It Starts With Faith
"This band sucks and I really want a martini."
Hearing this statement, both Amy and Buffy looked at Xander rather blankly before laughing together.
"Sure, laugh at my pain," Xander complained, making a sorrowful face. "But ever since that whole turn into our costumes thing I've got all this weird secret agent mumbo jumbo running around in my head along with this neverending need to drink tons of martinis."
"Yeah, well, at least you don't have tons of information about ancient tombs in your brain," replied Buffy. "I know way too much about dead cultures and it's not even helping me in my World History class."
"Probably because the people at Eidos got all their information in Lara's brain all screwed up," said Xander as he snickered. "I'm surprised you still wear a bra after being her."
"Xander," began Buffy in warning tones.
"Sorry, sorry, see me apologizing," Xander said quickly while he held up his hands in a defenseless gesture.
"How about you, Amy?" asked Buffy, turning to regard her friend. "What did your costume persona teach you? Besides the fact that Xander is an ultra hunk."
"She already knew that," said Xander with a silly grin.
Rolling her eyes at this, Buffy leaned closer to Amy who was blushing now and said, "C'mon, what did you find out? I know that being a Bond girl had to have left you knowing something you didn't know before."
Amy's reply was a soft murmur that only Buffy with her Slayer hearing could possibly make out. And her reaction to Amy's reply was so significant that it caused Xander with his normal non-Slayer hearing to be very curious.
"What? What? What'd she say?" Xander pursued curiously. Looking to his girlfriend, "What'd you say, hon?"
Amy, if possible, blushed more.
Which just made Xander all that more curious as his girlfriend ducked her head and whispered into his ear with an adorable shyness, "Kama Sutra."
And as Xander turned even redder than Amy the observing Buffy couldn't help but chuckle at the couple.
Looking around the Bronze, her eyes locked on the band playing onstage and Buffy frowned. Xander was right. They did suck... a lot when you compared them to Willow and the rest of Prophecy Girl. In fact, their fans were looking a bit irate that their favorite local band wasn't playing and they were stuck with listening to these horrible replacements instead.
"Where's Will?" asked Buffy, looking to Amy and Xander who reluctantly parted from their kiss.
"At home with Vince, I think," said Xander who was playing with the bracelet Amy wore around her wrist. He'd recently given it to her to celebrate their six month relationship and secretly loved the fact that Amy never left the house without it. Looking to Amy while still caressing her wrist, he asked, "Isn't that what she said? That they were going to write songs together?"
"Yeah," said Amy quietly, looking Buffy in the eyes a hint of sadness and something else less recognizable floating inside of her sky blue eyes. "I think she's going to ask him out. They've been getting closer lately."
"Oh," Buffy murmured, her eyes dropping to stare at the table surface for a moment. When her gaze lifted up, she asked in soft, almost pleading tones, "Really?"
"Really," Amy replied, her eyes sympathetic. She paused, seeming to consider things, and said, "Will is a person too, Buffy. She needs to feel loved... wanted."
"And he does that for her?" asked Buffy, sounding lost.
"I think so," said Amy honestly.
Just like a few minutes before, Buffy had only one thing to say as a sinking feeling took hold of her heart.
His brain wasn't working and neither were his ears. Vince Kesler was absolutely positive of this. Because there was no way his brain and ears could be working him hear what he just heard coming out of Willow's lips. Especially when he considered where they were. There was no way that Willow would ask that at her house with her uptight mother who disliked him hovering around.
So knowing this, he blinked and said, "What?"
"Silly, you heard me!" Willow said, giggling a bit as she gave him a light shove on his arm. She paused for a moment, then looked serious as she said, "Go out with me tomorrow night? On a date, just the two of us?"
"Yeah, two of us, dates having only two people unless they're double dates, y'know, which this one doesn't sound like it is," Vince chuckled nervously in way of reply.
"Is that a yes?" asked Willow playfully.
Looking at Willow, his chocolate brown eyes grew earnest, reaching out to softly clasp her hands, Vince said, "Before I answer, can I ask you something, Red?"
"You can ask me anything," said Willow, smiling.
"What about Buffy?" asked Vince, pulling no punches as he met her eyes in a steady gaze. "I thought that you cared for her... loved her. If that's true then why do you want to go out with me?" He paused for a moment and asked quietly, almost painfully, "To make her jealous?"
"No!" Willow exclaimed immediately, looking just as hurt as Vince. Holding his hands in her own, she moved closer to him, scooting across the piano bench. "You're not a replacement for Buffy, I swear it."
"But you love her," said Vince, his voice firm, knowing this to be true from Willow's actions and lack of denial.
"I... I think I do," said Willow shakily, ducking her gaze away from his. "Things are just so confusing, Vince."
"Why?" Vince asked gently. "Please tell me why you asked me out if you love Buffy. It doesn't make any sense."
"Because," Willow said tightly, her voice stiff and trembling as she kept her head low. "Buffy loves someone else. I know that she does... I can sense it, I can see it."
"Willow," murmured Vince after a moment of pause. "That's no reason to do this. If you really care for Buffy, then tell her so. Let her know. How can she make an honest decision without knowing your feelings?"
Shaking her head quickly, Willow gave a hollow laugh and said, "It doesn't matter. There's no decision to consider anyway. Buffy... Buffy loves Faith."
"Faith?" echoed Vince, his eyes going wide. "But isn't she going out with Cordelia?"
"Yeah," said Willow, giving another hollow laugh as she lifted up her teary green eyes. "Exactly. And Buffy knows that, but she still loves Faith. I can't compete with that. How could I? And I don't even know if what I feel for her is love in the first place, Vince. I... I do feel drawn to her but we don't have anything in common. Not like I do with you."
"That's no reason for us to date, not if you love someone else, Red," said Vince quietly, his voice sad.
Gazing at Vince carefully, Willow said, "Why are you doing this? Convincing me that this is wrong? Don't you like me? Or was I wrong about that too?"
"No, you weren't wrong," Vince assured tenderly, calming Willow with his voice and gentle touch as he held her shoulders. "But as much as I want to be with you it wouldn't be right... not if you have feelings for someone else. Even if you don't know what those feelings mean. Can you understand that?"
"Yes, I can," Willow responded quietly. Lifting her gaze, she looked at him with pleading eyes and said, "Can you understand that it hurts so much to love her though? I don't want to love her anymore... I want to wipe away the feelings before they get any stronger. And when I'm with you I can feel that happening because when I'm with you I feel so happy and safe and I forget all about Buffy. That's why I asked you out. Because you make me feel things that I wish Buffy could make me feel but she won't or just can't and I don't know if she ever will. But I do know you will and can. So please," Willow's green eyes shone in the dim light of the room, making her look entrancingly beautiful to Vince as he gazed at her. "Can't we at least try? I think that we could be happy together. Don't you?"
"Yeah," said Vince quietly, his voice rough with emotion and his own eyes glistening with unshed tears. "I definitely think that we could be happy."
"Is your answer yes then?" asked Willow, hope reflected in her expression and voice.
Forming a slow smile, Vince said, "Of course. I'm no fool. At least, not after long consideration."
Smiling happily at this, Willow sank into Vince's welcoming embrace and breathed in the vague scent of his spicy after shave as she clung to his body. A warm and comforting feeling filling her as she did so.
That was because she had finally found that one little piece of happiness that was for her and her only.
Even if it wasn't with Buffy.
Giles was lonely.
The thought was almost disturbing to him. Faith had only left an hour ago and already he was feeling lonely without her around. It was the most strange and welcome feeling all at the same time. Sort of as if they were a real family. And they were, a real family that is, in the way that it counts. Because they cared for each other, took care of each other, the way a real family should.
But that still didn't explain why he was so lonely.
Sighing to himself, Giles murmured, "Perhaps some reading might cheer me up. Research on Kakistos would be a good idea."
Just as Giles rose to his feet, about to head up to his new library inside of his bedroom since his old library had been turned into Faith's bedroom, a knock sounded.
"Who could that be?" Giles wondered, turning around to head towards the front door of the apartment.
Upon opening the door he was met with the sight of a woman with shoulder length jet black hair, dark eyes, and a sensual smile curving on her full lips.
It was a sight that he never thought he'd see again. And frankly, he wasn't sure if he should be happy or sad it was her who was going to appease his loneliness now.
"Ripper," she said with a purr while she smoothly moved past him and walked into the apartment. "You're looking well. The Hellmouth must agree with you."
"Jennifer," said Giles, closing the door before turning around to face her as she inspected his apartment with sharp eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"The Council sent me," replied Jenny with a smile. "I'm their choice of Watcher for the second Slayer."
"You? They chose you to be Buffy's new Watcher?" Giles sputtered in certain shock.
"Surprised?" asked Jenny, seeming pleased.
Moving into chuckles, Giles shook his head and removing his glasses, he cleaned them and said, "I suppose I should wish you good luck. Buffy can be difficult."
"Just like I like them," Jenny said, a mischievous glint appearing in her eyes. "So, Ripper, just what is going on with Kakistos? From what you've told the Council you seem to be playing the waiting game. I don't see what that gains us."
"Please call me Rupert," said Giles with a sigh. Moving to sit down in the nearby recliner, he said, "The situation with Kakistos is complicated. I believe that the information we were given is false. Therefore, we should move cautiously."
"I don't think so," replied Jenny easily, taking a seat on the couch and crossing her legs. "Rupert," she added as she smiled a bit wickedly and Giles couldn't help but roll his eyes at her. "What's the point in waiting and finding out if it's a trap? Why not simply head out with the awareness that it could be a trap and expose it? In the process of doing that we also might learn more about the enemy than simply doing research on them."
"Perhaps," allowed Giles. "But it's all that I can do now to keep Faith and Buffy from running completely wild. If you did encourage such action the girls might--"
"The girls?" Jenny interrupted, smirking now. "My, my, aren't we fond of our little proteges, Rupert?"
"Faith is my Slayer and my ward," Giles said with some offense. "Buffy might be considered your Slayer now but I'll still attend to her continued welfare as well."
"They said you had gotten attached to the Slayer," murmured Jenny, her eyes careful as they gazed at Giles. "I didn't know what to think of that though." She paused for a moment, then asked, "How did it happen?"
"Faith... is a good person, exceptional," said Giles quietly, his eyes growing distant as he thought of her. "She has never had anyone tell her that though. Being a Slayer, being of use to the Council, being of some importance in her duties to this world, are her entire life. Through her I have seen selflessness like I've never imagined. All of this inside one teenage girl." Meeting Jenny's eyes with a steady gaze, he said, "Wouldn't you get attached?"
Chuckling softly, Jenny murmured, "I suppose so."
"As I thought," said Giles, forming a slight smile.
"So," Jenny drawled, a playful look on her features once again. "Tell me about my Slayer. Tell me about Buffy."
"That," began Giles with a sigh. "Will be a long story."
"So get started," replied Jenny, still smiling and a teasing tone in her voice. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Very well," Giles said before he began the long and somewhat arduous tale of telling Jenny Calendar just who Buffy Summers was.
Something that was fairly complicated.
Much like Buffy herself.
His opponent was a wily one, that much he knew for certain. He knew it because of her movements and how she seemed to anticipate his actions before he made them.
And yet, knowing all of this, knowing the strange power she had over him, he refused to give up. Because he also knew that he had to have the object in her possession.
It was his favorite string of yarn, after all.
"Missed again!" Faith exclaimed with a chuckle, quickly moving the string away from Monet whose green eyes narrowed into slits as he studied her. "Aw, c'mon, kitty," she said, chuckling some more. "You can do it."
Just then, Monet made another pounce for the string and Faith abruptly swung it to the other side of the room, sending him scrambling after it as she swung it side to side like a pendulum which drove the calico cat crazy.
"Stop teasing him so much," said Cordelia in admonishing tones which were softened by the fact that she was sitting behind Faith, lightly kissing her neck and playing with the Slayer's hair. "He doesn't like it."
"You should let me have fun," Faith said, a grumble obvious in her voice. "You are abandoning me for two weeks, y'know. I'm trying to bond with him since he'll be staying with me while you're gone."
"I'm not abandoning you," said Cordelia dryly, kissing Faith's exposed shoulder blade while she wrapped her hands around the Slayer's waist. "I'm just going out of town with my parents. Some stupid business trip that they need me to be along for." She paused for a moment, then said quietly, "It's not like I want to leave."
Hearing the pain in Cordelia's voice, Faith paused in her playing with Monet and turned to look at the other girl. "I know that, sweets," she said softly. Reaching up, she cupped Cordelia's cheek and said, "It's just... I don't want you to go. It hurts so much to even think of you not being around. Even if it is only for two weeks."
"I feel the same way," whispered Cordelia, hugging Faith tightly, burying her face in the Slayer's neck.
They stayed like that for a long while, just enjoying each other's presence and the comfort that it provided when Monet let out an irate meow and batted at the string.
"He wants to play," Cordelia said with a chuckle, nuzzling Faith's neck and kissing the skin softly.
"Yeah, well, his wish is my command," replied Faith, swinging the yarn again as Monet went pouncing after it yet again. "He's playing like he was a little kitten again. It's good for him."
Watching her cat, Cordelia smiled and said, "I bet that he'll get sick of it soon though. He always does."
Swinging the string back and forth in front of Monet who sat there, watching it with a careful look in his eyes, Faith chuckled again and said, "You think?"
"Mmm, I know," murmured Cordelia humorously into Faith's ear, causing the Slayer to shiver with pleasure. Especially since Cordelia left a light kiss and nibble on her earlobe before pulling away. "He's like you, easily bored."
"Hey, now," said Faith, sounding a bit indignant while she observed Monet who was still sitting in front of her watching the string swing back and forth. "I thought that you always said I'm easily entertained."
"Either works," Cordelia said in teasing tones. "But if you don't believe me, I can show you myself."
Cordelia then let her hands trace down to cover Faith's and gently taking the yarn away from her she let it fall to the ground. Immediately, Monet walked over to inspect it with a sniff then looked extremely bored. With a twitch of his tail, he then turned to sit in front of Cordelia's bedroom door and began meowing.
"See?" said Cordelia, chuckling at her girlfriend and her pet. Scooting off of the bed, she then opened the bedroom door for Monet who was now apparently bored with the both of them.
Lying down on the bed with a sigh as Cordelia shut her bedroom door, Faith said, "You win."
"Yes, I do," said Cordelia, falling onto the bed, her knees on either side of Faith's legs. "But what do I win?"
"I dunno," Faith said, smiling sensuously. "What do you wanna win, sweets? What do you want most?"
"I already have what I want most," Cordelia murmured, sliding forward to hover her lips over Faith's. A slow smile spread across her features as she dropped a hand to lightly caress Faith's cheek. "Don't I?"
Entranced by the love and desire in Cordelia's hazel eyes and the seductive tones in her voice, Faith looked lost as she said in hoarse, husky, tones, "Yeah, I guess you do."
Cordelia's mouth lifted in a small, sensual, smile before she lowered herself onto the Slayer and met their lips in a searing kiss that tore at their very souls. By the time that they parted both were gasping for breath and the heat between them was a small volcano.
"Mine," whispered Cordelia, pulling Faith up and smoothly removing her shirt and bra. Allowing the other girl to fall back against the bed, she methodically set about removing the rest of her clothes while depositing searing kisses along Faith's body as she did so. Tossing the dark Slayer's underwear carelessly to the side, Cordelia slid back up her body and their eyes locking, she repeated possessively, "Mine."
"Yours," Faith agreed breathlessly, lifting herself up in an unconscious offering to Cordelia.
It was an offering that Cordelia couldn't resist as she bent down to seize Faith's lips with her own, ravishing the Slayer's sweet mouth and lips like she had never done before. And when it was all over, her hazel eyes seemed so dark with desire that they changed colors.
Scooting back onto her knees, Cordelia removed her own clothes in a sort of frenzy and seconds later she was just as bare as Faith who was looking at her with an expression of such pure love and trust that it made her heart hurt at the very sight.
"You're what love feels like," whispered Cordelia to herself, allowing herself to gracefully fall forward, sure that Faith would catch her in her strong arms.
How right she was as Faith held the taller girl close to her, lying side by side, she reached out to cup Cordelia's cheek before leaning forward to meet their lips in another kiss that led to another and another and another until they were breathless once again and Cordelia had regained her sense of purpose.
Rising up, Cordelia laid herself gently on top of Faith who gasped at the electric feeling of skin on skin that she never quite got used to while with Cordelia. Seizing the Slayer's lips in another all encompassing kiss, this one almost vicious in its possessive grip, Cordelia growled against Faith's lips in rough tones, "Mine."
Faith was unable to reply, unable to do anything but shiver and moan softly as Cordelia moved her kisses downward, lightly biting and sucking on her nipples, leaving a burning trail of desire while she kept moving ever lower.
Reaching her final destination, Cordelia let her fingers curl slightly around Faith's hips, holding her still as she left a final soft, sensuous, kiss on her lower belly.
Lifting her gaze up as she kissed the skin of Faith's abdomen, Cordelia let her hand trace up to the dark haired girl's cheek. The Slayer opened her eyes on feeling this touch and met her gaze with loving eyes.
"Yours," Faith whispered in a hoarse affirmation.
"Mine," Cordelia responded, her eyes darkening again.
Moments later, she lowered her head to give the most intimate of kisses and Faith could only buck her hips and bury her head to one side in the pillow for a response.
The emotion, the feeling, the strength, it was all encompassing. It was life and death itself to her and it was all held in Cordelia's kiss.
She was helpless before her, shaking with need, pleading for Cordelia to take her to that peak of pleasure that only she could bring her to. No one else Faith ever knew, ever been with, had truly known where it was. But Cordelia, she knew. She knew and she never failed to take Faith there.
Faith trusted in that, like she trusted in Cordelia.
Trusted that she was safe with Cordelia, cherished with Cordelia, important with Cordelia, and loved with Cordelia. She trusted in all of this and so much more.
Knowing this, she trusted in her own safety implicitly, much like a child would. Trusting that she would be safe in Cordelia's embrace. Because it was an embrace that allowed Faith to escape from her usual facade of ever present strength. And knowing all of this, Faith let her defenses to drop as she fell victim to Cordelia's touch.
She did this trusting that Cordelia would catch her as she went crashing over the edge from sensation, from love, while her girlfriend took her to that peak and over it once again.
"Cordelia," murmured Faith, love echoing in her voice and her eyes as the other girl moved up her body to rest lightly against her. Reaching out, she placed her hands on Cordelia's hips, and in a easy movement, she pulled their bodies close. Faith then moved in for an ardent kiss that tried to express all of the emotions that she felt for her. Pulling away, she gave Cordelia's cheek a gentle caress and said, "I love you, sweets."
"I love you too, Faith," said Cordelia softly, her voice cracking slightly as she said this.
Rising up and over Cordelia, the Slayer gave a wicked smile and lowering herself down onto the other girl, Faith murmured, "Now it's time that I return the favor."
And she proceeded to do just that.
In fact, they both proceeded to do just that for the entire night long. Because after all, one good favor does deserve another.
Everyone stared at Jenny and Jenny stared at everyone right back. All in all, it was a strange moment as they all just kept staring at one another.
Then finally, Faith decided to speak.
"Who the hell are you?" asked Faith bluntly.
"Faith," said Giles with a sigh, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Do you recall the conversation we had about diplomacy?"
"Yeah, and I still don't like it," Faith replied, giving a careless shrug. "I'm not Janeway, G-man, and she gives me the creeps. Who is she and what does she want?"
"She's B'Elanna, or was her anyway," Xander snickered to himself until everyone looked at him. "Sorry," he said a bit sheepishly before averting his eyes upwards.
"I'm Jenny Calendar," said Jenny, a small smile quirking on her lips as she regarded Faith. "And I've been sent here by the Watchers Council to be Buffy's new Watcher."
"My new Watcher?" echoed Buffy, eyes going wide. "But you're not British." Looking to Faith then Giles she asked dimly, "Don't all Watchers have to be British?"
Chuckling at this, Jenny said, "I hope not or I'll be out of a job." Moving forward to sit in front of the blonde girl on the library table she smiled and said, "It's nice to meet you, Buffy. I hope that we'll be able to work together as well as you've worked with both Merrick and Rupert."
"Yeah, maybe," said Buffy hesitantly, not sure what to make of Jenny and her friendly nature.
"Good," said Jenny with satisfaction. Sliding off the table looked at Faith with amusement glinting in her dark eyes as she said, "There's no need to be overprotective about Buffy. I'll be sure to treat her with the utmost respect, Faith."
Scowling at this, Faith muttered, "You better."
It was a statement that came as a shock to Buffy, who regarded Faith with slight awe while Jenny observed the interaction with a careful gaze.
"So," Jenny began, looking to Giles. "I think our first order of business is just what to do about Kakistos. It was a topic of great discussion between Rupert and myself and I think we should simply attack the headquarters. To hell if it's a trap or not, we'll find out during the attack."
"Which is extremely dangerous," replied Giles, frowning. "It shouldn't even be considered, the danger is so great in such an operation. We discussed this."
"Yes, we did, but we never settled it," said Jenny with a smirk. Turning to look at Buffy, she said, "What do you think, Buffy? Would an attack seem best?"
"It makes sense," Buffy admitted reluctantly.
"Faith?" asked Jenny, looking at the dark Slayer.
Frowning a bit, Faith eyed Giles who wore a face of acceptance that told her to simply speak her mind. With a sigh, she shrugged and said, "Does make sense and we're gonna be cautious going in anyway. Thinking it might be a trap already. Would get things moving along faster."
"Yeah, but the danger," spoke up Xander, looking from one Slayer to the next. "You guys could get hurt."
"I could heal them though," Amy put in, clasping her boyfriend's arm gently. "If they do get hurt, that is."
"I still say it's far too dangerous," Giles said, who looked a bit agitated. Eyeing Jenny for a moment, he said, "You always rush into things without thinking of the consequences. Hasn't your training taught you the main part of being a Watcher is research?"
"Sometimes you have to take chances," replied Jenny, rising to debate challenge Giles offered. "Life isn't going to just sit around and wait for you. Things have to be grabbed before they disappear forever. Haven't you learned that from working with your Slayer?"
As Giles opened his mouth to reply Faith looked to Buffy and tugged on the other Slayer's sleeve. Tipping her head towards the doors of the library, she smiled as Buffy nodded her head in agreement. The two Slayers then gave tiny waves of goodbye to Amy and Xander who waved also while Giles and Jenny continued in their private debate.
Moments later, when Giles and Jenny took a pause in their great debate they found Amy and Xander involved with a very passionate kiss and their Slayers gone.
Neither sight was very reassuring to them.
"I think the song is perfect, Red, really I do," said Vince with a smile. "You don't have to change the tempo."
Just finished ordering their early dinner, Willow and Vince moved onto an easy conversation while they waited for their food. So far their first date had been all that either expected a perfect date to be. They felt at ease with one another and never once in their time together did they feel uncomfortable.
In short, they were having a really good time.
"It's awfully sad though, don't you think?" asked Willow, wearing an uncertain expression. "I mean, when people listen to it they're going to get bummed out. We're already known as this sad Goth band, do we really need more depressing songs? I think some variety would do us good."
"Yeah, I agree with that," said Vince. "But that's no reason to put a good song on the sidelines." Smiling at her, he said in soft reassuring tones, "The song is great. I really think that people should hear it."
"You think?" Willow asked in doubtful tones.
"I think," Vince replied, smiling gently. "And hey, wasn't it you who said I've got a good ear for music? My ear is saying right now that song kicks major ass, Red."
"You're right," said Willow, smiling happily and a playful twinkle appearing in her eyes. "I did say that. How extremely insightful of me."
"Very insightful," said Vince humorously. "We do have Charlie working on some upbeat songs for us too. I think that you can be the deep and meaningful person in the band. Your songs help make the rest of us seem more intelligent than what we really are."
"Oh sure, just use me," Willow drawled, forming an overly exaggerated expression of hurt. "I don't know if I'll be able to survive this experience..."
"You're a tough girl, you can do it," said Vince with an encouraging expression, smiling as Willow caught his hand in her own. "You're the Red-a-nator, remember?"
"I remember," said Willow fondly.
Still smiling, the happy look in Vince's eyes shifted and looking more earnest, he said, "Can I ask you something?"
"Uh oh," said Willow quietly. "Every time you ask me that it leads to a serious conversation." Looking at him more carefully now, she asked gently, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, really," Vince assured. "It's just... I can sort of remember Halloween and I wanted to ask... well, what happened to us. And about your friends. Afterwards, they seemed so calm about everything and so did you. About a spell being cast and those creatures that Faith fought..."
"Oh, that," said Willow, looking relieved.
"Yeah, that," said Vince, smiling widely. "What's up with all of that stuff anyway, huh? Spill it." Wearing an expression of playfulness, he added cutely, "Please?"
Laughing at this, Willow shook her head and started to explain to Vince just who exactly who she and her friends were. Knowing instinctively that no matter what she told him he would accept her and them.
That was just the sort of guy he was.
Just as Cordelia was walking into the library everyone else was walking out. This scenario caused her more than a little bit of worry. Especially on seeing the concerned expressions on Giles and Jenny's faces.
"Cordelia," said Giles quickly, almost bumping into her as he opened the library doors. "Have you seen Faith?"
"Faith? No," Cordelia said, giving a small shake of her head. "I've been in cheerleading practice. I was going to meet up with her here after it was over. Why?" as she asked this, her eyes narrowed. "Where is she?"
Giles was about to reply but Jenny beat him to it giving a sigh as she said, "We don't know but I think we have a pretty good idea." Turning to Giles, she said, "Lets get going, Rupert. They're sure to be there."
"Yes, you're right," agreed Giles with a nod.
"Be where?" interrupted Cordelia, frowning. She fixed a glare at Jenny and said, "What's going on? Where do you think Faith is and why don't you know?"
"Cordelia," said Giles, looking upset. "I'm sorry, she and Buffy... we lost track of them. We think that they may have gone to find out if the information that we were given about Kakistos was false."
"False?" asked Cordelia, her eyes widening. "But how are they going to do that?" Before anyone could give an answer, she gained a look of realization on her features. Tightening her mouth around the edges, Cordelia said in low and angry tones, "Faith... you big idiot. You're going to attack them, aren't you?" Meeting Giles gaze she said, "Come on. We're taking my car."
"Yes," said Giles, giving a nod. "That would be best." Turning to look at Amy and Xander, he then said, "I don't like the idea of bringing you both along but we might need your healing powers if something happens, Amy."
"And wherever I go, Xander goes," Amy finished with a small smile. "It's all right, we'll try to stay away from all of the icky fighting while it's going on."
"I feel so macho," muttered Xander to himself while Amy rubbed his hand in a comforting movement on hearing his words.
"If we're all finished, I'd like to get going," said Jenny, sounding a tad irritated as she walked past the group. "It's essential that I see just what kind of damage my Slayer is capable of doing."
"Her Slayer?" Cordelia echoed, eyes narrowing again as she gave a sharp glance to Giles who looked sheepish.
"It's a long story," said Giles almost warily.
"Tell me on the way there," said Cordelia in what seemed to be a demand of sorts as she walked after Jenny.
Observing this with his girlfriend, Xander heaved a sigh then said with dry humor, "This should be fun."
She was going off to fight the bad guys. She was going off to risk her life. She was going off to possibly die.
So why did she feel so happy? So safe? So loved?
Was it all because of Faith? And the fact that she was pressed up against the other girl as they went racing towards the probably false headquarter of Kakistos?
If it was, then Buffy thought she must truly be in love. Because who else but someone in love could find any sort of happiness when facing near death simply due to the fact that you were facing near death with that one special person at your side? At least, that's what she thought.
What she thought until she glanced her head to the side, at the passing restaurants in the trendier part of their small demon infested town, and saw Willow.
Willow with Vince. Willow leaning towards Vince. Willow kissing Vince and kissing him sweetly, slowly, with obvious affection and love in her embrace.
And seeing this, Buffy's heart dropped while a feeling of utter misery seized her without truly knowing why. It was as if she'd lost something without realizing exactly what she lost and the feeling mystified her.
"Buff?" asked Faith, sounding worried. "You doing okay back there? I asked you what the plan of attack is."
Hearing Faith's voice, Buffy tore her gaze from the disappearing sight of Willow kissing Vince. A weight now settling in her heart, she watched Willow pull away from him and offer a gentle smile of love.
It was a smile that Buffy wanted to see for herself. But now, she knew that she never would. And she knew it was because of the state of her heart and mind. Both were focused totally on Faith... she knew that. She knew that at an instinctive level, deep inside of herself.
Then why did the sight bother her so much? Amy was right, Willow deserved to be happy. She deserved to be with someone who would make her happy.
But why... why did it bother her so much?
Turning away from these incessant and troubling thoughts running through her head, Buffy rested her cheek on Faith's back, breathing in the faint scent of cinnamon. It wasn't something she could think about now. Because now they had work to do. Work only she and Faith could do.
So forming a slight smile, Buffy moved closer and said in Faith's ear, just loud enough for the other Slayer to hear her, "We sneak in, look around, sneak out. If the bad guys are there, we fight them and kick some ass."
"Sounds good to me," Faith replied with a chuckle, focusing on the road as she sped up Lil' Butchy's pace.
"Why are we here again?" Iris grumbled.
Shooting the blonde vampire a look of warning, Trick said in low tones, "Kakistos wants us here and he's the one who pays us. That means we go wherever he wants and right now he wants us to be here."
"Whatever," said Iris, rolling her blue eyes.
Trick was about to reply when suddenly, one of their newer recruits came barreling into the room, wearing a panicked look on his face. "Boss!" he cried out. When he caught sight of Iris' glare, he corrected quickly, "Bosses! I just saw the Slayers, they're outside the perimeter! It looks like they finally took the bait."
"Good," Iris said rather huffily. "I was starting to get bored. Maybe they'll liven things up." She paused and looked at Trick, appearing as if she had just now realized something then said, "Do you think he knew?"
"Probably," replied Trick, nodding while he considered Kakistos' recent actions. "It seems like our new employer wants to deal with the Slayers himself."
"Typical," said Iris with a snort. "Hogging all the glory and fun for himself. How unfair can you get?"
"Mmm," Trick murmured, looking thoughtful. Turning to the newborn vamp who was eyeing them with a rather nervous expression. "You can leave. We'll take care of things ourselves, including telling Kakistos."
Watching the newborn vamp scurry away, Iris rolled her eyes again and said, "He already knows what's going on, Trick. You know that."
"He still expects us to report though," said Trick, giving an easy smile as he walked away. "I know that also."
"Yeah, yeah," Iris muttered, heaving a sigh. Shrugging her shoulders, she headed after Trick and said to herself, "At least we'll have some fun now."
Unfortunately, Iris' version of fun, if this wasn't already obvious enough, most definitely wasn't a normal person or a normal vampire's idea of fun.
Then again, what exactly is a normal vampire?
They were lost.
At least, they thought they were lost. It was hard to tell when you didn't know just where you were going or just what you were looking for. They both hoped that they would know it when they saw it.
Slayer luck and all that being at high strength.
So far their enemies had been weak. That was good news for them. Too bad it was bothering them a bit.
"These guys are wimps," Faith complained, wiping her dusty hands on her leather pants. "I think these vamps are getting wussier every time I fight them."
"The quality level is going down," Buffy agreed while she gave a nearby vamp a hard elbow to the stomach and then staked him in the heart.
"I don't like it, Buff," continued Faith as she studied their surroundings. "This place was a little too easy to sneak into and now all the vamps we fight are prissy things that should be wearing foo foo dresses."
"Foo foo dresses?" repeated Buffy, laughing without helping it while Faith smirked at her.
"Yeah, foo foo dresses," said Faith. "Dresses for foo foo wimpy people like these damn vamps."
"Excuse our employees for being foo foo's."
Whirling around, both Slayers faced a smiling Trick and Iris who looked at them with relaxed faces. The relaxed factor might have had something to do with the fact that they had several dozen vamps behind them. All of which looked vicious and ready to fight.
They also didn't look the slightest bit foo foo.
"All right," Faith drawled, a slow smile spreading across her features. "Finally a real fight."
"Don't sound so happy," Buffy said wryly. "These guys might actually give us some trouble."
"That's what I'm hoping for," replied Faith before she went rushing forward and into the crowd of vamps.
Watching this with wide eyes, Buffy smiled as she felt that familiar feeling of excitement rise inside of her just from being with Faith. She moved to follow after the dark Slayer but was stopped by the sudden appearance of Iris standing in front of her wearing a wicked smile.
"Slayer," Iris purred. "We meet again."
"You think?" replied Buffy sarcastically.
"I know I do but I'm not so sure about you," responded Iris before she launched herself at Buffy with a series of high kicks which the Slayer barely blocked. She paused in her assault and moving in close, their faces only inches apart, she hissed, "Do you want to play?"
"Oh yeah," said Buffy in husky tones, her eyes glinting dangerously. "I definitely want to play."
The two blondes then proceeded in the beginnings of an extremely vicious battle while Faith tore through the numbers of vampire lackeys who weren't as dangerous as they first appeared. Just as she was wondering if she'd ever fight someone of quality, she whirled around to come face to face with Trick who had his game face on.
"Slayer," said Trick in smooth and charming tones. "We were starting to think you'd never grace us with your presence. You almost put all our plans to waste."
"Yeah, well, what can you do?" Faith replied, giving a little shrug of her shoulders. "I'm a busy girl, y'know."
"I know," Trick murmured, a smile hinting at the corners of his lips. "That's why I feel I should thank you for taking the time to show up here today. Planning to kill you isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, you realize."
"That so?" asked Faith, a quirky smile appearing on her features. "Why don't we find out about that, huh?"
"My pleasure," drawled Trick, moving into fighting position as Faith launched herself at him with a right hook that he immediately caught in his hand. "Nice," he said in impressed tones as he looked at her fist. "Very nice."
"Thanks," Faith ground out with a scowl.
Buffy was a better fighter, that much was true, but Iris, she was sneakier and she was a tad more clever when it came to covering her own ass. Which was good for her but definitely not good for Buffy who soon found herself being backed into a room she'd never seen before.
Sensing an attack coming from her left, Buffy turned in that direction only to slam right into a very large and very enormous chest. Her eyes going wide as fear filled her entire being, Buffy backed away and gazed up at the mammoth creature she ran into.
And when she did, she looked into hell itself.
"The Slayer," the demon beast vampire said, his wrinkled and red face forming into a frightening smile. "It's been such a long time since I've seen one of your kind."
Buffy was unable to reply, she could only back away in certain fear as the creature continued to gaze at her as if she was a perspective meal. And an extremely delicious looking meal at that. One to be savored.
"Kakistos," she finally managed to stammer out.
"That is what I'm called," he murmured, regarding her with sharp eyes as she stepped forward. Pausing as he stopped in front of her, he reached out to caress her cheek then in a sharp movement, yanked on Buffy's hair so she'd look up at him. "Where is Nerine?" he demanded harshly.
"Oh, I'm going to enjoy this," Iris murmured softly.
Hearing this, Buffy's eyes glinted with defiance and jerking her head backwards, she held onto Kakistos' arms and lifted her legs up to push against his chest, sending her flying across the room and away from him. She landed in a toppled heap but when she looked up, Buffy had a look of utmost confidence about her as she declared, "I'll never tell you where Willow is! And I'll never let you have her!"
"Slayer," Kakistos pronounced with a rumbling growl that seemed to shake the entire room. "You've just caused your own undoing."
"I don't care," retorted Buffy, rising to her feet. "You'll never get her. Not as long as I'm alive."
"Then I'll just have to kill you," murmured Kakistos. Seconds later, before Buffy could even react to what he'd just said, he was behind her, delivering a hard kick to her backside that sent her flying. Observing as Buffy landed in yet another toppled heap, Kakistos said softly to himself, "Such a waste. Truly, it is."
Walking over to Buffy, who was strewn on the floor, covered with the crushed bits of the desk she had ruined when she landed on it, Kakistos easily lifted her up into the air. Holding her by the throat, he looked into her blue eyes that at first, were filled with panic and then, only mere seconds later, had a look of triumph in them.
Turning around, he barely took in the sight of Faith before she leapt at him with a knife flashing in her hand. It was a weapon he knew all too well as it was a favorite of Trick's, it being a present from Iris.
Landing on his back, much like the proverbial monkey, Faith growled in his ear, "Let Buff go, now."
"Or what little Slayer?" chuckled Kakistos. "You'll stab me? I'm afraid that won't do much damage."
"Then it won't hurt when I do this," Faith responded viciously as in a quick movement, she sent the knife slicing deep into his face.
Kakistos howled in pain and indignation, releasing his hold on Buffy and as soon as he did this, Faith jumped from his back to go dashing towards the other Slayer. She held Buffy tightly in her arms as the blonde dazedly looked up at her.
"Faith?" asked Buffy in hoarse tones.
"It's gonna be all right, Buff," Faith reassured, looking around and seeing Kakistos still clutching at his wound and Iris gone from the premises, she worked out their next plan of action in her head. "We gotta get out of here though. It's starting to get sorta dangerous." Shooting Buffy a wry look, she said, "I guess we found out whether or not this was a trap set up for us, huh?"
"Yeah," Buffy replied with a derisive chuckle, moving painfully to her feet, realizing that she probably had a few broken ribs and a sprained ankle now.
"You'll piggy back it," Faith said quickly, turning her back to Buffy. "Hop on and we'll--"
Faith couldn't reply because as soon as she faced forward she was met with Kakistos fist. Much like Buffy had before, the dark haired Slayer went flying across the room as Kakistos stalked towards her purposefully.
"Slayer," Kakistos seethed, stopping in front of Faith who sat in a crumpled heap, looking up at him with lidded eyes. "You'll regret injuring me."
Coughing up blood, Faith winced at the sharp pain in her chest and looked to Buffy who was making her way towards them with a large piece of lumber. Smiling slightly at the sight, Faith replied defiantly, "I doubt that."
"Do you now?" asked Kakistos, leaning down to grip her by the collar. Holding her like she was a rag doll, he turned towards Buffy and narrowing his eyes, Kakistos murmured something softly. Seconds later, Buffy went flying across the room, moved by some unknown force. Gazing down at Faith who wore a shocked look on her features, he said darkly, "Your turn."
And Faith, just like Buffy before her, looked into the face of hell itself as she gazed up at Kakistos features.
Tonight wasn't turning out like she had thought.
No, not at all.
Was she dead?
It sure felt like she was dead. She hurt enough to be dead. But then again, if she was dead she wouldn't be hurting. At least, she didn't think dead people could feel pain. The regular dead people that is, not the vampires or zombies or other creatures that she usually ran into.
Opening her dark brown eyes, Faith squinted at the light that hurt look at and quickly shut them tight.
"Faith...?" Amy's hopeful voice filled her ears. "You're awake? How do you feel? Are you okay? I hope that my spell worked... I don't you to be in pain..."
Faith tried at opening her eyes again and was pleased to find it hurt less. Moving her head slowly to gaze at Amy who wore a tear streaked face, she said in gruff tones, "Amy girl... why're you crying?"
"Oh god, you're okay," sobbed Amy with relief. "We were so worried. You looked so..." She broke off as she gazed at Faith with helpless eyes, her expression suddenly shifted into anger and she said, "Don't ever do that again! You could've been killed!"
Chuckling even though it hurt, Faith said weakly, "You're starting to scare me, Amy girl." She then looked around her bedroom that was empty except for the blonde witch. "Where's everyone else?" Her eyes going wide with panic, she asked quickly, "Is Buff okay?"
"She's fine," assured Amy. "And they're--"
The rest of Amy's statement got abruptly cut off by a loud shout of anger that came from a voice that was all too familiar to Faith. Her eyes widening further, she said in a hoarse whisper, "Cordelia."
"This is all your fault!" Cordelia raged at Buffy who could only wince and look guilty at her words. "You were supposed to back her up! Look after her in battle, but you just got Faith hurt instead! She could've died protecting you! You know that, right?!"
Buffy couldn't even begin to respond, her guilt over Faith's condition was so great. All she could do was let Cordelia's accusations fall down on her like rain, each one stabbing at her soul like it was a knife.
Since Buffy wouldn't defend herself, Jenny felt that it was her place to do that for her. She was Buffy's Watcher after all, and felt more than a small degree of responsibility for both of the actions of the two Slayers. It had been her plan, or her lack of one, that they followed while going in.
"Stop it," said Jenny strongly, standing between Cordelia and Buffy. The latter of which sat on the couch, still suffering from most of her injuries of the night since Amy was busy healing the more seriously injured Faith. "If you should blame anyone for tonight, it's me. Buffy did her best in battle as did Faith. Neither can be blamed for being overwhelmed by Kakistos. They simply weren't ready to fight such a powerful foe." Pausing to form a serious expression on her face, she looked to Giles and said, "I should have known that. It's my duty."
Giles expression softened at Jenny's words and he was about to reply when Buffy said quietly, "No."
"What?" asked Jenny, looking to the Slayer.
"Cordelia's right," Buffy continued in guilt ridden tones. "Faith was hurt rescuing me. I... I froze when I was fighting him. I couldn't fight and he was going to kill me. I knew he was going to but I couldn't stop him and Faith, I guess she saw us. And she... she..." Buffy broke from her explanation and burst into tears. "It's my fault, all my fault," she kept repeating over and over.
"That's bullshit, Buff. I was there the same as you. I made my choice and I got the results."
Everyone in the room turned in surprise as they saw Faith weakly stumble into the room, using Amy for support as the witch held her gently around the waist.
"Faith," breathed Cordelia, rushing forward to relieve Amy from her welcome burden. Catching the other girl softly in her arms, she held her close and whispered in raw and painful tones, "You promised me that you wouldn't do this again, remember?"
"Sorry, sweets," Faith said with a weak chuckle, finding peace in the warmth of Cordelia's arms. "But you can punish me for it later, all right?"
Cordelia was quiet for a long moment as she held the other girl, then finally, she asked, "Why did you do it?"
Pulling away slightly, Faith leaned against Cordelia for support. Mostly because it was the only way she could stand properly with her injuries and the dizziness that she still felt invading her head. Studying Cordelia closely, her eyes averted to the couch and to Buffy whose face was just as tear streaked as Cordelia's.
Now knowing just what her girlfriend was asking her, Faith said quietly, "I had to do it, sweets. Buff needed me and I had to help her. Even if it meant breaking our promise. That's my job... hell," Faith broke away as she stared at the floor. "That's who I am now."
"You could've died," Cordelia said painfully, her voice an accusation of sorts. "You know that, don't you?"
"I know," whispered Faith with equal pain. "I didn't want to break our promise. I just had to..."
"You had to save Buffy," said Cordelia bitterly.
"No, yeah, both," Faith said in confusion, shaking her head quickly as a fierce pounding now accompanied the feelings of dizziness that lurked inside of her skull. Rubbing her forehead, Faith tried to control the spiral she felt her body going into and said in a drifting murmur, "I had to save you both... you both and everyone else. It's... it's my destiny... can't you understand that, sweets? Can't you understand it's because I... I love you all...?"
With these few final words, Faith collapsed helplessly forward and into Cordelia's arms as once again, the darkness overtook her completely.
And she knew no more.