It Starts With Faith
"It's funny," Jenny began in soft tones. Her gaze was locked on the cityscape of Sunnydale from where she stood, looking out of the living room window to David's townhouse. "When you look at it from here, Sunnydale is just like any other small town. You can't see the darkness that's lurking inside of it, or what it does to the people that live here. It just looks normal..."
A day had passed since Kate found out that Cordelia Chase was indeed alive, if you could even call her that, since she was also apparently a vampire as well. But in that day, in the waiting for Jenny to reply to her phone calls, she'd only formed more questions for the Watcher. Questions that she wanted to be answered now.
"Maybe," Kate allowed, taking a step towards Jenny. "But that's not what we're here to talk about."
"I know," said Jenny with a sigh. She formed a wry smile and turned to face Kate. "You want to know about Cordelia, don't you? What happened to her."
"What did happen to her?" asked Kate, answering Jenny's question as she frowned slightly. "I know that she's a vampire now. But how did that happen?"
Her dark eyes turning black, Jenny's mouth tightened and she said, "Kakistos. He's responsible for all of this, he and his associates, Iris and Trick. They were the ones who faked Cordelia's death, the ones who turned her into a vampire, the ones who kidnapped Willow, they were even the ones partially responsible for--" Jenny stopped abruptly and averted her eyes from Kate's. "They're very dangerous people, Detective, and we've been doing all that we can to stop them while trying to help Cordelia."
"Help her?" Kate asked, although part of her was focusing on Jenny's sudden pause in her words. What had the other woman been about to say? And why did she stop? "How can you do that? She's a vampire now."
"Yes, but some vampires have souls," said Jenny, looking back at Kate once more. "Some of them are good people, who want to help mankind, not prey upon it. We think that Cordelia may have been one of those vampires but Kakistos is doing something to warp her. To make her act the way she's acting right now."
"But how can you tell? How can you help her?" Kate persisted, sounding more than a bit confused.
"Willow has a friend, Zac, that can sense when human souls still remain inside of vampires," Jenny replied, hugging herself for comfort. "He should be arriving here soon and once he does, we'll know if any piece of the real Cordelia, the human Cordelia, remains."
"And if it doesn't?" asked Kate softly.
Clenching her jaw, Jenny said in slow and drawn out tones, "Then we'll do what we have to do."
"Even if it means killing her?" Kate continued, moving closer to Jenny as she asked this. Hovering right behind the taller woman who was once again staring out the window and at the town of Sunnydale. "You're really sure that you can do that?"
"We have to do it," said Jenny tightly. "We haven't any choice in the matter. If there's truly no way to save her from what she's become, no way to change her back to her true self, then... for Cordelia's sake and the sake of the people in this town, we would have to end whatever semblance of a life that she has now."
Considering this, Kate reached out to touch Jenny's back lightly, her fingertips barely grazing the soft material of the brunette's shirt. "Cordelia's the killer, isn't she?"
Jenny turned her head to lock eyes with Kate and as black eyes met blue gray, her voice cracked slightly then she said, "I think you already know the answer to that."
"Yeah," said Kate with a sigh, dropping her head and pulling her hand away to run her fingers through her hair. "What I don't know is what I'm going to do with what I know. Normally I'd go after her, arrest her, put her behind bars, and wait for a judge and jury to decide what to do. But this," Kate lifted her head up to look at Jenny. "This isn't a normal situation is it? Sounds like to me that you're saying the person who did those killings isn't Cordelia... but a monster living inside of her body thanks to another monster's influence. And if you can't get rid of that monster you'll kill her. Is there justice in that?"
"If we can bring Cordelia back she'll most likely remember what her vampire self did," Jenny murmured. "I think that alone is enough punishment. Especially when you consider that it's not even her in there."
"It's a creature wearing her skin, I know," Kate nodded, heaving a huge sigh of frustration. Walking away from Jenny, she peered up at the ceiling and gave a rather sharp laugh as she said, "Life just keeps getting more complicated doesn't it? The line between good and evil is becoming more and more blurry. I'm starting to wonder if maybe one day I won't even be able to see that line anymore and everything will just merge together."
Staring at Kate for a long moment, Jenny closed her eyes, appearing to be lost deep in thought. When she opened them, she saw Kate was still in the exact same position. "I should go," Jenny said softly. "There's a lot of things we have to take care of and Amy wants to talk to me about some spell she cast."
"All right," said Kate, not turning to look at Jenny.
Seeing this, Jenny formed a sad expression and moved to walk past the blonde Detective when suddenly, Kate reached out to grab her hand, stopping Jenny from walking any further. The two women couldn't help but freeze when they felt the jolt of electricity that ran through them when skin touched skin, and Kate shivered at the sensation. Jenny moved to look back at the blonde and gazing into blue gray eyes, she knew that she could easily find herself drowning in their depths.
"Don't go," Kate whispered, her eyes slightly wild and her voice husky as she said this. "Not yet."
"Why?" asked Jenny, honest and pure need reflected in her expression and tone. "Is there something else you have to tell me?"
Ducking her head, Kate stared at the floor, trying her best to work through what she felt, body and mind, each time she was around Jenny. Seconds, minutes, hours seemed to pass before Kate found her chin being lightly cupped in Jenny's hand so her head lifted and eyes could meet eyes. And as their gazes locked, Kate swore that she could see into Jenny's very soul, and it was so beautiful, so very beautiful, despite the arrogant front she put on.
A front very much like her own.
"What do you want?" Jenny asked gently, her voice plaintive and her eyes questioning.
Kate averted her gaze to stare at the floor, unable to take the sight of Jenny's soft and accepting features as she said slowly, "Let me help you." Lifting her gaze now, she continued, "It's what I do, it's what I want to do. I want... I want to help you, Jenny Calendar."
"Oh," Jenny formed the sweetest of smiles while fingertips lightly caressed the sides of Kate's face. "I think that's something I want too, Detective Lockley."
"Kate," said the blonde in husky tones. "I'd like it if you'd call me Kate from now on."
"Kate," repeated Jenny, the name rolling off her tongue in a sensuous purr, one that made the Detective shiver on hearing it. "You can call me anything you like, but my real name is Janna Kalderesh."
"Janna?" echoed Kate, frowning. "But--"
"Lets just say that I got sick of all the comments when I moved to Britain," said Jenny, smirking at Kate as she took the other woman by the hand and led her towards the door. "They have something against gypsies there."
Blinking at this, Kate echoed again, "Gypsies?"
For a reply, Jenny simply gave another smile and pulled Kate's hand up to her mouth to leave a soft kiss on her knuckles. "I'll explain it all later," she murmured.
Shivering at the feel of Jenny's velvet lips against her skin, Kate shook her head and smiled. Knowing that no matter what happened, Jenny would keep her promise. And exactly how did she know this?
Oh, it was just a feeling she had.
Cordelia was almost out the door when Trick suddenly appeared in front of her, acting like a big black vampire door blocker.
Rolling her eyes at this, Cordelia huffed, "Move please? I'm trying to leave the house here. Daddy said I could go. He's all happy with my Slayer torture progress."
"Progress?" Trick quirked an eyebrow on hearing the word. "Kakistos calls you sucking face with the Slayer progress for the torture of her and her partner?" Trick then burst into laughter and said, "That's funny, because I'd call it a step backwards if anything else."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Cordelia asked, her hazel eyes narrowing.
"Nothing," said Trick smoothly, smirking at the other vampire. "Just that I doubt you're torturing them at all. In fact, your little flashback to your romance with the Slayer probably just pushed her closer to Buffy." With a cluck of his tongue, he continued, "I can see them now, patrolling together, talking about how mean and nasty you are, Buffy telling Faith to give up on you, Faith agreeing that there's nothing left of the girl she loves. And bam!" Trick's eyes glowed bright yellow as he smacked the palms of his hands together. "Faith's done with you, she's given up and moved onto Buffy's blonde pastures." Tilting his head to one side, Trick smirked again and said, "The real problem with torturing someone who loves you is that eventually they'll either die or leave you. Which one is the Slayer going to do? I doubt it'll be the first but with Buffy around to keep her occupied... oh, the second does have it's possibilities, doesn't it now?"
"She's not going to leave me," Cordelia snarled. "Faith loves me, I saw it in her eyes and I felt it when we kissed. She loves me and nothing's going to change that."
Trick closed his eyes, seeming to contemplate this before he shook his head and said, "Nope. Don't think so, chickadee. I think that Faith's this close," he made a tiny space between his index finger and his thumb. "To giving up on you completely. In fact, I don't think that it'll be long before she declares you dustbuster material."
Her eyes darkening, Cordelia studied Trick closely and that's when she noticed something. Iris wasn't with him and these days, Iris was always with him. It had been that way ever since she'd lost her magic powers.
"Speaking of blondes," Cordelia purred. "Where's yours? Out looking for a top hat and a rabbit since that's the only kind of magic she'll be doing from now on? Is that why you're bothering me, Tricky? You miss her?"
"Iris," began Trick slowly, his eyes flashing dangerously at the brunette vampire. "Went out to find the one who sealed away her powers. It shouldn't be too hard for her to do, she does have Jacob with her."
"Who?" asked Cordelia with a frown.
"Jacob," repeated Trick. When Cordelia still looked at him blankly, he heaved a sigh and said, "Short, spiky black hair, wears thick glasses?"
"Ohhhh," said Cordelia, forming a face of recognition. "You mean the nerd guy. Yeah, I know him." Frowning again, she asked, "Since when does he know magic? I thought he was just an egghead."
"He knows a lot of things," Trick said easily, looking quite smug. "That's why he works for us."
"Yeah, well, whatever," Cordelia shrugged. "I'm heading out of here, if you're finished bugging me."
"Oh, I'm finished," said Trick, smirking. "But if I were you, I'd check out the cemetery before hitting the club. You might just find something interesting there."
"Like what? Newbie vamps?" Cordelia snorted as she flounced out the door. "I don't think so, Tricky."
Watching Cordelia leave, slamming the door behind her, Trick formed a slow smile before he looked back at the figure that had been observing in the shadows, unnoticed by Cordelia.
"Well," Trick said, smirking once more. "How'd I do? It was a convincing act if I do say so myself."
"You did well," said Kakistos, his voice rumbling and deep as he stepped forward to look at Trick. "Now all we have to do is wait for her to take action. The idea has been planted and soon jealousy will take root. And once it gains control..."
"She'll attack the Slayers," Trick supplied. "And they'll either kill her or she'll kill them. But either way, you got yourself a hell of a lot of Slayer suffering going on."
"Yes," Kakistos gave a low chuckle. "Which was exactly why I sired Cordelia. It's nice to have one of my children finally doing what they were born to do. And if she survives, I'll know she's a worthy heir."
"And the thought of that makes you just want to swell up with parental pride, doesn't it?" offered Trick in a humorous drawl.
"Something like that," murmured Kakistos.
The books, Amy, the books, Xander, then the books again. That was how Edward Madison darted his eyes back and forth as he tried to restrain his anger. And it was working somewhat because when he opened his mouth to speak, he didn't yell... he just looked angry.
"Why?" Ed bit the word out. "Why would you take out these damn fool books when I told you to leave them well alone, Amy?"
Amy kept her gaze ducked as she mumbled her response. Instead of asking her what she said, Ed simply looked over at his sister, Stephanie, who smiled softly.
"She wanted to help her friends," supplied Stephanie. Turning to regard Xander and seeing the question in his eyes, she said, "I happen have excellent hearing, even without the help of magic."
"Okay..." Ed murmured to himself, nodding his head a bit, appearing to still be calming down. "Helping your friends is all well and good, but why'd you need the books to do that? Couldn't you have used ones that are less dangerous? Ones that didn't drive your Mama nuts?"
Amy kept her gaze ducked and mumbled something else which caused Xander, who was sitting next to her, and her Aunt Stephanie both to snicker. Once again, Ed looked expectantly at his sibling for the reply.
"She says that Catherine was already nuts, long before she got her hands on those books," said Stephanie, fighting the smile spreading across her full lips.
"All right," Ed nodded again, stopping in his pacing, he narrowed his eyes as he considered his final question. "What sorta spell did you cast, precious?"
Lifting her gaze, Amy whispered, "Sealing. I sealed away the magic powers of a vampire who's been causing us problems. She... she works for Kakistos."
A long moment of complete and utter silence passed before it looked like Ed might finally explode. His face was bright red, his jaw was clenched, and his hands were bunched in tight fists at his sides.
He had just opened his mouth to make a response when a knock on the front door sounded, interrupting him.
If this was a good or bad thing, no one really knew. They all simply sat there and watched as Ed turned to walk away and answer the door.
"Honey," began Stephanie slowly as she turned to look at her niece with sympathetic eyes. "You really did it this time. This is worse than the time you dumped gaudy orange paint all over that maple table he made."
"He's mad," Amy agreed with a nod. "I think he might actually ground me this time."
"Ground you?" Xander squeaked, looking incredulous. "You think that's all he's going to do? Ground you?"
"Why wouldn't I think that?" asked Amy, a puzzled expression on her face. "That's all Daddy's ever done to punish me. Of course," her face turned thoughtful. "He's only punished me once before."
"Precious?" Ed's voice rang out in the air, cutting off their conversation. "Would you come here please?"
"Sure, Daddy!" Amy called out, rising to her feet and dashing towards the front door, only to freeze when she saw just who was standing there. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she said nervously, "Iris."
"So," said Iris in calm tones, her blue eyes raking Amy up and down. "You're the one who sealed my powers away. I must say, I'm disappointed. I thought that you'd be taller or look just a bit intimidating. But no," Iris heaved a huge exaggerated sigh. "I get a little girl instead."
"It seems this lady wants her powers back," said Ed rather calmly. "Can't say that I really blame her. Must be something of a nuisance to have 'em taken away."
"You have no idea," Iris rolled her eyes.
"Daddy," hissed Amy, standing on her tiptoes so she could somehow manage to whisper in her giant of a father's ear. "She's a vampire! A bad one!"
"That so?" said Ed as he peered at Iris through lidded eyes. Contemplating her svelte figure and the smart business suit she wore, he gave a low whistle. "Damn, never woulda known if you hadn't told me. 'Course," he tipped his head to one side. "I think I remember getting a call from someone sounding like you a week back. Something about cleanin' carpets past seven p.m.?"
"My boyfriend," said Iris, waving her hand dismissively. "He hates carpet stains and we can really only see people at night soooo..." She paused to frown. "You said you were busy though, I had to get someone else."
"Had work repairing that damned club," Ed gave an easy shrug. "That place is always getting banged up. It's a wonder ole Mikey keeps it in business."
"Daddy!" Amy hissed again. "She's a bad guy!"
"I know, precious, you told me," said Ed in reassuring tones, clasping Amy's shoulder. Turning back to Iris he said, "My baby here says that you're causing some trouble for her friends and that's why she sealed you away. I'm wondering why you came here though, seein' as you know we're not gonna invite you in anytime soon. Not like you got a lot to threaten us with right now, is it?"
"True," Iris allowed, a slow smile forming across her features. "But Jacob here is another story. He's not only the one who helped me find the person that sealed my powers away but he'll also be the one to kill you."
All at once, everyone in the house fixed their eyes on the short, spiky haired, thick glasses wearing guy that stood next to Iris, and burst into laughter.
The guy, Jacob, gave no reaction to this.
"What?" Xander managed to say through his laughter. "Tiny vamp is going to hurt us? How's that? By making us get dizzy as we look down at him?"
"Hardly," drawled Iris, smirking still. "And when exactly did I say that Jacob's a vampire? He's human."
Once again, all eyes fixed on Jacob who wore the same emotionless expression as before. Iris tilted her head to one side and said, "Show them your toy, Jacob."
Acting on cue, Jacob opened up his jacket and pulled out a large and rather dangerous looking hand gun. He then took a step forward as he pointed it directly at Amy's head, his expression calm as he did so.
"It's not original," admitted Iris in droll tones. "But it's still rather effective. Now about this little sealing spell you cast on me... how about we get rid of it?"
"How about you tell him not to point that thing at my little girl," growled Ed, moving abruptly to stand well in front of Amy, blocking her body with his massive one. "Or our conversation is gonna get a lot less polite."
"Are you forgetting who has the gun?" Iris asked, her eyes narrowing. "I'll kill all of you to get to her. It's not anything personal, but she sealed away my powers and I need them to do business. I might not even kill anyone if she just agrees to break the sealing spell she cast."
"Your gun doesn't matter," said Stephanie calmly, taking a step forward, her crystalline eyes meeting Iris'. "I placed a protection spell on this house a long time ago. If he shoots a bullet, it won't get past the front door. Same results if he tries to use any magic."
Her gaze narrowing by another notch, Iris looked at Jacob out of the corner of her eye and said, "Do it."
With a nod, Jacob pulled the trigger, and a shot rang out as the bullet flew forward from the gun, only to find itself frozen in an invisible force field before dropping harmlessly to the ground.
"I told you," murmured Stephanie, her tone neither condescending nor triumphant. Looking at Jacob, she said, "Don't try to come in or you'll get the same welcome as the bullet. The spell keeps anyone with hostile intentions from entering this house." She then turned her attention back to Iris. "Amy happens to come from a long line of very cautious witches. Although," she glanced back at her niece and smiled. "She seems to be the most reckless one in the line to date."
Twitching now, Iris squeezed her eyes shut and growled in frustration, "All I want... ALL I want are my powers back so I can get out of this pissant town!"
"So who's stopping you?" Xander muttered while next to him, Amy's blue eyes went wide at Iris' words.
"You want to leave Sunnydale?" asked Amy hesitantly. She had a good reason to be hesitant, since without her Aunt's boosted protection spell around the house, she'd be dead right now. "Really?"
"Yes, really," Iris snarled, shifting into her game face. "I hate it here! The work I do is unappreciated and there's nothing here to amuse myself with! And... and..." She shouted agitatedly, "You're all a bunch of hicks!"
"I feel vaguely insulted," remarked Xander.
"You don't know then?" Amy continued, looking almost relieved. "The sealing spell I cast only keeps you from using your powers in Sunnydale. It's to prevent you from using them to hurt the people here."
"You mean..." Iris began slowly, an expression of utter delight forming on her features as they changed back to their human appearance. "To get my powers back all I have to do is leave this stupid town?"
"Basically," said Amy easily, giving a shrug.
"Ohhh," Iris chuckled lowly. "I can't wait to pack my bags. Come on Jacob," she called out as she turned on her heel and walked away. "Lets round up the others. It's official, we're heading back to New York."
Giving a shrug of his shoulders, Jacob put the gun back in his jacket and followed after Iris who gave a final shout of, "See you later, Sunnydale! I hope one day the stinking Hellmouth you sit on swallows you whole!"
And with that, she got into her nearby parked limousine, along with her miniature henchman, and drove quickly away. Leaving Amy and the others more than a bit dumbfounded at her sudden exit.
"Huh," said Ed after a long moment of pause. "She certainly was an interestin' gal, don't you think?"
"Daddy!" Amy cried, looking peeved. "She tried to kill me! You saw her, she sent out her short gun toting guy! She's not interesting, she's a bad, bad, vampire!"
"Aww, there now, precious," Ed murmured, clucking his daughter under the chin as he shut the front door to their house. "You didn't think I'd actually let them hurt you, did you? And besides, didn't you know I had your Aunt cast one of those protection spells?"
As the front door went firmly shut, Ed's voice could be heard adding in wry tones, "You can't ever be too safe in this town, y'know."
"You're sure this is what they want?" asked Willow rather skeptically, scrunching up her nose as she did so. It just seemed strange to her that Charlie and Derrick would want a huge order of plain spaghetti, no sauce, no cheese, no nothing, just plain boiled spaghetti, from the best Italian restaurant in town. "They like to eat this?"
"They're picky," Vince said with a smile, taking the bag full of their take out food from his girlfriend. "Derrick hates any food that's red or has red things on it, it just really creeps him out. And Charlie?" Vince chuckled. "He has a weird phobia about tomatoes. Something to do with visiting relatives in Georgia and working on a farm."
"If you say so," murmured Willow, hooking her arm in Vince's. "It just seems like pretty boring food."
"It is," agreed Vince, nodding his head. "But who are we to dispute our bandmates boring food eating habits when tonight is our come back show, hmm?"
"That makes no sense," Willow chuckled, poking Vince lightly in the side. "What does Charlie and Derrick liking boring food have to do with our come back show?"
Squinting his eyes, Vince pretended to consider this for a long moment, then said, "Nothing at all, but--"
"Ah hah!" cried Willow triumphantly, pulling on Vince's hand and giving a tiny jump up and down. "I win! I was right! Admit it, admit it!"
"BUT," Vince emphasized as shot Willow a teasing grin while she rolled her green eyes. "Tonight should be a night of solidarity because tonight," he paused dramatically and Willow couldn't help but giggle at this. "We, the great members of the band, Prophecy Girl, shall make our very dramatic on stage come back!"
After proclaiming this, Vince made the muted noise of an audience cheering as Willow smirked. "Funny," she said in fond tones. "You're a regular laugh causing comedic person. Ever think of leaving this great band of ours for a career in making the masses chuckle?"
"I've considered it many times, yes," said Vince, his expression was solemn but his eyes sparkled humorously. "But I just can't bear the thought of abandoning you all."
"Right, right," Willow rolled her eyes again. "You're just so considerate that way, Mr. Kesler."
"Yes, indeed I am," murmured Vince as he went to unlock the door to Susie the Bus. Opening the door, Vince took a step back and gave a low bow. "After you, milady."
"Thank you, kind sir," said Willow with a smile, leaving a gentle kiss on Vince's cheek before she stepped inside of the bus. "I do appreciate it."
"As you should," Vince pronounced, his tones playful as he boarded Susie as well. "I was being a perfect gentleman, was I not?"
"You surely were," Willow replied while Susie's door shut and Vince went about starting the bus. "I was overwhelmed by your chivalry. First buying dinner for our fellow bandmates before the show and now... opening the door to your bus for your girlfriend!" Willow gave a sharp gasp of amazement. "You're truly amazing."
"You know," said Vince slowly, turning to look at Willow with an earnest expression. "I'm starting to get this sneaking suspicion you're making fun of me, Red."
Kissing Vince lightly on the tip of his nose, Willow chuckled in low tones, ones that made a shiver of desire run through her boyfriend, and said, "That's because I am. But," her voice lowered by an octave, making her sound all that much sexier. "It doesn't mean I don't love you."
"You mean it?" Vince quirked an eyebrow.
"Oh, I mean it," murmured Willow in throaty tones, her kisses moving down his face before her teeth gave his bottom lip the tiniest biting tug. "How about you? Do you mean it, hmm?"
Vince didn't give any reply. Instead, he leaned forward, across the seat, and pulled Willow towards him as their lips met in a passionate kiss filled with longing.
If anyone saw that kiss they would safely assume that Charlie and Derrick would most likely be eating cold, boring, spaghetti for dinner tonight.
Because Willow and Vince certainly weren't in any hurry to deliver the food. Not while they had each other to occupy their time with. Each other and each other's lips.
And can anyone really blame them?
If there was one constant in a Slayer's life it was patrolling. It was something that they always had to do, no matter what else in their lives was going on. Because if they didn't patrol, then who would?
Their friends probably.
But that wasn't the point. They were the Slayers and as such, patrolling was their duty, their job, and their responsibility. Plus sometimes it helped them as much as it helped the citizens of Sunnydale by keeping them safe.
And it helped them by clearing their heads because in the moment of slaying, in that frozen moment of the kill as they fought their enemies, nothing else mattered but the victory they would hold over their foe.
Tonight's patrol was slow, however, and it left Buffy and Faith more than a bit antsy. They had no battles to clear their minds of the worries that lurked there so now they were resounding in their thoughts, weighing them down as they walked through the cemetery.
Buffy was the first to speak. Turning to look at Faith, she found herself asking the question that had been running through her head since yesterday night. "Why?" began Buffy slowly. "Why did you let her kiss you?"
There was a moment of absolute silence as Faith froze in her walk. She didn't turn around to look at Buffy, and instead kept her gaze focused clear ahead. Then, the softest and most weary of sighs came from her.
"Did you ever want something, Buff? Want something so badly that it seemed like it would kill you just from wanting it? And you knew, you knew, that wanting it was wrong... that wanting it would only hurt you and still, that feeling doesn't leave you?" Faith slowly turned around to lock dark brown eyes with hazel ones. "You know that feeling, I know you do."
"Yeah," Buffy replied hoarsely, the pain in her eyes showing as she focused on her own feelings for Faith. "I know that feeling."
"I knew it was wrong," Faith continued. "Letting her kiss me, kissing her back, but I wanted it so much... to just have Cordelia back with me. But it wasn't her, Buff, it wasn't even close. The kiss..." Faith trailed off in lost tones as her eyes darkened. "It was so cold. Nothing like sweets at all and soon as it ended, I finally knew."
"Knew what?" asked Buffy quietly.
"That she's gone," said Faith, closing her eyes painfully. "My Cordelia, my sweets, she would never kiss me that way. She would never try to use me like that thing tried to do in the alley. It's not her... she's not in there." Opening her eyes, Faith met Buffy's gaze and the blonde held her breath as she watched Faith's eyes grow cold. "And now," Faith said darkly. "I can finally end it."
"Faith," whispered Buffy brokenly, taking a step towards the other Slayer and reaching out to touch her arm. "You don't mean that. At least wait until that guy, Zac, comes into town. He might be able to help--"
"NO," Faith interrupted, shaking her head fiercely. "You don't understand, Buff. I felt it when we kissed! No matter what I thought when I heard sweets calling out to me the other day, that thing is in charge now." Taking a deep breath, Faith said slowly, "I'll wait for Zac to arrive and see what he says but now I know what I have to do if worse comes to worse. And I know, that I can do it. For her sake and mine, Buff, I'll kill that creature."
"I'll help," Buffy said firmly. "It's my fault, what happened, and I'm going to help you in any way I can."
"Buff," said Faith in a quiet, wandering, protest. Smiling a bit, she shook her head. "Thanks, but I gotta do this on my own. And none of this is your fault."
"That's bullshit!" Buffy enforced, her hazel eyes blazing with ferocity. "And you know it, Faith! If I hadn't kissed you that night, if Cordelia hadn't seen, if I would've just kept my feelings for you to myself, none of this would have happened! Everything that's going on is all my fault! Just because I was too selfish to keep quiet about how I feel about you! This... I..." Trailing off tearfully, Buffy kept her head ducked as the tears began to fall, even when she felt Faith approach her, clasping her shoulders. "It's all my fault," she whispered tearfully. "My fault."
In a slow and tender movement, Faith tipped up Buffy's chin so their eyes could meet and when they did, the blonde Slayer felt her throat choke up at the kindness welling in Faith's dark eyes. "You," murmured Faith in husky tones. "Are my partner. Without you kicking me in the ass to keep going I would've given up by now. And," Faith paused for a moment, deliberating inwardly before she smiled softly. "I sorta love you too."
"Faith," whispered Buffy in amazement. Shaking her head, she broke away from the other Slayer, looking much like a wild animal as she did so. "But not the way I love you," she said. "Not like that."
"No," Faith admitted, taking a step forward, calming Buffy with her very presence. "I don't love you, not like that, not right now. But y'know," Faith smiled wryly, finding a sort of perverse humor in her newfound realization. "I bet I could love you like that if I had the chance and if..." Faith closed her eyes painfully once again, then swallowing the lump in her throat, she continued, "If we can't help Cordelia, can't bring her back, we--"
"Don't say it!" Buffy cried out, shaking her head wildly, her hands covering her ears. "I don't want to hear you say it! If that's the only way that you can love me then I don't want it! It's no good, Faith!"
"Buffy," said Faith in surprise.
The dark haired Slayer took another step towards Buffy, who immediately backed away from Faith, and the hand that was reaching out to her. "NO!" Buffy shouted. "Don't you get it, Faith? It's no good, no good! I can't be a replacement for Cordelia, I don't want to be one!" Shaking her head, she sobbed, "Not when... I'm not even sure if I really... if we really... but she's with him now..."
"Buffy," said Faith again, this time success in her attempt to reach out and grab the other Slayer. At first, Buffy vainly fought her grasp, but slowly, she lost her will to fight and Faith pulled the blonde towards her and into her arms. She then murmured into the crown of soft hair, "You're not a replacement for anyone. I swear, you're not. Love is..." Faith trailed off thoughtfully, considering what to say next before it hit her suddenly and she smiled. "Love is love and there are all types of it. Don't try and label what we have, huh? Just know that it's there." She paused to pull back so their eyes could meet and Faith said in solemn tones, "Just know that I do love you."
An endless moment passed between them and when it was over and time restarted again, they found themselves instinctively leaning forward. When, for the second time, lips met lips, the Slayers didn't experience that same jolt of electricity, that same excitement from before. Instead, the kiss was comfortable and comforting, filling them both with a strange serenity.
It was the serenity that came from knowing. Of finally knowing just what it was that they had between the two of them. And what it meant to the others.
"I love you," Faith murmured as they parted, the back of her hand lightly caressing Buffy's cheek.
"But not like that," Buffy whispered, leaning into the touch, her hazel eyes teary.
"No," admitted Faith softly. "Not like that." She paused to regard Buffy for a long while, then said, "Not like that for you either, I think."
"Yeah," Buffy ducked her head, leaning into Faith and resting her head on the other girl's shoulder. "I guess that it's not like that for either of us."
The Slayers finally knew what it was that they wanted, what it was they had together, and what it was that they had to do in the future.
But the figure that was watching them, lurking on the far side of the cemetery, hidden in the shadows, had no idea what that was. The only thing that they knew was that they had just seen the Slayers kissing.
Again. Again! AGAIN!
The word and the scene replayed over and over through their mind and releasing a low growl, Cordelia felt herself shift into her game face. "This won't do," she said in vicious tones. "This won't do at all. Faith is supposed to be mine, not Miss Muffet's. But apparently," Cordelia's eyes gleamed bright yellow. "She doesn't know who she belongs with. That's because someone's in the way, if someone got out of the way, if someone moved a little, into a grave perhaps, then she'd know where to go."
Releasing a mad peal of laughter, Cordelia slunk out of the cemetery, moving into a quick run as she said in a harsh enforcement, "Oh... she'll know where to go, very soon! Everyone will know their place! Even if it happens to be buried in the cold ground!"
What Cordelia had planned wasn't at all what Kakistos thought would happen when he concocted his scheme. In fact, it was something entirely unexpected.
To him and everyone else in Sunnydale.
Something was missing.
They had the linguini, they had the spaghetti, they even had the salad, but something was still missing.
"The breadsticks!" said Vince suddenly, smiling sheepishly when his bandmates stared at him for the abrupt outburst. "Sorry," he apologized. "I just knew that I forgot something and I just remembered I left them inside Susie."
"So go get them," said Derrick, smirking. He shook his fork that had boring, plain, spaghetti on it at Vince. "It just isn't a proper meal without the breadsticks."
"Frankly," Charlie drawled teasingly. "I'm horrified that you even left them behind. It's a terrible insult. What does it say to the breadsticks? I'll tell you what it says, it says that they're not important enough to eat."
"Right, right," Vince rolled his eyes expressively as he stood up. "Tell Red where I went?"
"We will," Charlie and Derrick called together, watching Vince walk out the back door the Bronze. When he got to the door, they made the loud sound of a whip cracking then said in sing song tones, "Slave boy!"
"Funny," said Vince dryly, before exiting the Bronze to go in search of their missing breadsticks.
Seconds later, Willow emerged from the girls bathroom in the club and wandered over to their booth where Charlie and Derrick were busy eating their boring spaghetti. Noting that her boyfriend was gone, she looked around the club for a moment before Charlie noticed.
"He forgot the breadsticks," supplied Charlie. "Went out to Susie to go and get them."
"We were supposed to tell you that," said Derrick, his brown eyes twinkling. "So you wouldn't worry."
"He's a good boy," Willow murmured, smiling. Walking towards the back door to the club, she continued, "And I'll just have to show him how good."
Hearing this, Charlie and Derrick descended into humorous cat calls which caused Willow to giggle before she walked out the door the Bronze.
Her laughter soon faded at what she saw.
The world around her seemed to have lost its meaning and everything was silent. The loud bang of the door closing didn't even register in her mind.
Only one thing did. And that one thing was the sight of Vince, lying on the ground, breathing shallowly, in a pool of his own blood, the box of breadsticks he went to retrieve spilled aimlessly throughout the alley.
"Vince," whispered Willow in horror. Rushing to his side, she turned him over, so he was lying on his back. She gazed into his pale features, they were so pale that he looked nearly pure white and felt her eyes focus on the gaping stab wound in his stomach. "No!" she cried, pulling off her jacket and ripping at its lining, using it to try and stop the bleeding. "NO! You can't die! You can't!"
"Red," Vince gasped, his breathing shallow. In a shaky movement, he managed to reach up a blood soaked hand to lightly touch her cheek. "Please, don't blame her for this. It's... not her... we know that."
"Shhh," Willow comforted, grabbing his hand and kissing it fiercely. "Don't talk. Rest now. It'll be all right, I swear that it'll be all right. All we have to do is stop the bleeding and you'll be fine." Turning towards the door to the Bronze, she shouted frantically, "Charlie!! Derrick!!" Turning back to Vince, she saw his breathing hitch and him lose even more color. "No," she whispered. "No, no, no! No you don't! Don't you die on me, Vince Kesler! You can't die..." Willow pleaded, her voice cracking as tears ran down her face. "We're making our come back."
"Sorry..." rasped Vince, sounding wry despite the harsh gasping breaths he took in. "I won't be there..."
"Don't talk," insisted Willow. "You need to rest."
"It's dark..." Vince continued, ignoring Willow's pleas. "So dark..." His brown eyes widened and for just a moment, they seemed to gain focus again. "Red," Vince said in a loud gasp. "I love you."
"I love you too," Willow sobbed, pressing her hands into his wound, helpless to stop the blood from flowing. "So please don't die... please don't..."
"Sorry..." Vince whispered again.
And then he closed his eyes forever.