Three Years in Hell, A Lifetime of Pain
By Bill Gopher and Red Demon
Pairing – Beth/Faith (well it will be at least! ), Willow/Tara
Rating – PG13 for now, NC17/R later.
Spoilers – Not really, no. The story starts 3 years after what would have been Season 5. So everything after the beginning ep of Season 5 (The Freshman) never happened. Well mostly up to Season 5 everything stays the same, except for Faith that is .
Summary – This is an AU where Buffy is framed for the murder of Deputy Mayor Finch and ends up in the US Marines. But who framed her and why?
Comments, suggestions and criticisms are all welcome at email@example.com .
“Now that I’m away, I’d wish I’d stayed.
Tomorrow’s a day of mine, that you won’t be in.”
“Sir. Lance Corporal Summers reporting as ordered. Sir.”
The Lieutenant looked up from the file he was reading and at the young Lance Corporal standing at attention. She was a hard worker, always doing what he asked one step better than the rest without a second thought. She should have made Sergeant by now but she'd been given a raw deal.
“Summers sit down.”
“Did I do something wrong sir?” Beth asked as she sat in the chair across from the LT’s desk, she was nervous but she wouldn't show it.
“Summers you're one of my best soldiers. But I understand you're restricted from seeing your family.”
“Yes Sir.” Beth said non-commitedly.
“As you know you’re platoon is going on leave tomorrow. I'm going to be giving you a one-week leave with the rest of your unit. You are restricted from taking any military transport to any base within 100 miles of your home. Summers if you use civilian transport, well we don't have any jurisdiction over where you go.” Lieutenant Carter said as he looked for any reaction on Lance-Corporal Summers face.
“Sir. Permission to speak freely,” at his nod Beth continued. “I appreciate this but I don’t want to jeopardize the Corps or my platoon.”
“That's why I'm giving you this warning Summers. This is your first leave in almost three years. And if you want to stay on the Base, then you can. I can't stop you. This is a reminder to you that you cannot see your family without breaking the terms of your parole agreement but you should go see your family. This is the only chance you'll have Summers. Don't pass up a good thing.”
Beth saw that that was the end of the discussion and stood up, saluting the LT before walking out.
Beth entered the gym and sweat was already starting to pour off her from her twelve-kilometer run in the afternoon heat but she needed to work off some frustration and worries. Her mind drifted back to her meeting with the Lieutenant. In a way, she didn't want to go home. How would her family react? Would they forgive her? Yet she was being given a chance to see her family and she longed to hang out with Dawn. And maybe, just maybe she could convince them that she was innocent.
“Penny for your thoughts Summers?” Beth spun twisting his arm behind his back and bringing her foot into the back of his knee. He slipped to the ground but pulling her with him. He flipped causing her to tumble across the mat.
“You owe me a buck Summers.” Taylor said as he held his hand out to Beth, but she just looked at him and grinned. Suddenly Taylor found himself upside down.
“Looks like you owe me that buck.” Beth said with a grin.
“I don't think so,” Taylor said as he hooked one foot behind Beth’s knee and pulled, making Beth stumble forward, off-balance. “You're going down Summers.” Taylor said as he lunged up off the matt and Beth avoided him.
When finally Beth tripped Taylor and held him down both of them were sweating heavily, “Okay, you win.” Taylor said and Beth moved to let him up off the mat.
Taylor tossed Beth a towel before wiping his face. “What's up?”
“Nothing. Why does something have to be up?” Beth asked back.
“Because you were hitting harder than usual. And you had that look.”
“I don't have a look.” Beth said defensively.
“Yes you do...when you're pissed off, or when I beat you. And you especially have that look when you think about your family.” Taylor said as he draped the towel around his neck
Taylor heard Beth sigh and he knew something was definitely up. In the two years that he known her he'd only heard ‘The Corp’ as the rest of the platoon called her sigh twice. Once, when everybody in the platoon got leave and she had to stay on base and the second when her sister turned sixteen. But Elizabeth Summers never sighed when it was just nothing.
“I'll walk you home and you can tell me about it.”
Buffy tilted her head back letting the breeze brush over her face.
“What is it Summers? And don't lie, I know something big is going on. Your not worried about the war are you? Or is it the meeting you had with the LT?”
Beth looked at Taylor, really studying him. Taylor was the only one that she could talk to on a big brother basis. He was her confidant, her best friend and her brother all rolled up into one person.
“It's not the war.” Beth sighed, picking at her jeans. “You know that leave you guys are getting?”
He nodded but it was more than that. “I'm sorry you can't go. I could put you in my duffle if ya like?” Taylor offered.
“The LT is letting me go home.” Beth said quietly.
“That's great Beth. Isn't it?” Taylor asked even as he saw the pensive look on Beth’s face.
“I don't know. I really don't know.” Beth looked up at Taylor, “I want to go home, but I'm... I'm scared Steve.”
“Why? If your family is half as great as you say, then they'll accept you.”
“I failed them Steve.”
“You didn't kill that guy Beth,” Taylor said as he tapped Beth on her forehead. “You know it here,” Taylor said as he picked up Beth’s hand and placed it over her heart. “But you have to believe it here.”
Beth stood up suddenly, pacing in front of him. “It doesn't work that way Steve. I failed in my duty and that's all that matters. One mistake and I ruined my families’ life.”
Taylor reached out and grabbed Beth by the shoulders stopping her pacing, “It was a mistake Beth. You said so. But if you don't go back and talk to your family, then that will be a bigger mistake than how they railroaded you. You can't change what happened, but you can try to make amends with them.”
“But what if they...”
“No buts Beth! You can do this, you have to settle things with your family or it'll eat at you till you can’t stand it anymore. And then one day you'll become a little slower and you'll make a mistake and it'll be over Beth.”
Her shoulders slumped in defeat as she realized that he was right, “I know, but I'm scared though.”
“It's all right to be scared you're entering their lives after three years. It's not going to be easy but you can do it, I know you.”
Pulling her into a hug for a moment Taylor stepped back. “Enough of this life stuff, Mary has dinner ready by now. Let me treat you to a night among friends.” Taylor grinned, “Besides, with Mary's good luck meatloaf how can anything go wrong?”
A lopsided smile crossed Beth’s face, “Are you sure that's really good luck? I've had Mary's cooking before.”
“Keep that up and I'll tell her you said that tonight at dinner, besides you can't leave without saying goodbye to Sammy.”
The Next Day…
“Flight 452 to Chicago non-stop is now boarding, Flight 452 to Chicago non-stop is now boarding.” Beth looked up at the swarm of people before dropping her head down into her hands dramatically.
“Hey things are never as bad as you think, and if they love you a fraction as much as you do them then everything will be fine. Trust me. You’re a Marine now, Summers. We don't let anything bug us and we come out on top. Keep your head up and aim for the sky.”
A quick smile flashed across Beth’s face as she snickered. Taylor told the worst jokes but she had to admit they could usually lighten her mood.
“This is the last call for Flight 452 to Chicago.” The voice on the loudspeaker repeated.
Beth stood up grabbing her carry-on dufflebag. “So this is it huh?”
Taylor reached into his pocket grabbing an envelope and shoved it into Beth’s hand. “What's this?” Beth asked as she looked at the envelope quizzically, hoping that it wasn't one of Taylor's bad poems; he was always having her read them.
“Don't you have a flight to catch? You can read it on the flight, now hurry,” Taylor said he moved Beth towards the gate attendants. Taylor took Beth’s ticket and handed it to the gate attendant who looked it over and tore the stub off the ticket, handing to Beth.
“Ah, Miss Summers. You're in Coach at Seat 23B, It's a window seat.”
“Taylor...” Beth started but he interrupted.
“Beth I know. You have my cell phone if you need to talk. I'm here day or night, except during sex.”
She threw her arms around Taylor hugging him. “I'll see you soon,” and she headed down the ramp to her flight and her past.
Continued in Chapter 2