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He looked at his watch, then shook his wrist, then looked again. Nothing. Hank slammed his wrist against the wall, shattering the clearly knock-off Rolex he had stolen the night before into a million little pieces of pained metal and glass.

"Giles, the time?"

"Time for?" Giles didn't even raise his eyes from the book on the table before him.

"What time is it?"

"Why do you want to know, Hank?" He asked, still looking at the book. This was not even remotely amusing to Hank. He had it. No one was respecting him. In fact no one was paying enough attention to him. Did they not understand who he was? What he was capable of? He moved in a whisper and had Giles' off his feet, holding the other man by the throat as his hands tried to find purchase on Hanks arms. The ex-Watcher's mouth was gaping, and his eyes were round. Hank had his attention now.

"I asked you the time you fucking idiot. You know. I don't think you are all that important to the plan anymore. Nope. Not at all." He tossed Giles across the room where he slammed into the wall, and slid down. He took a step closer, but stopped as Anya appeared before him.

"Well hello there. Didn't know you were back from dinner yet." Anya said, looked over her shoulder and then back to Hank. "Problem?"

"He is useless. There is nothing he can do. All of them are useless."

"Not Willow. You need her to bring Faith to you."

"This isn't about Faith. This is about making Buffy suffer."

"Well, she does love Giles, and Willow, and Xander. But she is in love with Faith. Hurting Faith would mean more. You know, in the romantic sense."

"What about you?" He grabbed her shoulders. "What can you offer me now, Demon?"

"Well I am evil." Anya shrugged.

"So am I."

"Right. Well, if you aren't going to follow the plan."

"The plan is fucked. Nothing is working right. It is a stupid plan. Why all the pomp? Why can't we just kill Buffy?"

"She has this habit of coming back to life."

"Then I will turn her." He sneered.

"And have Faith coming after you?" Anya laughed.

"What is so funny?"

"Faith is like THE Slayer. She could careless about who you are. She kills demons. She will kill you, kill all of us if you touch Buffy."

"I cannot be killed!" Hank exclaimed.

"I beg to differ." Giles said, as he sat up, rubbing the back of his head.

"Jude said."

"Clearly Jude has said a lot of things. Whether she told you the truth or not." Giles shrugged not finishing his sentence.

"What do you mean?" Hank asked, releasing Anya and moving closer to Giles.

"I am just saying, her motives are clearly not the same as your own."

"She came to me, told me I could become this super vampire that was untouchable."

"She lied." Anya offered.

"What? She would dare betray me? No. I am not going to believe you. Up until a day ago you were all goodie two shoes. Especially you." He pointed to the ex-Watcher.

"About that, why are you here Giles?" Anya asked.

"I reminded him of Buffy's sense of loyalty." Hank said with a grin. "Right, Giles?" He asked, before slapping the man upside the head.

"Why are you hitting him? He's the smart one."

"Shut up! I am tired of being the butt of all your jokes. Did you all seem to forget who I am?" Hank screamed. He scanned the edges of the room, seeing ten of his new recruits at the ready. He would show them, show all of them exactly who was in charge. "Where are they?"

"What's with the yelling?" Jude asked as she and Willow came into the room. He noticed the witch's down cast eyes, and a large bruise on her cheek. What had his Seer been up to?



Willow flinched as Jude grabbed her arm, stopping her from stepping further into the room. She felt the fingers press onto the bruises she knew were already on her arm from earlier. She felt like she was trapped inside of herself. Unable to stop anything from happening around her or to her. Jude walked away, towards Hank who was clearly agitated. She watched Anya go to Giles and help him up from the floor.

"What did you do to her?" Hank asked.

"Mind your own business." Jude sneered up at him. Willow was amazed at the cockiness Jude displayed.  "What did you do to him?"

"Had a little fun. He's worthless to us."

"No he isn't. Having Giles as one of us will be worth it. We need the intelligence he brings to the table."

Hanks shoulders slumped. "Fine. Can I turn him now?"

"No you can't. You have to save your strength for Faith. Remember? Without Faith, there are no guarantees." Jude set her hand on his arm, but he shrugged it off.

"Then get her here NOW!"

Jude turned and walked back to Willow, and set her hand on her shoulder, the other hand, brushing the hair from her face.

"Do it just like I told you. Go and bring her back. Got it? No talking, no babbling, or I will make sure you are punished. Understand me?"

Willow nodded. She looked up, locking eyes with Anya, who smiled sadly. Slowly Willow closed her eyes, and focused herself. Before she and Jude had left her apartment she had done a locator spell and knew where Faith was. Actually she was traveling across the country at a very fast pace. Willow guessed she was on a train, knowing the Slayer was afraid to fly. Swallowing, and feeling her power surge through her limbs, Willow groaned once, and then she was moving through time and space.



"Now on with phase two?" Hank asked Jude after the yellow smoke began to dissipate and Willow was no longer in the room with them.

"We have an hour until she will be strong enough to come back." Jude nodded, lifting up her long leather coat.

"Phase two?" Giles asked.

"How did you think we would manage to get Buffy here, Mr. Giles?"

"Call her, perhaps?"

Jude laughed. "Where's the fun in that?" She slipped the ring onto her finger and felt the magic shimmer around her, changing her. The others in the room tensed, seeing her become the Slayer.



"Ow." Willow groaned as she stopped, her spirit and body slamming into time, somewhere.

"Holy shit."

Willow opened her eyes and saw Faith, standing in front of her, a toothbrush in her mouth. Looking around they appeared to be inside of a small bathroom.

"Goddamnit Red." Faith spit and dropped the green brush, reaching for Willow's shoulders, and gently grabbing a hold of her. It was at that moment Willow realized that she had been swaying. "Are you okay?" Faith asked, trying to meet Willow's eyes.

"Um." Willow choked out.

"Damn." Faith grumbled, and then Willow felt something being pressed against her face. Something soft. She was still a little woozy and out of it. She watched Faith take away the now bloody towel. She had known that teleporting like that, onto a moving train was going to be hard, but taking Faith back was going to be even harder. Something was pushing at her, inside of her, telling her to hurry. "What are you doing here?" Faith asked softly, this time gently running her fingers along the side of Willow's face.

"I have to take you back."

"I'll be there in a couple of days, whatever it is can wait."

"No." Willow leaned more heavily against Faith, she just felt so tired.

"Yes, Willow. Nothing is this important. You are really in pain."

She could close her eyes, just for a minute. Jude would understand. Willow needed just a minute.

"Just a seconds rest, then we have to get back, she needs us back."

"Who? Willow? Can you hear me? Who needs us back? Is it-"




She turned, the tee-shirt that she had been folding falling from her hands. Leaning against the doorframe of the laundry room was a vision in leather and shadow. Uncrossing her arms she stepped into the room.


"Hey baby. Boy did I miss you." The husky voice offered, and Buffy launched herself into the waiting arms. Their lips met softly, and Buffy pulled the bottom lip into her mouth.

"Mm. Nobody kisses like my Faith. No body." Buffy hugged her tighter.

Jude smiled, pleased with her glamour. It was working perfectly, fooling Buffy. She wanted to shove the blonde away, wanted to beat her to death with her own hands, it was the same rage she felt every time she was in the blonde Slayers presence, but knew she had to wait. It would be so much sweeter if she waited. 

"When did you get back?" Buffy asked, stepping out of her arms. Jude frowned at this but tried to hide it. Maybe Buffy and Faith weren't very physically affectionate.

"Just now. Hoped a plane and here I am."

"Really?" Buffy leaned against the washing machine. "Well it is good to have you back."

"I didn't come back just for kicks, B."


"Naw. I heard from Anya that something bad is going down, so here I am. We need to get over to the warehouse district."

"Anya? Warehouse. What's going on Faith?"

"A new big bad, from the way I hear it. Something that needs both Slayers."

"Sounds pretty evil."

"So we better get going." Jude stepped towards the back door.

"Ok. Well not ok. Problem."

"Problem?" Jude squeaked.

"I have my boss coming over. I can't call and cancel, because I don't know where he is. But as soon as he gets here I will tell him something."

"Oh. Well, sure, I know what an asshole he is. Well just hurry. I will case the joint. It's building G-59."

"G-59." Buffy nodded. "Bingo. I mean, sure, I will meet you there in an hour. Thanks for understanding about this."

"Sure B. No problems."



He was still worried. Buffy had poo-pooed his concern when he had dropped her off at the school that morning, but he hadn't been able to shake the feeling that he should have done more, pressed her to talk to him. She always kept so much to herself. There would have to be a parade the day that Buffy Summers didn't try and keep the world and all its crazy emotions on her shoulders. Because he couldn't think past her puppy dog eyes that morning, he had nearly sawed off his arm, twice today. He knew, for his own safety that he had to leave work. So after faking food poisoning he had driven over to Buffy's house. He sat in the car, taping out some annoying pop song on the steering wheel trying to decide on the best way to approach his friend.

"This is so Wills area; emotional lesbians, while sexy and intriguing – not my forte. Why the heck didn't she return my call?" He mumbled. "Darn that academic obsession she has." He grinned to himself, and then noticed a shadow at the back of the house. It was walking away from the building, heading towards the cut through at the back. Xander did not like shadows walking around.

Slipping out of the car, he closed the door quietly, and squinted.

Is that? Naw, she is in Boston.

He walked quickly towards the front door, but had to take a step back when Anya was standing in front of him, her hands on her hips.

"Ee!" He squealed, and then frowned. That was so emasculating. Then he froze. Anya looked upset. Had he forgotten to call her? No. Meet her somewhere? Ut-oh.

"An, hi! I am sorry."

"What did you do?"

"Whatever is making you give me that look, I didn't mean it. I was, um, being male. You know, only thinks with the little head, hehe." He was scrambling and he knew it.

"You didn't do anything."

"Oh, well then. Hi." He winked at her. "Missed me huh?"

"I just saw you the other day, not enough time has passed for me to miss you. Besides, I have been busy."

"About that, where were you the other night, I came by and you weren't there."

"I may not play with my wood all day long," he winced, "but I do have a job you know. Several in fact. I am going every which way at once, and you pressuring me about our relationship isn't helping."

"No pressure here." He held up his hands. "Honest."

"You are distracting me with your adorable face. Stop it. I don't have time."

Xander made his face neutral, but was smiling inside. She said adorable.

"You need to go."


"Yes go. As in away. From Buffy, from here." She crossed her arms.

"What are you talking about?"

"If you get in the way you could get hurt, and I don't want you to get hurt. I still haven't completely forgiven you, but still, thinking of you getting hurt because I made one or five little mistakes. I couldn't live with that, so please Xander you must go."

"An? I am totally lost here. Help a guy out?" And he was, completely lost.

"I can't tell you, but you just have to stay away from Buffy."

"Why?" Then he glared at her. "You promised!"

"I am not totally evil." She mumbled, but he heard her.


"Hey! Giles is evil too so don't just blame me."

"WHAT?" His voice was at the squeaking pitch again.

"Oops. Hehe. Well. Um. Just go Xander, just go."

"No. Anya explain."

"There isn't time. Please, if you," she bit her bottom lip, "if you love me, you will just go home and stay there."

If I love you? Oh no, I love you, and I am going anywhere but home.



"I don't know what the hell she is doing here." I paced in front of Bobby and Red. He was holding a cold cloth to her forehead, and she was moaning. At least the blood had stopped. I had been worried when she passed out on me, and her nose just wouldn't stop bleeding. No matter how much pressure I applied. I didn't like seeing her like that. I made up my mind, as I held her in my arms for not the first time, seeing what magic had done to her, that I would not let this happen again. Nothing was so important to have her risking her life doing stupid shit like this. Red was too important, too special. If B made her do this, she and I would need to have a serious talk.

"But you said she just appeared?" He looked up at me, his eyes still not believing.

"You have been so intent looking at me that you missed her? Willow? The super Uber witch? Killer of men, near destroyer of the known world?"

His eyes were still not comprehending.

"Do you have any idea who she is?"

"Of course. She is Willow. Confidant and best friend of Buffy, a powerful Wicca, who has gone through some hardships, but is turning her life around, and thinking about joining the Council."

"Pretty much the nail on the head." I crossed my arms. "Not counting the killing Warren by ripping his flesh from his body, or beating the crap out of a Slayer, or becoming the most powerful dark witch this side of Kansas."

"Really?" He swallowed and looked back down at Red.

"Yeah. Why you look so green?"

"My sister never told me."


"Um, yes. My sister has been writing to Willow for some time now. They have become, um, friendly."

"Little bit of old fashioned word lust?"

His head snapped up so he could look at me. "Pardon?"

"Forget it. So your sister wants Red huh? Is she cute?"

"Faith! This is not important."

"Sure it is. Red is special to me. Your sister better be hot, or she can forget it."

"Who's hot?"

I shot my eyes to Red, who was trying to sit up.

"You are, cutie. How you feeling?"

"Like I got run over by a, oo, train?" She put her hand to her head. "How long was I out for?"

I shrugged.

"About an hour." Bobby offered, looking at his watch.

"Okay." Red sat up, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Huh."

"What is it?"

"I feel sort of. Um." She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. "Normal here."

"Why wouldn't you?"

"I don't know. It's like I don't feel right back there. Ouch." She touched her forehead. "Shit. Okay, okay. Faith we have to get back."

"What's going on Red?"

"Something bad." She said then doubled over. "Have I mentioned I am not liking this getting kicked in the head, from the inside?"

"Mind control spell." Bobby mumbled.

"What the fuck does that mean?" I snapped.

"It means something is wrong with your friend."

"No shit, Bobby. Help me out here, what can I do?"

"Nothing Faith." Red said as she stood up. "There isn't time really to do anything. But I am sorry." She grabbed my arms and I felt a burning heat shooting through my entire body.



Waving the smoke out of the way and coughing lightly he looked seeing himself alone in the car.

"Well this is certainly not good." Balch said as he sat heavily in his chair and draped the cold cloth over his eyes. He was stuck on a fast moving train. Stuck.



It felt like a slap. Not a slap slap, but a really hard Slayer sized slap. Or so Willow thought. The wind was rough to, as the train sped past.

"What the fuck was that?" Faith groaned, rubbing her forehead.

"We needed to get back to Sunnydale."

"In case you didn't notice? This is Indiana not California."

Willow smiled shyly, "I missed you, ya know."

"Me too, Red." Faith smiled, but it fell, as she tilted her head. "I thought so. What the hell happened to your face? Or should I say, who happened to your face."


"Jude? Like small, sexy Jude?"

"That was Buffy you know. Wearing a glamour so it just looked like Jude's body."

"Yeah. I got that at the end. So this Jude person is real?"

"Oh yeah." Willow nodded, her head fighting itself again. Wanting to be angry, wanting to be happy, wanting to do whatever Jude told her to do.

"And she hit you."

She worried her bottom lip.

"Don't worry Willow, I am only going to kill her."

"Actually that is probably true." Willow took a step away from the now empty railroad track, down the embankment to a large grassy field. She heard Faith following her.

"What is going on and why the fuck am I here with you and not on the train?"

"Who was that guy?"

"Bobby's Watcher Council. I have my own archive guy."


"I know, how choice is that?" Faith grinned proudly.

"Cool. But can you trust him? I heard the Council was going to kill you."

A shrug was all she got from the Slayer.


"They were thinking about doing the dead and bring right back thing, just to activate another Slayer."

"You say that like you are okay with the idea."

"Had crossed my mind." Faith was intent on looking at her feet.

"Are you insane? Do you know how fucked up that is?" Willow yelled, throwing her arms in the air. How could everyone be so stupid?


"Totally messing with the whole balance of nature, good and evil. There has been a shitload of evil with Buffy being brought back to life, with there being two of you. Don't even think about making another." She demanded.

"I didn't think about that."

"So this Bobby guy, was he in on the plan to kill you."

"Sort of." Willow glared at Faith. "Maybe"

"I don't trust him." She crossed her arms.

"Me neither, but he seems like a good guy, so give him a break, would ya?"

Willow sighed, feeling the push in her mind again. "Listen, there isn't time. I have to take you back, and when I do things are going to be different."

"How different? If B is fucking Angel again"-

"A world of no." the Red head exclaimed.

"Then what?"

"You are going to be really mad at me." Willow frowned. "Really mad probably doesn't even cover it. Lucky for me you are going to be in so much pain that you won't be able to really do anything to me for awhile."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Faith took Willow's arms in her hands. "Did doing this teleporting magic fry your brain?" Brown eyes bore into hers, and Willow felt the pain of regret, and knew she would feel the weight of guilt for sometime. But there seemed to be nothing she could do to fight the command that was getting stronger and stronger in her head.

"We are going back now. Just know Faith. I am sorry. And I love you."

"Okay, I love you to but wh"-

Willow sent them both back to Sunnydale, in a puff of smoke.



The cab ride was the stuff of modern nightmares. Meral was convinced that she would be having a few in the days if not months to come, all featuring the exuberant driving of Mr. Ibrahim Faqih. With his apparent need to drive as fast as he could, riding the bumper of every car in front of him, making turns so sharply that she was tossed too and fro in the back seat. And she was convinced that he nearly ran over some harmless pedestrians, twice!

She checked the address written hastily on a slip of paper, the address she had obtained illegally from an Internet search before she had left London, then raised her eyes to take in the very seedy neighborhood. In the darkening evening some women of the night were already making an appearance.

"This is the place, Missus." Mr. Ibrahim Faqih said in his accented English.

"Are you quite certain?"

"The address you gave, this is it. Now please, I have other places I must go."

"Right, sorry. Just fearing for my safety is all." Meral grumbled, putting the paper back into her pocket.

"Just do not be out at night, and you will do fine here."

"Not at night. Vampires I guess you will say next?"

"I would never say any such thing." He said sounding very nervous. "Fifty-eight dollars please."

"Right. Fine." She handed over what she hoped was sixty-five and got out of the back of the car. She heard the trunk pop open, and went to pull out her one large duffle bag.

The taxi was speeding away before she completely closed the trunk.

"Thank you?" She said to the dust that was left in the yellow car's wake.

Turning she looked up at the building. Now that she was here how was she going to handle this? She had rehearsed a few different opening lines, but they all seemed trite now that she was standing in front of Willow's apartment building.

"Oh lord. I am here already."

Was this even a good idea? Should she just find a hotel room, log on the Internet with her laptop and email Willow. What if the young red head were to be angry at her for coming all this way to pop in unannounced? What if she was in fact annoyed with Meral, and that was the reason for her not writing back? Or what if Willow was busy entertaining an intimate friend?

Meral scratched her forehead. She hadn't thought about the last one. All of this drama, all the determination to get here, to see Willow, what if she was involved?

"Did I really come all this way in hopes that she was both single and gay?" Meral shook her head. "Why did I come here?"

"I can help you find out, if you know what I mean." An older woman in a much too short skirt said as she ran her hand over Meral's arm, who jumped. She had not heard the woman approach her.

"Oh, I don't think so." Meral replied, moving away. "I don't pay."

"No one was asking you to."

"Oh lord where have I landed?"

"Didn't you know? This is Sunnydale."

"Indeed. So cheery, I should have guessed." Meral moved past the woman and into the building. Stand outside would get her nowhere. Whether she wanted to think about why she was really there or not didn't matter, getting upstairs and at least seeing if Willow was home would be a first good step. She would worry about everything else later.

Fucking hell, it is later.

The door was suddenly before her, and she felt her heart start to thump louder in her chest, felt her palms beginning to sweat, even holding onto her duffle bag. She dropped it and vigorously rubbed her hands on the legs of her jeans. Meral took three deep breaths in succession, and then froze.

What if she is watching through the spy hole?

Closing her eyes, and praying she didn't faint, she tried to center herself. She knew why this was so hard. She was used to books and computers, not people. Meral never really had a need for people in her life, aside from Robert, but he didn't count. She had not choice. He had been around when she was born, couldn't really avoid him. But everyone else? Avoidance was easy, when one is a bookworm they tend to blend in with the walls, and that was what she had done. She never would have flown half way across the world a year ago. But that changed. It changed because of the woman who was on the other side of this door. A woman, who had sparked something inside of Meral, and she knew, if nothing else, that Willow would be a friend she could have for life. There was nothing else to worry about.

She lifted her hand and knocked on the door, hard.

But the door did something it wasn't supposed to.

It opened.

"Willow? Hello? Anyone home?" She called out, pushing the door open all the way with the toe of her boot. What she saw made her take three steps into the apartment without thinking. A bag lay at one side of the main room, the contents strewn all over the floor, and the wall beside the open door had fresh blood, just a little, sprayed on it. "Willow?" She called out, looking around. It was a large and modern studio apartment, and it looked like the mess and violence had only touched the entryway, and, the sleeping area. Her chest tightened as she took in the sight of the blankets that were hanging off of the bed. Swallowing, she stepped through the scattered magical items, towards the door she saw on the other side of the bed. "Willow are you here?" She asked softly, opening the door, preparing herself for the worst. Her sigh of relief was short lived, seeing the bathroom empty. Glad that there were no injured witches there, but not so glad that she was clearly alone here.

Backing out beside the bed she noticed an over turned picture frame. Picking it up she smiled.

"There you are." She mumbled, and before she could stop herself, she touched the redhead's smiling face. "So happy. That must be Tara." She looked at the blonde who had one arm around Willow's waist. They looked so contented. Willow had told Meral the story of meeting Tara, and of their bond. Of course they had also talked at length about the loss Willow felt when Tara was taken from her. They had chatted for hours that time, Meral insistent on making Willow feel a little better after rehashing all of the painful memories. She hoped that one day she would know why a woman would smile that brightly. Sighing she set the picture down. Finding Willow was paramount now, to anything else.

Turning around she caught sight of a flash of light. Looking closer she noticed, on the windowsill, amid prisms and candles were two crystal charms. She had never seen them in real life, but had seen many pictures. They were catching charms. Ones that caught and held low levels of magic. Why would Willow need those?

Keeping an eye out she scanned and saw several more odd charms tucked away here and there. But not just catching charms. There were a few other charms that were much worse. Control charms. Now Meral had a feeling that Willow had not placed them around the apartment. She gathered up the four that she saw, and headed for the kitchen. Under the sink she found what she was looking for, what she was sure no witch would be without. If someone was using Willow's own magic to control her, there was very little that Willow could have done about it. It was a good idea, clinically thinking, Willow would never feel it controlling her until it was too late.

"Who would do this to you?" Meral wondered as she tossed the gathered the charms into the large cast iron pot she had found. "This will lessen the effect for now. I just hope you are okay. God help whoever did this is if you are not."

Crouching down amid the herbs and candles strewn across the floor Meral looked for a clue, something as to what might have happened. Willow's wallet was there, so this wasn't a robbery, at least she didn't think that it was. She ignored the things that she knew were useless alone, but reached for a book that was laying open. Glancing at the cover she flinched. She knew this book. She had held a copy of it just last week when she was researching the spell for Willow. Meral flipped through the pages, and stopped breathing. There were two pages ripped out. The two pages that explained the only ways to kill a Day Walker, as well as the prophecy, that a Day Walker was the only vampire who would be able to turn a,

"Slayer." Meral jumped up, dropping the book and took off running towards the door.



Jude had come back in, and was pacing, seeming to like the added height and features she was wearing. Giles wondered if Buffy had believed the ruse. She might have, the thought, as Jude turned sharply, and he caught sight of the face. The glamour was flawless, and he even found himself staring at the face of the dark Slayer whom he had not seen for quite some time.

The tension in the room was palpable with Hank and his fresh minions on one side, and he and Anya on the other. He cast a glance at her and she shrugged. If something did not happen soon-

But his thought was interrupted as there was a loud snap filling the warehouse, and the smell of singed cloth and skin. Turning around he saw two forms surrounded by smoke. He could easily pick out the Slayer as she dropped to her knees, slapping her palms on the concrete floor and began violently vomiting.

"Oh, yuck!"

"Bloody hell." Giles covered his mouth with his handkerchief.

"She's broken, what the hell did you do?" Jude rushed to a visibly shaken Willow's side, grabbed her and pulled back her arms. The sound of the slap across her face was as loud as Faith's retching. Giles' shoulders tensed as he helplessly watched blood coming now from Willow's mouth as well as her nose.

Faith growled, and moved to lunge at Jude, her twin, but the Seer had seen the sluggish attempt and landed a kick to the side of her face, sending Faith sprawling.

"Stop it!" Giles had seen enough and sprung to his feet.

"What the hell is going on?" Hank demanded coming closer as well.

"A human would have slammed into a coma. Be lucky she is a Slayer and is only puking. It could be much worse. And you? Why are you bullying Willow? She is in a lot of pain. Teleporting would kill a lesser witch." Anya poked Jude in the shoulder.


Giles slowly maneuvered himself towards Faith, kneeling beside her. Feral black eyes locked onto his, and he wished he could find his voice. It seemed only Anya was able to talk.

"I thought you were orgasm buddies." She glowered at Jude.

"She's worthless now."

"Not her power."

The sneer Jude's face offered chilled Giles to his core. He had seen that look before, but at that time it was worn by a Slayer who could back it up.



I am officially freaking out.

She was pacing in the kitchen, casting glances at the phone on the table, willing it to ring. No one was returning her phone calls, and Buffy had no clue where to even begin to look for any of them.

"When something goes wrong they are always here. What in the hell is going on?"

Looking at the clock she groaned. She needed to leave, soon, to be at the warehouse when she promised who ever the hell that was who came looking like Faith. Buffy had a suspicion, but it just seemed too silly, to ‘Mission Impossible two' for it to be true. All she knew was that Giles, Willow, Anya, Xander, and even Jude were missing, and the whole thing smelled like a trap. A stinky cheese trap.

And her pacing wasn't doing any good. She needed to get out there, me active. She was the action girl not the planning girl. Action it was. Buffy marched through the house, picking up her patrolingg jacket, with all of it's fun toy surprises in the hidden pockets and stomped to the front door. She jerked it open and stopped.

Standing in front of her, with her arm raised was a woman Buffy had never seen before. Her face was drawn and her blue eyes were burning in that ‘I will kill you if you don't get out of my way' sort of hue.

"You and I need to talk Slayer." She said in her thick accent.

"Why is it whenever someone says that with a British accent I get even more worried than usual?"

"Your tough luck I guess?" The woman snapped.

"Years of experience is more like it. Listen, um,"

"Meral." She nodded, her brown hair moving into her eyes, and she brushed it away with a shaking hand.

"Meral. Okay. Something is going on, and I think a Seer is using a glamour to look like my girlfriend, so now is really not the time for a Council check in. Maybe in a week, if I am still alive and the world is still turning clockwise. Wait. Does the world turn clockwise?" Buffy stopped and thought for a second. Did it? How would that work exactly? She shook her head. "Not important. What is important is you, standing in my way here."

"Buffy, you need to breathe for a moment. I know for a fact that Faith is fine, she is with my brother as we speak, there is something more pressing."

"Brother? You call them ‘brothers' now?"

"My literal brother. Buffy, you are talking me into circles and I won't stand for it. Not when Willow is in danger, and not when there is a Day Walker on the loose."

That caught Buffy's complete attention. "Come inside."



When she looked up, her eyes, soulful and reminiscent of a child, she asked, "Where should I go?"

Balch reread the last line in his journal, and wasn't sure that it was accurate. Having spoken to Faith his view was altered slightly, and he wanted to be sure he chronicled this right, especially in light of the fact that she had vanished to only Gods knew where. His mobile phone vibrated, startling him and he reached for it, just as his sleeping car was cast into blackness.



"Meral? Is that you? I can barely hear you."

"No really? Are you in a tunnel?"

"Actually yes I am. Where are you?"

"…Summers' home…Day Walker… thinks it's a… and Faith… Willow not."

"Willow was just here, she teleported in I think, and then she and Faith were gone."

"Really? Lord that is very… I hope she is… No, Buffy, he doesn't… right."

"Meral? What?"

"Is Faith there?"

"No. She disappeared with Willow."

"Disap… going to kick her fucking ass… right… Robert you need to…"


"Hello?" He looked at the phone and pressed the talk button. "Hello? Meral? Hello?"

"It would be kind of you not to scream in my ear." A male voice replied as the train shot out of the tunnel. Balch recognized the voice of Quinten Travers immediately.

"Sir, my apologies, I was talking with my sister on the other line."

"I gathered that, from you screaming her name at me." Quinten cleared his throat. "Do you have the Slayer?"

"I did."

"Did? Past tense."

"Something happened, and well, she disappeared."

"Balch, people do not simply disappear."

"She did. I think there may be some trouble in Sunnydale."

"There always is." He sighed. "Balch, either you have the Slayer, or you have my report. I cannot wait indefinitely."

"Its only been a day." Balch sighed.

"True, but I need to know what to do with these potential slayers."

"Can I recommend taking them back to HQ, and training them until such time as Faith expires naturally?"

"You can, though I do not have to accept your recommendation."

"Sir, with all due respect, this is a little too much like our playing God, becoming the hand of fate, as it were. Doesn't that seem unbalanced to you?" Balch bit his lip, knowing, expecting the explosive response from Mr. Travers.

"How was she, I mean mentally?"

"When I found her? She was introspective and was believing that she should return to the Council and to allow you to do as you all wished."

"I see. Your rapport with this girl?"

"As well as could be expected I suppose."

"Hm. Send me a report. And send it to HQ, where I will be come tomorrow. I would like you in Sunnydale, providing status. A decision will be made, but it will be made by a full and fair vote of the Council of Watchers. Perhaps we were being a little, controlling."


"That is all."


"She' s free." He mumbled and tossed the phone to the bench, turning to watch more of America passing him by.



"Fuck." Meral tossed the phone down on the table, and watched it crack in half. She looked at the Slayer, and then back at the phone. "Sorry."

"Its okay, I do that about once a week. No one seems to be calling me anyway." Buffy growled the last bit and Meral watched her closely. "So your brother said that Willow and Faith just disappeared?"

"Right. I am thinking that Willow teleported."

"That is dangerous."

"You have that right. Buffy, why would Willow do that? She knows how dangerous it is for her, and anyone else she takes with her."

"I am in the closet. Dark."

Meral looked at her raising a brow.

"I have no clue. Everything was been sort of weird lately. I haven't really seen Willow since yesterday. No one is returning my phone calls. This is really unusual. The usual is for us all to be attached at the hip, here, making with the plans. But as you can see, there is no making of anything."

"From what I found a Willow's someone is controlling her."

"No way. Willow is a bad magic mama. No controlling, she would feel it."

"Not if someone was using her own magic. It is possible that someone is forcing her to do this, to go and get Faith."


"I have an idea. Actually the more I think about this the more it is all making sense."

"How so?" Buffy looked generally interested, so Meral pressed on.

"Well turning your friends against you is a valid and strong defense."


"Before I knocked on your door, what were you doing?"

"Freaking out because no one is here, no one is reachable by phone."

"You've been doing this for years, yes?"

"Make me feel old, go on I dare you."

"I am still older than you so hush." Buffy and Meral shared a grin. "You have been doing this a long time, longer than any other Slayer in recorded history. And we know what makes you different, what makes you stronger than all the others before you."

"My keen fashion sense."

Meral looked Buffy over from head to toe. She had heard stories and seen pictures of the Slayer, and had known what to expect visually. But her humor was an added bonus, a tension reliever. She wondered if Faith was the same, if all of them were. She grinned, looking at the baggy black track pants, and the tight but not matching spaghetti strap top.

"That would be a no."

"I haven't done laundry, I usually look much hipper than this."

"I am sure you do, love." Meral patted her arm, noticing that the Slayer did not move, at all. She was like marble and that shocked the humor from Meral. "But to the point. The real one. You have lasted as long as you have because of your friends. Your family. They breathe life and strength into you. Where other Slayers accepted their inhumanity, and their hunger, you fought it and sought out those that hold pure human characteristics, the ones you were afraid of losing. Your heart, your logic, your reason. They are extensions of you, and you love them, You need them as they need you. Without them, you will become what you are afraid to be."

"Who the hell are you?" Buffy asked seriously and softly.

"A glorified librarian. You?"

"A librarian." Buffy smiled. "And a Slayer."

"Right. That you are. I think someone who knows you, who understand your need for your family is behind this. Who else would think to take away what you need? Question is, who knows?"

"A lot of people. Angel, but he is good." She pursed her lips. "I am still going with the Seer. She's new to the group, she's only been dating Wills for a couple of months."

Her throat clenched. "Oh."

"Hey, who died? Why so glum chum. Your friends didn't disappear on you."

Internally shaking herself out of it, and stopping the impending rage she was beginning to feel if in fact this person, this thing that Willow was dating was the one who was also controlling her. "So this Seer, she is new? What would her motivation be?"

"Not sure. People tend to hate me, even when I try and help."



She looked around the room once, noticing that the vampires were paying attention, but the others were tending to Willow, she wanted an audience, and seeing as she had it, Jude pulled back her leg and kicked Faith in the gut again.

"That's for fucking her when she looked like me."

"Bitter huh? I could have given you a ride, if you really want one that bad." Faith coughed and spit more blood from her mouth.

"Shut up you fucking dirty whore."

"Ouch. You kiss your momma with that mouth?"

"Fuck you Slayer. Soon you will see where your place in all this is." Jude stood straighter and walked two steps back. "We all will. A few more hours and we will all be dead."

"She sounds so happy about that." Giles mumbled.

"You will be happy. All of you. When you feel the power that Hank will bestow on us."

"Are we certain that Faith will not reject the blood. No Slayer has ever been turned. Many have tried, but it has never been successful." Giles questioned.

"I saw it. It will be so. We will all be turned, and we will all set out from here and change the world." Jude crossed her arms defiantly, already imagining the power.

"Big plan, big plans. One small wrinkle. I don't plan on turning into anything. Well maybe a bed, but only after a shower." Faith snapped from the floor, and Jude stomped closer to her, pulled back her arm and punched Faith, splitting her lip. "You hit like a girl." Faith grinned. "By the way, when this is all over, I am gonna kick you ass for touching Willow the way you did."

"Right. You can have her when all this is done, as you put it Faith. I won't need to steal her magic any more. I will have my own power."

"If you manage to pull this off, won't matter. Even as a mindless, soulless vamp I will be just what I am right now."

"What's that? Enlighten me." Jude asked.

"A murderer. And I pick you to be my next victim."

"Right." Jude laughed.

"She is quite serious. I assure you. Killed two humans before was it?" Giles asked from behind them.

"You got it G-man, and about a thousand vamps and demons. What's one more?"

"You'll change your tune after Hank sucks you dry." She asserted.

"You talking dirty to me now?" Faith winked up at her.

"God!" Jude fell to her knees and began pummeling Faith's face, hoping she would just shut up.



He was watching the events unfolding all around him, and not for the first time since he began this charade was wondering if he had been crazy to agree to go along with this.


// He was leaning against the cupboard in his kitchen, blinking trying to get his eyes to come into focus. The last punch that had landed him in the kitchen had really packed a lot of strength. Giles first thought as the front door was slammed closed behind Hank Summers was to get to Buffy, to warn her that her father had been turned and was on the loose. His second thought was how he would like to take Jude and ring her bloody neck.

"Oh no. Blood." Anya's voice grated in his mind as she appeared beside him. He groaned. "And moaning? Are you going to not die again? I mean appear to die, but not, just scaring me to death?"

"Anya please." He mumbled, feeling to see if any of his teeth were now littering the front room instead of their rightful place. It was clear from the violence shown that Mr. Summers held a bit of a grudge against Giles. He wondered how angry the man, rather vampire, would have been if he had know about the relationship between him and Joyce as well.

"I was afraid of this happening. I tried to keep you out of it. But Jude had to open her mouth, again." Anya took the handkerchief from Giles and stood to run it under the water tap.

"What are you talking about? Do you have something to do with this?" He asked. "What have you been up to?" He winced as she pressed the wet cloth to his mouth.

"I haven't really done anything."

"That sounds very much like a little lie." He snapped, and tried to stand.

"Are you sure you should be moving? He is pretty darn strong. He's tossed me aside before, and I have to say, Day Walkers, they are strong."

"Yes they are. Strong and supposed to be a myth."

"So are Slayers." Anya shrugged. "Surprise; he's real."

"And how did that happen I wonder?" He glared at her. How could she have gone so evil as to help create that creature?

"No way Mr. Watcher guy. I had nothing to do with that. Jude was the one who found the spell, she was the one who found Hank."

"You just kept it from us?"

"Okay. You do have a point there. But you have to see this from my way."

"The way of a demon? Oh please, Anya, enlighten me. What was your way?"

"Buffy was going to kill me."

"She would not."

"Oh, I beg to differ. If she knew of the little oops I made in San Francisco." Anya turned away. Giles could tell she was really upset. That did not negate his own anger, but he was willing to listen. "I thought this would help, you know a get out of jail free card."

"A what?"

"I knew Jude was fishy the minute she showed up. She smelled all wrong. You know of stolen magic and vengeance. So I cornered her. And she told me that if I didn't keep my mouth shut and help her, she would make sure Buffy knew about a weekend wish I had granted that cost a few people their lives. It was blackmail. I know what I did to those boys was wrong, vivisection looks good on no one, but I thought I could pretend to go along with Jude, and then when I had enough evidence I could take it to Buffy and all would be forgiven."

"So why didn't you go to Buffy?"

"Are you kidding? They did the Day Walker thing without me, like two days ago. There has been no time to do anything. And now they want me to go and get Faith."

"Faith is where?"

"Like you don't know. I heard you on the phone yesterday. I know that you know that the council has her in Boston and is planning to put her down." She grinning and clapped her hands together. "When you were you planning on telling Buffy that I wonder?"

"Today, this morning in fact."

"Mm, hm."

"Fine. I was working within the Council to change their minds. You know I care for Faith."

"But you were working on it before telling super blonde who would run off half cocked. See where I am going with this."

"I do." He groaned, knowing they were both at fault for different reasons, because they did not trust Buffy enough to tell her sooner.

"So what can we do?"

"The eventual plan is to what?"

"Turn Faith into a Day walker, have her turn all of you, kill Buffy. No more Slayer. Jude rules the world, something like that."

"And they want me?"

"You are kidding right? All vampires want you. British, a little dark and mysterious."

"Anya?" He croaked, feeling uncomfortable under her gaze and description.

"You are smart, you know things. You are valuable."

"So we play their game?"

"I think it is the best bet, to defuse the situation."

"Should we tell Buffy?"

"Not yet."//


"I think that is quite enough for now. You want her to be alive when he drains her, otherwise, another Slayer will be activated, and all this will be for nothing." Giles said, putting his hand on Jude's shoulder, trying to get her to stop beating Faith.

"Not for nothing. Buffy has been betrayed. Seeing the look on her face when she sees all of you, here, with me. That will be worth it."

This girl is a fool.

Giles looked across the way at Anya, who shrugged, and then looked around the warehouse. Ten vampires were watching the scene, and they were keeping Giles and Anya from escaping with Faith and Willow. They had planned to get enough information to provide to Buffy to thwart the plan, but had not thought ahead to being surrounded and guarded by so many vampires. They were, in a sense, trapped as well.

Jude brushed her hands off and stood up.

"Won't be long now." She stomped off, and Giles bent and lifted Faith to her feet.

"Are you hurt?"

"Are you fucking kidding me?" She chuckled. "G, I can't see, I can barely hear you, and pain, let me tell you something about pain. It hurts." She groaned. "Yeah, I am hurt."

"Sorry." He slipped his arm around her waist.

"Don't be. Not yet. When this is all over, and you explain to me what the fuck you all were thinking, then say you were sorry. Right now, it means shit to me."

"Okay. We will get through this."

"I intend to, and I intend to kick that midgets ass too." She closed her eyes, and Giles winced, in sympathy for her.



I was leaning on Giles more than I liked. I was in a whole lot of pain, and not happy about it. This body of mine was protesting too. How many times could I get the shit kicked out of me and still heal. I hope I had time to find out. Not being at full strength, and my head still being this foggy was not good. One thing was for certain, when I got all my marbles back, and I figured out that was going on, Red and I were going to have a little chat about that whole moving through space and time when I am not built for that sort of shit.

God. I hurt.

What the hell?

I felt it. I stopped thinking, stopped being in the moment and just felt it. Low rumble, but different than a rumble. A vibration. Moving across the ground, moving to my feet, up my legs, getting stronger, tickling at my stomach, and then turning into a thumping, matching my own heart beat. Matching it beat for beat. My head fell back and my eyes closed, and I felt it all around me, the thumping vibration, the warmth covering all of me.

I moaned. But not because of the pain. This time I moaned feeling filled, caressed, loved, and completed.


"Buffy is here." I turned and looked at him, smiling, feeling my split lip crack open again, blood bubbling up. I licked it away and opened my eyes, watching the color drain from his face.

Wow. A year goes by and a whole lot of things change.



"Faith." Buffy stopped, setting her hand on Meral's arm.

"Buffy, are you alright? What is it?"


"Wow? We are about to walk into a trap, with only the two of us here, and you say, wow?"

"Oh yeah." She closed her eyes and felt it. The vibrating heat that danced up her spine and through her body, almost energizing her, filling her. "Faith is here."

"We knew that."

Buffy turned to looked at Meral's worried blue eyes. "I used to be able to tell when she was around. Like the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up. But this, this is different. Completely. It is wow. Like I feel her beside me, inside me."

"TMI, Slayer." Meral blushed.

"Not like that." Buffy grinned. "There are a lot of vampires in there too. So you stay here."

"I cannot allow you to"-

"Tell me you just did not use the ‘a' word."

"I am afraid I did."

"Am I really going to have to punch you in the head to knock you out and keep you safe?" Buffy watched the taller woman swallow. "Good. Be a good librarian and wait here." She started walking towards the building and stopped, looking back over her shoulder. "Scratch that. All the librarians I know get into trouble. Just stay put."

Buffy knew she would, and didn't have to look back. She sniffed the air before opening the large bay door. Vampires, and all her friends were on the other side. So was Faith, and she was hurt, bleeding. Buffy's teeth ground together and she inhaled one more time. Ten vampires, and a strong one added to that. And there was that oldly familiar scent too. Damn, she just couldn't seem to place it.

Fuck it.

She kicked down the door.

Buffy scanned the room, not seeing the vampires yet, but noticing her friends standing in such away that hurt, the pain of betrayal bubbling up. Even though she knew, she felt that Willow was being controlled, what about the others? Seeing the look in her best friends eye she asked, "What the hell is going on here? Willow?"

"She doesn't need to answer to you, Buffy. No one does. How long did you think they would blindly follow you? How many times did you think you could betray them and have them forgiving you, coming back to kiss your ass, put themselves in danger time and time again?"

He walked out of the shadows, and it hit Buffy like a ton of bricks. "Dad?"

"Don't you even dare. Where the hell were you when they did this to me? When they found me? Never thought to tell your old man about the things that went bump in the night? I could have protected myself Buffy! But no, you never said a word, and look what happened. Take a good look. They came after me knowing who I was. All the time bragging about how they were gonna kill the Slayer's dad. How it would crush you. You didn't even know I was GONE!"

"You never were in my life, why was I supposed to care that you weren't there? How was I supposed to tell the difference?"

"I am your father!"

"You gave up that right a long time ago Hank."

"You ungrateful"-

"So you are all betraying me, is that it? Willow. What did I ever do?" Buffy was completely convinced that Willow was being controlled. She hadn't said a word. And Anya and Giles were leaning back, out of the way. The question, where was Jude and Faith? She needed to keep her dear old soon to be dead dad talking, until she could determine who was who and where everyone was. She could feel Faith around her, but if Jude was still wearing the glamour, it would be impossible to tell them apart.

"What didn't you do, Buffy? You brushed her aside when she was in love with you." Willow flinched. "You let her get attacked by Angel, and what do you do to Angel for pay back? Nothing. You forgive him like nothing happened. You had a nasty habit of doing that, forgiving vampires you are fucking when they hurt your supposed friends. You let Faith kidnap her, you let her lover, her soul mate die instead of you."

"Those were not my fault. Willow you know that I never meant for anything to happen to Tara. I loved her too." Buffy watched Willow blink and one tear slip down her bruised cheek.

"She is tired of believing your lies. We all are. We are all tired of playing your game. Forgiving you everything, when you just use us over and over again. You are selfish, Buffy, and you are going to pay. How does it feel to be betrayed?" The man she once called Father asked smugly, crossing his arms.

Buffy Summers shrugged and said, "I'll tell you when it happens."

"Hurt her." He ordered.



He couldn't believe that Anya had not only taken his keys, but his car. He had a hell of a time following Buffy and whoever that stranger was with her when they left the house and hailed a cab. His missing wallet didn't help matters either. But watching the general direction of the yellow car, and knowing that something was very wrong he guessed that if he headed towards the docks he would be doing something right. He was running out of steam though, and still jogging, albeit slower, he rounded a corner and ran smack into someone.

"Damn!" A voice exclaimed. Female. Not someone, she one. Xander looked up from where he was sprawled on the ground. The face looking at him was worried, and attractive. And the same face that was on the body that had been with Buffy earlier.

"Where is she you, you, what are you?" The sun was out so she wasn't a vamp.

"What am I?" She shook her head and extended her hand. "I am me. Well, Human. Bother. None of that matters. I take it you are Xander?"

"I am. My reputation precedes me."

"That it does." She lifted him up, and Xander brushed the dirt off of his pants.

"Was it the falling or the girlish fear in my eyes that gave it away?"

"Neither. The tall handsome man bit covered it I think."

"Handsome?" he grinned. "Where's Buffy?"

"Inside, being ambushed I believe."

"And you are out here just doing nothing?"

"She offered to knock me unconscious if I didn't." She shrugged.

"That's the Buffster alright."

"I take it you are not part of the evil plan?"

"Evil? What evil?"

"I believe that inside, along with a freshly baked Day Walking vampire are Willow, Giles, and Anya."

"Damn. She told me she was only sort of evil."


"Anya." He punched his palm. "Damn. So they made a Day Walker? I thought with the whole Veronica being dusted by Faith that was all settled."

"Appearently not."

"Hm. And you know all this not because you are evil, but because you are British?"

"Somehting like that."


She nodded.

"Have a name?"

"Meral Balch." She smiled, and it actually lit up her face nicely.

"Meral? You're Meral? Willow's Meral?"

She blushed a little. "Um, I guess you could say that."




"No nothing, Xander what is it?"

He shrugged. "Its nothing important, it's just, you are." He looked her up and down and grinned, but stopped quickly. "You're a female person."

"Of course I am." She looked confused.

"She thought you were a guy."

"What?" She gasped.

"Yep, guy. Wills was bummed about it too."

"Bummed?" a small crooked smile appeared.

"Said something about it was too bad you were a guy because she really felt a connection to you, but there was no way she would go back to driving stick. But Wills doesn't drive, so she kind of lost me there. Hey, you're smiling. Smiling is good. Why are you smiling?"

"You are lucky you have such a good heart Xander Harris. You are clueless when it comes to women on all other counts."

"Thanks. I think. So, should we make with the diversion?" He rubbed his hands together, his way of attempting to get excited about facing a possible death.

"Why not. I haven't had a chance to stake anyone yet. Always wanted to try."

"Goodie. You'll like it. It's fun. Just don't try the getting dead. Willow would be even more disappointed."



Ten vampires swarmed her. They came from every direction, and were all within striking distance. Buffy caught the sad look in both Anya and Willow's eyes as the blows began landing on her body. She closed her eyes and began feeling the movements in the air around her, making it easier to block and deflect blows that trying to see them. All part of the technique Giles had instilled in her. Where was Giles> She hoped he was all right.

A solid punch to the back of her neck sent her to her knees, and she focused. Now was not the time for thinking, it was the time for killing.



I could smell the fight. There was vamp dust in the air, and I wanted to hoot and cheer her on. The adrenaline was pumping through me, I could feel it in my blood. There was also a hunger to be standing beside her, moving with her. But Giles was holding me up. I couldn't even stand on my own. B needed me and I was useless.

Or maybe not.

I tired to imagine her, and I tried to picture myself moving with her, giving her all the strength I could.

Hell, who knew if it would work, but it was worth a shot, right?

More dust, and an echoing laugh that made my lips twitch into a smile. She was feeling it, getting into the kill. She was slaying. I could smell her now, the excitement, the power.

Then her howl of pain.

I flinched, and so did Giles. I tried to open my eyes but they had swelled shut, thanks to my doppelganger and her fists of furry.

"You can do it. Fight through the pain." I mumbled.



Buffy stood straighter, the last of the vampires disappearing in a cloud of dust around her. She took one step closer to Hank, and even though they had managed to break her leg, she was breathing through it, using the pain, and walking another step closer.

"That all you got, Daddy?" She sneered, spitting blood on the floor. He felt a little of his confidence slip. But then he remembered Jude's words. Nothing could stop them. She had seen the future. He motioned to the ex-Watcher, who then stepped out of the back room, half carrying Faith with him. With a scowl, Giles pushed Faith towards him, and Hank grabbed her by the throat, turning them both back to Buffy.

Her eyes looked pained, seeing this person. So it was true. Anya was right. Above all of them, Buffy loved Faith the most.

"What are you doing?" His daughter asked.

"Turning her, while you watch."

"The prophecy states the Day Walker can only turn the true Slayer, what is it that makes you think that's Faith? Why do you thinking you can turn her?"

"You see Buffy, you go about killing discriminately. Funny that. You haven't ever been the true slayer, you started off with such promise, and then you folded. Faith has always been the true Slayer. She kills indiscriminately. She knows what she is and she kills demons, all of the demons."

"But, I don't."

"No you don't." He cut her off. "Let's see, did you kill Angel? Why no. Even when he killed innocents around you. Even when he killed Ms Jenny Calendar. Did you kill him? No. But do you know what happened when Faith heard he was in town?"

"She went to kill him." Buffy said her shoulders slumping slightly.

"Bingo. How about Spike? Your little friend; your lover. Did you kill him?"

"That was different, he had a chip."

"He killed thousands or more before he ever saw you, he was a vampire, and a killer. You didn't stake him. But Faith did." Hank loved watching his daughter squirm. "What about Willow? She was about to end the world,"

"I fought her."

"You should have killed her."

"But I didn't."

"Bingo. Faith killed spike. Faith killed her Watcher, someone she once loved, because she is the Slayer. And that is why it is all about her. She is the true Slayer, not you." He smirked. It was time. Nothing mattered except what he was about to do. "You have a choice, Daughter. You can stand there and watch me turn Faith, ending the Slayer line, and letting her live forever, or you can kill her, making another Slayer somewhere in the world, and stopping me. Your choice."

Buffy pulled a long knife from her jacket, and Hank felt Faith flinch in his arms.

"Don't do it Buffy, you and I can be together, forever, I promise. It won't be so bad. Don't do this." Faith pleaded, and then Hank pulled her closer, tilting her neck and allowing his face to change. Fuck the plan. He would drain Faith, and then he would gorge himself on Buffy's blood.

"You know what side I am on." Buffy said solumly. Hank bent to bit into Faith's neck, but stopped, seeing the blade of the knife sticking from her chest. He looked into her shocked brown eyes and then dropped her, turning to glare at Buffy.

"You killed her? You murdered your own lover? She was human?" Hank was shocked. The others stepped away from him. He looked at Giles who was backing away, to Willow who was covering her mouth with her hand.

"I guess I did." Buffy shrugged. "About time I killed a human. So what were you saying about me not being the real Slayer? I did what Faith would have done. It's just like she said." Buffy picked up her discarded stake from the floor and began walking closer to him. "She told me the truth. And I believe it now. In the balance, nobody is going to cry over some random bystander who got caught in the crossfire."

"You. Can't." He choked.

"Yep, she can." A voice said from behind him, and he watched as Faith limped out of the shadows.

It wasn't until he saw the blood on Faith's face, the torn clothes that he realized what had happened. That Jude had betrayed him, pretending to be Faith so he would turn her first.

"B." Faith said and tossed a broad sword to Buffy, who caught it. Buffy grinned and stepped even closer to him. She stopped, and he tried to remember something good about her, about who his daughter was, who he was. But all he felt was the betrayal, the rage, and the lust for Slayer blood. Hank hissed at her. But Buffy ignored him, looking down at the dead body at his feet.

"I'm sorry for her lover, and I am sorry for her. But it wasn't my fault. I am better than human, but I am still not a god. I am a Slayer, and killing is what I do. What I will die doing." And she pulled back the sword in her hands.




I had been disappointed.

By the time Xander and I had found a way inside of the warehouse, everything was over. Well, aside from the clean up, which Xander had informed me was part of being in the inner circle. All part of my initiation he had explained. I still was not sure I believed him, thinking it was too convenient that I was left cleaning up blood and vomit while they all left.

But over the past month things had improved. Significantly.

Faith healed quickly, as was expected, and after a few choice words to the Scoobies, she settled down. Moved back into the house with Buffy, and started working again at St. Michael's. I have nothing to compare it to, but Willow tells me that the Slayers seem happier than she has ever seen them. There is much left to study, the way their connection is seeming to depend, but no one seems in a hurry to ask those questions of them.

Robert had been appointed as Faith's Watcher, and was still beaming at being able to work side by side with the infamous Rupert Giles. The three of us had done our utmost best in reporting back to the Council initially, and the Board had been convinced that killing Faith isn't the best idea, for the balance of things.

Xander and Anya had discreetly left for a holiday in New Mexico, in an attempt to lay low from a certain Slayer duo who were still a little less than happy that they had not been informed sooner what was happening. It would have saved everyone a lot of grief, if she would have.

And Willow? Willow…

"What are you doing?"

Meral turned away from the computer to see Willow standing in the doorway, her arms crossed and a stern resolve face in place.

"I was um, well."

"I see my name there, Meral. What are you up to?"

"I wanted to update my journal is all."

"With my name?"

"Yes." Meral looked away, mortified at having been caught.

"I think it's sweet."

She gulped. "You do?"

"You know I do. Finish up. We need to head over to Buffy's for dinner." Willow smiled, and it was a contented one, before backing away. Meral looked at the computer, and then back to the doorway Willow had exited. Grinning she turned off the machine. She knew where she would rather be.



Dinner was the same. Everyone sitting around the huge table. Sort of nice. B tells me it was what the table was really for, not what she and I had ended up doing on it a few times. Hey, it was a nice big table, just begging to be used. So I did. But I know better than to mention that when Bobby or Giles are around, they tend to get all stuttery. It is sort of funny.

But dinner was good. Just like it always is. Meral's been making eyes with Red for about a week, and was sort of cocky about it tonight. I have the feeling that when Red is ready, Meral won't know what hit her. And I think she is pretty damn cool to let Red decide about it. After the fucking bitch Jude, Red needs to feel comfortable being herself before she gets hooked up with any one. Man, talk about rebound. That Jude was lucky B took care of her. And boy did she.

After dinner patrol was becoming a habit. Me and B going out alone. This normalcy was feeling kind of good. New and weird, but good.

I was walking beside B down the front walk, heading to patrol. Same ritual. She even kicked the pebble. I had to smile.

"What a year." She rolled my head to look at her. "Is it always like this?"

"Actually, this year was a little quiet."

I groaned as we walked into Restfield Cemetery, under the arch.

"You know you love this." B said bumping me with her hip.

"I do." I nodded.

"It fits us."

"It is our Calling."

"To go out every night."

"And save those that we can."

"And cry for those we can't."





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