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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:34 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:35 am
Posts: 59
Location: Baltimore, MD
Sorry if the alert of this post gets anyone's hopes up, lol.

I just wanted to drop in, since it's been forever since I've posted a comment on this, to let you know I'm still enjoying this story and can't wait for more.

Take care.


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:15 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 405
Topics: 2
Hi, Azirahael, Mother D, and Mysticrain.

Sorry for the long delay guys. I got halfway through this chapter over a month ago and then I came down with a flu that dragged on for what feels like two months. I spent way too many weeks essentially high on cough syrup and nyquil before I finally got back into the writing. But the next chapter is finally done. I hope you enjoy and that you all had a good enough holiday.

_________________
Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:20 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind? Seriously though all feedback is welcome.

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show. And Angel too. Also Agents of Shield a little bit. You know what, if a name you don’t recognize pops up most of the time you can find dozens of pages of character bio if you type that name and the word comics into Wikipedia. It’s almost scary how much page space comic book fans have taken up on that site.

Rating: NC-17 = Smutty smut smut smut. Seriously though they make love quite often.

Pairings: W/T, B/F, G/J, D/J, F/G, A/?, X/A. Also D/C (Though not till they’re older and even then maybe not so much with the graphic detail.)

Disclaimer: You all know I don’t own the rights to characters you’ve seen on TV.

Summary: A story of reincarnation and interdimensional travel made possible through the power of love. What misfortunes will our two favorite love birds be able to prevent with the aid of experience from countless past lives?

Author’s Note: Oh, wow. Okay, sorry again for the delays. Extra long flu season knocked me on my ass and kept me there for too long. But on to the story. Earshot. Epiphany... Kinda wonky but I found some funny bits in there. Buffy is about to be struck with waves of "Too much information!"

*****

Chapter 39: Earshot

The light patter of rainfall and the distant crack of thunder could be heard as one of two figures stirred in the bed. Dim light filled the subterranean apartment as two vampires slowly began to recover from the degradation they had inflicted upon each other. The dark haired male shot up with a gasp as soul-crushing agony filled his being. He struggled to draw unnecessary breath as his hands clutch at the breastbone covering a heart that refused to beat.

The petite blonde at his side purred as his panicked motions slowly pulled her from the depths of slumber. “Don’t fight it, my love.” Darla leaned closer, making every effort to wrap herself around pale muscular arms that had once held her so close. “Just let it happen. It will only hurt for…” The man beside her flinched.

“Eww! Get away from me.” Angel’s disgust cut through any seductive words the other vampire might have planned. “Your breath smells like my balls.”

It was Darla’s turn to flinch and shy away from her dark stallion. “Wait...” She couldn’t believe what her senses were telling her. She peered deep into the still cursed vampire and found the abhorrent light that had turned her away over a century ago. “You still have a soul.”

“Oh, god...” Angel gasped yet again as he took stock of his surroundings. “Oh, god, I can still smell your stink all over my sheets. I’ll have to burn them.”

“Maybe,” Darla said as she tried and failed to comprehend his scorn. The blonde watched as Angel stood up from the bed, wrapping his entire body from just above the nipples down to his feet with the single bed sheet that had covered the only bed in his basement apartment. Darla’s gaze fell back to the bed she was now sitting on while stark naked. She could not see where they had gone wrong. Where she had failed to lift her dear boy’s curse. “But we…”

“Yeah,” Angel said as he paced back and forth, still covered from breast to toe in the lone sheet.

Darla turned back to him with confusion in her quavering voice. “And you…

He nodded. “I know.”

An almost wistful smile played across Darla’s face. “And I…”

“Three times,” Angel said.

“You’re not evil.” This was wrong. “Why aren’t you evil?” Darla still could not understand the problem, and that ignorance sparked a fire deep within the petite blonde vampire. “I was at the top of my game. I was great! You can not tell me that wasn’t perfect!

Angel was quiet for a moment before a single, unenthusiastic utterance left his throat. “Meh…”

That casual disregard took the fire flickering within Darla and fanned it into an outraged inferno. “I don't’ accept that! Not only have I been around for four hundred years, but I used to do this professionally! That was perfect!” A moment passed while the blonde quieted and decided on her next course of action. “We’re going again.”

“Eww, no means no!” Angel’s shouted disgust crashed against Darla’s indignation like a wave of icy water.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me!” The petite blonde could not believe the turn their reunion had taken. “An hour ago you wanted this! I didn’t trick you into anything! I didn’t seduce you! You wanted this!”

“Yeah, and it was perfect Darla. Perfect despair. Perfect misery. That’s all we’ve ever had together. A hundred years of misery and despair.” Angel’s pacing slowed as he turned to take in the sight of the naked blonde before him. “I don’t know why it took me so long to realize… I can’t save you.”

Darla let out an exasperated huff as memories surfaced from so many nights spent with the clients she entertained while still human. “So what? It’s just over because you suddenly decided? You’ve had your fun and now you’re out the door?”

“No, I’m not out the door,” Angel said as he faced his sire once more. “Because it’s my door. I’m gonna go take a shower. Try to wash the shame off every inch of my body. When I’m done you need to be gone.”

The cursed vampire turned and strode into the small ensuite of his underground apartment. He left without another word or even a consideration for the naked blonde standing in his wake. Outrage melted to shock and then confusion as Darla watched the man walk out on her yet again. As Angel turned the knob of his shower a dull scream reverberated through his apartment. It was soon followed by the slamming of doors and the stomping of feet through the office upstairs.

*****

Two demons covered in pale scabby skin chased a petite blonde through the Sunnydale Park. The blonde tripped and came tumbling to the ground beside a swing set. She looked back at the approaching demons and let a wicked smirk play across her face.

“You demons can’t resist a run and stumble, can you?” Buffy said as she leapt back to her feet, ready to fight.

“Nah, B!” Faith called out as she came up behind the pair of demons. “They just couldn’t resist your nice tight ass. I know I can’t.”

“Flattery and sexy times later, Honey,” Buffy said just before she moved to sweep the legs out from under the closest demon. “Slaying these mouthless freaks now.”

“That’s got to be a new one.” Faith said as she closed with the other demon. “Where’d your mouth go ugly?”

“Bet they save a fortune on dentist visit.” Buffy quipped as punches and kicks were thrown back and forth.

“Unless they got their teeth somewhere else, B.” Faith said. “Watch those kicks to the groin. I don’t want any teeth marks scuffing up your sexy come fuck me boots.”

“Thanks for the warning, Honey,” Buffy said as she pulled out a dagger and threw it right at the demon she faced. Buffy’s demon ducked the whirling blade. Without even looking the demon facing Faith snatched the weapon out of the air and slashed at the brunette Slayer. “Shit! Sorry.”

“Ain’t no thang, B.” Faith ducked the slash and brought one boot up in a powerful kick. She connected solidly with the demon’s chest and the mouthless fiend flew backwards. The demon landed on the nearby picnic table. Buffy wasted no time in retrieving her dagger and ramming it into the heart of their stunned foe.

“Shit!” Faith was more than agitated as she came up to her girl’s side. “The other one got away.”

“We’ll get it next time, Honey,” Buffy said. She pulled her girl closer and before either Slayer knew it they were kissing, as was often the case after any taxing slay. Neither Slayer cared to notice the viscous glowing white ooze seeping from the knife wound in the fallen demon’s chest. Neither Slayer noticed the same glowing demon blood as it seeped into the skin of Buffy’s left hand.

*****

“Mouthless demons?” Willow perked up as she and Tara walked side by side with the pair of Slayers. “Oh, oh no. How mouthless? Were they scabby?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Buffy said. The girls came to a stop by their lockers and began pulling out the books they each needed for their next classes. “They just had scabby skin where their mouths should be.”

Before the girls would continue recapping their evening’s Slay for the witches another student called out to a group of letterman jacket clad jocks coming down the hall. “Hogan! Great game man!”

“Hogan Martin thinks he’s sooooo hot!” Xander’s snide remark only served to draw eye rolls from the girls. “Like we should all be awed by him because he put a ball in a net.”

“Hey, Xander.” Hogan greeted the Scooby as he and his teammates drew near.

“He said my name. He knows my name!” The casual greeting was clearly more than Xander could handle from the basketball team’s star player.

“‘Course he knows your name, dude.” Faith shook her head as she put an arm around her girl. “Half the basketball team’s starting lineup and all of the second string survived last year’s swim team. Guys don’t forget the guy who gives them a rousing speech about not letting their dicks fall off.”

“Remember all that hot, sweaty, male bonding you boys did last year?” Buffy’s smirk was only matched by the wicked grin sported by Faith and the sly grin Tara shared with Willow. “Xander, you’ve been friends with most of the jocks at this school for a while now.”

“Plus it helps your cred that a few of them are dumb enough to believe that B and me bat you back and forth in the sack like cats playing with a mouse.” Buffy’s eyes widened in horror at Faith’s playful innuendo. The brunette could only laugh as she watched the confusion in Xander’s eyes glaze over with vacant arousal. Faith continued to chuckle into blonde locks as Percy and a few of the other basketball players following Hogan checked in with Jonathan and Amy about a fifth-period study session.

“See ya, Hogan!” Xander bid farewell to the leader of the departing jocks once they started walking down the hall. The young man then turned and started walking towards his next class. Buffy eventually joined her girl in laughter as the Slayers walked off, arm in arm.

With the next class imminent the hallway began to empty out. Few took notice of the honey blonde gently reassuring the redhead in her arms. None questioned the couple as Tara whispered tender assurances into Willow’s ear. “We’ll find the other demon, Sweetie. We won’t let her go insane.”

*****

“Infect?” Buffy cried out in shock as Giles went over one of the tomes in the office behind the new library’s front desk. “Infect! Giles!” The watcher looked up to find his Slayer all too worried about his choice of words. “Infect!”

“Oh, ah, infect the host with an aspect of the demon.” His words did little to ease Buffy’s new fears. “That’s all it says.”

“An aspect of the demon?” Buffy grabbed the book as a laundry list of deformities possessed by the demons began to parade through her mind. None of her foe’s physical attributes appealed to the young blonde.

“It is rather terse, isn’t it?” Giles muttered as he pondered their current crisis.

“You mean like a part of it?” Buffy was only half listening as panic consumed her.

Giles tried to assuage his charge’s fears only to be cut short with a new and terrifying outcome. “There could be any number of...”

“What if my mouth closes up and my skin gets all scabby. What am I supposed to do without a mouth? I won’t be able to talk, or eat, or tell Faith how wonderful she is… I won’t be able to tell Faith I love her. Giles, what if this changes me into some creepy crawly thing and Faith won’t have anything to do with me?”

“Now I must say, that is just ridiculous.” Giles dismissed Buffy’s worry out of hand. “Buffy, that girl idolizes you. She worships you emotionally, and I would assume physically.”

“Giles!” Buffy let out a horrified squeak as the Englishman implied any sort of vague knowledge about her sex life.

The watcher’s exasperation was more than evident. “Oh come now, Buffy! We live in the same house. Anyone with at least two of the five senses can tell how much you girls mean to each other. Your mother and I would never question your devotion to Faith. Please don’t question her devotion to you.”

Buffy couldn’t help the thin wisp of hope her watcher dangled before her. “You really think she’ll still love me?”

Giles smiled as he put a reassuring hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “I know she will move heaven and hell to undo any changes you don’t want. I know that even if some negative change from this demon becomes permanent it won’t change her feelings for you. Your girlfriend loves you, Buffy. Tentacles and all.”

“Tentacles!” The Slayer’s terrified shriek could be heard throughout the hallways leading to the library of the new high school.

*****

Lorne smiled as he walked across his closed bar with two drinks in hand. “Between you and me, if it had taken you much longer to hit your bottom, I was gonna kick it.”

Angel sighed as he took the drink. “I’m still not sure I understand what happened.”

“What’s not to understand? You think you’re the first guy who ever rolled over, saw what was lying next to him, and went GEEH-AH!” The green lounge singer couldn’t help but smile as he relieved the vampire of the illusion that angry sex with an ex could be in any way rare or novel. Indeed, if Lorne’s clientele was any measure of rarity, then Angel’s experience was shared by countless legions of other men with checkered relationship histories. “You’re not, believe me.” A moment of silence passed before Lorne went on with the speech the cursed vampire needed to hear. “It’s called a moment of clarity, my lamb, and you’ve just had one! Sort of appalling, ain’t it? To see just exactly where you’ve gotten yourself.”

“I don’t know how to get back,” Angel admitted as he leaned on the table.

Lorne sighed as the apparent champion of the powers that be went through all the steps the demon had seen hundreds of his regulars trace after hitting rock bottom in their own lives. “Well, that’s just the thing. You don’t. You go on to the new place. Wherever that is.”

Angel remained dour as he tried to figure out some way to piece his life back together. “I don’t know if I can. I’ve done things. Questionable things.”

“Yes, you have.” Lorne agreed. “But you didn’t kill those watchers, Angel. That was slated to happen with or without you. The powers were just trying to work it so it’d be without you. You weren't much help in that department, were ya, Sparky?”

“I wasn’t much help?” Angel asked as he rounded an emotional corner and came up against the anger phase Lorne knew was coming. “If they wanted me to stay away why didn’t they just tell me?”

“Would you have listened?” Lorne asked before plowing ahead. “Besides, what makes you think they didn’t? Over and over and, as per example, over.”

“You know, they could have been a little more specific.” Angel remained stuck in his own misplaced animosity until the demon before him cleared his throat.

“Isn’t this just the sort of ‘tude that got you where you are now? I think I’m speaking for everyone when I say if all you’re gonna do is switch back to brood mode we’d rather have you evil.” Lorne took a moment to sip his drink and look over one side of the table to the vampire’s legs. “Then at least, well, leather pants.”

Lorne’s words seemed to finally sink in. The vampire sighed, letting go of the last of his anger and resentment. A moment later Angel looked back to the green demon. Lorne could tell the desperate need for answers was finally joined with an openness to actually hear the advice given. “What now? How do I fix this? What do the powers want me to do?”

The questions were almost enough to make Lorne slam his green forehead and red horns into the surface of the small table between them. “Does it look like I’m hearing voices? ‘Cause I’m not.” Lorne forged ahead before Angel could lose focus again. “I’m not your link with the powers, Angel. Never was. Hell, if you’d paid attention to the things the witches have been saying about the powers you’d be having second thoughts about hopping back on their leash. Just because they aren’t demons or hell gods doesn’t mean they automatically have anyone’s best interest at heart.”

As the words sank in Angel leaned further onto the table. Lorne almost took pity on the man, but he knew there were still hard truths the vampire needed to hear. “You severed your ties with the powers when you walked out on the Hyperion Crew. That’s going to be the hardest part of all this you know. There’s a chance, a good chance, you won’t be able to put this back together. It just, well, it depends really.”

“Yeah, whether they’ll even talk to me.” Angel huffed as he faced his nearly impossible task.

“No, actually it depends on whether they live through the next few days.” Lorne’s admission drew back all of Angel’s attention. Any trace of doubt or self-recrimination evaporated in the face of what would be lost if Angel failed his friends yet again. “And I gotta tell you. At the moment, the odds, not good.”

*****

Cheerleaders shouted out letters in the heart of the school courtyard as the members of the basketball team stood behind them. Off to one side of the proceedings, the Scoobies sat on their favorite bench and watched as most of their classmates carried on.

“Is it just me or is this really lame?” Buffy asked the group.

Xander hardly noticed what was said as he watched Cordelia and the other cheerleaders bounce. “They really are very good.”

Tara nodded noncommittally as both Xander and Faith’s eyes trailed the movements of Xander’s ex. “Their spelling has improved.”

Sitting beside Tara, Willow noticed the other blonde in her life checking her hair. “It’s not gonna be horns, Buffy.”

“What?” The panicked Slayer all but shrieked.

“You aren’t growing horns,” Willow repeated. “It’s more of a mess. Don’t worry too much. We’ll track down the other demon and fix it. We have to.”

“You know what aspect I’m gonna get?” Buffy asked before the obvious struck her with full force. “What is it? Claws? Scabs? A tail? It’s not… Oh god, Will, please tell me I won’t grow scabby demon boy parts.”

“You won’t grow any parts, Buffy,” Willow said as she continued to watch the pep rally. “It’s more cerebral. You’ll figure it out in a little bit. Just don’t get too crazy with it.”

As Buffy and Willow spoke Faith abandoned all pretense of watching the pep rally and focused all she had on her girl. Before Buffy could let fear and panic consume her further she found herself wrapped up in Faith’s arms. For the moment Buffy knew everything would be okay. She knew she would always have Faith to rely on.

*****

An hour later Buffy swore she could hear Xander’s mind crawl its way through a gutter filled with half-remembered and lurid sensations. Aborted grope-fests in half the closets in the old high school. Awkwardly mashing his lips against Cordelia’s. Even more awkwardly palming her breasts and ass. Buffy’s revulsion dueled with Xander’s remembered arousal as they both remembered each time Cordelia put on a clichéd damsel voice and called Xander her “Big, strong, demon-slaying hero.”

When the Slayer wasn’t brought near the point of dry heaves at her friend’s memory of the so-called “dates” she was rolling her eyes at each and every one of his petty jealousies. Buffy could hardly believe the extent of Xander’s infatuation with the head cheerleader who still occasionally joined their Scooby meetings out of boredom or habit.

Xander’s inappropriateness aside Buffy began to worry if she would be forced to read the minds of all her friends and family. Then she realized the extent of her newfound powers. A brief stroll down the school hallways with Faith’s arm draped over her shoulder clued Buffy into the inner workings of dozens of their classmates and teachers.

Students, if only we could get rid of all the students…

Oh, hey, there’s Buffy and Faith. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, I don’t think she saw me looking…

I swear, one day my pants are gonna fall right off…

Damn, Summers has a nice, shit Lehane is with her! Okay just don’t look and I can keep my dick…

Take French. How hard can it be? Idiot…

Oh god if Faith catches me looking at Buffy’s ass one more time she’ll rip my dick off…

Gahh, I almost looked at Summers’ ass. It’s okay I don’t think Faith saw me…

She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em bot' up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em bot' up…

If I don’t move my head as they walk by Faith won’t think I’m looking and she won’t rip my dick off…

M-m-m-my Sharona…

Two of the hottest girls in school and none of us can even look without, shit, Faith just locked eyes with me. I hope she doesn’t rip my dick off…

Walk like an Egyptian…

Buffy and Faith are so hot together. I can’t believe Harmony is still such a stuck up homophobe about them. It’s not like Cordelia is still dating Xander. If only I could find a girl like, oh no, Faith just caught me looking. Was that a wink? Faith just winked at me for looking at her and Buffy’s asses. What does that mean? Are they looking for another girl to… oh god! Abort, abort…

Glare all you want, Faith. You know I swing for the other team. I wonder what Allan is doing later…

Oh no, I need to go this way to get to my next class, but if Faith sees me walking behind her and Buffy she’ll think I’m staring at her girlfriend's ass and rip my dick off…

Don’t think I don’t see you asshole! You ain’t slick! If I catch that fuckboy staring at B’s ass one more time I’ll rip his dick off…

An inescapable pattern emerged. Buffy couldn’t help but turn to catch her girlfriend’s eye. Faith smiled as she fell into Buffy’s bewildered hazel pools. As the brunette swooned Buffy was nearly swept away. With her mind open to all others Buffy felt the full force of her connection with Faith like never before. The Slayer stood transfixed as a ceaseless cascade of love, devotion, and lust hammered down on her like a waterfall. So all-encompassing was the torrent of raw emotion that Buffy nearly collapsed to her knees. Luckily Faith’s arm was already securely wrapped around her waist. A brief flicker of worry crossed expressive brown eyes before the brunette whisked her girl into the nearest restroom. Faith moved Buffy into the empty stall at the end and propped her against the wall.

“What’s wrong, B? You ain’t never spaced out on me like that before.” Buffy all but swooned again as Faith’s worries, desperation, and care cradled her mind and practically wound the brunette around Buffy’s very soul.

“Faith… please…” Buffy whispered. Her hands clung to Faith’s shoulders as if they alone carried the last of her strength.

“Please what, B? What do you need?” Faith was all but beside herself with panic. Something was wrong with the most important person in her world. The person who might as well have been her whole world.

“I need you to…” Buffy paused as she felt all of Faith pour into her yet again. Her girl was intoxicating. “Make love to me…”

A sly smirk overtook Faith’s face as she leaned closer to her girl. The brunette stared into lost and needy hazel depths as her hands wound around slender hips. Where Faith’s love had been a relentless waterfall pounding Buffy’s petite frame into oblivion, Faith’s cocky self-assurance was a delicate but strong hand reaching its way up Buffy’s skirt. Buffy could feel Faith’s desire for her. It caressed her like powerful but nimble fingers cupping her pussy, sliding back and forth through the slickness of Buffy’s own arousal. Teasing and writhing the petite blonde’s aching center all while they were both still fully clothed. Faith’s physical hands were still gripping Buffy’s hips, ready to take her girl to new heights of pleasure and debauchery.

“Careful what you wish for, B.” Faith smirked as she failed to realize how her own cocky attitude was already sending Buffy over the edge. “Knowing me, you’re gonna get it.”

*****

“She can read our minds?” Xander asked as the Scoobies sat around the large table in their meeting room behind Giles’ office. “Our every impulse and fantasy?”

Buffy answered with a slight smirk. “Every one.”

Oh god!

Buffy was perched in the middle of the massive table with Faith hovering at her side. Willow sat just next to where Faith stood and Tara was for once sitting outside of Willow’s immediate reach on the other side of the table. Cordelia rolled her head back and forth in boredom on one side of Tara. Xander sat on the honey blonde’s other side in the chair closest to the door. Giles stood at the end of the table with a thick book in hand.

I don’t see what this has to do with me…

“I don’t see what this has to do with me,” Cordelia spoke her mind as always. Buffy found some comfort in realizing that the head cheerleader was abrasively honest if not always pleasant.

“This will be fuckin’ awesome!” Faith cheered her girl on before turning to Giles. “Hey, G Man, when do I get my mojo upgraded?”

B, yo, B, blink twice if you want to sneak off and screw as soon as we get these guys in research mode. We still got a few closets and a boiler room to christen. I’m gonna make you ride my face like we’re comin’ in second at the Kentucky Derby…

Buffy’s blush and arousal were tempered as she felt an exceedingly weary sigh coming from the watcher. “Now, Faith, don’t be too hasty,” Giles said as he did a remarkable job of keeping his mind clear of any stray thoughts. “We don’t know the full ramifications of this yet.”

“So you’re saying B and me should patrol while you guys hit the books.” Just you wait, B. After you come your brains out down my throat I want to see if you can still hear me thinkin’ about railing your tight little bod with my thighs wrapped around your ears.

“Faith!” Buffy all but shouted as lurid scenarios paraded through her girl’s mind. The Slayer could already tell she was blushing a shade of crimson that rivaled Willow’s hair.

“Smooth, Faith,” Tara smirked as she and Willow shared a look. Buffy did her best to hide her furious blush before moving her focus to the two witches. At first, all she got was static. Then a more panicked voice began to ring clear.

What am I gonna do? I think about sex all the time. Sex. Help. Four times five is thirty. Five times six is thirty-two. Naked girls. Naked women. Naked Buffy. Naked Faith. Naked Buffy on top of naked Faith. Oh, stop me!

Buffy couldn’t take any more. “God, Xander! Is that all you think about?”

“Actually...” Xander locked eyes with Buffy for one instant before proceeding with the most reasonable option available. “Bye.” He shot up from his chair and bolted from the room with a speed that impressed even the two Slayers.

“Yes, well, let that be a warning,” Giles said as he walked over to one of the shelves and started picking out any books that might contain valuable insight. “Try to keep your minds focused on the task at hand, whatever that may be.”

Okay, B, I’ll give Xander a pass this one time, but any of those other fuckboys out there get out of line you just tell me and I’ll rip their dicks off.

“Oh god, Faith, please don’t.” Buffy pleaded as both witches began to laugh. Their amusement drew the Slayer’s attention. She renewed her focus on her redheaded friend. At first all she heard was static, but eventually, her eyes began to fill with a curious picture. A man began to sing in a language she had trouble discerning, and then she saw Tara.

The honey blonde witch was wearing a light pink sarong wrap skirt with gold embroidery and a matching top that ended just below her breasts. Her hair was up, held back with two long thin chopsticks and an intricate gold medallion hung just above the plunging neckline of her pink and gold top. Tara smiled as she, the rest of the Scooby Gang, and half the Hyperion Crew stood in a wedge formation in the middle of the old high school’s open courtyard. As one they all bobbed their heads and waved their arms in sync with the song filling the air.

Faut savoir s'étendre
Sans se répandre
Pauvre Lola
Faut savoir s'étendre
Sans se répandre
C'est délicat


Buffy swore she heard a girl laughing as the first verse came to a close. She shook herself out of Willow’s mind to find the redhead looking at her with an amused smile. Before she could ask what was going on Buffy’s attention was drawn to a different melody. The Slayer turned to look at Tara and gasped as her vision blurred and filled with red.

A soothing melody played as Buffy saw Willow. Her best friend was completely naked, laying on a thick field of rose petals. Stray petals swirled and covered parts of the redhead so that Buffy’s view of certain features was thankfully obscured. As a breeze blew a stream of rose petals into the Slayer’s face she was cast out of the vision and found herself back in the courtyard filled with dancing teens and disembodied singing in a language she could not understand.

Ne pas la surprendre
Pas l'entreprendre
Pauvre Lola
Ne pas la surprendre
Pas l'entreprendre
De but en bas


As most of the people Buffy knew danced to the strange song, she noticed Willow standing across from Tara. The redhead was smiling as she matched Tara’s movements. The sarong and blouse Willow wore matched Tara’s, save for the fact they were dark green and gold in color where Tara wore pink and gold.

Il est des mots tendres
Qu'elle aime entendre
Tendre Lola
Oui quelques mots tendres
Devraient atten-
Drir Lolita


The backup dancers shifted, skipping and leaping around the Slayer in a wide arc, and Buffy found herself facing both Willow and Tara. The couple’s arm, legs, and hips moved in unison as Buffy was once more cast out of Willow’s mind. The Slayer’s vision was again filled with rose petals and she saw that the carpet of red Willow was sprawled out on had grown in size, volume, and thickness. More rose petals swirled and Buffy found herself in the library again.

“What the hell!” The Slayer cried as she tried to catch her breath.

“That seemed to hit her harder than usual,” Tara said as she looked back to Willow. “Sweetie, what did you play for her?”

Willow blushed as her gaze met that of her always. “Pauvre Lola by Serge Gainsbourg. In French… With pretty much all of us doing a Bollywood dance number to the music.”

“Do what now?” Faith asked as she looked back and forth between the witches and her girl.

“That’s so cute.” Tara smiled as she and Willow locked eyes.

A curious frown crossed Willow’s face as she faced her everything. “Wait, what did you show her, Baby?”

“Oh...” Tara blushed once more. “The flower petal scene from American Beauty, but with you instead of Mena Suvari.”

“Oh, Goddess! Why didn’t I think of that.” Buffy saw Willow’s brow crease before she was pulled back into a realm of rose petals. To one side of the Slayer, she saw Willow again, sprawled out on a bed of rose petals with several large clumps strategically covering her nudity. To the other side, she saw a naked Tara on an identical mattress of crimson flower petals with matching swaths of roses covering her larger and curvier assets. The two rose-clad witches smiled and waved to one another, seemingly oblivious to the Slayer caught between them.

Just as Buffy thought she would be trapped forever between her two naked friends, as they made love with only their eyes and smiles, she was struck down. Something hit the Slayer from behind. Buffy turned just enough to see a dark figure decked in rags. The creature clung to Buffy’s side as they fell through space. Before Buffy could throw the beast off she hit the library floor and crawled backwards, away from the table. Faith was at her side in an instant.

“What the hell was that?” Both Slayers shouted.

“Guys, it’s okay,” Willow said as she calmly stood and walked around the table to stand beside Tara. “It’s just the spell we have to block out mind walkers. We dropped the first few defensive layers so Buffy wouldn’t get hurt.”

“Well, it still looks like it hurt from where I’m standing.” Faith snapped back. “You okay, B?”

Buffy almost couldn’t find the words to reply. “I don’t… What was that?”

“A busy signal,” Tara said as she pulled Willow into her lap. “You tried to peek at what we were thinking and couldn’t hear anything, right Buffy?”

“I, maybe.” Buffy realized where she had screwed up just before it was spelled out for her.

“And when you tried to look harder you saw what we wanted you to see instead of what was there to see.” Willow finished the explanation. “It’s one of our better nonlethal defenses. You shouldn’t even have a headache.”

Giles stood beside the Slayers, clearly concerned for what Buffy might have experienced. “What do you mean nonlethal?”

“Remember the Bezoar and the evil mind control eggs?” Willow asked as she played with Tara’s hair. “If Buffy had more than just the surface thoughts parlor trick and tried to force her way in and completely dominate our minds then her nervous system would have burned out and her brain stem would have been liquefied. We don’t play around with mind walkers.”

“But since the demon blood didn’t give Buffy any higher tier mind powers she was safe,” Tara added as the Slayers began to look more nervous with each passing second.

“You can’t tell me everyone who reads your minds sees that.” Buffy protested. “Will, you guys were, you were naked.” the last words were spoken in a whisper.

Both Willow and Tara looked at Buffy and laughed. It was several embarrassing seconds for the Slayer before either of them spoke to her again. “Oh, Buffy. No, we don’t show those scenarios to everyone. Most of the time our first line of defense is enough to painfully shut down anyone taking a peek. Our second line just downloads fifty or so lifetimes worth of memories into their brain. It takes a truly remarkable mind to survive that and still maintain their sense of self. The next three layers are pretty much instant kills for anything that tries to dig that deep. For you, we had to turn most of that off and pull up what are basically prerecorded dream sequences to keep you from hurting yourself on our psychic firewalls.”

Buffy blinked in surprise at Willow’s babbled explanation. She had no clue what most of the redhead’s words had meant and she was beginning to suspect her friends had far deeper levels of power than either of them had let on so far. One thing was for certain. She wasn’t going to try and read either Willow or Tara again.

A bell rang outside the library and the girls began to gather up their things for the next round of classes. They left Giles to his books. Before the bell rang again the watcher stumbled across a similar account that drew too many parallels. He saw what happened to the last human cursed with this demonic aspect and let out a worried gasp.

The watcher reached over and picked up his phone. He pressed the third button on speed dial and called the number he rarely needed. “Hello? Yes, it’s Giles. We may need some help.”

*****

“Doyle!” Alonna called out as she descended the stairs to the hotel lobby. “Giles just called. Buffy got herself in trouble again. I’m heading to Sunnydale for the next few days. You in?”

“Sorry, darlin’.” The Irishman said as the Slayer walked up to the front desk. “The boys are still dealing with the Skilosh nest, and I need to negotiate with the Nahdrah demon clan. They shouldn’t be trouble, but they did ask for Wes to solve their fancy math puzzle and knowing him we’ll need someone to smooth things over once his foot gets jammed in his mouth.”

“Fine.” Alonna sighed as she grabbed a set of keys from behind the desk. “I’m taking the Lambo. Don’t let the world end till I get back.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, kiddo.” As the half-demon watched the Slayer walk out the door he couldn’t shake the feeling that trouble was waiting just around the corner.

*****

I think she’s waking up…

She’s okay…

Oh, thank god…

Her eyes are opening…

Please be okay, Buffy. You’re all I got…

I’m cold…

“What!” Buffy cried out as she awoke in Faith’s arms.

“B, fuck, girl, don’t scare me like that.” Faith pleaded as she held her girl.

“I told them not to move you.” Cordelia’s words drew a harsh glare from Faith. “They probably severed your spinal cord.”

“I’m okay.” Buffy let out a pained grunt. Faith helped her stand up. “No really, I’m okay. There’s a killer in the cafeteria.”

“See! I’ve been saying for years that the lunch lady is gonna do us all in with that mulligan stew.” Xander’s quip drew a harsh slap on the shoulder from Cordelia and an annoyed huff from Giles. “I mean, what the hell is a mulligan?”

“Someone was thinking it.” Buffy went on, ignoring Xander’s commentary. “They thought, “This time tomorrow I’ll kill you all.” There was so much hate. I have to find them.”

“Nope.” Faith said as she grabbed her girl by the shoulders. “I hauled you out of there once, B. I ain’t doing it again. We’re going home.”

“No, Faith I need to…” Buffy took one step back towards the school, only to collapse into Faith’s arms as she was hit with an onslaught of stray thoughts.

“You had your fun playin’ Miss Cleo’s psychic friends network, B. Now we’re going home while Red and Blondie tell the boys how to track down the killer.” Faith was adamant as she all but carried her girl away from the densely populated high school buildings.

She looks so tired…

I’m not getting any warmer…

I bet it was…

“Shut up!” Buffy snapped as Giles, Cordelia, and Xander’s thoughts grew louder. The Slayer sighed in relief as she realized she wasn’t getting anything from Faith, Willow, or Tara. “I’m sorry, just, can you guys not think so loud, or… so much?”

“Buffy, you should go home. Faith, see that she gets there. Make sure Joyce and Jennifer know what’s going on.”

“Already on it.” Faith said as she dragged Buffy away.

If it doesn't go away she’ll go insane…

“Jesus fucking Christ Giles!” Buffy shouted as her watcher’s fear rattled around in her own mind. A moment later she felt the other voices fade into the background. Pushed aside by one all-encompassing voice that filled the Slayer from within.

You are mine, Buffy. I won’t let anything happen to you. I won’t lose you. You’re mine damn it. Mine!

“Thanks, Faith,” Buffy whispered as she felt her girl’s overtly possessive thoughts form a barricade around her crumbling psyche. “You need to show me how you’re doing this.”

“Soon as we get home, B.” Faith promised as she hurried them along. “I got all kinds of tricks to show ya.”

*****

“There, you look better already.” Joyce busied herself tucking Buffy into her bed. As soon as she finished that task she moved about the room with an almost frantic pace to her steps.

“Thanks, Mom,” Buffy said as she watched her mother almost power walk out into the upstairs hallway. Faith sat on Buffy’s window sill, a slight smirk curling her lips as she too noticed the older blonde’s frantic pace.

“I’m, uh, I’m just gonna get you another pillow,” Joyce called out as she fled the room.

Buffy looked at her easily amused girlfriend then tried to still her mother’s motions with a calm voice. “I really don’t need one.”

“But you need another blanket.” Joyce hardly paused as she delivered the superfluous pillow only to turn on her heel and again march out into the hall. Faith was grinning as she worked to conceal her thoughts from Buffy. She knew what had to be going on in the mind of her girl’s mother.

“Mom, I’m fine.” Buffy pleaded as Joyce’s pace quickened.

“Wait for it.” Faith chuckled to herself as she watched Joyce’s fearful pacing.

Joyce’s words faltered as she kept up her brisk pace of entering and exiting her eldest daughter’s bedroom. “How, um, how about some soup? Chicken and stars?”

Buffy rolled her eyes as her mother delivered a fresh stack of blankets. “Mom, please, just come sit with me.”

Joyce came to a halt at her daughter’s plea. She stood at the foot of Buffy’s bed and fidgeted as though caught in a trap. “I’ve, um, I, I’ve got laundry.”

“Why…” Buffy paused while looking at her mother. In an instant, the Slayer’s hands came up to her head. Mortification and revulsion swept the petite blonde as she overheard her mother’s thoughts. “Oh god, Mom! Stop thinking about having sex with Giles!”

“There it is!” Faith laughed as she clapped her hands.

“He’s just so…” Joyce tried to explain her wandering mind as she backed away from Buffy’s bed. “And it’s been years since your father… Even when we were married… Rupert is a very passionate man.”

“Ew, eww, ewwww! I don’t want to know those things!” Buffy was flailing as she fought off thoughts of her watcher not wearing the tweed he was so well known for.

“Might wanna amscray Mrs. S.” Faith chuckled as she walked over to Buffy’s side.

Joyce fled into the hallway with no intention of coming back. “I’ll be downstairs. You feel better.”

“You’re still thinking about having sex with Giles!” Buffy shrieked as her mother vanished.

Faith took a moment to laugh as her girl suffered in abject agony. “Now that was funny.”

“I need to wipe my mind of everything Mom just put in it,” Buffy muttered in disgust. “What the hell is a stevedore anyway?” As Faith opened her mouth, as if to provide an answer, Buffy thrust an accusing finger her girlfriend’s way. “No! Don’t even think whatever you were gonna think just now! I don’t ever want to know what that word means!”

Faith held her tongue while deciding to look up the word as soon as her girl recovered from this current nightmare. She was about to start explaining what she had planned to show Buffy, but before the brunette could speak a head of long light brown hair popped into Buffy’s room from the hallway door.

“Hey, Buffy, can I borrow that leather jacket that’s one size too small for you? Cass is coming over later and we’re.” Dawn’s cheerful tone was cut down by Buffy’s tormented screams.

“GAAHHHH! God damn it, Dawn! I don’t want to know what Cassie’s nipples taste like!” Buffy screamed as her hands came back to her head, unable to shield her mind from her sister’s lecherous imaginings. Faith cackled as Buffy quickly realized Xander’s perverse mind was nothing compared to Dawn’s.

Nearly a full minute passed before Faith got her laughter under control and moved towards the door of Buffy’s bedroom. “Gonna need some privacy to get your sister’s head back in the game, Squirt. Slayers only until Red or Blondie say otherwise.”

“Fine.” Dawn huffed as she retreated down the hall. “But tell the drama queen to stop being jealous of the fact that I have better game than she did at my age.”

“Damn, that kid is gonna be a terror if things don’t work out with the little blonde brat.” Faith muttered to herself as she shut Buffy’s door. The Slayer turned to see her girl curled into a fetal position in the center of her bed. There was no doubt in Faith’s mind that the easily embarrassed blonde was suffering greatly under the stray sexual thoughts of her family members. In a few quick strides, Faith was at Buffy’s side once more. “Okay, B, time to practice.”

You’re mine, Buffy! Forget all that crap about their fuck buddies. All that matters right now is you and me.

Buffy almost flinched as Faith’s possessive thoughts once more forced everything else by the wayside. The petite blonde had no idea how her girlfriend was able to clear out all the noise made by those around them. Her only clue was their Slayer connection. The bond forged by their Slayer senses was as strong as ever and somehow Faith was able to use Buffy’s telepathy to speak into Buffy’s mind with such force and clarity that all other voices were silenced.

“Thank you, Faith,” Buffy whispered as her mind cleared of the noise and fog left by other people’s thoughts. “How are you doing this? Please, help me.”

“Of course I’m gonna help ya, B.” Faith whispered as Buffy felt herself being caressed by the brunette’s love and devotion.

Mine…

“Yours,” Buffy whispered in response to her girl’s one driving motivation.

Faith smirked at her girl as she leaned over the petite blonde. “Okay, first things first. Get out from under the covers.”

“But I just got all comfy.” Buffy protested as she rolled out from under her bed sheets.

“Comfy don’t count for jack where we’re goin’, B.” The brunette helped her girl stand before reaching over and pulling the sheets and comforter back towards Buffy’s pillows. “Now sit.”

Buffy pouted as she watched her girl climb onto the bed and sit with her knees spread wide and bent so each foot was tucked under the thigh of her other leg. “We couldn’t do this under the covers?” Despite the meager protest Buffy got back onto her own bed and sat facing Faith.

Faith smirked again as she watched her girl adopt the same meditative sitting position. “No can do with the covers, B. We’re tryin’ to open your mind, not your snatch.”

“Faith!” The Slayer let out a scandalized shout as her girl laughed off the offended tone.

“Seriously, B.” Faith said in a calmer tone as she locked eyes with Buffy. “You know what we’d be doin’ if we got under your covers together. I ain’t sayin’ I’m against a little bit of down and dirty, but us gettin’ our fuck on ain’t gonna help that massive skull fucker of a headache you got from just walking through the cafeteria.”

“Okay, fine.” Buffy continued to pout for a few moments before fixing her girl with a serious look. “Now tell me how you focused our Slayer connection so you could force out all the thoughts I was hearing from everyone else.”

Faith smiled with pride as she met her girl’s gaze. “Gold stars for figuring out the basics of the trick, B.”

“Do I get a prize for these stars?” Buffy met the smile with a coy little smirk of her own. This only served the bring the brunette’s smirk back in full force.

“Turn in five gold stars and I dress up in whatever kinky fetish costume you want. We can roleplay any naughty thing that gets your motor revving. Naughty Nurse, Naughty Schoolgirl, Naughty Secretary, Naughty…”

Buffy cut her girl off before she could go on to list anything nightmare inducing. “Don’t say naughty librarian or vampire or any other naughty thing that will remind me of my mom thinking about sex with Giles! And definitely, don’t say naughty stevedore.”

A long, uneasy moment passed before the Slayer settled down again. The petite blonde and the brunette sat facing one another with their legs crossed, hands resting open on spread knees, breathing slow measured breaths. As Faith’s eyes drifted shut Buffy asked the obvious question. “How exactly are we doing this again?”

Faith let out a sigh as she looked into her girl’s curious yet expectant eyes. “I had a lot of time to myself when I ran away last summer like a scared dumbass.”

“That wasn’t your fault, Faith.” Buffy tried to reassure the brunette, only to be cut off again with a raised palm.

“It takes two to have a fight, B.” Faith lowered her hand and closed her eyes once more. “That’s not what’s important now. While I was feelin’ sorry for myself I had a lot of free time. ‘Lot of time to get worked up in my own head. So I decided to do something useful for a change. I took some of that meditation crap the G man tried to teach us last year and I tried it out. It worked. A little too good for some reason. I focused on my Slayer connection and the bond I thought I lost with you and before I knew it I was in a… anyway, just close your eyes, B.”

Buffy looked at her girl skeptically before doing as Faith said. Even with Faith’s forceful personality keeping stray thoughts at bay the dull roar from outside was getting louder. As if the screaming hoard of other peoples’ minds were drawing near. Buffy was getting desperate. She was willing to try just about anything Faith suggested.

“Okay, relax, deep slow breaths.” Faith’s voice was a soothing river that flowed easily through Buffy as the petite blonde eased into the exercise. “Focus on our bond. Our connection. Focus on the Slayer inside you. In me. Feel her out.”

Buffy sought the connection that reinforced their relationship in every waking, and even every slumbering, moment. She felt her link to Faith as strong as it ever was. Powerful, defiant, energizing, comforting. The pull that without error would always lead her back to Faith. The all-consuming fire of their power and their love, tempered with experience passed down from each and every Slayer that had fought and died before they were called to wage war against the night. To rage against the darkness plaguing their world. Buffy could not deny the allure of that raw untamed power.

“Yeah, it gets me wet too, B.” Faith snickered as she felt her girl take the first step on their journey. “Feel that power. Feel it comin’ up from deep inside you.”

“Are you sure this isn’t a sex thing?” Buffy’s question, though playful in intent, came with a decidedly aroused tone. The Slayer’s voice tapered out in a breathless whisper as Buffy felt her power. Their power.

“Everything is a sex thing, B.” Faith smirked to herself as she began to drift deeper into the maelstrom that was the Slayer within. “Go deeper with me. Follow it down. Let it draw you in…”

“Draw me where…” Buffy’s question ended with a gasp. She felt her own power wrap around her in a vice-like grip. The petite blonde was dragged down by the Slayer. Deeper than she had ever dreamed. Depths within herself deeper than any chasm she could ever imagine. Buffy fell through darkness for what seemed an eternity. Then there was stillness. Buffy didn’t know what she had just felt, but she knew she wasn’t going to fix her problems just sitting on her bedspread with her girlfriend.

“Okay, Faith, seriously. What’s the pla…” Again Buffy’s question was silenced. The petite blonde opened her eyes to find a realm she had not expected.

Clear blue skies and bright golden desert sands stretched out to the endless horizon. Scrub brush and cacti filled the eternal desert, life thriving in defiance of a harsh and uncaring world. Buffy felt the warm sands beneath her bare feet, shifting between her toes. She looked down and saw a brief flash of her own nudity before a loose white sundress covered in crimson flowers came into being, wrapped around her torso. She heard footsteps in the sands behind her and spun expecting Faith. What she saw was just as surprising as the endless desert all around.

Jagged rock formations sat atop the sandy hill in the heart of the eternal desert. Protruding out of the ground at an odd angle, pointing off to Buffy’s right, stone spikes hanging over one end of the sandy hilltop. From the direction the rocks pointed, Buffy saw a lone figure coming towards her at a slow and steady pace.

“Huh.” Faith said as she watched the slight figure draw closer. “I didn’t expect her here.”

“Faith!” Buffy let out a shriek as she realized her girl had joined her in the endless barrens. “What’s going on?”

“Gonna need to ask your spirit animal over there, B.” Faith merely pointed at the young blonde now standing a dozen yards away from the blonde and brunette.

“Hi, Buffy.” The other blonde said as she came to a halt. Her hair was done up in a series of spikes that defied logic and fashion. The girl wore a red and black garment that covered her torso and upper thighs while ending just above the knees in large flared out pant legs that could only be described as bell-bottom shorts. Her feet were covered with oversized and rounded yellow shoes that resembled massive clogs. Her shoulders and upper arms were covered in a light black and white short sleeve jacket. Fingerless white gloves covered each hand.

In one hand and over one shoulder rested a massive key. The end of the key resting in the girl’s hand bore what resembled the hilt and pommel of a sword. The grip and hilt were encircled by a wide yellow guard that formed a slightly rounded square. The pommel end of the lopsided square came out a little further than the ends that formed the cross guard. The body of the key was thick and round and silver in color. The bar ended on a flat edge with a wide slab of metal protruding from one side. The metal slab formed the teeth of the key, three sharp cuts in the slab giving the impression of a crown in the negative space left by the giant key’s square plank.

“Like my blade?” The girl asked the other blonde. “It’s also a key.”

“Cassie! What the hell are you doing here?” Buffy shouted as her sister’s submissive plaything beamed a bright smile her way.

“I was borrowed,” Cassie said.

Faith cocked her head to the side as she gave the girl a confused look. “Okay, but why are ya dressed like that?”

Cassie sighed before launching into a long ramble that would have made Willow quite proud. “I don’t know. I was in Dawn’s subconscious, and she was trying to figure out if my nipples tasted more like fresh strawberries or strawberry jam. So I was naked when I was borrowed for this whole thing you guys are doing, but Dawn didn’t want anyone else “perving on her girl’s bits” so she dressed me in this before “what’s her nuts” dragged me here.” There was a pause as the girl looked down at her odd clothes and then back up to the Slayers. “I think Dawn’s subconscious mind was trying to drop some hints for you guys and her conscious mind filled in the details with Disney paraphernalia. What do you guys think of my Sora Cosplay?”

“Who?” Buffy asked before a dark figure stepped out from behind her. “You again! What is this? What were you doing in Willow and Tara’s flower vision thingy?”

The ebony skinned woman crouched at Buffy’s side, eyes darting back and forth between the petite blonde and the brunette. Her toned, muscular frame was shrouded in gauzy gray rags wrapped tightly around her body. Her hair was jet black, matted, hanging in unkempt dreadlocks. Her face was caked in white war paint, giving the faint impression of a skull hanging amidst her dark features. The dreadlocks hanging partially over her face were stained gray by the primitive makeup. Dark, harrowed eyes ran up and down the petite blonde in rapid bursts.

The crouching figure began to slowly circle Buffy as Cassie spoke. “Anyway, I was borrowed. Someone,” the younger blonde cast an annoyed glare at the woman wearing little more than rags and dirt, “doesn't want to speak for herself.”

“Who is she?” Buffy asked as she ignored the primitive creature prowling the sandy dunes around the jagged rock formation. “Make her speak.”

“Okay, she’s ranting now,” Cassie said as she looked from the dark woman to Buffy. “No speech. No name. She lives in the action of death. Blood cries, pene… Eww! No, I’m not saying that.” The dark figure spun to growl at Cassie. The girl cast off the creature’s outrage with a roll of the eyes and a pointed thrust of the massive key. “No! You think just because you’re older than the written word you’re in charge here? Well, you’re not, Sineya! I’m not your mouthpiece, and you’re not the oldest presence in this shard of the astral plane. Seriously, what is it with you Slayers? Lesbians shouldn’t be this focused on penetration!”

The ancient Slayer roared and drew a stone dagger. The primordial ebony weapon was shaped into a sinister jagged blade as if it was chipped away over time from a much larger chunk of obsidian. Cassie paid no heed to the dark woman as she raged across the sands. The girl let out an unimpressed snort before leveling the key at the first Slayer. The bright blue skies over the desert darkened for an instant. Then a flash of green danced across the sky. Countless flickering motes of vibrant emerald light flew and swarmed through the air, all converging on Cassie and the odd weapon held in her delicate hand.

Cassie smirked as the ancient figure backed down. Buffy and Faith watched in wonder as the green lights danced across the girl’s skin. Some as small as pinpricks. Others as large as beach balls. Green lights flared into and out of existence as Cassie just smirked at the Slayers standing on the sandy slope. “Next time you need a voice, Sineya, think twice before you draft someone who’s gotten a good look at the universe’s playbook. Oh, and never threaten someone dating one of the elemental forces that bind all the laws of physics together. She takes the phrase, “Step off my kool-aid, motherfucker!” to a whole new level.”

“Faith, what’s going on right now?” Buffy asked as she watched the unassuming little blonde girl who was dating her sister threaten and berate a near-mythical figure from ancient prehistory. “Did this happen the last time you came here?”

“What? Heck no, B.” Faith shook her head in bewilderment and she too watched the ghost of the very first slayer lose a pissing contest with a girl who routinely walked into walls and door frames whenever Buffy’s little sister wore a tank top. A girl they had once seen fall out of a dining room chair when Dawn skipped into the room wearing a new bikini. “The first time I came here cave girl just jumped me. I whooped her ass and she hasn’t bothered me ever since. I figured you’d have to fight her a bit, but after that was done we could just chill here until the gang comes up with a cure.”

“We’re done here, Sineya,” Cassie said as the lights all around her swirled and coalesced into a massive freestanding door. The base of the dark polished wood door dug into the sand. It loomed twenty meters over the bright desert sands. Stars were carved into its surface, flowing and swirling in streams that came from the edges around the door. Rivers of engraved stars flowed and poured into the oversized keyhole resting in the dead center of the wooden surface. “Sineya, don’t borrow me again. Faith, I’ll tell the guys you’re keeping Buffy safe, and, Buffy... Kick her ass.”

The Slayers watched as Cassie raised the giant key and pointed it at the door. She flicked her outstretched wrist, the key twisting in the air. The door opened. In the blink of an eye tendrils of green light enveloped Cassie, dragging her into the open portal. The door slammed shut and vanished. Buffy swore she heard a soft popping sound. As if the wooden door was a balloon someone had taken a pin to in another room.

*****

“Huh?” Dawn stirred as she heard the sound of distant popping. “Cassie? Did we fall asleep on our date?”

The blonde just pulled her confused and bleary-eyed girlfriend back down to the couch resting in the Summers living room. “Hush, Babe.” She whispered as she snuggled closer to her oblivious yet all-powerful girlfriend. “Everything is gonna be alright.”

“Mmm, love you…” Dawn whispered as Cassie stroked her hair. Before Cassie could return the sentiment Dawn was fast asleep. All memories of calling the very stars in the heavens to threaten and smite an ancient ghost were long gone. Replaced with sweet dreams of her girlfriend in ever more compromising garments. Cassie smiled as she joined Dawn in blissful slumber. Though their subconscious minds had depicted Cassie wielding the full power of the Key as a weapon, they both knew it was far more often for the Key to take charge. Playing the young blonde’s heartstrings like a fine instrument. Unlocking new worlds of love and devotion with every sly smile and every tender caress.

*****

“Well, that happened.” Faith let out a whistle as the skies over the astral desert cleared and brightened.

“I am so confused.” Buffy had little time to ponder Cassie’s words. Before the blonde could even form a relevant question the dark figure pounced. Sineya threw herself into Buffy’s midsection. Buffy let out an annoyed grunt as she was tackled. The Slayers tumbled, rolling down the sandy slope, limbs swinging wildly as each young woman tried to strike at her foe. “A little help Faith?”

“No help!” Sineya growled as they rolled to a stop with Buffy straddling her hips. “No friends!” The ancient creature lashed out, taking the petite blonde by surprise. Buffy found herself flat on her back with her foe crouching over her. Sineya loomed over her, the jagged obsidian blade held high. “Just kill. We. Are. Alone!” The sinister dagger came down. It’s course never erring from Buffy’s heart.

The jagged stone weapon failed to find its target. To the ancient woman’s surprise, Buffy grasped her by the wrist and squeezed. “That was then. This is now. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don’t sleep on a bed of bones. Now back off!”

As she ended her rebuttal with a shout Buffy slammed her open palm into Sineya’s chest. The ancient force flew backwards. The dark figure sailed through the air, away from the blonde. Climbing to her feet, Buffy was greeted by an eager brunette.

“Way to go, B!” Faith shouted as she ran up and wrapped her arms around her girl. She spun the petite blonde around in the air several times before setting her back on the sandy slope and leaning in for a kiss. “Knew you could do it,” She whispered into Buffy’s parted lips.

“Is she gonna be a problem?” Buffy asked just before Faith’s amorous advances stole away all her worries.

Faith chuckled as she kissed her way along Buffy’s jaw and down the side of her neck, nipping at all her girl’s most sensitive spots along the way. “Nah, she’s a cream puff once ya stand your ground. Just had to show her who was the alpha bitch.”

“So I’m the alpha bitch now?” Buffy almost protested as she felt Faith’s hands come up to play with her nipples through the thin sundress she was wearing. “What does that make you?”

Faith just smirked as she slid down to her knees before Buffy. Her hands trailed down toned thighs until they came to the hem of the sundress. The brunette looked up at her girl as her hands slipped under the dress and around Buffy’s thighs. The smirk was renewed as her fingertips slid through the arousal dripping down the inside of Buffy’s legs. Faith smiled up at her girl and spoke one word before hiking up the dress and burying her face in Buffy’s heated folds. “Yours.”

Buffy’s head flew back as she felt Faith’s tongue slide up and down her center. Nose crashing into the swollen bundle of nerves and longing perched atop Buffy’s quivering entrance. The sun beat down upon the golden sands and the wind howled across the wide open astral desert. An ancient ghost prowled the wastes outside of the outcropping of rock and sand where two Slayers made love. With the sun warming her skin and her head thrown back in ecstasy, there was only one response that came to Buffy’s mind. She moaned the word in between ragged, lust-ridden breaths.

“Mine.”

*****

Xander stood in the hidden Slayer HQ within the school library as he looked over the small group of volunteers he had managed to draft. “Okay, so we’ve got a potential mass murderer on the loose and only until lunch tomorrow to find out who.”

Around the large conference table sat Cordelia, Larry, Johnathan, and Amy. The expressions on their faces ranged from terrified to an odd mix of confusion and boredom. To say none of them knew what to do about the crisis would have been a grave understatement.

Amy was the only one to speak up. “And you’re sure we can’t ask Willow and Tara to help us find the bad guy?”

Xander frowned as he realized where the girl’s concern was coming from. “Yeah, they’re busy getting the cure for Buffy’s brain thingy. This one is up to us.”

Nervous nods of agreement came from all around the table as Xander’s emergency backup team realized the day still needed saving, and the duty fell to them. As night began to fall the teens went to work planning their search for the following day.

*****

“I still can’t believe one of those three-eyed demons got the back of your head pregnant, Wes.”

“Damn it, Charles, this is hardly the time!” Wesley snapped at Gunn as the gang leader examined the third eye that had formed on the back of the watcher’s head.

Their attempt to clear out the nearest Skilosh demon nest had gone sideways. With a third of the Hyperion Crew helping Fred and Doyle solve some strange math puzzle for a minor demon prince, the rest had decided to clear out a local threat. Word of three-eyed demons stalking people passing by the park had gotten to the Crew. A short round of research concluded that the Skilosh were about to enter the breeding cycle they went through once every decade. So far the only human to be impregnated had been Wesley.

“Just hurry with the counter agent. Please!” Wesley was growing more and more frantic as he watched Gunn, Chain, and Rondell prepare mystic herbs and powders behind him. As the three young men ground the last ingredients into the concoction a scraping sound came from the hotel’s main entrance. Gunn drew his homemade battle axe forged from a discarded hubcap. Rondell finished grinding the powders as Chain picked up both of their weapons. Wesley cringed as the scraping turned into shuffling and a few sinister growls.

“How much you wanna bet they followed their new baby mama back to us?” Gunn asked the others.

“Just hurry and fix this.” Wesley pleaded. “With everyone else out on patrol, it’s down to just us. Oh, why the devil did Alonna have to run off to the hellmouth now of all times?”

Rondell hurried over to Wesley with the antidote. He peppered the back of the Englishman’s head and whispered the words of the incantation. He and Chain let out a gasp as the grotesque, gray, third eye vanished before their own dark brown eyes. With that out of the way the three men drew up their own weapons and joined Gunn’s vigil by the front doors.

“Think they’ll all come bursting in the front?” Chain asked.

“They didn’t seem smart enough to flank the last time we...” Gunn’s answer drew to an abrupt halt. The sounds coming from outside grew in intensity. Predatory growls turned to cries of rage and agony as the sound of a sword carving through flesh and bone filed the night.

“What the devil is that?” Wesley whispered as he clutched his own short sword.

“New enemy?” Rondell asked as he and Gunn shared a look.

“Or an old one,” Gunn said as the sounds of battle died out. For a moment there was silence. Then footsteps. Slow, methodical, plodding, steps drew ever closer to the front door of the Hyperion Hotel. The four men waited behind the fogged glass doors, tensing, weapons drawn.

The footsteps drew up to the door then stopped. Wesley let out a gasp as the fiend beyond their front door rattled the door handle. The door shook for a brief instant, but the lock held. Oddly familiar grumbling came from beyond the sealed portal and all four men’s eyes widened.

“Guys?” Angel called out from the other side of the closed and locked hotel door. “Please unlock the door, we’ve got more demons to deal with tonight.”

“My word...” Wesley whispered as Gunn and Rondell shared another look.

“Come on!” Angel called out again. “I know you’re in there. I can hear Wes quivering!”

Gunn grit his teeth before reaching forward and opening the door. There Angel stood, frowning as he clutched a long sword dripping with the blood and gore from the many dead demons littering the walkway at his back. For his part, Gunn still held his axe at the ready as he addressed the wayward vampire. “What are you doing here, Fangs?”

“The others are in trouble. We have to go save them.” Angel hurried out his answer before turning to head back to his convertible. “If we leave now we’ll get to the docks just in time. Let’s go.”

“I seem to recall you quitting,” Wesley said as none of the humans moved to follow the vampire.

Angel stopped and turned back to the group. There was a confused and slightly annoyed look in his eyes as he addressed the watcher’s accusation. “Seriously? We don’t have time to go through every life I was too lazy or hungry to save. The second Fred solves the puzzle for the Nahdrah demons they are going to cut off her head and stick it onto their prince’s neck stump.”

“They’re gonna what!” Gunn shouted. The ebony man leapt forward, glaring at the vampire. “What about Irish? He wouldn’t let them hurt her!”

“Doyle is gonna need help on this one.” Angel brushed aside the questions which paled in comparison to the dire straits they faced. “Now are you guys gonna come help or am I killing all the demons and saving Fred by myself?” The vampire met the gang leader’s furious glare with exasperation. As Gunn stared the vampire down he noticed there was a hint of desperation buried deep beneath Angel’s annoyed attitude. Despite all that had passed between them the young man knew what was at stake. He knew what he had to do.

Without further hesitation, Gunn marched towards Angel’s waiting car. “Let’s go!” He shouted to those left in his wake.

Angel simply nodded and followed. Wesley, Chain, and Rondell shared concerned glances before following the unlikely duo. As they stepped out of the hotel they nearly faltered at the carnage awaiting them. The mangled and severed bodies of at least twenty Skilosh demons littered the walkway and small garden that made up the entrance to the Hyperion Hotel.

“I said move!” Gunn shouted from the front passenger's seat of the convertible. There was no time to address the carnage left by the cursed vampire. Some of their closest friends needed them to act. They hurried past the demon corpses all around them and piled into the vampire’s car. The car roared to life and Angel sped them towards the docks. They could only hope to make it in time.

*****

It was a full hour after sunset before Joyce worked up the courage to face her daughter once again. The thought of her each and every intimate thought being spread out for Buffy’s perusal absolutely terrified the art gallery owner. Joyce had counted herself lucky that Buffy had freely given her approval to Giles. The Slayer seemed to sidestep the awkwardness of mixing the newfound domesticity of the Summers home with their work relationship. A work relationship already fraught with murkiness and blurred lines between Giles’ rolls as teacher and that of surrogate father. Even when Buffy finally realized the depths of her watcher’s relations with her mother the Slayer had welcomed the man into their home with open arms.

That would not last if Buffy continued to see Joyce getting stripped naked and bent over the front desk, meeting table, card catalog, and office desk in either of the old or new high school libraries where Giles worked. Joyce shuddered at the thought her daughter might be sickened by visions of the deceptively athletic librarian shoving the older blonde up against the book stacks. Joyce’s moans as her legs wrapped around Giles’ strong, vigorous hips. Fanciful thoughts of being manhandled by a stevedore who had the stamina necessary to put in a hard day’s work and follow up by disciplining the winsome blonde well into the night.

Joyce had to stop. Her daughter could hear her every ribald thought. Every erotic flight of fancy. Every lurid string of profanity she had ever grunted into her boyfriend’s neck or inner thigh.

“Gaahhh! Laundry! Think about doing the laundry! Running the dishwasher. Dusting the shelves. Polishing Buffy’s sword collection… No, wait! That’s too phallic! Sharpening her stakes! No that’s worse.” Joyce could not help herself. None of her prior relationships had ever felt like this. No honeymoon period had ever gone on this long. Not with boys she dated in high school, nor the girl she entertained in college, even the biological father of her own daughters. No connection had ever resonated so strongly. No partner had ever touched Joyce so deeply.

“God, Buffy is probably still reeling from me thinking about Rupert’s ass,” Joyce muttered to herself as she came to a halt outside her eldest daughter’s door. Though she was loath to try, she had to risk the Slayer’s ire and embarrassment. It was already well past dinner and even if Buffy was writhing in agony Faith would be hungry. Her girls needed her to pull her head out of the gutter and offer all the support she could muster. Joyce took a deep breath, cleared her mind, and opened the door to Buffy’s bedroom. The sight awaiting her was all but the last thing she ever expected to see.

Both Slayers sat on the bed, facing each other. Their legs were folded and crossed, hands resting idly on their knees. Eyes were closed in what Joyce assumed was concentration. As she approached she noticed small, almost serene, smiles gracing both Buffy’s and Faith’s lips. Joyce didn’t have the first clue as to whether or not meditation was even listed as one of her daughter’s superpowers. The art gallery owner still had a hard time grasping the physical aspects of the Slayer’s power. She had no clue as to the depths of spiritual powers Giles, Jennifer, Willow, and Tara had once tried to explain. She could not imagine what it was the girls were doing.

She knew for a fact, however, that it was working. Whatever it was Faith had gotten Buffy to try, and Joyce knew this was something the brunette had instigated, it worked. Buffy was no longer wincing in agony at every stray thought. She wasn’t crying into her pillows, trying desperately to ignore the intimate thoughts Joyce routinely failed to suppress. Her daughter was no longer teetering on the brink of madness.

Joyce leaned closer to the brunette and placed a gentle kiss on the side of her relaxed brow. “Thank you, Faith. You always know how to take care of our girls. Don’t ever doubt your place in this family, Sweetheart. We wouldn’t know how to get by without you.”

As Joyce leaned back she swore that for a single instant she saw Faith’s lips twitch upwards into a smug grin. Joyce smiled back at the nearly oblivious girl. The girls were busy, whatever it was they were doing. They would be hungry later though. Joyce left the bedroom, intent on wrapping up leftovers for the big meal they’d share once Willow and Tara finally came up with a cure for this fresh nightmare.

As the Slayer’s mother descended the stairs she remained unaware of the scene playing out in the astral desert. Two Slayers luxuriating in each other’s embrace. Basking in the sunlight that heated the sands beneath their bodies to the perfect temperature. Idly gazing as the swaths of bright stars that somehow remained visible in the night sky high above. Even when the sands all around reflected the bright light of the noonday sun baking the endless expanse of astral sands, the sky further up was that of a warm summer’s eve. Two Slayers, warm, sated, loved. Two souls free to embrace one another as a third prowled the sun-parched sands of the endless astral realm.

*****

“No, you don’t!” Alonna roared as she launched herself through the air. Her feet came into contact with the dead center of the mouthless demon’s chest. The fiend went crashing to the ground, landing beside a vacant picnic table that sat in the middle of the park. The deserted park made for an excellent battleground. So late into the evening were they that not even vampires were likely to interrupt their duel.

The Slayer rolled to her feet, kicking one leg out in a wide arc. Her solid boot striking her quarry in the side of the head. Staggered, the demon let out the same odd clicking screech it had with after each clash. It scrambled away from the Slayer, desperate to flee. She refused to give it that opportunity. Alonna dove forward, delivering one devastating punch to the creature’s throat. Even though it lacked the traditional mouth and esophagus arrangement of most lifeforms, the full might of the Slayer was more than enough to disrupt the delicate array of bone and spinal column most lifeforms kept in their necks.

“Stay down,” Alonna warned as the demon clutched uselessly at its own neck and head. It wobbled once as it tried to get up. It tried in vain. Alonna took two slow steps towards her staggered foe. With grim determination, the ebony Slayer wrapped two strong hands around the creature’s head. She gave one final twist, filling the late night air with a sickening crack and the dull thud of a lifeless body hitting soft grass and dirt.

“Great work Alonna!” Willow cheered as the Slayer picked the bruised but fully intact corpse up with one hand. She threw the demon over one shoulder before turning to face the witches.

“You sure this will cure Buffy’s brain thing?” Alonna couldn’t help but ask. She leapt into action the second she arrived in Sunnydale and they had explained the full situation. The thought of losing someone like Buffy to the sheer maddening cacophony of other people’s thoughts was unacceptable. The world needed Buffy. The Scoobies needed Buffy. Faith needed Buffy. Alonna would not fail her fellow Slayers in their moment of greatest need.

“We’re sure,” Tara assured as she and Willow fell into step with the Slayer. “We ju-just n-need to get it back home and make a potion out of its heart.”

Alonna let out an incredulous grunt. “These demon tricks and loopholes get more and more complicated each day. I mean who uses their own blood as a slow-acting mind poison?”

“Tell me about it.” Willow agreed as she and Tara clutched hands. The hardest part was over. Without Angel to leap in at the last second They had needed to improvise this fight over the lifetimes. Alonna’s willingness to fight unarmed in the name of her friends ranked among the best of their solutions. “But now we have the cure. Buffy’s almost as good as new. One quick potion and we can put all this mind-reading nonsense behind us.”

The three girls and their lifeless cargo quickly made it back to sixteen thirty-two Revello Drive. Nothing could distract them from their life-saving mission. The petite blonde Slayer was far too important to each of them.

*****

“So, you had an epiphany, did you?” Gunn spoke with skepticism and more than a little derision as he grew tired of the vampire’s attempts at small talk.

“Yeah, heh...” Angel was almost relieved the young man had finally spoken up. Things would go more smoothly if he could just get the Gunn siblings to give him a second chance.

“So what? You just wake up and bang?” It was clear to the other three men in the car that Gunn’s animosity had flown well over the vampire’s head.

“It was sort of the other way around.” Only once he turned to see the face of the young gang leader did Angel realize the other man’s seething animosity.

“Well, that’s good. You know that’s real good you could have one of those.” Gunn put on a falsely cheerful tone before turning to his three friends in the back seat of the convertible. “Ain’t that good, Wes? Rondell, you know what I’m talkin’ about. Matter of fact, didn’t you have that big epiphany just last week, Chain?”

“Man...” Rondell shook his head as it became clear his oldest friend was about to lay into the vampire.

“That’s real good,” Gunn muttered as his eyes returned to the road ahead. “Because, epiphanies, they’re handy.” The young man paused before turning a hard glare on the cursed vampire. “When you think you might be having another one?”

“Gunn.” Wesley chimed in as both Chain and Rondell remained silent.

“Nah, nah, I’m interested.” Gunn dismissed Wesley’s concern. “You know cause they could strike at any time. Could be it’ll happen the next time you see one of them watchers you’ll get all epiphanied off right back at ‘em.”

There was a moment of hesitation before the vampire answered. “No.” The reply did little to rekindle any hope the four humans had for Angel’s trustworthiness.

“No? You don’t think so?” Gunn almost laughed as he took in the vampire’s halfhearted response. “Hmm, well I hope you don’t go having another one before we get to Fred and Irish. ‘Cause if something happens to them, I mean something bad, I might just have me an epiphany.”

Silence reigned over the group as they continued towards the docks. There was little chance of Angel making amends with just his words. He would have to prove himself with action. Only then would he be given the chance he honestly didn’t think he deserved.

*****

“And here it is!” Willow shouted as she and Tara burst into Buffy’s bedroom. “Guys?” The redhead looked at the pair of Slayers, still sitting on the bed, facing each other, lost in their own private mental realm. “Huh, well would ya look at that?”

“I didn’t think Faith knew that trick just yet.” Tara was just as surprised as her everything was at the sight of both Slayers engaged in deep meditation. “Think Buffy kicked Sineya’s butt?”

Willow let out a dismissive snort, nearly a raspberry, at the honey blonde’s curiosity. “Please! Buffy always beats Sineya. I don’t think any Slayer that lasts more than a few months could lose to that old ghost. Our girls don’t have anything to worry about from the likes of her.”

“What a relief.” Tara agreed with a giggle as they walked over to the bed. “You can wake up, Faith. We got the antidote.”

There was a slight shift in the brunette’s posture, but she remained in her meditative trance. Willow and Tara shared an unimpressed look before the honey blonde decided on more drastic action. With one open palm Tara reached out and shoved Faith’s shoulder. The brunette flinched and her brow creased in annoyance. Just as Tara was about to prod the girl again expressive brown eyes flew open.

“Wha… What the hell?” Faith scowled and cursed before she noticed the witches standing at the side of her girl’s bed. “You guys get the stuff?”

“Of course,” Willow assured as she moved over to Buffy’s side.

With Faith awake, there was only so much time before Buffy came to as well. They could already see a surprised frown working its way across the Slayer’s face. Her brow began to crease in much the same way it had before she was overwhelmed in the school cafeteria.

Willow ignored her friend’s imminent agony as she raised the vial of glowing blue liquid. “Did you ever have any doubts that we’d save the day?”

“To be fair you had a little help,” Alonna smirked as she leaned against Buffy’s bedroom door frame.

“Hey, Al. You came all the way to Sunny D for this mess?” Faith smiled as she greeted her fellow Slayer. “Who’s keeping all your boy toys in line while you’re gone?”

“Ugh, don’t even make me think about all the crap they’re probably getting up to.” Alonna rolled her eyes as she approached the brunette. “How’s your girl?”

“She’s a hot mess,” Faith chuckled and shook her head as she looked back at her girl and watched Willow pour the strange blue sludge down her throat, “but I love her, so what are ya gonna do?”

“Love makes you do the wacky,” Tara smiled at her redhead as Buffy began to cough and sputter in Willow’s arms.

A full body shiver overtook the Slayer and Buffy’s eyes snapped open. “Ghaa! Wha… Will? Faith?”

“Welcome back Buffy.” Tara and Alonna said as Willow began to pat the petite blonde on the back.

“The voices… You guys saved me…” Before Buffy could thank them further she was tackled by a sobbing mess of a Slayer. Dark brown locks flew everywhere as Buffy was constricted by her girl. “Faith?”

“Goddess, B.” Faith whispered in between sobs. “Don’t fuckin’ scare me like that again.”

“I’ll try, Honey,” Buffy assured as the other three girls let themselves out of the Slayer’s bedroom. “I love you.”

*****

“We’re here to…” Wesley shouted as he, Gunn, Chain, Rondell, and Angel all burst into the throne room of the Nahdrah demon prince. The sight awaiting them was the last thing they had expected. “Rescue you?” Wesley finished with more than a little confusion.

“Oh, hey guys,” Fred said as she stood and helped Doyle back to his feet. “Did you find out these guys lied to us or did… Oh, hi, Angel.”

“Hi, Fred.” Angel greeted the slim brunette. “Lorne said you guys were gonna be in trouble. I had to… But it looks like you’ve got it handled.”

The vampire and the four men looked around the room and took in the gruesome sight. Demon limbs and body parts were everywhere. The long flowing robes and the distinctive geometric patterned tabards the fiends had worn were in tatters across the floor. The pallid purple flesh of the Nahdrah demons sported deep gashes. More than a few of the demon’s silvery metal masks were cleaved in two. In the center of the carnage stood the petite Texan, holding a thick briefcase in one hand and hoisting a woozy-looking half-demon with the other.

“Well, I did get some pretty nifty combat training since meeting you guys. Oh and this helped.” Fred appeared to remember something important and began to awkwardly shift the briefcase over to the hand that was wrapped around Doyle. She then drew a long silver blade curved into a shape resembling a question mark. Fred smiled as she held her sword up for the others to see. “Really thankful Willow and Tara gave me this khopesh.”

“Didn’t that thing have more rust when we trained with it?” Angel asked as he eyed the ancient gleaming blade.

“Hell with the rust, it’s twice the size it was yesterday!” Gunn nearly shouted as he watched his girlfriend display the blade.

“It actually grew in size?” Wesley asked as he too eyed the khopesh. “How is that even possible.”

“Oh, yeah.” Fred grew slightly nervous as she put away her sword. “I noticed that in the fight and back when I used it on Halloween in Sunnydale. I think it cleans itself and gets a little bigger after feeding on demon blood.”

“It feeds on demon blood!” Chain shouted. As he and Rondell looked at the slender young woman in awe, Gunn, Wesley and Angel looked around the room once more. The trio was shocked that they hadn’t noticed it before. Despite the piles of severed demons parts littering the space, there was no blood to be seen. Not a drop of demon goo or gore could be seen on Fred or Doyle.

“Fellas, if we could be goin’…” Doyle muttered as he rubbed a nasty looking bruise on the side of his head.

“Right,” Angel said as he moved to prop up Doyle’s other side. “I brought my car if you two didn’t bring one of the vans or whatever when you came here.”

“You back for good this time, Angel?” Fred asked as she sent Gunn and Wesley a concerned look.

“He had an epiphany.” Gunn and Wesley spoke in perfect, yet unimpressed, synchronicity.

“I had an epiphany.” Angel agreed a little too wholeheartedly.

“Bloody fantastic.” Doyle laughed before cringing at the pain the emotion caused in his head.

The Hyperion Crew left the boat, taking anything that looked even remotely valuable on their way out. The Nahdrah demons appeared to be one of the more affluent clans and their prince certainly had expensive tastes. Those spoils and the half a million dollar payment in the briefcase would prove to be a sizable sum. Though the Crew had no real money problems to speak of with their corporate sponsorship, Fred still wanted to loot the place out of sheer spite. The Texan also had a few ideas for how to put this unexpected windfall to good use. Anne’s shelter project was about to receive it’s first large donation, and Fred’s parents would soon find an anonymous trust had paid off their mortgage.

*****

“So the killer is definitely the lunch lady,” Xander said as he and his impromptu investigative force found the Slayers in the new high school’s library. “Apparently she just really hates her job.”

“You’d think she would have tried to start over someplace without kids when the old school got all good and blown up.” Amy dismissed the woman’s insanity as she collapsed into a seat “Can you guys go back to handling this hero stuff? Not that I mind, but I’m not cut out for this Nancy Drew shtick.”

“I’ll admit this is the hardest I’ve Nancy Drewed in my life,” Larry added.

The head cheerleader just cringed at the morbid nature of their findings. “Seriously though, rat poison in the chili?”

“We’ll deal with her,” Buffy said as she and Faith stood and began to stalk towards the library doors. “Thank you guys for helping. You have no idea how much the last few days have sucked.”

Once the Slayers were gone Johnathan turned to Xander and then Giles. “They’re not gonna actually “Slay” the lunch lady are they?”

“No…” Xander began only to falter as he looked at the now closed library doors. “Probably not.”

“It depends entirely on how sturdy the woman’s jaw is and whether or not she comes at them with a cleaver or some such,” Giles admitted to the group of shocked teens. “Still, with the evidence you’ve found and the support of the mayor, I’m sure the madwoman will face proper legal justice.”

All around the library the teens Xander had assembled shared concerned looks. A moment later screaming and shouts of “vermin” and “filth” filtered down the hallway just outside the doors. The almost inhuman screeching was followed by a dull thud. Giles smiled as it became clear his Slayers had just saved the day yet again.

*****

“So let me get this straight.” Alonna ground out her words one by one as she slowly paced the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel. “You guys accidentally sold Fred’s head to an insane demon clan’s prince. You started a turf war with another clan that Angel had to kill for you. You let Wesley get pregnant.”

“It’s not quite as bad as it sounds.” Wesley tried and failed to put a positive spin on his unwilling demonic impregnation.

Several of the young men around the lobby snickered at the Englishman’s obvious embarrassment. “You got knocked up real good Wes,” Rondell countered, causing Chain to break out in laughter at his side. “We had to do a whole magic ritual and everything. Still, don’t know if that’s covered by your health insurance.”

“Not the time guys,” Doyle whispered as he saw the rage smoldering in the Slayer’s eyes. It was a long tense moment before Alonna spoke again. When she did it was directly to the cursed vampire.

“So.” She folded her arms as she stood in front of the vampire.

“So.” Angel’s reply and mirrored posture did little to hide his trepidation.

“You’re back.” The tension in the room built with each word from the Slayer.

“If you’ll have me.” The vampire held no illusions that he would be accepted back freely and without question. He had burned too many bridges.

“Why?” The Slayer’s question shocked most of those who heard it. “Tell me why you want back… and don’t use the word epiphany.”

When Angel spoke his words were soft and unassuming. “Because I think I can help.”

The Slayer took the answer and weighed it against everything her senses were telling her at the moment. “How do I know I can trust you?”

Angel looked the Slayer in the eye, then he cast his gaze around the room. He took in the faces of those he had known. Those he had fought alongside. Those he had so carelessly abandoned. There was a long moment before he looked to the Slayer. He knew no answer he had would be good enough. “I guess I’ll just have to earn that.”

Alonna stared Angel down. The hard glare in her eyes sent shivers down the vampire’s spine. Moments dragged on as the two supernatural creatures held each other’s gaze. Neither flinched. Neither backed down. Just as the rest of the Hyperion Crew was about to chime in Alonna spoke.

“Your room is where you left it.” The Slayer turned on her heel and marched towards the stairs leading up to her room. “This is your one and only second chance Angel. If you ever abandon the mission to chase down your undead fuck buddies I’ll stake you myself.”

“Noted,” Angel called out as the Slayer stormed up the stairs.

“And take a shower for fuck’s sake!” She snapped before heading down the second-floor hallway that led to her room. “You still have Darla’s stank all over you!”

Silence reigned over the hotel lobby in the wake of the Slayer’s departure.

*****

“Any suggestions for the movie, B?” Faith had been extra attentive since the arrest of the lunch lady. Now all the Scoobies were gathered, spread out on Xander’s bed in the Rosenberg-Maclay house as the boy flipped through his Bollywood collection and fiddled with a massive prototype TV Willow had designed. They had a moment to go over the events of the week and Buffy all but cringed at the memories she may never recover from.

The Slayer cringed once more for good measure before answering her girl’s question. “Nothing that reminds me of my mother having sex with Giles.”

“They’ve been dating for months, Buff.” Willow’s comment did little to ease Buffy’s nerves. “You’re gonna have to face facts eventually. Joyce and Giles have a healthy… attraction… for each other.”

“But it’s so gross!” Buffy lamented as she leaned further into Faith’s embrace. “And that word. No one ever tell me what stevedore means.”

“Okay, B.” Faith agreed before looking over to Tara with a wicked smirk. “I’ll say this though. I looked it up, and good for Joyce. Most cougars go their whole lives looking for their stevedore. She found hers and pounced. G man must have laid his game down flat.”

Buffy’s pained moans were drowned out by the laughter of the other three teens in the room. Though she could not stand the imagery that sprang to her mind, there was no denying the truth. Her mother and her watcher had found love. The Slayer looked to her girl once more and felt her heart melt. If what Joyce felt for Giles was even a tenth of what she felt for Faith then she could never deny her happiness.

_________________
Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:52 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 957
Topics: 15
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Dibs! :P

Torturing Buffy with her prudishness is always fun :P

Also, who's "D/J, F/G" I recognize the rest of them.

"Your girlfriend loves you, Buffy. Tentacles and all." LOL.

And wow. Faith really made an impact.
I mean, sure, she's more butch than Buffy, but damn!
Now i wanna see some of the encounters where she established her territory, now.

Though Faith saves the day was nice :)

And it's early days yet, but you do not mess with The Key.
“Step off my kool-aid, motherfucker!”
Damn.

And hey, Angel's back.
I guess he got over being a div.

and Joyce seems to be happy.
Very Happy.
:P

Awesome chapter. Roll on the next one! :bounce

R :flower

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Last edited by Azirahael on Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:47 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:49 pm 
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Hi Azirahael, hi Zampsa.

Glad you guys liked this one. I believe Buffy is still in the stage of her relationship where she defaults to full blown panic mode at the first sign of trouble. At least that's the impression I got of her various relations on the show. Faith, likewise, has just too much swagger for her own good. Like in the show.

All in all I'm enjoying playing up Buffy's roll as the girly girl, pillow princess to Faith's super macho "bad boy" persona.

But when they swap rolls and Faith bottoms for Buffy. Oh boy. Also I just really wanted Faith to come away from her time in LA having picked up a new parlor trick. Something she might have picked up from memories of watching Jennifer and Tara refresh their spell slots / mana points.

Wow it's been a while since I wrote that incomprehensible string of gibberish. If I'm rereading this right then it's something like...

Willow/Tara
Buffy/Faith
Giles/Joyce
Doyle/Jennifer
Fred/Gunn
Angel/???
Xander/Anya
Dawn/Cassie

Gotta get back to work ironing out the last 5 or so chapters in this act. Glad to know my posting delays and mishaps haven't completely eroded the readership.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:00 am 
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Actually, i more meant the 'I hope Faith doesn't tear my dick off.' Comments.

And weird how no one was checking out Faith's butt.
People are really missing out. :P

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:30 am 
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Oh, right, of course. I've been going under the assumption that Faith's macho posturing and leather pants mean everyone is expected to check out her ass. Most times you probably can't avoid checking out Faith's ass.

But woe to those who check out her girl's ass. I like to think that Faith has a special glare that speaks louder than any threatening words. Her "I'm about to rip yo dick off!" glare.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:28 pm 
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OMG!!! I was lost in a hot, dusty wasteland. No sign of civilization, no escape from the emptiness!! Well, anyway it FELT that way; my computer was in the "shop"!!
But I am back now, I have read the latest chapter and as usual, I LOVED it!!! It was like an extra gift,...I got my computer back AND an update!!
"Buffy lamented as she leaned further into Faith’s embrace. “And that word. No one ever tell me what stevedore means.”
Now that is just an open invitation,...HA!!

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:50 am 
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Hi MotherD. Glad you successfully navigated and escaped the wastelands. Sorry for not responding earlier. This holiday season got away from me for a bit there.

But yes, Joyce has a Stevedore fetish. The show glossed over it with a few one liners, but Buffy had to wrestle with the fact that her Mom nailed her watcher in the middle of season 3. There Buffy was, dealing with all her relationship drama with Angel, and Faith, and pencil neck Wesley lusting after cheerleaders. Then in the middle of all that she has to deal with the soul crushing realization that the "old people" in her life still enjoy their sexual intercourse! The horror.

Working on the next chapter. It'll be a Marvels entry just in case anyone lost count. More moral quandaries staring Faith, Papa Wolverine, and Deadpool. Will try to get it up as soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:33 am 
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So, i just finished my 17th read through. :blush

More please? :kiss1

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:29 pm 
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Citanul,..Before I bug you for another update I usually like to give you plenty of time to work out the kinks,...get all the grammar in line, etc.. However, I didn't want you to feel that I wasn't following this epic any more. I had mentioned a problem with my computer; WELL, it was not one that could be fixed as it turns out. I had an "insert manufacturer name" with a touchscreen. SO,..according to the tech who helped me there must have been a grain of dirt, an eyelash OR a gnats fart,! Something got on the screen and when the laptop was closed it put constant pressure on the touchscreen and basically KILLED the cursor. I had NO control. LONG story short,..I'm on new computer and good to go. WITHOUT a touchscreen!! Who knew. So, I am more than ready to read a new chapter (hint) and comment for you. Love and Blessings

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:41 pm 
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I too have a new laptoip, just perfect for reading this story.
Tablet/laptop. Just perfect. :kiss1

Just saying. :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:40 pm 
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Curses!
I need my fix!

Starting read-through #18.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:12 pm 
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I am right there with you, Azirahael. Desperately Seeking an Update!! Dearest Citanul,...….Please!!

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:53 pm 
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MotherD wrote:
I am right there with you, Azirahael. Desperately Seeking an Update!! Dearest Citanul,...….Please!!

Yeah. Been near a year. I'm a sad Kitty :(

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:14 am 
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Hello everyone. I'm back. Sorry for the long absence. This next chapter was a lot harder than I thought when I started it. Basically I had my outline written up and was ready to go... And then I sat staring at a blank screen for six straight months.

It took six months before I realized I absolutely hated the chapter that would have come out if I stuck to the outline I wrote. It was a mess of action scenes and comic book nonsense that would have just disappointed everyone involved. Luckily, I scrapped and replaced the old outline, got back to work, and the new version of the chapter is finished. It's a 70 page long sprawling mess of dialogue scenes and relationship nonsense. I'm half way through one of multiple proof readings. Once that's done the next installment of Marvels will be posted sometime this week.

Sorry for the delay.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:03 am 
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Post, and all is forgiven. :kiss1

Also, if you need a beta, i am available. :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:51 pm 
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Finally! My ridiculously circuitous plan can commence!

Let’s see… Connect the grounding line to the flux capacitor. Check. Wire the quantum field generator into the front giant round part of the oversized Wily E. Coyote death laser. Check. Mount the point singularity focusing array on the end of the oversized Wily E. Coyote death laser. Check. Connect the cables from the generator to the array. Check. Line the focusing crystal compartment with the fake diamonds Arnold stole from the set of Batman and Robin. Check. Use chewing gum and sparkly glitter to stick the flux capacitor onto the back giant round part of the oversized Wily E. Coyote death laser. Check. Download Every episode of Buffy and Angel from a bit torrent site in another dimension. Check… No, wait, buffering… Buffering. Buffering. Still buffering. Buffer… fuck it! I’m gonna go take a shit while this thing downloads.









Okay, I feel twelve pounds lighter. Did my download fini… OH SON OF A BITCH!

*12 hours later*

Well fuck it this will have to do. Click, and… Fire the lasers!

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:55 pm 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind? Seriously though all feedback is welcome.

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show. And Angel too. Also Agents of Shield a little bit. You know what, if a name you don’t recognize pops up most of the time you can find dozens of pages of character bio if you type that name and the word comics into Wikipedia. It’s almost scary how much page space comic book fans have taken up on that site.

Rating: NC-17 = Smutty smut smut smut. Seriously though they make love quite often.

Pairings: W/T, B/F, G/J, D/J, F/G, A/?, X/A. Also D/C (Though not till they’re older and even then maybe not so much with the graphic detail.)

Disclaimer: You all know I don’t own the rights to characters you’ve seen on TV.

Summary: A story of reincarnation and interdimensional travel made possible through the power of love. What misfortunes will our two favorite love birds be able to prevent with the aid of experience from countless past lives?

Author’s Note: And we're back. Okay, fair warning. This one ran long and I had to split it in 2, "King Solomon Style." Also Deadpool shows up a little on the heavy side and he does unspeakable things to the fourth wall.

*****

Primer: Marvels

Willow = Wanda Maximoff = Scarlet Witch

Tara = Carol Danvers = Ms. Marvel

Buffy = Jennifer Walters = She-Hulk

Faith = Faith = X-23

Xander = Pietro Maximoff = Quicksilver

Anya = Jessica Drew = Spider-Woman

Giles = Vision = G.I.L.E.S. = Generated Intuitive Logistics Engine Source = Grumpy Intellectual Librarian Englishman Simulation

*****

Marvels: Better Angels of our Nature (part 1)

“So what are we gonna do about Faith?”

The question hung in the air, a thick miasma of dread and regret. The gathered school faculty could not agree on a course of action. Some couldn’t even agree that an offense had been committed. One sly voice offered a less than helpful opinion.

“Who’s to say anyt’ing need doin’ ma cher?” Annoyed eyes around the room locked on the Cajun. He shuffled a deck of cards as he went on to express one of the least popular opinions held by those in the room. “The girl, she was protecting her’telf. Protecting her school. That Creed, he was a right nasty piece o’ work.”

The blue German was the first to counter the Cajun’s point. “The sins of her victim are immaterial to the horror of her own actions. We should be discussing how to help our student. Fräulein Faith crossed a line that few come back from. She has gazed into the abyss and risks falling now more than ever before.”

“Yes, we’ll be here forever if we keep circling back to agreeing that Victor Creed was a mass murdering sociopath.” The blue-furred scientist was quick to agree, even while being at a loss for coming up with actionable solutions. “What matters is Faith and our other students.”

“This behavior cannot be tolerated.” The tall African woman spoke in a refined and imperious voice. “This school cannot survive the students taking matters into their own hands. No one has the right to act as judge, jury, and executioner.”

“But what do we do?” Hank asked yet again. He stroked the blue hairs covering his chin as he hung from his perch on the ceiling. “Do we ground her from missions? Tell her she has to go through extra danger room sessions? Stop her girlfriend from visiting?”

“No!” Logan’s disapproval of the last suggestion was clear as he turned to face Hank. “Leave Jen out of this. She ain’t one of our students and she ain’t a teacher here. She’s not part of any punishment Faith has coming.”

The Professor spoke up for the first time in what felt like days. So long had he pondered the matter, internally debating each and every facet of the issue. “I have to agree with Logan on that count. We are not using Ms. Walters or the She-Hulk in some sort of tawdry carrot and stick disciplinary measure. Not only is that woman one of the few good influences on Faith, but cutting off a student’s personal life and connections to the outside world will never be an acceptable punishment. This is a safe haven for our kind, not a prison, and certainly not a racially segregated cult.”

“Still need to do something, Professor.” Rogue and several of the other faculty members looked to their teacher, many nodding along with the southern belle’s sentiment. “More than just detention or a slap on the wrists. She needs to know she did wrong.”

Xavier looked around the room. The few voices advocating for no punishment remained silent. It was clear that everyone had valid concerns for both Faith and the school as a whole. The Professor knew something must be done. As his gaze fell on the girl’s father Xavier’s mind latched onto an idea. One that was simple yet had a chance of getting through to Faith while appeasing all her teachers.

“I will talk to her.”

*****

The door to the dorm room flew open as two giggling women chased each other inside. Sweat glistened across bodies clad only in matching tight-fitting sports bras and short shorts. The older of the two let out a muffled gasp as her girlfriend pulled their bodies against each other. The gasp gave way to a moan as lips clashed in the wake of the closing dorm room door.

“Honey.” Jennifer’s moans turned to yet more giggles as Faith’s lips trailed down her neck. “I’m all sweaty from our morning jog.”

The brunette’s smirk could both be heard and felt as warm breath slid over the blonde’s neck and collarbone. “Mmm, just the way I like ya.” Faith went for Jennifer’s lips yet again. Several tender moments passed before either woman realized they had made their way to the edge of Faith’s bed.

Before they could collapse into the soft cream colored sheets Jennifer pulled away from her girl. A pained whimper was quickly silenced by a single finger placed on Faith’s lips. “No. I’m putting my foot down, Honey. As much fun as sweaty post-workout sex would be, we both have stuff to do today.”

“Please don’t remind me.” Faith moaned for an entirely different and less enjoyable reason. “I was hoping they’d leave me be till after you went back to the city.”

Jennifer rolled her eyes at the newly dour expression on her girlfriend’s face. “Your dad and teachers gave us all weekend to have our fun. I’m grateful, but even I know they all have issues to get off their chests.”

The brunette took in the words with resignation and no small amount of contrition. “So you’re sayin’ I gotta take my lumps.”

“I’m saying I love you, I support you, and I will always be there for you…” There was a pause as Jennifer made sure she had the full attention of the young woman. “But you live with these people, and at some point, you have to make nice and stop scaring the hell out of them.”

“You shoulda seen the look on Havok’s face when he and his boys caught me hauling that giant steel coffin out of the basement.” For a moment there was genuine glee in Faith’s eyes as she recalled the encounter. “I get it though. They’re all scared I’m gonna turn on them the second I become the vicious animal Hydra trained me to be.”

The sudden melancholy of the brunette was met with steadfast resolve and more than a little indignant fury. “You are not their killer, Faith. You are not a dog on a leash. You are not a monster.” A hard glare from the petite blonde was all that was needed to derail the depressing train of thought building speed within Faith. “You’re the woman who turned a broken lawyer’s life around. You’re the daughter who taught a nearly two-hundred-year-old sourpuss to smile again. You’re the friend that avenged the deaths of a scared shy girl’s family. You’re the only person around this school bold enough to put the two dumbest boys in your class in their place. You’re the woman I love with all my heart.”

“Okay, okay. You don’t have to give me the self-help speech again, Babe.” Jennifer’s words had warmed Faith’s heart and saved her from her own doubts, and yet this was far from the first time she had heard them in the last few days. “I get it. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

Jennifer leveled her girl with a concerned frown. “There better not be a Hydra programming story behind that reference.”

“Nah, Casper just wanted to get Desert Rose caught up on “the pillars of American pop culture.” Had us girls watch a whole bunch of old S.N.L. episodes. Mostly the stuff from the Phil Hartman and Tim Meadows years, but she threw in a bunch of shows from Jane Curtin’s run, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, and Will Ferrell. Plus all the episodes hosted by John Goodman and Christopher Walken.”

“Truly, they were as gods who built this place.” Jennifer quipped while rolling her eyes. “I didn’t know Alisa was such a Saturday Night Live fan.”

Faith let out a laugh as she smiled back at her girl. “The girl is crazy. She has this whole theory about how hosting Weekend Update during the O.J. trial and Clinton’s blowjob scandal ruined the careers of Norm Macdonald and Colin Quinn.”

The humor drained from the lawyer’s face as she realized just what the brunette's classmate was inadvertently teaching Faith. “Great, your friends are giving you crash courses in all the worst subjects. I don’t remember classes like “illicit blowjobs one oh one” and “practical application of courtroom limericks” being offered at this school.”

“Don’t worry, Babe.” Faith said as she wrapped her arms around her girl. “The only person getting illicit blowjobs from me is you.”

“Sweet talker.” Jennifer relaxed into the embrace for a moment before resigning herself to the tasks that would surely take up the rest of their day. “You should hop in the shower and then go see if the others are training or something. Team building and all that.”

“We should hop in the shower...” Faith began with a lurid smirk, only to be cut off by a resigned head shake from her girl.

“Nuh-uh. If we go in together we won’t make it out until someone rings the dinner bell.” The petite blonde eventually found the strength to gently nudge her girl away. Once Faith was held at arm’s length she fixed the young woman with a warm, yet firm smile. “Go take a shower. I’ll check my e-mail and then take one after you go check in with your classmates.”

Faith accepted that she wasn’t getting laid in the next few minutes and resigned herself to her other obligations. “Five by five.”

Jennifer nodded as she let Faith’s arms go. The brunette dove in for one quick kiss before turning and moving over to her dresser. The lawyer watched with an expression of open-mouthed shock as her girl gathered her shower kit and towel. The staring continued as Faith took her time, giving her girl provocative little wiggles of her rear as she bent over to retrieve items from the lowest drawers of her dresser. After a full minute of appreciative leering Jennifer finally pulled herself together. She went over to the desk and opened her laptop. The first thing she noticed upon powering up and signing in was an odd e-mail notification.

Jennifer tilted her head to the side as she read the subject and from lines. “Who is the ‘Once and Future…’ oh son of a bitch! Why is that psychopath contacting me?”

“Babe?” Faith was at her side in an instant.

The petite blonde’s reply overflowed with exasperation. “Your dad’s crazy boyfriend got his scab covered hands on my e-mail address.”

The brunette placed a quick kiss on her girl’s cheek. “I’m so telling Pops that you called him that. What does the psycho want?”

“To meet me at the dive bar in the nearest small town to here...” Moments passed as both women read the message. “Why?”

“Need backup?” Faith was all too hopeful that this distraction could offset the plans and obligations her girl had just laid out.

“If this is a trap I can handle anything he can throw at me.” The lawyer just shook her head before turning back to her girl. “You have stuff to do today, Missy.”

“I know, I know.” Faith lamented before smiling and kissing her girl on the cheek yet again. “I’m lucky I’ve got you looking out for me.”

“Trust me, Honey. I’m the lucky one.” Jennifer smiled as she returned the mildly innocent kiss. “You have no idea how bad the dating scene is these days. I’m lucky you came into my life.”

A quick scoff was offset by a curious frown. “How bad can it be?”

“Bad.” The lawyer assured. “I tried dating sites for so long I almost considered joining a convent. Never go on those things and say “Hi, I’m a single young woman looking for a nice, stable relationship.” You’ll end up just getting offers from creeps that always come in some flavor of “Hi. I’m looking for a live-in housemaid who doesn’t wear panties and will occasionally tickle my ass with an ostrich feather while my wife tells me I’ve been a bad, bad boy.”

Laughter filled the dorm room as both women readied themselves for the unknown challenges the day would no doubt inflict upon them. Their spirits remained high even as they finally separated. No matter what fearful school faculty member, classmates, or unhinged mercenaries threw at them they both knew they would always have each other.

*****

“It is his time.”

A lone figure stood beside a massive clear cylinder filled with a translucent ooze. The dimly lit chamber and the countless multitude of emerald diodes lining the walls cast a pallor upon both the figure and the object he surveyed. Light from the diodes filtered through the ooze and filled the chamber with a sickly green glow. Though the figure stood in the eerie light his features were clear. In place of soft flesh and cloth was finely chiseled stone. The living statue’s gray pallet soaked in the sickly glow, creating an even more ghastly and haunting scene. A scene that could only be witnessed by one other figure in the emerald lined laboratory.

Ozymandias looked upon the figure suspended in the cylinder. Blue lines trailed up and down slate gray skin. The gangly body of a teenager hung in the center of the translucent slime. Sunken features betrayed a thinness that bordered on frailty. Though the boy’s outward appearance conveyed unforgivable weakness, the stone man knew he stood in the presence of unimaginable strength. Strength bestowed by the divine itself. Strength that would separate the wheat from the chaff. Strength that would ensure only the fittest survived. Strength that would bathe the world in cleansing fire, so that the strong could rise from the ashes and take what was rightfully theirs.

Ozymandias grinned as he saw the boy in the cylinder begin to stir. “The master will rise again, and usher in the age of Apocalypse!”

*****

“So they got these two guys with magic green rings already, and they’re both generic white dudebros. No personality or taste whatsoever!” The grating voice filled the dive bar as Jennifer stepped inside. She recognized the speaker. His prattle had worn out her patience the first time they had met, and there was precious little good to be found in knowing the fool in the years since. The fact that he had managed to draw a few laughs from her girlfriend didn’t help in the slightest. “So the guy drawing the books goes to his boys in the writing side of the office and say, “I’ve had it with these white dudebros in the lantern corps! I want to draw a black superhero!”

As Jennifer approached she noticed the absurdly costumed woman already at the madman’s table. The claws and tufts of fur were in line with many eccentrics in their line of work, but for some reason, the giant furry tail always set the lawyer on edge. “Get to the point you evil, evil man,” Squirrelgirl said as she spread a dollop of sour cream on the potato skin she plucked from the plate between them.

“So the one prick in the writers’ room is cool with it, but the other prick is all like, “Well, I don’t know about this. Will people feel safe with a black superhero?” But the guy who wants to draw the book has drawn a bunch of other books for them so he pushes through and they agree to write his book. About a week goes by and he starts getting the rough drafts of the script back.”

Jennifer made her way to the table and stood there waiting. So far the madman hadn’t acknowledged her presence. Too caught up in waving his arms around as he mansplained some ridiculous story whose origins and meaning the lawyer could not pin down. “At first he’s all in. The new hero is relatable down to earth guy. He’s American born, college educated, and an architect looking for a job, which in the seventies was just the best backstory. It was all just like he laid out for the writers. This new hero was a real guy the reader could bump into on the street and have a conversation with. He wasn’t some displaced Nigerian royalty or a gang banger that got picked up and gentrified by some white folks looking for that next level of Mandingo fighting to bet on. But then the artist gets to the name and everything stops.”

“Alright.” Squirrelgirl sighed as she popped another potato skin in her mouth. Jennifer noticed a tiny furry head dart out of the fur-lined costume and tear off a piece of the bar snack just before the woman could devour it. “I’ll bite. What was the name?”

“Lincoln Washington,” Deadpool said with an obvious smile distorting his skintight mask.

Squirrelgirl could not hold back her amusement. “Hah! Why not just name the poor guy Blacky Blackman?” Jennifer could only gape as another squirrel scurried down Squirrelgirl’s arm and snatched up a chunk of deep-fried onion petals from the blooming onion sitting on a plate between the furry woman’s elbows.

“So the artist storms over to the writer pricks and the first prick is all. “Nah, nah, man it wasn’t me.” So he goes to the second prick’s office and closes the door. Then they spend an hour shouting back and forth over what constitutes a “slave-name”, and how the writer is gonna get their entire office filled with letters. Finally, the prick says “You come up with a name, god damn it, you do it!”

“What name did the artist come up with?” Jennifer asked as she watched Squirrelgirl occupy herself with a trio of tiny furry beasts fighting at her feet over a giant soft pretzel. A pretzel that looked like it came from a store half a block down the street from the dive bar they were in.

“Jen!” Deadpool’s cheer seemed genuine but did nothing to lighten the mood of either woman. “Baby, welcome! It’s about time our type got together for a little pow-wow.”

“I am not your type!” Both women shouted.

“Eww, no!” The mercenary shuddered at the very thought both their shouts had dredged up. “I don’t mean the sexy time type. I’m mean the fourth wall type.”

“You didn’t answer her question,” Squirrelgirl muttered as she fed yet another squirrel a fried onion petal.

“Oh, right.” Deadpool laughed before turning to grab the last potato skin before a large black squirrel could snatch it. “He decided to call him John Stewart.”

“I’m leaving.” Jennifer deadpanned as she turned on her heels.

“No! Wait! You just got here!” Deadpool said as he lost the potato skin to the ebony rodent.

“What am I doing here, Deadpool?” Jennifer snapped back before a smirk crossed her face. “No, scratch that. You can explain why I’m here while I smash you into the ground like a stake. Why is she here?”

Deadpool appeared to roll his eyes at the petite blonde. “I told you guys! Fourth Wall Gang!”

Jennifer just rolled her eyes right back at his nonsense and looked to Squirrelgirl. “Seriously though, what are you doing here with this psycho? You aren’t even one of the heavy hitters.”

That comment drew the entirety of the furry woman’s attention and more than a little wrath. “Heavy hitters! How dare you? I defeated Doctor Doom in a book written and drawn by Steve Fucking Ditko!”

“And it was canon too.” Deadpool chimed in. “Not some else-world, what-if, or spider-verse clusterfuck. Just ask Iron Man. He was there.” He turned back to Squirrelgirl. “Wasn’t the Watcher there for that one too?”

“No, Uatu was there the time I beat Thanos.”

“Anyway, we needed to get you up to speed, Jen.” Deadpool went on as if the mass of squirrels on the table wasn’t a completely odd occurrence. “In the comics, She-Hulk is all about the meta-humor and the fourth wall gags. There’s some stuff that’s gonna go sideways if you don’t see it coming.”

As he spoke the mercenary pulled out a thumb-drive and handed it over to the lawyer. She looked back and forth between the device and the masked madman several times before fixing him with a glare. “I’m not hiding your porn collection for you, Wade.”

“Oh sister, you couldn’t handle my porn.” Deadpool laughed before pressing the thumb-drive into her hand. “I like it well lit and upbeat, but with a hint of uncertainty and personal regret. Always helps if there’s a unicorn in the mix too.”

Jennifer looked down at the thumb-drive for a moment too long. Only once the mercenary was halfway to the door did she realize he was leaving her with far more questions than answers. “Wait! What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”

“Watch the show, Slayer!” Deadpool called back through the open door. “If you watch it, they will come…”

With that, the madman was gone and two women were left with nothing in common and no idea what they expected from the impromptu meeting. Jennifer looked to Squirrelgirl for answers but found none. “Don’t look at me, Jolly-Green. He’s your friend.”

“Deadpool is not my friend,” Jennifer argued before losing track of her thoughts. Her eyes landed on two gray squirrels on the floor below the table. It took a moment for the petite blonde to realize the tiny beasts were in the midst of what passed amongst squirrels for fairly passionate lovemaking. “I have to go. You… You take care of… your whole… thing… with the squirrels.”

Squirrelgirl simply watched as the stammering woman fled the dive bar, thumb-drive clutched tightly in her hand. “Well, that was rude.” She muttered as her squirrels chased the cook and bartender out the back door of the kitchen. The tiny beasts began frying up more potatoes and onions. “Some people.”

*****

“Okay… Just to play devil’s advocate... What, um, what did this guy do to make Faith think he had it coming?”

Shouts of shock and surprise-filled the comms room of the Xavier Institute. No one listening in could grasp just what the man on the other end of the line was thinking.

“Baby, Faith tortured and killed a man.” Clarice was struggling to grasp the full impact of her friend's actions and motivations. The pink woman could not reconcile the pacifist teachings she had heard from the Professor with the seemingly hash disregard he and Faith both showed for Faith’s victim.

On the other end of the line, Steve Rogers tried to keep calm and even-tempered. He had taken many lives in his time as a soldier. He had seen many atrocities. He still wanted to give the young brunette the benefit of the doubt. The fact that she hadn’t done far worse was a miracle considering the hell hole he had helped drag her out of. “I’m just saying, Faith doesn’t go around torturing just anybody ever since we pulled her out of that Hydra nest. Who did she kill?”

“Sabertooth,” Logan admitted.

“Was this one of your team’s main bad guys?” The world war two veteran was met with shocked expressions as more faces he recognized crowded around his girlfriend in the monitor of their video call.

The answer, oddly enough, came from the redhead at the comms terminal to Steve’s left. “Victor Creed was a serial killer who operated just under the threshold of SHIELD’s most wanted list for decades.” Natasha chimed in while not looking up from her work tracking multiple threats and hostile forces.

“Creed!” Steve shouted before turning back to Logan on the monitor. “Logan, why didn’t you tell me Faith took care of Vic? We should all celebrate!”

“What?” Clarice, Ororo, Hank, and Logan shouted at the sudden turn in the man’s tone.

Clarice was the first to question her boyfriend’s response to the serial killer’s name. “Steve?”

“Oh come on.” Steve bore an expression of befuddlement and exasperation as he looked into each of the confounded faces in the monitor. “At least tell me Jen took Faith out shopping after she put that animal in the ground.”

“The ocean actually,” Natasha added.

“Good for her,” Steve said to Natasha before scratching his chin at the continued odd looks from his friends and girlfriend. “Why are you guys so upset Logan’s stalker is dead? Creed did nothing but rape and murder his way across the globe for a few dozen decades.”

“How do you even know about Sabertooth?” Hank asked as he and Ororo shared concerned looks.

“What? Logan didn’t tell you guys that story?” Now all faces turned from the American icon to the Canadian loner standing near the back of their small cluster around Clarice’s video screen.

“What story?” Logan asked.

Steve let out an almost incredulous bark of laughter. “Logan, come on! You’ve gotta remember the headache that creep caused us.” More blank stares were all the veteran was met with. He had no choice but to retell a story he swore he thought his squad mate would have retold countless times.

“Seriously?” More heads shake slowly back and forth as the soldier begins his story. “Okay, it was during the war. The Howling Commandos were deep behind enemy lines. We had a bunch of important missions to finish, and before we could secure a crucial base this scruffy blonde sociopath snuck into our camp and tried to rip out all our throats. Logan, do you seriously not remember that?”

“I don’t…” Logan began but was soon cut off as Steve went on with the tale.

“Oh, it was just a mess. He almost got past Gabe and Jacques while they were on watch, but you caught his scent. We jumped him and then you tried to explain how “Vic” always tracked you down once a decade to kill those closest to you. You explained his healing factor and immortality and I’d heard enough. Before you and Creed could go off to claw each other to death I ordered Dum Dum Dugan to shoot him in the head.”

More shocked gasps came from the assembled X-men as Steve laughed at the odd wartime memory. “Then when it looked like the hole in his head was about to close up I walked over and rammed a wooden stake through his heart.” Steve went on oblivious to the fact that he now had Natasha and the handful of former Shield agents in the Avengers comms room looking at him in shock and horror. “We smashed the bones in his arms and legs with a hammer, filled his mouth with rosemary and garlic, and doused him with a few vials of holy water.”

“Why?” Natasha stammered out as the X-men watched the screen with Steve’s face in open-mouthed shock. “Why do any of…” The Russian spy could hardly grasp the lengths Steve had just admitted to going. “That!”

“He had fangs and long coat. I thought he was a vampire.” It was then Steve finally realized that literally everyone was staring at him in shock and horror. “You guys gotta understand, this was the middle of the war. By that point, we had already put down at least thirty or so Nazi vampires. For real, actual, Dracula types. Monsters that one day just up and decided to sign on with the fucking Nazis because they were evil fucking vampires and why the hell not?”

“Steve! Language!” Clarice snapped at her boyfriend’s uncharacteristic cursing.

“I’m sorry, Sweetie, but there’s just no polite way to say it. That and I just hate vampires.” Steve went on in the face of abject horror and complete incomprehension. “So after I noticed the holy water had no effect and Creed’s body was still twitching, I just doused him in kerosene and lit a match. Once the flames died down we buried what was left face down in a shallow grave.”

“The fuck!” Natasha whispered as she looked at her old friend.

“Again, we were waist deep in Nazi vampires and no one at the time knew about you guys existing as a people. Even if I had known for sure that he was a living person and not an undead monster, all I had to go on was that Creed was a serial killer who stalked one of my brothers across a war zone just so he could ruin our mission and murder our entire squad. Hell, if I knew he was lurking around that school I’d have helped Faith take him out.”

The comms room of the Xavier Institute came under a disturbing quiet as Steve’s words resonated in those listening. None of them knew the lengths Sabertooth had gone to stalk his prey. None of them could grasp the abyss Faith circled as she ensured their safety. They could only hope that the Professor would be able to reach the girl.

*****

“Knock, knock.” The young woman spoke up as she tapped the doorway to one of the most important yet simply furnished rooms on the school grounds.

The Professor perked up at the sound of knuckles rapping on the door frame of his office door. “Faith! Welcome. Please, come, have a seat.”

“The guys said you were wantin’ to see me.” Faith was reserved, almost demure as she walked into the room and took one of the seats before the large desk. “Figured we needed to get my punishment over with quick.”

“Punishment?” He asked. His eyebrows rose as he took in his student’s tense demeanor. Xavier’s oldest student’s daughter was unusually wary as she maintained a steady gaze on a point just over his left shoulder. “Do you believe punishment is due?”

“Ain’t really about what I believe.” Faith admitted as her eyes moved over the shelves behind the desk. A few moments passed before her gaze came to rest on the large windows looking out over the front half of the school grounds. “Storm’s been giving me the stink eye ever since I did what I did. Hank and Kurt get real quiet when I walk in a room. The kids are afraid… more afraid than they were. Southern Belle and Cajun have been too busy screwin’ to keep tabs on what I’m doin’, but my Pops…”

“Logan has, well had, a complex relationship with Victor Creed,” Xavier said as he set aside some notes he had been going over. “They knew each other well, you could say.”

“Seemed pretty simple.” Faith muttered to herself. “Kill or be killed. Reminded me of what life was like before I… Back when I was a...” She stopped speaking as the memories of her old life in Canada came back to her. The horrors she had been subjected to. That she had in turn subjected Creed to. A tense moment passed before Faith drew up every ounce of resolve she had left. With a firm nod, she turned her eyes back on the Professor. “Am I out?”

“Out?” Xavier asked. He was growing surprised at the odd turns this already complicated talk was taking. “What do you mean by out?”

“Of the school,” Faith said. She looked away as his eyes widened in shock. “Am I expelled yet? I get it. I crossed a line. It was real nice of you to put this crap on hold while my girl was still here, but if I’m packing up I might as well just catch a ride back to the city with her. I mean I get that I’m too dangerous to have around. It was good while it lasted. I really liked this place.”

Xavier tried to catch the young woman’s eyes only to give up. Faith was too lost in her own remorse to notice the compassion in the man’s gaze. “Faith… Why on earth would I kick you out of my school?”

“Because!” Faith snapped as she turned her glare back on the Professor. “I’m a monster. I tortured and killed a man. I fought it so fucking hard, and I still ended up right where they wanted me! I’m what Hydra wanted me to be all along. A slave. A murderer. A mindless killing machine. Just like Pop’s stalker.”

Xavier was about to interject until Faith forced herself to charge ahead with her mission to shoulder far more blame than he knew she deserved. “I looked up what he did to all his victims in that SHIELD file. I knew he’d keep coming back. He’d do all that to the guys here. I thought if I hurt him worse than he hurt his victims he’d get scared off.”

“But he just kept coming back…” A sturdy fist came down on an armrest as Faith lamented her victim’s reckless disregard for all the pain she had brought down on him. “Kept running right into my traps like nothing I did sunk in.”

“Faith.” Xavier finally spoke up as it was clear the young brunette was spiraling ever downward. “I believe there’s been a misunderstanding.”

She looked at him in confusion. “Huh?”

“We’ll get to that in a moment.” Xavier waved her confusion away. “First, I do believe there are some things you need to be caught up on.”

Faith was so certain her time at the school was about to end. She had no clue why Xavier would drag this out any more than he had to. “Like what?” She finally asked.

“Did your father ever tell you about the first time he and I met?”

*****

“Alright, listen up you animals!” Logan shouted as he walked into the abandoned warehouse. All eyes fell upon the dour man as he strode forth. “I called you all in for a reason. We’ve got a world-ending threat that just popped up on the sensors of some old Shield contacts that owe me a favor.”

“Logan, buddy, pal, bubula.” Deadpool chimed in with a string of pet names that only served to put everyone else on edge. “It’s okay to name drop Fury on this one. None of these guys think he’s dead and I’m the only one here who knows about the other Shield gang running around on the TV show.”

“The crazy bastard has a point for once.” A muscular ebony woman cut off the madman. Her head was topped with a messy afro, and one large patch of snow white skin circled her golden left eye “None of us care about Nick Fury’s disappearing acts and fake tombstone.”

“Speak for yourself.” Said an Asian woman with long dark purple highlighted hair. She was wearing a far too tight dark blue singlet. She sharpened one short katana before sliding it back into a sheath at the small of her back. “I’d gladly kill the man if I ever saw him again.”

“Which is why Fury passed the info on without showing up himself.” Logan sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “He remembers your grudge, Psylocke. He knew Wade would push buttons until the rest of you were at each other’s throats. Why he called us in for this hit I’ll never know. Thought he’d send Black Widow in one of Iron Man’s old suits that went “missing.”

The last of the assembled mercenaries finally decided to speak up. “Though I must admit, Romanov is easy on the eyes, I doubt she’s capable of half this group’s skill set.” The man wore a ski mask with a narrow slit across his eyes, a kevlar vest over a button-up shirt, tactical pants with multiple firearms strapped to his thighs, and a long trench coat that hung down to his calves. One detail truly set his garb apart from any generic army surplus fair. Every article the man wore was white as the driven snow.

“Don’t let your powers make you soft, Fantomex,” Logan grunted as he moved closer to the mercenaries he had called in. “This mission is bigger than any one of us could manage. Maybe bigger than all of us put together.”

“Then why not call in that fancy team of yours?” Psylocke asked with an amused and derisive scowl.

“Cause they no like-ee the kill-ee, kill-ee, bang, bang.” Deadpool tossed out the quip before turning to the man decked out in white from head to toe. “Hey, buddy, I used to play with you when I was a kid.”

Fantomex looked to Deadpool, and then to Logan, before turning back to Deadpool. “What?”

“Yeah!” Deadpool shouted with overt enthusiasm. “Your action figure was always my favorite. All the other kids were into G.I. Joes, but not me! I was a Storm Shadow guy all the way.”

Fantomex blinked in utter confusion for what felt like hours. Finally, he turned back to Logan. “What the hell is this imbecile talking about?”

“Best not to waste brain cells on Wade,” Logan said before straightening up and addressing the whole group. “Alright. Get your gear and get ready to move out. We’re taking Fantomex’s ship to the target.”

“Awesome!” Deadpool cheered for no apparent reason. “Did you “borrow” the keys to Cobra Commander’s flying hellicarrier? Oh! Or was it the giant blue flying saucer shaped like the face and hood of a cobra?”

“What the devil are you raving about, you lunatic?” Fantomex shouted as he rifled through the pockets of his trench coat.

Domino rolled her eyes before turning back to Logan with an actual question. “If Whitey Mc Whiteboy has a plane, where is this mission going to take us?”

“It’s not a plane,” Fantomex said before Logan could respond. The mercenary pulled an off-white dongle from his coat pocket and pressed the largest button on it. One side of the warehouse that appeared to be filled to the ceiling with boxes began to shimmer. The piles of derelict crates and containers flickered out of existence, revealing a massive translucent white orb with multiple organic looking tendrils resting on the floor of the warehouse. “It’s a spaceship.”

“Spaceship?” Psylocke snapped before turning her glare on Logan. “Why are we going to space?”

“The moon actually,” Logan told the group as he pulled a black and white mask over the top of his head and face. Wolverine smiled as he looked over his hastily assembled mercenary group. “We’re going to the moon to kill Apocalypse.”

“Alright! All abroad the tentacle porn express! Woo! Woo!” Deadpool shouted from the single opening in the off-white orb. For a moment the rest of the group wondered how he got there so quickly. The moment soon passed as the madman quickly made a fool of himself yet again. “Hey, Storm Shadow! Does this thing have HBO? How about cup holders? Ooh! Can we pick up a pizza and snacks on the way?”

*****

“This better not be a trick,” Jennifer grumbled and groused as she pulled her laptop out of its bag. “I swear, that psycho is getting ripped in half if he’s trying to break up me and my girl.” The lawyer flopped down on her girlfriend's bed. She booted up her computer and began to slide the thumb-drive into an open slot. “And this better not be a virus. If I have to get Tony or Hank to erase some porn virus from my work laptop I’ll… what the hell is Buffy the Vampire Slayer?”

As the lawyer ran her mouse over the title slate that popped up in the center of her screen she was overcome with a sense of dread. Minutes dragged on before the strange title lit up and began to play a video that filled the entire screen. For a moment Jennifer wondered if she had actually clicked on the daunting words. The moment passed as disturbing memories filled her mind.

“No…” Jennifer whispered as she relived her first-day fighting and failing on the hellmouth. Death and regret filled her mind as the video played on. “It can’t be...”

The pilot episode for an impossible show played out before the shell-shocked blonde. A lifetime of pain and regret unfurled within her soul as her plucky teenage doppelganger doled out quips, puns, and high kicks.

“I was such an idiot...” Jennifer whispered as she started to play the second episode.

*****

“Pops said you sent Storm and Beast to drag him out of some truck stop gutter up in the great frozen north.”

“Hmm, yes.” Xavier hummed noncommittally as Faith looked at him in complete confusion. “That would be the third time he and I met. I’m beginning to doubt whether or not he remembers the first two.”

Faith couldn’t help the blatant and outright confusion filling her eyes. “So what was the first time?”

Xavier sighed before leaning back in his chair and steepling his fingers. The man paused for a long moment, looking out the side window of his office as if watching the pain and anguish of the past play out one more time. “I adored my parents, but after a time I was more or less left to raise myself. The servants helped, but I’ll admit the person I felt closest to in my childhood was my adoptive stepsister. Can you believe I first met the poor girl while she was sifting through our kitchen, looking for her next meal? Raven panicked and used her unique abilities to assume the form of my mother.” He let out a hollow laugh at the memory. “As if the woman ever set one foot in our kitchen. “That’s what we have servants for, Charles.” She would say. I told this to young Raven. She panicked again and reverted to her true form. That was the first time I ever realized there were people like me in this world. From that day on Raven was my sister. My parents hardly noticed, and even the few servants who really paid attention only needed minor convincing to look the other way. Raven became family.”

Faith remained silent as the Professor took his time with the retelling. She couldn’t see where his story would tie into her mistakes, but she knew he would eventually arrive at some conclusive point.

“After my father died, Mother lost her way. She remarried. To a man who sought her wealth and prestige more than anything else. He brought his son with him into our home. Cain was a difficult boy to get close to. His father was a harsh man. Harsh to all of us but to Cain the most. Cain, in turn, took his anger at an unfair world out on me. It was all I could do some days to keep their brutish ways from impacting Raven. But Cain was just as much a victim as Raven and myself, and we were still family.” Another long pause filled the room as the Professor gazed out his office window. Perhaps he saw moments of happy leisure with his sister. Perhaps moments of strife and anguish with his brother. Faith could only guess.

“To answer your question, the first time I knowingly encountered Logan I was only a few years older than you and some of your younger classmates. Raven and I were home from Oxford, seeing to the estate of my mother.”

Faith’s curiosity was piqued. She knew enough of inheritance fights and last will readings from shows the other students made her watch and from dating a lawyer to know someone would have fought like hell to keep every dime out of Xavier’s hands. Regardless of the fact it should have all gone to him in the first place. “The gold digging boy toy didn’t latch onto her money the minute she died?”

“Her second husband went out drinking one night and on the drive home decided to wrap his car around the largest boulder in the county. He had been after my mother’s money all along, worming his way into her will, but after her death, he neglected to set his own affairs in order. The lawyers went back to the wills of both my parents and decided that the entire estate was rightfully mine. This infuriated Cain to no end.”

“He shouldn’t have been a dick to you and this Raven chick.” Faith chimed in, only to flinch as the Professor cast a harsh glare her way. A beat passed before his expression softened and he went on with his story.

“Raven disagreed but as far as I was concerned Cain was still our brother. I tried to convince him to stay with us. To finish school. To put his father’s abuse behind him. It did not work out. There was an argument. Cain left us and struck out on his own. It was years before I saw him again.”

Faith waited patiently as Xavier schooled his emotions. There was more to this story, though she doubted the raw emotions attached would ever let the man delve into the depths he was skimming over.

“Not ten minutes after the shouting was over and Cain had stormed off into the night, there was a knock on the door.” The Professor looked back to Faith then as he finally came to the point his story had been circling. “There on the front steps of this very mansion stood two men. One nearly the size of a grizzly bear. The other, a diminutive but lean wolf of a man. In fact, I remember my first impressions were that I had been visited by a pair of actual werewolves.”

Faith perked up as she made the connection. “The short one was my Pops, wasn’t he?”

“Indeed he was,” Xavier said as he continued to look directly at his student. “I was about to ask what business they had with me until I saw the body.” Another pause as he noticed Faith’s eyes widening. “I was about to slam the door and call the police when your father spoke to me for the first time. He begged me to help him save their lives. Save all our lives. He had been fighting for our people for decades. Yet for all his efforts he still lost more lives than he saved. Logan begged me to open my doors to his cause. To use my gifts to guide his efforts and shield his team from our mutual foes. He begged me to help him save people just like the young woman who had bled to death in his arms on the way to my home.”

“What did you say?”

“I refused.” Xavier let out a long, weary sigh as he relived one of his deepest regrets. “I shouted for them to leave me alone. I told them I was not like them. I was normal. I had a life to return to. I had nothing to do with murderers and werewolves, and if they didn’t leave my property immediately I was going to call the police.”

“Damn.” Faith whispered as she watched her teacher lament his distant past. “How did the sister take that?”

A brief chuckle escaped Xavier’s lips. “Oddly enough she was fine with what I had said. Raven never liked taking the problems of others onto herself. I suppose that’s one of the main reasons why I drove her away.” He paused once more before turning his gaze back to the young brunette. “Your father looked at me and shook his head. He and his looming partner turned to walk away, but as they reached the top step Logan gave one last cutting remark. He said I was one of them, whether I liked it or not. He said even if I didn’t stand with our people I would still fall with them. If I did nothing I would eventually die at the hands of our enemies. He said that if I didn’t fight, then on my last day, the very last thing I heard before I died, would be one more person screaming in agony.”

“Sounds about right.” Faith agreed with the idea behind her father’s words even if she knew the exact details may have turned out very differently if the man before her had chosen inaction.

“As Logan stepped off the bottom step of my front porch I shouted that he was wrong. That I was not like him. That I would not die amidst the screams of the suffering.” Xavier smiled as he recalled Logan’s final words that evening. “He turned to me with a smile and said “That last part… I didn’t say it out loud.”

“He got to you.” Faith said as she realized her father had set things in motion that shaped the world as she knew it.

“Indeed he did.” The Professor admitted. “I dismissed his words for a time. Went back to Oxford, finished my residence at Pembroke. Raven and I tried to ignore the troubles facing our people, but that conversation opened my eyes to things I could no longer ignore. Logan set me on the path we are all still on to this day. Whether he remembers it or not, your father is the reason I founded this school.”

*****

“I think I’m gonna vomit.” Jennifer mewled helplessly as she fast forwarded through the episode where a teenager with her face and voice had desperate, angst-fueled, grief sex with a two-hundred-year-old pervert. “What the fuck is wrong with me?”

As she watched the shirtless undead roll out of bed and charge screaming into a rain-soaked alley, impossible memories filled her mind. So far her doppelganger’s relationship with the brooding drama queen had been tiresome and quaint. Jennifer could recall a dozen “love stories” she had been enamored with in high school. The tale of the vampire cursed with a mortal soul and the girl duty bound to destroy him and his kind fit right in with that category. Stories of young and ill-advised “love” destined to consume or outright kill all those involved. Her mind was pulled back to a term paper she wrote in college in which she listed off all the reasons why Romeo and Juliet was “The worst love story in the history of stories about two idiots trying to screw.”

The next episode began and her mind was torn away from memories of sarcastic essays. Once again Jennifer was forced to relive flashes of a life she could have lived in a world she would never see. She saw at least a dozen bodies left in the wake of the monster she had unleashed. In the video on her laptop, the rain stopped and the monster emerged. Jennifer watched in horror as he leapt from his knees and tore into the throat of a random woman who had stepped outside to light a cigarette. As the beast blew secondhand smoke into the night air Jennifer knew she had seen enough.

“Nope!”

The lawyer fast forwarded through the episode. The memories kept coming as she skipped the last nine episodes of the show’s second season. By the time “Buffy” sent her ex to hell and ran away from home Jennifer was sobbing. As she watched the teenager working as a waitress and getting her ass slapped by unruly truckers she was well on her way back to furious.

“This fucking show is the worst,” Jennifer muttered as she stopped on a scene of zombies invading a terribly planned house party. She was about to stop watching entirely when a bland scene in the show’s nightclub was interrupted by a gorgeous brunette. The girl was dancing with a man stuck in the mid-nineteen-seventies. The show’s main cast followed the girl out into the alleyway to save her, only to see the tables turned and their expectations dashed.

“Faith.”

Light returned to the distraught lawyer. She couldn’t help but feel all the love and devotion that came with seeing her girl in person. She laughed as she listened to Faith recount her half-naked adventures in Boston. She threw her hands up in exasperation as Buffy continued to mope about the dead vampire. She began to worry as she watched Faith lose focus on helping Buffy in a fight to pummel an already beaten vampire. She was sobbing again when she saw Faith flinch at the sight of the scarred master vampire. Jennifer had worked with all manner of witnesses, victims, and survivors during her legal career. She recognized all the classic signs of abuse and trauma exhibited by the Faith on screen.

“Oh god, Honey. What did they do to you?”

Jennifer nearly shouted in disgust as it became apparent Buffy would fail to reach Faith. She nearly threw her laptop across the room when Buffy left Faith to go back to the silent film hipster and his Buster Keaton festival. By the time Buffy’s vampire fuckboy made his dramatic reappearance at the end of the episode Jennifer was resolute.

“That’s it! I’m only watching the scenes with Faith in them!”

Memories kept pouring in as Jennifer skipped her way through the heartbreak and anguish of the show’s third season. Contempt blossomed as she watched Buffy do nothing to help Faith recover from the lies told by a madwoman seeking a magic glove. Disgust rose in her throat as she watched all of Buffy’s friends and family turn a blind eye to Faith’s abysmal living conditions. Anger ignited into an inferno yet again as she saw a black-haired version of Pietro lose his virginity to her girlfriend. By the time Buffy put Jennifer’s girlfriend in a coma, the lawyer was well and truly furious. She-Hulk made an appearance, contemplating ripping Deadpool in half the next time they met. As Buffy lead the largest penis metaphor of the season into the school library She-Hulk was angrily muttering her disgust with the main character’s treatment of the young brunette.

“Buffy better make this right in season four.”

Yet more memories came to the green woman as she watched Buffy take her first embarrassing steps into college life. Things started out with a glimmer of hope, and then she stopped fast forwarding just in time to see the vapid blonde on screen fall into bed with an irredeemable sexual predator, and then rebound with an undercooked slice of dry white toast.

“Why does she keep dating these fuckboys?”

The lawyer’s tv binge was interrupted as her latest shout drew the attention of one of the school’s residents. “Someone is dating Jamie and Alex?”

“Alisa!” She-Hulk jumped, nearly dropping her laptop on the floor as the young ebony woman popped her head in the now open door.

“Oh, sorry,” Alisa said as she looked into the hallway and then back into the room. “I didn’t mean to walk in on you… doing whatever. I just, there was shouting and the door was unlocked.”

“What?” She-Hulk asked in shock as she began to shrink. “Oh god. No! I wasn’t. No.”

“You okay, Jen?” Alisa asked as the lawyer returned to her regular size and shape.

“Yeah, I’m just… I guess I’m watching a tv show from another dimension?” Jennifer looked back down at her laptop once more before pausing the video and closing the screen.

The young woman gave the lawyer a questioning look. “Is that what the kids are calling porn these days?”

“No!” Jennifer couldn’t hold back the disgust in her voice as Alisa came in the room. “It’s a normal tv show on this thumb drive I got from a crazy person.”

Alisa cocked her head to one side as a smirk played across her face. “Still not helping your case, sister. If you and Faith are into porn that’s fine. Lots of folks spice things up with porn. It’s a lot safer than swinging or doing it in public bathrooms.”

“For fuck’s sake.” Jennifer gave up on explaining herself and opened her laptop. Alisa took a seat on the bed as the blonde pointed to the spot beside her. “Just watch an episode.” A new episode began and the ebony girl let out a shocked gasp.

“Holy shit, Jennifer! You and Wanda made porn together in college?” Jennifer rolled her eyes at Alisa as they watched Buffy and Willow walk down the steps of one of the buildings on the U.C. Sunnydale campus. They both let out matching gasps as the banter of the blonde and redhead on screen was interrupted by a familiar brunette.

“Faith was in this porno with you?” Alisa shouted before going quiet. “Wait… That can’t be her. Our Faith is only like two years old.”

“Two and a half,” Jennifer said as she watched the petite blonde on-screen fight her girlfriend yet again. “I said it was probably from another dimension.”

“Well damn,” Alisa whispered. “Why is college coed you trying to shank your girlfriend?”

“That is not me!” Jennifer snapped. “I would never treat my Faith like that. And I certainly wouldn’t sleep with the fuckboys she keeps fawning over.” The lawyer paused as she recalled far too many terrible dates she had suffered through. Jennifer shook off the stream of depressing memories before she spoke again in a whisper. “Not again anyway.”

*****

“Wooo! If this isn’t a party, then I don’t know what is!” Deadpool shouted as the spherical tentacle ship battered down the doors of Apocalypse’s secret moon base. Fantomex’s organic ship formed a perfect seal around the breach and ejected the team into an odd assortment of enemies. Deadpool took one look around and doled out orders before Wolverine could even react.

“Okay, it’s halftime and the bases are loaded. Little Suzzie has her skates all shined up but the home team hasn’t gotten a single basket.”

“What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?” Psylocke shouted as she readied her energy blades.

“It means you and Domino take out the geisha, Fantomex put a bullet in the head of that Confederate drummer from the civil war, Logan cut the arms, legs, and head off that giant minotaur, and I’ll murder the bad guy from the movie Big Trouble in Little China. Got it, team? Okay! Break!”

The other members of X-Force blinked as Deadpool charged what were obviously the latest versions of Apocalypse’s four horsemen. Just as the bald man with a long scraggly fu manchu and gaudy silk robes raised his hand towards their deranged teammate they sprung into action. The fight was bloody and vicious as blades and bullets tore through flesh. Waves of dark energy threatened to bring several of Wolverine’s assembled teammates to their knees. For a moment it looked as if the heroes and mercenaries would fail in their mission. The fact that they couldn’t fail drove them onward. The fate of the world rested on their shoulders.

“You think you’re so fancy with your dark magic and your creepily long, stereotypical Asian bad guy, facial hair.” Deadpool mocked his chosen foe, even as the man sent waves of darkness and slow painful death towards Wolverine and himself. “Well, I bet you didn’t expect me to do this!” As he shouted and mocked the enemy Deadpool spun around facing completely away from the Asian wizard. His arms whipped out and both handguns fired. “Ha, take that famous Chinese-American actor James Hong!”

“What the hell, Wade?” Domino shouted as the geisha and the Confederate drummer slumped to the ground with matching bullet holes in the backs of their heads.

“You told us to take that one,” Psylocke added in an annoyed huff.

“Shut up and trick the Minotaur into burying that giant fucking axe in this evil wizard's chest!” Deadpool snapped back at the two women.

“Why are you shouting your idiotic strategies at the top of your lungs?” Fantomex asked as he used his limited psychic abilities to deceive both the oversized beast-man and the overdressed sorcerer.

As she saw the flicker move across the eyes of the horned giant, Domino raced towards the robed wizard. Just as it seemed the ebony woman was about to crash right into the enemy she ducked down and slid between his legs. She had just enough time to roll to the side, narrowly avoiding the blood splatter as the massive stone battleaxe crashed into the frail wizard and pinned the top third of the man’s torso to the far wall.

“And that’s it. Good job, team.” Deadpool congratulated the others just as a loud roar filled the chamber.

“We’ve still got the...” Fantomex said just as another roar met the last. The members of X-Force turned to see Wolverine bury all six of his claws into the back of the hulking giant’s neck. Another roar came out as Wolverine wrenched his fists as far apart as he could, sending bits of gore and spinal cord out in either direction. The Minotaur slumped and then remained still. “Never mind.” Fantomex finished with a sigh.

“Let’s move!” Wolverine shouted as the team followed him deeper into the moon base.

“That was good, Wade. Not as good as what I can do, but good.” Domino said as she jogged beside the other mercenary. “How did you set all that up?”

Deadpool smiled behind his mask. “I skipped ahead a few pages and read how this fight ends. Spoilers, it’s gonna get ugly.”

Domino could only stare in confusion as she raced along with the team. Though she had known Deadpool for a few years now, she still could not make sense of the madman’s ramblings. She only hoped their luck would hold out until the mission either succeeded or failed, and she was back on earth.

*****

“I should tell you about the second time I met your father.” Xavier went on as Faith processed the parts of the story he had told her thus far. “It was a few years after the night my brother stormed off and Logan first came to my doorstep. Raven and I had just finished college. I received an appointment as an adjunct professor. Yet, despite the main focus of my studies and the path I had long ago laid out for myself, I had no real desire to go back into academia so soon.”

“You wanted to party a bit before hanging up the beer bong and the furry handcuffs.” Faith smirked as she eyed her teacher.

“That too,” Xavier admitted with a slight chuckle. “So, Raven and I were celebrating my achievements in our favorite bar, and this rather attractive auburn-haired woman with the faintest Irish accent came up to me. Being a deeply intoxicated young man in the prime of my life, I immediately tried my standard pick up lines.”

“Ooh, what was it?” Faith leaned forward as the Professor held back an amused smirk. “You quote nineteenth-century chick lit like Austen and Brontë?”

“Oh please, Faith, what sort of frat boy do you take me for?” Xavier scoffed at the very notion. “No, no, my shtick was much more original and charming. I simply told her the exact gene responsible for her lovely hair color and went on to explain it was a, quote “very groovy mutation.”

“Ha!” Faith could not help the burst of laughter the Professor’s admission caused. “Classic Professor X. What did she do then? Drag you back to her place, or did you have to call your sister in to play wing woman?”

“Sadly, neither. Moira was not the average coed.” Xavier went on in spite of the frown now cresting his student’s face. “She was a CIA agent on the trail of an alleged communist double agent. Unfortunately the criminals she tracked down happened to be like you and I.”

“And she needed a genetics expert who wrote a thesis on the hypothetical existence of powers he secretly knew already existed.” Faith whispered as she realized where the story would be going.

“Indeed. I was cautious about entangling myself with the government at first. Raven was livid that I dragged her along to show Moira’s rather simple-minded CIA superiors that the impossible was already in their very midst.” Xavier paused for a moment before going on with the tale. “We helped the CIA track down the group working to incite world war three, only to watch them flee. That was the day I met Erik. A troubled young man whose past had led him down the path of vengeance and suffering. Erik agreed to aid us because the man Moira sought also happened to be the man who murdered his mother when he was just a boy.”

“Damn.” Faith muttered to herself before asking what she felt was the obvious question. “When did he bail on you to get his revenge?” The Professor’s lack of response was all the answer she needed. It was several long moments before the story continued.

“Erik was, and still is, one of my dearest friends. We may have our differences of opinion, but I have yet to turn my back on him. The world has done that enough times already.”

There was another long pause that threatened to consume the room and its two occupants. Eventually, the Professor returned to the task at hand. “Erik and I traveled the country. We met a few dozen members of our race. Several of them were willing to join our cause. My hope was that a team of skilled individuals could intercede in the growing conflict and undo the damage done by Shaw and his group. Along the way, we walked into a dive bar in the middle of one of the more barren western states. Imagine my surprise when the man we found in that bar turned out to be your father.”

“No way.” Faith said as she leaned forward once more. “What did he say?”

Xavier smiled at the young woman’s curiosity. “I introduced Erik and myself. He took one look at us, showed no recollection or sign of remembering me from the last time we had met, and told me to fuck off.”

“Yup, that sounds about right.” The young brunette said as she leaned back in mild disappointment. “This was right after he got snatched up, tortured, mind wiped, and then escaped into the wilds of Canada, wasn’t it?”

“That has always been my belief, yes,” Xavier answered with a solemn nod. “Oddly enough Logan and I had come full circle in the span of only a few short years. Erik and I moved on. I had a world to save and Erik had a mother to avenge. It was close, but we managed to avert the all-out war Shaw was manipulating both sides towards. Unfortunately, that victory came at a cost.”

Faith’s eyes widened as the man sitting before her motioned to his wheelchair. She was speechless as her teacher went on. “I do not regret anything that happened that day. I don’t begrudge Erik, Raven, or even Cain for the paths they have chosen. I don’t blame them for striking out on their own. I wish they could see the value in my work… But their minds are theirs to make up. I wouldn’t take that from any of them.”

“This is great and all Professor,” Faith tried to be diplomatic as she sifted through the man’s story for any connection to the actions she had taken. “But I think I missed something along the way. How does any of that tie into what I did to Sabertooth?”

A small smile graced Xavier’s lips as he looked to his student. Faith could see something in the man’s eyes, though she knew not what. “It’s no surprise you don’t recognize the names. I must admit to being rather coy in the retelling. I’ve mentioned several people who were at various points in my life my closest family. Erik, Raven, Cain. Erik Lehnsherr, Raven Darkholme, Cain Marko. I’m not surprised the others haven’t mentioned this to you. They are rather sore subjects. My brother Cain has quite the criminal record. Last I heard he was in Ireland palling around with Black Tom Cassidy. Interpol still has no clue how to handle the Juggernaut.”

Faith let out a gasp at the mention of the infamous superhuman. Though she had never faced the man her Hydra training had included extensive research on his strengths and his nearly nonexistent weaknesses. In the wake of her shock, the Professor went on.

“My sister is another story altogether. Raven resented my efforts to guide her towards more humanitarian goals. I suspect she feels I was too controlling of her. Or maybe I just took her for granted. From the night I found her rummaging through my kitchen to the day we stood together on that beach, she was always at my side. I never expected her to run off and join Erik’s damned crusade. I thought she and I would be teaching “the next generation” well into old age. I was truly shamed when I learned about Mystique tricking Rogue into draining the very life from Ms… I’m sorry, Captain Marvel. I never would have guessed my shy little blue sister could do such a thing.”

Before Faith could fully process the connection between the Professor and the woman who was perhaps most hated by all the most important women in her life the man moved onto the next name on the list.

“The last time I heard anything about Erik was the week before his daughter, and a number of my faculty pulled you out of that abysmal place. He, his followers, and his children, Pietro and Wanda, tried to pull off some foolish attack on downtown Manhattan. Thankfully they were stopped when Wanda met Carol and they set about the chain of events that brought you to this school. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to sway Erik from his anti-human views. I know he has suffered at the hands of mankind all his life, but to wage war on well over ninety percent of the people in this world… There are days when I don’t even recognize Magneto as the man I loved like a brother.”

“Shit…” Faith’s utterance was almost ignored by the now morose teacher.

With a sigh, Xavier went on to the heart of the matter he had danced around for most of their meeting. “Villains are rarely as cut and dry as many would claim, Faith. We are all more than our low points. I won’t claim to know all the details but the man who stood at Logan’s side the first night we met was more than his criminal record claimed. At least at one point.”

“No.” Faith whispered as she realized who the tall grizzly bear of a man traveling with her father must have been.

“I’ll never forget the night Logan and Victor Creed stood on the front steps of my home, holding a dead body,” Xavier said at last. “I don’t know the details of their work together. Nor their falling out. I don’t know what motivated either of them to help the weakest of our kind. What I do know is that for a moment at least, Sabertooth worked to help others. To help the very people we try to help at this school. Even though he was a villain, Victor Creed was still capable of some small sliver of good.”

*****

“I don’t get it. He’s a vampire, but he has a soul? Isn’t that against the rules?”

“They covered it in season one of the main show, Clarice.” Alisa chewed on another handful of popcorn as she and most of her classmates sat with Jennifer, watching select episodes of a show that could not have come from their world. “He raped slash ate the wrong gypsy princess and her clan cursed him to be all mopey and emo for all time. Then he met Jen’s doppelganger and fell in obsession with her.”

“Seriously, the first two seasons are about a two-hundred-year-old perv creeping around as he stalks a preppy blonde high school girl,” Kitty added as she and her pet dragon stole some popcorn from the ebony girl. “And you people gave me crap for going after Piotr.”

“That girl is nothing like me,” Jennifer repeated the mantra that had formed with each mistake and indignation perpetrated by the petite blonde on screen. “I would never let my Faith rot in jail for two years.”

“Pretty sure it’s three years,” Alisa said. “This season of the spin-off lines up with the seventh season of the main show. She got locked up in the back half of season four and we’re at least two thirds through season seven.”

“Okay, shut up, Faith is back on screen.” Clarice waved off the other girl’s explanation as the grumpy Englishman sat in the prison visiting room across from their friend’s doppelganger. “Oh damn, she just ran right through that reinforced glass wall, didn’t she.”

“Would you expect anything less from Faith?” Sooraya chuckled as she grabbed some popcorn.

The girls watched the prison escape and the subsequent strategy meeting on how to track and capture Angelus. It was all too obvious that Angel’s estranged son would ignore Faith’s orders. Everyone cheered when their girl put the angry boy in his place.

“What is going on in here?” Ororo asked as she stepped through the doorway of Faith’s bedroom.

“Deadpool tricked Jennifer into reliving her memories from a past life,” Kitty told the stern yet confused teacher. “Probably the same life that Faith got memories from when she went all crazy a while back.”

“Oh my god, Kitty! Could you be any more of a snitch?” Clarice shouted as Alisa laughed. Sooraya just shook her head.

“The mercenary contacted Ms. Walters. He then gave her a thumb drive containing episodes from a television show that appears to star a high school-aged version of her and a troubled and abused version of Faith.” Sooraya remained calm as she slowly explained things for the usually reserved teacher.

“Are Jennifer or Faith in any danger?” Ororo asked as she looked to the lawyer. Jennifer's eyes were still glued to the laptop screen.

“It’s a video marathon that at worst makes Jen relive the same memories Faith did.” Kitty went on to dismiss the worries of the teacher. “But Jen’s character is the good guy and the title character of the show so it’s not like she’s gonna turn evil on us.”

“Faith is not evil!” Jennifer snapped at the idle insinuation. “She was abused and manipulated by literally every adult in her life, and then when she realized this stupid Buffy girl would never trust her she went and signed up with some creep who used his money and power to trick her and manipulate her even more. Nothing would have happened to her if Buffy would have just opened up to her at the start! She could have saved Faith, but she didn’t! She was too focused on her stupid little boy troubles and her fucking vampire stalker!”

By the end of her tirade tears were streaming down Jennifer’s cheeks. In the absence of her anguished shouts, silence filled the room. The blonde lawyer fought back the urge to sob. A long, uneasy moment passed before Faith’s closest friends acted to comfort the distraught blonde.

“It’s okay, Jen,” Alisa said as she and Clarice wrapped their arms around the lawyer. “This is a different life. You and Faith aren’t bound by the same mistakes made by a couple of parallel universe clones. For all we know, this might not be a real past life. It could all be make-believe.”

“It’s real,” Jennifer admitted as she hung her head in shame. “It happened. I made all those mistakes. I failed my Faith.”

“You are not to blame for any of these mistakes, Jennifer.” Ororo chimed in as she walked further into the room. “This doppelganger was a child, yes? No older than any of the girls here? Your past self was merely stumbling blindly through the dark. Unsure of herself and her impact on the lives of those around her. None of this changes the fact that you are one of the only positive influences in Faith’s life. If it weren’t for you she would not be the person she is.” There was a pause before a sly grin played across the African Queen’s face. “Besides, is this not exactly what Wanda and Carol said right after Faith sparred with your blind lawyer friend? That the two of you needed a little help but were ultimately the best things that could ever happen to each other. No matter what some tawdry high school drama says, you two are good for each other. Even with the misleading age difference, no rational person can deny that you two belong together.”

Jennifer held back a sniffle as she finally looked up to meet the gaze of the other woman. “Thanks, Ororo. Goddess, this terrible show is really getting to me.”

“Or its the past life memories twisting your brain around in knots.” Kitty murmured to no one in particular.

“Not helping.” Clarice hissed as Jennifer let out a pained laugh.

*****

“Okay, the stone guy in the turban is dead. I think that’s the last of them.” Deadpool called out to his teammates.

“I’ve disabled the ship’s engines,” Fantomex called out from across the massive chamber. “We won’t be taking any spur of the moment trips to the other side of the galaxy.”

“This base is a spaceship?” Domino asked as she and Psylocke came up to the men.

“Pretty sure all his bases are buried spaceships,” Logan muttered as he looked down at the shattered stone man. Wanda and Carol had mentioned the threat posed by Ozymandias. No one knew the full extent of the enemy’s contingency plans. Apocalypse, or his clone, could already be on the verge of awakening. They had to act quickly. “Fan out. Look for any labs, a big stone sarcophagus, giant glass tubes. Anything that might be used to clone an all-powerful genocidal maniac. We can’t let this threat slip through our fingers.”

“Aye, aye, Captain.” Deadpool saluted as he turned and strode into the nearest darkened tunnel. “Let’s go save the whole damn world from Space Hitler Two: The Hitlerfication!”

The other members of X-Force watched the madman’s retreat before splitting up and searching for the threat. None of them knew the bizarre turn their mission would soon take.

*****

“No, see the show is about the journey to adulthood and the struggles of absurdist existentialism in a nihilistic world.” Jamie’s explanation drew shocked and bewildered looks from everyone else gathered in the main common room of the Xavier mansion. The viewing party had migrated from Jen’s laptop in Faith’s room, to the big screen TV at the heart of the X-Men’s communal living room. Though they were nearly through the entire series, none had expected the words that came from the lanky teen. “What? Didn’t you guys see the copies of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre? The blatant tie-ins to Albert Cammus’ essay The Myth of Sisyphus? Hell, the whole episode where the dumb vampire contemplated suicide was one absurdist philosophy puzzle after another.”

“Who are you and what did you do with our idiot?” Clarice asked as she and half the other students cast skeptical glances towards Jamie.

“What?” Jamie asked, confused as the rest of the room stared at him. “I’ve read plenty of books on just about everything. I have hobbies aside from laughing at you guys you know.”

“You spend all your time on video games and laughing at idiots on YouTube!” Alex scoffed at the absurd answer. “How do you have time to read?”

Jamie looked at the blond teen and laughed. “What? Al, what kind of question is that? I’ve got plenty of time. My power gives me all the free time in the world. I’ve got two dupes reading Beowulf and listening to Dark Side of the Moon right now just to see if they line up. I’ve got dupes auditing classes on twelve college campuses as we speak. There’s a copy of me with a Justin Bieber haircut bartending at a lesbian nightclub in San Fran, right now.”

“I don’t know whether I’m more impressed or disgusted,” Clarice said as she turned away from Jamie. “At least you’re not as bad as that Parker douche from season four.”

“Oh no, I’m way worse,” Jamie admitted as he grabbed another handful of M&Ms. “I learned to play guitar just so all the dupes I send to college have an easy fallback of sitting under a tree on the campus grounds. You guys have no idea. My playlist is like three songs from Counting Crows, two from Train, and five from Cold Play. This Parker chump is amateur league.”

Bobby just stared at him in shock. “You are a monster, and you must be stopped.”

The teacher covered in blue fur coughed and did his best to change the subject. “Mr. Madrox’s questionable endeavors aside, does anyone else think that the Faith we are seeing on screen is the one which took control of our Faith’s body all those months ago?”

“I mean, yeah,” Alex said as he looked to Beast with a puzzled frown.

“Obviously,” Kitty added. “This Faith is just as crazy as the angry, sarcastic one we had to put up with for a day.”

“They do share some striking similarities,” Kurt said as Ororo, Rogue, and Gambit remained quiet.

A sense of dread hung in the air as doubts and fears raised by Beast’s question worked their way through the room. The menacing aura was only expelled by offhanded sarcasm dolled out in between handfuls of M&Ms. “Of course it’s the same Faith. There’s no point in having us meet a different Faith from the one we know and then later having us see another Faith’s past unless it was to help us understand and contrast the one we met for a day with the one we have living with us. That’s just basic story structure right there.”

Blank stares compelled the young man to move forward with an odd parallel. “It’d serve no purpose other than jerking the audience around if this was a third version of Faith we haven’t had to put up with yet. It’d be as bad a twist ending as that one episode of Felicity.”

“Felicity?” Sooraya asked only to get a discouraging head shake from Alisa.

“Oh, it was a real funny episode ending that they ruined with a whole followup episode full of angst and melodrama.” Jamie paused as yet more befuddled stares were directed his way. “Okay, so there was this mediocre show about a girl going to college. They introduced a new love interest that she had no interest in, had him hound her like those Riley and Parker dudebros hounded Buffy on this show we’re all watching, then he finally wore her down to the point where she went on a pity date with him. They go on the date. It’s terrible. The title character was all like “I think we should see other people.” but then Pushy McPuppydogeyes won’t take “Leave me alone, douchebag.” for an answer. The budding young stalker declared his love for the main character on the street in front of the restaurant they had just defiled with their bad chemistry. He started monologuing about never giving up and winning her heart. He was just mouthing off about love lasting forever, and nothing standing in the way of their love, and all this time he’s walking away from her. Backwards. Onto a New York city street. At night.”

“Oh my god, I remember that episode,” Kitty muttered as she buried her face in her hands.

Jamie smiled as he came to the climax of his tale. “By the second or third time the dingus said “Not even god can stop our love.” he gets hit by a bus.”

“Riveting,” Jennifer said as she ignored the teen and watched an injured Buffy hand the ancient mystical scythe, battleaxe, pool cue, thingy off to Faith. The ridiculous appearance of “Glam Metal Axcalibur” did nothing to dampen the chill Jennifer felt as she watched her doppelganger willingly hand off the weapon to her girl. It was more than just a gaudy McGuffin for the final season. It was a symbol of their power. Their bond. It was the first substantial sign of respect Jennifer had seen Buffy give to Faith. All it took was a nearly fatal stab wound and the end of their entire world.

“So then, they ruined that perfect ending by having the next episode be all about the girl meeting Pushy McPuppydogeyes’ entire family in the hospital while he’s in surgery.” Jamie drove ahead, half the room headless of the fact Jennifer was quietly sobbing at the sights on screen. “They seriously start talking about all the great things their douchebag son or nephew has been saying about his devoted girlfriend and how they might have to resort to a legit coma wedding, and the whole time this girl is too dumbfounded to do anything but go along with it. I mean seriously, tell them you have to go to the bathroom and walk out the door.”

Several long, confused moments passed before Alisa finally spoke up. “How did this tie back into Faith’s baggage and Jennifer getting handed a basic cable drama of her and Faith’s past lives?

“Oh, it probably didn’t,” Jamie admitted as he drew more attention away from Jennifer’s quiet exit. “I just like to rain on people’s pity parties and angst parades. You guys were this close to going off and judging Faith for all the shit her dumbass other-self did in a vampire-infested version of Santa Barbara. A place that none of us are ever going to visit because it’s all made up fantasy bullshit.” He ended with his hand raised and his thumb and forefinger an inch apart from each other. He paused, looking at his hand, and then halved the distance between his fingers. “Maybe this close. Point is, none of this matters. You can’t judge Faith or her lawyer for what went down in past life fantasy land any more than you can blame her for what she might have done if Hydra kept her on their roster and finished her killing machine boot camp.”

“For once that was well said, Mr. Madrox.” Beast clapped the teen on the shoulder and turned to the rest of the group. “I do believe we owe it to Faith not to cast any more aspersion her way in light of what these silly recordings have shown us. Also, we should leave Ms. Walters to finish… Where did Jennifer go?”

Before anyone could answer or even begin a proper search the unmistakable sounds of vomiting came from the nearest bathroom down the hall. The residents of the Xavier Institute grew silent as they realized just where the lawyer had gone.

“She left when the Billy Idol looking vampire started to glow and hold Buffy’s hand,” Clarice said as she paused the video just as Buffy landed on the roof of the fleeing school bus.

“No wonder her stomach was turned,” Sooraya said as she shook her veiled head. “She had to watch three seasons of barely consensual sexual power struggle between her past self and an actual rapist. Let alone the first three season that focused on the other vampire rapist.”

“And they end the show by giving Billy Idol a heroic flaming Viking send-off,” Alisa muttered. “No wonder Jen hates her inner Buffy.”

Jamie chimed in with an odd observation as he munched on more candy. “Wouldn’t it suck if there were like five more “seasons” of this show put in a comic book run after the show was canceled.”

Kitty stared at him, puzzled. “Aren’t you a comic book fan? Why would the comic seasons of the show suck?”

“The writing would be terrible,” Alex said.

“Because it’s a canceled TV show?” Clarice asked.

Jamie just shook his head. “Because it’s a comic book. Comic book writers are, to the last man, psychopaths.”

Down the hall in one of the bathrooms near the common area of the Institute’s main building, Jennifer did her best to wash the taste of her own revulsion out of her mouth. Watching Buffy comfort Spike in his last moments had been unbearable. She had hated watching the scene were the vampire tried to force himself on her younger clone. She had been sickened by the utter uselessness of Buffy’s friends afterwards. Watching an innocent and all too kind incarnation of Carol die from a stray bullet and Wanda’s subsequent violent rampage was far from enjoyable. She held a single glimmer of hope as Wanda’s past self finally brought Faith back into the fold. Only to see that hope dashed as Buffy and Faith’s needlessly antagonistic dynamic reasserted itself at the behest of a few dozen clueless children. She and her love were pitted against each other in a short-sighted and ultimately pointless popularity contest.

Long, tormented moments passed as the lawyer struggled to find the will to pull herself up and face herself in the mirror. Jennifer readied herself to face her own shame and inadequacy. As if the issues from their apparent age difference didn’t weigh heavily enough on the relationship, the crushing burden of sins past was enough to call everything into question.

For a moment, Jennifer knew when she looked at herself in the mirror she would have to make a decision she’d regret for the rest of her life. She had no choice. Faith wouldn’t understand, but it was for the best. The younger woman didn’t need the vapid blonde holding her back for yet another lifetime.

With a sigh and more than a few tears, Jennifer raised her head and looked into the bathroom mirror. The faint glint of light that drew her eye surprised her. She looked down at the gift her girl had given her within the first few days of their relationship. The interwoven silver strands of the ruby-studded Celtic cross drew all of her attention. Hazel eyes traced the silver Triquetra at the heart of the holy symbol. The deep crimson gleam of the rubies brought fresh tears to her eyes.

“She knew,” Jennifer whispered to herself. “From day one. Somehow she knew.”

Faith had gifted her the cross within twenty-four hours of first arriving at Avengers Tower. The young woman had dragged Wanda and Pepper off for a special errand at the end of their first day-long shopping trip. When she returned to their bedroom, gift in hand, Jennifer had rejoiced in how thoughtful and sweet her new girlfriend was. She gave no thought to the religious or cultural meaning behind the gift. It was written off as just another side effect of the nightmarish life before they rescued Faith.

Now there was no doubt. Jennifer knew exactly why her girl had given her the cross, even if Faith had no clue as to her real motivations at the time. Her mind couldn’t help but compare the beautiful and ornate piece of jewelry hanging around her neck to the simple and plain ornament the vampire had gifted the Slayer in one of the earliest episodes. “She wanted me for herself. Faith got me this to prove she was better for me than Angel.”

At some point, a chuckle escaped Jennifer’s lips. It grew. Before she knew it, the petite blonde was bent over cackling at her own reflection in the mirror. Even if she wanted to she couldn’t go through with the idiotic plan her doubts had thrown together. Jennifer laughed and laughed. At herself, at her abandoned plans, at the absurdity of life itself. It seemed like hours passed before she settled enough to rinse out the last traces of revulsion and despair from her mouth.

As the lawyer washed and dried her hands she knew the course she must take. She knew which path they would walk. Hand in hand. Together. She would never let her Faith feel the painful isolation of her past life. She would never abandon her girl to those who would judge her as anything less than the godsend she was. Jennifer was never going to take her Faith for granted.

*****

“And we press the red button. Then we press the blue button. Then the green switch. Maybe a little of this purple dongle. Maybe a little of this gray dial over here. Aaaaaand… Blamo!” With the pull of a lever, the mercenary set the lab machinery into motion. Translucent fluid drained from the massive clear cylinder. The dull gray skinned youngster hung in place as he sagged into the suspension harness bound to his mechanical womb. “Eww! Don’t call it that!”

“Wade what the hell are you gibbering about in...” Logan froze as he, Domino, and Psylocke came into the poorly hidden lab the mercenary was actively ransacking. “You found the target.”

“Seems that way.” Deadpool chuckled to himself as he continued to press buttons and pull levers. The boy in the cylinder gasped, drawing shocked breath before a coughing fit wracked his form. “There, there. Everything’s okay, new best friend.” Deadpool cooed to the boy as the cylinder began to shift and open.

“Why didn’t you call us in?” Domino asked as she eyed the kid. “And no one said this big bad was a kid. Isn’t that a little messed up?”

“He’s not just a kid.” Logan began to protest even as his commitment to the mission wavered. “Apocalypse is an immortal genocidal maniac. If that kid escapes and grows into the man he was before he’ll wipe out ninety percent of all life on earth.”

“Closer to ninety-eight percent,” Fantomex said as he came up behind the others. Logan turned to face the white-clad mercenary just as the man tried to shove him aside. Domino and Psylocke watched in confusion and amusement as Fantomex reached for his sidearm. A shot rang out before the hand even touched the weapon.

Fantomex cried out in agony, clutching his wounded shoulder. Crimson seeped into white fabrics as Logan and the two women turned and drew their weapons. They glared at the black and red costumed mercenary, ready to fight as his betrayal deepened.

“Ah, ah, ah.” Deadpool tsked as he kept one gun trained on his allies. “That’s not how this story plays out.”

“Wade, what the hell are you doing,” Logan growled. His eyes kept flicking back and forth between the child and his former ally. He knew he could take Deadpool and open things up for the others, but a part of him balked at the prospect of murdering the clone. The child. Someone not so different from his own daughter. “That kid is going to destroy the world.”

“Well, what the hell else am I supposed to do, Logan?” Deadpool shouted in exasperation as he bent down to help the boy to his feet. He continued to shout his anguish, gun still trained on the group across the room. “Nate’s parents don’t even exist in this dimension, I’m pretty sure Spiderman’s setup has been retconned off camera, the dingbat dating your kid is a drama queen who can’t get her shit together without a deus ex quarto murum shoved directly into her hands, all the Netflix characters are too busy being edgelords to show up in our adventures, and the readers are already pissed that there are too many side characters in this storyline hogging spotlight time from the Buffyverse characters! And fuck you for calling in White Snake and Olivia Munn over there and not anyone from my second movie aside from Domino! We could have had Terry Crews and Rob Delaney on this road trip for fuck’s sake! Rob Fucking Delaney!”

There was a long, confused, pause as nearly everyone in the room stared down the raving madman. Another beat passed as Deadpool sighed and calmed himself. “You know I’m all for killing to make a quick buck. The average person is an asshole just waiting to get what’s coming to them. But then there’s things like mercy, and compassion, and second chances, and nature vs. nurture. Isn’t that what your bald cult leader in the wheelchair is always going on about? We’re all just people trying to get by. Trying to live our lives. Trying to overcome the crappy hands our genes and our parents dealt us.”

“This is different.” Logan almost whispered as he felt the will to fight and kill leave him. “This threat is too big.”

“En Sabah Nur will kill us all.” Fantomex hissed as he clutched his wounded shoulder.

“Every threat is too big. And the kid just might grow up to be the big bad you all think he is.” Deadpool said as he held the boy close. “But that still doesn’t change the one thing that separates me from Tighty Whitey over there.”

“You’re a tick, Wade,” Logan shouted as he glared down the barrel of Deadpool’s gun. “A bloodsucking mercenary with no heart motivated solely by money.”

“Yeah,” Deadpool agreed as he held the boy closer to him in the arm that wasn’t holding a gun on four trained mercenaries and assassins, “but I never killed a kid.”

The gray-skinned boy stirred and looked around the room. “What’s going, where… Who am I?”

“Don’t worry, new best friend,” Deadpool assured the boy as he held firm against the rest of his team. “We’re gonna have just the best time. We’ll go on adventures, and we’ll fight bad guys, and I’ll buy you and all your underage friends booze, top shelf too, not a five pack of Pabst Blue Redneck Swill. And porn! You’re about that age when boys “discover themselves.” We’ll get you some magazines, get caught up with the cool kids. You’ll be smoking and having casual unprotected sex in no time. You’ll date the prettiest cheerleader in the school for like a week, then you’ll dump her and her dry handjobs for her butch friend who doesn’t have a gag reflex, and I’ll teach you about the birds and the bees with a few shows in Tijuana, and we’ll eat all the junk food. Not just some of the junk food, but all the junk food.”

“You can’t get past us.” Psylocke hissed as she faced Deadpool and the boy.

“You’d be surprised,” Deadpool said in a singsong tune before he stared directly at Logan and gave the man an oddly dramatic wink. “We’ll be seeing you, Logan.”

Logan could only wonder what the overt wink meant. There was no way Deadpool could get back to earth without Fantomex’s ship. If he shot the man again they’d all more than likely end up stuck on the moon forever. “What are you planning, Wade?”

“My new friend and I have a few errands to run. Gotta get vaccinated to register for school,” Deadpool said as he ever so slightly relaxed the arm holding the gun. “We’ll leave you mercenaries to figure out all this spaceship on the moon stuff.”

“You’re no different from any of us you psychopath.” Fantomex snarled as the red seeped down his arm and began to stain the other snow white glove.

The smirk beneath Deadpool’s mask was too wide to miss, even from behind a layer of thick fabrics. He laughed as he holstered his gun. “Ha! Classic Storm Shadow. Keep chasing down Snake Eyes, buddy. I just know you’ll get him one day. Body-slide by two.”

A column of sheer white light flared into existence, filling the room and dazing the mercenaries Logan had assembled. As the light faded it became all too apparent that the boy and his new best friend were long gone.

“Damn it!” Fantomex hissed as Psylocke bent down beside him. He let out a scream as she used one of her glowing psychic blades to cauterize his wound. As soon as both the entry and exit wounds were sealed the mercenary shot to his feet. “Damn him! If we don’t find and kill that monster we’re all done for.”

“We’ll find them,” Logan said. It was a miracle his own doubts didn’t show through as he faced what was left of the poorly matched team. “Set the explosives. I don’t want anything left of this ship when we leave.”

“Logan,” Domino muttered as she followed the man out into the corridor. “He was just a kid.”

“I know,” Logan said. “We’ll find them.”

“And then?” She asked.

“We’ll just find them.”

*****

“So where does that leave us?” Faith asked as she sunk further into the chair before Xavier’s desk. The reveal that several of their most dangerous enemies had once been the Professor’s closest family cast a new light on the world Faith inhabited. Her decision to save her friends and classmates through questionable means was no longer as cut and dry as it once was.

The killing still weighed heavily on her for the simple reason that killing was the sole purpose behind her creation. She was literally bred by mad scientists and actual Nazis to be the perfect murder weapon. A tool, to be picked up or cast aside at the whim of whoever owned her. Though it pained her she had eventually served her purpose. In the days that followed, she became all too aware that it was the torture and not the murder of Sabertooth that soured the opinion others had of her. Maybe attempting to reprogram the serial killer was a mistake. It was certainly a failure of colossal proportions.

“The others disapprove of your actions Faith.” The Professor was calm and reserved as he spoke. “They believe you went too far. That you could have simply killed the man in your first encounter and been done with it.”

“Wouldn’t have worked.” Faith said a little too quickly before she recalled just how much trouble she was in. “Healing factor.” She almost spoke in a whisper as she sank back into the chair. “It took me a month of crunching numbers with the G-Man to come up with the whole “dump him in the ocean” plan.”

“Why not simply a volcano?” Xavier pondered for a moment before his student began to laugh.

“What? Like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon?” Faith asked as her laughter dwindled to a chuckle. “For starters, most volcano peaks aren’t just open pools of lava with nice wide, flat, walkway sized, rims. Most look like gravel pits with a hot, dark, bulge near the middle, and if you mess with that it blows everything straight to hell.”

“Yes, I remembered what a caldera was as soon as I asked the question,” Xavier said once the laughter was done and the explanation could continue.

“That ain’t even the half of it.” Faith said as she went on. “Even if I could drag him onto the Blackbird against his will, and fly him all the way out to Hawaii or wherever there was an open lava flow, lava don’t work like most people think. It’s too viscous and firm. Falling into lava ain’t like falling in a river and getting swept away with the tide. You land on lava and all that’s gonna happen is you burn while sitting on the top. For just about anyone else that’d be lethal. For someone like Creed, my Pops, or me our healing factor would kick in. Give us just enough time to run off of the lava and go find a hole to crawl into while our fleshy bits grew back.”

“Indeed.” Xavier relented before turning the conversation back to Faith’s actions and the consequences many expected would follow. “I’ll admit your options were limited. What some of the faculty have expressed concern over are the drastic measures you chose.”

The Brunette sighed in defeat. “The reprogramming.”

“A few called it torture.” Xavier steepled his fingers as he spoke. “These faculty members are concerned that you went too far, Faith.”

She nodded along. “I probably did.”

Xavier smiled as he took in the almost sullen look of defeat on his student. A moment passed before he took pity on the young woman. “It may surprise you to learn that I am not among those who condemn your actions.”

“Huh?”

“You will not be punished for torturing Victor Creed.” He smiled at the utter confusion on the brunette’s face. “Or for killing him once you ran out of other ideas.”

“I’m not in trouble?” Faith asked as she stared at the man.

“Oh, no. You most certainly are.” Xavier went on at the girl’s even more confused expression. “Faith, you broke several of the core rules enforced at this school and risked both yourself and school property in your efforts to secretly contain a threat to both the students and the faculty. Perhaps most important of all, you have ignored one of the most important and vital lessons I have strived to teach each and every one of my students.”

The fear and remorse from before were gone. Replaced with curiosity. “What’s that?”

“You are part of a team.” The Professor finally got to the point he had been building towards since the brunette set foot in his office. “Faith, what is the point of the X-men, the Avengers, this very school, other than the fact that we are all stronger together? Why do you think so much danger room time is dedicated to team building exercises? The nearly standardized combat uniforms you and each of your teachers and classmates wear? We are all in this together.”

“So…” A long moment passed before Faith finally hit upon what the man was getting at. “You’re saying I should have asked for help.”

“Exactly!” Xavier nearly cheered as the lesson finally hit home. “What would Sabertooth have done if you or your father detained him long enough that half the other people who live in this school could come help? Ororo, Sooraya, Clarice, Rogue, Alex, and Bobby could all rip him to shreds with the flick of a wrist. He had no effective means of neutralizing Piotr, Kitty and Jamie’s powers to cause permanent harm. Kurt, Gambit, and Hank are each nearly as capable as you father is at going toe to toe with a savage fighter like Sabertooth. I’m sure Forge has a dozen toys in his workshop that would give pause to anyone who attacks this school, and he had no defense against me replacing his personality and memories with a bad impression of an eleven-year-old girl.”

For a moment it seemed as if Faith could not come up with a counter-argument. “What about Alisa?”

“I’m sure she will be grateful for your actions until the day she dies,” Xavier said as he leaned back in his chair. “Victor Creed ended the life she was born into and set her on a path few would survive. Though he could never harm her directly she could do nothing to stop his violence from impacting those she loved. I’m sure you are now Alisa’s most favorite person in the entire world. Which is only more reason for you to take the main lesson of this school to heart. We can’t do it all on our own Faith. Pick any five members of the X-Men and odds are you’ll assemble a team that Sabertooth would have no hope of defeating. Powers alone can’t account for that. The true strength of the team is literally teamwork.”

“So what does that mean for the trouble I’m in?” The question was met with a slight smile from Xavier. He had been planning his response for the past few hours.

“Team building exercises.” Xavier finally told his student. “For the foreseeable future, you and no less than three of your classmates chosen at random will work together in daily Danger Room training scenarios. At the end of each week, you will lead a team through more rigorous training scenarios devised by different faculty members. Once you complete enough scenarios and finish each teacher’s personalized obstacle courses you’ll then be allowed to go on missions with the team to see if you’ve taken to heart the lessons in depending upon and supporting your teammates.”

Faith could only sigh as the full scope of her punishment was unveiled. “So you’re saying I’m back to square one training wise, and this time the gloves are off.”

The Professor nodded. “One might come to that conclusion, yes.”

Faith sighed as she resigned herself to the months of hard work ahead of her. “Okay then.” There was nothing left to say.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:10 pm 
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Dibs!

Jesus, Citanul. Tell us how you really feel about the series. And the comics.

And what's with the new Avatar?

Anyhoo, nice that you're back, and cool chapter. :bounce

R :flower

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:38 pm 
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Hi Azirahael.

I love the series. It's Buffy's eight hundredth and something reincarnation that hates the series. Can you really blame her though, what with the negative portrayal of her special lady throughout seasons 3 and 4.

The comics on the other hand... eh... There's a few big problems with the comics.

1. Willow's relationship with a demon that's little more than a 30 foot snake with boobs.
2. Season 8 and 9 focused on scale and spectacle to the detriment of character development.
3. The big twist/big bad of S8 and S9 is literally Angel and Buffy's toxic relationship melodrama.
4. They went in a great new direction with Buffy and the Scoobies rebuilding and running the new Watchers Council, only to abandon it and have S10 onward regress the characters to the emotional and financial levels they were at during S6.
5. Seriously, S10 or whatever has Buffy move to San Fransisco to be a waitress while Willow's "ex who shall not be named" takes all the Slayers that used to take orders from Buffy and starts her own Private Military Company.
6. They gave up on permanent deaths in the Buffy comics almost as fast as DC and Marvel gave up on the idea of Death after Superman died and came back to life with a mullet and a gun.

And yet they still refuse to go back to the scrapped script ideas from S7 and have the Powers grant Buffy a wish that brings Tara back. They killed off and almost immediately brought back 3 main characters from both Buffy and Angel, and they used Anya's "ghost" a half dozen times as a stand in for Xander's premature midlife crisis, but for some reason Tara is as immune to resurrection as Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben.

7. And maybe worst of all is the relationship pairings in the comics. Last time I bothered to check in Spike was Buffy's designated "Drive me to Planned Parenthood" buddy, and Xander was shacked up with Dawn. I don't need to see Spike and Buffy's toxic melodrama any more than I need Angel and Buffy's.

As for the new Avatar, your guess is as good as mine. Once and Future Deadpool showed up at the end of the last Dark Ages chapter and said some kooky things that made no sense whatsoever...

Spoiler:
Or at the very least she diverged form the script I handed her.


It's good to be back, and It'll be good to get part 2 of this chapter posted in a couple days.

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Time and Time Again


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:20 pm 
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Thank you for continuing with this wonderful story. I fell in love with it and they multiverse concept right away. Although, I admit it took a few re-readings to become a fan of the Marvel storyline. My order of favorites was always the Main, then Dark Ages, then Sirens, with Marvel a distant fourth. I think of lot of that was overload from the movies and I’m very glad I gave it another chance. A lot of that had to do with Deadpool and how he links us between all four as well as the original in your last installment.

Again, thank you for continuing and prompting someone who has been a lurker on this board for many years to actually comment!

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Hello, Shyheart76. Welcome to the party.

I'm glad you're enjoying the scattered and only slightly connected storylines I've been wrangling around. I'll admit Marvels has veered off track simply because there's so much sideline material I love in the Marvel Studios movies.

The X-men movies on the other hand are so much of a mess that I'm only borrowing random elements from the 90's-00's cartoons, and the three films I love. Deadpool 1&2, and First Class. That and very specific excerpts from the Deadpool comics I've read. Hell, half the exposition from this last chapter comes from Kevin Smith podcast interviews with Neal Adams that have been deleted and I only remember a few highlights from.

As a result of all that nonsense Marvels has stopped being about Willow and Tara's stand ins in that world and more about their impact on the background characters in that world. Plus for some reason I've dumped all the "This is why this relationship isn't going to work." elements from the first 3 seasons of Buffy into Marvels. I'm gonna have to try and get back on course in the next act.

I'm glad that new commenters and long time readers are still enjoying this story. I haven't given up on it. Just stumbled over a few roadblocks along the way.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:36 pm 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind? Seriously though all feedback is welcome.

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show. And Angel too. Also Agents of Shield a little bit. You know what, if a name you don’t recognize pops up most of the time you can find dozens of pages of character bio if you type that name and the word comics into Wikipedia. It’s almost scary how much page space comic book fans have taken up on that site.

Rating: NC-17 = Smutty smut smut smut. Seriously though they make love quite often.

Pairings: W/T, B/F, G/J, D/J, F/G, A/?, X/A. Also D/C (Though not till they’re older and even then maybe not so much with the graphic detail.)

Disclaimer: You all know I don’t own the rights to characters you’ve seen on TV.

Summary: A story of reincarnation and interdimensional travel made possible through the power of love. What misfortunes will our two favorite love birds be able to prevent with the aid of experience from countless past lives?

Author’s Note: And here's the conclusion to Marvels: Better Angels of our Nature. It feel like that last part kinda just abruptly ended? Yeah, here's the wrap up scenes.

*****

Marvels: Better Angels of our Nature (part 2)

“What do we think about deep purple for the baby’s room?” Jessica asked as she and Pietro lounged on one of the couches in the Avenger’s tower common room. “And I mean like a deep deep purple.”

“Purple is supposed to represent royalty,” Carol muttered with a smile as Pietro stared, dumbfounded, into a book of color samples.

“That settles it then!” Jessica shouted as she latched onto the symbolism. “Royalty is perfect. My baby is going to be President of the United States one day.”

Pietro stared in shock and no small amount of horror as Carol and Wanda both laughed. To his relief, Giles came up to the group with a tray of drinks and a jar of pickles. “My dear, you may wish to reconsider. Though nurturing ambition is all good and proper you don’t want to overdo it. Decent leaders act with a subtlety that is rarely fostered with a gaudy color scheme. May I suggest a lighter color palette for the child’s room. It will improve natural lighting and promote a more positive attitude.”

“You’re right Giles!” Jessica shouted. “My baby can’t be one of those sad people who spend all their time alone in a cave. They’ll have to be more outgoing. They’ll need the practice manipulating people so they can trick gullible swing voters into eating out of their hands. Thank you.”

“My pleasure, my dear.” The robot bowed as he spoke in his reserved English accent. He let out a slight smile at the look of pure terror on Pietro’s face and the uproarious laughter coming from the two women who had liberated him. Before Giles could offer any more suggestions a silent alarm went off. A moment later the lights on the outside balcony burst to life. Giles faced down the new intruder while Wanda and Carol were quick to leap to his aid. The familiar red and black costumed figure and the unfamiliar gray boy clad in little more than underwear and a leather harness gave the Avengers pause.

“Hey, guys!” Deadpool waved as he adjusted his grip on the boy. “Do you witches make house calls or can we just do this here?”

“Bloody hell,” Giles muttered as Wanda and Carol moved past him.

“What are you doing here Deadpool?” Wanda asked as Carol approached the boy with dull gray skin. “What did you do to… who is that?”

“Great! You ladies are on the same page already.” Deadpool said as he handed the boy off to Carol. “Okay let’s do this.”

“Do what?” Carol glared at the man as she tried to get a fix on the boy’s aura. For some reason, his personality was nearly nonexistent. Though as she looked deeper, she noticed a darkness clinging to his very soul.

“Do the thing,” Deadpool said, only to draw blank stares from both witches. “You know. The thing. Do the soul meld fixing thing.” More blank stares just served to annoy the madman. “Ugh, the same thing you did to Logan’s kid. The thing where you root around in there and really… Okay, that was a little more graphic than I meant it to be. Just do the thing already. I’ll owe you guys one.” A moment passed as the mercenary seemed to deflate. “Please help my friend.”

Carol and Wanda stared in shock at the genuine emotion they saw rippling off the madman. They could see the condition of the boy’s soul. There was no question that something needed to be done.

“Of course we’ll help him,” Wanda said as she and Carol held the boy by his arms and carried him inside.

The mercenary was left in the common room with more than a few concerned and incredulous faces pointed his way. He looked around the room before his eyes latched onto the magazines and books spread out before the couple on the couch. “Ooh, you guys are planning the nursery!” With a single leap, Deadpool was on the couch beside Jessica and Pietro with two of the larger catalogs in his hands. “Now, I’ve always been partial to red and black but you don’t want to go too dark for the kid’s first room. You want light so it’s easier to see everything while cleaning the undercarriage, and dressing the little goblin up in hideous sailor outfits.”

A loud gasp escaped Jessica before she turned to the father of her child with an even louder facial expression. “See, Pietro? This is exactly what I’m talking about. We need to know these things before the baby gets here.”

“Yeah, Pietro.” Deadpool agreed, shameless and indignant as he chastised the bewildered speedster. “Try to keep up.”

Even as Pietro tried to wrap his head around the swift change the mercenary had brought to the room, Giles merely rolled his eyes as he turned and went back to the kitchen. “I made a lot of these points earlier, but you know. It’s fine. Nobody listens to me.”

*****

“I know Domino,” Logan grunted into his phone as he stomped through the front door of the Xavier Mansion. “We’ll find Wade. Then we’ll figure out what to do with the… kid?”

He stopped at the sight awaiting him in the main foyer of the mansion. Half the students and faculty were gathered around two figures that he absolutely did not expect to find waiting for him upon his return home. The gray-skinned boy stood nervously in a pair of black slacks, a white button up short sleeve shirt and a black tie. The mercenary who saved the boy stood tall in his full gaudy crimson and onyx costume. The boy fidgeted as the mercenary sung his praises at an inappropriate volume.

“That’s right! Evan is gonna be the best student you guys have ever seen! This kid, he’s a genius! Gets it from his old man!” Deadpool all but shouted.

“Wade. I do not know if...” Evan tried to reign in the boisterous madman.

“So what are his powers?” Jamie asked as Bobby and Alex hung back and shook their heads.

“He can bench press the Hulk!” Deadpool said only for Evan to cut him off immediately.

Evan shook his head vigorously at the outlandish boast. “Wade! No! I, I can not do that.”

“Then he can fly!” Deadpool went on only for the boy to shake his head again. “Conjure the elements?” Another head shake. “Heal the sick?” More shaking. “Mind thingies? Shapeshifting? Disintegration beams? Oh, you grant wishes right? No? You don’t grant wishes? Are you sure you don’t grant wishes?” Evan’s most affirmative reply throughout the string of questions was a noncommittal shrug of his shoulders once between the words “mind thingies” and “shapeshifting.”

“I don’t think the new kid grants wishes.” Kitty giggled as Clarice and Sooraya rolled their eyes.

“We’re still workshopping it!” Deadpool snapped before the nearest faculty member could intervene. “Don’t worry, Kid. Your powers are gonna be awesome. We just gotta wait for your body to go through “The Changes.” He spoke the last words in a deep, resonant voice that did little to ease the embarrassing topic. “You’re at that age where you start noticing hair in all kinds of places, and your pants get tighter for no reason, and all the fun dreams end in mild disappointment and a sticky surprise…”

“Okay! That’s enough!” Ororo shouted before Deadpool could go on to even more invasive and disturbing topics.

“Whatever young Evan’s powers may be, I’m sure he will find a place to thrive and excel here at the Xavier Institute,” Hank said as he put a blue-furred hand on Evan’s shoulder.

“Da! Is good place for the learning and the practicing of powers.” Piotr agreed as he ushered some of the other students out of the foyer. “We should be letting Evan say his goodbyes to Wade.” Before the tall Russian could drag any students from the room a new voice chimed in from the hallway leading towards the faculty offices and several classrooms.

“So this is where everyone ran off to.” Professor Xavier said as he and Faith made their way to the group.

Faith noticed her father first and then the mercenary who had also survived the Weapon X program. “Hey, Pops. What’s your boyfriend doing here?”

“That’s what I’d like to know, Kid,” Logan muttered as he walked up to Wade.

“Logan! Buddy! About time you came home. Come, say hello to my boy. It just hit me that I missed early enrollment and this was the last neighborhood with a decent school district I could find.” The nonsense that spilled from Deadpool’s mouth did little to sway the unease pouring off Logan. The clone of Apocalypse was standing in the middle of all his students. Perhaps most unsettling of all was the way Faith was eyeing the gray-skinned boy.

“You.” Faith whispered as she walked up to Evan. “You’ve seen her.”

“Faith,” Evan whispered in return. “Blessed be. It is good to meet you, Sister.”

A smile played across Faith’s lips as she stared into the boy’s eyes. “So they gave you the whole soul cleanse thing too.”

“Yes,” Evan said in an oddly formal tone. It dawned on Logan and several of the others in the room that Evan had only spoken in more formal, almost archaic, patterns the few times he got a word in between Deadpool’s mad ramblings. “I have been blessed by our mystic allies and formally introduced to the Goddess. She gave me many positive impressions of you and the great deeds you have accomplished since your liberation. I hope to one day prove myself as worthy of her blessings as you have.”

“Ha!” Jamie let out a laugh just before Alex slapped his chest. A glare from Faith quieted the lanky teen.

“Ain’t nothin’ to worry about, Bub,” Faith said before she pulled Evan into a hug that surprised just about everyone around them. “We’ll get you up to speed in no time. Come on. I’ll show you around this place and we’ll see if there’s a room waiting for you.”

“I would like that very much,” Evan said once Faith released him. He turned back to Deadpool with a slight question in his eyes. Before he could voice his concerns the mercenary pulled him into another surprise hug.

“Don’t worry, Little Buddy. I’ll always be here for you.” Deadpool gave assurances that may not have been entirely necessary. “I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. I will always be here, beside you, physically, within arms’ reach, right there…” Looking around the mercenary noticed more than a few glares from Logan and Ororo directed his way. “Gotta go.”

Before any of the adults in the room knew it Faith had led Evan and all the other students out of the foyer and deeper into the mansion. The tour would no doubt end in the boy’s new dorm room. With the students gone the teachers turned their attention on the mercenary.

“You are not that boy’s father, Mercenary,” Ororo stated with open disdain. “Do his parents or actual family know where he has been taken?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that.” Deadpool chuckled as he turned to Logan. “Everyone who knows where he comes from is either standing in this room, or tried to kill him because of a lot of dumb things he isn’t responsible for and doesn’t even remember.” There was a long pause until Deadpool punctuated the promise with a pointed question. “Right, Logan?”

Logan sighed before asking the mercenary the obvious question in turn. “What are you planning, Wade?”

Deadpool sighed as he faced down the several-hundred-year-old soldier. “Evan is a good kid. He just needs a place where he can learn how to help people. Nurture beating nature and all that junk. That’s what this whole creepy school with the scheming mind walker and the pictures of dead old white men on all the walls is for, isn’t it?”

It only took the briefest of glances into the minds of both Logan and Deadpool for the Professor to get caught up to speed on the gruesome and unsavory details of Evan’s origins. “I can assure you that Evan Sabah Nur will be safe and cared for in my school, Mr. Wilson.” A glance was cast Logan’s way as Xavier continued to speak. “He, like every other innocent child, deserves every opportunity to grow into the person he wishes to be and make a place for himself in the world. No faculty member under my supervision would ever let any harm come to any of our students.”

“Not Sabah Nur,” Deadpool said just as Xavier wrapped up his speech. “Sounds too much like his creepy sperm donor. When you fake his legal documents give him people names. Like Samuel Norrell, Sebastian Neverwinter, Samwise Noodlearms, or Sasquatch Navigator. Just nothing goofy the other kids will make fun of him for.”

Hank let out a chuckle as he looked to the hallway the students had vanished through. “The “other kids” as you put it all have chosen exponentially worse code names for themselves and their teammates. In this particular setting having a goofy name is a mark of accomplishment.”

Deadpool nodded before turning back to Logan and walking towards the door at the shorter man’s back. “Well, it’s time for me to be hitting the ol’ dusty trail. I’ll wire you the tuition check in the morning.” He paused as he came up to Logan’s side. There the two men stood. Shoulders a mere few inches apart. One facing the oversized double doors that made up the main entrance to the mansion. The other facing the tile floors, curved staircases, and gawking school staff that filled the mansion foyer. Deadpool let out a small chuckle before his final farewell. “See ya around, Logan.”

Logan blinked. He could not believe how thoroughly his old ally and occasional nemesis had played him. The door at his back opened and closed, leaving Logan in the rapidly emptying entrance way of the mansion-turned-school. Over the next few minutes Ororo, Hank, Piotr and any other teachers still waiting to interrogate the madman left the room. Throughout each departure, Logan and the Professor never took their eyes off each other. Once they were well and truly alone the two old men eased. The one seated in a wheelchair leaned back and let out a sigh.

“Logan, I just finished a far too long, bothersome, and cliché lecture with your daughter about teamwork and not striking out on your own to solve problems that this very school and its teams of heroes exist to tackle in force. I’m going to go see if Sooraya’s mother is ready for dinner. Don’t let this happen again. Or else you and I will be forced to have a far too long, bothersome, and cliché lecture of our own.”

Logan could only smile at the vague threat. “You threatening to kick me out of this place, Chuck?”

“Go off-reservation again and you’ll spend the next decade of your obscenely long life under the delusion that you are an eight-year-old girl.” Xavier turned his chair and began to roll towards the hallway that would take him to Mirah Qadir’s private room. The utter disbelief racing through Logan’s mind prompted one final remark from the Professor. “I’ll have Ororo braid your hair.”

*****

“Stop punching her in her adorable button nose!” Jennifer shouted at her laptop as she worked her way through her third viewing of all the Faith scenes on the thumb drive. “Why is Buffy such a bitch?”

The ebony girl at her side let out a laugh as she reached for another handful of popcorn. “Main character narcissism?” Alisa’s comment went unheeded as the fight on screen drew all of the blonde lawyer’s attention.

“I would never treat my Faith like that,” Jennifer muttered as she stuck her hand into the now empty bowl of popcorn. Alisa chuckled as Jennifer didn’t even respond to the fact that all her popcorn had been pilfered. “And where does she get off treating Faith like a sidekick? Faith is every bit the Slayer Buffy is and then some!”

Alisa let out a sigh as she rolled to one side of Faith’s bed. “It’s adorable how much you love your girl. You’re both so sweet and cutesy with each other, and don’t even get me started on the googly eyes. Makes me want to heave.”

The young woman’s words finally sank in. The lawyer couldn’t help the blush climbing up her neck and cheeks. “I, we, we’re not that bad.” Her stuttered response only drew further laughter from the ebony girl.

“You are though.” Alisa went on as she stood up from the bed and spun to smile at her best friend’s girlfriend. “It’s good though. We all deserve a little bit of the sickening sweetness after the rivers of shit we’ve had to swim through. Even if it’s a torrid love affair, or just getting to live life without having to look over your shoulder every three seconds. You, me, and Faith deserve to be happy.”

“You’ll find someone, Alisa.” Jennifer finally tore her eyes away from the screen just in time to avoid seeing the Slayers hurl themselves through the window of TV Faith’s apartment and onto the rooftop that overlooked one of Sunnydale’s countless alleyways. “You’re too good, too smart, and too pretty to avoid being noticed forever. Someone will volunteer to worship the ground you walk on, just give it time.”

“Maybe.” Alisa rolled her eyes before an even more wicked grin broke out across her face. “Or maybe I’ll join Sooraya. That’ll be a pretty good twist. Two of the prettiest single girls in this mansion become lifelong hetero gal pals. We’ll move in together. Go halfsies on the rent. I’ll introduce her to people as my straight life partner. She’ll call me her boy-crazy college roommate. We’ll really have ourselves a good laugh at the expense of everyone who doesn’t understand that asexuality is a thing.”

“There you go. Never give up… wait… What?” Jennifer’s confusion was only equaled by Alisa’s amusement.

“Oh, my god.” She laughed yet again at the lawyer’s expense. “The look on your face right now.”

Jennifer ignored the cackling in favor of asking for a legitimate answer. “Since when is Sooraya asexual? And you too for that matter!”

“Oh, Jen. You’re a riot.” Alisa’s chuckling shrank to manageable levels as she began to walk towards the door of Faith’s dorm room. “You really didn’t piece together that half the reason the girl keeps her goods covered up is that she doesn’t want any part of the whole pervy mess going on all around her? Hell, between the fuckboy, the jock, the closet case, the fangirl dating a world war two vet, the jailbait creeping on the Russian farmboy, and Faith shoving her tongue inside you every few weeks this school is almost as bad as that haunted frat house we watched get defiled by you and that slab of unseasoned man meat.”

“That doesn't mean...” Jennifer started to protest only for her explanations to come up short. “You can’t just assume she’s a certain way just because she behaves a certain way.”

“If Sooraya was down to fuck she’d have gotten her fuck on a long time ago. All she’d have to do is send Alex or Jamie a wink and a nod and she’d have the two most eligible meat rods in this school nipping at her heels like a pair of eager puppies.” Alisa paused and smiled as another thought came to her. “And for all the “No really, I’m just an ordinary straight girl.” protesting Clarice and Kitty do, no one is that straight. That girl is drop dead gorgeous under her abaya and niqab. If she really wanted to she could get any of our classmates to take a day trip to girls-town.”

“Oh my god, you can’t just...” More flustered sputtering came out as Jennifer grasped for solid ground. “None of that proves Sooraya is asexual. It just means she doesn't like any of her classmates... that way.”

“Trust me, Jen,” Alisa said as she came up to the door of Faith’s room and pulled it open. “Sooner or later Sooraya is gonna have to tell just about everyone here that she just isn’t interested.” Before she could step through the door a figure appeared in her path.

“Hey, Al.” Faith said as she gave the ebony girl a knowing smirk. “You puttin’ the moves on my girl?”

“Don’t worry, big guy. Just keepin’ her warm for ya.” Alisa smiled as she quoted one of Faith’s lines from the show everyone else had spent the day watching. The perplexed frown on the brunette’s face only served to draw full-blown laughter from the ebony teen. “Oh, man. See you two lovebirds later.”

“What was all that abou...” Faith looked up only to freeze. Sitting on her bed was her girl with a laptop set to her side. The blonde was staring at her with tears in her eyes. Tears that could only come from the torrid scene playing out on the screen of the laptop. Faith felt her world start to crumble around her as she watched Jennifer’s younger doppelganger plunge a dagger into her own doppelganger’s stomach. “Fuck.”

The whispered curse drew Jennifer out of her stupor. In what felt like a single heartbeat, the lawyer scrambled off the bed and rushed to her girl. “It’s not what it looks like!” She pleaded as she tried to turn Faith away from the horror on the screen. “It’s not even me. I would never… I could never… do that to you.” Jennifer grasped Faith’s hands as the brunette withdrew into herself. “Please, Faith. Please. We can work through this. It doesn’t have to…”

“So you know.” Faith muttered in an almost lifeless tone. “You remember what happened before we… You know what I did.”

“That isn’t you!” Jennifer shouted. “That isn’t me! That isn’t us. We aren’t them, Faith. Please!”

“But we are.” Faith said. Her voice cracked as tears began to fall. “Everything they did is in the both of us. Babe, I never… You shouldn’t have watched… I should have told you about…”

“Faith, please don’t leave me,” Jennifer begged as she clung to her girl. “I’m not Buffy. I can do better. I can be better. I’d never hurt you like she did.”

“Babe, what are you...” Faith began to ask only to lose herself in hazel eyes. “I should be the one… I was a monster.”

“No, no you weren’t!” Jennifer snapped. “You were a scared, abused child who needed help. You put your trust in people who betrayed you and lied to you until you didn’t have any trust left to give. And don’t even get me started on how much of a stupid bitch that Buffy was!”

“Hey! B tried her best to…” Faith began to defend her girl’s past life only to be cut off.

“She left you to rot in a filthy charge by the hour motel for months!” Jennifer shouted with far more vehemence than Faith had ever used for Buffy’s actions. “She used you to make her life easier, and cast you aside when she was done pretending to be your friend! She threw her family and friends in your face every time you reached out for her, and she hogged the good watcher while you had to make do with an idiot fresh out of remedial Hogwarts!”

“Okay, hold up!” Faith snapped back. “Yeah, B wasn’t perfect, but she did her best. I’m the one who screwed up. I’m the one who let my issues get between me and the only girl I ever felt a connection with!”

“Connection?” Jennifer shouted at the absurdity of that word being applied to the relationship she had spent the better part of the day digesting. She went on, growing louder with each word. “That bitch tried to feed you to a two-hundred-year-old sex freak and then tried to gut you with your own knife! Why are you defending her?”

“Because I love you!” Faith roared back. The silence that followed Faith’s admission was almost as deafening as the outraged words that came before. For a time there were no words between the two women. Then eventually Faith found her voice once again. “I love you.”

“I’m not Buffy,” Jennifer stated once more. “I would never do those things to you. She should never have done any of that to you. You deserved so much better.”

“I know.” Faith whispered. A smile graced her lips as she looked up into hazel eyes for the first time since entering the room. “And now so do you.”

Jennifer couldn’t help the befuddled outburst that came from her girl’s utterance. “Huh?”

“You remember everything from that life, don’tcha?” Faith asked. After a moment Jennifer slowly nodded her head. “Good. So we both know what we did wrong.”

“What I did wrong…” Jennifer began before Faith cut her off.

“What we both did wrong.” The firm, unwavering undertone in Faith’s voice quelled any protest Jennifer was about to raise. The steel behind the brunette’s voice soon eased as Faith held both of Jennifer’s hands and began to rub slow circles into the backs of her palms. She continued in a soft voice. “Now that we know what they went through we don’t have to end up like they did. We can be better. We can be us.”

Jennifer’s worries were eased by the tender admissions, but there was still a hint of fear worming its way through her petite frame. “I’ll never hurt you like she did.”

“I know.” Faith whispered back. “We’ll show them all. Nurture can beat nature.” Faith’s smile drew a matching response from Jennifer.

In no time the two women were wrapped up in each others’ arms. Soon after that, their clothes found their way to the floor and their bodies found their way to the bed. Though they did not engage in the frantic lovemaking they had been enjoying all weekend, both Jennifer and Faith found contentment in simply embracing the woman they loved. That gentle connection was all they needed to reaffirm their commitment to each other. Their connection and indeed their love was the last thing on their minds hours later, once sleep finally claimed them.

*****

Sunlight warmed the two women still wrapped up in each other’s arms from the night before. It wasn’t long before blonde and brunette heads started to stir. Hazel and chocolate eyes slowly fluttering open to meet once more. Smiles breaking out as either woman felt renewed joy in the presence of the person that carried the other half off her soul.

“Hi, Honey.”

“Hey, Babe.”

“Mmm.” Jennifer hummed her contentment before her smile was replaced with a worrisome grimace. “As much as I don’t want to leave this bed, or your arms, what’s going on with you today? Class? Mission? Infiltrating some fascist hate groups marching on college campuses with tiki torches?”

Faith could only sigh as she thought back to the Professor’s long, bothersome, and cliché lecture. The fact that the man referred to their talk in those exact terms just moments before escorting her out to see what everyone was doing in the main foyer of the mansion almost put a smile on her face. “Remedial X-Man boot camp.”

“That bad?” Jennifer asked as she kissed the furrowed brow of her love.

Faith smiled at the tender caress before offering more detail. “I’m not enough of a team player, apparently. Gotta go team building in the danger room so I don’t go “off-reservation” again. Pretty much take my lumps with the other kiddies.”

“You poor baby.” Jennifer smiled as she realized just how light the Professor’s punishment actually was compared to what they had feared. Even in the face of such relief, the lawyer knew a little light teasing was the best way to show her girl the bright side of her predicament. “However will you survive the trauma of spending time with your friends.”

“Ha, ha.” Faith could only smile back at her girl until they both realized they needed to get up and face the day ahead. “What’s on your legal pad for the day?”

At this, the smile on the blonde’s face also fell to the wayside. “I’m gonna go back to a dive bar and have a long, bothersome talk of my own with the nut case that gave me the thumb drive of shameful memories I didn’t want.”

Faith sat up, almost pulling her girl with her. “I’ll back you up.” There was no hesitation or room for mixed interpretation in her tone.

“You don’t have to.” Jennifer tried to give her girl the softest of outs. “I’m sure they need you around...”

“I’ll back you up.” Faith repeated as she stared into glistening hazel depths. “I’ve got your back, Babe. Always.” The brunette sealed the promise with a kiss before she climbed out of her bed and began to rummage through her dresser for a pair of tight leather pants that would show off her ass, and a matching black tank top that would hide any blood if the meeting went south.

As she watched her nude girlfriend traipse around the room a funny thought struck the lawyer. “Honey, what was that thing you were whispering to me last night? Nature something?”

“Nurture can beat nature.” Faith said as she looked up to her girl with two different sets of underwear in her hands.

Jennifer smirked as she looked between the options available to her. “As much as it pains me, go with the sensible boy-shorts. Today might not end up a lacy thong kind of day.”

“You’re the boss, Babe.” Faith smirked as she piled up her change of clothes on the dresser and grabbed one of her shower towels. “I’ll hit the shower and then pull out some gadgets I stashed in case the meet and greet goes south. Give ya plenty of time to wash my stink off your hot little bod, and psych yourself up for the hurtin’ you’re gonna lay down on the clown that messed with us.”

“Aww, but I like your stink. It always makes Logan shift a little bit when I walk by.” Jennifer called out before Faith could slip into the bathroom. “Anyway, where did you hear that? Nurture beating nature. I’ve never heard you say it before. It’s not one of your usual Andy Griffith Show slips.”

“Deadpool’s kid said it after the nutcase brought him here last night.”

“Deadpool has a kid?” Jennifer was out of the bed and across the room nearly as fast as she had moved last night. “And he’s here? Is he… you know?” A vague eye roll and hand gesture off to the side of Jennifer's head was more than enough to convey the lawyer’s meaning.

“Evan seems a’ight.” Faith assured her girl. “I don’t think he’s the nutjob's actual kid, you know. Said he met Red and Blondie. Said they showed him the Goddess and set him on the same path as me. He seemed nice, ya know.”

Jennifer almost gasped as she connected certain dots. “Same path… so Deadpool pulled him out of some awful...”

“He’s not a monster!” Faith said with more force than she intended. “He’s a little on the flowery poetry side when ya get him talkin’, but he’s not like some bomb waiting to go off.”

“No, no of course not,” Jennifer said as she realized she had raised her girl’s defenses with a few careless words. “If he’s been through what you have… If he’s like you then there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll help him…” She paused before reconsidering. “You’ll help him fit in here. He probably doesn’t want your milf girlfriend following him around.”

Faith couldn’t help but laugh at the waggling eyebrows that accompanied Jennifer’s last few words. “Goddess, Babe! Are you ever gonna let that one go? You ain’t a milf. Not yet anyway.”

“Yet?” Blonde eyebrows flew towards the ceiling at that single word.

“I’m still ironing out the details.” Faith shrugged off the question as she pulled her girl into her arms. “Gotta find some way to keep you chained to my side.”

Jennifer couldn’t tell if she was more terrified or smitten over the fact that her young girlfriend had so casually contemplated getting her pregnant to keep her committed to their relationship. Part of her knew she should be sickened and offended by such blatant and manipulative means of possession. Another part of her looked into her girl’s eyes and saw the desperate need that lay behind those words.

Stay with me. Hold onto me. Love me. Keep me. Need me. Need me like I need you.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Honey.” Jennifer chastised her smirking girlfriend with a light slap. “I’m a proper ladylike person. You’ll have to make an honest woman of me first.”

“For real?” Faith’s over-eager question was soon pulled back and her bright smile replaced with a forced calm demeanor that didn’t at all hide how much the prospects of Jennifer’s innuendo excited her. “I mean… Right… Yeah. I’m gonna make you all kinds of honest, Babe! Just you wait. You’ll be so surprised when I pop the…”

Jennifer smirked at the hole her girl had both dug and leapt into. “Pop the what now, Honey?”

“The thing… that people pop.” Faith looked around for any escape that would prevent her from accidentally proposing marriage while they were both naked and ringless. “Shoot! Look at that time. Oh, man, that time… Gotta go shower so we can do the thing… yeah. The thing.”

“Adorable.” The blonde smiled and kissed her befuddled girlfriend's head before the brunette threw her towel over one shoulder and ran to her bathroom door. As the sound of running water filtered through the walls, Faith’s words moved in slow, almost lazy circles through Jennifer’s mind. “There’s always hope. The hope that we can all be better. That no matter where we come from, no matter how bad it was or what people expect us to be, Nurture can beat nature.”

An hour later Jennifer and Faith kissed as they stepped out of Faith’s dorm room for the first time that morning. “You go start your flying supercar.” Faith whispered as she held her girl for one more moment. “I’ve gotta grab a thing from my locker downstairs.”

“I really don’t think this is gonna end in violence, Honey.” Jennifer smiled as she let her girl run off.

“Better safe than sorry, Babe.” Faith called back as she disappeared around a corner. She was halfway to the elevator to the underground levels of the mansion when a familiar gruff figure stepped into the hall.

“Kiddo!” Logan waved to his daughter as they nearly collided. “Good thing you’re up. We gotta get started on all that stuff the Professor laid out for you yesterday.”

“Oh, shit.” Faith muttered as her father eyed her. “Listen, Pops, I know I’m supposed to be “punished” and taking this seriously, but can this wait a few hours?”

Logan immediately sensed there was something she wasn’t telling him. “What are you playin’ at here, Faith?”

Faith sighed, almost pleadingly as she looked to the man who wasn’t able to raise her, but would have if given half the chance. “Okay, yeah. No, I’m gonna do this whole retraining thing and put in the effort, but right now my girl needs me to back her up.”

“What’s the mission? I’ll get Hank and Ororo to…” Logan’s suggestion was cut short with a brief cry form his daughter.

“No!” Faith reigned herself in as soon as she noticed the look in Logan’s eyes. “Please just let me do this for her. She’s going to confront the dipshit that gave her the video she and every dingbat in this crazy place spent all of yesterday watchin’ and laughin’ at. I’m gonna be there to back her up. It doesn't need to be some big team meeting circus. She can handle herself.”

The genuine shock on the normally gruff and unwavering man’s face was more than Faith expected to see. “Oh! Oh, yeah… Ororo told me about that. Someone made a TV show of your past life and they cast you as the main bad guy.”

The brunette folded her arms in shame at the insinuation. “Not the main bad guy.” Faith muttered, almost to herself. “I came in three or four years into what B was doin’… And the fuckin’ mayor tricked me… tricked her into…” The clarification trailed off without providing any real clarity.

Logan let a small smirk curl the corners of his mouth as he looked over his daughter. “But you want to be there for her. Stand up for. Show her she means the world to you.”

“Yeah.” Faith nodded along with her father’s sentiment. “Please let me handle this with her on our own.” Their eyes locked for a long moment. Logan knew how serious this was to Faith. He knew how much it meant to her just by the way she was asking his permission. It was clear that the Professor’s talk had gotten through to the girl. The sigh that followed their long, pleading, staredown was more of a relief to Faith than she ever expected one of her father’s sighs to be.

“Of course.” Logan eventually said. “Go help your girl.”

Faith’s smile was wider than any Logan had seen the girl give without her girlfriend in the same room. “Thanks, Dad!” She practically leapt at the man, wrapping her arms around his burly neck. “I’ll be back for danger room practice in a few hours tops. I’ll see you then.” A smirk played across her face as she stepped back and began to run down the hall. “Bye, Pops. Bye, Storm.”

“Farewell, Child,” Ororo said as she stepped out from the doorway at Logan’s back. “You handled that fairly well, all things considered.”

“First time she’s said anything,” Logan muttered as he watched his daughter turn a corner. “So she’s known…”

“Of course she’s known, Logan,” Ororo said as she rolled her eyes. “She has your nose, after all.”

“So then she probably knows about your husband’s girlfriend too,” Logan said before leaning back and putting an arm around the African queen.

“Of course,” Ororo said before looking him in the eye and slapping the man’s chest. “Do not give me that look. You like Nakia.”

“Damn right,” Logan muttered, half to himself. “T’Challa’s woman is a damn fine tracker, and she throws a hell of a punch. Just didn’t expect the kid to shrug off our whole unconventional… thing.”

Ororo laughed at the gruff phrasing used by the hairy Canadian. “Logan your daughter was raised by Hydra, reborn through the blessings of the Goddess and the magicks of two all-powerful witches, and found love in a woman who only physically looks a few years older but is in reality nearly three decades her senior. If anyone could understand complicated relationships and political royal marriages it is that girl.”

*****

“No, Weasel!” The couple heard the shouting as they stepped up to the front door of the dingy bar. “I don’t care what the comics say! Metropolis is the Isle of Manhattan, and Gotham is Jersey City.” There was a pause as the familiar voice reconsidered its stance. “Maybe Newark.”

They sighed at the inane banter. “You sure you want to go in there, Honey?”

The brunette rolled her eyes before sending her girl a confident smirk. “Are you still my girl?”

Jennifer smiled at the ease with which Faith asked the question she already knew the answer to. “Always.”

“Same here.” Faith gave her girl a wink before bringing her foot up and slamming the sole of her boot into the heavy wood door. The bar door swung open and slammed into the door stopper mounted in the wall behind it. A hinge in the mechanism at the top of the door frame winced and the door failed to close itself. “Y’all may wanna clear out!” X-23 shouted as she and She-Hulk waltzed into the poorly lit bar.

The bar was empty save for one lone costumed nut sitting at a table in the center of the room. His red and black mask was rolled halfway up his face. On the plate before him, there was a large hoagie piled with melted cheese, roasted peppers and onions, and grilled meats. The only other sounds in the bar came from the cell phone sitting on the table by the hoagie.

“Canonically speaking, Metropolis is in Kansas.” Weasel’s nasally voice came from the phone sitting on Deadpool’s table, only to outrage the mercenary further.

“Oh go fuck yourself!” Deadpool continued to rant at his cell phone, oblivious to the two pissed off women stalking his way. “Metropolis is a major American port city on the east coast with a huge port. Not some landlocked, one horse, portless, dried out, backwater in one of the empty, blocky, flyover states that don’t have any ports!”

Just as it looked like the mercenary was about to go for another bite of his hoagie the green lawyer cleared her throat. Deadpool looked up and both She-Hulk and X-23 could see a smile forming on the part of his scarred and calloused face below his half-rolled-up mask.

Deadpool picked up his phone and clicked off the speaker. “Hey, Weasel. Fuck off for a bit. Trouble just walked in.” There was a pause as the muted nasal voice came over the speaker at the madman’s ear. “What? No, dipshit. I’m not gonna invite them to your mom’s basement to play D&D. No, not Fortnite either. No, I don’t think there’s any chance of filming them jello wrestling. No, seriously, fuck off. I’ve got shit to do right now.” He hung up the phone with an exhausted huff before looking up at the two unimpressed women. “Ladies,” he said as he leaned back. Deadpool uncrossed and then crossed his legs in an over exaggerated flourish. “How may I direct your call?”

“Why did you give me those videos Deadpool?” She-Hulk jumped right in with the only question of any value. She didn’t want to spend any more time in the dive bar than absolutely necessary, and if she had to kill Deadpool in order to protect her relationship from his interference she wanted it done and over with before anyone wandered into the nearly empty bar.

“Good, you watched them,” Deadpool said as he wiped his mouth on a greasy napkin and rolled down his mask. “So you know the know? Everyone is all caught up? Wasn’t Kendra’s accent just the worst?”

Faith was in no mood for his double talk. “Stop stallin’, asshole. Why did you make her remember her past life?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Logan Jr.?” Deadpool tilted his head as he looked to the young woman. “Now that you both know what you did you’re even. Balanced. Everything is on a level playing field as far as you two lovebirds are concerned.”

“Huh?” She-Hulk could only stare at the madman in confusion as Faith looked back and forth between her girl and their potential enemy.

“Oh come on. You’re both smart enough to get this.” Deadpool stared at the couple before dropping his head to the table with a dull thud. He rapped his skull on the hard surface three more times before looking up yet again. “Okay, fuck it. I’ll go slowly this time. Your relationship wasn’t balanced. One of you knew way too much, and the other had no clue. That couldn’t last.”

Faith felt her anger rise at the man’s callous disregard for her love. “What the actual fuck are you goin’ on about, Bub?”

“After Captain Cue Ball rearranged your brain you went off the deep end and the old you nearly ruined your life.” He jabbed a finger in Faith’s direction. “The witches set you straight… giggity… but didn’t fill in your gal pal here. You knew the gist everything that happened the first time around and she was in the dark! Does that really sound fair to you, Faith?”

Faith blinked at the sudden realization. “No…” He admission came out in a whisper.

“And all this time you,” He came around jabbing the same finger in She-Hulk’s direction, “have been mentally psyching yourself out over the age difference when you should have been concerned about life experience.” As he spoke the green woman began to shrink and the color began to seep from her emerald skin. “It doesn’t matter if Jailbait here is only a year old or two years or whatever! It doesn't even matter that she looks like she’s half your age. She knew every single thing you two idiots fought over the first time your souls crossed paths. She knew how to press your buttons and knew when to back down and give you the win before she even knew she wanted to plow your green brains out!”

Both Faith and Jennifer stood there staring at the irate mercenary. Neither had even thought of the issues he had thrown in their faces. Neither had ever bothered to question why they both constantly felt the need to reassure the other. Neither knew how close to lapsing into old mistakes they had come.

“Why?” Jennifer finally squeaked out as Deadpool rolled his mask part way up and began to tackle his large sandwich once more. “Why did you do this? Why do you care about our love life?”

“Because…” Deadpool mumbled through a mouthful of cheese steak. “I like things the way they are in this dimension. Your witches already covered this. A few times I think. The worlds where you two idiots live happily ever after are just better. Everyone gets their happily ever after in those worlds. And in the ones where you can’t get over your own shit and love each other things end badly. Everything goes to shit. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to have to put up with that. I don’t want your relationship bullshit to ruin my good times. So here I am. This is me doing my part to save the world by helping you two hot messes get your shit together. Your welcome.”

As he spoke the mercenary stood up and began to cram his hoagie into a styrofoam takeout container. With his last words, he picked up his leftovers and let one hand rest on the oversized belt buckle with a stylized icon of his mask etched across its surface. “Body-slide by one.” A cylinder of bright white light consumed the mercenary and he was gone. Leaving nothing left for the two women to be angry at.

Several minutes passed in the deserted bar before two voices spoke in unison. “Honey, I swear I’ll never…” “Babe, I can do bet…” Both women stopped. They both smiled at the absurdity of their reassurances.

Jennifer let out a small chuckle as she leaned into her girl. “We really do constantly apologize for things we can’t control, don’t we?”

“Seems that way, Babe.” Faith agreed as she put her arm around her girl. “I’m not about to complain, but you know I’m yours, right? We don’t need to worry about all this past life, superhero, cloning, brainwashing stuff anymore right?”

“Of course.” Jennifer agreed as she held her girl close. “I’ve known that since the day we met. I guess part of me just thought it was too good to be true.”

“Yeah, part of me thought that about you too.” Faith admitted as they both shared easy laughter. “Let’s try not to be that dumb about each other anymore. It’s kinda emotionally exhausting.”

“Are you calling me high maintenance?” Jennifer shouted in the most offended voice she could muster.

Faith stared wide-eyed for far too long before she caught the smirk threatening to break free on her girl’s face. “Oh you are so gonna get it for that, you little drama queen!”

“Now you’re calling me short!” Jennifer shouted as she narrowly dodged her girl’s pinching fingers. She let out a squeal as Faith managed to grab her ass with the hand that hadn’t been trying to pinch the blonde’s hips. “Faith!” She shouted with a laugh.

“Babe!” Faith called back as she gave chase.

The two women chased each other around the abandoned bar, both laughing and screaming in delight. Never before had they felt so carefree. What they feared had been a calculated and malicious manipulation on the part of their foes turned out to be calculated and exasperated manipulation on the part of their most unlikely of allies. That simple revelation coupled with the knowledge of their deepest past had somehow turned into the truest freedom Faith and Jennifer had ever experienced.

*****

A bright cylinder of light flashed into existence and then winked out. As the light faded Deadpool set his takeout on the small table by the front door of the older, worn down apartment. He then pulled off his combat boots and slipped into the pair of large rubber crocks waiting for him under the table.

“Oh thank the Goddess for my big rubber masturbating shoes.” Deadpool moaned as he pulled off his mask. “LUCY! I’m home!”

“Yeah, yeah.” An old blind woman with light ebony skin and a great poof of a gray afro came out, tapping her cane before her. “Don’t give me an update on the lesbian couples you’re stalking. I don’t care.”

“Aww, Al. It’s more than stalking. It’s serious cosmic alignment hero work.” He said as he picked up his leftovers and collapsed into the couch at the heart of the tiny living room.

Blind Al scoffed at the man’s delusional banter. “You don’t believe that any more than I do, Wade.”

“Well it’s not like my options in this storyline are all that good,” Wade muttered as he tore into his sandwich. “Vanessa doesn’t have as much time for me ever since the strike ended with her owning the strip club, and I’m starting to think Cable isn’t going to show up in this world.” He took another oversized bite and proceeded to talk, ignoring the disgust present on Al’s face. “Hell, his parents haven’t even shown up in this part of the whole rambling mess. Someone has to put in the face time and herd all these wild pussies, right? Right?”

“I never have any idea what the fuck you’re talking about,” Al muttered as she trundled back into the kitchen. “Go bother your girlfriend or Weasel about your imaginary friend from the year three thousand and no one gives a fuck.”

“You’re no fun anymore,” Wade muttered as he finished his hoagie. “Should have cast Nichelle Nichols.” As soon as the quietly uttered jab left his mouth a shoe came flying across the room. It struck the mercenary on the forehead, and for the briefest of moments, the man saw visions of Slayers and hellmouths just before darkness claimed him.

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Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:06 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Typo: "you are so gonna get is for that, you little drama queen!” "

'it' perhaps?

Anyway, decent chapter.
Vaguely curious about deadpool now.

But not enough to want more of them.

But nice to see the B team girls getting their act together a little better.

Onward! :bounce

R :flower

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:01 am 
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Hi Azirahael.

Don't worry. Deadpool isn't going to be an every chapter character. He'll show up in the next Dark Ages Chapter alongside Nathan, and then he'll show up in a few scenes in the next act. But I don't have more extensive plans for him at the moment.

But in his defense, I've written him as annoying as possible on purpose because his scenes need to stick out. The list of in universe beings that can see things across the multiple story lines and deliver specific exposition dumps is basically Deadpool, Cassie, The Goddess, and The First. Big stuff is planned for Cassie, and I don't want to overuse the Goddess or the First at this stage. So that leaves us with...

Now you mentioned something about beta readers. I'll be honest. I'm way too neurotic, and egotistical to bring anyone else into my insane writing process. But there is something I am looking for beta testers on.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SNvgWns8ikJETQm754_QKFFSQiVi33aqYS3hKxzpmSs/edit?usp=sharing

This is something my fever addled brain fixated on while I had the flu a few months back and it has evolved into the rambling mess it is today.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:36 pm 
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Typo spotted way back, and it's a biggie:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10407&start=120#p717041
"Buffy grabbed the long sleeve night shit that matched her pajama pants"

So i'm reading it again. You can't stop me dad!

As to your game thing, umm, not perfect.

Detailed critique:
Spoiler:
1: D&D is probably not the best system to build a modern game system out of. And a fantasy game, really doesn't need seperate Slayers. They can just be monks or fighters with the right feats.
2: The Slayer progression is a decent idea, but basing it on how many master vampires you kill, or age [like dragons] is not good. Tie it to your level or something. Because otherwise you can have a huge mismatch if someone gets lucky. Or unlucky.
3: Mixing 'racial' qualities of slayer with 'class' abilities like monk's punching etc is not the best move. I suggest that the race part [you don't choose to be a slayer, so that's fine] is minimised to stat bonuses and outright mystical power like dreams.
4: Dragging in the various demons species as PC's is gonna be a problem, as A: it removes some of their specialness, B: what if most of the party pick demons to play? C: and pulling in aliens from Farscape seems... not great. I'd suggest simply mentioning them in passing, and keeping the stats and such on a seperate doc, for those few that are determined to play Angel/Clem/Doyle etc.
5: The vast bulk of D&D spells are not the sort of clever cunning things that a modern campaign would find easy to integrate. Too many lightning bolts and fireballs, and not enough persuasion spells and hack computers remotely.
6: might wanna ditch the vamp vulnerability to running water. We've seen vamps take showers, and fall in flowing water with no problem. Also wash their hands.
7: what are the rules for staking a vamp?


If you want some help, lemme know. Also, i could use some help on my similar thing :P

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:41 am 
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Hi Azirahael, thanks for checking out the doc.

You had a lot of good points and some of them are answered by deliberate design decisions I made going in.

1. Yeah D&D can be wonky for a modern setting game, but there's a few specific reasons I chose it. D&D is a lot more popular than the Cypher system and Unisystem rpg's that have modern settings printed for them already. The D20 Modern system proved that it's doable, and it even has a Buffy~esque campaign setting that worked just fine, but D20 Modern had all the wonky messy rules bloat of 3rd edition D&D. Also the books for the Buffy RPG and D20 Modern are harder to come by nowadays.

Also I got the idea for Slayers being a specific sub-race from the way 5e Eberron is handling Dragon marks. Slayers being their own race that can't be multiclassed into allows for Monk Slayers (Buffy), and Fighter Slayers (Alonna), and Rogue Slayers (Faith) that still outclass non-Slayer Fighters like Xander. This was actually part of the reason I chose D&D instead of a game with more modern settings built in like Call of Cthulhu. D&D is class based and allows for insane power scaling that makes high level characters pretty much gods. Slayers start out further along on that power curve and progress in their martial prowess at a much faster pace.

2. I need to go back and add more clarification on this point. D&D vampires start at CR 15. I've stripped out a few of their tricks and Dracula themed abilities so that probably brings it down, but Slaying Masters in the setting I've outlined is a group activity. All the PCs who rolled a Slayer should get credit for each Master the group takes down. Thank you for catching that.

This also feeds into the franchise lore because if we count Lothos, The Master, and Angelus then Buffy was venerable by the end of Season 2. I like the idea that Buffy was Venerable very early on but only around level 10 or 12 when she defeated the First.

3. The unarmed strike damage and proficiencies might be a game breaking issue, but really they are there to reinforce the fact that a Slayer wielding a wooden stake is a much different story than a regular fighter wielding a wooden stake. These traits also feed into the mythology of the Slayer line. Every living Slayer who throws a punch has all the "racial memory" of most of the Slayers before her who ever threw a punch.

4. Reinforcing "Human only" party composition is probably a good idea. The options are there in case any prospective player really wants to play a "tiefling", hence why I started with orc and tiefling racial traits for all the "demon" player races. That and I really just like the idea of at least one mostly humanoid demon race looking at Slayers and having overt cultural reasons to willingly follow them into battle no questions asked.

But you have a point about the Farscape races. That mostly happened because I veered off topic while writing up the d100 tables in chapter 9. I wanted 12 flavors of tiefling for the first 12 entries on the unfinished d100 demon table. But now that I check D&D beyond for monster stat blocks I'm not seeing any for tiefling, so I might have to tone down Cambion by taking away their wings and some other things to make enemy stats. Or i'll do what I did for Young Slayer stats and start with a Knight npc and add the tiefling traits

Really though, "all demon" or "zero slayer" parties aren't completely insane ideas. If the players want to be a demon cult trying to end the world they can. That's what the stat blocks for young, mature, and old Slayers are there for. The party can even play a team of ordinary human werewolf hunters if they want. There's nothing wrong with a DM running a campaign where the Slayers and the Council are either a nuisance or the main enemy.

Also there is a separate doc for Players. It's the last 2 pages and is just an outline right now until I finish the "DM" part of the doc. Essentially the Player Handout is just going to be Chapters 1,2, part of 3, and maybe all of 4.

5. Yeah, evocation is a problem. I need to flesh out the repercussions waiting for low level mages that like to practice fireball spells on public buildings and small businesses.

6. This is probably a good idea to keep things more in line with the show. The "Classic" D&D vamp weaknesses don't all apply, I just really like the old superstition that Vampires can't cross over free flowing water under their own power.

7. I've been going back and forth adding things in different places. Most of the rules for staking are under the wooden stakes page near the end of the Slayer chapter. Here's a copy

Spoiler:
Wooden Stakes are one of the best and most common tools in a Slayer’s arsenal. In the hands of a normal or even a skilled warrior they use the same stats as a dagger. In the hands of a Slayer they are exceptional. All Slayers are proficient with Wooden Stakes once Called.

Wooden Stake:
Simple Melee Weapon
-Cost 1cp
-Damage 1d4 Piercing (Slayer 1d6)
-Weight 1/2lbs.

-Break chance Attack rolls of 1 destroy the stake. (Slayers can reroll once per turn if they roll a 1 on wooden stake attack rolls.)

-Properties: Light, Finesse, Thrown (10/30) or for Slayers (30/60), Monk Weapon,

-Dusting: Attacks with wooden stakes instantly destroy Vampires on critical hits or if the vampire is prone, unconscious, paralyzed, or restrained. (Slayers crit with a wooden stake on a roll of 19-20, or if their attack roll with bonuses is greater than or equal to the Vampire’s AC +5.)

-Unarmed switch out: Wooden Stakes can be held in a hand that is making an unarmed strike. As the player declares they’re making the unarmed strike against a vampire, if they roll a critical hit they can then switch to a hit with the stake and pierce the vampire’s heart, destroying it.

-Free Hits: If a vampire is prone, incapacitated, grappled, or paralyzed attacks with wooden stakes automatically crit, and the vampire is destroyed. If a vampire uses their action to attempt to bite someone they leave themselves open. If a Slayer is within 5 feet of a vampire when the vampire attempts to bite someone aside from her the Slayer can use her reaction to stake and dust the vampire. Non Slayers may do this as well, but doing so requires they expend one “Action” point.


The mechanical idea behind all that which I finally landed on is that the wooden stake is a weapon that can be used like a regular weapon, but shouldn't be. If a Slayer attacks with a stake in hand she's really just throwing a punch. If the d20 roll is high enough that regular punch is an instant kill for vampires only. Hitting anything else with a stake is equal to hitting them with a regular dagger that breaks 5% of the time and leaves you unarmed.


I know a lot of this is far removed from balanced game design. But that's kind of the point. D&D is a game where players start out as dirt farmers and end up as gods if they reach level 20. Slayers start off much more powerful than anyone else, but they'll never be as game breakingly powerful as a level 20 wizard. A Slayer may level spell caster jobs like Ranger and Paladin, but the'll just use the spell casting of those jobs to lay traps and hit harder with smite attacks. They won't be casting wish followed by 14 castings of fireball in the middle of combat. That's really my opinion on game balance in D&D. Can you cast Fireball more than ten times in a row? No? Then it's fine.

P.S. If it's alright with you Azirahael, I'm going to copy these last 2 posts and add them to the dedicated thread I made for this over on The Inward Eye page of this board. It might be best to keep discussion there.

Edit; sure send me a PM or post a link to the project you're working on. I think I set the google doc so that comments can be posted to it directly but I might have misread that.

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Time and Time Again


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