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by Liz M

Rating: NC17

"Ms. Summers." The young boy knocked on the door, peering around it, waiting for my reply.

I finished up what I was working on, looked to the boy, smiling. "Hi Billy, come on in." I motioned for him to enter.

"I've got your mail." He said, smiling, presenting it as if it were on a silver platter.

I reached over, taking the mail. "Thanks, anything else?" I asked, looking up at him.

He shook his head no, smiling, just standing there staring at me. I waited for a few minutes, wondering if he was going to take his leave. Another minute passed. I put my pen down on my desk and looked at him, clearing my throat, waiting for him to get the drift and get out.

"Oh.... Yeah. Sorry." He said, apologetically, backing out into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind him.

I finally laughed, smiling. "Boys will be boys, I guess." I breathed out jokingly as I thumbed through the mail.

"Oh no." I said as I saw another letter from The Chosen Corp. Basically The Chosen Corp. was a slayer network. Every slayer was listed, names, addresses, contacts, one big information network that used to be extremely informative, that was, until a certain pair of slayers took over. They meant to change the world, one slayer at a time.

I laughed as I remembered the first time I'd gotten taken in by one of their harebrained schemes. I mean it was just too good to be true and therein lies what should have been my first clue.

Anyway, they wrote me, wanting to interview the original slayer, supposedly about the closing of the hellmouth, the possible resurrection of the first, at least that's what I thought. I get there, give one hell of an interview and the newsletter comes out, the headline reading, 'The Original', followed by a picture of me and underneath my photo the caption read, 'Vampire Slayer or Layer?'

I was lived, mortified. I mean, Thank God, only the slayer line gets the newsletters, otherwise, I'd have to move to Antartica or somewhere. For months after that I was paranoid. If I heard someone laughing, I just knew that they had read the article and were laughing at me and if they whispered around me, well I could just imagine what they were saying, could even hear them in my head. "If they're dead, she'll do them."

It was around then that Faith made her re-emergence back into my life but only for a brief moment. I was on my first date in months, well truth be told, it was my first date since we'd closed the hellmouth. I'll admit, I was..... needy. Okay, I was hor...... you know.... So much, bad even... that I chose to do something that I wouldn't normally do.

I decided to get a little freaky in the backseat of a car with my date, granted, I was a little old for these kinds of things but nevertheless, there I was, my skirt up around my hips, my date's head poised between my legs, fixing to fix what had been ailing me and someone knocked loudly on the window.

I jumped up of course, pushing my skirt down, trying to get the guy out from between my legs.

The knocking continued, only now it'd moved around to my side of the car. After a few minutes of tapping my fingers against my legs, I blew out an embarrassed breath and rolled the window down. I have to tell you, what I saw stunned me, shocked the living hell out of me.

She smiled, leaning over the window. "Hey ya B. Long time no see." She peered around the inside of the car, checked me out, checked out my date then she smiled. "What you doing?" She asked, giving me a nod.

I stumbled over my words. "Uhm.... Just talking, sitting around ... talking." I nodded up at her for emphasis.

She smiled, asking, "in that position? Damn, guess we should've talked more often, might've saved us a whole load of shit." She nodded, pretending to contemplate her words.

I figured I would play off the situation. "Well, actually, my ear was kind of hurting and uhm.........."

"Jay." The guy filled in the blank.

"Yeah, Jay." I breathed out shakily, continuing, "well, he was just checking it out for me."

She leaned further in the window. "Really?" She asked, smirking. "That's funny... cause I'm what, twenty six years old now and I've yet to find a doctor that could look up my ass and tell me what's wrong with my ear." She nodded. "Maybe you could get me a referral or something." She smiled the biggest smile ever, her dimples springing to life.

My face burned. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure shot up to a dangerous level. I sucked in my pride, asking, "why are you here, Faith?" I looked up into her reflective eyes.

She smiled and pulled out the newsletter.

"Oh no." I sighed, leaning back into the seat, waiting for the earth to swallow me up.

She finally laughed a little bit. "Well, see, my friends don't think that I really know ....The layer of all things dead." She stopped and flashed a smile my way, continuing, "so, I was hoping to maybe get an autograph, a picture or two, prove my point."

I looked up at her in shock. "You want an autograph?" She nodded, confirming a yes.

I laughed icily. "Fuck off Faith." I said, my voice full of sarcasm.

She pulled her hand up toward her chest, feigning shock and dismay. She mouthed the words, 'me? Really, me. You want me to fuck off?', then she started screaming. I swear that bitch brought the whole town over to stare at me.

"OH MY GOD! LOOK! IT'S HER! It's really her. It's... It's the layer! I can't believe it... I'm your biggest fan. I love your work!" She pointed so everyone would know exactly who she was so excited about. Bitch.

"Go. Go now. Hurry!" I seethed at my date, forcing him into the front seat, making him start the car and take me away from the madness.

I glanced out the rear windshield, watching as she continued to carry on her charade. "I'm gonna kill her." I mumbled to myself.

My laughing finally broke me out of my trip down memory lane. I found myself staring down at the letter. "What the hell." I mouthed to myself and tore into the envelope.

Are you lonely? Do you wonder why all of your relationships end in sorrow? Do people fall short of what you expect, What you need, what you want, what you deserve?

If your answer is yes, then we can and will enlighten you.

It's simple.

Before there was ever 'one' slayer in all the world, there were many. Men, magicians took that away, took away our future... but now, now we have taken it back and it's time to fix, mend, what was once separated.

And what was separated?

Why you. You were separated....... From your other half, from your happiness, from your partner.

For each slayer there is another half and they're out there, feeling the same way, lost, needing you to finally complete them and make them happy.

And that's what we are offering to you. A chance to meet your other half, the light to your dark or vice versa.

We are holding 'the reunion' at the Paradise Towers, Suite C, on July 16th.

We hope to see you there. Contact the hotline for further information.

I laughed and threw the letter off to the side, finishing up my work. I was leaving early tonight, meeting Willow for an early dinner.

I was finally done, closing up shop so to speak. I grabbed up my coat, fixing to turn out the lights. I stopped, glancing to the letter. I sighed, disgusted with myself, walked back over to the desk, snatched up the offending letter and left to make my way to the restaurant.

I figured that I could talk to Wills about it, let her shoot the idea full of holes then I could feel all vindicated and not curious at all. I gave off a bright smile when I saw her already sitting at a table. I practically ran over, giving her a hug.

"What's going on?" She asked immediately.

I gasped out in disbelief, asking, "what are you, psychic?"

She laughed. "No, you're just an open book." She nodded.

I laughed along with her as we settled in, ordering, just relaxing, gossiping about Dawn, Kennedy, Giles and Xander.

Willow saw the letter and reached for it. "Ken got one of those." She said lowly, lost in thought.

Her sudden sullenness wasn't lost on me. I looked at her, taking in her facial features. "You okay?" I asked.

She nodded, handing the letter back.

"What do you think about it?" I asked.

She sighed. "I think there might be something to it." She breathed out.

"What?" I asked, adding, "you've got to be kidding me. Why?" I questioned, my voice becoming worried.

She shrugged, pausing momentarily. "It's just, I watched Kennedy's face as she read the letter. She tried to play it off but I saw a flash of recognition or something, something that made her believe....."

"And?" I prompted, trying to get her to open up further.

She blew out a breath, slumping just a bit. "And.... I questioned her and she admitted that sometimes she does feel what they described, that sometimes she felt as if there were someone that she needed to find."

I reached over and touched her hand. "What are you going to do?" I asked.

She half smiled at me. "Leave it up to her." She answered, adding, "and what about you? What will you do?"

I laughed, smiling big. "Well, I'm not exactly gay you know. I mean come on, can you even name one time when anyone ever questioned my sexuality?" I chuckled some more, looking to Wills, who just sat there quiet, eyes focused toward her plate.

My smiled faded. "Will?" I asked, waiting for a response.

She finally looked up at me, nodding her head yes.

"No." I stated. "No." I said again, shaking my head to push my point through. "I was joking, really. No. You're kidding me, right?" I asked, my voice becoming more and more frustrated. I stared at her.

She nodded her head back and forth in answer to my last question, finally saying, "once, yeah, we kind of thought that you might be...."

I cut her off. "No way, when?" I asked, laughing, disbelievingly.

She shifted, becoming uncomfortable, shrugging, she answered, "well, back in high school. There was someone that you seemed drawn to." She lowered her eyes, refusing to look at me.

"When?" I questioned, anger seeping through my demeanor.

She seemed to press herself deeper into her chair. "Uhm..... well, junior, senior year, give or take a few months." She flinched.

I laughed. "You?" I questioned. "You're like my sisiter or something, which is just kind of ewwww."

Her eyes shot up toward mine. "Not me you nut. Jeeze."

I scrunched up my forehead, thinking, "well let me see. You, Tara, Cordelia.... Anya? Have you bumped your head?" I asked, completely dumbfounded.

She smiled, finally laughing. "There was another." She offered.

I raised my hands up, questioning, "who?"

Willow put on a serious face and raised her eyebrows, staring at me. "Please, don't insult me. You know and now you're playing games." She kept up her stare.

I relented. "Don't, don't even say her. You are way off track with that one." I spat the words out, not liking the way they left a bitter taste in my mouth.

She kept quiet, staring, smiling at me.

"Will, come on, she hated me, tried to make my life a living hell, she did make my life a living hell." I looked at her hard, trying to convey my thoughts.

She shrugged it off. "Maybe." She said, adding, "but, if she did have those kinds of feelings toward you, it would explain a lot about what went wrong. I mean, a woman spurned and all." She leaned in closer. "I mean, here you two are, getting all touchy feely, spending evenings together, skipping school and then ... .Wham.... out of nowhere, Angel comes back and you drop her like a hot rock." She nodded. "It makes sense."

I know I'm catching flies and all but I just can't close my mouth, finally I shake off my stupor, trying to find reason. "Well, if she had those types of feelings then she wouldn't have sided against me."

"You think?" She replied, leaning in again. "Kennedy asked her once, why she did what she did."

"And... what did she say." I questioned.

Willow leaned back against her chair, getting comfortable. "Well, Ken said four words. Hurt, shelter, food, survival. She really won't betray Faith's trust, cause that's a big thing to her but I know that they're close and that they keep in touch... and Ken made a comment a few weeks ago when I asked about Faith. I asked had she finally settled down and gave love a shot. Ken said, she gave love a chance once and it came down to hurt, shelter, food and survival."

I shook my head back and forth, not getting it, so Willow continued, "well it was a hint. She told me without telling me, it basically all comes back to you."

I sat there, silent, dumbfounded, just staring at my friend, who finally chose that moment to ask a question. "So... Buffy, did you?"

I shook off my confusion. "Did I what?" I asked.

She shook her head, smirking at me. "Did you like Faith like that?"

I looked at her hard, "She was my enemy." I said, lowly.

"She was just a kid. A lovesick, jealous kid." Willow replied.

I was quickly becoming agitated. "I don't want to talk about Faith anymore." I said. "It's not about her, it's about me and I know that I'm gonna meet someone, have kids and that I'm gonna be fulfilled in everyway I've ever dreamed of."

She just looked at me, so I continued. "I keep having these recurring dreams. I can't see it all clearly but I know that I'm loved and that I'm happy, that I have a family." I smiled. "It's amazing. I get these little snippets of things, sights, smells, feelings and when put together... well, I just feel like that's where I'm heading, that's my prize and I'm not gonna settle for anything less than that."

Willow just nodded and smiled at me. "So are you going?" She motioned to the letter, adding, "me and Kennedy are gonna check it out, would be nice if you came along just in case......just in case Ken decides to go another way." Her voice belied her cheerful disposition. "I could really use a friend, just in case." She trailed off.

I nodded, touching her hand. "Why not, we might just have fun." I smiled.

She smiled back laughing, "are you kidding, I know we'll have fun. You're a celebrity. Slayers from all over will be there just to get a glance at, 'the layer.'" She laughed harder.

"Hey! That's not funny." I stated. "Well, okay, maybe it is just a little."

Willow squeezed my hand. "Faith will be there, she's already talked to Ken."

I hardened my eyes. "Good, cause I owe her an ass whooping from way back." I said, remembering the last time that I saw Faith.

"Buffy." Willow interjected. "Be nice, just in case."

I squinted my eyes at her, nodding, oh yeah, bet on it.

I smiled.

Part 2

Days had passed, drawing the reunion closer. It seems that the closer it got, the more scared I became. Okay, truth be told, I was worried, worried that these girls were onto something. I mean, when had I ever been happy with anyone, fully happy. Vampires as lovers, well that's a dead end, literally. Regular people, well they usually bolted, died or made you have to hide who and what you were and that's no way to live.

So apart from not being gay, what did I have to lose, besides, Willow might need me. Okay, who am I kidding? Faith will be there and as much as she pushes my buttons, I'd still like to know if she's all right, see how she turned out, if she'd made anything out of herself. I couldn't get any information out of Kennedy and Wills was closed lipped about repeating anything that Ken told her about Faith.

"Bitch." I muttered, shaking my head, thinking about Kennedy and her vague answers concerning Faith and now, to top it all off, she may decide that she wants to be with a slayer and just up and leave my best friend. I just know I'm gonna end up kicking her ass.

The more I thought about it, the madder I got, so mad that I snapped my pen clean in two. I threw the pen toward the corner.

See I haven't even seen Faith yet and her and Ken's childish crap is already pissing me off. Okay, Faith is what's pissing me off. See what I mean? And Willow has the nerve to question me over what I feel, I mean felt. It's pretty damned clear. Anger. "Ahhhh." I growled out in frustration.

I snatched up the phone, calling Wills.

"Hello." Will answered.

"Book me a place with you and Ken." I stated into the phone.

"Okay." She said, her voice confused. "Uhm.. Buffy, why are you so angry?" She questioned.

"I'm not angry!" I yelled into the receiver.

Wills started laughing into the phone. "Be here early, we're leaving at two p.m." She hung up the phone.

"I can't believe I'm gonna do this." I muttered to myself.

That was it, all my concentration was gone, thrown completely out the window. I finally relented, gave up pretending to work, got up and went home, thinking that I could pack a light bag and get a good nights sleep.

Yeah right. Sleep came easy. What a crock of shit. I watched that damned clock all night.

I called into work and finally fell asleep about eight a.m. I guess a few hours were better than none at all. The clock went off at noon. I got up, showered and left for Wills with butterflies dancing in my stomach. Okay, another truth, I'm nauseous. Scared of seeing Faith, scared of not seeing her.

I fell asleep in the car, those extra couple of hours really worked wonders. I felt better, less sick. I mean really, what the hell did I have to be nervous about. Wills was the one that should be nervous. She had something to lose, I didn't.

It wasn't long before we were pulling into the parking garage and making our way to the check in counter. Honestly, I couldn't wait to sit back, get some dinner, see what kind of scam this really was and find out how much money they wanted me to shell out.

Time finally rolled around. "You ready?" Will asked.

I shrugged. "You?" I questioned, moving next to her, giving Kennedy the evil eye. I guess Ken was feeling a little guilty, she was actually keeping her mouth shut.

We were all quiet on the way to suite c, didn't even talk when we went inside and received our reserved table. I sat across from a few people, discreetly eyeing them.

"Buff." Willow got my attention. "We're gonna go and dance." She waited for me to nod, which I did. I also watched them leave me alone with these... slayers? I turned back to the people at the table.

I gave a curt nod. "Hi." I offered. "I'm Buffy."

They nodded back, each giving their names in return. They smiled. I smiled and then they settled back into their previous conversation, the one before I interrupted them.

"Anyway, it wasn't some miracle love at first sight thing, honestly, we didn't ever really know what it was. It was just this intense feeling, like I would know when she was around. I could feel her vibes hitting me and I couldn't do that with any other slayer. I mean, I could sense that they were more, you know but with her, I actually felt her, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was her I was feeling. We absolutely drove each other nuts. It was kiss or kill for a while, literally, we about killed each other. We just made each other so furious. Time passed and we realized that our differences and problems were the result of us fighting the intensity of the pull, so we gave in, gave it a shot and I have to say, that I've never felt more complete or fulfilled in my life."

"What about you Buffy? Have you had anything like that happen?" The lady, Julie, I think her name was, asked.

I shifted uncomfortably, shaking my head no, asking, "so... how did you two know?"

They smiled. "Well, to be honest, I had to finally just sit down and question myself. Questions like, why was she the only one who could get me so riled up. Why was everything so intense around her. There seemed to be some kind of internal hum going on between us, a tingle or something. When all was said and done, it came down to a kiss. I can't describe it but when you have that 'hum' streaming through your body, an overwhelming intensity and you add something as electric as a kiss, well, lets just say that I'd never in my life experienced anything like it." She smiled at me.

I took in a deep breath before asking, "so you were both gay, before?"

They laughed, "hell no. I was completely into men and the thought of women didn't really appeal to me but like I said I had to question my whole life and when you get down to the core, the center of it all. It really didn't matter that she was a woman, what mattered was that she was what I had been needing all along, besides that's just a label and loving a woman or a man for that matter doesn't really change who you are. It only affects you if you're a weak person."

I nodded, taking it all in. I looked across the dance floor to Willow and Kennedy before bringing my attention back to my table mates. That's when I felt it, that rush of adrenaline, that surge of power.

I didn't want to look but I had to. It won't be... it won't be.... It is. I looked right into the eyes of Faith, who was standing all the way across the room, looking back at me. She smiled and started toward me.

I tensed up, looking down at the table, not really wanting to acknowledge her.

She came up behind me. "B... Buffy." She said, drawing my attention by touching my shoulder. She smiled briefly before speaking, "hey, listen, you wanna..."

I cut her off abruptly. "No... Never." I spat out quickly, the tone of my voice stopping her instantly.

I saw her face contort, a crease formed along her forehead, her eyes showed confusion and understanding. She nodded okay, turned away from me, sighing heavily as she shook her head.

I watched her back as she retreated from me, embarrassment settled over me as I tried to avoid the stares of the women seated around me.

"Sorry." I said as I got up from the table, making my exit from them.


I turned, relieved to find Willow there. "You okay?" She asked. " I saw what happened with Faith."

"Yeah." I answered. "I was an ass. I need to apologize. Did you see where she went?" I asked.

Willow pointed across the dance floor.

I sighed. "Time to kiss a little ass." I muttered and made my way over to Faith.

"Hey." I said softly, getting her attention. "I'm sorry. You didn't deserve the way I treated you."

"Thanks." She replied in a low voice, not saying anything else and turning away from me.

I stood there for several seconds staring at her, taking her in. After realizing that she wasn't going to talk to me I stepped closer, trying to make things better. "So.....what have you been up to?" I asked, smiling, gesturing for us to sit down at a nearby table.

I sat down and waited for her to join me, looking up at her expectantly, smiling big when she finally gave in and joined me. I looked at her, waiting for her to answer.

She adjusted herself, getting comfortable, finally speaking, "I'm still slaying, kind of a public servant." She stopped, seemed to be contemplating saying something else then changed her mind. "You?" She asked.

That's it? That's all? I half smiled in disbelief at her. I shook off those feelings of frustration, trying to be nice. "Well, I kept with the counseling. I enjoyed it, I just branched off into an occupational setting instead of an educational one." I smiled at her.

She looked at me smiling, "sounds like you did good for yourself." She stated.

I nodded, agreeing, "I'm not rich but I'm content. What was it again that your doing?" I asked, trying again to get some information out of her.

She squirmed, looking around for somewhere to go. I reached over and touched her hand and she bolted right out of her chair.

"Faith." I said, trying to get her to sit back down. "Please." I whispered, pleading at her with my eyes.

She nodded and sat back down, so I continued, "are you okay? You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I was just curious is all." I smiled, trying to put her at ease.

"Sorry." She breathed out, adding, "it wasn't the questions." She looked away before continuing, "I'm employed by the town where I live. I enjoy it, it allows me to keep up my slaying duties and keeps me in a small house, pays the bills." She shrugged.

I smiled. "You hungry?"

"Yeah." She replied.

I got up, motioning for her to follow me. "Come on, let's get something to eat." I reached over and grabbed her hand, pulling her behind me.

We pretty much ate in silence. I saw her keep glancing over toward Willow and Kennedy. Realization hit home. "You and Ken aren't...... are you?" I asked, dreading the answer.

"What?" Her eyes instantly met mine. "No! I'm just worried about them, that's all." She had a look of abject horror smeared across her face.

I slumped as I let out the breath I'd been holding in. "Good." I sighed. I waited a few minutes before asking, "so, do you believe it?" I motioned across the room.

She nodded, "yeah, always have." She lowered her eyes.

I just stared at her, not really knowing what to say but needing to know. "Do you think that we're...." I laughed at my lack of vocabulary. "Help me out here. I don't know a word for it."

"Crazy?" She supplied.

I laughed, "no." I said, motioning with my hands for her to continue.

She got quiet all of a sudden, her face going from a look of nonchalance to one of seriousness. She looked directly in my eyes, whispering, "yeah I do."

My laughing faded away as her words echoed in my head. "Since when?" I asked quietly, already knowing the answer.

She blew out a nervous breath. "Since the beginning." She admitted.

I took in her words for what they were, truth. "Well, it helps to explain why a lot of things happened the way they did, doesn't excuse them but it helps to see how things fell so far so fast." I nodded, still letting her words replay in my mind.

She blew out a frustrated breath. "Damn B, I was a scared kid. I didn't have anyone or anything in my life to even remotely base my feelings on. I was unwanted, unneeded and I lashed out the first time I felt dumped."

I looked at her hard. "I didn't dump you. You dumped me, left for the first sugar daddy you could find, fucked me and everyone else in the process." Anger flowed through my words.

She stood up, glaring at me. "Yeah, imagine that, me choosing a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my stomach. It might've been nothing but pretend, some kind of sick twisted dream but it was a hell of a lot better than the reality I had of sitting alone, being unwelcome, freezing during the winter, burning up during the summer and being hungry all the time!" She spat her words out, disgust lacing each and every one, adding, "not once did he ever lay one hand on me," then she turned and walked away from me.

"Fuck!" I stated, getting up to go after her.

"Faith wait!" I called out.

She continued, only speeding up slightly, moving into a group of people. I started to run, not willing to let things end this way.

I caught up with her in the foyer. I grabbed her arm, stopping her.

She spun around, tense, her body poised for a fight. I stared into her eyes, grabbed the waistline of her jeans and pulled her against me.

"Kiss or kill." I whispered, before I closed the distance between us, softly grazing my lips over and against hers.

She finally melted into the kiss, relaxed her body against mine and trailed her tongue lightly over my bottom lip before pulling back to look at me.

She started to say something, "Buffy... I...."

I cut her off. "Don't" I said lowly, my head still spinning from the kiss. "I don't think I can do this." I whispered. "It's all so much." I looked up into her eyes. "That was... too much, just too much."

"Buffy." Willow called out to me, breaking me out of my internal conflict. I turned, looking, trying to see if everything was okay. She smiled at me, mouthing that her and Kennedy were going up to the room.

I nodded and turned back to Faith, only to find her gone.

My mind wondered over my last spoken words to her and I slightly cringed.

I set out to find her once again and this time, she wouldn't be walking away.

Part 3

I walked all over the hotel, inside, outside, the bar, downstairs, upstairs, even searched through the gardens and still no sign of Faith. She makes me so mad. Okay, okay, I make myself mad. It's not like I can pin this on her, this baby was all mine and now that I think about it, I see a lot of things that were all mine, things I'd blamed solely on her, made her the scapegoat for and why? That's easy, why.... Because it was easier than admitting what I felt deep inside. I was a coward, scared of what she brought out of me, scared of what she made me feel, scared of how much she could get to me, scared of how everyone would have looked at me.

"I'm such an idiot." I mumbled to myself before deciding to retire to my room.

I walked past the registration desk, giving the asshole behind the counter the evil eye. He could have ended my search but no..... he wouldn't give out any information on the guests, like a room number is something that's top secret.

I basically burst in through my room door and threw myself on the sofa. Next thing I knew, Willow was placing a stiff drink in my hand.

"Here, looks like you could use it." She sighed, shaking her head.

"Yeah." I breathed out heavily, adding, "I'm an idiot, you know?" I looked up at her, trying to read her expression. She just sat there, listening, letting me get it all out. "I kissed her." I stated, nodding for emphasis.

Willows' brows arched and she had this smile come over her face. She sat up, paying closer attention. "And..." She prompted.

"And..." I took a swig of my drink, relaxing into the burn, before continuing, "and it was.. hot, moist, tender, ticklish almost, made my head swim, swirl or something. I felt like I was spiraling downwards, falling. I don't know. It was...." I paused, trying to think of a word to describe it.

"Orgasmic?" Willow filled in the blank, shocking me with her bluntness.

Her word caught me off guard, causing me to laugh. "Uh, no but if she kisses down there, anything like she kisses up here," I raised my hand pointing to my lips, adding, "I'm sure it would be."

"Slut." Willow stated, smiling, teasing me. "And.." She promted again.

I breathed out heavily. "And, I messed it all up again. I said too much, let my words cut right through her and she disappeared." I shrugged my shoulders, pushing myself further back into the cushions of the sofa. "I've been searching for her ever since."

"Oh." Willow said, lowering her eyes.

I caught the look that flashed across her face. I sat up looking at her. "You know something?" I stated more than asked.

She shrugged her head. "Well, she called Ken and they went somewhere to talk."

"So, she's coming back?" I asked, starting to smile.

"I guess." Willow answered.

I leaned back against the cushions, realizing that I wouldn't be getting anymore information. I relaxed a bit, giving Wills a good once over, trying to see if things were all right with her. "So, uh ...how did it go with you and Ken tonight?" I asked.

Will smiled. "Well truthfully, she didn't feel anything toward anyone, except me and she told me that her curiosity was quelled and she was ready to go."

I nodded, reading between the lines, "so the girl was a dog, huh?"

She breathed in, nodding, mischief dancing in her eyes. "Mutt, actually."

The door opened, ending our girl talk. I looked into Kens face then around her, hoping that Faith was with her.

"She's not with me if that's what you're looking for." Ken's eyes flared angrily at me. "She went back home. Is that what you were trying to accomplish. Are you happy now. In the span of thirty minutes, you've managed to make her feel like nothing and run her off." She turned from me, heading toward their bedroom, stopping abruptly, turning to face me again. "I don't know who I'm more mad at. You, for always doing her like this or her, for always letting you." With those as her last words, she slammed the door shut, leaving me and Will surrounded in a quiet awkwardness.

"I guess that means she won't be telling me her address and number." I stated, still feeling a tad contrite.

I looked over to Willow, who just kind of blew out a breath and turned her head so I couldn't see her expression.

I tried for weeks to get Kennedy to tell me how to contact Faith but the little bitch wouldn't even give me an inch. When that failed, I tried Angel and even that turned out to be a dead end. I even tried getting her address from The Chosen Corp. and that only led me to a post office box off in the middle of nowhere. The sad thing about it is that I actually sat outside for two whole days watching that little post office, hoping that Faith would show up. I should have known that she wouldn't lead anyone to her front door, survival instincts, she had them.

I finally gave in and settled back into my life. I became a workaholic, going in early, staying late, working ahead of schedules and deadlines, well, at least until I burnt myself out.

I tried dating and it went pretty good, well, it went good up until it came time for the infamous good night kiss. Every kiss that came after the one I shared with Faith, well, lets just say that they were severely lacking, cold, they didn't have that warmth that I'd felt with her, plus, I was having those dreams again, the ones of me with someone, happy, complete, fulfilled and a mother no less. Those were hard things to ignore, especially when I knew deep down that I wasn't satisfied with whoever I was with. The dreams just cemented those feelings, isolated them, letting me know that I wasn't where I was meant to be, yet.

The cycle continued over and over until one day I got a call from Angel. He was in deep shit and in need of a little slayer help and you know me, I dropped everything and ran to fight by his side.

We threw everything we had into kicking the shit out of the new demon threat and we still got our clocks cleaned but I did manage to take out the smaller demon. I literally chopped it to bits before the shit hit the fan. Turns out the smaller demon was the bigger ones kid and all I really did was piss him off beyond human comprehension. He literally took away my war hammer and beat the living crap out of me.

Angel and his crew managed to get me out of the way before he delivered the fatal blow but truthfully, the damage had already been done. I was done and out, injured and this time even slayer healing wasn't a quick cure.

I stayed hidden for a good two weeks, trying to heal but it was going to take a lot longer than I had imagined.

I was a target. A bounty had been put on me and here I was, broken, not even able to protect myself. I was a liability, a huge one.

Willow came to my rescue. She cloaked herself and Ken and they snuck me out under the cover of night, drove me off to God knows where, taking me to a safe house as they called it, somewhere where no one would find me and somewhere where I'd be protected.

With Willows help, I'd managed to take family leave from work, so I'd have a job when I returned. Dawn and Giles were safe in England, so I didn't have to worry about them. Wills and Ken had taken up residence in a suburb, under alias', so they'd be safe. That just left me and I was conveniently being put out to pasture.

"We're here." Wills voice broke me out of my half sleep state. I sat up to read the approaching sign. 'Welcome to Dawnville', it said and I swear the next sign was a no vampire sign. I shook my head, trying to clear it up a little more.

I'd lost my sense of direction as we made another turn. Kennedy seemed to be giving the directions, with Will obeying each and every one. We finally turned onto a drive, well more like a path that led up to a small house.

As the car approached the house, motion lamps or something came to life, bathing us in the brightest light I'd ever seen, well bright like the sun. "Oh." I muttered as I realized what the light was, ultra violet rays, good idea, should've been using those for what, the last ten years or so.

As soon as Wills and Ken stepped out of the car, they were soaked in water. Sprinklers everywhere appeared and started sprouting water forth.

They got back in the car, looking like drowned rats. "Holy water." Ken mouthed. "She's smarter than she used to be." She said, looking to Will.

Willow laughed. "You think?" She stated, amused. She honked the horn twice and the sprinklers stopped, the lights changed from burning to a normal hue.

The next thing I know, the front doors were opened and they were getting out. A familiar voice washed over me as I struggled to see against the glare of the remaining light.

"Faith?" I stated, more in shock than anything else.

She flashed me a smile before getting down to business. "Well, come on, lets get you settled in."

It was awkward having to let someone help me walk into Faith's house, embarrassing even but she didn't act like it phased her in the least.

We all sat in the living room, going over recent events, with Faith getting the rundown over what happened to me. She took it all in stride, asking the usual questions, like, "What kind of demon? Is the A team on its trail?" As they talked over defense tactics, I took the time to look around the house. It was homey, not large, not small, just right and as I peered around the room something in the corner hiding caught my attention.

"Psst." I whispered, getting their attention, pointing in the direction of whatever was hiding in the shadows.

Ken abruptly stood, pulling out a knife.

"Whoa." Faith said quickly. "Holster that." She said blatantly, without even glancing toward Ken.

She smiled, relaxing her tone, "come on out."

A few seconds later a little boy stepped out of the shadows. She gave him a stern look before drawing the boy close and giving him a hug. "Jake, this is Willow, Ken and that's Buffy." She pointed at each one of us as she spoke our names. "Guys, this is Jake. Jake lives with me as well as an older woman, who watches him for me while I'm at work." As if on cue the woman in question entered the room looking for the little boy.

Faith gave introductions again, along with a, 'she's staying here' speech and went about the task of setting everyone up for the night.

She helped me to my new room, which happened to be her room, followed by Willow and preceded to show me where everything was. She'd cleared out half of her closet and a chest of drawers for me, even had the bathroom set up for someone in my condition.

In the corner was a cane, a walker and a wheelchair. "I'm not crippled." I spat out.

She shrugged. "Didn't think you were but you're not well either and it'll take some time for you to heal. They're mine from when I was hurt." She was trying to appease me, adding, "there's no pressure for you to use anything, no labels either. If you need them, they're there." Her voice was non challenging so I decided to just keep my mouth shut. I did however glare at the offending items again.

She laughed. "Okay, I'll get rid of them." She walked over and snatched up the chair and walker and took them from the room.

After a bit she came back, knocking lightly. "I've got to go to work. If you need me, you can reach me on this." She held out a radio for Willow to take. "I stay on channel one. If you need anything here, just ask Elaine and she'll get it for you or tell you where it is. Don't worry about Jake, she'll look out for him."

She walked over to the closet and pulled out a uniform top, donned it and started strapping on some weaponry. I watched in awe as she strapped on a sword, a gun and put some stakes in her back pocket. The last thing she snapped on was some kind of utility belt filled with all kinds of things, wicked looking things.

"I'll be making random passes by the house throughout the night, so if you see any lights or hear someone it'll most likely be me, so look before you shoot or anything." She smiled as she continued buttoning up her shirt, continuing, "the fridge is stocked and there's some chicken salad sandwiches already made up. Remote for the TV and stuff is in the nightstand. Towels and things are already laid out for you." She nodded at me. "Well, that's about it."

Kennedy walked in, eyeing Faith over. "Look at you, all grown up and legal."

Faith laughed along with Kennedy before asking, "you want to patrol with me?"

"Hell yeah." Ken shot back, adding, "let me get my shit and we'll head out."

They walked out, leaving Willow and me alone with out mouths hung open.

Willow looked at me dumbfounded, pointing after them. "Her badge said sheriff, didn't it?" I nodded staring to the place where Wills was pointing.

I awoke the next morning to the sounds of water running and the wonderous stare of a kid. "Morning Jake." I rasped out.

"Do you like kids?" He asked, looking at me expectantly.

I eyed him warily. "I do when they don't ask me a lot of questions, why?" I yawned out.

He looked kind of sad, stating, "the last guy didn't like me and said that I had to go." He seemed to think about it then smiled, continuing, "but Faith said that I was staying and
that he could go." He leaned over, whispering, looking at the bathroom door, adding, "and she threw him out on his lily white ass." He snickered just a bit.

"You shouldn't talk like that." I whispered.

"Oh." He said looking contrite, adding, "that's what Kenny told that Red girl."

I nodded, amused.

Faith stepped out of the bathroom at that moment, her hair still wet from the shower. "Goodmorning B." She said, smiling.

I eyed her over, grunting, "mmmph." I mumbled.

She chuckled lightly, whispering, "come on Jake, let Buffy sleep." They left the room quietly, pulling the door closed behind them.

I'm not sure how long I slept but when I woke up the house was quiet. I wouldn't have minded staying in bed but my bladder was screaming at me.

When all was said and done, I hobbled into the living area and fell back into a chair, immediately propping my leg up for support.

Faith was sleeping on the sofa, sprawled all over it, her hair wild and untamed. I had to smile in spite of myself. It was good to see her again, maybe this time around I wouldn't mess things up so bad.

I had to admit that she'd surprised me. I mean she had a house, a job, a kid, even a parental figure. She'd done good and I was proud of her.

The front door creaked open and in walked Willow and Ken. "Shhhh." I whispered, pointing toward Faith.

The pulled me up and led me into the kitchen. Willow pulled a plate out of the oven and put it in the microwave, warming it up. "We've got to head back." She said as she put the now hot plate before me. "You'll be okay. Faith will watch out for you while you're recovering."

I nodded and looked at the plate, sighing as I took a big bite, chewing, contemplating. I finally spoke up. "I don't want to put them in danger." I said lowly. "She's got a family now and I don't want to ruin it."

"Then don't." Ken mouthed off from the doorway.

"You make it sound so easy." I replied.

She laughed. "It is easy. Faith's got this whole town locked up tight. We didn't even see one demon or vamp out last night. She's really planned ahead here, so there's no reason for you to be uptight."

I looked up at her. "I wasn't referring to that."

"Yeah I know." Ken stated, stepping closer. "I didn't really want to threaten you but what the hell. Don't mess with her head and don't you dare hurt her just because you don't know what you want." Ken glared at me, her voice full of intent.

I looked at her hard. "You're a good one to talk, as if you didn't hurt Willow when you wanted to find your other half... and I can't help but wonder, if she hadn't of been such a pig, would you really be here now?" Anger fueled my words, making them burn more than I'd intended.

Ken stepped even closer to me. "Don't try and make this about me, this isn't about two people here, it's an entire family. If you hurt one, you'll hurt them all."

Willow got in between us, trying to keep the argument from escalating."Faith is a big girl." She looked to Ken and then back to me. "We've got to go Buffy." Willow said as she leaned over and gave me a hug." We'll see you soon. Be safe."

I nodded.

Willow pulled Kennedy toward the door. Kennedy stopped abruptly, looking at me. "Don't start nothing you don't intend to finish."

Willow pulled her again, whispering, "come on, let them deal with it." She waved at me and gave Ken a shove toward the door. "Take care." She whispered as she left the house.

I swear Kennedy really pisses me off at times. Who does she think she is telling me not to start something I can't finish.

Have I ever done something so callous? Oh. I thought about it and sighed.

Well, yeah, okay, maybe I have but surely I wouldn't do something like that now, right? Right.

Yeah..... right.


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