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Chapter Fourteen

I never expected things to go down like they did. Probably I would have done some shit differently if I had known. But then maybe it's better that I didn't know. Maybe it's supposed ta be this way. Maybe Buffy was always supposed to be a vampire so that she could do things that she couldn't as she was. Like take on and kill The Lady. Maybe all this cloak and dagger shit was just a waste of time, because in the end she's gonna face Giles anyway. I watch Buffy pick up Denna carefully in her arms an' carry her down the hall to The Lady's own rooms.

Guess these are ours now. I shove the door open to the bathroom and Buffy lowers Denna's chilled body in to the warm water of the tub.

She's not in shock anymore but the blood loss is still a problem. As we strip I notice that Xander's made himself scarce. I don't blame him. I think he's freaked out by the realization that he was licking the blood off a naked woman he doesn't even know. Gus putters around the bathroom, makin' sure we have towels and robes. When he sets a tray on the edge of the tub I know he's had to do this before.

My muscles twitch out under the surface of my skin as I sink in to the water, lettin' it splash over my shoulders. We're doin' the thing where we avoid talkin' about what's gonna happen because we're too damn busy takin' care of our girl. I dunno. I think I kinda don't wanna talk about it because it means makin' some hard choices. I take the bottle of amber liquid off the tray and pour a tumbler full for Denna. "Down the chute babe." The rough edge of my voice softens a little when Buffy's gleaming pale body slides in to the water with us.

"That's it. Good girl."

Damn. She looks so little an' scared pressed back against Buffy's chest. I note the shiver in her body when B lowers her mouth to Denna's neck. I wanna tell Buffy to back off but I'm thinkin' I'd lose some teeth if I tried ta tell her what to do with what's hers. So I don't. I just slip closer to them, pressing Denna between us as the whirlpool jets buffet us gently. This is new for me, I've never had anyone give two shits about me so I never gave two shits about anyone else.

"Better?" She nods at Buffy's question but she's been way too quiet.

Guess I don't blame her much. Buffy grazes her lips along Denna's neck, nibbling and licking, playin' with the steady pulse of blood under the skin. My stomach gets tight with fear an' a lil bit of lust while I watch. She'd never hurt Denna. Not like that, an' not now after all this. This is her way of provin' that she doesn't just want the girl for her blood. I drop my lips to the other side of her neck givin' pause only when Denna whimpers in fear.

We could turn on her like wild animals. Just rip in ta the flesh an' drain her dry. Wouldn't take much with the way she is now. Probably she wouldn't even fight. But that's not what either of us want. I raise my eyes to Buffy who nods once an' tightens her arms around Denna's waist, takin' the time to stroke teasingly where ever her hands fall. It's not about sex really. I think it's more about trust here.

I should be jealous or something. I should hate the way B's hands are all over her, strokin' and pettin' in comforting gestures. But I'm not. Because they belong. They belong in this embrace. And they both
belong to me. Or maybe it's me that belongs to them. Like I belong to the moon and the earth. Like I belong to the dark of night. Maybe I belong to them because they're a part of me now.

I'm pretty sure in the real world this is a real fucked up situation but the real world stopped bein' important a long time ago. And anyway who says this isn't the real world? The blood that was spilled was real enough. An' the hurt and fear in Denna's eyes is damn well real enough. And the marks on her body that I graze my fingers over, those are real. Just like my anger is real. I raise my eyes to Buffy's again and I know that she feels it too. The pull of blackness that makes us want to do things Slayers were never meant ta do.

Things I probably would lose what's left of my soul over. Things that Buffy wouldn't think twice about doing. I know she's pissed that she didn't get a chance to exact her revenge on those fucks but I think it's better that she didn't. I'm not too sure there would have been anyone left in this place if she'd seen Denna strung up the way I did. Truthfully. It's a sight I can live the rest of my whole life without seein' again. We all know what kinda person I am, an' we all know the things I've done and I'm willin' to do.

But seein' her like that made my chest ache in a way I don't really understand. It tore at me. Right down to my soul. Right down to the fuckin' soles of my feet. That's how deep it cut me. I guess that's why I'm here now. I guess that's why we're all here right now. Buffy's arms slide around Denna, pullin' me in closer to them. It's not that I'm feelin' left out or anything. But I think this is right where B wants me. With them.

"I'm sorry…"

See that shit? She's fuckin' sorry. Like she did something wrong. Buffy's grip gets painfully tight for a second before she releases us and turns Denna to her. For a second I'm not sure if she's gonna bite her or not but the look on Buffy's face changes just a lil bit. If I didn't know her as well as I do I would have never seen it.

"You don't ever say sorry. Ever." Denna starts to nod her head but Buffy shakes her roughly. I raise my hands out to Buffy but pull them back when she snarls warningly at me. Okay I can take a hint. "EVER. You are mine and me and mine have nothing to apologize for. Not for surviving."

I guess the point is that we all do what we do to survive. Some of us feed from people, some of us kill to feed others, an' some of us suffer. But we all do it for one reason. To survive. A part of me thinks that Buffy wanted me to know that. We can wash the blood off our hands together and not one speck will remain. So long as we do it for each other. Denna's head dips down and tears spill down her cheeks. I'm not good with the cryin' so I back off as Buffy remembers what humanity is like.

I'm kinda left in awe ya know? Watchin' Buffy cradle her girl close like that. It's not what me an' Buffy have. But it's somethin' deep. Whatever happens from this point on, it happens to us all. Buffy mewls softly and licks the trails of salty tears off Denna's face. And when she looks at me the green of her eyes is so intense it makes my breath catch. That's when I know that everything is gonna be alright.

End of the world? No fuckin' problem. Giles on the warpath? No big deal. In the end it's gonna me and Buffy. Everyone else either falls in line or falls by the wayside. I keep quiet as I lift Denna out of the water and towel her off. "Faith?"

I pause what I'm doing but keep goin' after about a second. I think I know what she's gonna say and I don't want to hear it. I can't hear it.

"I love you."

That. Wasn't what I expected. But up to this point nothin' has gone as expected so why should this be any different? I blink at Denna a few times in mild confusion. She offers me a shy half smile and raises up on her toes to kiss my nose. I sneeze at it and narrow my eyes at her.


What the fuck am I supposed ta say to that? I love you too? Do I? Well. Yeah. I guess. I mean I care about what happens ta her. I want her to be okay an' safe. I guess that's a kinda love. But I just can't say it. I want to. But I can't. So I do the next best thing. I snap my fingers for Gus. He slides out of the shadows makin' me wonder how the fuck he manages ta be that quiet.

"Anything happens to her Gus…anything…" I let my gaze rest on him for a long time. "I will hunt you to the end. And then I'll kill ya." He nods and offers Denna his arm like a perfect fuckin' gentleman. Good. A familiar weight settles against my back an' Buffy wraps her arms around my waist.

"Getting a little protective are we?" I just grunt. "Good dog." Yeah.


"He's here My Lady."

I knew he'd be prompt but I didn't really think Giles would be here so soon after sending the Slayers away. He must have been waiting nearby. That sounds like him. He's setting up his command center close to the action but not close enough to get sucked in to the  madness. I nod my head and flick my wrist to send Gus away. I've never had a personal servant before but a girl could get to like this treatment.

"Hey B." I open my eyes and glance over at Faith, leaning against the doorframe. Her arms are crossed over her chest in mild defiance. I know what she's pissy about. "I'm not doin' it." I sigh and sit up a little in my chair.

"But Lover, you look so good…" Good enough to eat. I can feel the ridges of my demon face rise up on my forehead as I take her in from head to toe. I doubt she has a problem with the leather pants. Or even the chainmail bra. No I think her beef is with the fact that she's wearing a dog collar. And a leash. Hey it's not like it's any collar and leash. They're diamond studded. I doubt Faith has ever seen a diamond up close let alone ones the size of dimes like the ones adorning her new accessories. I'm almost tempted to wear it myself.

I crook a finger at her, beckoning her closer. When Faith is in reach I pull the leash toward me, letting the cool metal links and sharp gems slide through my fingers. I give it a hard tug to pull her down to me and I'm beyond happy pants when Faith straddles my lap. "Yah, you think so?" I think a lot of things, and right now one of them has to do with anything but her.

"Oh yeah." I give the leash another tug to admire the shine of light off it. And to get Faith's face closer to mine for a deep kiss. "I like having you on a short leash." The second it's out of my mouth I know I'm going to get attitude. But. Why lie?

"Dunno if I like bein' at your mercy, B." Mercy? Oh that's a laugh. She's at my mercy? Doesn't she know? If she leaves me I'm done for. I'm the one at her mercy. But I think I'll keep that little bit of info to myself. I'd hate for Faith to think she has the upper hand with me.

"Tsk tsk, you're not a stray anymore Faith. You belong to someone." She belongs to me. I kiss her again, purposely nicking her lip so I can steal a drop of her fire hot blood. I like that she reacts to the spill of blood with a low growl and a sexy hip grind against me. I whine in the back of my throat when Gus interrupts us. I really hope that it doesn't happen again. I might have to rip his arms out of the sockets and beat him with them.

"My apologies, The Watcher is…"

"A fuckin' pain in the ass." My thoughts exactly. Faith gets off my lap and holds out her hands to me. It's something that I know for a fact she'd never do for anyone else. She's not the type to be overly solicitous of her lovers. Not that I'm complaining about the attention. I like it just fine, thanks. Faith has a way of making me feel special with her attention, rather than suffocated like I did with Riley. "C'mon baby we got business ta deal with."

I let her pull me up to her body and writhe just a bit against her. What? She's warm. And sexy. And she smells good…

"Am I going to have to separate you two?" Faith gives Xander a glare when he pads in my new parlor barefoot. "I can't turn around for five seconds without you two sucking some serious face." He's acting annoyed but I can tell by the smirk on his face that he's just playing. Faith swipes out at him but he easily ducks it and tucks his hands in to the pockets of his pants. "Giles brought a few reinforcements."

Faith doesn't look surprised or even bothered but I am. I don't' know why. It would be standard protocol for him to have at least one Slayer with him. "Who did he bring?" Xander glances away for a second and shrugs.

"Satsu and Kennedy." This time Faith does react and I think I know why. I give her leash another little tug to get her attention and gesture to Xander. She doesn't have to stay, she could just hang out with him and let me deal with Giles on my own. Not that I think she'll freak out and chew Satsu's face off but it's possible she'll bite her if she gets too mouthy. And well…Kennedy is all mouth. But I don't mind if Faith wants to bite her. I never did like the little bitch.

Faith's dark eyes lock with mine but the offer to let her skip dies on my lips. I know if I offer her that she'll be upset. She'll think it's because I want to be with Satsu in some way. "I need you there Lover. All of you." Not just her jealous rage. Though I might just poke a stick at that sore spot later. Just to see what kind of reaction I get. "Gonna behave for me?"

"What do I get outta it?" Oh she's playing now. I like that a lot.

"I guess that depends on what you want…" My brows come up slightly in a suggestion she can't miss. She can have me in so many ways. She can break me in all of them. And I'll still run back begging for more.

Faith's grunt is too much for me to not react to. I smile with a flash of fang and snap my fingers for Gus. When he lifts his head up Faith gives him a jerk of her chin. "Nevermind him. I'll go get 'em." He looks to me once for confirmation but I dismiss him with another flick of my fingers. Wow. That is so never going to get old. "C'mon Xander."

As they walk out of the room together I have to wonder about Xander. Is he going to stand his ground with us when he's actually confronted with Giles? Or will he break and fall to what he knows? Faith trusts him, and while I trust her, more than I probably should, I'm not sure if I can extend that trust to him. Not entirely. It's not as if he hasn't proven himself either. I just…I worry.

And that's something I thought I'd never do again. It's not the soul. It's fear I think. I'm afraid of him turning his back on us now that we've let him close. I'm afraid he's going to make Faith regret letting him live. And most importantly I'm afraid of him getting to close to Denna. Not that I think he'd try to steal her away from me but I'm afraid of his idealism and the fact that he really can't stand vampires feeding on humans. Before I can think too deeply on that I hear the steady heavy steps of a man too tired to continue much longer.

It's the slight drag from a sore hip that gives him away. He's old. And I'll always be young. No matter what he meant to me before, the man in front of me now will never understand. And when he looks at me, really looks at me, I know he knows it too. "Buffy…my God…"

He really didn't expect me. I thought maybe he'd put two and two together and figure it all out by now but I guess maybe it was more than he could handle thinking about. His jaw drops and for a second and a half I think he's going to teeter over but he regains his composure quickly and glares down at me.

"Hi Giles." Okay I've had better opener lines than that but I just wasn't prepared for the amount of hate on his face. Faith pushes past him and settles on the arm of my chair. A sharp chitter warns me before a soft warm weight settles on my shoulder. It's Xander in his little furry form. Hrm. I let my attention drift back to my former Watcher and offer up a half smile. "You don't look so good. Maybe you should sit down." It's not really a suggestion and the way that Gus purposely puts his hand on Giles' shoulder lets the old man know that.

"I should have known. I should have realized…" Yes. He really should have. I shake my head slightly when Faith tenses up next to me. "I should never have sent you to finish this. You selfish, stupid, child!" He's not talking to me. He's talking to Faith. But hello, sitting right here!

"You have a problem with the situation Giles, you bring it up to me. Faith didn't turn me in to a vampire remember?" I let myself get turned. I led an entire squad of Slayer's to their death and I let them decide if they wanted to wake up at the end of the night. No one forced them to follow me in to this life. "You should be thanking Faith. She's the one that took care of your little Slayervamp problem."

"There wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for her!" Wrong. So wrong. Faith is a lot of things and she's guilty of twice over what she'll admit to, but this wasn't her deal. I think this is a case of Giles lashing out at anyone else but me. "Her fault!" We all watch, stunned as he lunges over the coffee table between us to grab for Faith. Giles has his hands around her neck before I can snap myself in to action but I guess I shouldn't have worried. My Watcher lets out a scream and a string of what I'm pretty sure are curses as he swings his hands violently back and forth trying to get Xanderferret off of him.

Xander drops to the floor with a sick thud and Faith is quick to scoop him up and cradle him against her chest. Lucky weasel. The commotion is enough to bring me to myself and I push myself in to Giles' personal space. Inky red blood drips from his hand and I slide my tongue along my lower lip. I'm not really hungry but a good fight always makes me a little needy for something.

Giles could be my snack. He backs up a step and I close on him. Matching his movements. Stalking him. "B." Just one little letter. That's all it takes. I laugh deep in my chest and back off. "The man came ta talk, lets hear him out." Before we frighten him to death. I get it. I'm not happy about it but I get it. Faith is reigning me in. Fine. I'll behave. This time.

"She has a point. So. What do you want?" He holds his hand tightly, trying to stem the flow of blood. I can't help but stare a little. Maybe I want to wrong foot him. Maybe I know how much it kills him to see me so excited about the sight of a little blood. I want him to know I'm not his Buffy anymore. There's a long time where he's trying to get a lid on his emotions while pretending to wrap his hand in his hanky. I'm giving him the time to adjust because he's only human. He's had years to deal with me dying but he's never really had to deal with me being the undead.

"I came here in the hopes of getting information. Instead I find…you."

"What'd you expect Giles? For me to just lie down and die again?" Not this time.

His face pales and I nod. "No of course not but…Buffy…you're a vampire. You are what you have been given a sacred birthright to destroy." His eyes flick to Faith and any pain that he might be feeling over me vanishes in hate. Xander's fur goes out in a poof and he chitters and hisses furiously at Giles. It's kind of cute actually. If Giles looks close enough he'll see that the weasel is giving him a little ferret finger. Who knew that Faith would inspire such courage and loyalty in people and small animals? "I would have expected this from her."

Her. Boy that's insulting. "Enough Giles. What. Do. You. Want." Maybe if I say it slower he'll get to the point quicker.

"I did not come here for you! I came to speak with The Lady."

"Well you're speaking to her. So what the hell do you want?"

"I want to know who sired you damnit!" Huh. You know. In all of this back and forth about souls and lovers and friends and servants I never really questioned who would sire me. I mean I remember the fight, I remember the moments of pain and fear sliding away…I just don't remember who took those horribly human feelings from me. I'd buy them a cookie if I could.

"Why?" I suppose I know why but I kind of need to hear it from him. "What difference does it make? I'm still a vampire and the people that arranged it are dead."

His back stiffens at that and Faith sighs. I don't think I was supposed to say that part so happily. "You think just any vampire could take a Slayer and turn her? Do you think it's that easy to sway the Chosen?" Oh. Poor sad little Giles. Something in the way my face is set makes him take a step back and sink heavily in to the plush chair across from us. "I see."

It was hard to take from Faith. It's nearly impossible to handle from Giles. The disappointment makes him look older and more shriveled than when he walked in here. "The sire isn't an issue Giles. You and I both know that. So why are you really here?"

Everyone in this room knows that it's too late to change things now. Too late for me to be who I was. Too late for anyone to care that I was dead long before the blood drained out of my body. The fire in my heart was put out a long time ago and I've just been going through the motions. Until. I turn my head to look at Faith and feel something tug in my chest. Until she saved me, I was nothing.

My hand curls around her thigh, more to comfort myself than to comfort her I guess. "I suppose I'm here to do what it seems no one else could." So it's going to be like that. I tear my eyes away from Faith and stare at Giles for a long second. A commotion starts up at the end of the hall and I know that in a minute or two his backup will come barreling through that door to break up my little tea party.

"I'm sorry to hear that Giles." He nods once and stands, his back to me in a physical gesture of a fuck you too. I don't like admitting that it actually hurts me. "I won't stand here and take it you know." His head bows slightly and I swear I hear a sniff.

"No. That was never you." No. It never was. And if I'm anything, I am Buffy. Cold and dead but still Buffy. I watch him leave with a heavy heart. He's going to fight until he's dead, and it's very likely I'll be the one to kill him.

"It doesn't have to be this way Faith." Xander cheeps and scuttles from Faith to me so he can cling lightly to my ear as he perches on my shoulder.

"Yeah B. It really does. For him…it's gotta be just like this." Or he'll never rest again.




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