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Never Mind that Noise

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After the big battle, Faith wanders around. She can't quite bring herself to set up little kindergartens for all the new slayers, and she definitely can't stay in one place for too long.

A year after, Giles contacts her with an offer.

They're forming an army of demons and other creatures to fight other creatures. Evil fighting on the side of good. Some bound by spells or deals, some there for pay, some there for the chance to kill other monsters, and some there, supposedly, to atone for their pasts.

Faith knows why Giles asks her, and only her, to lead them.

"Sure," she tells him over the phone. "Sounds like a riot."

--

With this group, Faith knows she has to lay down the law.

Ironic, since she had never given a damn about rules before.

But the first time a demon tries to challenge her for leadership of the team, suggesting that they should kill monsters so that they could be the biggest bad in town, Faith cuts him into pieces and lets the carnivorous demons eat the scraps.

There is no second time.

When they fight among themselves, she gives both sides a bruising but then listens to their complaints. She always tries to be fair, regardless of who or what they are. Fair, equitable, and always holding something sharp.

When they are outnumbered, she gives a rousing speech, just like the ones she's seen before, except with more emphasis on the bloodthirst. The more honest she is about herself, about how good, how clean it feels to stab a beast, the more courageous her army becomes.

They all fear her, right from the start, but over time, they start to respect her too. They trust her. Some of them even like her, and not just the Groful demon who keeps writing her bad poems.

She watches over this army as well as she can. They mostly sleep during the day, so she does too, but only for an hour or two, and always lightly. She wakes at the slightest noise. Because they may trust her, but she's never going to be stupid enough to trust them.

Sometimes, when she sleeps, she dreams that she has become a demon. She never cries out (she never shows weakness). Sometimes she dreams she is a vampire, that she hunts down all her old friends and bleeds them dry (this one, she knows, is not that far from the truth). Sometimes, she still dreams of slayers of the past, their deaths biting into her mind, their last gasps of air thumping in her chest.

When she wakes and sees that she is surrounded by familiar evils, she is relieved.

She is always on guard here, always showing who has the real power, always ready to slice and dice. It is more comfortable than it should be.

She has never wondered why Giles wanted her to lead this army.

She is a monster, a beast with a sword, who fights, inexplicably, for the side of good. She sinks her teeth into violence like it's a steak, a raw slab of night and noise clamoring for her teeth to find it.

She is surrounded by things of darkness. She leads them well.