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Far Away

by Invalid Reality

Rating: NC-17
Summary: Sequel to Closer, from the Wide Open Spaces series. : A week after Buffy has been turned back, the amnesia she is suffering from creates a rush of conflicting thoughts and emotions. The one question is...will she remember, or will she figure out just how she feels for Faith and fall for her once again?


Chapter One

One week had passed since she woke up with no memory of what had happened or how she was seemingly asleep one night and then nearly two months had passed by. Two months! Two months of her life gone, just like that. Giles and Willow had tried to explain to her all that had happened, why she couldn't remember, but she pushed them away, refusing to believe the things they were saying were true.

A vampire. With a soul.

In love. With Faith. Faith!

With a frustrated groan she pulled her pillow over her head and tried to drown out the sounds that drifted in from the corridors. It was never quiet in the castle, not even at night. Every night for the past week, just after midnight, she would hear Faith in the training room pounding away on one of the punching bags. She knew it was Faith; she'd gone down the second night to find out who it was. She'd caught herself standing there in the darkened doorway just watching her for nearly half an hour, anger bubbling inside of her. Confusion as to what the hell she was even doing there in the first place. Had she not been clear when she stated after Robin and the younger slayers' deaths that she didn't want anything to do with her?

Kicking off the sheets, suddenly feeling too hot even in the dry cool air, she lay there breathing in heavily, trying to collect her thoughts and trying to make sense of the dreams she'd been having since she'd come `back'. She knew something was different. Not just with herself, but with life in general and with the events that had unfolded, events she couldn't remember. The dreams were flashes of images, of what felt like memories. She woke up every morning drenched in sweat with a delicious ache between her legs and smiled at the feeling until she remembered just what she'd been dreaming of.


She didn't believe Giles or Willow about what had really happened to her, and she certainly wasn't about to talk to anyone about these dreams. She couldn't understand how or why she was even having them in the first place, though, and it was making her wonder if there was a string of truth to what they were saying. She used to know they would never lie to her, but everything had been different over the last while. She was no longer feeling quite herself, pushing everyone away and withdrawing into herself. She felt more alone than she ever had since she'd been called. She felt unloved and unwanted, unneeded, and nothing more than just what all the younger slayers thought of her as: General Buffy.

The one thing that really bothered her about the things she'd been told was the fact of how it all had started: She had gone out and tried to get herself killed. Killed! She scoffed at that in front of the others, but in the privacy of her own room she curled up on her bed and cried, wondering if they even knew how she felt and what she was going through. And through eavesdropping she'd heard Faith tell Giles what a mistake it had been to come there in the first place to help her. It made Buffy laugh. How the hell could Faith help her and with what?

Right back to Faith as always. She couldn't get her out of her head. Even when she just thought about her she got that old, warm and familiar hum deep in her body. She remembered it from back in Sunnydale, during the days before Faith had turned on all of them. But over all the anger and the hate, she chalked it up to mixed emotions and filed it away just as she had so many years ago. It was too easy to push aside what she felt for Faith. Now and then. It was all the same. It never changed. It never would. It was just the way it would always be. Just the thought of her now, weaselling her way back into her life the way she had, made her grind her teeth and clench her fists tight.

The sound of fists hitting the punching bag had become almost like music to her ears over the last week, only this time it was early morning and she knew the day had started for everyone in the castle but herself. She did as she pleased, came and went and slayed on her terms. But these sounds were different. Well timed and well connected to a certain dark, rogue slayer that went by the name of Faith.

"Bitch," she muttered angrily as she grabbed the pillow off of her head and tossed it clear across the room. "Would you get out of my head for two goddamn seconds?"

Taking in a few deep breaths to calm herself down, she got up out of bed and quickly got dressed in what she'd worn the night before. She didn't even look at herself in the mirror. She couldn't stand to anymore. She hated who she had become and she didn't need a daily visual reminder of that. She had her thoughts to do just that. All in all, she just didn't care anymore. She hadn't since things with Victor ended badly. Very badly.

She had done nothing but try to forget about that tryst. It messed up her head, tore open her heart and she built up these walls she knew would never break down. That got her thinking about Satsu, though, and that was even worse. She'd used the poor girl; used her and tossed her away even knowing how Satsu had felt about her. Everyone was always in love with her. It was some kind of hero worship, it had to be. She would tell herself that every time these thoughts came to her and it made her feel slightly better, but it didn't help the fact that right now nobody was in love with her.

"Get a grip," she said to herself as she flung open the door and stepped out into the corridor.

She avoided running into anyone as she made her way down to the kitchen. She needed her coffee. If she hadn't smashed the coffee maker in her suite months ago, she wouldn't have had to leave her room until mid-afternoon. Giles was in the kitchen, of course, sitting at the table sipping his tea with a newspaper spread out in front of him. He didn't lift his head from whatever story had his full attention as she walked over to the coffee maker, sighing out in relief at the full pot that had literally just finished brewing.

"Oh, good morning, Buffy. Did you sleep well?" Giles asked as he lifted his head and offered her a friendly smile.

"Like the dead," she chuckled dryly.

Giles tensed and removed his glasses, shaking his head at her poor excuse for a joke. She honestly couldn't help herself. She still didn't truly believe all that had happened no matter who told her. She wanted to believe it, she really did, but something felt off about the whole thing. If it really happened, why didn't she remember anything? They told her she was suffering from amnesia and it did seem to make sense; two months had passed and she had not a single memory of a day of it. Still she couldn't believe it.

She shrugged it off and reached for the sugar. She nearly dropped the bowl to the ground when a group of younger slayers ran into the kitchen, laughing like children and frazzling her nerves. All her senses had been on high alert since she woke up a week ago and she couldn't shake them or tune anything out. She did notice how acutely aware she was whenever Faith was around. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, sending shivers down her spine, and it only increased whenever she got closer to Faith. She did keep her distance; she knew if she didn't she'd lash out at her and it wouldn't end up well. There was a deep woven hate entwined with betrayal and god knows what else.

She took her coffee mug and slipped out of the kitchen, wandering around the corridors until she came to a stop just outside the training room. She hadn't actually stepped foot inside of there for nearly a year; she just couldn't be bothered to. This morning, though, something was drawing her in and she breezed past the open doors, coming to a sudden stop when her eyes fell upon Faith at the same punching bag she'd seen her using before. The same one Buffy always preferred back when she had trained daily. Her breath caught in her chest as Faith stopped and turned to look at her.

"Hey, B."

Buffy just raised an eyebrow as she walked over and sat on the stack of spare mats a few feet from where Faith stood. She said nothing as her eyes roamed over Faith's body, drinking her in and stuck in a trance she couldn't break herself out of. She had no idea why she was looking at her the way she was, like she was actually checking her out. It had to have been the dreams she'd been having that were playing sick games with her mind and her libido.

"You're always in here," Buffy said stiffly as she watched Faith resume a perfectly timed series of jabs and kicks against the bag.

"Helps me take my mind off of shit," Faith replied, keeping the rhythm and barely taking a breath as she kept her eyes trained on the bag in front of her. "Did you want something?"


"I really think we need to talk, B."

"No, we don't, F."

She saw the chill run through Faith's body at the coldness of her voice. She smirked as Faith gripped on to the bag and closed her eyes as she took in a few deep breaths. She sipped her coffee, her eyes never leaving Faith as she watched her try to calm herself down. She could see Faith's hands shaking and she wasn't sure if it was because she'd been at it for hours this morning already or because of something else. Because of her. She had to remind herself she didn't care what kind of effect she had on Faith. The truth of the matter was, she didn't want Faith there and she desperately needed to find a way to drill that into her stubborn head.

"Buffy, I..."

"Don't," she snapped, holding herself back from leaping at Faith and beating her senseless. The urge was in her, consuming her, but she had to keep her cool. She'd snap sooner or later and she knew Faith knew it too. "You want to talk? Fine. I want to know what the hell you are still doing here! Didn't I make it clear the other day that I don't want you here?"

"I get that and you've made it perfectly clear, B. But Giles wants me here. Willow and Xander and even your sister want me here. I'm not going anywhere because you can't stand to look at me. Besides, B, if you really hate me that much, wouldn't you have kicked my ass to Hell and back by now?"

"I'm trying to keep my cool."

Faith chuckled as she shook her head and began unwrapping the tape from her hands. "You have never been able to keep your cool around me, B."

"Things change."

"Sure do. People change too," Faith whispered under her breath just loud enough for Buffy to hear her. "I know you don't believe anyone when they tell you what's happened, but it happened, Buffy. It all really fucking happened! God, I always thought I was the stubborn one. How fucking wrong I was."

Buffy wasn't in the mood to get into this with Faith. She should have just got up and walked away, but something was keeping her there. She had this lingering feeling that they had to work things out despite the tension that continued to grow between them every time they came face to face in the last week. She had to be honest with herself: She rarely noticed the things Faith did, always too wrapped up in her own little world to give a flying fuck about anyone else but herself and the people she loved. Faith wasn't one of those people and never would be. But the way she caught Faith looking at her sometimes, with longing in her eyes, puzzled her. She was sure Faith had never looked at her like that before.

There was a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach that she was wrong about not believing everything that had happened. She wanted to shake it off, but she couldn't. What if she really was wrong about everything? What if she was wrong about Faith? What if she was wrong about how she really, truly felt about Faith under the layers of hatred she'd built up?

She'd been so lost in her own thoughts she didn't notice that Faith had left until she snapped out of it and found herself alone in the training room. With a heavy sigh she leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. How she found herself in situations such as this, she wasn't sure, but life seemed to have an endless supply of curveballs to throw in her direction.

Satsu had been one of them. Even at that time, she'd been more lonely than anything else. It was more about scratching that itch than finding someone to love at the time. The more she thought about it, the more she wondered if that's all it had ever been since she'd been with Angel. She'd never been able to fall in love, her heart seemingly already belonging to someone else. It didn't belong to Angel and it hadn't for a very long time, but it made her think hard and dig deep, only to shy away from answers she knew she wasn't ready for.

She set her mug down on the mats and walked over to the bag Faith had been using. The leather was still warm and it still swayed lightly from the reinforced chain that it hung from. She placed a hand over the well-worn spot in the middle and closed her eyes as she tried to clear her head enough to make sense of all the things running wild through her mind. She thought of the dreams she'd been having, how good she felt when she woke up from them and how angry she felt when she realized just who she'd been dreaming of. It made her wonder if the anger was just masking something else; true feelings perhaps. Feelings she wouldn't even admit to herself.

"She always does this. Gets into my head and under my skin and I can't get her out!"

Taking out her frustrations, her anger and a flurry of other emotions on the bag, she barely even noticed the pain in her knuckles until she stopped to take a deep breath and felt the warm blood trickling down her fingers. Time seemed to stand still as she stared down at her hands and watched the blood slowly drip off the tips of her fingers. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream out until she lost her voice. She wanted to beat the ever-living shit out of Faith and for a split second, a very quick split second, she just wanted to hug her and have Faith tell her everything was going to be all right.

Shuddering at the conflicted thoughts she was having that made absolutely no sense to her, she grabbed her mug of coffee and a fresh towel off the shelf near the door as she walked out. Thinking of Faith wasn't a new thing, but to have her invading her mind every second that passed definitely was. She was barely out the training room door before she was hit with a flurry of emotions as if she'd just walked into a wall. She stopped and clutched at her chest, trying to breathe as a flood of images flashed through her mind. It was too real. She could not only see what she was seeing, but she could feel it too.

Faith whispering words of love, her warm breath tickling her ear. Faith kissing her so deeply, so passionately she could feel the weakness in her knees even now. Faith letting her take her, fuck her, until she nearly passed out from the pleasure she was giving her. Faith just holding her, their bodies fitting so perfectly together as they slept.

As suddenly as those images had flooded through her mind, they were gone and she was left gasping for air, her heart racing wildly out of control. She'd had flashes of memories she didn't remember actually happening, but they'd never been that intense before. Not even in those dreams she'd been having every night for the past week had they felt so real. She braced a hand against the wall, trying to steady herself as her entire body began to shake. She couldn't understand what was happening to her or why it was happening to her. It wasn't like she could talk to anyone about this either. What was she going to say when she wouldn't even know where to start?

She was beginning to question what she really believed had happened. She was beginning to question herself and the way she felt when it came to Faith. What did she really feel? There was more than betrayal, more than hate rooted deep under the surface. Her mouth suddenly grew dry and she stopped herself from even thinking what she knew was coming, slamming her fist against the wall before she headed for the stairs.

Stopping on the landing, she couldn't keep herself from slumping against the wall as she tried to fight off the tears. What was happening to her? She just woke up one day and everything had gone and changed on her. It was worse than the time she'd been dead and gone and had to claw her way out of her own grave. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it sure felt like it in moments like this. She couldn't even sort through any of the thoughts or feelings that were consuming her, eating her alive, taunting her and pulling her in every direction she sure as hell didn't want to go.

She pushed herself off the wall, making her way up the rest of the stairs and down the long corridor to her suite. Her knuckles were throbbing with a dull pain, but it was no match for the pain she was going through as she was being torn through too many different emotions at once. Flinging the bloody towel into the laundry basket by the closet, she made her way over the mess of clothes strewn around the suite to the bathroom. She hadn't let anyone in her room all week; in fact, she hadn't let anyone in there for a very long time. This was her place, her sanctuary, even her own personal prison. Her feelings about it varied wildly depending on the day.

Today it was her sanctuary and she felt like a prisoner trapped in her own mind with what felt like someone else's memories and thoughts.

She cleaned up, watching the blood wash from her hands and staring down at the sink, the water running red, then pink and finally clear. For the first time in a long time she allowed herself to lift her head and stare at her reflection in the mirror. She looked tired, depressed, agitated and just plain pissed off. It was no wonder that a lot of the younger slayers had been avoiding her as much as they could. She was a mess and it showed. She fought the urge to punch the mirror, not needing any more bad luck than she already had. It wasn't like she was superstitious, but if there was anything she'd learned in life, you could never be too sure about anything and absolutely anything was possible.

Like her trying to get herself killed, being so badly injured that Willow had to use a spell to heal her, a spell that turned her into a vampire. A vampire with a soul. Like her falling in love with Faith and not even realizing just how she truly felt until she just let herself feel instead of standing guard of all feelings she always feared would end up breaking her apart in the end. Anything and everything was truly possible. And she was just beginning to realize how true that was. It explained her dreams, the loss of memory, the conflicted feelings she felt around Faith and even just thinking of her. But it still didn't explain why she still felt so hopeless, lost and alone.

She knew before the knock on the door came just who was on the other side. Her body was buzzing, her skin tingling at ghost memories of Faith and how it had felt to touch her, be touched by her. Buffy shivered as she walked out of the bathroom and headed for the door. By the time she reached the door and flung it open, Faith was already down the corridor and heading around the corner that would lead her to her room. She wanted to call out to her, but she held herself back. Whatever she'd end up saying to Faith if she did, she didn't really want to hurt her again.

Seeing that hurt in Faith eyes the few times they'd talked over the past week drove deep inside of her, pulled her apart for reasons she wasn't so sure of. Seeing the longing and the hope in Faith's eyes made her wonder if the woman really did love her. Faith was patient with her, never retaliating whenever the bitchy, snarky comments slid out. She closed the door and sighed out loudly, finally giving in to what her heart had been screaming for the last ten years or so.

She was in love with Faith. She is in love with Faith.

There was no sense in denying it to herself anymore. Even just admitting it in her head now, embracing the fact, she felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. No more treading down the river of denial. It was dragging her down and pulling her apart, piece by piece. She choked back tears of happiness and even relief, walking over to the couch and sitting down heavily. The realization made her feel a little shell-shocked, but it also felt right. It felt like she should have just let go and admitted it to herself so many years ago. It could have saved a lot of bullshit from going down between the two of them, most of the hate she felt for Faith stemming from the fact she was masking her own feelings for her.

She shoved the clothes off the couch and fell onto it face first, burying her head into the soft, plush pillows. The tears flowed freely now and she couldn't stop them, every tear feeling as if she was getting out so much of what she should have many years ago. The tears slowed after what felt like hours and she lifted her head from the tear-soaked pillow, blinking away the last few that were left. The most sobering thought hit her as she looked around her suite: She was in love with Faith. If everything really did happen the way the others were telling her then that meant one other thing: Faith was in love with her too.

Not having a clue how to take this shred of information as it really sunk in, she lay back on the couch and stared up at the ceiling, wondering how she'd deal with this. How was she going to deal with this? It's not like she could just jump into something with Faith when she couldn't look past their heavy history together. All these mixed, conflicted emotions she'd been having for the past week were catching up to her.

"Buffy?" Dawn called out quietly as she knocked on the door. "Can I come in?"

With a heavy sigh, she got up from the couch and walked over to the door. "What do you want, Dawnie?"

"Have you been crying?"

"Yes," she replied as she choked back the tears. "What do you want?"

"I wanted to come see how you've been holding up since you...came back."

"What does it look like?"

"You aren't handling it very well," Dawn said softly as she pulled her in for a tight hug. "You don't want to talk about it, do you?"

"How much do you know about what happened?"


Buffy dropped her arms from around Dawn and stepped back away from her. "I want to believe everything, I really do, but it's so hard when I don't remember!"

"I can't even imagine what that's like," she said as she followed Buffy over to the couch, an eyebrow rising in disgust and alarm as she looked around the mess in the room. "What do you want to know?"


"Where do I even start?"

"At the beginning," Buffy replied as she pulled one of the plush pillows to her chest. "Start with why Faith is here."

"You wanted her here. You were...you nearly died, Buffy. Nobody knew how to talk to you or reach out to you. She was the only one. She helped you. She helped you pull through and out of whatever deep dark corner of your mind you'd locked yourself up in. You have no idea how grateful we all are for what she's done for you."

"How did she help me?" Buffy asked, her voice barely above a whisper. "I'm having a hard time believing someone like Faith could have helped me."

"She was just there. She was your friend. You two spent a lot of time together every day just talking, I guess, and then she...you and her were...you know," Dawn said nervously as she grabbed the other plush pillow and began to fidget with the edges. "You told me that Faith told you how she felt first and that everything seemed to fall into place after that and when you...when Willow did that spell..."


"Everything changed but you and Faith; it didn't seem to do anything other than bring you two closer together."

"And you were okay with me being with her?"

"Buffy," Dawn sighed as she turned to look at her, "I'm still okay with it. I just want you to remember, everyone does. If you knew what Faith has been going through since you came back..."

Buffy closed her eyes as she tried to let what Dawn was saying sink in, tried to believe it with everything she had. It was still too hard. Too confusing. Too unreal.

"I asked Willow how long it'd be for you to get those memories back. She doesn't know if you'll ever get them back."

"I don't know if I even want them back," she said under her breath. "Maybe it's better this way?"

"How is this better? You've gone back to where you were before all of this started! The only difference now is we all understand what you're going through a hell of a lot better than we did the first time," Dawn exclaimed, breathing heavily as it was clear she was struggling to keep control of her emotions, just as Buffy was. "I know you can't believe all of this and I know how hard it is to deal with this too, but you aren't alone, Buffy. You never were. You just pushed us all away. You pushed yourself away."

Buffy let her tears begin to fall, knowing how right Dawn was. She laughed a little as she looked over at her. "When did you get so smart, Dawnie?"

"I've always been smart," she replied with a half-hearted laugh. "I needed you to know how worried we all are about you. I needed you to know that despite how you must feel right now, you aren't in this alone even if it feels like you are."

"What am I going to do?"

"About what?"

"About everything, about Faith?"

"Well," Dawn said slowly as she put an arm around Buffy's shoulders, "how do you feel about her even with being all amnesia-girl?"

"I know I...feel something for her."

"Do you love her?" Dawn asked. Buffy slowly nodded her head as she lowered her eyes to the pillow in her lap. "Do you want to tell her that?"


"I don't know how. I'm not exactly experienced in these kinds of things. Xander's the first guy I've...been in love with and it just sort of happened, as you know. I really don't need to tell that story all over again, do I?"

"Please don't," Buffy chuckled as she shook her head. "God, Dawnie, all week I've been feeling so many things and thinking about everything. Over thinking probably. Every time I just think about her I..."

She wasn't sure how to put how she felt into words that wouldn't make things uncomfortable. The things she felt whenever she was around Faith were things she didn't want anyone else to know that she felt. She was still trying to come to terms with everything she felt and thought about when Faith was on her mind. This was her one-time enemy, a woman she'd had a deeply rooted hate for, but she was beginning to see that hate was just shadowing her true feelings. She laughed at herself just thinking about it now, earning her a rather confused and curious look from Dawn.

"Let me guess, every time you see her you just want to..." Dawn chuckled as she trailed off, unable to even say it herself. "Have you always wanted to...you know...with Faith?"


"Denial," Dawn coughed, giving Buffy a wink when her eyes flew open in mild surprise. "Come on, Buffy. She's hot. She's sexy. She's a little dangerous and wild and rough around the edges. She's also very sweet."

"Sweet? Are you sure we're talking about the same Faith?"

"She's also got a big heart, but you couldn't possibly see that because you haven't given her the time of day since you've been back. I don't know how you two bonded before or how you lost that stick up your butt, but I do know that you need to find a way to get back to that point. You both need it, Buffy. You both are feeling the same things right now: Lost and alone. You need to find each other again and work through whatever you need to work though together."

"Again," Buffy sighed out, wishing she could let that sink in. She was dancing between the line of believing it and not with one little thought or emotion pulling her to one side or another. "I don't know if I should tell you this, but..."

"You can tell me anything," Dawn said with a warm smile as she gave Buffy's hand a squeeze. "I won't say a word to anyone else, either, if you don't want me to."

"I've been having dreams and I had a...flashback, at least that's what I think it was. I don't know, Dawn. It's all so confusing to me right now. I just want to curl up in bed and hope that when I wake up this will have all been some really strange nightmare."

"What part?"

"My whole life," she said under her breath as the tears sprang to her eyes. "I just can't deal anymore, Dawnie."

"You can," she assured her as she moved closer to her and wrapped her arms tightly around her. "You can deal with anything, Buffy. You are stronger than you think you are even if you don't feel like you are. I'll tell you as many times as it takes for you to believe that you are not alone, that you never have been and that you never will be."

They held onto each other for the longest time before Dawn pulled away, telling Buffy she would come back later and talk some more if she was feeling up to it. She left Buffy sitting there alone, hugging her pillow, tears staining her cheeks and her thoughts completely consuming her mind.

She'd basically admitted to her own sister that she loved Faith. It didn't make her feel any better about it either. She could still feel the seething anger coursing through her every time she just thought about her, but it was less now, much less than it had been just a few hours before. It didn't help that whenever she closed her eyes all she could see looking right back at her was Faith, that look of hurt and longing showing so clearly in her eyes. It hurt since she knew exactly how Faith was feeling. She was feeling it too, but she wasn't even sure if it was their connection that made her feel what Faith was feeling or if it was something else. She did know just from that look in Faith's eyes that it touched her deep down inside, deeper than her heart and possibly as deep as her soul.

She cringed as she thought about how much of a bitch she'd been around Faith all week. Even with their past, Faith really didn't deserve to be talked to and treated the way she'd been treating her. Like she didn't matter. Like she was nothing. She knew Faith was everything to her. Faith did matter despite the past; people did change, and even through her doubt she felt it ringing true deep in her heart that Faith had changed from the woman she used to know. She held back her tears as she got up from the couch and headed out of the room, letting the connection she shared only with Faith pull her, lead her.

They had to talk. She couldn't sit there and let her thoughts consume her and drive her insane without talking to Faith. They had to start somewhere, even if it was from square one. They had to get past everything that they'd been through, together and alone. As much as she didn't want to, as hard as it would be, she knew she had to. She needed to apologize to Faith for the things she'd said to her recently, for telling her she wasn't wanted here. It wasn't entirely true, even though she certainly meant it with complete conviction during those anger-fuelled outbursts.

She wandered the corridors through the castle, following her connection she felt with Faith as it grew stronger, sending tiny shock waves through her body until she had to stop and breathe in deeply to try and control her now shaking, shuddering body. She opened the door to the balcony and stepped outside. Faith was leaning against the railing with her back to her. She didn't flinch when Buffy stepped outside nor did she even bother to turn around to look at her. She didn't need to see Faith's face to know that she'd been crying.

She wanted to reach out to her, pull her in close and hold her tight. She wanted to tell her that no matter how much had gone on over the last week, the last several months and years, that somehow everything would be all right. But she didn't. She couldn't. She still felt so far away even if Faith was right there in front of her.

"What do you want, Buffy?"

Her voice sounded so hopeless, so broken, and it tore Buffy apart inside, causing her own tears to well up in her eyes. She watched as Faith took in a deep, shuddering breath before she lit a cigarette, still keeping her back turned to her.

"I wanted to talk."

"So did I, but you missed your chance when I wanted to talk earlier, B. Don't feel like talking right now."

"Faith, I..."

"Leave me alone," she hissed out, followed by a small strangled sound. Buffy knew Faith was trying valiantly to hide the fact that she was crying.

"Faith, would you please listen to me?"

"No. Just go away. Please, B. I'd kind of like to be alone right now."

Buffy sighed out softly as she turned and opened the door. She wasn't going to push Faith to talk to her. She didn't want to fight with her either. She just wanted to let her know how she felt, but it'd have to wait. She couldn't force this on her terms like she'd always done in the past. She had to wait until Faith was ready to hear everything she had to say. She only hoped that somehow Faith knew what she felt and that she was ready to let it all out.

That she was ready to let Faith know that her heart belonged to her, to share with her this newly found realization that it always had and always would.



Chapter Two

Buffy stood in the doorway of the training room. It was after midnight and she knew that Faith would be down there just as she had been every night for the last seven nights. She hadn't gone down there to talk to Faith, she just wanted to watch her for a little while. After the day she'd had, no, the week she'd had, she just needed to see. To absorb.

All afternoon and most of the night she'd spent in her room, sitting on the couch and holding the plush pillow close to her chest. She thought. A lot. She also felt a stream of new feelings course through her the more she let down her walls and accepted, finally, how she felt about Faith. Over the years she'd occasionally come close to giving in to the way she felt and admitting it to herself, but it was different now. Faith was there, in her life, whether she wanted her to be or not, and she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon from the looks of things. Faith had been there for her even if she didn't remember.

She didn't need memories to remember how it felt. She knew that now. Slowly she was beginning to let herself just feel and the more she did, the more drawn in she was becoming to Faith. But she still felt so far away from her and not just in the physical sense. She felt so far away on an emotional level, a level she knew they had shared once or twice before and she never thought much of it. She sure was thinking about it now. It was all she could think about. As much as she wanted these thoughts out of her head, she knew they'd stick there until she dealt with it. With Faith.

"You gonna stand there all night, B?" Faith asked quietly, her voice barely above a whisper.


"You wanna spar for a little while?"

Buffy raised an eyebrow, a playful smirk dancing across her lips as she walked into the training room and over to Faith. It felt like far too long since they'd sparred together and her body was just itching for it. Faith had always been the only one who could keep up with her, test her limits and push her to the edge.

"You wouldn't by any chance rather talk, would you?" Buffy asked as she moved to stand near Faith, the candles she had lit and placed on the floor around her illuminating her face.

"Nah. Got some frustration I gotta work out, you know?"

"Yeah. I know."

Buffy pulled off her sweatshirt and tossed it onto the mats. She was definitely up for some sparring. She hoped that she'd be able to keep her anger and emotions in check, knowing it wouldn't be easy with the adrenaline pumping through her veins. It'd be intense, it'd be full of unresolved sexual tension, and she was looking forward to every bit of it. It had been far too long since she'd just let go and let herself loose.

"We should probably set some ground rules," Faith said warily as they moved to the mats in the center of the room. Buffy just placed her hands on her hips and gave her an incredulous look. "I don't need to end up in the infirmary for a couple days, you know?"

Buffy laughed as she dropped her hands from her hips. "Just sparring, F. We're not fighting to the death or anything here."

Faith chuckled softly as she stretched out a little and fell back into a fighting stance, daring Buffy with her eyes to make the first move. They began circling each other slowly, and even in the dim light from the candles Buffy could make out the look of anticipation in Faith's eyes. She could see how tense her body was, how much she wanted this, how much she craved this. Buffy took a step forward, smirking as Faith darted to the left before she could throw a right hook her way. She knew how fast Faith was, but it'd been years. Already, from the look of things, Faith was better, faster than she remembered.

They both stared at one another intensely as they continued to circle each other. The only sound in the room was the heavy breathing coming from both of them as they tried to figure out the next move. Buffy ignored the chills that ran through her body when she watched Faith slowly lick her lips. One second of being distracted was all it took; she found herself flat on her back with Faith standing over her, smirking as she held out her hand to pull her up. Buffy swatted her hand away as she swept her legs around and took Faith down.

"Fuck," Faith muttered as she laid there. "Sneaky, B. Really fucking sneaky. You aren't gonna play fair, are you?"

"Never do, F."

Buffy offered a hand, and was mildly surprised when Faith took it and allowed herself to be pulled up from the mats. They circled each other a few times before they fell into it, every punch and kick blocked by the other, perfectly in time. Buffy had to hold herself back and it was a struggle. She wanted to just let go completely, and had to keep reminding herself they were only sparring. The look in Faith's eyes told her she wasn't the only one struggling to hold back.

Buffy dropped her hands and took a step back. Barely had they been into it for ten minutes and she could already feel the tiny beads of sweat rolling down to the small of her back. She was aware they were being watched; she'd seen Giles come in and stand in the far dark corner shortly after they'd started. She was fairly sure Faith had no idea he was in there, or if she did she made no notice of it as she swept Buffy's feet from under her and pinned her down on the mats.

"Never play fair, B. That word doesn't exist between you and me."

Faith's lips were inches from her own and she held her breath, acutely aware of every inch of Faith's body on her own. Her hands were pinned down at her sides and she tried to use her hips to propel Faith off of her, but she didn't budge, only biting her lip and stifling a moan as she rolled her hips into Buffy's and kept her pinned to the mats. Buffy's heart was racing wildly as she searched Faith eyes. She knew exactly what Faith was thinking, it showed so clearly in her eyes and the way she bit her lip as she stared down into Buffy's eyes. Faith wanted her and she was doing everything she could to fight it. She tried again to get Faith off of her and this time she managed to send Faith flying backwards.

They were back on their feet in half a second, their breathing heavier now as they once again began to circle each other. Out of the corner of her eye Buffy saw Giles slip out of the training room. She knew he'd come to check in on them, to make sure they weren't trying to kill each other. At least that's what she was trying to convince herself of. She was about to continue when Faith held up her hand, signalling a time out. She rolled her eyes and dropped her hands to her sides. Faith said nothing, didn't even look at her, as she walked to the small fridge and pulled out two cold bottles of water and tossed one her way. She knew from the way Faith was acting that their little sparring session was over.

With a shrug, she took a sip of her water, grabbed her sweatshirt, and slipped it on. She opened her mouth to say goodnight to Faith, but she was already back at the punch bag, lost in her own little world. Buffy let out a soft sigh as she turned and walked out of the training room, stopping when she reached the door to look back at Faith for a moment. Whatever was going through Faith's head, it was tearing her apart and for once Buffy could sympathise with the pain she could feel coming in waves from her even now.

She was still itching for more, her body craving to move in ways she hadn't allowed it to for far too long. It wasn't too late to head out on patrol. She made a quick run up to her suite and changed out of her sweats and into something more suitable for slaying. She grabbed her stake and a knife that reminded her of Faith every time she looked at it, slipping out unseen and unheard to quickly make her way to the cemetery about two miles away.

The night was quiet and that frazzled her nerves. A quiet night meant there was something bad, something evil lurking about and it wouldn't be long before she stumbled upon it. She spotted Kennedy and a handful of the younger slayers deep in the cemetery and she did her best to slip past them without being noticed. Her gut was telling her to stick with them, to protect them, even though she knew they were prepared to face just about anything. She kept her distance, keeping an eye on the girls while trying to feel out anything that was lurking about. She could feel that buzz in her body that told her there was definitely a vampire not too far from her position in the shadows of the trees. She knew who it was before he even made his presence known.

"Buffy," Angel said softly as he reached out for her hand and pulled her out of view completely. "What are you doing out here?"

"I'd ask you the same thing."

"I'm keeping an eye on them," he replied as he motioned towards Kennedy and the girls. "Haven't seen you for a couple of days. How are you holding up?"


Angel raised an eyebrow, stepping closer to her as he let go of her arm. "If you need to talk to anyone..."

"I don't," Buffy snapped, keeping her voice low. "I don't need to talk to anyone. I may be just barely dealing with this, but I can handle things on my own."

"Can you?"

"Been doing just fine all week."

Angel looked at her, not believing her for a second. Buffy hated the way he would look at her and just know when she wasn't telling him everything. She hated the way he would look at her, with the same kind of longing in his eyes she'd been seeing in Faith's all week. With Angel it was expected, and even though she'd thought they had moved on from it, she knew deep down Angel still loved her and wanted her even though he couldn't have her. Just the thought of it now made her skin crawl and definitely not in a good way.

They began to walk as Kennedy and the girls moved from their positions. Neither said a word to each other and they didn't look at one another. Buffy wrapped her arms around herself, trying to keep from shivering in the cool night air. They came to a stop, keeping themselves hidden in the shadows of the trees as Buffy felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

"We got company," Angel said under his breath as they watched seven vampires head towards Kennedy and the girls.

"Stay back. They need to prove they can handle themselves."

"And if they can't?"

"Then we'll step in and take care of it."

"Buffy, we need to talk about what happened," Angel said as they both kept a close eye on the fight. "You need to understand what happened to you."

"What part? The whole me turning into a vampire with a soul part or the whole me falling in love with Faith part?"

"All of it," he said softly as Buffy turned to look up at him. "Even before that. I know you don't remember and you don't want to believe what happened really did happen and I can't tell you everything since I came here just a couple of days before Willow turned you back..."

"You do have a point, don't you?"

Angel chuckled softly as he nodded his head. "I promise I do have a point."

"I don't think now is the time to talk about this, Angel."

"Why not?"

Buffy pointed out three of the vampires that had broken away from the group and were headed straight for them. "That's why."

She really let herself go, staking the first easily and taking on the second, pounding him with her fists until he lay motionless on the ground beneath her. Angel was struggling with the other, but she wasn't worried about him. Angel could take care of himself. Over and over she let her fits hit the vampire's face, fury and anger flashing out of her with every punch she threw. Angel grabbed onto her and pulled her off of the vampire, quickly staking him before spinning to face her. He was angry, confused, and she could swear she saw a hint of worry in his dark eyes. She brushed off the dirt on her pants, then picked up her stake from the ground and slid it into the inside pocket of her jacket. She barely looked up from the ground before she saw Kennedy heading straight for her.

Kennedy was angry and she could see it before the punch was thrown. What she didn't know was why. Kennedy had always been a tough one to figure out ever since she'd first come into all their lives back in Sunnydale. Willow loved her, which meant she had to tolerate her, and she managed that just well enough to get along with her. Barely. She let Kennedy get her hit in, but before the second could come she blocked the punch and grabbed onto her fist hard. Kennedy winced in pain as she pulled her hand from Buffy's tight grasp and took a couple of steps back.

"You feel better now?" Buffy snapped. "And what the hell was that for?"

"You know what that was for," Kennedy said through clenched teeth.

"I really don't."

It suddenly came to her, though. She and Kennedy had gotten into it quite some time ago over her tagging along on the nights Kennedy would lead the girls on patrol. Always watching, always waiting for her to slip up. She knew Kennedy was strong, stronger than most of the girls, but not as strong as she was. She knew Kennedy could watch her own back, but she always had a lingering doubt in the back of her mind that one day she'd slip up and get herself or the girls killed because she was careless and distracted.

"You keeping tabs on me again, Buffy?"

"Honestly, I wasn't," Buffy said as she held up her hands, trying to calm down an argument she knew she couldn't just walk away from. "I just came out here to patrol on my own and I was trying to stay away from you and the girls. Don't you think coming over and punching me in the face is a little irrational?"

"Maybe, but since when do I follow your rules?"

"They aren't mine, they are just common sense!"

"Ladies," Angel said calmly as he stepped in between them. "Kennedy, take the girls and do a sweep around the north end. I need to talk to Buffy alone."

Kennedy groaned in frustration as she turned and stormed away. Buffy heard her order the girls to follow her and she only rolled her eyes as she walked over to a bench at the side of the path and sat down. She ran her fingers delicately over her jaw where Kennedy's fist had connected with a solid right hook. It hurt, not a lot but enough to cause some discomfort. Angel hesitated for a moment, pacing in front of her for a couple of seconds before he sat down next to her.

"What's that all about?"

"Kennedy being Kennedy," Buffy muttered in reply. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it. Just this stupid thing that's been going on for a couple years now. I don't trust her out here alone. She's careless."

"She's not. I've been watching her all night."

"Yeah, I get that," Buffy breathed out as she ran her hands through her hair. "I don't even know why I can't just accept the fact that she's turned out to be a better slayer than I thought she'd be. I guess I really have been too wrapped up in my own little world to notice anything or anyone else lately."

"We all have moments like that in our lives, but that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about," Angel said as he placed a hand on her shoulder, pulling away quickly when she shot him a glare. "I know it's hard for you to deal with what happened since you can't remember any of it."

"That's not true."


"No," she said as she shook her head. "There have been...dreams and I uh...had a flashback. Nothing major."

"Of you being a vampire?"

"No. Of me and Faith."

She bit back a laugh at the look of disbelief on Angel's face. What she wouldn't give to know what he was thinking about. She leaned back on the bench and closed her eyes, trying to tune out everything around her and focus just on her breathing. It always worked in the past to keep her calm, to keep her thoughts and emotions in check, but it'd been harder than it ever had been over the last week. She felt the tears suddenly stinging her eyes as she slumped forward and buried her face in her hands.

"It's hard, Angel."

"I know. I can't imagine what you're going through right now. You have to understand that you suffering from amnesia is probably for the best. I don't think you'd be able to live with yourself if you remembered how it felt to have the bloodlust running through you, consuming you and controlling you."

"Why couldn't I just not remember that part?"

"I don't know, Buffy."

"I've never felt so confused in my whole life than I have this past week. Just this morning all I wanted to do was kick Faith's ass, tell her as I've been telling her every day to get the hell out of my life. But..."

"Something changed?"

"I started thinking," she replied and she laughed at the look on Angel's face. "Yes, I know. Dangerous when I start thinking and over-thinking everything."

"We don't have to talk about this if you don't feel comfortable."

"Angel, we're talking about this whether I feel comfortable or not," she laughed as she tried not to think about how awkward this conversation really was. But she did need to talk about it, and since the one person she wanted to talk to about everything wasn't willing to, she'd have to settle for talking to Angel right now. "What?"

"Nothing," he smirked as he stared long and hard at her. "Was thinking about the time you talked to me about being cookie dough. Kind of feels like that night, don't you think?"

"I still feel like cookie dough," she said under her breath. "Nothing has changed since then. Kind of pathetic, isn't it?"

"No," he said with a soft smile. "You just haven't found what you're looking for."

"I think I have."


Buffy nodded and sighed out loudly as she stood up and began pacing around in front of him. "It's crazy, isn't it? All these years she's gotten under my skin and I can't get her out of my head and I really didn't stop to think about the reasons why. Not until earlier today. It all kind of makes sense to me now."


"No `maybe' about it, Angel. God, I just...wish it was less confusing!"

"So do I. I hate seeing you both having to go through this. I can feel the pain Faith is going through ever since you were turned back and I can feel the conflicting feelings coming off of you even now. It's never easy for you two and sometimes I wish just for the sake of both of your sanity that it could be. Have you tried to talk to her?"

"We've been dancing around it. Same old song and dance. You know how it is for us. She wanted to talk this morning, I didn't. I wanted to talk this afternoon, she didn't."

"You've got to give her some space, Buffy. You need to understand what she's feeling right now after everything that has happened. She put her heart out on the line, gave it to you. She loved you, and when you..." he sighed as his voice faltered and Buffy knew just how hard it was for him to be talking about this. She knew it was hard for him because she knew he still loved her. It was something that would never change between them no matter how much time had passed by. "She needs to be approached carefully, Buffy. You can't force her to talk or to deal and move on from this."

"I know."

"She's been through a lot in her life. Too much for someone who didn't deserve to go through half the things she's had to deal with. I don't know what you know, seeing how you can't remember, but I can tell you that she's broken inside, Buffy. From the things I've heard, when she came here to be there for you, she was just as broken as you were. You two somehow found a way to heal, to deal and move on together, and now it's back to where it was before it all went down."

"I want to remember. I need to remember everything," she said under her breath, mostly to herself as she continued pacing in front of Angel. "I really hate this. I hate how I can't stop thinking about her. I hate that I love her, that I'm in love with her. And I can't believe we're actually talking about this!"

She was shaking as she stopped pacing and tried to calm herself down. Why did admitting how she felt for Faith come so easily now when she was struggling with it and denying it not even twenty-four hours ago? She knew it had to have a lot to do with that flashback and the things she'd felt in the brief seconds that it had lasted. She clenched her fists and breathed out heavily, fighting back her tears yet again as she sat back down on the bench next to Angel.

"I don't...I don't even know who I am anymore," she cried as she buried her face into her hands. "I never asked for this. I never asked for any of this! Just for once I'd like to know what it feels like not to have the weight of the world resting on my shoulders. For once I'd like to know what it feels like not to feel so lost and alone. I'll never get there, will I?"

"I don't know, Buffy. If I had the answers I'd tell you and help you find your way. I still want to help you, be here for you any way that I can and that you'll let me be."

"I'm just so tired of feeling this way."

"I know," Angel said softly as he pulled her in close and wrapped his arms around her. "You're strong, Buffy. You've always been strong. You need to find that again inside yourself and use that to get through all of this."

She said nothing more as she let Angel hold her for a little while. Even though it was Angel, it just felt good to be held by someone that cared, by someone that loved her, even though she could only return that love as a friend and nothing more. When she felt his cold lips place a gentle kiss on the top of her head, she pulled back and laughed bitterly as she slid down to the opposite end of the bench.

"Angel I...I don't feel that way about you anymore."

"I know," he replied awkwardly as he stood up and slid his hands into his coat pockets. "Just thought you needed to feel and not just hear that someone does care, that you aren't as alone as you feel."

"Thank you."

Although it hadn't been what she was looking for, it did help a little. She shivered as the air got colder, and she said goodnight to Angel quietly before she made the trek back to the castle alone. It gave her too much time alone with her thoughts and she let them consume her to the point she took a wrong turn in the woods, veering off unrealized from the path she knew would lead her home. She'd been walking for nearly an hour when she realized she'd made that wrong turn and that she was lost. She didn't panic, she never panicked, but she didn't like not knowing where she was or being so out of it she hadn't realized where she was until it was too late.

She looked around her, hoping for some sense of direction. She went back the way she'd come, but the trees and the rocks and the bushes she passed didn't look familiar at all. Even though she'd been trying to backtrack her steps, it was becoming obvious she hadn't come this way. Keeping her cool and trying to calm down her nerves, she stopped in the middle of the path and closed her eyes. She needed to find her center, find a way to calm herself down and just go home. She saw flashes of light from behind her closed eyes, and when she opened them she saw two dark figures walking her way.

She turned around and saw three more coming from behind her, a handful more to the right of her. She was afraid to turn to her left since she knew she was surrounded now. Surrounded by a pack of vampires, who were without a doubt thanking whatever god or demon they decided to worship that day, cornered and in her most vulnerable state. She reached into her jacket for her stake, wrapping her fingers firmly over the polished wood as she watched the vampires closing in around her carefully, ready for whatever they'd do next. She was always ready even when she doubted herself. She'd been doing this for half of her life and even though she hadn't been doing it much lately, it was just like riding a bike.

"Slayer," one of them growled as they all closed in around her, giving her no way to escape without fighting her way through them. "Lose your way, did you?"

"Does it matter?" Buffy asked, trying to keep her voice steady and full of confidence even though she could feel the hand gripping her stake shaking uncontrollably. "Why do I get this feeling of déjà vu right about now?"

"The other one killed our brothers," the same vampire growled as he stepped closed to her. "We've come for revenge."

"Revenge? Great!" Buffy laughed as she shook her head. "Don't you guys ever come up with something new?"

"Watch your mouth, Slayer. You have no idea who you are speaking to."

"Actually, I do. I'm speaking to a future pile of dust."

Buffy felt every muscle in her body tense as the vampires moved closer to surround her. She could fight her way out, but she knew she didn't have a chance in hell getting out of there alive if she tried. There was no other option, though; it was either fight or surrender and let them do as they pleased. Gripping her stake firmly in her hand, she pulled it out of her jacket and plunged it into the first and closest vampire, the one who spoke to her. The others growled angrily as they watched their counterpart turn to dust and it was on.

The first few were easy, they were weak and they weren't prepared to fight her as well as they probably thought they were. She was down to about thirteen or so, she estimated, as she took off running down the path, hoping to get far ahead of them and find a place where she'd only have to take on a few at a time. She could fight her way out of this if she kept her wits about her. She stopped at the first bend in the path, panting as she struggled to catch her breath. She was out of shape and it was showing now. She cursed under her breath as she fumbled around in her jacket looking for her cell phone. She needed backup and she needed it ten minutes ago.

Three of them were close behind and she didn't have any time to make the phone call for help. Her cell phone was knocked from her hands as the tallest, heaviest set vampire of the three tackled her to the ground. She struggled to get him off of her and barely managed to move quickly enough to plunge the stake into his heart before he got the chance to sink his fangs into her neck. She jumped to her feet, eyeing the two vampires that stood ready and waiting for her. It was only then that she realized they had a plan of attack. They were testing her, pushing her to her limits and wearing her out much faster than she normally would tire. She backed up a couple of stepped and found herself pinned against the tree.

"What you gonna do now, Slayer?"

She shivered as the blond-haired vampire strolled up to her and grabbed the stake in her hands, crushing it as he tore it away from her. He grabbed her hands and pinned them to her sides as he leaned in and took a deep breath, his nose grazing along her neck.

"So sweet. I can smell your fear, Slayer," he purred as he licked along her pulse point causing her to shiver in disgust. "Our master will be quite pleased to know what we have to offer."

Buffy groaned as she kneed him in the stomach and tore herself away from his iron grip. "You can tell your master to go fuck himself."

The vampire laughed as his partner moved quickly to grab Buffy before she could slip away. "Now, now, be a good little Slayer and behave. I'm sure after the little incident you had with our brothers you wouldn't want to have that happen again, would you?"

Buffy shook her head no, unable to find her voice as he held her tight and forced her to start walking. She tried to breathe under the tight hold the vampire had over the back of her neck, but it was hard when he had one arm wrapped around her upper torso, crushing her and making it impossible to take a deep, much needed breath. She glared at the other vampires as they caught up to them and she tried to keep her eyes from closing, close to passing out from the lack of oxygen. It was a struggle and she was nearly at the point of begging them just to kill her.

She knew whatever was waiting for her wherever they were taking her would have her on her knees, begging for them to end her life. A day ago she'd been ready to die for her own reasons, for hating how lost, lonely and unloved she felt. She'd be begging now for a quick death. Vampires never took a slayer captive unless they had something planned. Torture and a long, painfully slow death. Sacrifice.

A cluster of rocks appeared ahead of them and she was led in through the mouth of a cave and down a winding set of stairs. The vampire loosened his grip just a little, and she gasped as she took in a few deep breaths. As pungent as the air was, it was still a welcome relief. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a handful of humans, no more than a dozen, chained to the walls, some dead, some on the verge, some standing there shaking in fear at a nightmare coming true. She was led to the middle of the open area and pushed down to her knees.

"You're just lucky these aren't my favourite pants," she muttered under her breath as she felt them tear at the knees.

"Silence," the vampire that had dragged her there hissed as he grabbed her by the hair and forced her to stay where she was.

She knew he expected her to jump up, trying to fight her way out and run. These weren't just any vampires. They had a mission, a plan, and they were smarter than most of the ones she'd run into since coming to Scotland years ago. She tried not to show how weak she felt, how vulnerable she was in her conflicted state. She cursed at Faith for getting under her skin and in her head the way she had, wondering if she didn't let it get to her if she would have even found herself in the position she was now in. She groaned as the vampire jerked her head back and forced her to look up at him at an angle that was painful.

"My master will be quite pleased what we've brought," he snarled as he knelt down behind her and moved his lips to her ear. "She's always wanted a pet slayer."

"Fuck you," Buffy spat as she threw her head back. His head was hard, but it wasn't as hard as hers, and he went flying back, growling out in pain as she got up to her feet and reached for the knife in the holster around her left leg. "Shit."

It was gone. She was weapon-less and surrounded by a cave full of vampires, most of which were feeding on the humans chained to the walls. In the flickering light of the flames from the many torches and candles that illuminated the cave, she could almost feel the fear, anguish, and death surrounding her. Before she could make a move, two of the vampires had moved in and grabbed her arms, dragging her over to the one empty wall. After much of a struggle and being struck with a hard, blunt object, they had her chained up, smirking at her as they stepped away and watched her struggle to get free.

Her head was pounding now, the warm flow of fresh blood stinging her eyes as it trickled down from the gash on her forehead. She blinked several times, fighting back the tears, the fear, the hopelessness she felt as she watched a tall, slim figure emerge from the shadows. The blond hair glowed in the flicker of the torches and the candles and she held her breath, blinking several times and willing herself to wake up from this nightmare.

It was no nightmare. The pain was too real. What she saw and smelled was far too real. And the woman standing in front of her...was all too real, even though she couldn't quite make out her face, hidden as it was behind her hair and the dancing shadows.

"Now this is a pleasant surprise," she said, a smile curling across her lips as she held up a knife, Buffy's knife, and gently trailed the tip of the blade over her jaw. "I heard you gave my boys quite a task in bringing you here."

Buffy groaned as she felt the knife slice shallowly into the skin just below her jaw and she snapped her eyes open, fighting back the pain and the shock as she stared into the cold, lifeless blue eyes that were mere inches from her own.

"Dr. Sonia?"



Chapter Three

She was strong. Stronger than she believed she was. Stronger than she knew she was. Over and over she repeated it in her head, forcing out the pain of the unrelenting torture that Dr. Sonia was unleashing on her. She had no idea how long she'd been down there. It felt like days when for all she knew it could have just been hours.

Dr. Sonia. The woman who had been the doctor for all the slayers since the day they all arrived in Scotland. Buffy couldn't believe the woman had betrayed her like this. They had all trusted her, brought her into the fold. The sting of betrayal hurt more than the unrelenting torture she'd been put through already. She opened her heavy lidded eyes and looked around the cave. Only two torches burned now and there wasn't a single vampire in sight. The cries of anguish from some of the humans still chained to the wall, the ones that were still alive, rang loudly in her ears, even long after there was silence.

She tugged on the chains, feeling them give just a little, but the rough metal dug into her raw wrists causing her to yelp out in pain as she slumped against the wall. She could hear voices coming from a far corner of the cave, but the voices echoed off the walls, distorted enough that she couldn't make out a single word that was being said.

She was beginning to think that falling into these situations was a part of her fate. No matter what she did, somehow she ended up in a situation she couldn't get herself out of until it was almost too late. That feeling of déjà vu was strong now and she closed her eyes, willing herself to remember even though she knew she wouldn't be able to. How could she remember everything that had happened when her mind was convinced it never happened? She groaned as she tried to move her arms, her shoulders in a painful position with her hands being chained above her head.

The tears started. Tears she'd been holding back since Dr. Sonia came out of the shadows and used her own knife on her. The deepest cut was just above her left breast and she could still feel the slight trickle of warm blood running from it and soaking her tattered shirt. She had to be strong. She had to hold it together. How could she hold it together, though, when she was falling apart?

She opened her eyes when she heard soft footsteps coming down from the mouth of the cave. She held her breath, waiting to see who or what was coming. She could only faintly see the sunlight coming in and down the twisted spiral of stairs and she knew it couldn't be any of the vampires or Dr. Sonia. She held her breath, waiting as the dark figure stepped down the last step and took a look around the cave. She was trembling now, forcing back the tears and holding back the pain she felt all over her body. She struggled to make out the figure's face, but in the dim flickering light and the blur of tears, she couldn't.


"Xander?" She let out a sigh of relief, but it wasn't long before the relief was flooded with fear. "What are you doing here?"

"Saving you," he whispered as he moved quickly to her. "What the hell is going on?"

"Dr. Sonia," she barely managed to get out. "She's behind all of this."

"Don't talk," Xander said as he tried to get her out of the chains. She winced in pain with every slight movement of the rough metal against her skin. "Tell me everything after I get you out of here, okay?"

She looked up at his hands as he tried to pick the lock on the chains. Her legs were shaking, about to give out on her, and he let out a soft sigh as the lock broke open and Buffy fell forward into his arms. She felt like this was too easy, far too easy, but she didn't fight it as Xander gently picked her up in his arms and made his way quickly and quietly across the cave. She closed her eyes, the pain becoming too much to bear even though her entire body felt numb, and she didn't open her eyes until she felt the warm sunlight on her skin.

"She okay?"

Faith. Buffy tried to smile, never knowing how comforting hearing her voice could be. She couldn't quite manage it, though, letting the tears fall as Xander placed her gently down on the soft ground. He took his jacket off and tried to slip it on her without causing any more pain than she was already in.

"She's in rough shape," Xander whispered as he stood up and looked back at the mouth of the cave. "We need to get out of here. Now."

Faith knelt down next to Buffy and gently picked her up, holding her close as she and Xander started walking quickly down the path. Any other time Buffy would have hated how weak she felt, but right now she didn't care. She nuzzled her face into Faith's neck, breathing in the soft, soothing scent of her. If she wasn't feeling so weak she could probably enjoy the tingles that ran through her body being held so close to Faith. She wasn't even going to bother trying to deny it. There was no point in fighting what she knew was real, what was right.

"Hold on tight, B," Faith whispered as she kept a hold of her as she began running, "got a few demons after us."


"Just hold on," she said sharply as she ran off the path through the woods, dodging the trees until she leapt over a rock and they slid down a short embankment. "Xander, you alright man?"

"Five by five," he muttered as they lay low in the soft cushion of leaves. "I knew it'd be too easy. They were waiting for this. Always underestimate them. Always."

"You got her out," Faith said softly as she kept her arms around Buffy. "It's all that matters. We'll deal with the rest of it, but right now we need to get her back to the castle. She's hurt pretty badly."

Buffy could feel herself slipping in and out of consciousness now and she struggled to stay awake, to keep her eyes open as she laid her head on Faith's shoulder. She had her eyes closed, but she wasn't out yet and she could feel Faith's fingers as they checked her for broken bones. The electric shocks running through her body felt too good and she wanted more, needed more, but now was definitely not the time for that.

"Nothing is broken," she whispered as she moved Buffy a little out of her arms. "Lots of cuts though. Shit. What'd they do to you, B?"

"Dr. Sonia...it was her."

"No shit?"

"She...they called her their master," Buffy whispered as she opened her eyes to look up at Faith. "Couldn't...fight."

"Shh," she said soothingly as she pulled Buffy close to her again. "Don't talk, B. Not until I get you somewhere safe."

She felt safe in Faith's arms, crazy as that registered in her mind. She closed her eyes again, sighing out softly as she tried to drown out the ghostly screams of the others that had been there in the cave with her. She tried not to cry out in pain as Faith moved to get up, but no matter how much she tried to hold it back the pain was just unbearable. She started crying again, soaking Faith's neck and the collar of her shirt with her tears. She hated this. She hated feeling so weak, so vulnerable. She felt Faith give her a gentle squeeze as if she was trying to reassure her everything would be all right even if it didn't feel like it would be.

She knew she'd passed out on the long walk back to the castle. She drifted in and out of consciousness even when she felt Faith lay her down on the bed in the infirmary, more out than in, but still aware of her surroundings. Aware of Faith refusing to leave her side as Willow checked her injuries. The only thing she could feel now, over the shocking numbness the pain was causing her, was the feel of Faith's warm, strong hand in her own.

The fresh memories of what Dr. Sonia had done to her were too fresh. They made her sick. They made her angry. She should have fought. She could have fought, but instead she gave up and gave in. She was tired of everything, tired of her life and every turn it took. Tired of how even when she gave up she failed at doing that too. She felt Faith intertwine their fingers gently and she let out a half-choked sob as she squeezed her hand.

"It's all right, B."

"No, it's not all right, Faith."

"You're safe. All that matters."

Buffy opened her eyes, her vision blurred by the tears. "Can you...will you stay?"

"Not going anywhere," Faith whispered softly, and Buffy could see the faintest of tears in her eyes before Faith quickly wiped them away. "Never gonna go anywhere. Gonna stay here as long as you need me to and as long as you want me to."

A silent thank you slipped past her lips as she gave up on trying to stay awake. That feeling of déjà vu was stronger now, leading a flood of memories coming into her dreams. Dreams of pain, of Faith being there, of much needed laughter shared with Faith as she laid there on the bed in the infirmary. Dreams of seeing love in Faith's eyes, the desire, the longing, the need. Dreams of Faith's lips upon her own, giving her everything from tender, loving kisses to those hot, wild kisses that even in her dreams made her body yearn for Faith.

Dreams that quickly turned to nightmares, to flashbacks of recent memories and ones she wasn't even sure were her own. She woke up, forced herself to wake, and she gently squeezed Faith's hand that was still in her own. The pain was a little less and it was dark outside now. She knew then that she'd slept most of the day away and the warm hand in her own told her that Faith had stayed there with her the whole time.

She let go of Faith's hand, watching as she slept in the chair next to the bed for a moment before she began to examine the damage to her body. It wasn't horrible; it was painful, but it was nothing that wouldn't heal within a couple of days. She sat up slowly, stretching out her tired and sore muscles, feeling every bit of pain with every movement. It took a bit of effort to get up from the bed before walking slowly over to the window, watching as lightning zigzagged across the sky to the north as an approaching storm began to roll in.

The day had gone by so quickly, but with what she'd been through she was partially thankful it did, and didn't feel like the longest day of her life. With every roll of thunder she'd look back over at Faith, studying her in the darkness of the room before she let her eyes drift back to look out the window at the storm raging outside. She just wanted everything to be easy for once. She just wanted to go through one day without feeling conflicted, without feeling pain. She just wanted to know what it was like not to feel so lost and alone. She wanted to be loved and to love and she wanted that to be with Faith. Nobody had ever gotten under her skin quite the way that Faith always had, and she knew that nobody ever would.

She had to stop thinking about Faith and about herself. Dr. Sonia was their enemy now and she should be thinking of ways to bring her down. She had a small army of vampires that were much stronger than the normal breed of vampires. They were also smarter, quicker, and had easily overpowered her as if she was nothing more than just a normal weak human.

The escape had been too easy and she knew it had to have been a part of the plan, whatever the plan was. If Dr. Sonia didn't want her escaping the cave, it wouldn't have been so easy for Xander, of all people that could have came in to save her, to walk in there and walk back out without facing Dr. Sonia or any of her minions. She ran a hand through her hair, feeling it tangle where the blood had dried. She craved a shower, possibly a nice, long, hot bath, but she couldn't move from the window, her eyes firmly trained on the raindrops as they fell against the glass.

She lowered her head a little and sighed as she backed away from the window and spotted a fresh change of clothes sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked down at the clothes she was wearing, dirty and stained with her own blood, and slowly began to peel off her tattered shirt, feeling the pain in her shoulders as she pulled it over her head and tossed it to the floor. She checked herself as best she could in the darkness, running her fingers over the deep and shallow cuts. They'd stopped bleeding, the shallower cuts already closed up and healing. She pulled the sweatshirt on, sighing as she bit her lip at the pain she felt shooting through her body with every move she made.

She unzipped her jeans, then paused when she could feel Faith's eyes fall upon her, watching her. She shakily slid her jeans on down, holding back the whimper of pain as she stepped out of them and tried to quickly pull on the sweatpants. She hated feeling so weak. It was destroying her. Ruining the chant she had going through her head before that she was strong, stronger than she thought and believed she was. She sat down on the edge of the bed and looked back at Faith, watching her as Faith kept her eyes firmly locked with her own.

"Feeling a little better now, B?"

"A little bit."

"Pretty fucked up how this almost happened again, huh?"

"Yeah," Buffy sighed out as she turned her head away from her and looked down at her hands folded across her lap. "It makes me wonder what I've done to deserve all of this."

"Shit happens, and you don't deserve any of this," Faith said quietly as she got up from the chair and sat next to her on the bed, keeping her distance as if she was unsure of how Buffy would react. "Gonna give `em all what they got coming to `em for pulling this shit with you."

"There were others in there, people I mean."


Buffy nodded her head as she heard those anguished cries echo through her mind. "Most of them were dead when I was brought down there. A few more were brought in, two of them were drained and the other two were chained up to the walls."

"What's your take on all this?"

"Dr. Sonia has betrayed us all, turned into one of them and I don't know why. One of the vamps that grabbed me and dragged me there said something about you killing their brothers."

"Fuck," Faith said under her breath as she balled her fists up tightly. "This is a vendetta, B. I know you don't remember, but their `brothers' nearly killed you once. I fucked their shit up, dusted every last one of them. It's me they should be after, not you."


"You're the bait," she said shakily. "I know what they're doing. You are the bait, Buffy."

"I don't..."

"How do you attack a slayer? You go for the weakest point. Guess in my case my weakest point is you. You're also my strongest point so I'm not so sure how that all balances out," she said, stifling a laugh as she shook her head. "Better go and find Giles, talk to him about this. Got a funny feeling shit is gonna hit the fan soon and it isn't gonna be pretty."

Buffy played with the silver thumb ring, running her fingers over the `B' that was engraved into it. She knew it belonged to Faith, which was actually why when she'd found it she'd kept it for herself. In some weird, oddly comforting way, it made her feel close to Faith, somehow connected in a way. She hadn't taken it off since the day she'd found it out in the corridor after the last time Faith and Robin had been there at the castle. At least she hadn't taken it off as far as she remembered. It felt like a part of her too, just one little piece of jewellery that was like a security blanket of sorts.

She watched as Faith stood up from the bed and looked down at her, hesitating for a moment before she turned and walked out of the infirmary. Buffy sighed as she sat there for a moment, trying to absorb what was really happening, before she got up, picking up her tattered, torn and bloody clothes and making her way to her suite. It was rather late and the castle was quiet, much to Buffy's relief. There was an overwhelming feeling as she walked through the corridors; she had an ache, not a painful ache, but something deeper urging inside of her.

The dream she'd had of Faith, before it'd turned into a nightmare, was replaying itself in her head, making that deep down ache that much more intense. She knew it was wrong to want that relief after everything that had just happened. She knew she'd feel guilty, dirty even, if she relieved the tension now. But the stress was building in her and she needed the release no matter how bad the timing was. She chuckled to herself as she walked into her suite and dropped her clothes to the floor. A nice hot bath was looking better by the second as she stripped out of her clothes and walked into the bathroom, wincing as she rubbed the back of her neck.

She ran the water in the tub, watching it as it slowly filled. She felt too tired, too tense, too worked up to answer the insistent knocks that came on her suite door. When the knocks stopped she climbed into the tub, leaning back as she closed her eyes and let the water soothe her aching body. She saw images of what happened in the cave, of what Dr. Sonia did to her while she'd been down there. She breathed deeply, relaxing, and slowly they faded as she reached up with her foot and shut the water off. Images of Faith fluttered to her mind, filling her, consuming her and allowing her the chance to just forget about everything else for the moment.

She wanted to feel Faith's lips against her own, and these were the first images that came to her mind. The way Faith would trail her tongue over her bottom lip when she was nervous or thinking made the butterflies in Buffy's stomach dance around excitedly. The dreams and memories wouldn't come close to the real thing, but it was all she had for the time being. She trailed her fingers over her breasts slowly under the water, thinking of how addictive it'd be to kiss Faith, to take that bottom lip between her own and suck it and hear her moan. She could only imagine how those lips would feel pressed against her skin as Faith's undoubtedly talented fingers trailed down her body, touching her just right.

Whether what she was feeling in this moment was lost memory coming back to her or just a fantasy she'd finally allowed to come out, she was thankful for it either way. She knew from the burst of arousal running through her body that she'd get the release she was looking for if she just let herself indulge without guilt, without doubt. She trailed her fingers over her stomach, feeling the deep and shallow cuts and the burn of pain as her fingers brushed over them ever so lightly.

Taking in a deep breath and swallowing the pain, she moved her fingers lower, allowing those images of Faith to continue as she relaxed in the hot bath. She could still faintly smell the soft scent of Faith. A mixture of cigarette smoke, a hint of perspiration, of the shampoo she'd used that morning that smelled like fresh wildflowers on a hot summer day, and something else she just couldn't quite put her finger on. She ran her tongue over her dry lips as she dipped her fingers lower, sighing out softly as she rubbed gentle circles over her sensitive clit.

She fell into another flashback then, the hot water of the bath fading away, feeling nothing more than Faith's body against her own, Faith's lips kissing her with wild abandon as they thrust hard and fast into one another. She could feel Faith's fingers inching their way between their bodies and dipping down into her dripping cunt, filling her with two long fingers as she felt herself quickly approaching orgasm. She blinked and found the flashback had faded away, her own fingers driving up hard and fast inside of her now and the only sound she heard was the slight ripple of the water and her breath hitching in her chest.

"Oh fuck," she groaned under her breath, feeling her orgasm already barrelling through her body, much quicker than she'd expected.

Her heart was racing and it was all she could hear as she came hard and fast, images of Faith flickering behind her closed eyelids as she stilled her fingers and relaxed once again in the bath. She'd gotten the release she'd been craving, but it hadn't been enough. It was never enough. It'd never be enough. As her heart slowed back to normal she heard the insistent knocks on her suite door yet again. She didn't want to move, it was still difficult to move, but she did anyway, pulling the plug as she stepped out of the tub and slipped on her robe.

She made her way out of the bathroom and towards the door. The knocking had stopped, but the buzz in her body told her that Faith was standing out in the corridor. She felt a surge of fresh arousal shoot down to her clit as she licked her lips and tried to erase the images she'd been having as she fingered herself in the bath just minutes before. Fighting back the blush she knew covered her body she unlocked the door and opened it slowly, breathing in deeply as she looked at Faith pacing back and forth in front of the door.

"Sorry if I, uh...interrupted anything," Faith muttered as she stopped pacing and looked over at Buffy. "Giles isn't around and I'm..."

"It's okay," Buffy said softly as she stepped back and motioned for Faith to come inside. "You weren't interrupting anything really."

Faith looked her up and down, smirking as she made her way over to the couch and sat down. "You look like you're feeling a little better. Did that bath help?"

"Huh? Yeah," Buffy nodded as she made her way to the closet, not feeling quite comfortable being around Faith wearing just a robe and nothing else. "Helped a little. Feel a little less tense."

"I bet."

There was that smirk again. Buffy turned her back to Faith, smiling a little at how that smirk had made the butterflies in her stomach flutter. It was entirely different now that she'd just accepted how she felt about Faith. She was starting to really fall for her, even more so than she'd already fallen. How deep that was at this point she wasn't quite sure, but she wasn't going to stop herself from feeling the way she was. There was no way she wanted to go back to feeling so conflicted.

"Been one hell of a long day, huh?" Faith asked as Buffy disappeared into the walk-in closet. "Feels like it flew and yet it didn't, you know?"


"Feel like taking me up on that offer to talk?"

Buffy poked her head out the door and nodded her head. "Sure. Just give me a minute, all right?"

"Got all night. Feeling kind of wired after this morning."

"Makes one of us," Buffy chuckled as she quickly got dressed and stepped out into the room.

She tossed her robe onto the bed, then walked over to the couch and sat down on the opposite end. She turned so she was facing Faith fully, watching as she stretched out, kicked her boots off and propped her feet up on the cluttered coffee table. She was trying to read Faith, trying to figure out what was going through her head. Faith wasn't making it easy, her face completely deadpan as she stared straight ahead, seeming wholly absorbed by the hole in her sock where her big toe poked through.

"So what changed, B?"

"What do you mean?"

"Couple days ago you were this huge bitch to me and now..."

"Now I'm not?"

"Yeah," Faith shrugged as she wiggled her toe and laughed a little. "Swear to god sometimes I feel like I've stepped in the twilight zone whenever I'm around you. I keep trying to forget what happened between us, you know? Mostly cos you don't remember what happened and all that shit."

The hopelessness in her voice shot through Buffy worse than the pain she already felt in her body. Faith was refusing to look at her too, still staring at her toe poking through the hole in her black sock. Buffy let her eyes drift over Faith, drinking her in. She laid her head against the back of the couch, smiling a little as she watched Faith fidget with the hem of her faded Led Zeppelin t-shirt. She knew Faith was feeling a little nervous just being near her, a drastic difference from the way she'd been acting when she'd carried her back to the castle and spent most of the day holding her hand while she slept.

"You got anything to drink up here?"

"Maybe," Buffy said as she got up from the couch and walked over to the mini-fridge. She pulled out two bottles of beer and handed one to Faith as she sat back down. "Here you go."

"It's fine," Faith replied as she twisted off the cap and downed nearly the entire bottle in one go. "Wouldn't happen to have anything stronger?"



"You really need to drink to talk to me?"

"Takes the edge off," Faith shrugged. "You make me nervous, Buffy. I'll admit that much."

Buffy raised an eyebrow at that, already knowing she made Faith nervous. She'd seen it all week and she'd also seen a lot of other things she was just now starting to accept. She slid closer to Faith, staring down at the unopened bottle of beer in her hands then back over at her. Faith's hand was shaking slightly as she drank the rest of her beer and leaned forward to put the empty bottle on the coffee table next to her feet. Buffy said nothing as she twisted the cap off her bottle and handed it to Faith, trying not to smile back as Faith gave her a grin and took the bottle from her.

"You know something?" Faith asked, breaking the silence between them once again. Buffy shrugged, deciding to let her talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. She had to let Faith have her moment to speak before she opened her own mouth and blurted out something that would set them back. "I know we need to talk about a lot of shit, but I really don't know where to start. We've pretty much done this talking thing already and first time was pretty intense. It's different now."

"How is it different now? Because I don't remember?"

"Pretty much."

"Why is it tearing you apart so much that I can't remember, Faith?"

She watched as Faith trembled slightly and took a sip of her beer before she finally turned to look at her. "Don't really know, B. Just hate this, you know? We finally got somewhere before then it was taken away just like that. I'm not angry you're back or that you can't remember anything since Willow cured you. I wanted you back this way, I just..."

"Didn't think it'd be like this?"


"Maybe we shouldn't talk tonight about everything that happened? I'm kind of tired and sore and angry and feeling vulnerable from what happened."

"I'm still scared that I'm gonna lose you again, B."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I know, but after last night and how you looked when Xander found you..." she trailed off as she choked back her tears. "Jesus, I'm way too fucking emotional these days. I used to be able to handle any kind of shit life threw my way. Just can't do it anymore, you know?"

"I know. I feel like that every day," Buffy admitted, finding a common thread that bound them together. They needed to talk, despite how forced it felt, and Buffy was surprised at how easy it'd just been to share her feelings with Faith. "This is good."

"What is?"

"Us just talking about how we feel."

Faith chuckled softly as she shook her head, her eyes locking with Buffy's in a long, intense gaze. "We'll it's definitely not like the way it's been all week, I can give you that much."

"Was it this easy before?"

"Yeah," she nodded and quickly broke their eye contact, "it was. At times."

Buffy leaned back into the couch and closed her eyes. The memories of the night before and the morning were still making their way through her mind, but it was fainter now since all she could think about was Faith. All she could think about was debating whether or not to tell Faith how she felt. When would the right time be? Was there even a point in telling her how she felt if Faith already kind of knew from before? She sighed out as she closed her eyes, her hand subconsciously reaching out for Faith's as they sat there in comfortable silence together.

"I heard you," Faith whispered. "When you were in the bath. Could feel you too."

Buffy tensed and tried to pull her hand away, but Faith kept a firm hold on it and slowly moved closer to her. "You..."

"I feel everything you feel, B. Can't you feel it too?"

"Yes," she whispered, barely loud enough to be heard. "I really can."

"I wish you'd remember the things you said to me before...before Willow changed you back. I've been holding on to them, the hope, ever since. Kind of fucking stupid, isn't it?"

"No," Buffy replied as she shook her head and relaxed a little as she let her eyes drift over Faith's face before meeting her deeply intense gaze once again. "Holding on to what hope?"

"That you'd remember everything."

"Faith, I...I kind of do, but I don't. Would kind of explain how we're not at each other's throats right now, though, wouldn't it?"

"Here I thought you just grew tired of being such a cold-hearted bitch," she said softly, smirking as Buffy rolled her eyes at her. "B, after we found out you were taken last night, I really thought that was it. That it was happening all over again. That this time you wouldn't be so lucky."

"Thank god for Xander then, huh?"

"Yeah," Faith nodded her head as she let go of Buffy's hand. "What are we gonna do about Dr. Sonia? Can't just let the bitch get away with this."

"Really haven't thought about it yet, but there's one thing I do know."

"What's that?"

"I'm going to need you in this fight. I'm going to need everyone in this fight. We're going to be at war with a small army of strong vampires and I don't know what Dr. Sonia is, but she's stronger than we think she is. I need you here in this fight with me, Faith."

"Not gonna go anywhere, B. Told you that earlier. I'll be here as long as you need me and want me to be."

"Thank you."

Buffy leaned over and placed a light kiss on her cheek, wishing she had the courage to kiss her the way she wanted to. She couldn't. Not yet. She pulled back and gave her a small smile before she leaned back into the couch and followed Faith's gaze down to the hole in her sock. They both shared a small laugh, almost as if they were thinking the same thing, which was nothing at all in particular. It was a moment, something Buffy didn't think she'd ever be able to have with Faith. Life was fast proving to be everything she thought it could never be, and Faith was already proving she was definitely not who she thought she was either.

There was no sense in wishing to get those memories back. She knew enough and had heard enough to trust what her heart was trying to tell her. Her heart was reaching out for Faith and somewhere in the haze of all the pain, the ghostly anguished cries that echoed in her mind and the blur of memories she wanted so badly to have, she could feel Faith reaching out for her as well. Just sitting there together she could feel the rest of the world fading away. They had their moment in time and it felt like this was the first time they might be about to take that much needed step forward to friendship and to wherever that would lead afterwards.

She wasn't sure when she'd closed her eyes, nor was she sure why she moved to pull Faith's arm around her as she curled up into her side, but it just felt right and she was done fighting it. Done fighting herself and done with the fight she'd been having with her heart since the day she first laid her eyes on Faith.

Faith was her one and only. She could feel that just being so close to her, feeling her arm draped around her, holding her there. She reached up and placed a hand over her heart, wanting to whisper words of her love, her true feelings, but felt them become a jumbled mess inside her brain before she could even allow them to slip past her lips. She could feel Faith reaching out to her with the same words she felt embedded into her heart.

And she knew that no matter what would come next, even through the fight with Dr. Sonia, they would explore this something within each other and no longer feel so far away. At least that's all she could hope for.



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