Story: Three Years in Hell, A Lifetime of Pain (chapter 10)

Authors: BillGopher

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Chapter 10

[Author's notes:

For those of you waiting eagerly, here are the next chapters :-)

[ ] - thoughts

1 meter = 3 feet

1 kilometer = 0.62 miles


"You're a little short for a Stormtrooper,"

--Leia Organa

Chapter 10

Sunnydale, CA                                                                                  

1630 Revello Drive

Xander knocked on Giles study and waiting, shuffling from foot to foot.  He was more nervous than normal.  [Of course I'm nervous!  Beth's dead, Will's not talking to Joyce or anyone for that matter, Dawn sounded like she was about to burst into tears!]

Seconds later Giles appeared, his hair was messy and he looked like he hadn't shaved in days. He looked surprised, "Xander what are you, um, it's good to see you."

"Giles you were never good at lying.  Can I come in?  I need to talk to you."

Giles shut the door and locked it, before sitting in his chair. "Xander was there something specific you want to talk about?"


Giles cleared his throat, "What about Willow was it that you wished to talk about?"

"Well, what is going on between Mrs. G and Will and why Dawn been so upset lately."

Giles raised an eyebrow, "Xander, why are you talking to me?" he said patiently. He really did not want to get ‘in the middle of things' as it were, between Joyce and Willow.

"Giles," Xander said exasperated. "You know why I'm talking you. Will hasn't spoken to anyone for the last week, ever since she spoke to Mrs. G. And Dawn's been a train wreck looking for an accident. You have to do something, like talk to her and get her to talk to Will."

Giles stood up and started pacing. "It is not my place to interfere in my wife's personal life in such a fashion."

"Then what about Dawn? This isn't just about Willow & Mrs. G anymore, not when it's affecting Dawn."

Giles stopped pacing and turned to face Xander, "What are you talking about?"

"Giles, she's been in four fights in the last 3 days. The last kid she decked went to the hospital for stitches." Xander felt the nervousness go away to be replaced by anger.

"What!? Why wasn't Joyce or I notified?"

"Because Dawn told them you were in England and Mrs. G was out of state for an art conference. I managed to calm the kids parents so they didn't press Assault charges against her. This has to stop, and I don't mean to go up and yell at her. I can tell you from personal experience that that does not work. Giles, ever since Dawn found out Beth was dead she's walled herself off so she can't get hurt. And now that things finally blew up between Willow and Mrs. G things have gone from bad to worse." Pausing to take a breath before continuing his steamroller speech, "With Faith missing, Dawn hasn't had anyone except for Will to talk to. And now that things finally blew up between Mrs. G and Will she's being pushed to choose between them and that's not fair to Dawn. I gotta tell you I can understand how Willow felt Giles. But someone needs to talk to Mrs. G and Dawn, and since you're her dad now, you get the job." Xander paused for a breath as he looked at the angry look on Giles' face.

A knock on the door stopped Xander from continuing and he turned to see Mrs. G step into the study. "Well this is my cue to leave Giles. Mrs. G, I'll see you later." Xander walked out of the study and closed the door behind him. As he got to the front door he paused with his hand on the doorknob and looked at the stairs, [Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.] Letting go, Xander turned and quietly headed up the stairs towards Dawn's room.  Xander moved down the hallway and stopped before a door that had several stickers on it; "Stay Out!!", "Enter At Your Own Peril" and "Vampires Suck!". Xander chuckled at the last one and wondered where Dawn had found it.

Raising his hand he knocked on the door, "Go away Mom!!" he heard Dawn yell from inside the room. "Dawn, its Xander."

The door opened a crack as he saw a red-eyed and sniffling Dawn. "Hey Xand, what's up?"

"Can I come in Dawn?"

"Sure," Dawn stepped away from the door and Xander pushed the door open and walked in. He saw Dawn sitting on her bed holding Mr. Gordo.

"How's that hand? You put ice on it like I told you?"

Dawn lifted an ice bag she had resting on the bed, "Yep, I just took it off. It's helping with the swelling. Thanks Xander."

"No problem," Xander smiled nervously at Dawn. "Look Dawn, I know things are really tough on you now. And I'm not going to snow you with stuff like ‘It won't hurt as much or It'll get better with time' ‘cause that's bull. But you can't keep getting into fights like this Dawn..."

"Or what Xander? They'll throw me in jail?" Dawn answered bitterly. "They already took Beth away from me and now Faith's disappeared too. So what are they going to take from me now?"

Xander walked over to Dawn and stopped in front of her, "Dawn. What would Beth or Faith say...actually scratch Faith, she'd be cheering you on. But damnit Dawn, you're gonna get kicked out of school at this rate."

"It doesn't matter Xander," tears fell from Dawn's eyes and left tracks down her cheeks. Dawn pulled Mr. Gordo into tight hug, he was all that she had left of her sister now.

"Yes it does Dawn. Beth loved you more than anything in this world and she wouldn't want to see you self-destruct this way." Xander kneeled down and put his hands on Dawn's shoulders, "She'd want you to move on, not forget about her, but to live your life. She once told me that living in this world is the hardest thing, ‘cause it's filled with pain and loss. But the only thing is had going for it is the people we love and who love us." Xander pulled Dawn into his arms and held her as he felt her shake and cry.


National Security Agency

Mission Briefing

Faith sat in the empty briefing room, [Well empty except for me and Samuel that is] Faith thought wryly as she saw Samuel turn on the projector and a map lit up on the wall of Lyon and St. Etienne's.

"Our agent is being held in what was initially thought to be an abandoned prison facility." Faith saw the image change, now it showed a large, black building. Nearby were several buildings [Guard barracks according to intel] further out from the buildings were guard towers, fences and razor wire. "Now we have found out that there is a large underground facility that is only accessible from the main building. The underground facility was used to house the criminals that were kept here prior to the war and is now being used to extract information from POW's. However, that is of lesser importance." The image changed again and a picture of a man showed now. He was Hispanic and about 5' 11". "This is the agent, his name on this operation is Ramirez." There was a click and the image disappeared and the lights came on in the room.

Samuel walked stiffly, leaning heavily on his cane as he walked forward towards Faith. "It is of paramount importance that we get him out of there, however, if for some reason you cannot bring the agent out. Then you are to terminate him. We cannot afford for the information he is carrying in his head to get out."

Faith spoke up for the first time since entering the room, "What about any POW's that may be down there? We can't just leave them there."

"We are not sending you there to ‘rescue' POW's." Samuel saw Faith's features harden. Sighing silently, "However, if you run into any you have our permission to free them and bring them back to the extraction point." Samuel watched Faith carefully, "You are not going there to rescue POW's, do not get sidetracked from your primary mission in a misguided attempt to ‘find' POW's there. Our intelligence shows that there are none and only our agent is being held there at this time. Are we clear on this Miss Winters?"

Faith nodded, "Yes."

"If you do find any POW's you will either get them out or terminate them. We cannot mount any further operations to ‘rescue' soldiers stupid enough to get themselves captured and the military does not have the available resources to mount any attempts to retrieve them. So you will be doing them a favour. Do you understand?"

Faith hid her feelings at the casual mention of murdering any POW's there. [I can't save you Beth, but maybe I can help one of the Marines there. And I'll be damned if I'm gonna just kill them at his say-so.] "Perfectly."


25 kilometers SW of Lyon                                                                                                        Experimental Prison Unit 52 - Gehenna

Faith spied the building from her position outside the fence, the layout of the prison was exactly as she expected from her briefing, with a large two-story building in the center and further out, the guardhouses on the corners. Faith shifted the M4 Carbine she was carrying on her back as she waited. Checking her watch Faith watched the seconds count down until her ‘distraction'. The seconds counted down, 15...10...5, 4, 3, 2, 1. "Now" Faith whispered and suddenly there was a large explosion followed by gunfire over in the west half of the compound. A grim smile flicked across her features, "Show time," Faith murmured and made her way down to the fence. Two minutes later Faith was inside the compound and moving towards the prison building and where the NSA agent was being held.

Once inside Faith moved quickly and silently to the stairs that would take her down to the cells, turning the corner she spied a guard at the doorway to the stairwell with his back to her. Holstering her pistol, she pulled out a wicked looking dagger 6" long and slightly curved. Quickly moving towards the guard she smashed him over the head with the hilt just as he started to turn, dropping him. Turning the body over, she saw it was just a boy, "Sorry, but I don't kill children" Faith muttered and pulled out a syringe and vial she had gotten from Angel, pushing it in his arm and she filled his veins with the medicine. "Angel said this drug would keep anyone out for several hours, I hope he's right." Faith pulled him into the stairwell and sat him so to the casual observer he was sleeping. Grabbing his assault rifle, a FAMAS-2 French Army assault rifle, Faith removed 2 more clips from his belt and pushed them in her pocket before she headed down the stairs.

Most of the prison level was empty even of guards so far, moving to the last set of cells Faith took out the keys from a guard who no longer needed them and opened the door. Inside was a man lying down, a Marine by his tattered fatigues, and she moved forward towards him. Faith reached out to grab his arm and felt a powerful arm grab her and pull her down and the Marine was on top of her pinning her down.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"My name's Faith and I'm here to get you out."

"Do you expect me to believe you just waltzed in here?" he asked suspiciously. Looking at his dogtags Faith could make out the name ‘S.J. Taylor'.

"Well waltzed in isn't a word I'd use, however if we don't get out of here now, we won't be leaving, period." Looking at his figure she could see the left side of his face was a large bruise, his eye was swollen shut and his nose was crooked and looked broken. Slowly he let go of her and let her up. His movements were now slow and he seemed to favour the ribs on his left and limp. "Can you walk?" Faith asked as she handed him the assault rifle and clips.

"You're kidding right?" he grinned back at her. Walking out of the cell the two headed down towards the end when a shot rang out and Taylor grunted as he fell forward. Spinning around back the way they came Faith saw three guards. Firing a short burst, she killed one guard as she leapt into a cell and bullets filled the air where she had been. Looking back, she saw Taylor lying in a pool of blood. Faith fired several rounds blindly down the hallway hitting one guard and quickly popped her head out and saw the third guard jump into a nearby cell. ‘Two can play at that,' Faith thought viciously. Pulling a grenade off of her vest Faith pulled the pin and started counting "One potato, two potato, three potato" before she threw the grenade bouncing it in the cell with the guard. A loud "WARUMMMPH!!!!" and a short scream echoed from the cell. Checking inside she saw the guard or what was left of him at least. 

"Faith," Hearing her name Faith ran back towards Taylor.

"I thought you were dead."

"Not hardly, but pretty damn close though" Taylor smiled an effort that caused him to cough up blood. "There's still one Marine from my squad here, you have to get her."  

"Get her?" Faith asked. "I thought there weren't any women over here."

"There are only a few, Beth's been in my squad before the war started."

"Come on we gotta get you outta here. Beth...Buffy?" Faith whispered as the name suddenly hit her. Faith started to move Taylor but a loud grunt of pain came out as she started to lift him up.

"Look I'm not gonna make it out of here I can't even walk, but I can save you and her by buying you some time. She's at the end of the hall, just bring me the guards ammo first." Quickly grabbing up the ammo and weapons Faith brought them back towards Taylor how had pulled himself partially in the doorway.

"I can't leave you Taylor, I was sent to either bring you out or..." Faith trailed off.

"They aren't going to take me again and they aren't going to get past me till they kill me."

Seeing the young woman hesitate, "I'm a Marine, that means there is no ‘I'll do my best or try'. You do it, period." A wolfish smile crossed his face and Faith saw the look in his eyes and nodded.

"Give'em hell Taylor"

"One thing, do me a favour and when Beth is better tell her I said I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise", Faith hurried through the door.

Leaning back against the doorway, Taylor thought about Faith and how she reminded him of Beth. They both carried themselves the same way, a casual grace that reminded him of a tiger he watched stalking a gazelle. Settling back he heard the sound of footsteps from the stairs and waited for the first moron to pop his head out so he could take it off. [It's time they learn why you don't fuck with a Marine,] he thought as a wolfish smile flashed on his face never reaching the cold look of Death in his eyes.


Faith moved quickly down the corridor to the cell Taylor had told her where B was. Unlocking the door and opening it Faith saw a figure lying in the center of the small cell.

"Beth... You awake B?" The form launched itself at Faith, slamming her into the wall. Before she could regain her wits, Faith felt herself being thrown roughly to the ground and her head slammed into the floor stunning her. Faith heard a low growl and looked up at the dirt and rags covering the person on top of her. Faith saw the matted long hair hiding the face, slowly she reached up and moved the hair out of the way and saw Beth's battered face. Beth's eyes were closed and she leaned in close to her neck and sniffed. Faith watched as Beth did this several more times before a look of recognition came over Beth's face.

"B, we have to get out of here. We have to go now!"

"Out? We go out now? Good." Beth moved off of Faith and took measured steps and stopped near the door. "Mate come too. No stay here, bad." Faith watched as Beth turned and cocked her head back down the hallway where she had come from. "T..Tay. Tay come too. Go now. More they come soon."

Faith heard gunfire from down the hallway where Taylor was. "Okay B, we're gonna go now. Follow me close okay?" Faith moved past B and stepped out into the hallway, [Shit, we're not going back that way. There should be another stairwell about 5 meters back.]

Faith felt B touch her on the small of her back as she started moving quickly back towards the stairwell. Faith reached back to take B's hand to guide her when Beth pulled her hand out of Faith's.

"NO! Not hold hand, can walk."

Faith sighed mentally, "Okay, I won't hold you're hand B." Faith took B's hand and put it on her right shoulder. "Now I'm not holding your hand B and you know where I am, k?" Faith heard machine gun fire from the doorway where she left Taylor followed by a large explosion and the gunfire stopped. "We'll see Tay later B. He'll be okay, but we have to go now." Faith opened the door and started inside the stairwell, B's hand was still touching her shoulder as they slowly made their way up. [Take care Taylor. Thanks.] Faith turned her attention back to climbing the long stairwell and getting her and B out of this hellhole and towards the landing zone where the ‘copter waited to take them home.


Stopping at the edge of the tree line, Faith surveyed the once open ground. Bodies lay strewn about the field, and several small fires as well as 2 large, flaming wrecks that were once helicopters. Faith moved towards the edge of the field and stopped, staying in the shadows. Faith took B's hand off her shoulder and turned to look at her. Beth's breathing started increase.

"Mate okay? We go home now. Home, we go home now!" Faith put her hand over B's mouth to stop her from talking. "I have to go check this out, you stay here B."

"Mate leave? Mate angry. Not come back. B is Bad." Faith saw the crestfallen look on B's face and moved back over to her. "I'm just leaving for a few minutes and then I'm coming right back. I promise." Faith reached out and lifted Beth's chin gently with her hand. "I'm not angry, really. I'll be right back. But you have to stay here and be quiet. There might be bad people out there. Okay?"

Faith saw a smile blossom on Beth's face, "Be back? Good. B stay, be quiet." Faith felt her heart melt as she saw the smile on Beth's battered face. Leaving Buffy hidden Faith moved thru the field quickly and quietly using every ounce of skill she had to avoid being seen. As she approached one wreck she could see it was the copter that was supposed to fly her out, about 30 yards away was the second copter. Looking at the second chopper she saw it was a Blackhawk and the markings on the tail said "US Marines", [What the hell is going on here?] She stopped at the first body and flipped it over. She saw the unit patches on the shoulder, a triangular blue field with two red 1's in the center. [Shit! Marines here? What the hell?] Faith mentally cursed as she started pulling the Alice Pack off the closest Marine and stripped him of weapons, ammo and rations, stuffing them in the pack and shouldered it. Faith checked the rest of the bodies repeating what she did with the first and found they were a mix of Marines and her NSA retrieval team.

[This is just frigging great!] Faith moved from body to body grabbing anything she thought could be of use and headed back to where she left B. Faith got back to where she left B, but there was no-one in sight. A figure pounced on her from behind knocking her down and making her drop both Field Packs.

"Back!" came a loud whisper from behind her. "Was quiet! Surprised mate!" Faith could hear the smile in Beth's voice and turned over to see B hovering only a few inches above her and a broad smile on her face. [What is with this mate thing she keeps saying?] Faith thought.

"Yes I'm back B. I promised. We have to go now. We aren't going home this way."

"We get Tay. Tay hurt. Tay take home." The smile started to slip off her face. "Go home now!"

"Please B, we have to be quiet." Faith pulled Beth away feeling the skin and bones underneath her fingers and shuddered. "If we're not quiet, the bad guys will get us again, okay?"

"No go back, never. Where Tay? We go get Tay. Go home."

Faith thought quickly what to say, "No, Tay's not back there now. He'll meet us later." Faith pulled out an energy bar and removed the wrapping. "Hungry? I have food B." Beth's eyebrows shot up, "Food? Yes hungry." Faith pushed the bar into B's hands and watched her almost swallow it without chewing. "Okay B, lets go now." [We have to get out of here before the fires bring every soldier in this country down around our necks.]

TBC in Chapter 11

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