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by Sapphire Smoke


Rating: NC-17
Summary: Sequel to The Queen's Battle (2nd in the Return to the Castle series). A lot of things can change in five years. Faith and Kennedy have found solace in friendship, Buffy's life has been turned upside down, and a demon clan is possessing Slayers; something that can only be stopped if the original Slayer essence is merged through a difficult series of quests.
Author's Notes: I figured I should put this up quickly, mostly as a good faith thing of, "Yes, see, there WILL be a sequel," since I know alot of people say that and then, you know, never actually do it. Haha. And I know some of you are going to DESPISE me for the pairing at the beginning of this, but I think I'm okay with that lol. I'm having too much fun writing it to care xD


Chapter One - Five Years Later

"What are you thinking about?"


It's such an automatic response now, even though both of them know it's a lie. Faith's always thinking about the same thing, every single day for the last five years: Buffy. She feels lips on her shoulder, kissing her lightly. She lets out a small breath and shifts on the bed, pressing herself flush up against the woman behind her, just a small sign to let her know that she's not checking out again; that she's still here, but only barely.

Sometimes she wonders how she got here, but then she comes to the painful realization that it's entirely her fault. She could have come back a week later, two, three even. Hell, even six months and maybe even after a year. But as time went on, the more she realized how pointless it would probably be to go back. Buffy has probably moved on with her life and forgotten all about her. It's been way too long now.

Five years and not even a single phone call. Five years of nothing. Five years of Faith being too scared to find out what she left behind.

An arm wraps around her from behind, holding her close. Faith turns her head a little to look at Kennedy and sees her smiling softly at her, almost sympathetically. "It's never going to pass for you, is it?" she asks softly. She notices Faith's look of confusion and then explains, "The pain of walking away from her."

Fuck. They weren't supposed to talk about it, that wasn't part of the plan. Whatever this plan was.

Faith turns around again and faces the wall, shrugging Kennedy off of her a little. She didn't want to be touched anymore, not after mentioning something like that. "Don't wanna talk about it," she says flatly. She starts to retreat into herself, something she's always done anytime Buffy is mentioned.

She doesn't want to think about it, ever. That part of her life is over and done with. She may not have moved on, at least not properly, but five years seems like a lifetime ago. Considering the high death rate of Slayers; it practically is.

Kennedy sighs, a little exasperated at Faith pulling away from her like that. It wasn't like it was unexpected, but it was still irritating. "You never want to talk about it," she mumbles, annoyed. Getting Faith to open up and share her feelings has always been like pulling teeth without anesthesia; excruciatingly painful.

Unfortunately, the whole 'tricking Faith into talking by sex' thing stopped working a long time ago. Faith has closed herself off to anything and everything Buffy, and usually tends to turn these conversations around in some weird manipulative way that always gets Kennedy on the receiving end of getting slammed in the face with situations she doesn't want to relive either.

Kennedy still has no idea how she manages to do that and why she has yet to find a way to stop her.

"For fuckin' good reason," Faith tells her, signaling finality in her voice.

But that never stops Kennedy; she's stubborn to the last.

"Why? Cause it'll make you feel an actual human emotion?" Kennedy asks, propping her head up on her hand as she looks down at Faith's features that are shadowed from the dim light in the bedroom. She knows pressing it is going to irritate her, but she's already had her orgasm so it's not like that's on the line or anything. "I know you've been so void of all of those lately so I'm sure it's gotta be terrifying to try to stop being such a fucking robot," she finishes dryly.

"I'm not a robot," Faith tells her, but her voice really is very monotonic and she continues to stare at the wall. Kennedy was mildly surprised that she even answered her. Most of the time she just ignores her for awhile before she blows up and starts yelling and kicks her out of her room.

But she lets Kennedy come back. She always does.

"All you do is eat, slay, fuck, and sleep," Kennedy points out. "It's not healthy."

"Then why don't you stop fucking me then?" Faith shoots back, turning to look at her finally. Kennedy raises her eyebrows, surprised, and Faith goes on, "If you think it's so fuckin' unhealthy then why are ya encouraging it?"

"Because if I don't you'll sleep with half the city trying to forget about her and knowing your luck you'll end up catching HIV or something."

Faith scoffs and pushes Kennedy away from her as she sits up and throws the covers off of her. She sits on the edge of the bed and runs her fingers through her hair, growing frustrated quickly. "Whatever. Don't act like this is all about trying to help me. You're just as fucked up over Red as I am over B."

And this is how it starts.

That makes Kennedy fall silent for a moment as she stares at her, hurt that she would even bring that up… again. But instead of telling her to fuck off and mind her own business she tries something different. "Willow wasn't…" she starts, then shakes her head. "That was a long time ago; before Jill. If I'm fucking you to forget anyone it's her, not… not Willow." She doesn't sound exactly too sure on that matter though, since everything seems to go back to Willow in one form or another, and it makes Faith look over at her.

"You and Jill were fucked from the beginning cause of that whole thing with Red," Faith tells her bluntly.

"Me and Jill were fucked because I couldn't stop fucking you!" Kennedy blames, like Faith is actually the one really at fault over it.

See? And now suddenly they were talking about Kennedy's relationship failures, not Faith's. God damnit. And yet Kennedy still allows her too, not being one to ever fail to defend herself.

"Oh don't blame me for that again, it wasn't like you were cheating; she knew. Hence the term 'open relationship'," Faith points out for the billionth time. Sometimes Kennedy swears they have the same conversation over and over, like being stuck in some weird time loop. Never the exact one, but they're all mainly the same. "Besides, what I fuckin' meant was that yeah, you were fuckin' me, but why did you start?" She already knows the answer and so does Kennedy, who just scowls at her, warning her to not go that far this time. But Faith doesn't back down. "Because of Red," she answers for her.

Kennedy flashes back to that year: it was really screwed up for both of them.

Faith ran off and cut all ties from Buffy and Giles didn't say one word to contradict the decision she made. She went back to rounding up the rogues and doing what she needed to do, but when the girls were brought to Scotland, to the castle, Faith never came with them anymore. She said she needed space from Buffy, 'breathing room' she called it, to try to let things cool down between them so she could figure stuff out. She knew her relationship with Buffy wasn't healthy for either of them right then. She thought she was being mature and making the right decision, but all it did was end up dragging her down even more.

Kennedy stayed behind, leaving Vi to take over as head of the troops in New York, and did eventually work things out with Willow… sort of. They were together a whole year until it ended again, but it wasn't the fairytale that Kennedy wanted it to be.

Seeing Faith and Kennedy in bed together that night, even though they didn't have sex, seemed to make Willow's trust in her border on nonexistent. And when Faith started to get depressed about leaving Buffy and started drinking herself half to death and fucking everything in sight, Kennedy grew worried. When Giles came to the castle to drop off girls, Kennedy would leave and stay with Faith until he returned. She didn't trust Faith on her own in the kind of mental state she was slowly slipping into. She didn't want to find her friend dead or on the brink of another nervous breakdown in which she spontaneously goes evil, so she stayed to help.

But Willow seemed to think that Kennedy was doing more with Faith than just trying to help her out of the hole she dug herself in.

Kennedy came back to the castle one night only to find out Willow was taking solace in another woman. It tore her apart; infuriated her and upset her, seeing the woman she loved cheat on her because Willow didn't have enough faith that she wasn't fucking around on her already. She acted like it didn't matter, accused Kennedy of all sorts of things and just like that… it was over. For good this time.

So she left. She ran away just like Faith did, finding the permanence she needed in their friendship. She started fucking Faith since it was apparently what Willow expected of her anyway, and they shut out the world together; each of them not wanting to know what was going on in Scotland anymore since that place broke their heart. Every time Giles would try to bring it up on his trips back they'd cut him off and run further, until finally Faith told Giles that she needed to go off on her own – and by her own she meant with Kennedy – and that she'd still round up rogues, but only the really out of control ones.

After the many that she helped save, some wanted to help others, so Giles had more than enough Slayers on his side. But when a really tough one comes up she'll still always take the call, always do what she's gotta do with Kennedy by her side, and then they would both come back here; to the little apartment they shared in Memphis and completely block out the rest of the world.

They've lived here for almost two and a half years, and it feels like in all that time nothing has really changed. Nothing has gone forwards or backwards for either of them; they were both stuck.

Kennedy did try to find other relationships, but they all tended to fail rather instantly because of the new load of trust issues she developed after what happened with Willow. Faith didn't bother, knowing that she's only ever gonna love one person, so there's really no point. She'd go out and screw random people if Kennedy was in another bogus 'monogamous' one, but in the end when they all turned to shit, they ended up in each other's arms again.

They didn't love each other, not like that. But it was easy and simple when they were together, and it was the most uncomplicated thing either of them had ever had, and they both welcomed that because of how screwed up their love lives were.

Fuck, Kennedy hated when Faith brought that shit up though.

"Oh, fuck off! God, will you stop bringing up the past please?"Kennedy yells, frustrated. She picks up a pillow and chucks it in Faith's direction. She didn't want to talk about Willow; in her book that was past. A past that yeah, ultimately screwed her up a little; but still past.

Yes, she had Jill. She had her for a year, but it wasn't anything serious. After all her other pointless relationships that became too serious too fast, she needed something light. But it wasn't going to stay light forever, and when Jill tried to finally make it become serious Kennedy freaked out because of her trust issues. She doesn't want to give her heart up to anyone, and that's why this thing with Faith is good for her because she knows Faith doesn't want her heart.

Four years and she still isn't ready to trust anyone, how sad is that? Then again, it's been five years and Faith's still stuck on Buffy and not even trying to move on, so she might get more points in the sad column for that. Then again, that might be why they were good together.

It wasn't a relationship; neither of them would call it that. They'd probably both start laughing if anyone ever did. They were just friends who needed each other and sex was the best form of comfort to them.

Well, that and killing things. It's why they go out and slay so often.

"You started it," Faith points out. "Talkin' about B like that. Fuckin' after sex. What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"I'm just so sick of watching you mope," Kennedy tells her, like it's tiring for her to just see her do it. "You'd think after five years you'd be over her, but no. So since this obviously isn't going to be going away anytime soon, why don't you do yourself a favor; pick up the phone and call her?"

She knows that one isn't going to go over well, but she's so sick of Faith turning everything around and making it about Kennedy's problems. For once they were gonna focus on Faith's Buffy problem, even if it'll kill her; which it might.

Faith's temper is volatile, after all.

"Fuck you. Get out."

Okay, so there wasn't any screaming; Kennedy will take that as a plus, even with the order to leave.

Faith's muscles have tensed and she clenches her jaw as she stares across the room at the wall, waiting for Kennedy to move, but she doesn't. God, what the fuck? She really didn't need this right now; or ever. "Ya gotta fuckin' hearin' problem?" she snaps.

"You fucked me so hard I can't move my legs," Kennedy says dryly. "So looks like I'm stuck."

"Ha, ha. Fuckin' get out, Ken," Faith tells her, getting off the bed and turning around to look at her, frustration evident on her face. "I mean it."

"You always mean it," Kennedy responds. But then she smirks at her in that bratty little way that she does and tells her in a light, almost mocking voice, "But that doesn't fix the situation with my legs."

"I'll break your fuckin' legs and then you'll have a real reason to bitch, if you want," Faith snarls.

Kennedy doesn't look the least bit intimidated. "Please, the day you seriously injure me will be the day I give birth to a three headed alien baby."

"Start spreadin' your legs then, slick."

"I only spread my legs for one thing and it's not giving birth," Kennedy tells her pointedly. Faith leers at the implication but Kennedy doesn't look amused, or even ready to spread her legs for that at the moment either. "Besides, we don't have time for sex when we should be talking about Buffy." She says it so lightly, knowing her tone with irritate Faith but she can't help it.

Faith growls and Kennedy swears her face turns like twelve different shades of colors that indicates her becoming fast pissed off. "What the hell is wrong with you, Kennedy? Were you fuckin' dropped on your head as a baby? I said I don't wanna fuckin' talk about it!"

"If I was, I'm sure my mother would've sued my nanny and the entire agency she worked for," Kennedy answers casually. "But I don't think that was your point."

"Get. Out. Of. My. Fuckin'. Room."

"Legs don't work, remember?"

"I will so fuckin' hit you."

"And I will so hit you back," Kennedy counters. Faith just lets out a bit of an aggravated half scream and starts to pace franticly back and forth, her patience lowering to zero at a rapid rate. She doesn't really want to hit her; she's done a lot of work trying to control her anger, but sometimes Kennedy just knows how to push all the right – or wrong, depending on the case – buttons.

"Don't you wonder what she's doing with her life? If she's happy?" Kennedy presses.

"Of course I fuckin' do!" Faith screams suddenly, the truth coming out whether she wanted it to or not. "Every goddamn day that's all I think about, okay?!"

"Then maybe you should—"

"What?" Faith interrupts with a scornful laugh. "Call her? And say what, Ken? 'Oh hey B, sorry I've fucked off for the last five years, but I'm still completely fuckin' in love with you. So how's life? Ya want me back?'" she mocks heavily.

"I probably wouldn't word it quite like that if I were you; but hey, it's your call."

"I fucked up my chance with her, Ken. We both know it. It's been five fuckin' years that we haven't spoke. And yeah, I wanna know if she's happy, but I don't wanna fuckin' know if she's happy with someone else, okay? So just back the fuck off, alright?!"

Kennedy is silent for a moment before she sighs lightly and relents, "Fine, I'm sorry. It was just a suggestion."

"Anyone ever tell you your suggestions are pretty fuckin' stupid?" Faith asks, but she's calming down a little since Kennedy apologized for bringing it up.

"Anyone ever tell you that every phallic object you see doesn't have to be used as a sex toy?" Kennedy counters mockingly.

No. But apparently that was Kennedy's point.

"Whatever; didn't hear you complaining."

"You completely ruined my sheets with that damn popsicle the other night," Kennedy tells her, narrowing her eyes. Faith just smirks.

"Yeah, but it was so worth it."

Kennedy rolls her eyes, but has a hint of an amused smile on her lips. "Yeah, yeah. You're a sex god, whatever." She pushes the covers off of her and slides to sit in the edge of the bed, leaning down to grab her clothes off the floor. "We should probably head out for patrol."

But Kennedy drops her clothes instantly when Faith pushes her backwards to lie on the bed and climbs on top of her. Kennedy raises an eyebrow at Faith's dirty smirk as she hovers over her. "We still got like an hour…"

"I meant what I said about my legs," Kennedy replies, though her voice indicates being halfway between turned on and amused at Faith's insatiable appetite.

"Legs are overrated," Faith tells her before kissing her hard, plunging her tongue in her mouth to stop any other protests Kennedy may have. Kennedy laughs a little though at her persistence, coming out muffled against her lips and then turning to a soft moan as Faith's hand slips over her breast to tease her nipples.

Faith lips leave hers for only a moment and she tries, "No, they—" but she's cut off again by lips on hers. "Faith!" she laughs into her mouth, trying with barely any effort to push her off of her. Faith smirks and drops her lips to her neck and Kennedy tells her with an amused smile, "I need my legs for slaying."

"Good slayer doesn't need her legs," Faith mumbles with a chuckle as she continues her assault on Kennedy's neck; biting, sucking, and kissing her soft flesh. She slips a leg between her thighs and presses up hard against her, feeling how wet Kennedy is, and moans in approval.

Kennedy bites on her lower lip but laughs softly, "Oh please, I'd like to see… umphhff… see you try to slay without… without…" she gasps as Faith grabs onto her hip roughly and spreads her legs wider. "without the use of your legs," she finishes breathlessly.

Faith chuckles and raises her head to look down at her, raising en eyebrow. "Was that a challenge? I'll so jack a fuckin' wheelchair from the hospital and slay vamps on wheels; watch."

Kennedy rolls her eyes but laughs, "No, you fucking moron. With my luck you'll get your ass killed and I'd never hear the end of it from Giles."

"Ugh, don't mention G when we're naked," Faith says with a look of horror on her face. But her momentary pause gives Kennedy a chance to gently push her off of her while she sits up.

"Come on, we have to slay. You can fuck me afterwards."

Faith makes a sound of annoyance but relents, climbing off of her and bending down to retrieve their clothes from off the ground. She throws Kennedy hers, who catches them easily. As they dress, Kennedy asks casually, "Bets?"

Faith smirks as she pulls her shirt over her head. "Seven, twelve; me."

Kennedy rolls her eyes. "Yeah right, you still have yet to slay five more than me. Maybe what, two? At the most." She pulls on her pants and looks over at her.

"I slayed four more than you that time last month," Faith points out as she pulls on her boots.

"I still say you cheated; you knew I was too busy not trying to die to count your kills," Kennedy responds, looking at her disbelievingly. It was just too convenient that the one time she wasn't really watching was the time Faith apparently got in a ton of kills in a short time. Please.

"If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'."

"I'll send flowers to your funeral then," Kennedy says with a smirk as she climbs off the bed and crosses the room to grab her jacket. "Winnings?" she asks.

"If I win ya gotta let me fuck you in the ass with the strap on tonight," Faith says with a smirk and Kennedy makes a face. That is so 'exit only' for her.

"You really wanna stake it that high?" she asks challengingly, since Faith knows that's a high stake for her since she doesn't really like it. It gets Faith off though for some reason and Kennedy's a good sport; if she loses then she takes the heat.

"Ain't scared; what'dya got?" Faith asks, looking at her with a little gleam in her eye from the challenge.

"Kitchen duty for a month… and you have to fix the sink," Kennedy tells her.

"I already called for some dude to fix that," Faith protests. "He's supposed to come Friday."

"Well if I win you're gonna call him back and say no thanks."

Faith makes a face. "You're an ass, ya know?" For how tough girl she is, she isn't exactly Ms. Fix It. Kennedy apparently thinks it's hilarious when she tries to fix things, mainly because she'll end up screwing it up more and getting really frustrated.

"Hey, you staked high; blame yourself. Is it a deal?"

Faith rolls her eyes and grabs her stake off of the bedside table, "You still didn't tell me your bet."

"Eight, ten; me."

"In your dreams."

"We'll see," Kennedy says with a laugh. "You game?"

"When am I not?" Faith asks with a smirk. But then the phone in her jacket pocket starts to ring and she sighs. "Fuck, of course. Hold on a sec."

Kennedy leans against the threshold of the door as Faith pulls out her phone and presses the talk button, "Sup G?" she answers, cradling the phone between her shoulder and her ear.

"Hello Faith," he greets her. Faith furrows her eyebrows; she can already tell by his tone that something's up. "I'm afraid we have sort of a… situation."

"What kind of situation?" Faith asks, and Kennedy looks at her in question. Faith holds up her finger to tell her to hold on before she changes hands with the phone and presses the button to put it on speaker so Kennedy can hear.

"I'd rather discuss this face to face; would you and Kennedy mind stopping by?"

"Which house?" Faith asks as Kennedy already starts to move to the closet and take out a bag, throwing some of Faith's things in it; time for another mission, obviously.

"London," Giles answers for her. They have five in different places of the world; it makes it for shorter trips when rounding up the rogues. "I've arranged your flight details, you both will leave in about… ah, three hours."

"Three hours? Way to give notice," Faith says with a scoff, but knows it must be important if he needs them there that quickly. Kennedy throws her the packed bag and gives her a head nod to signal that she's going to head into her room to grab her stuff. Faith nods.

"I'm sorry, it was quite last minute," Giles apologizes.

"Nah, it's cool. We'll be there soon."

"Thank you. Have a safe flight," Giles tells her before Faith hears a click of the line going dead as he hands up. She sighs a little and throws her phone on the bed as she grabs her bag to see what Kennedy packed for her. It all looks good so she sits down heavily, waiting for her to come back.

Damn. Well, so much for their bet.



Chapter Two - Can't Go Back There


"What the fuck is that screamin'?" Faith asks, walking through the door to their London based home as Giles holds it open for her. She throws her bags down in the hallway and Kennedy follows suit as Giles answers in a tired voice:

"That would be the situation."

Faith and Kennedy both look at each other as they start to hear banging and more screaming coming from the basement. It sounded halfway between a lion and one of those loud screeching birds mixed with a bit of human.

This is why Giles should not keep pets.

"What the fuck ya got down there; a banshee?" Faith asks, wincing a bit as another bloody curdling scream echoes through the house.

No wonder Giles looks tired; no one can sleep with this noise.

"I already need an aspirin," Kennedy says flatly, rubbing her temples.

Giles pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs, "That is Jaime; a slayer." Off of Kennedy and Faith's surprised looks, he explains, "She was trapped by a clan of demons and infused with the soul of their deceased leader."

"Sounds fun," Kennedy says dryly.

"Was she rogue before this?" Faith asks, and winces as another scream floods through the house. Damn, bitch got a set of lungs on her.

"According to my information, she came to the clan to gain more power," Giles explains. "So for all intents and purposes I would say so, considering that particular clan of demons are not passive. They did give her power; immeasurable power, by infusing their leader's soul with hers. Unfortunately they failed to inform her beforehand that it would drive her mad and in seventy two hours her skin will burn and their leader will rise from her ashes."

"Great," Faith says, shaking her head. Damn, why do people have to be so fuckin' stupid? "How long do we have?"

"Forty eight hours," Giles answers, "Though probably less since I'm sure the clan is looking for her as we speak."

"Can you save her?" Kennedy asks. "Or are we letting her die and then slaying the demon?" Not that that's the most pleasant solution, but things like that have happened before; sometimes it unavoidable, and with a situation like this, with time constraints, it's best to just get to the point.

"I cannot. However we need to transport her to someone that can, or rather, two people who can."

"Who?" Faith asks, her jaw twitching as she hears another scream. God, her head is starting to pound already. She has half a mind to go down there and beat the girl/demon unconscious.

"Willow will be teleporting from Japan—"

Kennedy chokes on her own breath and Faith automatically slaps her on the back once she starts having a coughing fit.

"—and Josephine is already in Scotland so—"

"Scotland?!" Faith exclaims, interrupting Giles and waving her hands around erratically. "Na uh, no fuckin' way dude, you know I ain't goin' back there. Why the fuck can't they just do it here? Just make Red and this Josephine chick, whoever the fuck she is, get their asses over here."

"Josephine is the witch we have over in Scotland now, ever since Willow left to deal with matters involving the overactive Hellmouth in Tokyo," Giles explains. Faith just blinks at him. "And I wish it were that simple, Faith. However, with Buffy's current situation, she is not able to travel—"

"No, no. What? Fuck this. Hold on, this is just…no, shut up," Faith exclaims, her brain going on overload. Kennedy just seems to be off in her own little world, her insides turning from possibly seeing Willow again. Faith shakes her head a bit to clear it and tries to come out with a competent sentence, "Why the fuck does B gotta be involved? And what situation? This is bullshit, Giles! You know I haven't been back there cause I don't wanna see her!"

Another horrible scream is heard from the basement, along with more banging and all three of them wince.

"A lot has happened since you and Kennedy decided to lock yourselves away with your own misery!" Giles snaps, making Faith fall silent for a moment. He takes a breath and tries to explain, "Buffy has certain responsibilities that she cannot tear herself away from to go gallivanting halfway across the world, and even if she didn't I'm not sure she would go anyway; it'll be a task in itself just to get Buffy's help with this." Faith is about to say something but Giles holds up a finger to silence her. "Willow and Josephine explained to me that for their spell to work they need the essence of the original Slayer to help cast out the demon's soul by making the Slayer inside of her stronger than it. Since it was split between the both of you; it is imperative that you both be there for the ritual."

"This is fuckin' bullshit," Faith mutters, still shaking her head defiantly.

"Seconded," Kennedy replies, apprehension in her voice at the thought of both Willow, and Faith having to come face to face with Buffy.

A phone call is one thing; this is another entirely.

"It's been five fucking years, Giles!" Faith protests loudly.

"I know exactly how long it's been!" Giles snaps, impatient. "And I supported your decision to leave; if you've forgotten. I did not, however, support your decision to completely cut yourself off. You are still a Slayer and you still have a mission. Now I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable that it includes Buffy, but five years must have been long enough for you to move past what happened between you two. There is a girl suffering down there," Giles points to the basement where another scream is emitted. "And you may be a lot of things, Faith, but I know you would never deliberately leave her to die."

Fuck. He's right about that one.

"This is fucking bullshit," she says again, folding her arms across her chest.

Giles just sighs, "I'm sorry, Faith, but this is the way it has to be. You're a grown woman; I'm sure you can handle seeing an ex." Faith totally feels patronized by his tone and glares at him. "We'll be leaving in two hours, so please refrain from unpacking. I'll get Angela and have her bring you up to speed on the plan to transport Jaime."

"Wait, Angela works with you now?" Faith asks, surprised. She was one of the first girls she helped, almost six or seven years ago.

"Yes, she leads my extraction team now," Giles explains as he takes a step back. "I'll send her in here in a moment," he tells them before he exits the main hallway.

Another ear splitting scream is heard from the basement and Faith and Kennedy look at each other.

"This is fucked up," Faith says.

"I hear you," Kennedy replies with a sigh. "Are you… going to be okay? Seeing her again?" She looks at her uncertainly, watching as Faith wrings her hands nervously.

"Five by five."


"Look, I dunno. This is the last fuckin'…" she sighs, aggravated, "the last fucking thing I wanna do, alright? And maybe I can just avoid her until the ritual; see if G will let me crash in a motel nearby or something. I dunno, my fuckin' brain hurts from that bitch screaming downstairs!" she yells, looking at the basement as she rubs her temples, trying to get her point across.

Demon-Jaime just screams louder in response.

"God I can't fuckin' hear myself think!" she exclaims, aggravated. She didn't need all this crap on top of everything else.

"It's been like this for the last six hours," Angela tells them as she comes into the hallway. She smiles at Faith who tries to return it, but with her head pounding and her brain on information overload, it comes out as sort of a grimace. "You look good, Faith," she comments appreciatively.

"Feel like hell though," Faith replies, then nods to the door, not in the mood for pleasantries at the moment. "So what are we doin' with Linda Blair down there?"

Angela smirks at the reference, but then sighs heavily. "She's strong; too damn strong. I brought a team of seven to bring her here and only four made it back," she tells them somberly. But like a leader, she sucks it up and goes on. "We definitely need you both to bring her to Scotland. Willow and Josephine will be able to—"

Another scream interrupts her and they all wince. Faith however, snaps a little and puts her fist through a wall to let out some of her aggression, shattering the plaster. Shit is too out of her control right now and each scream is grinding on her last nerve. Angela raises her eyebrows and Kennedy says, "Good job, genius. Remember how long it took for Giles to pick out this wallpaper? He's gonna blow a fucking fuse."

"It slipped," Faith replies, taking her hand out of the wall and shaking the plaster off of it. Kennedy just shakes her head at her.

"Anyway," Angela continues pointedly. "What I was saying was that Willow and Josephine will be able to teleport all of us there, but we'll need at least seven of us to make sure Jaime isn't going to go anywhere during the ride. The demon that's inside of her is smart and knows how to jump prematurely from teleports so we have to be careful. But even with seven of us it's going to be difficult."

"She can't be that strong," Kennedy says disbelievingly.

Angela looks at her and tells her seriously, "She is."

"When are we prepping her for transport?" Faith asks.

"An hour. I'll let you guys get some space from all the screaming; if you go down by the river you can barely hear her," she tells them. Faith nods, appreciating that; she really needs time to think after all of this shit that got thrown at her.

Kennedy's already halfway out the door, needing to get away from the screaming as well.

"Thanks," Faith says, turning to leave, but Angela stops her.

"Faith?" Faith turns back to look at her and she gives her a smile. "I meant what I said; you do look good." She purses her lips together and Faith looks at her questioningly, sensing her nervousness. "After all this… craziness, do you maybe wanna…?"

Damn, this is the last thing she needs. Angela did have a crush on her back in the day, but she was just a kid. She's all woman now, but her brain already feels like it's bleeding from all the women issues she has already.

"Thanks," she says, cutting her off and then nods her head at Kennedy, "But I'm with her now." Kennedy makes a weird face and Faith looks at her pointedly, trying to get her to play along.

"Oh, right. Yeah, she's mine," Kennedy says, hoping she doesn't sound as confused as she feels; that one came out of left field.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to…" Angela starts, but Kennedy waves her off.

"It's fine. Everyone wants Faith; I'm used to it." Faith tries not to roll her eyes at that and Kennedy grabs her hand. "Come on baby, let's get some air."

Faith squeezes Kennedy's hand hard because of how mocking she sounded and Kennedy grimaces, but manages to try to keep a fake smile as she pulls Faith out the door. As it closes behind them and they start walking away from the house she asks amused, "What was that about?"

"Just didn't wanna deal with it," Faith says, shrugging as she lets go of Kennedy's hand. "Figured that was the best way."

"I'm so not going to pretend to be your loving girlfriend throughout this entire trip," Kennedy tells her. "There's a whole new batch of Slayers past the age of consent up there."

"Not askin' ya too. Angela will step off; it won't matter," Faith replies. Then she smirks, "Besides, if I have to hear you call me 'baby' again I might vomit."

"Fuck you," Kennedy says, but laughs. As they approach the river the screams start to die out and Faith can feel her migraine start to lessen a little. She flops down in the grass with a sigh and leans back, looking up at the sky. She feels Kennedy sit next to her, and when she looks over she sees the younger girl looking at her with an expression she can't read.

"What's up?" Faith asks.

"What I was about to ask you," she responds. "You haven't really had a nervous breakdown yet with the screaming and breaking things – well, besides Giles' wall – and I'm wondering if you're like in shock or something; about the whole… Buffy situation."

"Maybe," Faith tells her, taking a breath. "I think my brain is at a fuckin' standstill." It's like her brain took in the information, but has yet to actually process it so she can properly react.

She keeps repeating it in her head; that she's going to see Buffy… probably in two fucking hours. But it just doesn't seem real.

Maybe it's because Buffy doesn't even seem very real to her anymore; just a lot of fucked up memories. It's been so long. Like a nightmare you know you're supposed to fear when you wake up but can't remember why.

Not that her time with Buffy is equivalent to a nightmare. There were some shit times, yeah, but there were some wonderful amazing times that… she probably fears even more than the bad ones.

That probably doesn't make much sense though.

"Want me to slap you?" Kennedy offers.

"Fuck you."

Kennedy smirks, "I mean it. It works in the movies." She hovers over her with a teasing grin as she raises her hand threateningly. "Come on; lemme smack some sense into you. It'll be fun."

"Your definition of fun is on crack."

"Probably, but humor me."

Faith looks at her disbelievingly, "Ya really wanna slap me that badly?" Kennedy just grins. "Ya know I'll smack you back. Reflex; can't be helped."

"I'm willing to take that risk."

"You're a suicidal moron," Faith tells her, but sighs as she sits up. Hell, why not? Maybe Kennedy really can smack some sense into her… literally. Hopefully letting her do this doesn't classify her as some sort of masochist, but then again she probably has half her life to classify her as that already. "Alright, fine, go ahead."

Kennedy looks way too pleased with this.

"I know you're just trying to take out your seeing-Willow-again aggression though," Faith mumbles, but takes a breath and prepares herself for the blow.

This is probably really stupid.

"Yeah but I'm helping you too, so…" Kennedy says, but doesn't finish her sentence because she suddenly slaps Faith across the face so hard it leaves her cheek stinging and her eyes watering. Not that she really noticed that though because she was too busy throwing a punch in Kennedy's direction and landing it on her jaw. "Fuck!" Kennedy yells, rubbing her jaw. "I bitch slapped you and you punched me, how is that fair?!" She scowls and mutters, "Bitch."

Faith rubs the red spot on her cheek and tells her, "Hey, I said I couldn't help my reaction. You were the one that wanted to hit me so fuckin' badly."

"Whatever. Did it work at least?" Kennedy asks, rotating her head to crack her neck as she continues to rub the forming bruise on her face.

Faith blinks, trying to focus on her major issue at hand and… nothing. She still can't get any kind of emotions or feelings on the matter at all. She's stuck on pause. "Nope."

"Fuck. Well, I tried," Kennedy says, sighing as she lays back on the grass. They're quiet for a little while; Kennedy just laying there and Faith looking out at the river until she breaks the silence with:

"Sun's gonna come up soon." She says it like it's some kind of ground-breaking discovery.

Kennedy raises an eyebrow at her and looks at her like 'yeah, duh.' But Faith isn't looking at her so she reaches up and grabs her jacket, pulling her down to lay next to her. As she rolls on her side to face her she says, "You know, if you end up having your nervous breakdown at the most inconvenient time, I'm gonna do more than bitch slap you."

Faith just sighs heavily, looking up at the stars. Then she says rather suddenly, "Go down on me."


"Go down on me."

"I heard what you said," Kennedy replies, though feels a bit perplexed since this completely is not the time. "I don't have time to stick my tongue in your cunt, Faith. I'm trying to force a nervous breakdown out of you so you don't do it when we're doing something important; say like… you know, transporting a demon possessed Slayer."

"I'll be fine. Jesus."

"Faith, you weren't fine when I merely mentioned Buffy back home. You really think I believe that you're going to take this exceptionally well?"

Faith doesn't say anything for a moment and Kennedy looks at her questioningly because she's just far too calm for her liking. Finally Faith tells her, "Buffy is going to kill me." There's still no emotion behind her words though; they're just words.

"You think?"

"Yeah. Like 'chop me up in little pieces and bury me in the walls' kind of kill me," Faith answers, still looking at the stars. She nods her head a little, as if confirming her theory. "And then she'll probably make Red cast a spell on me so my soul can't ever find peace or some bullshit. Or maybe put my soul in a cockroach and keep me in a jar on her dresser before she decides to step on me."

Kennedy looks at her strangely. "I think you're drifting a bit."

"Nah. Dead serious. She… is soooo… gonna fuckin'… kill… me…" Faith says, each word becoming quieter than the last, as if she's running out of all the emotional effort she's not expelling.

But Kennedy notices her twitch a little before she grabs her own hand quickly and starts rubbing it hard; like she's trying to get something off of it. Okay, well, this looks like a start to something at least. Faith still won't look at Kennedy, but the younger girl is keeping a watchful eye on her every move.

"Why?" she asks conversationally, even though she already knows why. It was more for Faith's benefit; saying it might make it more real for her.

"Because I'm a worthless piece of cowardly shit who—GOD!" she exclaims, changing suddenly out of her monotonic tone as she sits up and runs her fingers through her hair. "Fuck, I can't do this." She climbs to her feet and starts pacing. Kennedy notices her hands are starting to shake as she repeats over and over, "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck."

There we go; and now it starts.

"Hey, Faith, it'll be okay…" Kennedy starts, getting to her feet and coming over to her. But Faith throws out her hands, warding her away from her as she backs up, her fingers trembling as her breathing starts to shallow and her chest compress so hard it feels like her lungs are gonna burst up her esophagus and come pouring out of her mouth.

"No it's not fucking okay!" Faith screams. "How the fuck is this going to be okay?! I can't fuckin' go back there and see the woman I love be… fuck, whatever she is now! Happy, sad, with someone else, half dead, I don't know! She could be a goddamn transvestite now for all I fuckin' know! She could hate me, she could still love me, she could fuckin' do both and want to kiss me then beat the living hell out me until my brain falls out of my freakin' ears! It's been five fuckin' years. FIVE YEARS, KENNEDY!"

"I know, I know, Faith… come on, I know okay? I know this sucks and I know it's hard, but you know you need to do this; you need to go back there," Kennedy tells her, putting her hands on her arms and holding her; trying to calm her down.

"No, no, no," Faith says, shaking her head rapidly as she pulls away from Kennedy. "Fuck, this is so fucked up. My life is so fucked up. I can't fuckin' handle this shit."

"Yes you can. Come on, breathe. You'll be fine. You might only have to see her once for the ritual, remember? It won't be that bad," Kennedy tries to reassure her, even though she herself isn't all that convinced that it won't be bad.

Knowing them; it'll be a nuclear time bomb.

But getting Faith to breathe is her first priority since she's very near on the verge of a full on panic attack. She manages to get a shaking Faith into her arms without too much of a fight back and she holds her tightly, stroking her back, trying to calm her down. "You can do this," she tells her softly. "You know you're strong enough to do this."

Faith laughs disbelievingly, her breathing still a little shallow, but getting better, "Right, because I'm the fuckin' poster girl for emotionally strong people."

"Hey," Kennedy says sharply, pulling away from her a little to look in her eyes. "Don't fucking give me that bullshit, okay? For you to have gone through so much shit in your life and to still be alive? Yeah that makes you strong as hell. So don't pull that crap with me; I'm not gonna buy it."

"Whatever," Faith says, shaking her head. She tries to take a step back from Kennedy but she won't let her move. "Ken, I'm… I'm fine," she tries. She needs space. She needs to get away. She needs to run. She needs to knock herself fucking unconscious to get away from her own head.

"No you're not; you're still shaking," Kennedy tells her. She tightens her grip a little around her waist with one arm and uses her other hand to come up and turn Faith's head to look at her. She touches her cheek softly and says, "I want you to say you're gonna be okay."

Faith makes a face and pushes her head away from her touch, "God, don't coddle me."

Kennedy rolls her eyes and smacks her lightly on the cheek in annoyance. "I'm not coddling you, asshole. I'm trying to make you calm the fuck down and stop shaking like a fucking vibrator."

That makes Faith snort, "A vibrator? Dyke." But the change of conversation from an emotional breakdown to one of jokes and amusement does seem to calm her a little and she can breathe more regularly now.

Kennedy smirks. "Hell and yes, baby."

Faith rolls her eyes and makes a disgruntled face, "Don't call me baby."

"I'm gonna call you cupcake sugar muffin," Kennedy responds with a laugh. "Since according to Angela, we're all together now." She mocks the word, almost taunting her with it. A relationship between them really is a big joke to both of them.

"My fist and your face are about to be together," Faith taunts back, but it isn't threatening; just more amused than anything. She was starting to feel better now. Still freaked out like all holy fuck, but she was dealing better.

Kennedy gives her a little smile and looks her in the eyes, becoming serious, "Tell me you're going to be okay, Faith."

Faith takes a breath and is silent for a moment before nodding, "Yeah… I'll be cool. It's shit, but I'll deal."

"Good," Kennedy says, finally releasing her and taking a step back. She looks Faith over, noticing she does look about a million times better than she was about ten minutes ago. Faith leans against a tree and sighs a little; life really does like to throw some shit balls at her, doesn't it?

She looks over at Kennedy and nods a bit with her head, "What about you? With Red."

Kennedy just shrugs. "It's… it's going to be weird. It's probably going to suck a whole lot, but I am over her. I know there can be nothing between us anymore."

Faith smirks, "Ya sure you don't want me to smack ya across the face and force your nervous breakdown?"

"Yeah… no thanks. I don't bode well with being bitch slapped. Pretty sure I'd beat the shit out of you."

Faith laughs, "Yeah right. Maybe one day, but ya ain't there yet, K."

"You keep telling yourself that, oldie," Kennedy replies with a teasing grin. She looks over at the house in the distance and sighs. "About that time," she comments.

Faith groans a little. "Yeah, we should probably go back so we can get all 'Exorcist' on this bitch's ass." She so doesn't want to go back, but she's not going to leave the girl to die either. Giles was right about that. Even with the whole Buffy situation; saving a girl's life definitely comes before that priority wise.

Damn. She is not ready to see her again…



Chapter Three - The Portal

"Does anyone else have the sudden urge to say 'The power of Christ compels you', or is it just me?" Kennedy asks as she looks at Jaime, eyebrows practically shooting off her forehead. Faith smirks, but is right there with her. This shit is fucked up.

Jaime looked more demon than human; her face was deathly pale with veins sticking out, but there were cracks in her skin, almost like she was deteriorating in front of their eyes. She was screaming still; that howl that doesn't sound close to anything human as she stares at them all with yellow eyes, anticipating an attack.

"What's holding her in there?" Faith asks Angela, looking at the cage she's in. "If she's as strong as you say, that shit shouldn't be able to hold her."

"Josephine reinforced the bars with a binding spell before she left to go to Scotland," Angela explains.

"Okay, here's a question," Kennedy asks, looking a little peeved with the situation. "How did you get her in there, and how the fuck are we gonna get her out?"

"We managed to knock her unconscious. Briefly," Angela explains. She sighs. "It was actually an accident; she threw Carla into a beam and it made the one from the ceiling it was holding up come crashing down on her head."

"And you didn't think to, oh, I don't know, chain her when you put her in there?" Kennedy asks, looking at Angela like she's stupid. There are chains in there, for shits sake.

Angela looks irritated at being talked to that way. "Of course we did; do you see the chains in there? She got out of them. They held her for a grand total of two hours."


"Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Ken," Faith says with a smirk. Kennedy flips her the finger.

"The castle will burn to ash!" Demon-Jaime suddenly screams, her voice coming out low and garbled; angry. She grabs the bars of the cage and pulls herself against them to get closer to the women, "The darkness is upon you! You will die like vermin under the wrath of the second coming!"

"Right, sure we will," Faith says dismissively, before turning to Angela. Her eyes sweep over the four other Slayers behind her. "So how are we doing this? Want me to knock the bitch out for transport?"

"If you can," Angela says, but doesn't sound like she believes Faith will be able to. "But I'm going to say, for safe judgment, that you can't." Faith looks a bit annoyed at her abilities being shot down so quickly. "So I'm thinking standard grab and go," but she makes the hand motion for 'surround', just in case Jaime is competent enough to understand them. She doesn't really look it, but looks can be deceiving. "We have to make sure that when we open that cage that she doesn't come through though because who knows how long it'll take to get her back in. The portal should be opening up about… here," Angela says, indicating an area six feet in front of the cage. "So we just need to make sure she's in that spot in the next…" she looks at her watch. "Twenty minutes. Once she's there, Mr. Giles will make the call and Willow and Josephine will open the portal."

"Okay, so where's G?" Faith asks.

"He should be down soon. I think he's making last minute arrangements. He's coming by portal after all of us get through with Jaime and have her safely locked away. Once we get there, Josephine will put a binding spell on Jaime so we can get her to her new prison while Willow makes sure nothing comes in behind us; we're all still wary about this clan of demons she came from and why they haven't moved on us yet."

"Infidels!" Demon-Jaime screams, rattling the cage. Then she makes some kind of choking noise as she tilts her head at a really awkward angle, eyes rolling back in her head. But then she snaps it back and snarls, "Your heads will adorn the conquests of the forsaken!" Then she shudders, eyes closed as she gasps before throwing herself against the bars and looking Faith directly in the eyes as she chokes out with a wicked smile, "Your undoing is upon you…" She turns her head at an odd angle again and they hear another snap.

"If this bitch starts vomiting split pea soup I am so outta here," Faith says, watching her in mild fascination and disgust. If she didn't see fucked up things her whole life, she's pretty sure this right here would scare the piss out of her. She's like 'The Exorcist' meets 'The Grudge' meets 'The Ring.' It's fuckin' creepy.

"Pussy," Kennedy says with a smirk.

"Eat me," Faith retorts before turning to Angela. "So we gonna do this or what?" It's a little weird for her to be taking orders, but she knows she gave up the position of head Slayer once she walked out; she's strictly freelance now. Besides; she's learned and she's grown and all that BS, so she's basically okay as long as people don't give stupid ass orders.

"Yeah," she responds, then turns to her girls. "Jenny, Lucy, you both are on crossbow duty. She gets away from us even for a second and you shoot her. Don't shoot to kill, only to wound. Sophie and Kate; you're with Faith, Kennedy, and I. Both of you aim left, Kennedy?" she looks over at the slender brunette, "You and I will get right. Faith; try to subdue her as much as you can; you're the strongest out of all of us."

Another blood curdling scream rips through the basement just as Giles descends the stairs."Each one of you will burn! Your flesh will sizzle under our might and your kind will die out all around you!" She makes another croaking noise, opening her mouth impossibly wide. There's a little yelp of surprise behind Faith a second before she notices a couple black bugs crawling out of Jaime's mouth and one out of her eye, spilling out to the floor and skittering away into the darkness.

"Oh this is jacked up," Faith mutters.

"And sick," Kennedy confirms with a look of disgust on her face of what she just witnessed.

"We don't have time for you to be squeamish, girls," Giles says. "We have fifteen minutes to do this, so let's get it done."

"Yeah, yeah, on it," Faith says, looking behind at Angela to give the order.

"Lucy and Jenny; get into position," Angela instructs, and the two Slayers pick up their crossbows and load them before placing themselves at either side of the door to the cage. Angela takes a breath, "Okay, now or never… everyone ready?" There's a series of nods and Faith cracks her knuckles.

The five Slayers approached the door, Faith first, then the rest behind them. Jaime eyes the women carefully with a sick grin on her face, slinking back against the cage away from them, looking positively delighted that they were going to come in, which can't be a good thing. Faith holds her hand behind her back as she holds up three fingers, about to count down. Three, two… one; she opens the cage door and lunges at Jaime, only to be thrown against the bars of the cage almost instantly and far too easily.

"Fuck!" Faith groans out as pain shoots down her spine from the impact.

"DON'T LET HER OUT!" Angela yells, and as Faith gets to her feet she sees Angela get thrown back as Jaime growls, making it seem like the ground around them rumbles from the force.

Kennedy has managed to grab onto one of her arms, but cries out, "Oh fuck, sick!" as some of Jaime's cracked, pale skin gives way and slides off her arm in a slimy, bloody trail. Kennedy shakes her hand to dislodge the flesh from her fingers in horror before she's knocked to the floor with incredible force.

Faith lunges at her again, getting in a clean swipe across the jaw that looks like it barely fazes her opponent. Sophie's already bleeding heavily from her mouth after getting her head knocked into a wall and Kate's struggling to hold onto her arm that keeps having flesh slide off of it and she looks like she's going to vomit and pass out.

"SHOOT HER!" Angela yells just as she grabs the other one of Jaime's arms just as Kennedy does, successfully holding one in place with their combined strength. Lucy shoots and a crossbow gets imbedded in Jaime's leg and she roars loudly as she stumbles, allowing Faith to come up behind her and wrap her arm around her neck, pressing her forearm against her throat.

"GET HER OTHER FUCKIN' ARM!" Faith yells, but it's too late; Jaime has already used her free arm to knock Kennedy in the face, sending her sprawling and giving Angela a hell of a time trying to hold her down by herself. Jaime tries to move to get Faith off her back, but she's distracted by Sophie and Kate grabbing her other arm, thankfully holding it together as she's slowing falling apart underneath their grasp.

"Why is this bitch not passin' out; she has to breathe doesn't she?!" Faith growls in frustration as she presses harder on her windpipe.

Jaime makes some kind of gurgling sound as she opens her mouth, just as Kennedy helps Angela with her other arm; successfully subduing her. But then at least fifty bugs starts pouring out of every orifice in her face; mouth, eyes, nose, ears and Sophie screams as one crawls on her arm, shaking it off in a hurry.

"Don't be a wimp, hold her!" Angela orders, and Sophie tries to get it together and grab back onto Jaime's arm, right before she almost threw Kate off. But her strength is failing her as her oxygen gets more cut off by Faith's grip and her eyes start to roll into the back of her head before she does, finally, pass out.

Faith loosens her hold on her and all of them are able to breathe easier for a second.

"She'll be awake shortly," Angela tells them. "She doesn't stay out for long, so we'll have to do this quickly."

"This is so fucking gross," Kennedy complains, looking at all the layers of flesh and bugs on the ground. Jaime doesn't seem to be bleeding as much she should though, for losing that much skin; it's like something is stopping her from bleeding out. But they don't dwell on that too long.

They start moving her to the place where the portal is going to open up while Giles dials a number on his cell. All five Slayers secure Jaime, making sure to be prepared if she suddenly wakes up while Lucy and Jenny keep their crossbows aimed at her.

"We're ready," Giles says shortly before hanging up.

Faith takes a deep breath, trying to prepare herself for what's going to be on the other side of that portal, but that was a bad idea because the stench of Jaime's decaying body makes her cough and almost yak. Alright, stupid idea; not doing that again.

Then she feels her start to move a little.

"Shit, she's waking up," Angela says. "Hold her as tightly as you can. Faith; cut off her oxygen again."

"We're gonna give this bitch brain damage if I gotta keep doing that," Faith protests. Saving the girl and then having her wake up with extensive brain damage? She was already rogue in the first place, the shit might make her retarded or make her go psycho or god knows what else.

"Look, it's better than the alternative!" Angela snaps as the portal starts to open in front of them slowly.

"Once more; that's it. Girl's already gonna have shit to deal with when we save her ass and then she realizes she's never gonna have her dream of becoming Ms. New York with her new and unimproved looks," Faith tells her, annoyed as she starts to increase the pressure on her windpipe.

Just as Jaime passes out again, the portal expands, swallowing them quickly.

It's a whirlwind of colors and sensations as they all feel like they're falling and getting sucked in different directions all at once. Faith's pretty sure she's gonna vomit; she fuckin' hates being teleported. It's quick, but it seems like forever before their feet are actually on solid ground and Faith in fact ends up having to let go of Jaime as her stomach churns as she struggles not to throw up her lunch.

"Thank God," comes a voice with a thick Southern accent as she sees the group of girls standing there looking for the most part unharmed. Faith looks up and grabs back onto Jaime quickly, who's still passed out, as she looks at the unfamiliar face. Long, flowing blonde hair, pale, with icy blue eyes and standing next to… Willow. Okay, so that's gotta be that Josephine chick.

Faith notices a distinct lack of Buffy in the basement they're in though, which makes her be able to concentrate on what she needs to do, thankfully.

Kennedy and Willow are just staring at each other; almost like they've seen a ghost, but Angela snaps them out of it.

"We have to get her in the cage, now, people!" she exclaims as Jaime begins to stir again.

"Something's coming!" Willow warns them, feeling the energy from the portal change and shift. "Jo; bind the Slayer while I close the gateway!"

Josephine starts to chant just as Jaime growls loudly and tries to throw them off of her. But she's almost instantly contained, though this time very much awake so she starts screaming as more bugs pour from her mouth and eyes.

"Move!" Faith yells as they start to hear snarls from behind them now. She lets go of Jaime and yells to the others, "Take care of this!" while turning to face one nasty looking demon that managed to squeeze through the portal before Willow could close it. She grabs the crossbow out of Lucy's hand and aims it at the demon, shooting quickly. The demon dodges it and it impales in the wall instead, just as Faith mutters, "Fuck this," and lunges at the demon, using the crossbow to smash it across the side of its head instead.

It stumbles back, but is otherwise unharmed. The crossbow, however, has seen better days. She throws a right hook but the seven foot demon dodges just as it grabs her by her throat and picks her up off the ground. "Fuck," she chokes out. "A little help here?" She tries to kick at it, but the demon barely moves.

Willow's powers aren't at their strongest from just closing the portal, but she manages to chant something that makes the demon's hand start to burn so that he releases his hold on Faith. Faith coughs as she falls to the ground before she hears the distinct sound of the cage door being closed and bolted shut. The rest of the Slayers run over to help Faith, and within moments the demon falls to the ground dead, not being a match for seven Slayers.

When it's all over it's like a stillness has passed through the room. Well, all except Jaime; who's screaming at the top of her lungs about how they're all gonna burn in the fires of Tartarus and feel the wrath of the fiery depths of the soulless abyss.

"You alright?" Kennedy asks, concerned as she checks Faith's neck. "Shit didn't burn you right?"

"Nah, it's cool; Red just made his hand burn. Gonna be bruised like a bitch though, probably," Faith answers, her voice a little strained from being strangled as she lets Kennedy look her over. Willow is staring at the two of them intensely and once they both notice they step back from each other. Faith nods her head at the witch, "Ya gonna bring G here?"

"Jo will," Willow answers, and turns towards the other witch, who nods at her before starting to chant.

"What about the demons?" Lucy asks, looking at Jo warily as she starts to open the portal.

"They followed the Slayer you brought," Willow tells her. "They didn't come from the same opening all of you did; they created their own and followed the essence of their leader. They took a different turn and hitched a ride on our portal; for lack of a less complicated explanation. But Giles is fine."

Lucy nods just as Giles is teleported into the basement where they all resided. He looks a little queasy from the ride too, and Faith can't blame him.

"Not my preferred way to travel," Giles says, trying to hold it together. He takes a breath and finishes, "But no doubt the fastest." He shakes his head and turns to the group of girls that are staring at them. He looks down at the dead demon in the middle of the floor, though doesn't look surprised. When he looks back up he says, "Willow, Josephine; it's nice to see you again."

Willow smiles at him and comes over to give him a hug.

"How's Tokyo?" Giles asks her as they withdraw from the embrace.

"Oh, you know; demons and their demony ways around a Hellmouth; it's always interesting," Willow responds. "Satsu is a good leader though, so everything has been getting taken care of much faster than expected. For now the Hellmouth has been put on sort of a… pause. We don't know how long it'll last but it'll buy us some time to take care of this."

"Good, that's good," Giles says, smiling warmly at her. "She's here then?"

Willow's face masks to one of sadness and she says, "She left to go to Buffy's…"

"Ah, I see. Have you had any success with her?"

Faith and Kennedy are growing more confused by the minute and just look at each other.

Willow shakes her head. "She would barely let me in the door. I told Satsu it was useless, but you know her; she needs to try."

"What the fuck is goin' on?" Faith asks, not liking being left in the dark. "What the fuck's up with B?"

Willow shoots her one of the nastiest glares Faith's ever seen, "Nothing that concerns you anymore."

Jaime starts screaming again and the high pitched wail makes them all wince.

"Perhaps we should go upstairs," Giles suggests, then turns to Angela, Lucy, Sophie, Kate, and Jenny. "Girls, I'm sure Xander and Dawn are waiting upstairs for your arrival. They will show you to the rooms you'll be staying in for the duration of our visit."

The five Slayers nod and then leave, the rest of the group behind them. As the girls go off in another direction to find Xander and Dawn, Giles leads Faith, Kennedy, Willow and Jo into the living room. Faith looks a little surprised that Jo's with them, but just because she doesn't know her, doesn't mean that she isn't a regular Scooby now. Shit changes, obviously.

Faith flops down on the couch and Kennedy sits next to her while the rest of them spread out among the array of chairs. "So what the hell is goin' on?" Faith asks again, getting impatient.

"Maybe if you didn't walk out five years ago, you'd know," Willow snaps.

"Fuck you, Red; I asked a question, not for your opinion," Faith retorts, angry. She knows she deserves every bit of spite for leaving, but only from Buffy. No one else has anything to do with it.

"Willow, Faith; please," Giles says, holding up his hand. "We don't have time for arguments. We don't have much time until we have to do the ritual, and right now we have to find a way to get Buffy out of her bloody house to help us do it."

"Wait, Buffy doesn't live here anymore?" Kennedy asks, shocked.

Giles shakes his head, but it's Jo who answers; "No, after she got married she decided to get a house with her husband, away from all of this. She wanted something normal." Giles looks a little peeved that she just out and said something of that magnitude to Faith so conversationally.

"Not too far away; she's still on the grounds," Willow mutters.

Faith, however, is still stuck on one thing:

"Buffy got married?!" she exclaims loudly. It's like her whole brain just shut down, rolled over, and played dead from that one sentence. She can't think very well, but she does manage to scream, "Why the fuck didn't you tell me that, Giles?!"

"Faith, please refrain from destroying my hearing with your shrieking," Giles says, annoyed. Willow looks a little smug at Faith's reaction though, and Kennedy shakes her head at her like she can't believe Willow is getting pleasure out of Faith's pain. She puts a comforting hand on Faith's knee and Willow looks at it suspiciously. Kennedy just raises an eyebrow challengingly, like she's daring her to say something.

"Breathe, Faith," Kennedy reminds her softly.

"I am fuckin' breathing," Faith snaps.

"I did try to bring it up," Giles defends. "But every time I said her name you'd shout and then break things. I found it best to just leave it be, even if she did want me to invite you."

"Invite me?!" Faith shrieks. "Why? So she could throw it in my fuckin' face?!"

"I think it was for closure," Giles tells her. He shakes his head and sighs, "This was three and a half years ago, Faith. If you remember, you weren't in the best of places, so I stand by my decision to not mention it."

"Who is this guy? Where is this guy?" Faith asks, needing to see the person Buffy chose over her; to size him up, see if he's even good enough for her.

"He's dead," Jo tells her somberly. "He… he died a year ago. He was a good man."


Shit, now she feels like an ass.

"Is that why she won't leave her house?" Kennedy asks.

"No, it's cause of—" Jo starts, but is cut off by Giles.

"Josephine! Please." Josephine falls silent and Faith looks at him accusingly.

"What don't you want me to know?"

"Faith, it's not that. I very much do want you to know, but I need you to know at the right time," Giles explains.

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"No, Giles," Willow says, finally getting what he's referring too. "Faith is not going over there. Can you even imagine what Buffy will do?!"

"Hey, he didn't ask for comments from the peanut gallery, Red," Faith snaps, then turns to Giles, waiting for him to explain. Her heart is beating a million miles an hour and she's getting nervous. None of this sounds very good and she's worried like hell about Buffy.

"Willow, I think Faith going over there would be exactly what Buffy needs. It'll shake her up enough and I'm willing to bet she'll at least let Faith in through the front door."

"She won't let me, Xander, or Dawn through the front door; you think she's gonna let the psycho slut who broke her heart inside?!" Willow exclaims.

"She's not psychotic, Willow," Kennedy defends.

"Still a slut though," Willow shoots back, and gives her a look that indicates she already knows what's going on with the two of them and is clearly not happy about it.

"Red; shut the fuck up," Faith says, glaring at her before turning back. "Giles; why the hell won't you tell me what I'm dealing with? Ya want me to just go over there and do what exactly? And it's fucked to say, but Red's right; ain't thinkin' she's about to let me anywhere near her."

"I don't want you to know because I think your initial reaction will be crucial to Buffy realizing that there is a real world outside of that house she's shut herself into," Giles tells her. "And I beg to differ; I do think she will let you in. Or, rather, she'll be too shocked from seeing you to actually stop you."

Okay, that makes… a little more sense. Still, Faith doesn't like that she's walking into this situation blind.

"I don't like this, Giles," Willow says, voicing her opinion on the matter for the billionth time. "What if this makes Buffy worse?"

"I don't think it will," Giles says simply, like he knows more than he's saying, which seems to be the theme of this entire thing anyway.

Faith takes a breath, feeling her nerves go haywire. Seeing Buffy again; can she even do that? She came here and hoped to avoid her, but all this talk of Buffy hiding away for whatever reason makes her sick with worry. She might be a big fucking douche for running out of her, but she still loves her; she still cares about her. If Buffy's fucked up in some way then it's not even a question about helping her.

But she's still completely terrified of it anyway.



Chapter Four - Buffy

"You ready to do this?"


Faith and Kennedy are standing outside the back of the castle, looking at Buffy's little townhome she had built in the distance. Faith takes another drag of her cigarette; her hands are shaking. There's just too much going on for her to really process; and the fact is, she knows that once she goes over there she's gonna get hit in the face with another load of information she doesn't know if she can handle. Fuck, she wishes Giles would've just told her what the hell is up. Doing it this way doesn't calm her nerves any.

"What do you think is wrong with her?" Kennedy asks, fishing for Faith's thoughts.


Faith's had a million and a half possibilities float through her mind, but nothing jumped out at her as something that could have actually happened. The thing is; Buffy's so fuckin' strong, so whatever it is that's keeping her locked inside of her house like this has to be bad, yet she can't figure out what would be so bad that Buffy would just hide from everything.

It just didn't make sense.

"Maybe she's crippled or something," Kennedy offers. Faith turns to her and raises an eyebrow and Kennedy shrugs, folding her arms across herself as she leans against the side of the castle. "Yeah, like maybe it's a vanity thing."

"Really fuckin' doubt that."

"Would you still love her if she was a cripple?" Kennedy asks casually.

"What the fuck kind of question is that?"

"A question that requires an answer," Kennedy replies, looking at her pointedly.

Faith doesn't even hesitate in answering, "Of course I fuckin' would. Are you stupid?" Buffy being crippled wouldn't make her love for her suddenly disappear; she's not that shallow.

Well, okay, she would be with anyone else. But Buffy's always been… different.

"I was just making sure," Kennedy replies. She snatches the cigarette out from between Faith's fingers and puts it to her lips, taking a drag. "You know you can't stand out here all day," she tells her, smoke pouring from her lips after every word.

Faith narrows her eyes and grabs the cigarette back, "I know." She takes one last drag before flicking it into the grass. She watches it land and tells her, "Just tryin' to get up my nerve."

"Well, we'll be waiting here forever for that," Kennedy tells her flatly, and Faith shoots her a look. Kennedy looks at her expectantly and then tells her, "You got to go." She pauses; Faith doesn't move. "Now, would be preferable, Faith."

"Right this second?"

"There's a girl dying in the basement right now so I would say yeah, right this second would be good."

"Fuck," Faith mumbles, but runs her fingers through her hair as she takes a breath. She can't slow her heartbeat and she damn sure can't make her stomach quit doing back flips, but she at least tries to make her hands stop shaking. She rubs them against her jeans nervously and casts a wary glance in Kennedy's direction, who gives her a comforting smile.

"You'll be alright."

"Dunno about that; but if I come out alive I'll take it as a plus," Faith tells her. She takes another breath and stares at the house in the distance. It's so… domestic looking. It's kind of weird.

Kennedy puts her hand on Faith's back, apparently deciding this pause is too long, and pushes her forward.

"Hey, don't fuckin' push me!" Faith complains, turning around and slapping Kennedy's hand out of her personal space.

"Well your feet don't seem to be working; was just trying to help."

"Ya know, if I didn't know any better, I'm thinkin' your lookin' forward to me goin' in there and gettin' the shit kicked outta me," Faith tells her with a glare.

Kennedy rolls her eyes. "No, but I am looking forward to you finally getting some kind of closure with Buffy. It might make you stop being so… you know, mopey and shit."

"I don't mope."

"You're the queen of mope."

"And I don't want…" closure. Closure is so… final. Closure means it's over; for good. That she's gonna be stuck loving someone the rest of her life that will never return her feelings.

Kennedy seems to get what she's not saying and tells her, "Well then I'm looking forward to you possibly getting a second chance."

Faith snorts disbelievingly, "Not fuckin' likely."

"You won't know unless you go over there," Kennedy tells her pointedly. Faith just stares at her and Kennedy sighs, exasperated. "Go, Faith. You need to go, now."

"Fuck. Fine. I'm going," Faith says, taking another breath. She gives one last look at Kennedy before she turns and starts walking towards the house in the distance.

God, she can't do this. Fuck.

But her feet continue to carry her the short journey anyway until suddenly she's at Buffy's door. Damn, that was too quick. She takes another breath and rubs her hands against her pant legs, trying to make them quit shaking, but it seems useless. She can't hear anything inside the house, and she doesn't know if that makes it better or worse at this point. She just stares at the door for awhile, before her hand comes up and rings the doorbell suddenly, without any permission from her brain. Shit! She needed more time!

Faith can hear shuffling inside the house now and her heart is beating so heavily she's sure it's about to beat out of her fuckin' chest and land on the ground in front of her with a disgusting plop. Might be appropriate anyway; just lay her heart out there for Buffy to step on. Though literally might be a little gross; maybe she should rethink this plan, or try to get her heart to stop working overtime before she keels over.

"Xander, I told you no," comes Buffy's voice from inside the house. Oh god, Buffy's voice. Buffy's actual voice. It's been so long that she's heard it outside of her dreams that her throat goes dry and she can't answer even if she wanted to. "Xander?" Buffy asks again, confused since she didn't get a response, and Faith can hear an aggravated sigh before the lock on the door clicks as it's being unlocked, the handle turns and… and then the door is open.

And they're both staring at each other.

The dish that's in Buffy's hand clatters to the ground as she loses all control over her fingers, and probably the rest of her body. Faith doesn't know what to say, she's just standing there, taking Buffy in.

It's been five years. Five whole years, and she's still the most beautiful thing she's ever seen in her life.

She's older now, that much is obvious. Her pretty blonde hair is now dyed a very dark brown; dyed, because Faith can see some of her light roots. She's skinnier, almost a little too skinny, and she's got this long, jagged scar over her right eye and halfway down her cheek; a battle wound, no doubt. She looked a little tore up, but she was still… so fucking beautiful. Maybe it sounds a little weird, but Buffy having imperfections now somehow makes her even more attractive to Faith.

"Hey, B," Faith says softly, the only thing she can manage to have come out of her mouth in that moment; her brain wouldn't let her think much of anything else.

That seems to snap Buffy out of it, and oh shit, she looks like she's on the verge of a mental breakdown. "No, no, you…. no," Buffy stutters, pointing at her warningly as she backs up a couple steps from her, like she's afraid that Faith's a ghost or a hallucination or something. "You… you can't be here. You're dead! This… oh god, am I'm going insane?" Buffy asks, her eyes widening a little as she puts her hand on her head, checking to see if she has a fever.

Clearly no one warned her. And… dead?

Buffy stepping away from the door though gives Faith an opportunity to come inside, and since that was what Giles hoped would happen, she does take tentative steps through the threshold of the door, looking at Buffy like she doesn't know what to say. When she closes the door behind her, Buffy seems to realize she's actually corporeal and her eyes go wide before she lunges at her, pressing Faith up against the door with her forearm over her throat; pinning her there.

"Who the fuck are you?!" she screams, eyes wild with… fear? Shit.

"Whoa, B, it's me. I'm not some kinda demon or something," Faith tells her calmly, holding up her hands in surrender. "I swear to God it's me."

"Faith is dead!" she yells.

"Who the fuck told you that?"

"No one; I just… no one… no one says anything anymore and she… she never fucking came back so she must have… who are you?!" Buffy demands, pressing her forearm tighter against Faith's throat. She chokes.

"B… can ya… quit? Can't… fuckin'… breathe…" she gasps out. She doesn't want to use force on her because that's not really the best way to walk back into her life.

"If you were Faith you'd be able to get out of this," she hisses at her, eyes challenging.

Fuck. Last thing she wants to do, but…

Faith grabs Buffy's wrist and starts to pry her hand off of her, just enough to get air to flow through her windpipe properly again before she uses her other hand to punch Buffy straight across the jaw, in that soft spot she knows she has that will always make her stumble back. She gives her an apologetic look for doing that once Buffy finally stumbles away from her, holding her jaw and looking at her like she either can't believe that Faith's actually real, or that she is real and actually hit her.

"Sorry," Faith mumbles. "Really didn't wanna do that."

Buffy stands there for a moment before taking a hesitant step forward. Her face is one of confusion and disbelief and she closes the distance between them. Faith's heart is pounding in her throat, not knowing what to expect from the look in Buffy's eyes. She watches Buffy's hand rise tentatively, until she touches the soft skin on Faith's cheek.

"Faith?" Buffy asks softly, eyes wide with recognition finally as she stares at her like she can't believe that this is actually happening in her life.

"Yeah…" Faith confirms softly, scared that if she moves even an inch it would ruin this moment; whatever it was.

The sound of Faith's voice though, along with physically being able to touch her seems to snap Buffy out of her daze, and she withdraws her hand quickly like she's been burned. She takes a couple steps back, all the scorn from the past five years flooding into her eyes; if she had the power, one look like that would have set Faith on fire and roasted her alive.

"You… why are you…? Oh my god, what the hell?!" Buffy exclaims, eyes wide with fury now. So, clearly, she's not very happy with this. Not that Faith can blame her, or that it was unexpected, but still. She is at least a little glad that Buffy doesn't think she's going insane anymore. "What the fuck are you doing here?!"

Faith shuffles her feet nervously, nodding back towards the castle. "The possessed Slayer, we—"


… What?

Faith turns to where the tiny voice is coming from, and it's like a bag of bricks to the face once she realizes she's staring at the face of a child; of Buffy's child. She couldn't be more than three or four years old; a mess of blonde hair, deep brown eyes, and a little button nose. Buffy reacts to her voice like she's trying to save someone who's on fire, and she rushes over and scoops the little girl up into her arms; cradling her, stepping away from Faith like she's going to attack her or something.

"Why's everyone yelling?" the little girl asks, looking a little sad at the mention of it. The way she says 'yelling' is like it has a 'w' in it. It'd be adorable if not for Faith's lack of ability to comprehend anything at the moment. Her tiny hands rub her eyes sleepily and she looks over at Faith. Faith can do nothing else but stare; her brain just screeched to a grinding halt.

Out of everything she thought; this would not be one of the scenarios.

"It's okay, sweetie," Buffy tells her, her voice a little rushed like she's scared of something. "Come on, let's put you back to bed." Her eyes flicker over at Faith warily. It's like she's expecting her to pounce. But Faith can't even think, let alone move.

"But I don't wanna!" the kid complains. "Not sleepy anymore." She pouts; clearly naptime has ended.

"I know, but Mommy needs to talk to someone right now. I'll come up and play a game with you in a minute, okay?"

"No," the child protests, putting her arms across her chest defiantly. She shakes her head. "Don't wanna."

"Fai, this isn't up for debate; come on," Buffy tells her sternly before taking one last look at Faith before turning and walking up stairs, the little girl; her little girl, Fai, in her arms.

Faith needs to sit down. Or maybe just fall down.

She makes her way over to the couch in the living room, sitting down on it heavily and putting her head in her hands. Why didn't she think of the possibility that Buffy would be a mother? She was married to a man for shit's sake. Insert object A into slot B and out pops… a kid. Oh fuckin' hell. This is so screwed up, Giles should have told her. Someone should have told her.

And Fai? Faith doesn't know if it makes her pigheaded to think that possibly that could have to do with her. But Buffy wouldn't name her kid after her, right? She broke her heart. Maybe it was her husband that picked it, but that'd still be a little weird. But then again, Buffy apparently convinced herself that she was dead, so she could have…

Shit. That's a little fucked up.

Faith wonders how long it's been since anyone has actually mentioned her to Buffy. Probably not in a while; didn't wanna stir up old shit or something. Maybe Buffy did the same thing she did; didn't want to know anything and wouldn't let anyone tell her anything about her. It was just easier to deal that way, right?

But Faith didn't convince herself that Buffy was dead. Even to use that to deal, that's still a million shades of screwed up.

But it still doesn't make sense; all of this. Why would Buffy having a kid make her not want to leave the house? It's called 'get a babysitter.' Something else is going on, but Faith can barely think to make sense of any of this right now. She's still stuck on the fact that Buffy has a kid. Called Fai.

Faith looks up as she sees Buffy coming back down the stairs, looking at her over on the couch. She's got this hard, determined, and strong look that Faith knows all too well. Shit, she's about to get—

But her thought is interrupted just as Buffy walks over to her and without a second of hesitation, decks her straight in the face. Faith doesn't fight back, she just lets her hit her again, and when Buffy pulls back she puts her hand on her bruised cheek. Damn, Buffy hits a whole lot harder after five years.

"That's for running out on me, you stupid selfish cow," Buffy tells her, spitting out each word like she has a vile taste in her mouth.

"Okay, I deserved that," Faith says, pressing her tongue to her cheek where her tooth cut it.

"I could lock you in a room, sick rats on you to nibble at your flesh for days before setting you on fucking fire, and you still wouldn't get what you deserved," Buffy tells her, eyes flashing. Okay, that was oddly specific. Clearly she's thought about that one too many times. But Buffy takes a breath and steps back, shaking her head at her. "Get out of my house."

"B, I can't leave. Giles said—"

"I don't give a shit what Giles said!" she exclaims. "You aren't welcome here, Faith! You can't just walk back into my life and expect me to actually let you sit here and talk to me like you even deserve to be in my presence right now."

"Look, I know I don't deserve, fuck, anything, but there's a Slayer dying right now and—"

Buffy laughs scornfully. "There's always going to be a Slayer dying, Faith. That's what Slayers do best; they die. I'm not a part of that anymore. That… that isn't part of my life anymore." She looks at her, all these emotions passing over her face and she tells her seriously, "I'm not a Slayer anymore."

"You can't just quit being a Slayer, B."

"Funny, because I think I already did," Buffy tells her; voice dangerously calm. "Now get the hell out of my house before I throw you out head first. You are nothing to me now."

"Buffy, I'm not fucking leaving. Just because you're having some sort of breakdown, doesn't give you the right to choose whether that girl lives or dies!" Faith exclaims, angry. "How fuckin' hard is it for you to just stand there while Red and Jo do their spell? What the hell is your issue?"

"You wouldn't get it; you're not a mother!" Buffy exclaims.

"What? What's your kid gotta do with any of this?" Faith asks, confused. That didn't make any sense; it's not like her kid's gotta be there for the ritual.

"Everything, Faith! God, why…? Ugh, I don't even know why I'm talking to you right now. Get out."


Buffy lets out an exasperated sigh and turns around to see Fai coming down the stairs with something in her hand. She's holding onto the railing as her little legs jump down each step.

"Fai, sweetie, please go back upstairs," Buffy tries. "I'll be up there in a minute."

"Look what I got!" Fai exclaims, a big grin on her face as she bounds over to Faith. Buffy's eyes go wide in fear at her child coming over to Faith. "Look!" she exclaims, holding up a photograph. She points at Faith, "That's you!"

She holds the photo out to Faith, who takes it and looks at it. Yeah, it is her. From when she was like, god, sixteen. As Buffy scoops the kid up in her arms and pulls her away from Faith, placing her a safe distance away, Faith smiles at the little girl and says, "Yup, that's me."

"You're pretty," Fai tells her.


"Great," Buffy mutters, "Just what I need."

"You're pretty too," Faith tells her with a smile. The little girl grins and Faith can see so much of her mother in her. It's really kinda adorable. Faith's never been one for kids; they scream and are bratty and tend to piss all over themselves, but Buffy's kid? Really fucking cute.

"Come on, you need to go back upstairs," Buffy tells her.

"No, I don't wanna! I wanna stay with the pretty lady!" Fai whines, running away from her mother and over to Faith before Buffy can grab her. Buffy looks like a vein's about to explode out of her forehead. But she takes a breath, being the calm mother.

"I know you do, honey. But Faith's just leaving," she tells her, then looks at Faith with a pointed glare that means 'you better.'

"Your name is like mine!" Fai exclaims happily. "Do you have an icky regular name too?" Faith looks at her confused. Hey, 'Faith' isn't icky.

God, she can't believe she just used the word 'icky' in her head.

"No, she doesn't," Buffy tells her. "Her first name is Faith. Now come on, we need to—"

"Mine's icky," Fai tells Faith with a nod, climbing up on the couch to sit practically on top of her. "I don't like it."

"What it is?" Faith asks. Fai makes a face.

"Margret." It sounded more like "Margwet" coming out of her mouth though. It was so freakin' cute.

"So why does your Mom call you Fai?" Faith asks. Buffy's shooting daggers in her direction, trying so hard not to blow up in front of her kid and just start beating on her.

But Buffy's scared like hell. Not only because of Faith showing up in her life, but because her child has taken to her so quickly. She barely speaks two words in front of strangers; she barely even speaks two words in front of Willow, or Xander, or even Dawn! Then again, she barely lets any of them see her. It's just safer to stay here in this house. It's safer for both of them.

Faith is screwing it all up though, but she's too much in shock from Fai's behavior to really do much about it though.

"It's my middle name," she says proudly with a smile. "It's pretty. We have pretty names." Faith chuckles a little at how happy her name seemed to make the little girl.

"Yeah we do. They rock."

"But mine's just Fai. Mommy, why can't I be 'Faith' too?" Fai asks, looking at her mother with a pout.

Yeah, that's it, Buffy's done with this.

"Because that's not what your father and I named you. Now come on, it's time to go upstairs." She grabs Fai around the waist and picks her up, starting to carry her away from Faith.

"But I don't wanna!" the kid screams, pounding her fists against Buffy's shoulder. And damn does she have a set of lungs.

"Come on B, just let her stay."

Buffy whips around, fury all over her face as she snaps at her. "I don't want you speaking to her, I don't want you near her, Faith! She is not your child!"

Well, obviously. She would have noticed if she popped a human being out from her vag lately.

But Faith knows she has no say in what goes on in his house so she just mumbles, "Fine," and lets Buffy take the screaming kid away. She feels bad for her. Damn, the girl was just trying to be sociable. Way to be an overprotective freak. It ain't like Faith's gonna hurt her. She would never; she's not a monster.

Faith looks down at the picture in her hands and wonders why Buffy even still has it if she's so content on hating her very existence. Once again, not that she blames her, but it's just… it's fuckin' weird. This whole thing is one big mindfuck.

When Buffy comes back, Faith can still faintly hear Fai screaming and throwing a fit upstairs. Buffy stands there and just looks at her for a moment, looking like she's going to fall apart. "Just please… please just go, Faith."

"B, we need you to do the ritual."

"I can't… god, Faith, I can't handle this right now! Don't you get that?! Do you even understand what it's like for me; for you to just show up at my door again after five years?!" Buffy exclaims.

"Of course I get it, this isn't a walk in the park for me either," Faith tells her, standing up to come over to her. "I'm fuckin' scared shitless right now. I can barely even think."

"Neither can I! You can't just walk in here and expect for me to do something for you. I need to… I just need time, okay?"

"We don't got alotta time."

"Just please… please go," Buffy begs, her voice sounding weak. "I can't do this right now."

Faith just looks at her for a moment, feeling guilty because of how screwed up she's making Buffy's perfect, suburban little life. "I'd have to come back later," she relents softly. That's the best that she can give right now. She's not going to let a girl die because of all of this.

"Fine. That's… that's fine. I guess. I just… I can't do this now, okay? Please."

Faith nods, taking a breath. She needs a breather from this whole thing anyway; and probably like fifteen cigarettes. She watches Buffy walk over to the front door to open it for her, and they look at each other for a moment before Faith slowly begins to walk out. But before she leaves completely, she turns in the threshold of the door and looks at her. She needs to know. "B… 'Fai'?" she asks, her voice barely coming out more than a whisper.

"I… I thought you were dead," Buffy tells her, her voice wavering a little.

Faith looks at her, really looks at her, and knows instantly that's bullshit. "No you didn't," she tells her quietly.

But Buffy doesn't say anything; she just purses her lips and pushes Faith out the door before closing and locking it behind her. Obviously Faith isn't going to get an answer about that. Faith lets out a breath she didn't realize she was holding and looks back across the way to the castle. Every single part of this is still so messed up. She still has no idea why Buffy won't leave her house, but she's getting the feeling that she's scared to for some reason.

How she's supposed to help with that though? She has no fuckin' clue.



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