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by Kelly Smith



Rating: NC17
Dedicated: To the most awesome writer in the known world. Yes thats you Chev, you rock, and my God you are so fucking hot if I wasnt totally smitten with this other Irish chick I know, I swear, nothing would come between us. And Probably dedicated to Elaine Martin, the other Irish chick.
Notes From Chev: *gasp* Kelly? I had no idea, I am so touched, truly.
Summary: Everything needs a resolution, even the Grudge, which apparently doesnt have one.

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Chapter 1: Recap

POV: Faith.

Nothing’s ever easy right? Life never came with a set of instructions, no easy to read manual, no; Fix slot A into slot B, slip in screw C and live happily ever after. Cos I know I screwed slot A, slot B… and I’m pretty sure I got slot C covered too, and I sure as hell ain’t living happily ever after.

But then maybe I should just be happy that I’m living.

I cut it close a couple of times, danced my ass straight up to the door marked ‘death’, rang the bell and waited. And waited. Seems death didn’t want me though. Not a whole lot of surprise there… I’m the poster child for not wanted, ya know. Death just chewed me up, spat me out, and told me to get the fuck on with it. So I’m here. Getting on with it.

Bet ya wondering where here is right? I’m getting to that, don’t worry.

Yesterday ‘here’ was L.A. City of Angels. My Angel at least. I served my few months sentence like the good girl I’m not. Playing with others was never my strong suit, and sticking me in Juvie with a bunch of little jumped up gang bangers was never gonna bring about my caring and sharing side. I made it through though. I thanked my lucky stars that I never got charged for no murders, and dreamt about the day that I could start to make it right. Cos I do wanna make it right. I want to try to.

The day I was released into Angel’s care was the day I had earmarked as my salvation. The day when I could finally shed my dark past and get on with living the light. Two fights with Angel later and I was upside down in some strangers bed getting the shit fucked out of me whilst throwing up the best part of a bottle of JD. What can I say..? Old habits die hard?

I wasn’t proud though. I was sick. Sick of all of it. Sick of being me.

I slunk back to Angel’s the next day, I must’ve sure looked a picture… even Cordy glared at me more in disgust then in fear. I dunno? Maybe that was a step up?

But that day was really the start of my salvation, the day I lost it in front of all of them. I just cried. I didn’t know what else to do. No one was TELLING me what to do, and I just didn’t know anymore. I don’t think they really knew at first either. Cordy was all for evisceration, I was all for agreeing. Angel was firmly in the ‘NO’ column. And as for the others? I never found out. Seems Angel gets the casting vote round here. Lucky ol’ me.

He let me wallow in my own shit for a couple of days, crying crap over all the things I had done, everything I was gonna do, how I was gonna make it up to everyone, a new me. Then just as I let myself get used to the comfort of his voice he ripped me from my sweat soaked sheets on the bed and told me to get the hell on with it. Told me the world wasn’t sat waiting for my apologies, it was still turning, life was still going on and there were people who needed me.

Yeah. I laughed too. Needed me? I don’t fucking think so.

He scowled a bit, all brooding menace, then he called me self-centred, may have used the word bitch. He said I lived my life like I thought the world ‘owed me something’. I figure he was right. I did feel like I got dealt a pretty shitty hand and damn right it pissed me off that I couldn’t just call ‘bum deal’ and start all over again. I DID get to call him a few new words I’d learnt in Juvie. And then he turned around and walked out on me.

It hurt worse then any blow he could have struck.

This was Angel. He NEVER gave up on me. Always saw that little bit extra that no one else had ever wanted. But now he as well was walking away. Turning his back to me. I figured I had two choices. I chose life. I got showered, I changed, I made my way down the stairs and I uttered my first apology. It wasn’t accepted. Not the first time. Cordy left the building muttering loudly about psycho’s and life insurance. Wes was too busy taking deep breaths to do much of anything else. Angel though, he smiled. Gave me a nod of his head and sent me out to kill two demons which had been causing havoc down at the harbour.

It was an easy kill. I had months of pent up fight in me just itching to go all ‘Ultimate Warrior’ on these guys, and slaying again? I felt like I had turned into a fucking cry baby. I just couldn’t help it. I ripped the last ones head off, collapsed amongst the oozing grey matter and let it all out. I didn’t even know why I was doing it… I mean, I won! And kinda easily as well. But then it made sense. THIS was what I was, who I was. The chosen girl in all the world. And I had turned my back on that. I shit all over it. But here I was, being allowed to try again, allowed to be a slayer.

At that moment it just about meant everything to me.

A couple of months later, Angel told me that he had followed me that night. To protect me if I needed it, to protect others if I lost it. He said that it was the moment that he became absolutely sure that I would make it. Had faith in me. I didn’t always share his confidence, but he had more then earned my trust, so I let myself believe him. Just a little.

When news of B’s death came, it was… a shock? Yeah. That’s right. A shock.

Well what do you want to hear? That I was struck down by an insurmountable grief? That I had always loved her? That a little piece of me had felt like it died right along with her?


Ya see the thing was that Buffy had already killed me. There wasn’t nothing left of me to die with her, cos I’d died for her a thousand times already. Sometimes, if I was lucky, it was just once a night, usually though it was more. And I knew what it all meant. I carried it around with me every minute of every fucking day, it was in the tired slump of my shoulders and the bloodshot red of my eyes. My burden to bear. My secret proof that no matter what Angel said, what anybody said, it could never be right. She would never forgive me.

So no. I didn’t cry when she died. I got the first proper nights sleep I’d had in ages. I slept like a baby. Funny thing is, I didn’t wake up feeling refreshed though. What a joke right? Without B now haunting my dreams at night, I just felt… I don’t know? Alone. Yeah. Like really. Alone.

Angel went to shit for a bit, but then what do you expect? He loved her. Loved her properly. I kept my head down. I really was ‘the only girl in all the world’ now and I was determined to make it count, to make me count. To do my share and hers. I even offered to go to the Hellmouth and help out there. Not a chance!!

I didn’t really expect one, but I had had to offer. I understand why they didn’t want me there, especially at that point. And then along came the crazy twist in the tale. Maybe the sting in it. They brought her back.

Yeah. It freaked me out too. I didn’t know you could even do THAT! Not without being all, I dunno, zombiefied or something. I guess Red really did get some power.

I sat up all night when I heard. Too scared to go to sleep. Scared that she would be there again, scared that she wouldn’t. Angel went to her of course, held her in his arms whilst I wrapped my own tight around myself. Tried to make it all go away. What did it all mean? Was her being back the final proof from the PTB that I wasn’t ever good enough. Could never be good enough? I was starting to wonder ya know.

I was still sat in the same place when Angel got back. Surrounded by the haze of tobacco smoke which had been my only companion during my lengthy vigil. I wanted him to take my silence, my lack of tears as indifference, instead he took me into his arms and offered whispered words of comfort. ‘She’s ok.’ But I wasn’t asking that. I was asking if I was ok, if I would ever just be ok?

As I leant my face into his chest it hit me. Kinda like a fucking 2 by 4 round the head. Her. Buffy. Her scent. I hadn’t been close to it in years, but now it was here. Slipping through my unmanned defences straight to the place it could hurt me the most. I reeled back from him. I admit it. I panicked. Everything… my whole life, every proof I’d ever needed that I was shit, it was right here, wrapping itself around me, tightening my chest. I couldn’t breathe, every slice of air was tainted with her now and I didn’t want any of it. Not a piece. I didn’t deserve peace. SHE was my proof of that.

I don’t remember too much of anything else from that night. Needless to say, Angel picked me up again, put me back together again. I acted like it had never happened. He let me forget.

That’s pretty much when the phone calls started. Not to me. Not then. But to Angel. And often.

I guess before you resurrect a girl, you really should make sure that she wants resurrecting… that the girl in question isn’t swanning it up, playing the harp in heaven. What a bitch right? Not B… I always knew she was getting the fluffy clouds and pearly gates… I mean the sitch. It’s gotta be hard. Being over… being done… and then? Well, and then ‘this’. Life. OUR life. I reckon it’s gotta feel like hell.

I wanna say that my heart went out to her. That I sympathised. But I didn’t. Not really, not then. I laughed.

I know. Cold. Heartless. Bitch. I can do all of them. But me and B? There’s a lot of shit there, and my first thought was joy, that finally I wasn’t the only one who’s life was drowning in crap.

The day that I picked up the phone to Dawn was the day it all changed;

“Angel Investigations, here to help the helpless… you helpless?”

Ok… so it wasn’t big on original, but I was manning the phones for fuck sake, it’s hardly brain science. The lack of answer accompanied by the girly snivelling told me that maybe helpless was right. I knew I’d make a good investigator yet.

“Erm… so lady… you gonna speak to me?”

I needed clues, this wasn’t helping. I had just about given in, was dropping the phone back into the cradle, when I heard it. My slayer fast reactions stopping me from cutting the call. It was a whispered ‘wait’. I was waiting.

Her voice when it came was barely audible. Breaking and shaking. Sounded pretty much like a little girl lost.

“I uh… wh…who’s this? I..is Angel there?”

“The big guys out, but whatever it is, whatever’s wrong… maybe I can help?”

No… I wasn’t all Mother Theresa and giving a shit, but ya know..? It sounded like a kid and she was sounding pretty rough.

“Who is this?”

Her voice had got a little surer now, she wanted to know. And then I got it. The big light switch turned on in my head. I saw her flash before my eyes in a stark moment of recognition.


“You know me? Really… who IS this?”

I was too busy trying to work out in my head how old the girl from my newly formed memory was, to give the girl an answer. When she screamed down the phone she got my attention back!

“Jesus Dawnie… you trying to kill me?”

She laughed just a little then. “I don’t know… you still haven’t told me who it is!”

I think maybe I joined in the laughter. It was nervous laughter. I didn’t know whether to say ‘murdering psycho bitch’, or to just stick to ‘Faith’. Part of me wanted to hang up then and there, but I was curious. B’s little sister was on the phone crying to Angel. Maybe Buffy had died again? In the end I went with the short answer.

“It’s Faith.”

“Oh!… right… murdering psycho bitch Faith?”

Ya gotta love kids, they catch on real quick.

“The one and only.”

“Again… oh…” she went kinda quiet then, maybe reliving my former glory days. “…I didn’t know you were um… out?”

I filled her in quick about my short sentence, my staying with Angel. She cracked a funny about Angel taking helping the helpless to a new extreme. Then she pretty much rested on quiet again. I was guessing she wasn’t too keen on confiding in me, either that or she didn’t have B’s affection for the constant talking. I tried to reassure her, after all I was still curious.

“You can tell me Dawn, if ya need something, if something’s wrong… if something’s happened?”

I heard her breath hitch, mine hitched right along with it. I thought this was gonna be it, she was gonna spill, let it all out.

“It’s Buffy… she… she…” and then she stopped. Maybe it did sink in who she was talking to. “…just tell Angel I rang, ask him to call me..? Please?”

What could I do? I promised I would tell him as soon as he got back. I told her in empty tones that whatever it was? It would be ok. Shows how much I know. I said goodbye, she said goodbye. And I sat chewing on my nails waiting for Angel‘s return. Then I wanted answers. Needed answers.

Turns out that there were lots of calls from Sunnydale to L.A. Coping with Buffy’s rebirth was turning out to be way harder then dealing with her death. And little Dawn was baring the brunt of it. B was existing with her head up her own ass, detached, devoid, not giving a shit. The witches were playing un-happy families with Red going all loco over the magic, Giles had flown the coop and Xander was marrying a demon. An EX demon. Dawn was being left out in the cold. Feeling the need to talk to a re-ensouled vampire just to get the assurance that somebody cared. She didn’t know it… but we all did.

I could sympathise with Dawn.

I knew what it was like to feel young and alone. Vulnerable. Unloved and uncared for. More then that I knew what it was like to be overlooked by Buffy. Knew what that single unique pain could feel like. I guess in a funny way me and Dawn had a few things in common. She must have thought so too, cos after a while, those calls? Sometimes they were for me. At first I got a little kick out of it… I mean, Buffy Summers little sister, calling me for comfort. But then I started to wise up. This wasn’t about Buffy, not really… this was about a girl who was hurting, needing. And I wanted to help.

I pleaded my case to Angel to be allowed to go to the Dale. To let me get in their faces and scream at them about the kid that they were all neglecting. It was always the same answer… always a no. And I wasn’t ready to go against him. So I stayed on the end of the phone. I told her though… if she needed me, ever, day or night… I was there, I cared about her.

Now I just wish that I had been stronger. That I was as fearless as I liked to kid myself I was. I was a fucking coward!

I KNOW what it’s like to have the only voice in the world that you think cares about you come out disjointed and disembodied from the end of a telephone line. Still I let myself be reigned in. Let Angel feed the chicken shit in me with words like ‘too soon’. That me going there wouldn’t make things any better, would probably make them worse. I clung to those words and breathed a sigh of relief every single time that I hung up the receiver.

He was wrong of course and I hate myself for knowing that he would be.

The calls had started to drop off. They went from almost every night, to a couple of times a week, to me having to worry about the trauma of ringing her. I couldn’t risk it though. Couldn’t risk my sister slayer picking up the phone. So I sat about, and I worried and I waited. Even Cordy and Wes had started talking to me to find out how the youngest Summers girl was doing. It’s funny the things which bring people together. But that was just it, us miles away and caring wasn’t doing anything for Dawn.

I don’t know what sealed the deal for her. What made her finally give up on it all. Her last couple of calls had been listless affairs. Yes’s and no’s and not much else. A little bragging about the shit she had been getting up to. Cutting school, sneaking out, stealing. She said she didn’t care if she got caught. No one else cared. I said I did. Angel did. The whole gang did. We were too far away though. Too far to comfort.

She said she would call on Friday night. Red was going out, Buffy was always out, she’d be alone again. I said cool, I was always up for Dawn chat. Thing is though… it was all too easy to forget… what with my body ass deep in sewer shit and me fighting for my life. Kinda ironic that.

The message light on the machine cut short my elated return, Cordy pressed the button as we waited to hear. The first call had been right on schedule. Just about half past ten. She said she got loneliest then. Too early to go to bed, too late to go out. She sounded upset, asked for me to call when I got in.

The machine beeped again before I could react. Later now, half past eleven. It made me look up to the clock on the wall and register the time at one forty… making me wonder if it was too late to return calls. Her voice was lower now, “Please call me Faith… please?” I can still hear the words scraping against the insides of my head. An unanswered plea.

The last message beeped in at twenty after midnight. ‘Dawnie’s last goodbye.’ She was juiced… told me that it didn’t matter anymore, I didn’t have to worry, she’d sorted it, worked everything out. Would make it easier for everyone not to care, and then she said sorry.

And I guess I knew.

All of our eyes searched out the others. We all knew. Dawn had gotten sick of it all. Sick of life.

I remember the way it seemed like time froze. I couldn’t move, I felt so sick. Angel stood there stunned, Cordy the one to finally shout us out of it. Angel put the call through, he insisted it be him and I was in no place to disagree. We had to stand around and wait, try and piece together what we could from this end of the conversation.

Red was, I dunno, screeching, she sounded pretty hysterical. Soul boy was trying to calm her down and all I wanted to do was rip her fucking throat out. This wasn’t about her and her pain… this was about Dawn. Turns out she done the deed with pills and whisky, her only mistake being that she assumed no one would be coming home, that she would be alone, again. Buffy HAD remembered she had a sister though. Eventually. Had strolled in just after one and found Dawn passed out. Saw the whisky, thought she was drunk. Saw the pill bottle and called 911. What a hero.

That’s all Red could tell us then. We had to wait some more.

Buffy rang the next morning. Dawn was fine, everything was fine. Yeah? On what planet was that then? She was curious as to why Angel had been ringing at two in the morning to find out if Dawn was ok… found it kinda coincidental. Full marks to the big guy, he winged it pretty darn well. Maybe he didn’t think Buffy would like to hear whom her little sister had been confiding in. I didn’t really see that it mattered anymore. I was more then ready to get in Buffy’s face, I was pretty damn willing as well.

I only had to wait a couple of nights until I heard from Dawn again. All small voiced and contrite, whispering apologies. I wanted to chew her out, to smack her fucking hard around the head, slayer style. But I didn’t. I told her that she had scared me. That I cared a hell of a lot about her, didn’t want her to pull that shit on me again. I asked her to promise me.

She said ok. She said that she was hurting too, that she was scared. It ripped at me. Then she said sorry again and whispered the words that bring me to here. To now.

“Would you come Faith? Please? Would you come and see me?”

And I did what I should have done in the beginning if I hadn’t been such a fucking coward. I told her that I was coming. I promised. And that was the day before yesterday.

No one wanted me to go. Those same words kept popping up. ‘Too soon’. In the end it pissed me off. Too soon? I said it was a good fucking job that I wasn’t too late. I think they got it, they left me alone. Wished me well.

And now I’m on a bus heading back to Sunnydale. I’ve got a carry-all, a back pack and a fucking soft toy! Yeah I know, Dawn’s a teenager, not some little kid. But ya know? I got knives as gifts when I was her age. I want her to have more, I figure she deserves more. And if she laughs at it? Well I figure that that’s ok too.

I don’t know what kinda reception I’m gonna get when I get there. Oh wait… yeah I do. I just don’t give a fuck. This ain’t about me, or B. Or anyone else. Just Dawn. I said I would be there and be there I shall.

Nothing else matters. Not anymore.


Chapter 2

As soon as she had stepped off of the bus she made her way over to the apartment that Angel had sorted for her. He didn’t want her staying in another cheap motel, he insisted she’d come a long way since then and the thought of a whole place to herself had kept her from making an argument. The walk over freaked her out. Tracing long ago made steps through the centre of town, shadows reaching out in the form of taunting memories to remind her of her list of mistakes. Her whole life had gone to shit in this place, and it wasn’t joy she was feeling at being back. There was a whole lot of apprehension, maybe even something close to fear.

Settling herself in was easy enough. She opened a door to a closet and threw in her bag, tossed a couple of things into a drawer and stepped back to survey her home. It was nice. A little impersonal, but then she wasn’t planning on staying too long. Just long enough to be sure that Dawn was ok and that people had started taking proper care of her. She emptied the bag of cursory groceries she’d picked up on the way there and snagged a beer before placing the others in the fridge, she just needed something to take the edge off. To stop the buzzing in her head that hadn’t stopped since her arrival. It was almost too much. Being back.

And then it was time. The sun was starting to make it’s lazy journey down below the horizon, and she hoped that if she went now she could avoid bumping into Buffy. Wasn’t in any kind of mood to go there yet. She knew she would have to be at some point, but not now. She needed to find her feet again first, gain some kind of self assuredness about being back in town.

It was like déjà vu crossing the streets and walking the roads that led to Buffy’s house. Faith didn’t even need to think about where to place her feet, because they remembered. Every single time, every tread upon the tracks, they had mapped them all, maybe one day knowing that they would be walking the same path again.

As she stood looking up at the house looming before her, every instinct was telling her to run, telling her she didn’t need this, wasn’t ready for this, would never be ready for this. But she beat it back, recognised it for the coward it was and took the last steps to her destination, raised her hand and knocked on the door. She tried to tell herself she wasn’t shaking. That it didn’t matter. She was only here to see Dawn.


Inside the house things were a picture of calm. Willow was at the table in the kitchen deeply entrenched in research, fingers banging out heartily on the keyboard in front of her. A cup of hot chocolate to her side, and the phone right next to her elbow so she could make a call if necessary. Buffy was at work and Dawn was sequestered away in her room. She’d been skittish all day and Willow had finally begged her to go take a rest, try and work some calm into those jumpy little bones of hers. She didn’t know why Dawn was so excitable, guessed that maybe she was just really thankful that the booze and pills hadn’t done the intended job.

She still couldn’t believe that Dawn had done it. Sure things had been… hectic? But things were always hectic, it didn’t mean they wouldn’t work out in the end. Maybe it was just too much though. Losing her mom, her sister, Tara leaving… and yes, Buffy was back, but most of the time it was like they shouldn’t have even bothered. Sure, the demon population was under control, Sunnydale was safe from the night time nasties, but apart from that..? Everyday things… just living..? Buffy was no where to be seen.

She was sure things would be different now though. Buffy had broken down at the hospital, shown some real feelings for the first time in ages, had wondered aloud at what life had become. About what SHE had become. Willow wasn’t altogether sure what she had meant with those words… what meaning lay behind them and she didn’t think it was the time for questions… but she had held her, had assured her it would be ok. They would look after Dawn better, do everything better.

Everything had just been so fucked up lately. EVERYTHING!

Herself and Tara was now just herself. She had pushed using magic to the extreme, pushed Tara to the extreme as well, right up until she had left her… and even then it wasn’t enough. She had found in herself the need to push more, to try more, to have more, to want more. She had wanted it all, got lost in the power. Lost in the need. And then it had all come crashing down around her. Almost killing Dawn in the process.

She berated herself over and over for her own actions which had contributed to Dawn’s downfall. The lack of caring. Putting her own needs so far in front of a girl who was like a sister to her, always had been. She would make up for it now though. She meant what she had said to Buffy at the hospital. They WOULD look after Dawn better. They had to.

The sound of knocking at the door caused her to look up from the computer screen. It wasn’t often they had people come over that needed to knock. Everyone who counted knew to walk right in, had a key, even Spike had taken to walking in whenever he darn well felt like it. She was just raising herself up when Dawn came barrelling down the stairs screaming her need to get to the door first. As if maybe she was expecting someone. It made Willow past curious, was Dawnie keeping secrets?

“Hey what’s the rush? Buffy said you’re to take it easy and I don’t wanna have to be calling her and telling her you’re being bad!”

“Cos she’ll rush right home and give me a talking to right?” The younger girl raised her eyebrows in a ‘Cos we both know that’s never gonna happen’ kinda way and carried on her advance to the door. She knew who was behind it, had invited the girl there herself. She knew that it would piss everyone off, but she didn’t care anymore. That no one cared about her had become quite apparent, she’d even stopped caring about herself for a while, but the other night had scared her. Being that close to death wasn’t as romantic as she had envisioned it to be. She’d watched too many movies, seen too many scenes of the tragic heroine trapped in beauty as she breathed her last breath.

It hadn’t been like that for Dawn. She’d felt sick, her head had been swimming, round and around, she’d been shaking and sweating and then nothing. Reality had come crashing back with a tube being forced into her stomach, the feel of her throat constricting, bright lights shining into her eyes. And then Buffy.

Buffy’s eyes had been cold. Dawn’s first thought was that she was angry, but then it had made sense. She was jealous. Jealous that she hadn’t got the balls to do what Dawn had done. To end all the bullshit. Then she had cried, explained how she hadn’t jumped of the tower to save Dawn only to have that thrown back in her face. Asked why Dawn hadn’t spoken to her. Hadn’t come to her if things were that bad. If she felt that lost.

The fact that Buffy hadn’t stayed at the hospital longer then was absolutely necessary, the fact she hadn’t once put her hand to her face and told her that it would all be ok. That was why she had not turned to her. Buffy wasn’t there for her. Hadn’t been there since she had been gone. No one was there. Not until Faith. And now Faith was here.

She didn’t care what the others said, because at that moment she needed someone in her corner, someone going to bat for her, and she thought that Faith would be it. She knew she had changed, had spoken to her more then enough to know, had spoken to Angel more then enough to know… and she trusted her. Trusted that she would make it better.

As the knocking at the door became louder and more insistent she flashed Willow one more look to signal her disdain and swung back the barrier with a firm smile affixed to her face.

“You came! You really came!”

“Of course I came, I said I would didn’t I?”

The dark haired slayer flashed a genuinely warm smile at Buffy’s young sister, she swallowed her fear at being there and tried to fix her attention on the girl in front of her. She couldn’t help her eyes from wandering though, from trying to sneak their way around Dawn and catching a glimpse of what might be awaiting her.

“It’s okay Faith, you’re safe, the wicked witch isn’t here.” Faith laughed at that, she’d never thought of Buffy like a wicked witch before, a wicked bitch yeah, but not the witchy kind.

“That’s a relief, I was hoping to stay in one piece a little while longer.”

“You could take her anyway, you always were better.”

“Compliments are nice Kiddo, but I got the scar that proves otherwise.” She made a quick motion to her stomach, almost embarrassed to draw attention to the time before. The time when she most definitely was not better. “So what’s the what? Am I getting an invite in?”

“I’ve been warned about inviting people in after sunset Faith, it REALLY pisses Buffy off when I don’t do what she says…” She paused a moment and offered a sorrowful look in the direction of her visitor. “…I guess you’d better come in then, right?”

They both laughed as Faith crossed the threshold for the first time in ages. She was happy to be there for Dawn, but nervous as fuck about being there at all. Everything was the same, just as she remembered it. It smelt the same, it felt the same, and for a minute she had to stop herself from tearing back out of the door she had just stepped foot through.

“Hey, are you ok? You look kinda spazzy.”

“Huh..? No, I’m fine… just… this is weird, I never figured… I never thought I’d be back here. In this house.”

Dawn looked her in the eye and offered her sentiment. “Thank you. For being here, I mean. I know it’s hard, and I shouldn’t have asked… it just…”

“Don’t even mention it, ok kid?” She knocked the girls shoulder lightly with her fist. “I’m uh… ‘pleased’ to be here, alright. Just remember Dawn, I fucked a lot of things up here, not everyone’s gonna be too pleased to see me…”

“You got that right! What the hell are YOU doing here?” Willow had nearly doubled over in shock when she had come to investigate whom Dawn was talking to. Anyone. Anyone but her. As if everything wasn’t going to shit enough as it was… they didn’t need Faith here. Had never needed Faith here. “You wanna explain this one Dawnie?”

She turned to face her young charge, Buffy would freak when she found out, Willow was kinda hoping that maybe Faith would leave before that became an issue. Or maybe she could do a spell on her. A real nifty spell where she would vanish from before their eyes, all puffy clouds and special effects!

Dawn though stood her ground, squared her shoulders and turned to face the red head. “She’s here because I asked her to come. Because for the last few months no one except HER has even cared that I exist… and I don’t care what you say. What ANY of you say!”

“I’m calling Buffy!”


“Look… maybe I should go..?”



Faith’s head was twisting and turning between the two. Both the girls had turned to look at her and she felt naked beneath a spotlight. Willow’s glare was unmistakably hostile, whilst Dawn was looking at her with something close to pleading. Asking perhaps for someone to stand on her side. Stand up for her. She took a deep breath, ready to face the music.

“Well… I suppose now I’m here I may as well stay for a bit. Got any soda Red?”

The witches face was a picture. Of horror mostly. “A soda… YOU want a soda?”

“Well I heard you’re all out of whisky.” She shot Willow a pointed look, one which told her she knew everything that had gone on recently, was here because of it, and was staying till it was dealt with.

“Dawn. I really don’t think this is a good idea…” Willow moved a step back from Faith as she spoke the next words. “…don’t get me wrong sweetie, I know you need someone to talk to, someone to care… but Faith… well Faith isn’t quite…” She ran her eyes over the dark slayer, remembered the feel of cold steel against her neck, the hate which had long since burned for her in her gut. “…normal… or sane… and I’m pretty sure the women’s correctional facility up in LA are just gonna love hearing that she’s gone all AWOL.”

“Try getting your facts straight Red, I was only ever in Juvie, been out for months…”


“It’s true Will, ask Angel… she’s been staying with him, everyone there knows that she’s better… that she’s changed.”

The red head scoffed, she couldn’t believe that the girl would ever change. She remembered too well everything she had done. She had killed someone for crying out loud, more then one someone, had betrayed them all, sided with evil… and sure she felt maybe a little bit hypocritical, had herself messed around with some stuff that wasn’t strictly ‘good’… but this was Faith. And Buffy was gonna freak!

“I think you should leave Faith…” She was trying to steer Dawn by the shoulders away from the Psycho Slayer, she knew that any minute Faith would take advantage of the situation, would probably have them both at knife point. Maybe dead. “…Buffy’ll be back REALLY soon… and you know, she’s not too keen on unannounced visitors… or murderers, back stabbing bitches…”

“What about people that completely fucking neglect their little sisters, huh?”

Faith could see the hate that was pouring in her direction from the other girl. She didn’t care for it, knew most of it was deserved, but still… her only concern at the moment was Dawn.

“You don’t know anything about what’s been going on around here Faith, just go… I… I mean it!” She tried to look as intimidating as she could. If only she could use magic everything would be fine. But she couldn’t. Shouldn’t even be thinking it.

“No! Don’t go!” Dawn turned to face Willow, pulled herself up to full height. “…you don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t see, who is and isn’t my friend!” Now she turned back to Faith, pleaded with her eyes. “Please, don’t go yet. Come in the kitchen and get that soda… Buffy won’t really be home for ages, she’s working tonight, ok?”

The girl considered her options. She did wanna stay, it was pretty much the whole point of her being there… but antagonising Willow? She hadn’t really wanted to do that. It would help if she could make a couple of allies in the camp, people that could see past the past and realise that she wasn’t about that anymore. Truly was here for Dawn. Cared about Dawn.

“Maybe a quick soda, but then I gotta shoot…” She saw the young girls face crumple into a frown. “…but I’ll be back tomorrow, I promise.”

“Buffy is so gonna freak… in fact I’m gonna call her… now, I’m gonna call her now and tell her and she is so gonna freak.”

“Take a chill pill Red, really… what’s the worst right? I’m gonna go through, have a soda, and then I’ll be gone. Just give the kid a break.”

Willow returned her eyes to Dawn, she did want the girl to be happy… but… but FAITH?! Half of her still couldn’t believe that she was standing there brazen as anything as if being there was the most natural thing in the world. The other half was believing that she was there and telling her feet to move as fast away from her as was possible.

“I don’t like this… I don’t like it one bit Dawnie, and Buffy is probably gonna kill me… but fine. One soda, and then she’s gone… and she shouldn’t come back. You now how Buffy’s been… let’s just try and cut out the trauma ok?”

“Cos it’s ALWAYS about Buffy’s trauma!” Dawn grabbed hold of Faith’s hand and pulled her through to the kitchen, muttering all the way. “Sorry bout that Faith, maybe I should of warned them you were coming, but then I thought maybe you wouldn’t come or they wouldn’t let you come, and I really did want you to…”

“Slow down kid, I’m here right? And no one tells me what to do. Or no one round here anyway, Angel gets a bit bossy sometimes, Cordy all the time… but don’t worry. I’ll stay as long as ya need me to.”

“Thanks… it’s kinda weird to have someone here for me… since mom… ya know?” She didn’t elaborate. Didn’t need to. She still missed her so much. Always.

“I do know. And I am here.” She gave the girl a friendly ruffle of hair and laughed at the look she got.

“I’m NOT five you know… you can’t do that to someone over five!”

Faith reached out and did it again. “Can’t I?”


So she reached out and did it again.

“Faith! I’m warning you…”

Willow listened in from outside the door. It was strange hearing Dawn’s laughter. Hearing laughter of any kind. For a second she had to wonder… maybe this would be good, maybe Faith HAD changed..? But she couldn’t believe it. Wasn’t prepared to believe it.

She did decide not to call Buffy though. It wasn’t worth worrying her at work, and it wasn’t like she could just rush home and run Faith out of town. That would have to wait until tomorrow. Then they could all get together and run her out of town. Give them a purpose. They sure as heck needed it.

Researching nerds was boring and Faith could be just the distraction needed to get everyone focused again.


Faith POV

Well that wasn’t so bad. On a scale of one to ten it has to be a pretty high score. I figured I’d be lucky to make it out alive, and yet I came through without one scratch. A bit of a verbal beating from the ‘real’ wicked witch, but nothing I can’t handle or that I don’t deserve.

Dawn was a lot better then I thought she would be. She was all perky and jumpy and just like a mini version of her older sister. Heaps taller though. Maybe the monks that made her have a thing for leggy brunettes? They didn’t do a bad job, full marks I’d say.

It still gave me a moment of weirdness every time I thought about her not existing before last year… I mean, she’s real. Really, real. I wanted to reach out and poke her every few minutes just to check, but man… that girl is pure flesh and bones. Only in Sunnydale, right?

I didn’t know what to do once I split the place, I was hungry as hell and dying to slay. I didn’t know if I dared to though. What if she was slaying, what if we ran into each other? I know it’s coming, and soon… but I don’t think I want the first time she sees me to have any kind of weapon involved. She might be packing an axe, or a cross bow… hell, even stakes leave splinters and I’m pretty sure she’d be willing to use them.

I decided to lay low, just do a real quick sweep across the outer cemeteries, if I remembered right then these were the ones without much action anyway and Buffy spent less time in these ones then the ones further into town. I figured I’d slay, then I’d eat and then I’d rest. I was pretty sure I’d need all my energy for tomorrow.

The damn slaying was a bust. Nothing, not a hint of a nasty. Frustrated the fuck outta me. All I wanted was one little playmate, one little moment of tension release, one puff of dust as the world was set to rights. But nope. I called it quits and hunted food. Ended up outside the Double Meat Palace. Man I hated that place!! It was cheap as shit though, and the burgers did taste a little better then actual shit. At least I assumed they did.

I was all busy trying to grab some change out of the tight pockets of my even tighter jeans when I made my way through the door, didn’t need to look up for a menu, just walked a path to the counter and mumbled out my order.

“Give us a burger yeah? Couple of orders of fries?”

The crash kinda made me think that something was wrong. It shattered the otherwise virtual silence of the depressing interior and made me wonder if I was gonna have to fight for my supper. I didn’t mind, working up an appetite was good. I wasn’t prepared though. For what I saw when I raised my eyes. Who I saw.

I never laughed so hard in my fucking life!

Maybe it was shock, maybe it was a little cover for my fear, maybe it was pure disbelief… mostly though I think it was the damn stupid hat she was wearing on her head. It was classic. Cow’s head, chicken’s ass. Nice. Perfect.

It didn’t stay laughter for long though. It pretty quickly evolved into cursing, but then SHE started that.

“What the HELL are you doing here?”

I went for the obvious. The truth. “Came for a burger B, you gonna cook one up for me?”

She was seething. I could see the confusion in her eyes, the venom dripping from her mouth as she went to speak again. “Get out! Get out of here, and get the fuck out of my town!”

“Hey… that’s not nice B, you don’t wanna cause a scene… you could lose your job…” I motioned my hands around me encapsulating the whole of the fast food joint. “…and I kinda like it here you know? It’s definitely you, very ‘Buffy’.”

I was pushing it, but I didn’t care. I was so pissed at her. Years worth of pissed and now a whole lot more to add to the mix. Time had doused the fire which I’d learnt to call hate, but I still had issues with her. Wouldn’t let her know how much she intimidated me. How much just standing before her eyes made me wither on the inside. Made me half of who I was at any other time.

I could see her body as it went it taut before me, imagined her muscles winding up to attack. I remembered exactly how it felt. In a sudden rush of absolute clarity I could remember the feel of her skin on my skin, the rush of blood through my veins anytime she ever touched me. It almost made me want it. Made me wanna drop to my knees and beg her to beat the shit outta me. Anything to feel her hands on my body, to taste the only kind of kisses she had ever given me. I didn’t though. I stepped back a pace, I opened my stance out in front of her and let her know I was willing if she was. Threw defiance into my posture instead of pleading. Either way the results were the same. She bit. She always did. I knew exactly where her buttons were, I had made it my job to know.

She was over the counter in seconds, pushing herself up into my face, hands grabbing purchase on the front of my jacket. Her hate was pouring from her mouth in a string of curses, words meant to hurt, meant to injure… but I didn’t hear one of them. Was locked into her eyes, trying to see what was wrong. What was missing. Cos that bitch looked kinda dead. Everything she was throwing at me, all the tension in her body, the poison in her words… and her eyes were as hollow as she made me feel. It was freaky, surreal.

If she hadn’t landed a perfect punch to my jaw at that moment I maybe would’ve guessed I was dreaming the whole thing. But she did, and I ended up with my ass on the floor. A scowl on my face.

“Fuck B… for a welcome that’s pretty crappy, even coming from you.”

“Coming from me? Have you listened to a word I just said..?”


“…do you understand what I’m saying?…”

Again with the no.

“…I want you out of here, I don’t know why you’re here, I don’t CARE why you’re here… I just want you gone. I swear Faith… you get in my face? I so much as see your face again, I will beat you…”

“…to death, right B? That’s the same old line I see, not spiced up the routine with new material.”

She went to land a kick to my body as I sat on the floor, but I’m a slayer too remember? Before she even knew it I had swept her legs and found her a comfy seat right next to mine. I didn’t stay to fraternise though, I flipped myself up to standing and rested the heel of my boot against her chest. I was panting from just that little exertion, it really was such a rush… I didn’t know if I should thank her?

I could feel her start to struggle and sought out her eyes. “Just quit B, we’re not doing this. Not now.” But I could see her getting ready to bust her next move, knew she was gonna go for my leg, upend me, steal my advantage back for herself. I couldn’t let that happen, my pride was begging me not to let it happen.

I increased the pressure just for a moment, could see the brief flash of pain as it crossed her face, used the leverage to push myself back. Out of reach. Out of her reach.

In a instant she was standing before me. The red of her uniform matching the flushed heat of her cheeks. She was so pissed. And to me it felt great. I can’t explain it, or I don’t wanna explain it… but it was so strong. So intense. The waves of disgust were rolling from her body, encasing me within them, caressing every part of me that was on show to her, even some parts that weren’t. I could feel it deep down, letting me know, making me sure. She still gave a shit. She could tell me I was nothing a thousand times over, but her reactions were saying something else. There was no way I was nothing to her, and at that moment it was enough.

I had been so scared. Terrified. My private fear. My biggest fear.

I thought she might have forgotten me. Might have forgotten the power that we had over each other, the intensity which every moment had ever held for us. I thought she might have forgotten how to feel it. Dawn had told me, filled me in on how she was all ‘Miss Unemotional’ nowadays. Like she’d never really dragged herself from her own grave. Was still dead. But this proved wrong. Cos I could hear the steady thumping of her heart, could see the fire I was making course through her system… and now it was there in her eyes. Something.

I wanted to pounce on her. Wanted to beat the answers from that tight little body of hers. Make her mouth say the words. But she didn’t give me a chance. Made me doubt I’d seen anything in the first place.

As she stepped back from me her voice turned fire quickly into ice, brittle and cold, totally devoid. “Just stay away from me Faith…” Then she did the worst. She turned her back on me. “…I don’t want anything from you.”


I didn’t remember offering her anything. Maybe a damn good ass kicking, but then I figure she deserves that. Not for me… don’t worry, I may be pissed at her, but I know which one of us is more likely to want revenge, and it ain’t me. I fucked her over good and proper, I may have had reasons… stupid reasons… but I was wrong. No, I meant for Dawn. I figure she deserves one for that.

I watched her walk through the door marked employee, watch her throw glares at the school kids working with her and I watched her take up her position behind the counter. I was torn. Fucking confused as well. She had spoken a foreign language to me, I was sure of it. Cos I had heard one thing in her tone… a total lack of anything, but her words said something else, something I wasn’t sure I understood. Thought maybe I’d like to.

Now though I had to walk away. She had closed the door on me, I did understand that much… I gave her one final glance, saw her looking back at me, vacancy in her eyes, something missing. I looked at the floor and spotted it. Her cap, ass in the air, cow kissing the ground. It really was a work of beauty and I was tempted to keep it for myself, but no… it was Buffy’s, I had to return it.

I picked it up, tossed it in the air and twirled it on my finger. Don’t ask where the cockiness came from, maybe from her words?

“Hey B… your hat?” I held it out to her across the counter, waited with straining chest to see what she would do, what she would say.

“Oh… right…” I saw her flush with embarrassment as she considered the offending article, imagined the horror of having to wear one everyday. Just for a second she forgot it was me, forgot it was her and me… and she offered me a half smile, a slight raise of eyebrow… included me in her life. Told me with a glance just how much she did hate this, how much it pained her to have to come here everyday and flip burgers for a living. “…thank you.”

As she touched the rim of the cap her fingers brushed against mine. Cold hard contact. Skin on skin. I don’t know who jumped back furthest or fastest, but I know we both jumped. Both felt it. I’d read about it before, the electricity in someone’s touch… but it was bullshit right? No, it wasn’t. That bitch zapped me and I damn well figure I zapped her back too. Crazy fucking static. It must’ve been from the rolling around on the cheap lino flooring.

It seemed though to remind her who I was. And you can bet the steel was back in her eyes, the hatred plain on her face.

“Get out, and stay out. I don’t want to see you Faith. Just go away.”

Nice speech. I wondered whether to tell her I’d see her tomorrow. I mean we hadn’t even started in on the Dawn crap yet, and I wanted answers, changes, I wanted Dawn loved. It was the reason, after all, that I was there. Right?

I wasn’t so sure anymore either and it scared me.

I made my way out of that place and thanked the Gods for fresh air. It stank so gross in there and I had to imagine B spent most of her waking hours smelling like… I don’t know… putrid offal? Nice. Totally hot.

Then I went to think and to drink. Perfect combination. Way better then cows and chicken.

I swear I thought I had come here just for Dawn, didn’t think I’d ever have even bothered coming back here again if it wasn’t for Dawn… but I don’t know. There were feelings tonight, something more then a memory… I thought that was long dead, truly thought B’s only purpose now was to haunt my conscience, make me strive to be the better person I always wish I’d been. But now? Now I was fucking confused.

I wanted to drink her out of my system. Infuse myself with alcohol rather then Buffy Summers.

Thankfully the beers in my fridge were cold and I had a nice bottle of Jack to keep them company. I counted the cracks in the ceiling as I willed my brain to reach fuzzy, sought to find the stop button for all of my emotions. I knew I had one, had found it before with the help of Buffy. Only now it was choosing to go missing. Nothing able to stop me from feeling.

I drank more and more. Eventually I rang Angel to tell him of my day, slurred my distress down the wire to him. At least proving that phone calls to LA would still be frequent, even if it was someone new looking for assurances, for guarantees that somebody cared. He did the best he could, asked if I needed him to swing by, maybe one of the others..? But I said no. I was ready to stand on my own two feet. Or rather I hoped I was.

I knew he was worried, I was worried too. Tonight had been too many emotions, too many questions, too much of everything. Part of me could feel the feelings from long ago… but that was just it, it wasn’t only the good feelings… the way it was when we were close, when she let herself be mine… but also the bad feeling. There was a part of me that still wanted to hurt her, to cause pain just to make her feel me. And that was scaring the hell out of me. I didn’t wanna be that person anymore, I never wanted to be that person again.

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