'm guessing," he said.

"A bit," she answered a bit guardedly.

"It shows," he said. "So, which way you heading?" he asked as he tore into his chicken fried steak.


"Damn, you don't talk much do you?" He looked over at her. "Well, you look like you could use a lift, and I'm heading West as soon as I'm done here," said the trucker. "So if you want a ride…"

Faith looked over at the guy and weighed her options. It was too damn cold to walk and frankly, this guy didn't look like he could stop a stiff breeze. "Sure, beats facing the cold if nothing else."

Twenty minutes later, the semi was pulling out of the truck stop, the radiator grill covered with a green, laughing jester.

"If you want to catch some shut eye, I've got some time to make up, so feel free to curl up in the back, or if you want, there's a coffee maker on the wall of the sleeper right behind my seat."

Faith thought about it for a moment then realized how tired she was. She glanced back in the sleeper, seeing it was pretty clean, and no obvious danger signs, like duct tape or anything resembling a weapon. Plus, he looked pretty much like a milk-sop. "Yeah, some shuteye does sound pretty good. I'll warn you though, I snore."


Faith woke with a start.

"You Bastard!"

With a swiftness that a viper would have envied, the young Slayer's hand wrapped around the much larger hand of the trucker, covering three of the fingers and slowly pulled it out of the front of her pants. "You sick motherfucker!" she screamed.

The trucker tried to say something, but before the meaningless rationalization got past his lips, Faith took matters into her own hand, literally. With one savage motion, she snapped the three fingers she had a grip on like twigs, then threw the trucker's hand against the wall of the cab.

"You fucking little whore," he bellowed, but before he could continue, Faith's fist impacted dead center on the offending appendage, smashing dozens of the tiny bones within and bringing a rather feminine scream from the trucker's mouth. He stared at his right hand, the fingers all flopping around like fish out of water.

Faith felt a rage building in her, as she looked at the sick fucker before her, then very calmly delivered a very precise right cross which bruised the hell out of his jaw and knocked him out cold.

As he fell to the mattress, Faith systematically began smashing the entire driver's area of the truck, making sure to pay particular attention to the ignition and the electronics. Then, almost as an afterthought, she wrenched the steering column completely free of the floor. 'Let the bastard sit here in the middle of nowhere for a while.'

After ten minutes, her rage muted, she rifled through his belongings, grabbed the nice leather jacket he had in his duffle as well as the fucker's wallet and a nice size roll of cash she'd found under the mattress.

"You deserved a whole lot worse than that, you sick fuck," she snarled as she grabbed her kit and kicked the door open, then jumped down to the road and began walking again.


The sound of the miles rolling by, the endless clickety clank of the wheels of the boxcar as it went from segment of rail to segment of rail, eventually put the tired, cold, hungry Slayer to sleep, as she lay against the bales of hay left behind by some other transient who had plied the same tracks as she now travelled.

As she slumbered, her mind replayed the nightmares she had escaped back east. Nightmares that forced her to watch as Kakistos and Mr. Trick turned her Watcher, her friend, into a human effigy of pain. An effigy which always turned to her and blamed the suffering she had been forced to undergo on Faith's weakness. Tears rolled down the sleeping face as she struggled with the demons which she fought but could no longer gain ground against. Earlier demons, from before the Curse of being Called to be a Slayer. Terrified, sleepless nights, as she prayed that the door would just stay shut. And that the monsters would remain outside.

The impact of her cheek against the floor of the boxcar woke her abruptly, causing her to flinch back before she came up swinging, as muscle memories reasserted themselved before she knew where she was. Looking around, she realized that she had landed face down when the train had rounded a bend. Glancing out the slightly ajar door, she saw the train was still in the middle of the countryside, with not a sign of the urban environment which would preceed her destination.

Pulling her jacket tight around her, the teen put her back to the corner, rested her head against the rough wood, then pulled her knees up to her chest and tried to keep away from the demons which haunted her.


It was almost dusk when any observant bystander would have seen a lithe female form lean out of the side of a slow moving boxcar, then drop to the ground and roll to shed the extra momentum which she had possessed when offloading herself.

Not that there were any bystanders, observant or otherwise, out on the streets of Sunnydale's industrial district. Not this close to dark. Strangely, this part of town seemed to pull in the sidewalks as the sun dropped beneath the horizon.

Dusting herself off, Faith shifted her duffle on her left shoulder, then looked around. "Damn, this place seems dead, even for the mouth of Hell." She hadn't seen any real hustle or bustle on the way in, so that eliminated the way the train had come from. "Well, one out of three odds," she muttered to herself. "I've dealt with worse."

Picking west, Faith started moving.

A half hour later, the sun had finished its descent as the stars were beginning to appear in the night's sky. Faith had checked all three phone booths she'd passed, trying to find a number for this Giles guy, but the first two had no phone books at all, and the third, well, even she hadn't wanted to touch whatever was smeared all over the wrinkled, yellowed pages. She'd have to just find some local demon and beat the information out of them. Either that, or wait till Monday and scope out the high school. A chick with a name like 'Buffy' shouldn't exactly be hard to find. "Damn it," she whispered to herself. "I wish I'd listened to you better Jacklyn…."

She paused, wiping away whatever it was that was irritating her eyes. "About a lot of things. Then you'd be here to help find these people instead of me being here and you being…"

She stopped before she finished the sentence… It was still to fresh to even think about, much less deal with. "What I need, is some good music and dancing. Stop with all this moping around and enjoy. I'm in Calif-fucking-fornia, with a wad of cash, nobody to answer to and I'm damn well going to enjoy it."

As she kept walking, Faith noticed the building shifting to more of a business district or small town america downtown kind of look. "Hey kid," she shouted to a car stopped at a red light a minute later.

The youth tried to act like he hadn't heard her and took off even before the light turned green. A few blocks later, her second attempt got at least some response from a blonde in a BMW.

"Yo, blondie, any chance you could help a sister out and point me in the direction of the local hot spot?"

"Well, the red light district is back the way you came, but from the way you're dressed, you already knew that."

"Oh, good one Harm," parroted one of the other girls in the car, her voice slightly slurred, before it too sped off, again leaving Faith alone.

"What is with this town?" she asked herself as she looked down at what she was wearing. "Must be some rich bitch or something who wouldn't know good taste if it bit her, and from what they say about this town, I hope something does!"

Muttering, she headed back the way the preppie mobile had come from, until she saw a gathering of teens, most of them dressed in clubwear, or what passed for it around here she assumed, not much older than her outside of a building which proundly declared itself to be 'The Bronze'.

"The Bronze? What kind of idiot names their club 'The Bronze'? Sounds like some kind of third place, third rate kind of dive." Walking up, she asked one of the teens if this was one of the better places to hang in the Dale. When the response came that this was pretty much the ONLY place to hang, unless you wanted to carouse with old farts at a coffee bar, she muttered that somehow she wasn't surprised. Third rate might just be a notch above this place. From inside, she could hear the pounding base line and after a moments consideration said to hell with it, she needed to cut loose after that damn train. "Might even get my mind off those damn vamps," she whispered.

Stepping up to the bouncer, she peeled off a twenty from the bankroll she had acquired from the trucker and handed it over.

Looking her over, the bouncer handed her the change as told her to be careful. When she rolled her eyes at him as she sauntered inside, he shook his head, doubting she'd ever be back. Hot looking girl like that, with all her belongings on her back, she was just meat for the beast in this damned town.

Stopping at the coat check, Faith got a stub for her jacket and duffle bag, then headed for a quick check of the perimeter of the club before moving to the dance floor. As she stepped onto the polished wood, she heard the opening of Rob Zombie's Living Dead girl and let the music wash over her. Moving in time with the rhythm, Faith let herself go, losing herself in the riffs and drumbeats, her body flowing like a silken ribbon in a soft spring wind.

The songs segued from one to another for close to a half hour before Faith's consciousness returned. When it did, she noticed the crowd of young men looking at her as if she were the second coming. One in particular caught her eye. Not because he was particularly attractive, although he was, in a rough cut kind of way. No, it was the fact that he lived in California and had no tan. Well, that an the whole no sweat and no heartbeat thing. Damn vamps were easy as hell to pick out once you knew what you were looking for. She kept dancing with him for a few more minutes, as she tried to figure out her next move. 'Stupid move Faith,' she mentally berated herself. 'Come to the Hellmouth, vamp central, and give all your stakes to the damn coat check girl. Good way to get yourself in way over your head.' As the song came to an end, she pointed to the back door of the club, gave him an exagerated flick of her hips and headed outside. Glancing over her shoulder, she watched as he said something to another vamp, who she'd deal with later, and then grinned as he quickly moved to follow her. 'Hook, line and sinker. Guys don't get any smarter, dead or alive, when they're looking at a fine piece of grade A woman.'

As she stepped out the door, she looked around, hoping to find a piece of wood, or maybe a packing crate she could use as a stake, but found nothing before the vamp she was leading around like a lamb to the slaughter came out the door behind her. "Come on handsome," she crooned, pouring on the sweet act till her teeth practically ached. "Let's go around the corner so nobody can interupt us."

As she turned the corner, Faith heard the door open behind them. She knew she had to do this quick before whoever it was came around the corner. Her eyes darted around the alley, before coming to rest on a heavy crate against the far side of the alley. As she contemplated how best to carry out the smash, grab and stake, she found herself being thrown against a section of fencing, which was leaned against the wall of the Bronze for some unknown reason. "Hey," she said as he darted forward. She went to move away, but his forearm against her throat stopped her.

"Stop struggling. This won't hurt," he said as his face went from decently attractive to something more resembling cro-magnon man. He leaned in, his canines extended when Faith decided she'd had enough.

Bringing her arm up, she wrapped her small hand around his throat and shoved, giving her more room to work with, then smashed her elbow into his face. 'Oh, it's going to hurt alright,' she thought. 'Just not who you thought it would hurt.'

The vamp staggered back, trying to regain his balance as Faith leapt up onto the very crate she had been planning on using as a source of the stake. Instead, she used it as a launch pad to deliver a devestating roundhouse to his face, throwing the animated corpse to the ground with enough energy to addle most normal humans. The debris disturbed by the impact skittered across the pavement, coming to rest at the feet of a short blonde who had turned the corner. Faith took note of the new arrival, as well as the stake in her hand as well as the group which had her back. With a smile, she took a step forward, saying that it was ok, she had it. "You're, uh, Buffy, right?" she added. She couldn't believe that this was the other Slayer, although considering how short she was, Faith could definitely see why she had the civvies behind her. She needed somebody to feel superior to. Had something to prove, like that short guy who ran France.

Her thought was interupted though by the vampire grabbing her from behind, by the shoulders. She sighed. 'Damn vamps do NOT know when to run,' she thought as she snapped her head back, smashing his nose with a satisfying crunch. While it was stunned, she grabbed its arm. "I'm Faith," she announced as she spun the undead around, and shoved it against the fence it had tried to pin her against.

From behind the blonde, Buffy, Faith heard one of the guys say something to the redhead about there being a new Slayer in town. She grinned, liking the feeling of being compared to a sheriff like in one of those old westerns. Smile on her face, she brought her knee up, smashing it into the vampire's back. In a human, the strike would have smashed the kidney and dropped the target to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Unfortunately, the undead don't have a huge need for the kidneys, and they have a far higher pain threshold.

As she recovered, the vampire spun in place, throwing a wild backhand punch, which she simply ducked underneath, then delivered a rabbit punch of her own to his gut, then another to his face. She then pivoted, and smashed the toe of her foot into the side of the vampire's face, then continued the follow through and grabbed her adversary by the shirt and neck and threw him forward to the ground.

Taking a moment, she turned and reached over to Buffy, grabbing her stake. The other guy, kinda cute and not with red she thought idly, had another identical stake in his hand, curled up so as not to be visible, but other than that, she saw no weapons amongst the entire group. But then again, the guy with the stake had on a shirt that could have been used to hide an arsenal in, so maybe they weren't as clueless as they looked.

"Can I borrow that?" Faith asked, even though the stake was already in her hand, and she was moving again.

By this time, the vampire had completed its roll, regained its footing and was charging at her, telegraphing a punch as it moved closer. 'Man, these vamps are just as dumb here as back east,' she thought as she ducked under the punch, then grabbed his shoulder with her free hand and used it as a pivot to swing him around and into the fence once more. A quick stake in, stake out, and the vampire was a small pile of dust amongst the trash of the alley.

Faith turned back to Buffy, who was looking at her with a look of both amazement and confusion. 'Ok, not the reaction I was expecting,' she thought as she handed the stake back. "Thanks, B. Couldn't have done it without you."

'Well, that's one way to prove who I am,' she thought as she walked past the group. 'Beat the vamp down, and stake it. Introduce myself to Buffy, man, I still can't believe she's not taller than that, and some of the people she apparently insisted on leading into harm's way, although they may not be quite the dead weight they seem to be. All in all, could have gone worse,' she thought as she walked past them, then waited when it was pretty obvious they still weren't moving. "So, you folks going to stand there all night, or you going to be useful and show a girl a where to get something to eat in this one horse town?"