| Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | End Season 1 - Epilogue |
| Begin Season 2 - Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16. | Ch. 17 | Ch. 18 | Ch. 19 | Ch. 20 | Season 2 - Epilogue |
| Ch. 21 | Ch. 22 | Ch. 23 | Ch. 24 | Ch. 25 | Ch. 26 | Ch. 27 | Ch. 28 | Ch. 29 | Ch. 30 | Season 3 - Epilogue |
| Toilet Demons Project |
| Ch. 31 | Ch. 32 | Ch. 33 | Ch. 34 |

TITLE: It Starts With Faith 
CHAPTER: Ten 
AUTHOR: Dreiser 
EMAIL: dreiser0@earthlink.net
ICQ #: 37674780 
WEBSITE: http://www.lvdi.net/~reddeath/dreiser.htm 
CONTENT: F/F romance. Don't like it, don't read it. 
SUMMARY: An alternate reality series that places Faith as the one true slayer aka the chosen one for her generation.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my own thoughts, many of which just aren't suitable for the spoken word.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Darkness falls eternally, down silent falls the shadows fleeting. If you forgive me for my ferocity, I won't forget your sweetness." A little quote from Blondie there. Seems like something Zac would say to Willow in my humble opinion. What do you think?

 -Ten-

She could see it all now. She knew it all now. The secrets of life, death, and everything in between. It was all inside of her head now and it made her feel whole inside.

Willow felt free... unfettered, joyous, and amazed at everything she knew now. Everything she could see and understand now. It all made so much sense. The entire world and all of its inhabitants all made sense to her now.

There was no secret that she didn't know. There was no knowledge that she didn't hold. There was no person she couldn't feel empathy for.

They were all in her grip now. All of them.

And why was this? Because she was Willow Rosenburg, because she was the Oracle. She was the one who knew the past, present, and future. It was hers and hers alone to predict and possibly control.

And just as quickly as this knowledge hit her, it was gone. Leaving her breathless and confused.

Lifting her eyes from the keys of the piano as the final notes of her song rang out in the air, Willow shivered while the approving roar of the audience swept over her.

Green eyes slowly met blue ones and looking into Zac's gaze Willow knew what she was, what she had been, and what she now had a chance to be. And that it had all been given to her by him. It was hers to take or refuse.

Shakily rising to her feet, Willow pushed back the piano seat and moved towards the edge of the stage only to immediately be met by a very anxious Faith.

Eyeing the Slayer with some surprise, mostly due to the fact that Faith looked utterly terrified, Willow made a speedy walk towards her.

"What's the matter, Faith?" asked Willow with both concern and a touch of fear. In an elegant movement, she softly touched Faith's right arm. "Did something happen while I was playing? Is anything wrong?"

As soon as she felt Willow grip her arm in a kind gesture, Faith felt a jolt of electricity run through her body and with it, all the worries that had plagued her mind from what she had just seen disappeared from her mind.

Disappeared along with the sight of Willow being enveloped by the monstrous cloud of energy. All of it had disappeared. Her fears, the sight that had caused them, and the fact that deep inside Faith knew that Zac was responsible.

All of it disappeared with Willow's touch.

It was too bad for Willow that she didn't realize that she had inadvertently done any of this.

"Faith?"

Brown eyes slowly began to loose the sheen of confusion that had filled them as Faith focused on the look of concern on both Willow and Cordelia's pretty faces.

"Yeah?" asked Faith a bit hoarsely. Her head was spinning, not the good kind of spinning that was caused by Cordelia's kisses but a bad kind that made her feel almost nauseous and sick inside. "Something up, you two?"

"That's what I asked you," murmured Willow, who studied Faith with soft green eyes. "You were acting like a plague was about to hit me before. Are you okay?"

"A plague?" echoed Faith, giving a slight groan as she rubbed her aching forehead with her hand. "But I don't even remember doing that... I'm sure that I don't..."

Giving another mix of a sigh and a groan, Faith felt her legs collapse underneath her but before she could hit the ground, strong and competent arms held her up.

Warily moving her head, and feeling like a ton of bricks hit her as she did so, Faith gazed up into the face of a blonde guy who looked vaguely familiar. And as piercing blue eyes met dark brown ones a sharp pain, like hundreds of tiny knives stabbing into her, seized Faith's entire body.

Releasing a hoarse cry of pain, Faith curled up against Zac's body as he easily lifted her into his arms in an almost tender movement and held her close to him.

"Faith!" exclaimed Cordelia in panicked tones as she rushed to Zac's side and gently pushed back strands of the Slayer's hair so she could look into features that were twisted with a pain so intense she couldn't imagine it. Her eyes growing wild, Cordelia glared up at Zac who met her hostile gaze with obvious surprise. Grabbing him by the collar, Cordelia said in a low growl, "What did you do to her? She was perfectly fine before you showed up!"

Studying Cordelia with lidded gaze, Zac closed his eyes and gained a look of complete peace over his features as he adjusted his hold on Faith. Reaching his hand out to a very surprised Willow, he pulled her hand up until it was resting gently against Faith's forehead.

Their fingers were entwined as they rest there and a moment of absolute silence passed over the group then a second later a bright light surrounded them all only to fade moments later as if it was a magical dream.

And for everyone but Zac, Brendan, and Willow it was a dream. Because only they remembered that light.

And only they knew what it was and what it could do.

Smoothly, Zac set Faith down in front of Cordelia and both girls seemed to go through the same type of daze as they met each others eyes. An awkward silence filled the air as no one really knew what to say next.

But that was when Amy and Xander showed up.

"Hey, Will," said Xander with a happy grin, his arm firmly wrapped around Amy's waist. "Nice playing, you're the next big famous piano playing girl that I don't know."

"That was nice," admonished Amy as she gave Xander a light slap on the arm. Locking eyes with Willow she smiled and said, "You were great up there, Willow."

"Thanks," replied Willow slowly, forming an equally slow smile. "I'm glad that you guys liked the show."

"Liked it? We loved it, we adored it, if the show was a person we would propose to it," Xander said with his usual extravagance as he wore a huge grin. His eyes moved to lock on Faith and Cordelia and noticing their almost zombie like state, he said, "Earth to dead people, we're complimenting Will here. Get with the program."

"What?" Faith blinked.

"Huh?" Cordelia echoed similarly.

"Oh yeah," Xander grinned. "You two really are made for each other. You even zonk out at the same exact time. Talk about a couple that shares a brain and moods."

Snapping out of her daze, Faith scowled a bit and nearing Xander, held him lightly by the collar, feigning like she was straightening his shirt, then leaned in to say in low tones, "You do remember that I hate being teased, right? Well, I hate to tell you this but Cordelia hates it more than I do. And y'know just how loving she is towards you, X."

Swallowing the lump that had just formed in his throat, Xander glanced over at Cordelia who was giving him her patented death ray look that scared him to death.

Well, scared him to near death, at least.

Grabbing Amy's hand in his own, Xander said rather quickly as he backed away, "Look at the time, oh how it passes quickly when Will is playing... we should be going and so should you Faith... but not the same place as us because I would like to live to reach my full and hopefully glorious manhood."

And with that, Xander turned on his heel to flee the club as he took a very surprised Amy along with him.

"Doof," said Cordelia in almost fond tones as she shook her head. "We've known each other for how long now and he still thinks that I want to kill him? Please."

"He lives in mortal fear of you, sweets," Faith drawled in humorous tones. Nearing the other girl in an easy movement, she wrapped an arm around Cordelia's waist, then said smugly, "As all men should rightfully be."

"Oh? And why is that?" Cordelia murmured, her hazel eyes fondly locking down on Faith's. "I don't think that I'm really all that scary. Do you?"

"It's not you that's scary," breathed Faith, who could feel herself getting lost in the depths of Cordelia's eyes and the love that she saw reflected there. Lifting her hand to caress the other girl's cheek as Cordelia leaned into the gesture, she finished quietly, "It's me and how I can't believe how much that I'm in love with you."

"Faith?" whispered Cordelia, her eyes going wide.

Cordelia's mind was running a mile a minute as she looked into Faith's earnest brown eyes. Did she really say what I think she just said? She's in love with me? She did say that didn't she? She's in love with me... she's... she... feels the say way that I do. Faith is in love with me too.

And suddenly Cordelia's mind seemed to stop running and her body took over and she found her lips meeting Faith's in a kiss that was as passionate as it was loving. Her fingers wrapping firmly around Faith's trim waist as she pulled the Slayer's body against her own in a strong and confident movement while Faith tangled her fingers in Cordelia's mass of silken brown hair.

Minutes, hours, days seemed to pass before they finally parted but when they did they were both breathing heavily and feeling like that kiss just wasn't enough. That it could never be enough to properly express the feelings they held in their hearts that were rising to the surface.

Finally the silence was broken by a voice.

A very hesitant and a bit embarrassed voice.

Willow's voice.

"Uhm... you guys?" began Willow in a sort of squeak as they turned to face her simultaneously. Turning bright red, she said slowly, "Didn't you say you had to go somewhere? To be alone and to... do stuff? Right...?"

Taking the hint as her eyes went slightly wide, Faith coughed and gave a small smirk as she said, "Yeah, we did say that, didn't we, sweets? We sure do have a lot of stuff to be doing, don't we now?"

"Oh yeah," Cordelia nodded, matching Faith's mischievous smirk as she eyed the blushing Willow. "We have tons and tons of stuff to do. More than the average person would have to do I'd imagine. But we're special."

"Very special," Faith drawled. Locking eyes with Willow, she smiled again then said, "It was a great show, Will. I guess we'll see you later since we have stuff to do."

"And lots of it," added Cordelia playfully. Faith turned away to head off, but was stilled by Cordelia's hand holding her own as the other girl turned to Willow. "It was a great show, Will. I'm so proud of you... really I am."

"Thanks, Cordelia," said Willow warmly, tones of sincerity filling her voice along with obvious gratitude.

The two girls then turned to head out of the Bronze, earlier events having left their minds completely as their thoughts were now focused entirely on doing stuff.

But Willow remembered the earlier events and so did Zac and so did Brendan.

And they still remained. Together, at the Bronze, right now, looking at each other somewhat nervously.

Nervously, until Brendan spoke.

"Anointed," he murmured softly. "I think that you and Miss Rosenburg have much to discuss. She still needs to know all the details before making a final decision."

"Yes," said Zac with a sigh. Turning to look at Willow, he smiled quietly then asked, "Would you like to take a walk in the park with me, Willow? There I could explain everything that has happened and why."

"I think that would be best," Willow replied.

As they headed out of the club, Brendan watched them depart with careful eyes then whispered, "Good luck to you, Anointed." Pausing a moment, he added, "My love."

---

"I'm almost there," pronounced the Master roughly as he pressed his hand against the barrier that was growing weaker by the minute. Whipping his head to one side, he met the eyes of an anxious group of his followers and said in a dangerous growl, "Go and feed. It will bring energy to me and help me escape from the prison that holds me."

"Yes, Master!" exclaimed one of the vampires before the entire group scuttled away quite nervously.

Watching them depart, the Master released a heaving groan as he allowed his hand to drop from the barrier that he had been trying to escape from. Collapsing into his chair, he stared at the ground and murmured, "Kill innocents and bring her to me. She will come... and he will bring her to me. No matter what Zac is planning, we both know that much is destined to happen."

Coughing a bit, the Master formed a slow smile as he chuckled and said, "And no one can alter destiny. Not my Anointed and especially not the Slayer. Because she is the one who will set me free. So hurry," he said in a quiet hushed whispered. "Hurry and bring her to me soon, Zac.

"My freedom awaits."

---

The night was beautiful and so was Willow from underneath the lights of the park. She sat on a bench her eyes resting on Zac whose back was facing her while he tried to sort of his thoughts and just what to say next.

Luckily for him, Willow spoke first.

"You're a vampire, aren't you?"

Turning slowly, Zac met Willow's eyes with a calm gaze that was filled with a strange sort of contentment. His voice was low and deep as he murmured, "You've known the answer to that for quite some time now, Willow."

"Do you want to change me?" asked Willow, her voice was just as calm as Zac's, lacking any fear at all.

"No," whispered Zac, his blue eyes swimming with tears at the mere thought of this. "All I want is you to stay as you are now but... that's not my decision. The world is in torment and so are many of my kin. I want to help them, I want to change things, and to do that I need your help."

"You need my powers," Willow finished.

"Yes," Zac nodded sagely. "I've helped you release your powers and your past. The secrets that were sleeping deep inside of you but it must be your decision. I can't help you choose which path you decide to take in this."

Mulling over what he said, Willow focused her gaze on the ground before she asked, "If I choose to stay as I am now will it leave me? All of this... information that's swimming around in my head right now?"

"Yes, it will," murmured Zac. "Everything will leave you. Your powers, your knowledge, and perhaps even your memories of me. You'll return to what you once were, unscathed and innocent from this world's troubles."

A long pause of silence passed over them and slowly, Willow lifted her head to lock eyes with Zac then asked carefully and calmly, "What is it that you want?"

"I want to unite my kin and humanity, I want this endless fighting between us to cease, but most of all I want to be as human as I can be," Zac replied in even tones as he steadily met Willow's gaze.

"You want to be human again," said Willow, the shock evident in her voice and in her expression.

"No, I want to be as human as I can be," corrected Zac. "Kin can never become human again. I want others of my kind to know what it is to love again. To know the real essence of goodness and the error of their ways."

"You want their souls to be returned," finished Willow with a deep sigh. "You want to help vampires become as human as possible. Why do you need me to do this?"

Tipping his head back, Zac looked up at the sky and murmured, "I don't have your powers. I never could. We all have our roles to play, Willow. Each of us has an old soul sleeping inside of us. And mine led me to be the Anointed of the Master Vampire. Yours is the spirit of an ancient Oracle. A person who can call upon mystical and magical knowledge, a seer of the past, present, and future. I don't have the magic or the knowledge to discover how or why some of my kin lack the soul that myself and a few others still retain." Averting his gaze, he smiled slightly as he met her eyes. "I won't be long for this world and I don't think that Brendan can't carry on my work alone. I was hoping that you would agree to help him. If you do, then we might sooner be able to reach a peace for humanity and my kin would regain their humanity with their souls."

"You won't be here long?" echoed Willow, her eyes going wide as she regained her emotions of old. She rose to her feet shakily and neared him. "What do you mean by saying that, Zac? Where are you going?"

"Hell," murmured Zac with a small smile. "I must go there with the Slayer. Because, you see, I'm the only one who can lead her there. It's my destiny."

"Your destiny...?" Willow echoed again.

She was about to question Zac some more when a loud bellowing voice interrupted them to call out, "They're coming! The Master is gathering the last of his energy!!"

Whirling around to face Brendan who was nearing them in a hurried run, Zac hissed, "Damn... it's too soon. I can't lead her now... she's not ready... not yet."

"Zac?" asked Willow softly.

"Anointed," said Brendan, who immediately stepped close to Zac's side. "We should try to stop them. Delay the Master's freedom until she is ready. Then we might have a chance to fulfill your plans. It will help y..." Brendan suddenly stopped in his speech only to finish in husky emotion filled tones, "It will help our kin to live."

"Yes," Zac said roughly, meeting Brendan's eyes with a fierce gaze. "We should stop them." Turning to face Willow, he gentled his voice and said, "You don't have to come with us. We'll be fine on our own, Willow. Just... I wish you would at least think of my request and words."

"No, I won't."

Blinking at the harsh tones in Willow's voice, Zac said in confusion, "I don't understand... please, I just--"

"No," repeated Willow firmly as she took a step forward and locked her gaze with his. "I'm not going to think about this. I'm going to help you. And," Willow said in a forceful drawl while she poked Zac in the chest. "I'm not going to let you die doing whatever you have to do in Hell with Faith. You're coming back here to help me and Brendan take all of your kin through the grueling twelve step process of having their souls returned."

"You..." Zac trailed off, fondness rich in his voice, his blue eyes sparkling. "You truly are an angel."

"No, I'm an Oracle," Willow corrected as she formed an easy smile. "And you owe me big time, Mister."

With that, Willow strode past them and headed out of the park leaving a flabbergasted Zac and Brendan alone.

"She's... interesting, Anointed," murmured Brendan after a moment as he smiled. "I think that I like her."

"You think? I know that I like her," replied Zac.

Stopping the gates to the park, Willow turned around and shouted at them, "Hurry up you lazy vampires! We have to stop some of your still soulless kin!"

"Yes," chuckled Brendan. "I definitely like her."

---

Faith tried to hold back a grin as she watched Cordelia subvertly glance back and forth before turning to the Slayer as she whispered, "I think no one's home."

"You think?" drawled Faith humorously. "What tipped you off first, sweets? The empty driveway, all the lights being turned off, or the echoing silence in here?"

"Ha, funny," replied Cordelia sardonically. With a sniff, she lifted her chin and said rather indignantly, "Sorry if I just wanted to make sure we'd have a little privacy. If I knew it wouldn't be such a big deal to you then I'd--"

Taking a slow step forward, Faith gently pressed her index finger against Cordelia's lips and said, "I'm not a real big fan of hiding though. Are you?"

Looking into questioning brown eyes, Cordelia sensed that what Faith was asking meant more than she'd like to let on. In a graceful movement, she reached up to clasp Faith's hands in her own and tenderly pressed them against her lips so she could cover them with tiny kisses.

"I don't want to hide you from them," Cordelia said in slow and careful tones as she earnestly met their eyes. A moment passed and she said wryly, "I want to hide them from you. They... would only ruin things for us, Faith. My parents aren't like Giles, Maria, or our friends. They don't care about me or my happiness... not really. They..." She paused to release a deep sigh, trying to figure out the best way to word her parents long time treatment of her.

"They want the mask," Faith finished for her in quiet and understanding tones. "They want that perfect image of you that you were trying so hard to keep up. A flawless daughter they made up in their heads that they have absolute control over. Like she was their favorite toy."

"Yes," whispered Cordelia, her eyes filling with tears. "That's why I don't want you to meet them... not that they're ever around," she finished bitterly. "But if you ever did, I know, I just know," Cordelia enforced tightly as she grimaced in pain. "They would try to ruin things for us. And I just can't have that... I need you so much, Faith. I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you."

"Lost me? Hey now," Faith murmured in comforting tones as she stepped forward to cup Cordelia's face in her hands. "That's not about to happen. Don't you remember who I am, sweets? I'm the Slayer and we're damn hard people to get rid of, having superpowers and all. And besides," said Faith softly, her hand tracing a tender path down Cordelia's cheek. "You losing me would mean me losing you and I couldn't take that either. So we're both in the same boat here. How about that?"

Releasing a mix of a sniffle and a sob, Cordelia tilted her head to one side to kiss Faith's palm, smiling as she heard the Slayer's sharp intake of breath from this. "I guess we better not get lost then," she said playfully.

"Got that right," murmured Faith huskily.

Forming a slow and sweet smile, Cordelia took Faith's hand in her own as she headed up the stairs with the Slayer trailing behind her at an easy pace. When they reached her room, Cordelia opened the door and found herself greeted by Monet who went madly scurrying past her, obviously seeking a freedom from the bedroom that had held him for who knows how long this time.

"He must've been bothering Maria when she was cleaning," said Cordelia with a fond chuckle as she slipped out of her shoes easily. "He seems to get the funniest kick out of doing things to annoy her. Like knocking over plants and furniture while she vacuums."

"Bad cat," murmured Faith against Cordelia's shoulder blade, where her face was gently pressed. The Slayer kicked the bedroom door shut while she firmly wrapped her arms around Cordelia's trim waist as the other girl leaned back against her with a contented sigh. "He must take after you if he really likes to cause trouble like that."

"And since when do I cause trouble?" Cordelia asked, turning around to meet Faith's gaze. "Hmm?"

"Since the day you met me," replied Faith with a grin.

"Ah," murmured Cordelia in tones of satisfaction while she smiled widely. Lightly touching Faith's waist, she pulled the Slayer closer to her body so their hips touched. "The operative word here is 'you.' Since the day I met you. Meaning you made me into a troublemaker, little missy."

"Little?" Faith quirked an eyebrow. "Who's little?"

"You are," said Cordelia softly, teasingly.

Before Faith could respond, Cordelia swept the Slayer closer as their lips met in a passionate kiss. She could feel Faith groan from deep in her throat, letting go of her cares, of her fears, of her sense of self, letting them all go as she lost herself completely to Cordelia's embrace.

They didn't know who made the move towards the bed, all they knew was seconds later they both fell on it in a tumbling move. Breathing heavily, Cordelia met Faith's gaze as the Slayer hovered over her. Brown eyes were dark with desire as Faith tenderly pushed some stray strands of hair out of Cordelia's eyes.

"Sweets," Faith said in husky tones while she took in a deep breath of air. Still caressing Cordelia's cheek, her eyes were solemn as she continued, "Would you... I mean, will you go to the prom with me? I'd really like us to go."

"Faith," whispered Cordelia, her eyes going wide. Her voice was choked and full of surprise as she replied, "I never thought... of course I'll go with you. It's... you're..."

Unable to say anything more, Cordelia simply reached up to wind her fingers in the thick brown hair at the nape of Faith's neck and drew the Slayer down onto her as their lips met in yet another all encompassing kiss.

And when that kiss ended another began. And another, and another, and then another after that as the two girls lost themselves in the feel, the smell, the touch of each other. The noisy thoughts that always filled their minds seemed to slip away into the night and left in its place an absolute feeling of contentment to share.

Slowly pulling away from Cordelia's lips, Faith looked deep into hazel eyes and saw everything that she was feeling reflected in them. Then in a smooth move, Cordelia pushed herself up into a sitting position as Faith remained sitting partially on her lap. Delicate fingers dove underneath the soft fabric of Faith's tanktop and splayed across the strong muscles hidden there.

"Cordelia," murmured Faith in hoarse, husky tones that spoke of a silent need.

Rolling her head back, Faith gave the softest of sighs as she felt the lightest tracing touch go upwards and across her abdomen as gentle hands lifted up her shirt. Her arms raised in an languid movement and seconds later, the tanktop found itself tossed onto the floor as Faith watched Cordelia inspect her with lidded eyes.

Her gaze slowly lifting, Cordelia whispered, "Beautiful. You're so beautiful, Faith. Everything about you is beautiful. Inside and out. That's why I'm in love with you."

Releasing a sort of groan and a sob, Faith pulled Cordelia towards her in a strong movement so the taller girl fell on top of her as she laid back on the bed. Brown eyes met confused and caring hazel ones that floated over her and as they met, Faith found herself asking something that she'd never asked anyone before.

"Show me," pleaded Faith quietly. "Please."

Instead of responding, Cordelia gave the softest of nods and she pulled away slightly to smoothly remove her own top and tossed it to where Faith's had landed. When she returned, Cordelia formed the sweetest of smiles and in an agonizing moment, skin pressed down on skin as an electric shock seemed to run through both of the girls.

Snuggling her longer legs between the Slayer's, Cordelia lightly gripped Faith's hips as her lips tasted the baby soft skin that hid underneath it an incredible strength. Her fingers tracing Faith's sides, Cordelia left a series of butterfly kisses on the other girl's abdomen in an attempt to take in and absorb that gentle strength Faith possessed that she so utterly adored.

Smiling as she felt Faith shiver, Cordelia let her hair brush against the Slayer's exposed skin as she moved upwards. Kissing the sharp chin she loved to gaze at when she thought no one was looking, Cordelia met brown eyes that were dark with love and desire. Knowing what the other girl wanted, Faith pushed herself up slightly only to gasp as she felt cool hands unclasp her bra as she herself undid the lacy white bra that Cordelia was wearing.

Now topless and once more in sitting positions on one another's laps, the two girls locked their gazes. They seemed to fall together as they reached for each other as their lips met in an ardent kiss while a burning path was forged down their skin from everywhere that they touched.

Hands wandered as mouths met again and again for kisses that were a gift from the heavens itself. Until they fell back against the bed, breathing heavily, and in a state of embodied flames as their emotions grew and grew.

Face buried in Cordelia's shoulder, Faith kissed the side of the other girl's face while her hands slowly traced a path downwards, gripping her hips. Moving one hand she rested it on top of the pants button and lifted her head in a questioning gaze to meet Cordelia's. Breath on breath, she slowly moved her hands from where they had rested and felt Cordelia groan at the loss.

Cupping her girlfriend's face, Faith asked in soft and husky tones, "Is... is this what you really want, sweets? Because I want you to be sure. I kn--"

The Slayer wasn't able to finish the rest of her sentence because at this point, Cordelia rose up and Faith once again found herself lying on her back with the taller girl hovering over her. Strong hands were now gripping her waist as Cordelia set about unbuttoning and pulling down Faith's snug black leather pants. Of course, the entire process was slowed down as Cordelia first had to remove Faith's boots and socks.

When she finished her task, Cordelia straddled Faith, sitting softly and comfortable down on her waist as she pressed the Slayer's hands against her own pants and helped Faith begin to unbutton them. While she did this, Cordelia moved forward to kiss Faith with breathtaking passion, pulling away as she said, "I know what I want, Faith. And never forget what I want is you."

"I won't," Faith promised with a groan, managing to pull Cordelia's pants and socks off while the taller girl once again fell back against the softness of the pillows.

As flesh met flesh for a second time, they both groaned at the feeling of it. The burning ache seeming to spread across their entire being and as their lips met in kiss after kiss as their hands wandered along with their lips as they performed a series of coup d'etats, taking turns seizing the power in their display of love.

Until, finally, they pulled the one remaining piece of clothing that remained between them. The air was still as their underwear joined the rest of their clothes and a pause appeared to take place before they fell together in a natural movement and the caresses resumed same as before.

Their passion rising as they writhed against one another, their moans filling the air as they filled each other, their hands wandering to their heated centers, their hearts overflowing from the feeling of completion that it caused, their bodies in flames as their orgasms crashed down upon with the force of a tidal wave.

Falling gently against her girlfriend's impossibly soft skin that was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, Faith rested her face in the crook of Cordelia's shoulder and sighed as she felt the taller girl's arms encircle her in a gentle hold while the quiet lull of sleep took hold of them both.

But before sleep did take its hold, both girls shared one very clear and cognizant thought.

I love you.

And if you listened closely, you could hear it echoed on their lips just as surely as it echoed in their hearts.

---

There was something that very few people knew about Giles. Well, very few people in Sunnydale, that is.

And that something was the fact that Giles was an absolute magnet for trouble. He found trouble or trouble found him like a prospector found gold.

So holding true to form, while Giles was driving home from work trouble found him and found him greatly.

Bringing his car to a screeching halt, Giles watched wide eyed as Willow battled with a gang of vampires along side two men who looked vaguely familiar to him. The tiny redhead seemed in sync with some sort of unknown force as she whirled around with an elegant grace to plunge the stake that she held into the vampire behind her.

Once he had brought himself out of the daze caused by watching this scene, Giles leapt out of his car and dashed towards the three comrades as the last of the vampires they were fighting scurried away into the night.

"Willow!" called Giles as he approached. The girl turned around to meet him with lidded and calm eyes, and Giles couldn't help but feel a chill on seeing them. "What's going on? Why are you fighting these vampires? It isn't safe..."

"No one is safe anymore," intervened the blonde man who was standing by Willow's side as he took a step forward. "Now that the Master has started to break free."

"The Master?" Giles echoed, his eyes going wide. "You mean to say that he's escaping from his prison? But how do you know this?" he asked suspiciously. "And what are you doing with Willow?" Turning to Willow, he asked, "Who are they? And how do you know them?"

"They're friends of mine," replied Willow simply, her voice and eyes still calm. "Zac and Brendan are here to help us." Looking up into Zac's gaze, she corrected, "Well, as much as they're allowed given their posts in life."

"Posts...?" Giles echoed again. This time his eyes widened with understanding and backing away, he then shakily whispered, "Vampires. They're vampires, aren't they?"

"Yes," murmured Zac. "We are."

"What do you want?" pursued Giles, his eyes darting back to the perfectly at ease Willow. "And what do you want with her? What's going on here?"

Zac was about to reply when a somewhat perturbed Brendan cut in with, "Anointed. We don't have time to waste. We must stop the Master and you still have to tell the Slayer of her upcoming duties."

Of course, this statement just caused more questions for Giles as his eyes got even wider, if that was possible, and staring at Zac he repeated, "Anointed?"

"Yes," Zac murmured again. "That is what some like to call me. Although I do prefer to be called Zac."

"He who will lead the Slayer into hell," quoted Giles as his jaw tightened. Taking a step forward, he met Zac's gaze with burning brown eyes and hissed, "Tell me, what do you want with Faith? What are her duties?"

"I want nothing of her," Zac said calmly, meeting Giles' eyes with a steady gaze. "It is her duty to meet with the Master and battle him. As her Watcher you've known this from the start. It's been prophesied for hundreds of years now. She will fight him and she will die."

"Bastard," ground out Giles, his hands clenched into fists as he quivered with hatred. "I won't let that happen."

Tilting his head to one side, Zac regarded Giles with sad eyes and said, "If you do, then the world will die."

"You--" Giles began in seething tones.

"Giles," interrupted Willow soothingly as the Watcher turned to meet her gaze. Taking a step forward to clasp his arm, she said, "Zac can't change destiny any more than we can. He won't let harm come to Faith if it can be helped. Trust in that and trust in me as I trust him."

Meeting her eyes and getting lost in the magnetic power that the fiery green gaze caused, Giles murmured in wondering tones, "What... what did they do to you? Who are you...? You're not Willow anymore, are you?"

"They set me free," replied Willow simply. "And I'm as much Willow Rosenburg as I've always been. It's just now I've been granted the power of my past self."

"Your past self?" asked Giles.

"Yes," Willow nodded. "The Oracle."

"She who will awaken the destroyed souls of the undead," supplied Brendan in quiet and firm tones.

His jaw tightening once again, Giles ducked his gaze and when he lifted it he said slowly, "I see." Turning to look at Zac, he said, "I'll call Faith."

"Thank you," Zac murmured to Giles as the other man began his walk towards the nearest pay phone.

"No," Giles said, his back still facing Zac while he continued on in his walk. "You should be thanking her. All of us should be thanking her for what she's about to do."

Watching Giles walk away, Willow whispered in tortured and heartfelt tones, "We know."

---

Faith woke up to the sound of a quiet yet consistent and slightly annoying series of high pitched beeps that just wouldn't seem to stop filling the air.

So with a groan of frustration, she wound herself out of Cordelia's embrace, feeling her girlfriend release a soft and sleepy protest on having Faith's warmth removed from her arms and body. Distracted by this, Faith sat back on her knees and gently pushed some stray strands of hair from Cordelia's eyes as she moved down to cover the face below hers with tender kisses.

Immediately after Faith did this, Cordelia released a contented sigh and fell back into a restful sleep as Faith gently got out of bed and searched through the messy pile of clothes for the beeping object of her annoyance.

"Found it," said Faith in triumphant yet hushed tones as she held up her pager. Flipping it over, her eyes locked on a number that was unfamiliar to her. But the name and messaged attached to it was and that was what made her feel more than a bit panicked. All it said was: Giles. Emergency. "Shit," whispered Faith tightly. "You better not have gotten yourself in trouble, G-man."

Rising to her feet, Faith hastily slipped into her clothes and shoes before heading downstairs. Looking around the still empty premises, she picked up the living room phone and dialed the number that Giles had left her.

The phone only rang once before she was met with Giles anxious voice as he said, "Faith?"

"G-man, what's up?" asked Faith just as anxiously while she sat down on the couch. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Giles said, his voice sounding more than a bit strained. "I'm perfectly fine... that's the problem."

"G-man?" asked Faith in confusion.

"Never mind," Giles cut in. "Faith, the Master is planning to escape tonight. He's sending out his servants to gather energy."

"What?! We gotta stop him!" Faith cried out.

"I know," sighed Giles. "I know."

"G-man... what's wrong?" pursued Faith, her brow furrowing in concern. "You don't sound like your usual kill anything evil gung ho self. C'mon, what's going on?"

"Faith..." murmured Giles quietly. "I... don't want you to fight the Master. It... was wrong for me to even call you. Just be happy and safe... you and Cordelia."

"G-man?" asked Faith, her panic rising.

"I love you Faith, like you were my daughter."

The next thing Faith heard was the dial tone.

"G-man?!" cried Faith, now in a definite panic. Pulling back to stare at the phone in her hand like it was some sort of monster she whispered in trembling tones, "What are you doing? What... what's going on?"

Numbly putting the phone back onto its receiver, Faith rose to her feet and seeming to go through a sort of internal debate, she said firmly, "Whatever is going on, I'm gonna find out. Because I gotta feeling that whatever it is, it's definitely my job to deal with it, not G-man's."

Feeling a gentle rubbing at her ankles, Faith looked down and saw Monet rubbing against her. Kneeling on the floor, she petted the cat's head as he purred in satisfaction.

"You watch out for Cordelia for me, huh?" Faith said in husky tones. "You watch out for her and you make sure that she knows I love her. You'll do that, right?"

Monet merely stared at Faith's sad features and released a sympathetic meow before he licked her face. As she chuckled at this, Faith walked into the kitchen, aware of the cat as he followed after her dutifully. Pulling one of the post it notes from the refrigerator and a pen from the nearby holder, she somehow managed to write a note that wouldn't scare Cordelia as much as Giles phone call had for her. Faith then looked down at Monet who was sitting by her feet and gently lifted him into her arms and walked up the stairs. Quietly opening Cordelia's bedroom door, she placed him down onto the floor and left the note on the small bureau next to Cordelia's bed.

Before she turned back to head out the door and into the dangerous unknown, Faith leaned over to place a final soft kiss on Cordelia's lips as she said, "I love you."

And then she left.

Left to go fight the monsters. Left to go destroy the world's evil. Left to go protect the innocents.

Left to go protect Cordelia.

The woman that she loved. And Faith knew that she would protect her. No matter what.

Even if it killed her.

---

"Anointed," said Brendan quietly. He and his companions were waiting for Giles to return from making his phone call to Faith. When Zac met his gaze, he continued, "Do you think the Slayer can truly succeed? Despite all of the prophecies that have been made?"

"No, she won't."

All three of them turned to regard Giles who said calmly, "She won't succeed because she won't be going to face the Master. I'll be going instead."

"Giles?" asked Willow, who showed the first hint of shock or surprise in the past two hours.

"I won't let her die doing this," Giles continued firmly. "She's too important to all of us. To the very future of mankind itself. That's why I'm going instead."

"You can't," replied Zac almost darkly. His eyes regarding Giles sadly. "You'll never survive."

"That hardly matters, does it?" Giles said tightly. "I'm just a Watcher, while Faith is the Slayer. We all know who is of far more importance in the battle against evil."

"Fate can't be changed, Giles," said Willow in tones just as sad as Zac's. "As much as we might like for things to be different, sometimes they just can't be. This is part of Faith's destiny as the Slayer. It can't be avoided."

"Just like her hands," added Brendan quietly.

"What?" asked Giles, looking at the dark vampire. But before he could say anything more, he collapsed back in a heap and was held in Faith's strong grip.

"So," said Faith slowly as she gently placed Giles on the nearest park bench. "What's my destiny this time?"

"Faith," said Willow as she took a step forward. She paused in front of the Slayer and in an easy move, she passed her hand in front of the other girl as a shimmer of blue light filled the air. When the light faded, Faith blinked and looked at Willow with eyes wide with realization of all that had and would happen. "Now that you know your destiny, do you still want to face it?"

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Faith gave a slow nod of her head and said, "I gotta. I mean, who else is gonna if I don't? I'm the only one who can do it." She paused to study her friend closely and whispered, "Will, how much of you is... still Will? You're in there, right?"

"Yes," Willow replied with a soft smile, clasping Faith's arm gently. "I'm still in here. The only thing that Zac gave to me was some of my old powers. Just enough to help him and to help you, not enough to destroy who I am in this time and world. But," Willow's smile grew more than a bit sheepish. "I don't really understand it all myself."

"That makes two of us," Faith said humorously. Her expression then turned serious and she said in low and solemn tones, "Take care of Cordelia... I already said this to someone else but I dunno think he can handle the job. I just... need to know someone will be there for her. Even if it can't be me. You can do that for me, can't you, Will?"

"Yes," said Willow roughly. "I can."

"Good," said Faith with a sigh. Turning around, she faced Zac and her eyes darkening, she said, "C'mon, Anointed. Take me to this great and mighty Master."

Giving a low nod of concession, Zac turned on his heel as Faith followed after him. Leaving only Willow and Brendan to observe their departure into the night.

Their departure into the night and into the very depths of hell itself. And both of them couldn't help but wonder if either of them would ever return again.

---

Some might say Cordelia wasn't a morning person.

But it was more like Cordelia wasn't a waking up person. She simply didn't enjoy the experience of having herself forcibly drawn out of the all too comfortable lull of sleep and the pleasant dreams that it always produced.

So when Cordelia woke up with a low groan, she was already in a cranky mood. A mood which swiftly accentuated when she noticed that she was the only person in the bed. Mainly because as much as she loved Monet, he still wasn't a person, he was a cat.

A very sad looking cat, Cordelia noted.

"Hey baby," Cordelia said in soft and sleep jumbled tones as she yawned a bit. "What are you doing here? And where did Faith go? Is she in the bathroom?"

Monet merely looked even more morose as he let out a rather pathetic sounding meow as he rubbed his face against her side which was barely covered by the sheet.

Puzzling at this, Cordelia turned her head and wondered where her girlfriend had gotten off to. That was when the post it note on her bureau caught her eye. In a slow movement, she got off the bed and reached for the note while an unpleasant sinking feeling hit her stomach.

After reading the note Cordelia had no discernible reaction. She simply stood there staring at it. Then slowly, the hand she was holding it in fell to her side. And just as slowly, that same hand crunched the note up into a ball.

"Faith," said Cordelia after a long moment, her voice shaking with both repressed rage and worry. "You big stupid dork. Why didn't you wake me? Why do you always have to be the hero? You're such an idiot..."

Still shaking, Cordelia fell back onto the bed and pulled a pillow to her chest. Leaning into it as the tears fell down her cheeks, she said in muffled tones, "But you're my idiot and I don't want to let you go. Not now, not ever."

Feeling a soft bump against her arm, Cordelia looked down to see Monet gazing at her with what could be called a concerned expression. Rubbing behind his ears gently, she said, "I have to go, baby. You understand, don't you? I have to make sure that she's all right."

For a reply, Monet merely purred and smiling at this, Cordelia rose to her feet and began to put on all her clothes that were strewn on the floor. And after she was done, Cordelia looked around her room slowly with a sad look in her eyes and shutting the door, she said one thing.

"Goodbye old life, I'm going to find my new one with Faith. Even if she is a big idiot. Because she's mine."

And Cordelia was right. Faith was hers.

Even if she was a big idiot.

---

The silence was starting to get to Faith.

So turning to look at Zac as they continued to make their way through the sewers, she said, "You're the Anointed, huh? Doesn't that sorta make you helping me and everyone else out a major no no on your part?"

"You could say that," Zac said quietly, the amusement obvious in his lilting tones. "But what I want isn't the same as the Master. When your goals differ from those of your friends the only choice one really has is to break away from those friends. Which is what I've done. Although," he murmured thoughtfully. "I wouldn't ever consider the Master a friend of mine."

"Oh yeah? So who is?" asked Faith curiously.

Pausing a moment, Zac formed a fond smile then said, "Brendan and Willow. I consider them my friends."

"Why's that?" Faith asked a bit cautiously.

"Because they know the real me," replied Zac, meeting Faith's gaze. "They know who I am and what I want to do with my time in this world. That's why."

"Oh," said Faith quietly. Studying Zac for a moment, she asked, "And what do you want to do?"

"I want to help others of my kin to be like me," said Zac as he kept his gaze focused ahead. "I want them to know what it is to have a soul again. And I want for our future not to be plagued with fighting for both of our races."

"You want peace?" asked Faith in shock. "For regular people and vampires to get along all nicey nice?"

"I wouldn't have worded it that way, but yes," Zac replied with a slight smile. "That's what I want."

Giving Zac a careful stare, Faith chuckled and shaking her head she said, "You're a real funny vamp, y'know that? You just don't make any sorta sense."

"Good," said Zac teasingly. "That's also what I want."

Faith chuckled again only to stop when Zac sharply dropped his hand in front of her body and solemnly looked into her eyes as he said, "We're here." As he said this Faith looked ahead and towards the glowing light that flickered in the distance. "The Master waits for you in the chamber ahead. Be wary of his powers and remember that you're here for a reason. He needs you."

"Needs me for what?" asked Faith as she turned back towards Zac only to find herself alone in the sewer.

This was more than a bit disconcerting for her.

Scowling now, Faith muttered, "Great. We have Batman on our side. I guess I'll just handle this alone."

But somehow, Faith knew that no matter what Willow or anyone else said, she was supposed to do this alone. So taking a deep breath, she walked into the dim light of the cavern ahead and met eyes with the Master.

He wasn't quite as scary as Faith had expected him to be but he still made for an intimidating figure. Studying him, she couldn't help but wonder if Zac or Brendan would look like that if they ever reached his age. She hoped not.

"The Slayer," murmured the Master as he smiled a very soft and pleased smile. "You've finally arrived."

"Sorry to keep you waiting, twinkie," Faith retorted. "But I'm sure that we'll finish our business soon enough." As she said this, she walked forward to stand a few feet away from where the Master was sitting. "Unless you'd rather just sit on your butt and relax, that is."

Chuckling at this, the Master said, "Far from it." Rising to his feet, he studied Faith closely and continued, "I was just admiring how easily you broke through the barrier that's kept me trapped here these past years."

"Yeah, well, color me special," said Faith, moving into a defensive position as the Master neared her.

"Now, now," the Master clucked his tongue and sounded disappointed. "Don't you trust me, Faith?"

"Trust you? Yeah, rig--"

While she was saying these words Faith found them freezing on her tongue along with her very body as her eyes locked with the Master's burning yellow gaze.

"Very good," the Master murmured. Nearing Faith again, he touched her chin lightly to tip it up and said, "Do you want to hear something ironic, my dear? Your job is to kill me. To prevent my escape. And yet, there's only way my freedom can be achieved." He paused and seemed to take delight in the anger in Faith's gaze. "Now you know what it is, don't you? Without you, without your death, I'd never be able to escape. So you see, it wasn't your job to stop me, little girl. It was to set me free."

Forming a wide and wicked smile, the Master leaned over, about to begin draining Faith, when suddenly, he found himself being hurled across the cavernous room. Looking up from the tumbled heap that he'd landed in, the Master couldn't help but be shocked on just who he saw.

"Zac?" asked the Master with disbelief.

"Master," hissed Zac, his blue eyes darkening like the storm as he neared the older vampire. "You won't kill her because I'm going to kill you first. Your freedom will never be achieved, not as long as I walk the Earth."

"Zac, I'm hurt," the Master murmured while standing to his feet. "You would betray me for this human?"

"No," Zac said harshly. "I would betray you for myself and for all of my kin. They deserve better than you. They deserve a leader who will think of their survival."

"Ah, and that leader would be you?" the Master asked in humorous tones as he regarded Zac. "How novel. I never expected your plans to truly interfere with my own, Anointed. But since they have..." His eyes burned a bright yellow as he growled, "Your usefulness is over."

With that, the Master leapt at Zac and the two vampires began their heated battle throughout the cavern as a frozen Faith could only watch with wide eyes. There was a time in the fight where it seemed like Zac might win due to his youthful athleticism and agility, particularly when swords were pulled from a nearby rack into the battle.

But as their swords met again and again, Zac soon found his youth a problem against the Master's experience. This was shown most clearly as the Master made a wide swipe of his sword at Zac, who leapt into the air to avoid it and as soon as Zac landed on the ground, he turned his head only to be met with the butt of the Master's sword as it pounded into his head, knocking him unconscious.

Dropping his sword to his side, the Master eyed Zac's fallen form for a moment before releasing the sword. While the clang of metal hitting rock resounded all over the walls of the cavern, the Master murmured with a touch of humor, "Why are the disobedient children always my favorites? I think I'd rather keep you with me a bit longer than destroy you now, Zac. After all, where's the fun in that?"

Turning back to Faith, who regarded him with eyes that flickered with a hint of fear, he chuckled once more.

"Now, my lovely Slayer," the Master said quietly while he walked towards her. "It's time for you to die."

---

"I can't believe she did that," Giles groaned, rubbing the back of his head. "And even more so, I can't believe how much my head hurts because of it."

"You really didn't think she was going to let you go down there, did you Giles?" asked Willow.

The two of them were sitting on the park bench that Faith had put Giles on after knocking him out, while Brendan stood nearby watching for any possible threats.

"No, yes, I don't know," muttered Giles in frustration. Balling his hands into his hair, he said in low tones while staring at the ground, "All I know is that I'm sure this isn't right. She shouldn't be doing this alone." He lifted his gaze to meet Willow's and said, "I shouldn't be letting her do this alone. I should be with her. All of us should. I know that you agree with me. I know it."

Unable to reply, Willow simply moved her gaze away from Giles and looked off into the distance. Only to be met with a very surprising sight that she'd never expected.

"Cordelia?"

"What?" asked Giles in confusion, turning to look at Willow who'd just risen to her feet. "Did you just say Cordelia? She isn't here is she? Where is she?"

"She's there," replied Willow, pointing ahead towards the Range Rover screeching their way. The two of them observed as the car made a hasty, and horrendous, parking job before Cordelia leapt out of the vehicle and began running their way at top speeds. "Man is she here," Willow continued in certain wonderment while watching.

"A strong willed girl," Brendan murmured quietly.

While Giles and Willow blinked at this and gave Brendan a rather curious study, Cordelia finally reached the group, her breath erratic from her sudden fierce run.

"Where... is... she...?" Cordelia managed to huff while she leaned over and gripped her knees. She also somehow found the strength to give them her patented death ray glare.

Exchanging a wary look, Giles and Willow turned back to Cordelia only to find the girl immediately in both of their faces as she demanded harshly, "Where is she?"

The silence that was a response only irritated Cordelia even further. Which wasn't a good thing.

"All right," Cordelia growled, making herself sound surprisingly threatening. "If one of you doesn't tell me where Faith is in five seconds I'm going to get more insane then when there's a sale at Bloomingdales."

"She went to fight the Master."

Whirling around to face Brendan who regarded her with calm eyes and a cool demeanor. Cordelia soon found herself returning his gaze and his attitude, then said, "Take me to her. Take me to where Faith is fighting him."

"Cordel--"

"Don't argue with me!" Cordelia shouted, not bothering to turn and face Willow and Giles. Focusing back on Brendan, she softened her voice and said, "Take me to her. Take me to Faith. Please...? Because you understand how it feels?"

Studying Cordelia closely, Brendan gave a low nod of concession and murmured, "Very well. Follow me."

With that, Brendan turned on his heel and began heading towards the sewers he knew that Zac had used to guide Faith towards the Master and her final battle.

And a few seconds passed by before Willow and Giles found themselves frantically dashing after the pair.

Because they all knew where they belonged.

And it was at Faith's side.

No matter what the consequence.

---

It was a strange thing, to feel yourself dying.

To feel the blood leave your veins. To hear your heart weakening. To smell the scent of death on your skin.

Faith didn't think that she would ever forget it.

At least, if she somehow managed to live through this entire experience. That was what her mind was telling her as she felt herself being tossed aside like a used rag by the Master as he wiped his lips and formed a wide smile.

She vaguely heard him exalting about his freedom before a bright blast of light filled the air and he was gone. Enough of her Slayer senses still remained for her to know that much. And enough of her senses still remained for her to realize that she was in some serious trouble.

Dark... dark... why was it so dark?

The darkness reminded her of her life before Sunnydale. Before meeting Giles. Before becoming the Slayer. Before having real friends. Before loving Cordelia.

Before Cordelia.

B.C.

Damn. Even when she was halfway to dying she was still being Cordelia's big mushball. Damn... dying. She was dying. That was what was happening, wasn't it?

I mean, because if she really wasn't dying then why was her breath getting shallow and her head getting dizzy?

Dying... she couldn't be dying. She had too much to live for. What would be the point of dying now? Maybe back in the old days, when no one cared about her and all she ever got were insults and pretenses of caring. Yeah, it would be okay to die then, she supposed. But now? Now that things were finally going her way? Now that she was finally happy for the first time in countless years? Now she was going to die?

Where the was the fucking justice in that?

She supposed there was no justice in the world because if there was, she wouldn't be dying and instead, she'd live to a ripe old age with Cordelia by her side.

Sometimes life just sucks.

Just as Faith had resounded herself to this fact and the aching need for rest that had filled her entire body, she felt a warmth cover her chest and fluttering her eyes open, she was met with familiar hazel eyes that she so adored.

Then, just as quickly as she saw them, they were gone. Disappeared into the darkness of the night.

And Faith knew no more.

---

As soon as they saw the light of the Master's cavern, Brendan found himself being pushed aside as Cordelia rushed past him in her search for Faith.

Following after her, the first thing that Brendan noted was that the Master's barrier had been broken. Then his gaze locked on the fallen Slayer who didn't look long for this world, and then, finally, he saw the figure of Zac.

"Anointed," whispered Brendan in panic, before he went rushing towards Zac much like Cordelia had towards Faith. Kneeling by Zac's side, he gathered the blonde man in his arms and was rewarded with hearing him groan. Joy filled his heart as blue eyes met his own and in rough tones he said quietly, "Your duty has been done, Zac."

"And now my life can begin," Zac finished hoarsely. Tilting his head to one side, he looked at Willow who was standing frozen besides Giles. His own eyes then growing worried, he looked back to Brendan and asked, "What about Faith? Is she...?"

Unable to reply, Brendan simply shook his head no and held Zac close to him as the other vampire released a tortured moan and buried his face in Brendan's shoulder.

"We need her so much," said Zac in muffled, tormented tones as he gripped Brendan's side. "All of us."

"No! It isn't over! She's not gone! She's not!!"

Turning to gaze at Cordelia, the dark vampire swallowed the lump in his throat. Knowing that if Zac wasn't in his arms now, that he would perhaps be in the same position as she was now.

Flung over his love's body, crying his eyes out.

It simply wasn't fair, Brendan thought.

Pushing Giles and Willow away with wild movements, Cordelia turned her tear streamed face back to them and cried out, "Faith isn't dead! She can't be! I just saw her opening her eyes! She's not dead, she's not!"

"Come on, Faith, mushball... come on, wake up," Cordelia said in a shaky coo as her trembling hands gently cupped the Slayer's face and stroked it. When Faith made no response, Cordelia pulled away in a jerky movement and abruptly pounded on her chest. "Wake up! Wake up!!"

This went on for several moments, before Giles took another step forward and clasping Cordelia's wildly moving arms, he said sadly, "She's gone, Cordelia."

"NO!" Cordelia enforced, jerking away from Giles as she glared at him with tear filled eyes. "She's not! Faith wouldn't leave me now! She just wouldn't!"

Turning back to her girlfriend, Cordelia fell on her chest again as she placed her hands carefully on her face as she breathed into those lips. Pulling back, she began the process for CPR, ignoring the sounds and the very feeling of hopelessness that seemed to surround them.

She would bring Faith back.

She had to bring her back. Because without Faith, she didn't know what she would do. She didn't know how she would go on. She didn't know if she wanted to go on.

Is life really worth living without your only love?

So with frantic energy, Cordelia kept the entire process going until a sharp gasp of air sounded and Faith wrenched forward in her arms, inhaling quick breaths.

And when dark brown eyes met hazel ones, Cordelia felt herself come back to life just as Faith had done. Because when Faith had died, so had Cordelia.

But now Faith was alive. And so was Cordelia.

And because of that, life as they knew it was perfect. Well, it was pretty much close to perfect.

Because now they had to take care of the Master.

---

The Master wondered just why he had ended up on the rooftop to Sunnydale High School.

Perhaps it was because he'd just killed the Slayer and this was where she went to school.

Or maybe he just wanted some youthful snacks.

Who really knows? But whatever the reason, he was on the rooftop and he was exalting in the fact that he was there. Because the fact that he was there meant one very significant thing. It meant that he was finally free.

Free to go where he wanted. Free to do what he pleased. Free to ravage and pillage and then pillage some more.

You know, all the fun stuff that vampires love.

Fun for the ones without souls, at least.

And the Master owed this and his freedom to the Slayer. It was ironic, that much was for sure. The person who was meant to destroy him actually setting him free.

He found it almost Shakespearean.

Of course, seconds later when he found himself abruptly propelled forward from the force of a hard kick his mood was immediately changed. And it was changed for the worse when he saw just who had kicked him.

"The Slayer," hissed the Master, rising slowly to his feet to face off against Faith. "You live."

"Very observant, albino vamp," mocked Faith as she raised the stake in her hand. "Now that we have that cleared up, it's your time to die. Taking turns is only fair."

"No," the Master murmured. "I don't think so."

"Funny," Faith said. "I do think so."

Saying nothing more, Faith rushed at the Master who dodged her attack and when she whirled around she found him giving her that same funny look from before.

"That's not gonna work twice," Faith growled, giving the Master a sharp punch to the jaw.

The Master quickly retaliated and Faith found herself flung forward towards the skylight to the school library. Looking down and wincing from the feel of the broken glass on her back, Faith gazed at the odd snake monster that was thrashing around down there. Staring at it, she was glad that she'd convinced the others to clear out the vampires in the front of the school instead of coming inside. She certainly didn't want them dealing with that.

"Do you see my baby?" the Master asked. "He's just the start. Even more demons are coming after him."

"Oh yeah?" Faith muttered, twisting her neck up to lock eyes with the Master. "Then if you like him so much why don't you go down there and say hello, huh?"

After saying this, Faith pushed herself up and delivered a swift kick the Master's groin which caused him to topple over. Soon as he did, Faith flipped him over her body and sent him crashing down onto the middle of the skylight and towards the thrashing monster below.

Towards the monster below and the large piece of the library table that the monster had broken apart.

All in all, it took the Master two seconds to turn to dust. And after that was done, maybe four seconds for his skeleton to be revealed. And the monster took maybe six seconds at the most to be sucked back into the Hellmouth.

Watching this, Faith heaved a sigh when it was all over and dusting off her hands, she said wryly, "Well, that was easier than asking Cordelia to the prom."

Luckily for Faith, her girlfriend didn't hear that.

Because if she did... well, who knows if Faith would even be in shape to attend the upcoming prom.

Or anything else fun.

---

There can only be one.

In every generation, she is born.

The Slayer.

She who fights evil. She who slays the vampires. She who will save the very world itself.

Death signals the call of another.

The next in the line. The next fighter for justice. The next destroyer of evil.

And somewhere in Southern California, another Slayer was being called. Being awakened to her duties.

Only she didn't much like her duties or what they did to her life. No, she didn't like them at all.

She wasn't a happy vampire Slayer.

No, she wasn't happy at all. And she was even less happy that the perceived mistake of another was what had caused her to be called into her duty in the first place.

If she could have her way, she'd never slay again. She'd never see another vampire or evil demon thing.

Too bad for her, she wasn't going to have her way.

At least, not if the Council had anything to say about it. And they did have something to say about it.

They had something to say and something to want. Something to will. Something to make happen, even.

And what they wanted was simple.

They wanted her at the Hellmouth. They wanted some extra protection. They wanted Elizabeth Anne Summers, the second Slayer, in Sunnydale.

Which was exactly where she was going.

Whether she liked it or not. 

-End-

(This is the end of Season One of It Starts With Faith. Chapter Eleven will signal the start of Season Two. Lots of fun with Buffy, the reluctant second Slayer. Whee!)

Continue to the Epilogue

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