Faith the "Other" Vampire Slayer hires two fugitives in Mexico.
Gem of Amara
"You know, we're not all that far from Acapulco."
Jonathan Levinson sighed. "Please! Stop talking about Acapulco!"
The time was around 8 in the evening. Jonathan's and Andrew's faces were dimly illuminated, by the candle flame that burned inside the painted glass lamp at the center of the table. They sat in an outdoor restaurant, beneath the ceiling of the arcade, which surrounded the Main Plaza of Oaxaca Mexico. The local people called the Plaza "El Zocalo".
The two men in their early twenties ate a dinner of chicken burritos, rice and refried beans, along with mugs of Dos Equis beer. The sound of performing mariachis came from tables under another arcade, on the opposite side of the Zocalo from them.
Andrew's whiny voice said, "There aren't that many Americanos here in this pueblo. As expatriates, we fugitives from American Justice can't avoid standing out; but in Acapulco there are so many turistas that nobody'll notice us."
"Listen idiot." Jonathan spoke in exasperation. "Our money is limited. In Acapulco, they'll charge us a lot more for everything, than we're paying here in Oh-ahk-za-kah. Besides, you and I are just minor felons, so John Walsh isn't gonna waste his time showing our faces on 'America's Most Wanted'."
"It's pronounced 'Wa-ha-ka'."
"We'll however the hell you pronounce it, it'll take a lot longer for the dinero to run out here, in this one burro town, than it will in the overpriced resort of Acapulco."
They were both silent for a while.
Then Andrew asked, "And after it runs out, then what?"
"By then," Jonathan told him, "we'll have the Gem of Amara."
"The 'Gem of Amara'?" Andrew snorted. "Now who's being an idiot?"
He spoke with a mocking tone. "'Any vampire who wears the Gem of Amara, can walk in the daylight, and live like any mortal human'."
"Exactly." Jonathan told him, "And can you imagine how much any vampire, or vampire slayer would pay for it? I've already been in touch with someone who'd like to buy it, once it's confirmed as genuine."
"Oh. He wants it confirmed. At least someone's not as gullible as you."
"The one, who's expressed interest, has never been known for gullibility. The interested party is just about the most cynical person we've ever met."
Andrew whined, "It's a myth Jonathan."
"Maybe. Listen Andrew, if it's a myth, we'll find out in the village of Mitla. It's a half hour bus ride south from here."
"A half hour bus ride, to where we'll spend more money than we can afford, to buy some bogus 'Gem of Amara'."
"That's not what I'm looking for in Mitla. There they sell El Hueso de Magico."
"'The Bone of Magic'? There's more than one?"
"Yeah. When we split Sunnydale, we didn't have time for me to go back and grab it. Now I can get a new one. Once I have it, it will lead us to the exact location."
"I see." Andrew asked, "You'll be able to find the Gem of Amara, once you grab your magic bone?"
Jonathan gripped his forehead with his hand, while Andrew chuckled.
A woman stood beside the table. She spoke with a tough voice.
"I can't believe, that the only way I can keep vampires from getting their hands on the Gem of Amara, is by working with you two retards."
The woman was in her early twenties. She had long black hair, and wore dark blue slacks, and a light green jacket. The expression on her face was annoyed.
Andrew jumped up with a screech that startled the other patrons, and he took a step back. Then he stood there trembling.
Jonathan remained seated.
He spoke calmly. "Good evening Faith."
Andrew asked, "Why are you sitting there so calmly? She's Faith, the other Vampire Slayer. She's gonna turn us into the Authorities, and have us extradited."
"Calm down Andrew." Jonathan told him, "She not like Buffy. She's the 'Dark Slayer'."
Faith spoke, "And 'Dark' describes more than just the color of my hair. It's the side we all work for.
"We help her get what she wants," Jonathan explained, "and she helps us get what we want."
"What we want?" Andrew leered, "Excuse me Faith, but is it true that slaying vampires makes you horny?"
Jonathan told him, "Sit down Andrew."
Andrew returned to his seat.
Faith slapped the back of his head. "And you get your mind out of the gutter."
Jonathan asked, "So tell me Faith. If we bring you the Gem of Amara, just how much are you willing to pay?"
"Nothing," she told them "'til I've confirmed that it actually does what it's supposed to do."
Andrew said, "Excuse me Miss Faith, but what do we have to do to confirm that?"
"It's easy kid." She told him, "All anybody's got to do, is just stick the ring on any vampire's finger, then shove him outside into the sunlight. Then if he doesn't burn up into ashes and soot, you'll know that it's the real thing and that it works."
"But if he doesn't burn up," Andrew continued, "how do you persuade any vampire to give the ring back?"
"No problem either kid. I'm still a vampire slayer, and my stake'll still work."
"I'm not so sure of that." Jonathan told her, "I've heard about our former classmate at Sunnydale High, Harmony Kendall. She's now a vampire. She got to wear the Gem of Amara ring once, while she was dating Spike. While it was on her finger, she got him so annoyed, that he rammed a stake through her heart, right between...I mean...Well she didn't turn into dust. She remained intact, and the wound vanished; and she's now working in L.A. as a receptionist for Wolfram and Hart."
"I've heard about that too." Faith told him, "I'll be sure to keep it in mind."
"Good." Jonathan went on, "I'm thinking that Andrew and I ought to take the first 2nd Class Bus to Mitla that leaves at 7:30 in the morning. You're welcome to come along."
"Screw that!" She told them, "I don't want to spend any more time with you retards than is absolutely necessary. I don't want to see either of you again, 'til you bring me the Gem of Amara ring. Then if it checks out, I'll pay you what I think you deserve. After that, I never want to see either of you again."
Then Faith, who'd remained standing, turned her back on Jonathan and Andrew. She hurried away from the two, quickly moving around the tables under the arcade.
When she reached the corner, Faith turned away from the lights and noise of the Zocalo, and headed along a dark, narrow, deserted street, that was paved with uneven cobblestones. The only lighting came through a few windows.
She'd walked a block and a half, along the sidewalk, that was wide enough for only one pedestrian at a time. Faith moved between a parked car, with its windows rolled up, and an open window, through which a light shone. She saw the light from the window, reflected on the car's window, but she did not see her own reflection.
She kept on moving.
Faith reached up, putting her index finger and thumb between her lips, and touched the sharp tips of her retracted fangs.
Too bad I can't use these on both of those retards tonight, she thought. I need to keep them alive in the daytime, at least until they bring me the Gem of Amara.
A month earlier, Faith had broken out of the Big House. A few days later she'd arrived in Sunnydale, where she'd been harbored by the other Slayer, Buffy Summers. Among Buffy's co-conspirators, were people who Faith had known from her last time in Sunnydale. Xander Harris, his girlfriend Anya, Willow Rosenberg and Buffy's kid sister Dawn were all now noticeably older. Rupert Giles hadn't aged all that much, but he was an entire generation older than the others.
Spike the "electronically neutered" Vampire was another long-term guest.
Buffy was also hosting about two dozen teenage girls, who were all potential Slayers; training them for the upcoming War Against the First Evil. Faith had tried to give a hand, but she'd never been someone who liked giving orders, or especially taking them.
Faith had been at the Summers' house for about two weeks, and the thundering herd of potentials was getting on her nerves.
There had been a phone call. Dawn picked it up.
Then she'd called out, "Buffy, Willow just called from the hospital! The girl's awake!"
Then Buffy, Xander and Giles left.
The blonde Slayer had told her, "Look after the girls."
"Look after them?" Faith had sneered, "What do they need someone to change their diapers?"
Once they were gone, and the car pulled out of the driveway, Faith walked down into the basement and sat on the steps. She'd shut the basement door, but she couldn't get away from the sounds of the girls chattering.
Faith sighed, took out a cigarette, and lit up.
A male voice spoke, from the dark, opposite side of the basement
"You craving a moment alone in the dank, or can I bum one?"
That was Spike, sitting on his cot with his shirt off.
Faith smiled and stood up.
"Well," she said, "I guess you can smoke all you want. The big C not really an issue."
She walked across the dark, damp smelling concrete floor, and handed her cigarette to Spike.
He said, "Teeth get yellow after an eternity. Gotta watch that."
She reached in her handbag, and took out another cigarette for herself.
Then she said, "Huh?"
She was looking at chains and shackles, hanging on the wall behind Spike's cot.
Spike looked over at the chain. "Right. Not what it looks like."
"Hey, to each his own, man." She told him, "This one guy I ran with, he liked me to dress up like a school girl and take this friggin' bull-whip..." She gestured like she was using a whip. "and I'd be like..."
"I got dangerous," he told her, "for a while."
She asked, "This before the soul, or after?"
"After, but I got over it; in case you're feeling all dust happy again, after your long incarceration."
She smiled "Not if you're all repenty. Takes the fun out of it."
The girls upstairs were getting very loud.
"No more Starbucks for the wannabe's man." Faith told him, "They've been spazzing for, like, hours."
"Yeah, does get a bit much up there."
"They're good girls. Just green is all."
He asked, "So, why aren't you up there...imparting?"
"That's Buffy's thing. Anyway, I just spent a good stretch of time locked away with a mess of female types. Kinda had my fill."
"Hm. But you waited until Angel needed your help to bust out of jail."
"Three squares, nice weight room, movie every third Sunday. Could've been worse."
"Last one was 'Glitter'."
"I guess it couldn't have been worse."
He told her, "You had the power to walk away anytime. Nothing to stop you."
"I stopped me. I got dangerous for a while."
She took off her jacket, revealing her bare shoulders, above her very tight halter-top.
Spike asked, "You over it?"
She stretched her arms. "More or less. I pull for the good guys now."
"What's the less?"
She grinned coyly. "The usual stuff..."
She continued grinning. "I was thinking about looking up the guy with the bull whip. Long incarceration."
Spike chuckled. "You could do better. School girl thing's old hat."
"It's all old-hat, man." She shrugged her bare shoulders. "Every guy's got some whack fantasy. Scratch the surface of any granola-type dude. Naughty nurses and horny cheerleaders." She shrugged her bare shoulders again. "I figure, if you can't beat 'em..."
"Just don't forget who's on top."
"That, I suspect, would be you."
Faith grinned. "You got that right."
She now sat on the cot beside Spike. "I've met you before, you know."
"Yeah," he told her, "you made a great impression on my chin."
"Not in the graveyard. Before that. I was kinda wearing a different body."
"You seemed OK with it."
"The body swap?"
He said, "With Buffy."
"She fill you in on that whole deal?"
He nodded. "She told me it went down. Failed to mention who was driving her skin around."
"I may have said a few things..."
Spike looked into Faith's eyes. "Like you could ride me at a gallop 'til my knees buckle, squeeze me 'til I pop like warm champagne. That's not the kind of thing a man forgets."
"Should've known it wasn't blondie behind the wheel. She'd never throw down like that."
"Oh, you have been away." Spike chuckled.
Faith laughed. "Don't even tell me little Miss Tightly-Wound's been getting her naughty on?"
Spike spoke with a tone of bitterness. "Not of late."
"Wow. Everybody's just full of surprises."
He put his arm around her. "How'd you like me to surprise you?"
She grinned, "In what way?"
"I can't forget the ride, that you said you could do to me. Would you like to see what kind of a ride, we have together?"
"Go ahead stud." she told him, "Let's see what you got."
Then the two of them went at it with each other. Neither was disappointed
When they were done, they separated, and lay naked together on his cot. That was when Faith saw that Spike's face had changed. His demonic features were on full display. His fangs were fully extended.
"Now time for the surprise, oh mighty Slayer. The electronic chip in my brain has ceased to function."
Then his cold mouth was against her neck, his fangs stabbed deep inside her flesh, and he began sucking her blood out, really fast.
She began to fight back. Then her mind vanished.
That was two weeks ago. Tonight Faith waited in a cheap hotel room, in a Mexican town, that had a name that she didn't know how to pronounce. She also had a pair of fangs, a thirst for blood, a fear of the daylight, and a hope that she would soon be wearing the Gem of Amara.
Unless, she thought, I'm as big an idiot as those two retards, who said they could bring it to me.
The Gem of Amara. She thought, That's what I'll be wearing, when I return to Sunnydale.
The 2nd Class Bus groaned its way along the two lane Pan American Highway, that went through the center of the Valley of Oaxaca. The jagged blue mountains of the Sierra Madre Del Sur, rose many miles away to the left, and many miles away to the right. Under the glowing blue sky and heavy yellow sun, the ancient rusting conveyance, moved loudly past the un-excavated archeological sites that stood on both sides of the Highway, in the arid countryside south of Oaxaca.
Jonathan and Andrew sat together sweating, inside the noisy bouncing bus, which was crowded with local people. A radio was on, blaring a recording of "I Did It My Way", sung in Spanish. They'd climbed aboard in downtown Oaxaca, about a half-hour before.
As they went over a sudden dip in the road, the bus shook violently, and kept on moving.
Andrew said, "Maybe we should have taken a 1st Class Bus. I don't know how safe this is."
"Have you noticed," Jonathan asked him, "when we boarded the bus, all the local passengers had their rosaries out, and they haven't put them away yet?"
Andrew looked around, and did see that the local women, with who they shared the bus, seemed to all be holding rosaries, and silently praying.
He faced forward again.
"We're doomed." he said quietly. "We may have escaped from the Legal System, but our evil deeds will receive recompense, full measure."
"Calm down, will you!" Jonathan told him, "And try to keep your voice down. We're almost there."
The bus came to a stop, across the road from a tiny Church, and a gigantic cypress tree, at the corner of a short street on the opposite side of the highway. A few souvenir and refreshment stands stood outside the gate to the Church grounds.
Jonathan said, "Here's where we get off."
Andrew told him, "This isn't Mitla. I've seen pictures and looked at maps. We've got 20 more miles to go."
"This is our first stop. The Pueblo of Santa Maria del Tule."
Jonathan and Andrew got up along with a few local people, and went down the steps, through the Bus's front door, which had remained open, for the entire trip. They stood in the warm air, under the clear blue sky, across the road from a tiny pueblo, where a massive, ancient cypress tree, grew in a Churchyard.
The bus pulled away, heading toward a mirage puddle on the Highway, just beyond the Pueblo, as the public conveyance resumed its journey toward Mitla.
Andrew and Jonathan crossed the road, heading toward the Churchyard's open gate. The tree's green branches grew to twice the height and breadth of the religious structure. The entire structure could have fit within its branches.
Jonathan wondered, "Is the tree in the Churchyard, or is the Church in the treeyard?"
They stopped outside the gate, where a souvenir stand was set up, selling cheap, pre-Columbian artifact knockoffs. A few tourists were inside the churchyard, gaping at the tree. Others were also beside the souvenir stand, looking over the items for sale.
One tall woman tourist with black hair, dressed in white shorts, a white blouse, white shoes, dark glasses and a white cap with a visor, held a guidebook. She stood behind Jonathan and Andrew, reading aloud.
"'Arbol del Tule, Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico.
"'Santa Maria del Tule is a small town in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico with its famous Arbol del Tule (tree of Tule) in the churchyard. It is located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) SE from the city of Oaxaca (on the way to Mitla), Highway 190, it is easily reached by bus or car.
"'The mighty tree in Santa Maria del Tule, has a circumference of over 160 feet at its base, and is between 2000 and 3000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on earth.
"'Arbol del Tule is Mexico's most famous tree, and some say the world's largest single biomass. The Tule tree and its environs comprise a unique natural monument, an attraction for locals and visitors alike.
"'The town of Santa Maria del Tule takes its name from the famous tree and boasts not just one, but seven extremely large and ancient cypress trees.
"'The largest dwarfs the town's church and is more than 2,000 years old and has a circumference of 54 meters (164 feet) -- the largest girth of any tree on the planet. Imagine... this tree was a sapling at the time when the civilization at Monte Alban was flourishing! "
The woman shut the book and spoke.
"Hola Jonathan Levenson. Buenos dias Andrew."
The two fugitives faced her, and looked around nervously.
Andrew said, "I recognize her voice."
The woman removed her dark glasses.
Jonathan said, "Buenos dias Cordelia."
"The last time I saw you both," she told them, "was the day we graduated from Sunnydale High."
"I'll never forget that day." He said, "Back then, neither of us expected our lives to turn out as badly as they have."
Andrew said, "But this is no coincidence is it? We didn't just happen to run into each other here, beside the largest living thing on Earth by accident, did we?"
"No." Their former classmate shook her head. "I know why you're here, in this village, on this day and at this time of day."
Jonathan asked, "What do you know?"
"You've come to find the Gem of Amara, so you can sell it to Faith, the Vampire Slayer."
Andrew asked, "How do you know that?"
Jonathan said, "She's no longer mortal, are you Cordelia? You've been made into a demon, haven't you?"
"I was for a while." she admitted. "Now I'm much more than that."
"Andrew." Jonathan told him, "We are now in the presence of a Higher Being."
"A Higher Being?" Andrew sounded skeptical. "Cordelia Chase? The nastiest spoiled rich girl in Sunnydale High?"
She added, "Also know in some circles, as the skankiest ho at Sunnydale High."
"You're now one of the Powers That Be?"
"No." She told them, "I'm not that High Up, but I do work for them; so listen and do exactly what I say.
"Both of you go over to that fruit stand. Each of you should purchase a single fresh pineapple slice, eat it completely, then step inside the churchyard, and go over to the giant tree."
She stepped away from them, and resumed reading the guidebook, silently.
Andrew and Jonathan quickly went over to the Fruit Stand, and each purchased a single slice of fresh pineapple, which was about an inch thick, six inches across, and the center was not cut out. They munched on the very juicy, refreshing, pulpy yellow fruit entirely, including the thick center.
Then they stepped away from the fruit stand, went through the gate of the Churchyard, and walked over to the fence that surrounded the massive trunk of the ancient tree, where Cordelia stood waiting for them.
She reached into her white handbag, and took out a 5 inch high, wooden cross, dangling on a simple leather chord. At the center of the cross, was a dark green gem that sparkled in the shade.
She told them, "Here is the Gem of Amara, set in a cross of ahuehuete wood. No vampire can touch it."
Andrew asked, "Ahuehuete? It's been made from the wood of this tree?"
"No. From one of its offspring." She said, "A tree of eternal life."
Then she told them, "Give this to the Vampire Slayer."
She reached out with the cross, and handed it to Jonathan.
Too many hours 'til sunset, Faith thought, as she sat fidgeting beside the window of her tiny hotel room, looking out across the rooftops of Oaxaca, toward the fluffy clouds that hovered in the afternoon sky, above the jagged blue mountains in the distance. She faced south toward the flattened summit of Monte Alban, where the excavated temples of the Zapotec Civilization stood.
She puffed on a cigarette, listening to the sounds of traffic, along with radios playing music, and children shouting in Spanish. The air was also filled with the aromas of cooking corn, rice, beans, and chili, mingling with the smells of mangos, papayas, and other fruits; none of which she would ever eat again. She also smelled the aromas of tequila, rum and beer; all of which she could drink; but not the aroma of what she wanted the most; human blood.
It didn't have to be this way, she thought. Two weeks ago I was a naked dead girl, with a pair of vampire fang wounds in my neck. That's the way vampire slayers are supposed to finish their careers. If Spike had just let me stay that way, I wouldn't be constantly tormented by the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of things I can never have again. I'd now be a comfortably embalmed corpse in a coffin.
"Six feet under." She said, "Five by five and fine with me."
A man spoke behind her.
"I'd say better than fine. I'd say you're doing a bang-up job."
Faith turned around, and saw Richard Wilkins, the late Mayor of Sunnydale California standing there, looking at her proudly.
She told him, "Get out!"
The firmly built, slightly balding man was casually dressed.
He laughed. "Well, gosh." he smiled. "I think, you know, a 'hello' or a 'nice to see you' might be a little more welcome. It's the end of humanity, Faith," He shook his head. "not the end of courtesy."
"You're wasting your time." She told him, "I know who you are, what you are."
The man nodded. "Yeah. Yeah." He looked at Faith. "Nobody's explained to you how this works, have they?"
He started pacing in the tiny room. "You see... I am part of the First, as you kids call it, but I'm also me, Richard Wilkins III, late Mayor and founder of Sunnydale. Here. I'll prove it to you. Ask me a question only I know the answer to. Something like..." He laughed. "Where did I hide the moon pies in my office? Or... who was my favorite character in little women? Meg." He laughed again. "I know. I know. Most people guess Beth, but Meg, she's such a proper young lady. Remember when Jo burned her hair?"
Faith looked him in the face. "I know what you're doing, and it's not going to work." She turned her back on him, facing out the window again. "But feel free to keep talking, 'cause, hell, I could listen to you yap all day."
He spoke firmly, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Language! When you return to Sunnydale, you'll be the new leader. You keep throwing the 'h-e-double hockey sticks' around, pretty soon, the girls are going to pick up on it. Then what?"
She told him, "You want me to go back to Sunnydale, to get Buffy and all the potentials killed by your Army of Vampire Cavemen, and you expect me to worry, 'cause some of them might die swearin'?"
"It's a pity." He sighed. "You were doing a great job with them, by the way. Much better than Buffy ever did."
She told him, "Buffy got them far enough."
He asked, "Why are you protecting her? You think she cares about you? She nearly killed you, Faith."
"It's different now."
He walked up to Faith, and looked out the window beside her.
He said, "No matter what you would have done, Buffy would have always seen you as a killer, not as a person. And if she knew you were a vampire, she would have all the excuse she needed, to finish what she started when she stuck that knife in your belly.
"You should have stayed on your guard, Faith. Buffy was dangerous. Do you think that Spike, her vampire lover, killed you without her prior knowledge?"
"I never thought of that." she said.
He said, "Deep down, you always wanted Buffy to accept you, to love you even. Why do you think that was?"
"You a shrink now?"
"You kept looking for love and acceptance from those people, those friends of yours, but you were never gonna find it. The truth is, nobody will ever love you. Not the way I love you.
She shouted, "Get out!"
"They would forever have seen you as a killer, especially now that you're a vampire."
"I haven't killed any human being, since I was vamped. Only dogs."
"I know. You haven't yet; but you will, the first time you get hungry enough, when there aren't any rottweilers or pit bulls around."
"I said get out!"
"I'll always be with you, firecracker," he told her, "in everything you do."
Then he vanished from her sight.
There was a knock on the door
Faith called out, "Who's there?"
A high pitched voice called, "Andrew and Jonathan!"
She got up, stepped away from the window, went over to the door, slid the bolt sideways, and pulled the door open.
The two sunburned, Sunnydale High graduates stood in the doorway, looking anxiously up and down the deserted corridor. Jonathan carried a small, bulging, brown paper bag.
"Come on in," she said with annoyance, "before anyone sees you both acting suspicious."
They stepped inside the room. Faith shut the door behind them, sliding the bolt across, locking the door.
Jonathan held up the paper bag. "We've brought you something to eat. Chicken Burritos. I hope you like them."
She looked at the bag uneasily. "Thank you. I'll eat later."
Andrew told her, "That's not all there is in the bag. We now have, in our possession, Miss Faith, the Gem of Amara."
She said, "Show me."
Jonathan reached in the bag, and pulled out the wooden cross, with the sparkling green crystal at the center.
Faith cried out in agony. She put her hands over her eyes. She felt her fangs extend all the way.
"Put it back in the bag! Put it back in the bag!"
The two fugitives stepped back.
"You're a Vampire!" Jonathan said.
Andrew told him, "Don't put it away!"
Faith stood between them and the bolted door.
Jonathan raised the cross in front of his face. "Get away from the door Faith!"
She leapt forward, pouncing on Andrew who yelped. She gripped his shoulders tight, and put her open mouth near his neck, with her fangs fully extended.
"Put that away or he dies now!"
The trembling Andrew yelped, "Put it away Jonathan!"
"All right Faith." Jonathan told her, "Let go of him and I'll put it away. Try anything, I'm taking it out again."
She let go of Andrew, who hurried over beside Jonathan, still trembling. Then Jonathan put the cross back inside the paper bag, while Faith returned to the bolted door, where she stood with her back against it, and her arms folded in front of her. Her fangs remained extended.
Jonathan said, "I suppose this mean you don't want the burritos, doesn't it?"
"Not unless they bleed."
The three stood there, none of them knowing what to say.
Faith finally asked, "Are you sure that's the Gem of Amara?"
"No." Jonathan shook his head. "We thought you'd test it, like you said."
Andrew added, "You know. Have a vampire wear it, and then shove him out into the daylight."
"Since I'm the only vampire here," she told them, "it makes sense for me to be the one who wears it. I wouldn't mind taking the risk. If my skin starts to smoke, I can run right back inside, no real harm done."
Jonathan said, "But as long as it's embedded in this cross, that won't be possible."
"It would be," Faith told him, "If you dig the gem out and hand it to me."
"You're kidding. You want us to desecrate a cross?"
"If you do," she told them, "I'll see to it that you'll both be very well rewarded, when the First is in charge and demons are running things."
"Rewarded?" Andrew asked, "In what way?"
"That'll be up to the First."
Jonathan asked, "Who is this 'First'?"
She told him, "That's short for the 'First Evil', or the 'Master of All that is Evil'."
Jonathan exclaimed, "The Devil you say!"
Faith heard the voice of Mayor Wilkins. "That's what some people call me."
The other two hadn't heard him.
She said, "Some people call him that."
Andrew spoke nervously. "Let's get the hell out of here Jonathan! Now!"
His partner in crime began to open the paper bag.
Faith growled and leapt away from the door. This time she pounced on Jonathan, while Andrew shrieked. She gripped Jonathan tight, while she put her mouth against his neck, drove her fangs into his warm flesh, and wrestled him to the floor; while Andrew stood there shaking.
In less than two minutes, Jonathan was dead, and Faith got back up on her feet.
"This fugitive from justice friend of yours," she said, "tasted a lot better than any pit bull or rottweiler." She leered at Andrew. "I can't think of any good reason, why I shouldn't have you for dessert."
Andrew's voice shook, "Is he...Is he...going to become a vampire?"
"Of course not!" She told him. "I don't want anything more to do with you retards; and I can't imagine that anyone else living or undead would either."
She returned to standing with her back against the door.
"Now do you want to cooperate with me Andrew?"
"Whatever you say, Faith. Just don't kill me."
"Then gouge that crystal out of the cross."
"I...I don't have anything to gouge it out with."
"I should have known better than to deal with a couple of retards!" She told him, "Just get the hell out of here! I'll do it myself!"
"Yourself?" He asked, "Is that possible? You'll have to put your hands on a cross, and look at it."
"I have an idea." She told him, "Put it on top of that chest of drawers, next to the door."
Andrew did as she said.
"Now get the hell out of here."
He asked, "Is it all right if I take the burritos with me, since you won't be eating them?"
She shouted, "Just take them and get the hell out of here, and I never want to see you again!"
Andrew picked the paper bag up off the bed, where it had fallen, and hurried out the door, slamming it behind himself. She then slid the bolt, locking the door.
Then Faith stepped over to the chest of drawers, shielding her eyes with her left hand. She reached out with her right hand, and touched the green gem in the center of the cross.
"I'm not being burned." She lowered her left hand. "And I can look at it without cringing, just as long as my finger stays on the Gem of Amara.
She went over to the table beside the window, where her handbag lay, and looked out across the rooftops of Oaxaca, to the flattened crest of Monte Alban.
"That ought to be a pleasant Tourist Attraction to visit, this afternoon."
Then she reached in her handbag, took out a jackknife, and returned to the chest of drawers, where the cross with the Gem of Amara was lying.
The guided tours to the archaeological site of Monte Alban, took place in the mornings. The afternoons were too uncomfortably hot, for anyone to be outdoors. That was when the turistas and their tour guides, followed the Mexican custom of having lunch, followed by a refreshing siesta.
This afternoon, Faith spoke the remembered the words, "'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.'" Then she added, "And so does this vampire, who's wearing the Gem of Amara, on her right ring finger."
Faith was not hungry or tired, and she was not sweating, as she stood beneath the burning white sun, and glaring blue sky, at the base of an excavated stairway, that rose from the plaza of the ancient religious complex, which the Zapotec People had carved out of the crest of this 2 thousand foot high mountain, more than ten centuries earlier.
She stood there admiring the glittering green gem, on her finger. Then she raised her eyes, looking beyond the encircling, excavated sacred structures, to where storm clouds were gathering, atop the jagged blue mountain ranges, that rose on both sides of the Valley of Oaxaca.
As she stood there, enjoying the view, the warmth, and the solitude, she thought,
"Everyone's gone. I can't get a drink of cerveza, 'til I get back to town."
Above and behind her, a woman began singing.
"Hear me nowFaith turned around and looked up the steps.
Oh, thou bleak and unbearable world.
Thou art base and debauched as can be.
And the knight with his banners all
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!"
At the top of the stairway, the singing woman was dressed in the same white garments that she'd worn in Santa Maria del Tule, that morning. She descended the steep narrow steps, while continuing to sing.
"I am I, Don Quixote
The Lord of La Mancha
My destiny calls and I go,
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward
Whithersoever they blow!"
She reached the bottom of the stairway, and stood within a few steps of the dark haired Slayer. The woman then addressed her song to Faith.
"Hear me, heathens and wizards
And serpents of sin
All your dastardly doings are past."
Now the singing woman pointed directly at Faith.
"For a holy endeavor is now to begin
And virtue shall triumph at last!"
She lowered her hand and her singing ceased.
"Buenas tardes Faith." she said.
"Hola Cordelia." Faith spoke with amusement. "You're Don Quixote?" She laughed, "You Higher Beings aren't still living in the Middle Ages, or are you?"
The woman said, "We now fight the War against the First; but we follow the same general mission statement, as el Cabellero de La Mancha, and every other annoyingly idealistic hero, as we fight along with Buffy and Angel; who also have the same mission statement."
"I see." Faith told her, "Well I suppose that being known as a Higher Being, does sound a lot better, than when you were known as the 'Skankiest ho at Sunnydale High.' Doesn't it Cordy?"
"There is no comparison." Cordy agreed. "I'd like to straighten something out about that. Whatever you may have heard, I was never the 'skankiest ho'," she smirked, "but I was the best."
Both women chuckled.
Cordy stopped smiling. "I met Andrew before."
Faith asked, "Who's he? Your Sancho Pansy?"
"He told me that you're now a vampire, and that you killed Jonathan. That was after they brought you the Gem of Amara. I see you're now wearing it in that ring on your finger; which means you desecrated the cross in which it was embedded."
"That's right." Faith told her, "Now none of the traditional ways to kill a vampire will have any effect upon me. You can shove a stake through my heart, chop my head off, set me on fire or splash holy water all over me, and none of those things will have any effect on me whatever."
"That doesn't make you invincible Faith."
"Oh? Do you Higher Beings know something about fighting vampires, that I don't, Cordy?"
"What I know is obvious."
"Then tell me Cordy. What have I overlooked, that's right in front of my face?"
Cordelia was about to speak. Then she pointed off in the distance, behind Faith.
She said, "Do you see that?"
The Slayer turned around completely, looking in the direction where the other woman had pointed. She saw distant white sparks of lightning, flashing beneath the black undersides of storm clouds that hovered above the mountains to the west.
As Faith faced the mountains, a sparkling white sword from the Powers That Be, appeared in Cordelia's hand. She raised the weapon and began to slash it sideways, toward the Slayer's neck.
Faith spun around. In an instant, she had Cordelia's wrist gripped tight, in her right hand.
She said, "What'd you think I'd fall for a sucker trick like that, Cordy?"
She shook the Cordelia's wrist, knocking the sword away from her hand. Then Faith kicked the weapon aside.
Cordelia shouted, "You were planning to return to Sunnydale Faith, so you could betray Buffy and the potentials, to the First! You have to be stopped! You have to be killed!"
"Forget it Cordy! I wasn't that easy to kill when I was just a slayer! Now I'm a slayer-vampire! Killing me's gonna be impossible, even for you Higher Beings!"
"No Faith." Cordelia told her, "It's not impossible. It's just gonna take us a little longer."
Then Faith gripped Cordelia, with both hands on her upper arms, and extended her fangs.
"Sorry Cordy." She said, "But you Higher Beings are the ones who have to be stopped. You, Miss Chase, have to be killed."
Then Faith pounced. The vampire smacked her mouth against Cordelia's neck, driving her fangs into the woman's flesh. The woman dressed in white garments, who had given the Gem or Amara to Jonathan and Andrew, then died from a vampire bite in the daytime.
Faith stepped away from Cordelia's body. She picked up the sword that the woman had received from the Powers That Be. Then she walked away, under the hot afternoon sun, leaving the woman's corpse lying untouched among the ancient ruins atop Monte Alban.
Then Faith sang her own version of the song.
"I am I, Faith is my name
The Vampire Slayer
My destiny calls and I go
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward
Whithersoever they blow!"
The lyrics to the song "I, Don Quixote" were written by Joe Darion, and the music composed by Mitch Leigh, for the stage play "Man of La Mancha", that was produced on Broadway in 1965.