Divergent Roads
by cheebs!

I. (precious things)

She scrapes her knee. Again.

It isn't a big scrape, nor terribly painful, as scrapes go. Yet she howls at the top of her lungs until Mama scoops her up, promising pizza and ice cream and a day at the indoor playground that never costs too much.

But first, a trip home to change the stained and ripped jeans. Or they could just go to the store, and buy a new pair. Daddy smiles in agreement.

Nothing is ever too good for their little princess.


II. (stripped)

She struts to the pole and mounts it, spinning on a bent leg. Every eye is on her and she knows it. Knows she'll walk out with more bills than she can stuff into her worn wallet. She vowed to get a new one within a few days of beginning work, but days turned to weeks and weeks to months and she was always working.

In this business one never knows which dance will be the last.

She does, though.

This is it. After tonight, she'll have enough for a bus ticket to California. Then it's just sun and sand, maybe a few buds, definitely a few boys and more than a few girls.

She just needs to keep ahead of him.

Her insides cramp and clench in what she categorises as intuition. She knows he is there, watching her every move, as he has been every night.

She leaps, grips tightly with her thighs and bends over backwards. Sees him finally. Checks for the blade concealed in her thigh-high patent-vinyl boot. Locks her dark glare on his, unafraid. She's ready.

Tonight, that son of a bitch Greek is going to get his.


III. (bloodletting)

She knew what had happened before she opened her eyes and saw the world through a gold-tinged haze. Knew what she'd been forced to become, and who'd done it to her.

What she didn't know was why they'd allowed her to turn.

She could smell them in the stale air of the windowless room. They'd been in here until recently - just before sunset, she surmised, waiting for her to wake. She wasn't sure she hadn't already woken and killed them all in her first-night hunger, then laid herself back down, satiated.

She knew she hadn't when her stomach twisted and gurgled loudly at the thought of their throats ripped open, founts of crimson spurting into her open mouth as their unseeing eyes begged for mercy that had never come. She laughed, a deep chuckle that turned quickly to a growl as she remembered that wasn't what she should want. She was rehabilitated now. Had been, rather.

The faint taste in her mouth reminded her of the penny she'd swallowed when she was five. Fascinated by its metallic flavour, she rolled saliva around her tongue, greedy for more.

Her newly-enhanced senses kicked into overdrive. She could hear them now. Not just the low rumble of voices in another room, but the rhythmic thud-thud-thud of their hearts, each staccato beat calling her to a waiting meal. One grew louder than the rest, and she realised it drew closer.

Someone was coming to check on her.

She glanced around in a mild panic, her drive for self-preservation as strong as it had always been. Her eyes rested on the dressing table mirror. She was across the room in two steps, her fist driving itself into the silvered glass before her mind could register the lack of reflection. Her hand closed on the largest piece as the door's latch turned.

The door opened a crack. "You're up," a disembodied voice that she couldn't quite place spoke quietly.

She didn't answer as she pressed herself into the farthest corner with a snarl. The shard cut into her palm as she tightened her grip. She tried not to notice the blood which trickled down her wrist and pooled on the worn carpet.

Wider now, and a thermos was placed on the floor. "Drink. You'll feel better." The door closed and was locked again.

Though she was ravenous, she did not move, certain it was a trick of some sort. The blood could be tainted with herbs or holy water or any number of spells and a sip was all it would take to end her unlife.

"Would that really be so bad?" she asked herself aloud, the words spilling forth before she could take them back. She already knew her answer. Then reason set in, the little subconscious voice reminding her they could've killed her before she'd been reborn. They hadn't, which could mean only one thing: they needed something from her.

She needed to know what that was.


IV. (blaze of glory)

Screaming was all Faith could hear, and her voice had become so raw she could not recognise it as her own. The elements assaulted her: Earth opened and tried to make her fall; Air whipped small objects at her mercilessly; Water from the sprinklers drenched her to the bone and fell past her onto Fire, which welled up from broken pipelines and created steam to obscure her vision.

'I'm gonna die,' she thought, and knew it to be true.

'Gonna save the world first.' That was also a certainty in her mind. She grunted, leaping and grabbing the railing as the steps fell away beneath her. She swung onto the landing, bounced off and nabbed the windowsill as the landing, too, crumbled.

The ground lurched suddenly as a jolt ran through her simultaneously.

She knew instantly that she was the only living Slayer.

"No...." Not realising she spoke, she shook her head - part denial, part disbelief - even as she dragged herself up and through the window. There was no time to mourn while the gaping Hellmouth shuddered and began to implode.


V. (rock 'n' roll suicide)

It should have ended differently.

After prison she'd been so full of remorse and life and love. She'd helped save the world and close the Hellmouth permanently, and many of the Potentials lived because of her quick action. She'd long won over the Scoobies and a permanently-extended invitation to stay on Buffy's couch by the time she'd left.

But the nightmares never stopped. Every night she relived her crimes. Distance and time difference left Angel all but unavailable to her. Buffy was always distracted, Willow, always busy, and no one else was trusted enough to hear the inevitable tears in her voice.

Without her support system, she cracked and fell back into her old self-destructive habits...and picked up a new one.

She hadn't thought it was possible for a Slayer to overdose.

A neighbor called the police about the stench. They found a deteriorating corpse with a needle in its leg, and Angel's number in its wallet.

Buffy dropped the phone numbly when Angel called her. She hadn't thought it possible, either.


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