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Back to the Beginning:


by Amanda


SUMMARY: A new Watcher, a new Big Bad, and a Buffy Breakdown. Faith has her hands full.
GENERAL COPYRIGHT / DISCLAIMERS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel the syndicated series and all other characters who have appeared in both shows are the sole property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & UPN. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
DISCLAIMER #2: Mention of e-bay is not intended to harm their reputation. I know for a fact they sell EVERYTHING, so I should be in the clear, but want to cover my ass just in case.
SPOILERS: READ ME!! All of Season Six.
NOTE #1: This is the third of a series, read the others first.
NOTE #2: If it is written in italics it is the character's thoughts. (or dreams, but you can figure those out). NOTE #3: Okay, it's been dark and icky, just stay with me…
DATE: 070402- 070602  (thought I should start dating these things)
FEEDBACK: I am an email freak, so please  




There were no cars on the street below, no sounds of frogs, crickets, even fruit bats. All that I could hear was the light humming. It was the connection that had always been between us. The Slayer connection. And I heard it now. Clutching her wrist, looking down at her eyes, looking into them, searching for her answer. What could I do to pull her back from where she was? I could see the pain. Her confusion and loss. And I knew exactly how she felt. I had been right where she was before. No one had reached out for me, but I would for her.

She blinked her eyes, and then her lips slowly parted. "Faith, please." Was her soft whisper, as tears began rolling down B's cheeks. She didn't want to die. That was a start.

I nodded my response to her, and used all of my Slayer strength to raise my arm that clutched her, up and over my head, so she could set her hand on the ledge. I watched her strong, yet deceivingly delicate looking fingers curl over the edge, and then twisted my body so I was behind her, holding her between my body and the wall. Just in case she decided to let go, I could grab her again. Stop her from falling. Just as I always prayed she would stop me.

"I won't let you go, B." I whispered beside her ear after I moved myself into position. My arms started to ache, and I knew this position was silly, both of us hanging off of the side of a building, but I still sighed after I spoke, when I felt her start to shudder against me.


"Shh." I said so gently, it surprised myself. I looked up, not seeing her, but I could hear Red near by.  "Red, some help here." I called, and heard her steps as she moved over the roof, scurrying over.



Strand was pacing in Buffy's kitchen. His shirt was wrinkled and his hair was messed from him running his hands through it.  Dawn watched him move past her for the fiftieth time when she rolled her eyes over to Giles.

"Why does he do that?" She asked, and Giles grinned.

"Our dear Mr. Strand is not yet accustomed to the time table of a Slayer." Giles said, setting his hand over Dawn's.

"They both left two hours ago." Strand said, looking at Giles as he still walked.

"Duh!" Dawn said quietly, and then turned to Giles, "Should we tell him that they probably won't be back tonight?"

"I don't see why. He would not believe us." Giles answered, conspiratorially.

"Cool." She laughed. She looked back at the young stranger. He was cute, and had that accent that she loved. But he needed to loosen up some. She was sure Faith would break him down.

Xander groaned, and pushed the book away. He was done researching. Besides he had read through his Spiderman comic twice now, hidden in the dusty tome. "So, new Watcher man, Faith isn't psycho anymore?"

"What?" Strand stopped pacing, and looked at Xander. "Oh, right. Your past history with Faith. It is understandable that you feel some concern when it comes to her, erm, balance as it were."

"If all those words mean she scares me, then sure." Xander crossed his arms, leaning back.

"Well, rest assured, Faith would not hurt any of you, without reason." He looked over the group.

"Um, hello, reason?" Xander sat forward.

"Quite." Strand sat at the table. "If you do harm to her, or attempt to harm a human or one of the group, she will probably hurt you in kind." He tapped his finger on the tabletop. "It is quiet remarkable, her sense of right and wrong, and dedication to improve, based on her history, don't you think?" He asked looking at Giles.

"Huh?" Dawn asked.

"I second that Huh." Xander nodded.

"They." Giles started, but took a breath. "No one here in Sunnydale knows about her history, Mr. Strand."

"But, I thought that she lived here, and worked with your Slayer some years ago, Mr. Giles."

"She did. But her past was never mentioned. And you are aware that her records were destroyed and not forwarded to me. Perhaps if we had known." Giles let his words hang in the room.

"You would have been able to save her." Strand nodded, the last piece of the puzzle falling into place for him as he stood from the table and began pacing again. "Makes much more sense now. I did not understand you lack of empathy."

"Okay. Don't understand the cryptic Watcher speak. So, I will go on the assumption that Faith is safe?" Xander turned to Giles.

"Yes, she is safe." Giles smiled. "And Holburn, do sit down. The girls will not be back for quite some time, if at all tonight."

"But the handbook clearly states that she is to check in after each hour."

"No Slayer in Sunnydale ever uses the handbook." Dawn laughed and left the room shaking her head.



I pushed and Red pulled, and I heard the sound of them falling down above me. Taking a deep breath I pulled myself over the lip of the roof and was on my hands and knees looking over at the two of them. B seemed frozen until she looked at me, and then she crumbled, sobbing painfully. Red looked from her to me, her eyes worried. I nodded her away, and she looked like she was about to argue, and I stared her down. Slowly she moved away, still looking at us. I wondered what Red was thinking, if she was afraid I would keep the fight up and toss B off the roof.

Part of me wondered that too. Half of me wanted to beat the crap out of B, the other half wanted to pull her into my arms and sooth her. Each side was battling inside of me, as I crawled closer to her. My fingers brushed hers, and the sobbing got louder, and her body coiled into itself.

"B." I said softly, taking her shoulder in my hand.

"I…. Going…. Kill….you…" She sputtered between sobs. I grabbed her, this time making sure she could feel my fingers on her, digging into her shoulder. I pulled, having to use all of my slayer strength, and felt her body slam against mine. My hands roamed down her back, pressing against her. She froze.


"Kill… me…" She whimpered.

"No one is dying today." I whispered. She shuddered, and then I felt her lean into me. I looked over to Red, who was crying softly. Red nodded to me, and I stood, pulling B up with me. I didn't think her legs could hold her, so I lifted her into my arms. Her arms snaked around my neck, and we were looking at each other. She took my breath away. It had been so long since I had held her in my arms while feeling something akin to tenderness.

I don't hate her.

That shocked me. Because I didn't. I thought I did, and had clung to that for so long, letting it power me. Hazel eyes spilling tears, but they were no longer empty. Just so much pain.

"I almost killed you." She whispered.

"You didn't want to, not really, Buffy."

"Faith," Her bottom lip quivered. I closed my eyes slowly, not sure what I should do. She felt so right in my arms, honestly I never wanted to let her go. But it couldn't be this easy. Nothing ever was. As if my instinct, I moved my face towards hers, as she did the same. Our foreheads pressed together, and I opened my eyes. "Help me." She whispered. I nodded, not taking my head off of hers. I carried her through the broken window, and looked to Red.

"We need a little time to talk, Red. Can you, erm, I mean, I know." I was stammering like an idiot, and it didn't help when B's hand gripped the back of my neck.

"I'll be in the kitchen." Red said softly, whipping her tears off of her cheeks, and walking away. I watched her go for a second. Everything must have changed in the universe. Red was trusting me to be alone with B after she and I had a drag out brawl. I walked us over to the alcove with the bed, and gently set B down, and then sat beside her.

Looking up at her face again, I now saw the line of blood on the corner of her lip. I reached out my hand and used my thumb to wipe some of it away.

"I am so scared Faith." She said weakly, leaning into my hand. Her hand came up and clutched mine, keeping it near her, moving it to her cheek. "Is this what it was like for you?"

"I think so."

"And I never helped you." I could feel new tears landing on my hand. I shrugged. "But you will help me."


"Why?" She asked.

"Because." She sighed, knowing I would not say anything else, I couldn't I wasn't sure why I had to help her.

"I feel like there are two sides of me, fighting inside."

"Me too."

"I wish." I quickly moved my finger to her lip.

"Hellmouth, no wishing." I whispered. Her eyes rounded, and I realized that I had moved closer. What in the hell was I doing? We had been beating each other just fifteen minutes ago, and now I was wanting to feel her lips on mine. It was too much. I sprung away from her, standing beside the bed.


"I know you are going through hell right now, Buffy. But we can't just forget what is going on. I, I am-" I ran my hand through my hair. "You need to understand what is going on inside of you, you need to accept that maybe you weren't really in heaven. I don't think you can move past this unless you do."

"When did you get so smart?"

"I had a lot of time alone to think."

She laughed, sure it was half hearted, but it was still a laugh. I smiled gently at her. Her eyes roamed over my face, seeming to take me in. I did the same; it was like I was looking at her for the first time in a long while. She looked, different. Her smile dropped and she looked down at her hands.

"I am confused, Faith." She rubbed her fingers together, and I was as fascinated by it as she was. "Should I kill you," she looked up, "or kiss you?"

It was cliché, but she meant it. I could see that, no amount of denial would keep me from believing it. It felt like a punch to my chest, and I staggered backward.


"No." I held up my hand, taking another step backward.

"I didn't, I mean,"

I couldn't see her, because my hair was falling in front of my eyes as my head moved back and forth. I turned away from her and walked toward the kitchen. I heard her heavy sigh behind me, but I had to step away.

How did she know I was thinking the same fucking thing?



Willow looked up from the glass of juice she held in her shacking hand. She hadn't been able to hear what the Slayers were saying, just the low mumblings and patterns of sound. But the tone was ambiguous at best. She had no idea what was going on.

She had seen them spar before, but never had she ever seen the two of them fighting like they had been just a few minutes before. The power and aggression that she had seen brought back the tremor to her hand. She had been sure that one of them was going to die. The look in Buffy's eye as she lunged forward with the knife had terrified her.

Willow had lived that one second like it was minutes long. Memories of Faith. How jealous she had been when the dark slayer had first come into town. The fear and the rage she had felt towards her when she had gone bad. But now Faith was different. Faith had come to her. Faith had saved her. Willow had to accept that Faith was a completely different person. And she couldn't hate Faith anymore, she didn't want to. And she certainly didn't want her to die. Willow didn't want Faith not to be a part of her life, and she didn't want Faith to die by Buffy's hand. Buffy could never live with that guilt.

A heavy step on the tiled floor made her head jerk up. Faith was standing there, her arms crossed over her midsection. She was holding herself, just like Tara used to when she was scared or upset. Willow searched Faith's face. Her eyes were red from crying, her right jaw was already bruising.

"Faith?" Willow set her glass down on the counter and stepped forward.

"Can you, um, can you talk to her?" Faith asked, sounding defeated.

"I don't know what to say to her." Willow said.

"You, not knowing what to say?" Faith chuckled. "You are her best friend, I think you know what to say better than me."

"Don't sell yourself short, Faith. You have a lot to say that Buffy needs to hear." Willow set her hand on Faith's arm, and the Slayer flinched, but Willow did not move her hand. "What happened tonight?"

"Willow, I, I can't talk about this now." She looked over her shoulder. "She is crying." Faith's voice cracked. "Just talk to her, tell her you love her." Faith shrugged.

"Faith, why can't-"

"Fuck Willow, get her to stop crying!" Faith snapped, stepping away. She walked to the sink, and set her hands on the basin's edge. It did not pass Willow's notice that her hands were shaking.

"Okay, Faith." She said. "But only for you, and only this once. I won't let you run away-"

"Not now." Faith groaned.

Willow shrugged, unseen, and she walked towards the bed.



"How can the Slayer not follow the handbook?" Holburn asked out loud, wondering that himself. He had been training for this assignment for the past five years, diligently preparing to Watcher the next active Slayer. He had been amazed when they sent him to Sunnydale with the duty of guiding Faith. No one had ever thought that Faith would have been rehabilitated enough in the California Penal system to reclaim her birth right. She was truly an amazing girl. Haunted and unpredictable, perhaps too impassioned, but amazing, nonetheless.  But she needed rules, she needed a firm hand.

"Simple, they do not use it." Giles said with a sigh. The old man was jaded, that much was clear, and had been explained to Holburn before he was dispatched. They warned him of Rupert's personal affections towards his charge, and it was clearly explained that the Council did not look upon this favorably.

"But these girls need rules."

"Rules are fine, but if you haven't noticed, Buffy is the oldest Slayer. EVER." Xander said, crossing his arms. "And she never read the handbook."

"Quite right, Xander." Giles stood slowly, stretching his arms over his head.

"Do you suggest that I let Faith move about on her own accord?" Holburn scoffed. That would do no one any good. Rules and discipline, they were the only way. Holburn had learned that himself, first hand from his father, who had been a retired admiral in Her Majesties Service. His father who ruled with an iron fist.

"No! No own accord." Xander said.

"Holburn, you just need to understand that it takes much more than the handbook to keep a Slayer alive." Giles said. Holburn knew what Rupert meant. He had watched it in action this afternoon. This rag-tag group of young people where an intrical part to the success of the current slayer. He knew it was unorthodox, but it seemed to work, and they were a family of sorts. It was clear to any outsider that they were close. Faith had mentioned that during there session that morning. How alienated she had felt, held on the outside. It had been one of the rungs in the ladder down to the dark side.

"I understand the dynamic here." Holburn said, smiling at Xander.

"Why are you smiling?" Xander spun to Giles. "Why is he smiling?"

"He is beginning to understand what is truth and what is not." Giles answered.

"Oh, he is accepting the Scoobies. Gotcha."



I sat down at the dinning room table, setting my head in my hands. I could hear B sobbing still, and Red as she softly cooed to her. Trying to calm her. I needed to get my shit together. Red couldn't handle B if she snapped again. Only I was strong enough to keep her back. And only I knew the rage. Rage in a human was one thing; rage in a slayer was something different. Something completely different. It was not just an emotion; it became as much a part of us as an arm, or a toe. But worse, cause the rage needs something. It's like a stomach, like a kidney, or some other organ inside. You need to feed it, or release it. It is alive and it is deadly.

"Why, Buffy, why did you try and kill her?" Red whispered, but Slayer hearing, I could hear her.

"It wasn't her, it was never her. God, Wills I blamed her for everything. I blamed her for things she had no control over. God, I almost, I nearly. Oh, God Wills. What did I do?"

I clenched my jaw.

"She is alive, she is okay. No one was really hurt." Red was being strong.

"Not just, not just now. She won't look at me. I ruined everything. I am so lost. I can feel it, burning." She sobbed again.  Red couldn't handle this. Damn.

I stood up, and walked over to the bed. B raised her face from Red's shoulder and looked up at me, her eyes so round.

Nothing was forgotten, and nothing was perfect. But she needed me right now, and I needed her. I knelt in front of her, taking her into my arms. She sighed and leaned against me heavily, burying her face in my hair.

"Just cry." I said, hearing the tears in my own voice. "For tonight, it's just me and you, okay?"

She nodded against me, and then squeezed me tighter.



Her normally sure and confident stride was off tonight. The discomfort was greater than usual. She chastised herself for not being more careful. Jane knew she could really hurt herself if she wasn't concentrating on the job. He had been rough, and she could still feel the pain was she walked through the street to her corner.

Screw Faith and her orders.

She wanted to be where Buffy could find her, even knowing that if the Slayer found her, Jane would be hurting so much after that she wouldn't be able to work tomorrow night. But that was insignificant compared to how being in the Slayer's arms felt. It was like she lost herself completely when basking in the power Buffy wielded on her. Over the months that they had been meeting at night, Jane knew she was dangerously close to the edge. To falling for the blonde. In her line of work developing emotions was bad. It was even worse with Buffy, knowing she was being used as a replacement.

Jane was no fool. She knew from their first time together that Buffy was using her, just like the rest. Jane was the stand in. Meeting Faith in the flesh a week ago had solidified that. The woman was perfect. Beautiful and fiery.

But if she is so perfect, why is Buffy still coming to me?

The back door of the building opened, and she leaned against the brick wall, messing with the shadows. All her thoughts were lost as the figures stepped out. Moonlight danced on their hair and shoulders. Blonde hair mixing with deep brown, as Buffy leaned against Faith. Jane felt her breath catch in her throat. Faith's arm was protectively around Buffy's waist, and they moved down the alley, away from her. She stepped out, hands on her hips. She could feel jealousy dancing in her blue eyes. This wasn't supposed to happen! Buffy was supposed to be hers.



"Where being watched." Faith whispered, and Buffy held her tighter as they walked. She was exhausted. From the fight, from the emotions, from living. Buffy had never felt so tired. She looked up, to see the smoldering brown eyes meeting hers, and she felt safe. It was odd to equate safety to Faith. But it was there, covering her skin. She knew who was watching them. It pulled at her, the lust, and the need. But why feel it? Buffy sighed.

"It is Jane." Buffy sighed, smelling the girl on the breeze.

"I know." Faith said.

And Buffy was positive that on some level Faith understood her need for Jane. Who better than Faith to know exactly what Slayer Lust felt like, and what it could make you do? The question was, did Faith know why Jane?

"Do you?" Buffy asked softly, as they turned onto the street.

"You want to go to her?" Faith asked, slowing their steps.

"Don't want to."

"Need to, huh?" Faith chuckled. "Yeah, I know that tune."

"Just help me home, Faith. Please." Buffy asked. She squeezed her eyes shut, shoving down the lust inside of her. This was not the time to loose control; this was not the time to nuzzle her lips against Faith's warm neck. Buffy was to close to slipping, she needed security, she needed compassion. She needed to get back her self.


Buffy needed to think. To lock herself in her room and think over everything that Faith had said to her today. There was a lot that they had covered, screamed. Some of it, Buffy had never even bothered to consider. She had been so caught up in living, in addressing symptoms, instead of finding the source and stopping it for good.

Feeling horny, she would seek out Spike or Jane. Feeling hungry, she would eat until she had to vomit it all back up. Feeling rage, she would mercilessly beat whatever demon or vampire happened across her path.

Why didn't I think about why? Why was I feeling hungry, horny, angry? It wasn't just because I am the Slayer. It wasn't because this world was bright and hard. It was because, because…

"I am empty." She sighed. She felt Faith stiffen next to her. "Missing something." She mumbled. Her footsteps faulted, and she felt Faith tighten her arm around her waist, holding her up, until her feet again found the rhythm of walking. Buffy didn't even remember before dying, before Glory, before she had given up that day in the Magic Box. When she had resigned herself for the end. Was that why she so readily believed that she had died and gone to heaven? Because she wanted that more than anything at the time?



He jolted awake, and felt immense pain from the back of his skull, down his neck to his shoulder.

"Never a good idea to fall asleep in that chair."

He opened his eyes to see Faith standing on the other side of the kitchen table, arms crossed. Holburn looked behind her, through the windows. It was still dark outside. Checking his watch he saw that it was approaching three am.

"You where do back hours ago." He grumbled, running out the kink in his neck. She looked fine, some bruising around her jaw, but no blood. He had feared that she was in danger and that was what was delaying her from checking in. That looked mute now.

"You need to accept something real quick, HS. The handbook? It means shit here. It means shit when it comes to living this life." She leaned forward, setting her palms on the table. "I know you are fresh from the Watcher farm, green behind the ears and all. But you don't live with this. You don't go out there every night, to save the world, knowing that tonight could be it. You might not make it back. When you are fighting for your life, little things like check in times, they don't matter."

"Faith, you and I both know that rules are required to function smoothly and within the parameters set forth by the Council." He stood, stretching.

"You will learn, tweedy." She sighed, standing fully. Even though he towered over her by six inches, when she stood like that, he was dwarfed and awed by her power. Before him was not a young woman, but a Slayer.

"Did you find anything out on this Langoustino character?"

"No." She grinned. "Maybe you want to come out with me tomorrow night, get a lay of the land? You know, make sure I am being a good little tool and following orders?" Her tone was malicious, and he stepped back.

"Um, well, perhaps, what I mean-"

"You ever seen a vampire, HS?"

"In a controlled environment, once-"

"Thought so." She rolled her eyes.

"This discussion should not be about me and my lack of experience Faith. This is about rules, rules that you will need to follow. I know that things in this place have been lax under the direction of Mr. Giles."

"I don't know nothing ‘bout that. You forget, I was in JAIL?" She turned away from him. "God this isn't going to work." She groaned.

"It will most certainly work. That is my utmost concern." He stepped forward and set his hand on her shoulder. "I know nothing in your life has been easy, Faith. And I dare say neither will this. Having this responsibility-"

"You forget? I've been the Slayer for five fucking years. Remember, at the age of fifteen the girl is called?" She jerked away from him.

"What is it, Faith? Something is troubling you more than this discussion. What happened tonight?" He inquired.

"Nothing. Okay? Forget it. I, it's been a long day and I need to crash."

"Right. Well, can I drive you back to your motel?" He lifted his jacket from the chair, noticing for the first time that the other men, Xander and Mr. Giles must have left him to sleep hours ago.

"Normally I would tell you to fuck off, and walk." She grinned. "But I am wicked tired. So, you promise no head shrinking, and I not to kill you."

"Right." He smiled. He was learning how Faith spoke, and what was really laced in with her words. Mr. Giles had informed him to pay attention to the tone of what she said, more than the guttural slang she favored.

Holburn stepped out the back door, hearing her heavy boots following.



Rupert Giles knew that he was tempting a certain death when he opened the bedroom door. By his internal clock it was late in the day, at ten in the morning. By Buffy's clock, it was early morning.

He knew she had gotten in late last night. He had faked sleep as Faith and Buffy made their way past him and the couch. He had nearly spoken up; afraid that one of the girls were injured, but stopped when he heard Buffy's soft apologies. He hoped the girls had used last night to have an honest and open discussion. Both girls kept so much of what they were feeling locked away inside. Many people believed that Buffy wore her emotions on her sleeve, but what the world saw was just a fraction of the emotions raging beneath the surface of the girl. If her condition last night was any indication, there had been some vast steps taken between the two girls. He hoped that they would be even closer to at the very least a mutual understanding before he left at the end of the week.

Yet that was of no consequence now. What was at the forefront of his concern, was getting her awake, and dressed, and off to her job interview with the school board.

Braving certain death he approached her bed, and moved his hand out to nudge her shoulder. His fingers were a mere centimeter away when her hand was around his wrist like a vise.

"If you are a demon, grunt, so I can kill you without opening my eyes."

"Buffy." He sighed.

"Oh, tweedy-book reading-making me get up when it is too early-demon." She released his wrist and rolled over onto her back. Cautiously she opened one eye. "You are making me get up aren't you?"

"I am afraid so." He grinned.

"Fine." She flopped her head heavily back into the pillow. "How's my face?" She asked, snapping both eyes open.

"What? It is fine, Buffy, why wouldn't it be?" He sat beside her on the bed.

"Faith used it for a punching bag." She groaned, but then sat up, as shock was coursing through Giles' body. "No, no, no! That sounded all wrong, and terrible in a Faith's psycho way! And Faith is not psycho!" Buffy yelped.

"Then care to explain?"

"I, erm, sort of tried to kill her?" Buffy whispered, and Giles leapt from the bed.

"Buffy, you what?" He yelled.

"I was confused, and mad."

"That gives you no right to-"

"Giles, how can I find out where I really was when I died?" She asked softly, her eyes rounding and her bottom lip jutting out. He wanted to be angry, and was fairly certain that she was adding a little extra to her pout to get him to forgive her flippant response. Giles did not want it to work… DAMNIT. It always worked.

"Well, I am not sure, this late if there is a way. Before, Tara had suggested a tracking spell, to locate you."

"Why didn't you?"

"On some level I believe Willow was afraid of where you might be." He took off his glasses.

"If she knew I was somewhere safe and good, she would have still wanted me to come back."


"I am glad." Buffy sighed.


"That I am back." She looked at her hands. "Faith doesn't think I was in heaven, like THE heaven."

Well this is quite interesting.

"Really?" He sat back down.

"Faith said that if I was truly dead and in heaven, then nothing Willow could have done would have brought me back. Even if she managed to re-animate my body, my soul would have moved on." Buffy said, searching his face. She needed confirmation, to hear his thoughts. It amazed him how much trust she placed in him, after the initial betrayals he had been forced into by the Council, and yet Buffy still managed to trust him.

He thought over her words. Was that possible?

"Good Lord!" He exhaled, as he realized, as he remembered. She looked towards him expectantly. "Joyce." He whispered the woman's name.

"Faith brought that up too."

"Why didn't I realize?" He wondered aloud. When she had been brought back in that state. "She is right Buffy. Amazingly enough, Faith was right. You couldn't possibly have been in Heaven." He smiled, as odd as it was, this did seem to be wonderful news. Perhaps now Buffy could stop missing, stop resenting.

"Wow. We never do give her enough credit, do we?"

"No, none of us do. There is so much behind her façade, Buffy. I hope you will soon come to realize that. She, erm, cares for you, I think she cares for all of us. She just needs to accept that we care for her as well."

"We need to show her first, I think." Buffy smiled.

"How are you handling the Council's decision?" he treaded lightly.

"I am not sure how I should handle it. I can't stop slaying. Faith told me I wouldn't have to, she said that nothing would have to change." She smiled sadly. "But it will change. It has to,"


"I can't treat her like she is less than me, that she is second best." Buffy tossed back the blankets and walked away from him. She stopped at the door, and turned. "She isn't second best, and I don't really think she ever was. I was just too stuck up to think anything different." She sighed, and then left the room.



It stunk. She wondered if it was a he or a she, the Shindu demon that was sitting at the long table, pouring over the scroll. Langoustino had demanded that they review the scroll again, to be certain that they knew exactly what supplies where needed to open Hellmouth. She knew that he was right. Working for him for the past ten years had built her respect. She knew he was thoughtful, if not a little behind in the times. But that was where she came in. To enlighten him.

"What do you see?" She asked the demon, again so very glad that she had no need to breath.

"It is as you believed. You need a powerful witch, this witch will have the power to open the gate of hell." The demon slurred, its two tongues twisting past its scaled lips.

"And of the time?"

"Oddly enough, there is no specific time,"

"Is that possible? There always is a time, full moon, equinox?" She was confused.

"There is no prophecy associated with the scroll. Think of it as a users guide. All that matters is that the items are in possession and used appropriately." It said, and she nodded.

"I see. Well thank you for your time." She pulled the short sword from underneath her coat. "Sorry about the payment." She finished, bringing her arm and sword across the demon's neck. Its head rolled across the floor.



I squinted my eyes, the morning sun was blinding behind HS as he stood in the open door. I had been having the most wonderfully erotic dream, involving chocolate and thighs, but more than that I couldn't remember. Then he bangs on the door. My mood was exceptionally bad.

"What?" I snapped.

"I received the fax this morning." He said.

"And I care why again?" I asked, turning away from him, walking back into the room, sitting on the end of the bed. He walked in cautiously; I noticed his eyes moving around the room. He actually tisked under his breath. I rolled my eyes, what was with people looking down on the way I lived.

"It is time for you to decide, Faith."

"Don't wanna." I folded my arms and pouted.

"I am sorry that does not work on me. Perhaps if you were five instead of nineteen." He grinned. I hated that he was happy in the morning. How could anyone be happy in the morning?

"Would you rather I," I slowly widened my legs, feeling the boxers riding up on my thighs, and leaned back on my arms, pushing out my chest.

"Faith, erm," he swallowed. Bingo, we have a live one.

"Just messing with you." I laughed sitting back up.

"Of course." He straightened his tie. "Faith, this is an important decision, and I truthfully need to respond to the Council. Have you accepted your destiny?"

This guy was a dork, really he was. Did he think I had a choice? That I could go, naw I don't want to be a slayer anymore? Shit! What a moron.

"Holburn I am a Slayer. I was born to be a Slayer; I was made by some power to do this. With or without the Council, this," I moved my hand down my body, "is a Slayer." I stood slowly, and walked over to him, raking my eyes up and down his body. Really he wasn't that bad. He seemed to be able to put up with my bullshit, and actually might care something about me not getting killed. It was going to be weird, but this is what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to a Slayer. Period. This had nothing to do with me wanting to right the wrongs that I did. There was no way someone could work off killing another human being, that just wasn't possible. But to stop fighting what I was meant for? That I could do. "We will stay, and I will slay." He smiled widely. I held up my finger, wagging it back and forth. "One more thing." I cocked my hip and grinned. "Actually a whole shit load of more things, but one for right now. B is still a slayer. This isn't about who is better, or who is number one. This is about us. If she wants to stay she can. She wants to stop, she can."

"I can live with that." He said, and he nodded, and actually seemed to understand. Wow, I was expecting some kind of fight. Maybe G-Man had talked some sense into him last night.

"Um, okay." I shrugged and walked over to the bathroom. "Well, if we are done. I need to um, get ready."

"We are all meeting at the Summers' home later this morning." He said.

"Right." I started closing the bathroom door, "So I will see ya."

"Faith?" He asked. I turned looking at him, eyebrow raised.

"Can I assist you in obtaining some more, ahem, suitable accommodations?" He looked around the room again.

"I," I was about to tell him that I liked it here, that this was where I belonged, but I realized that that would have been a lie. I hated it here. "Thanks."

I closed the door and leaned my back against it, closing my eyes. Wow. Was this really my life? Cause this was intense. I was really waiting to wake up. This had been my dream when I first came to this town. All of it. My own Watcher, people caring about me, friends, being taken seriously as the Slayer. I took a deep breath to fight of crying. No crying, this was just too unbelievable.

I could feel the tremor starting low in my body, and then it took over all of me. I grabbed my shoulders trying to stop myself. But I couldn't. I was terrified. God, what if I couldn't do this? What if HS was just messing with me? What if I bonded with him, actually started to trust him and he betrayed me like Post? What if he got hurt, or worse?

Can I do this? What if I can't do this?

I slipped down the door, bringing my knees up to my chest, burying my face on my knees. There were so many what ifs, possibilities. So much could go wrong. God I was scared.

"Okay, Faith. You can have a fifteen-minute fucking freak out. But then, you will get your shit together!" I groaned, letting go just a little bit.



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