A Two of a Kind Love by Pat Kelly
A Two of a Kind Love
by Pat Kelly

Author's Note: I based several parts around actual episodes. In fact, I'm following the the entire third season to its conclusion, changing things to fit the Buffy/Willow relationship. And that means I use dialogue from the episodes as well, so a disclaimer is needed: 

JOSS AND MUTANT ENEMY, THE WB, and FOX, own everything! (And thank you to AleXander for his episode transcripts!) 

Enjoy, and feedback please!
bandits@erols.com

13
GOING BACK AND MOVING FORWARD – PT. 2

Across town, Giles returned to the boarding house. He opened the door, stuck his head in, and looked around. There was no sign of anyone, and it was silent.

"Quentin?" he asked. He received no answer.

He stepped in and closed the door, wary. He went into the sitting room. Everything is normal. He walked back out and down the hall, looking up the stairs. Still normal, but too quiet for him not to suspect something. He took a few steps up to the landing.

"Hello? Quentin? Hob..."

He noticed that the stair railing felt wet, and looked at his hand. It was covered with fresh blood. From the landing he looked into the other room and saw the closed crate standing there. He rushed down the stairs and looked for a weapon. He grabbed one of the stair rail supports and broke it out with the heel of his other hand. He headed for the crate, ready to face Kralik, but it was empty.

Worried now, he looked around and then down at the floor. He saw tracks of blood leading into the kitchen. He followed them, holding his makeshift stake up. He grabbed the doorknob and swung it open, but nothing is there. He searched for the light switch, and flipped it on.

He saw what was left of one of Quentin’s assistants lying on the table. He immediately dropped the stake, backed out of the kitchen, put his hand to his mouth and tried his best not to vomit. Quickly, he regained his composure and left the house.

***

Joyce had just gotten home from the gallery, and was about to go get a shower when she heard a knock at the door. She opened the front door, and stepped out onto the porch.

"Buffy?" she asked, thinking it might be her daughter.

She got no answer, and started to look around for who might’ve knocked at her door. Seeing that no one and thinking it was probably kids playing a prank, she started to turn around. Before she knew what was happening, someone appeared behind her and clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Mother." Kralik said.

***

Back in Willow’s room, she and Buffy were laying under the covers. She was running her hand through Willow’s hair, and Willow was resting her head on Buffy’s chest.

"I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again," Willow said.

"That’s a good thing, right?"

"Definitely. I never realized how…"

"What?"

"Intimate it was." Buffy gave her an amused but understanding look. "I mean…I thought I knew you pretty well, but when…I feel like you’re a part of me now."

"You felt that, too?"

Willow nodded.

"It was the most amazing thing…"

"I’ve ever experienced." Buffy finished Willow’s thought.

Willow sighed, happy, and sat up a little.

"When we leave here it’s going we’re going to have to face life again, aren’t we?"

"Unfortunately. Things will change, but we won’t. I promise."

Willow smiled at her. "Can’t we just stay here forever? It’s perfect right now."

"We can try. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make sure this isn’t the last perfect moment we have. But right now, I don’t wanna go anywhere."

"Good cause I don’t want you to either."

"Lay with me."

Willow started to lower herself back into a laying position, when they heard a knock at the door.

"How did I know that was coming?" Buffy asked.

The knocking became more insistent.

"I guess I should answer it." Willow slowly got up, slipping on clothes.

"Hang on, I’ll go with you."

***

When they finally answered the door, Giles rushed in, frantic.

"Giles?" Willow asked, suddenly blushing.

Buffy smiled at Willow. "What’s wrong?"

"I have something to tell you, Buffy." He said.

"You wanna sit down first?" Willow asked, leading them to the couch.

"Yes, thank you."

They sat down, and Giles took his glasses off.

"You know what’s wrong with me, don’t you?"

"Yes." He got the box that contained the needle, out of the inside of his jacket.

"What’s that?" Willow asked.

Giles opened the box, and they saw its contents.

"It's an organic compound... of muscle relaxants and adrenal suppressers. The effect is temporary. You'll be yourself again in a few days."

Buffy was trying to grasp what he said.

"You?" she asked, her happiness fading fast.

"It's a test, Buffy. It's given to the Slayer once she...well, if she reaches her eighteenth birthday. The Slayer is disabled and then entrapped with a vampire foe whom she must defeat in order to pass the test. The vampire you were to face...has escaped. His name is Zachary Kralik. As a mortal, he murdered and tortured more than a dozen women before he was committed to an asylum for the criminally insane. When a vamp..."

Buffy was shaking, and she didn’t seem to register anything. Willow saw her, and felt her anger build. Before she knew what she was doing, she slapped Giles across the face. Buffy looked up at him finally.

"You bastard. All this time, you saw what it was doing to me. All this time, and you didn't say a word?"

"I wanted to."

"Liar." She choked.

"In matters of tradition and protocol, I must answer to the Council."

"She’s more important then the Council. We’ve gone three years without them, and then the minute they call you, you go running. I thought you cared. You were supposed to be our friend. She’s right. You are a liar. She could’ve gotten killed," Willow said with venom in her voice.

Giles had never heard Willow speak so angrily. If he weren’t so hurt by her words, he would’ve admired the way Willow was protecting Buffy.

"My role in this... was very specific. I was to administer the injections and to direct you to the old boardinghouse on Prescott Lane."

"I can't... I can't hear this," Buffy said, crying openly.

Willow embraced Buffy.

"Buffy, please."

"Who are you? How could you do this to me?"

"I am deeply sorry, Buffy, and you have to understand..."

He reached out to her, but she warned him off.

"If you touch me, I'll kill you."

"You have to listen to me. Because I've told you this, the test is invalidated. You will be safe now, I promise you. Now, whatever I have to do to deal with Kralik... and to win back your trust..."

"You stuck a needle in me. You poisoned me!"

Willow glared at Giles, and then went to go get tissues off the table.

"If this guy’s out…I have to go home."

"You can't walk home alone, Buffy. It isn't safe."

Willow handed Buffy some tissues.

"Then take me home."

"I don’t – " He started.

"I’m not listening to you anymore. Take me home."

Buffy walked to the door, followed by Willow.

"Buffy?"

"Yeah, Will?" She was sniffing.

"Whatever you’re going to do…be careful, okay?"

"I will."

"I mean it, Buffy. I know how you get when you’re upset. You take more risks. I…just don’t want to lose you."

"You won’t." Buffy kissed her, and walked out the door.

***

Giles pulled up to the front of Buffy’s house, and she got out, and shut the door.

"Perhaps I should wait…"

"Just go."

"Buffy please…"

"You can’t make this better, Giles. Especially now. Go."

He waited a few seconds and drove off. Buffy watched the car go, and walked up to her front door. She saw a Polaroid taped to the door. It was of her mother with Kralik, and he was holding her by the neck. On the back, the word, ‘Come’ was written.

Buffy ran inside to get supplies, and then started to make her way to the boardinghouse.

***

"Mother." Kralik said to a tied and gagged Joyce, in the basement of the boardinghouse. He was snapping pictures of her. "May I call you Mother? My own mother was a person with no self-respect of her own, so she tried to take mine."

Joyce turned her head away from him, and he took another picture. She strained against the ropes around her arm, but they were too tight.

"Ten years old, she had the scissors. You wouldn't believe what she took with those. But she's dead to me now. Mostly…because I killed and ate her, but also because I know I won't be alone much longer.

"I'll have your daughter. I won't kill her; I'll just make her like me. Different. She'll go to sleep, and when she wakes up, your face will be the first thing she eats."

He looked at Joyce’s terror-filled face.

"I have a problem with mothers. I'm aware of that."

***

Giles was in his office trying to call someone on the phone. Quentin entered the office, and Giles put the phone down.

"I was just trying to reach you."

"I was on watch over by the boardinghouse."

"Then you know what's happened."

"Yes."

"He's killed Hobson and made Blair one of his own. Your perfectly controlled test seems to have spun rather impressively out of control, don't you think?" Giles asked angrily.

"It changes nothing."

"Well, then, allow me. I've told Buffy everything."

"That is in direct opposition to the Council's orders."

"Yes. Interestingly, I don't give a rat's ass about the Council's orders. There will be no test."

"The test has already begun. Your Slayer entered the field of play about ten minutes ago."

"Why?"

"I don't know. I returned there just as she entered."

Giles grabbed his keys from his desk and started out of the office. Quentin tried to stop him.

"Now Giles, we've no business..."

Giles grabbed him by the coat and shoved him up against the doorframe.

"This is not business!"

***

The front door of the boardinghouse opened quietly, and Buffy looked in. She had her crossbow up and ready. The front rooms were empty and quiet, so she stepped in. She took one of her stakes out the bag she brought with her and put it down between the door and the frame to keep it open.

Again she raised her bow and looked around the front rooms. She stepped in further and looked through the archway into the sitting room. She walked once around the room and then sat her bag down on the old couch. She continued to explore the area quietly. She approached a door and cautiously took hold of the knob. Quickly she twisted it and pulled the door open, only to find that it was been bricked up on the other side. She closed it.

A hand reached down and picked up the stake she left to keep the door open. The door closed and the latch echoed loudly. Buffy spun around to face the noise. She didn’t see Blair, the ex-assistant now vampire, take the stake and go hide in the shadows.

Buffy slowly moved out of back into the foyer. She looked around before entering, then went back over to the door to check it. She found it locked shut. She yanked at it several times, but it won’t budge. Blair came up behind her and growled. She spun around and aimed the crossbow at him. She pulled the trigger, but the bolt flew right past his face. Blair grabbed the bow, jerked it out of her hands and threw it down. He grabbed her by the throat and started to choke her.

Buffy grabbed onto his arm and stomped on his foot. He let go. She shoved him aside and ran into the sitting room. She opened her bag and tried to reach in, but Blair reached for her over the back of the couch. She jumped away and ran to the far wall by the bookcase. Blair moved to follow, but she pushed the bookcase over on top of him. He struggled underneath it, and can't lift it off.

Buffy climbed over it and went to her bag, opened it and reached in. Blair reached out from under the bookcase and grabbed her ankle. She screamed and looked around for a weapon. She saw andirons, grabbed the tongs and started to whack Blair's arm. She hit him several times and he finally let go. She grabbed her bag and ran out of the room. She stopped in the hallway and looked around. Somewhere Kralik was watching her, and taunting her.

"Hide and seeeek..." He said, hidden.

She looked all around her.

"Hide and seek!"

The hall, the stairs and the adjacent room were empty. There she saw Kralik's crate. The crate door was closed and looked locked. She approached it, and it suddenly swung open. Kralik jumped out and grabbed her by the throat. Buffy gasped in fright.

"Why did you come to the dark of the woods?" He yanked her bag out of her hands and looked into it. Inside was a smaller bow, several stakes and a few knives. "To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?"

He dropped the bag and pulled her closer. Buffy surprised him by holding up a cross. He leapt back from her in fear. She held it out at arm's length, shaking nervously. Kralik stared at her for awhile smiling evilly, then suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled it and the cross into his chest. He rubbed it around and laughed as it burns against his skin.

"Oh-oh, no, no. Just a little lower. Right...Oh, yes. Yes. Oh. Oooh! Thank you very much."

Buffy let go of the cross and ran. Kralik just smiled and watched her run. She ran into the kitchen and locked the door. Hobson's remains were still there. She noticed the body but didn't have time to look at it. She was distracted by Kralik pounding on the door. She ran to the counter and looked through the drawers trying to find anything she could use. She couldn’t find anything, and looked up when the pounding stops. She looked around again, still couldn’t find anything. Slowly she stepped back to the door and quietly opened it.

The coast was clear, so she came into the hall. She made her way toward the stairs. Almost there, she made a dash for them and started to run up. Kralik punched his arm through the railing and tripped her, making her fall and cut her forehead against the steps. He grabbed her leg and pulled her down a bit. She struggled to get away. She grabbed a broken piece of the railing and stabbed at his arm with it. He let go and decided to run up the stairs after her.

Buffy scrambled to her feet, ran to the top and started down the hall. At a bend in the hall she stopped and looked around. The hallway was empty, so she ran to the first door. It was locked, so she went to the next. It opened, and she ran in, slamming the door behind her. The room was pitch dark. She searched around until she found a string hanging from the ceiling. She pulled it and the light goes on. She stared in shock at the walls around her. They were covered with Polaroid’s of her mother.

She grabbed one off the wall to make sure. Just then she heard Kralik pounding at the door. He punched through and reached in, searching for the knob to unlock it. She ran to another door, opened it and ran out into the hall. Just as she reached the end, Kralik stepped out in front of her.

"If you stray from the path, you will lose your way."

He reached out and put his hand on her cheek. She tried to push him away, but he was too strong and bent down toward her neck.

"I won't take it all. I won't take it all."

She strained hard to keep him at bay. Suddenly Kralik had one of his attacks. He grabbed his head and began to scream. Buffy tried to get past him, but he shoved her into the wall, stunning her. He pulled out his pill bottle and struggled to get it open. Buffy regained her bearings and grabbed the bottle out of his hands. She ran down the hall away from him.

"No! No! No!"

He had a hard time coming after her with the pain in his head. Buffy reached the far end of the hall and leapt into the laundry chute. Kralik looked down the chute and heard her sliding, but didn't follow. Instead he staggered back the other way.

Buffy came sliding out of the chute and onto a table. It broke beneath her, and she fell to the floor in a cloud of dust. Her mother was there, tied to a chair and gagged, and saw her daughter fall.

"Buffy?" She tried to say, but her voice was muffled.

Buffy got up and scrambled over to her mother. She tried to untie her, but couldn’t.

"Buffy, we have to get out..."

They heard pounding at the basement door. Buffy stopped struggling with the ropes, as Kralik smashed the door. He came running down the stairs demanding his pills.

"Where are they? Where are they?" he asked, near screaming.

He ran into the room, and Buffy faked trying to get past him and up the stairs. He grabbed her and shoved her against a wall. He saw the pill bottle in her hands and snatched it from her. He struggled with the lid as he stumbled over to where he saw a glass of water near the wine racks. He got the lid off, popped a couple of pills and gulped down the water. He gasped for air and took several deep breaths as he began to calm down, knowing that the medicine should soon take effect. He smiled evilly over at Buffy and took some forced steps in her direction. She just watched him come.

"You don't seem to understand your place in all of this. Do you have any idea..."

Suddenly he realized something was very wrong and stopped in his tracks.

"Oh, my! What have you…" He began to shake and looked back up at Buffy. "My pills!"

She pulled the now-empty bottle of Holy Water from her pocket and held it up for him to see. He dropped the glass and began to shake violently, grunting and groaning in pain.

"No. No..."

Smoke began to puff out of his clothes. Buffy watched coolly.

"If I was at full Slayer power, I'd be punning right about now."

"No! No!"

He screamed loudly, and then crumbled to ashes from the inside out. Buffy closed her eyes and let out a sigh of relief. She pocketed the bottle and rushed over to her mother. She pulled the gag from her mouth and began to work on the ropes again.

"Buffy, thank God you're okay. Oh, that man..."

"I can't get these. They're too tight."

"Can't you just..."

"Not right now. Maybe there's some clippers around."

She stood up to look around, when suddenly Blair lunged at her. Giles was right behind him. Blair grabbed Giles and threw him against a shelf rack. Blair punched him in the face and in the gut. Giles doubled over, but thrust up with his arm, plunging a stake into Blair's chest. He burst into ashes. Slowly, Giles straightened up. He and Buffy looked at each other.

***

Back at the library, Buffy was sitting at the table, Giles was standing by his office door, and Quentin was talking to her.

"Congratulations, you passed. You exhibited extraordinary courage and clear-headedness in battle. The Council is very pleased."

"Do I get a gold star?" She deadpanned.

"I understand that you're upset..."

"You understand nothing. You set that monster loose, and he came after my mother."

"You think the test was unfair?"

"I think you better leave town before I get my strength back."

"We're not in the business of fair, Miss Summers, we're fighting a war."

"You're waging a war. She's fighting it. There is a difference," Giles said.

"Mr. Giles, if you don't mind..."

"The test is done. We're finished."

"Not quite. She passed. You didn't. The Slayer is not the only one who must perform in this situation. I've recommended to the Council, and they've agreed, that you be relieved of your duties as Watcher immediately. You're fired."

"On what grounds?"

"Your affection for your charge has rendered you incapable of clear and impartial judgment. You have a father's love for the child, and that is useless to the cause. It would be best if you had no further contact with the Slayer."

Buffy was pondering Quentin’s words.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"No, well, I didn't expect you would adhere to that. However, if you interfere with the new Watcher, or countermand his authority in any way, you will be dealt with. Are we clear?"

"Oh, we're very clear."

"Congratulations again." Quentin said to Buffy.

"Bite me."

"Yes, well, colorful girl."

Quentin left the library. Giles looked over at Buffy. She put her hand to her forehead. She sniffed, and reached for the cloth that was lying on the table next to a bowl of water, and picked it up. Giles walked over to her and put his hand on the cloth. She let him take it from her hand.

He dipped it in the water and knelt down in front of her, reached out and gently patted it on the gash in her forehead. She winced in pain, but didn't pull away. She looked up at him sadly for a moment, then lowered her eyes. Giles turned the now-bloody cloth over and continued to lightly dab it on her wound.

***

The next day Oz, Xander, and Willow were gathered in Buffy’s kitchen. Joyce was there also.

"I can't believe Giles was fired. How could Giles get fired?" Willow said.

"So, how did you manage to kill Kralik?" Oz said.

"Oh, she was very clever." Joyce said. Buffy raised her eyebrows at her. "You go ahead and tell it, dear. You tell it better."

"Now, now when you say 'fired', do you mean 'fired'?" Willow asked.

"You're not cruising past that concept any time soon, are you?" Xander said sarcastically.

"Well, it's just... I mean he's been fired! He's, he's unemployed! He's... between jobs."

"Giles isn't going anywhere, Will. He's still librarian," Buffy said.

"Okay, but I'm writing an angry letter."

"You know, nothing's really gonna change. The important thing is that I kept up my special birthday tradition of gut-wrenching misery and horror."

"Bright side to everything," Oz said.

Buffy smiled as she remembered the previous night. The part before being almost killed by an insane vampire. The more she thought about it, the quicker her bad thoughts went away. She smiled at Willow, who smiled right back.

"You know, Oz? You’re absolutely right."

Oz grinned, and Xander, looking at Buffy and Willow, nearly fell.

"Oh my God…" Xander couldn’t form words.

"What’s wrong with him?" Joyce asked.

Buffy was speechless. "I…"

"That’s just the way he is. You get used to it," Willow said.

Buffy gave her a ‘thank you’ look.

"I’m gonna go to the Bronze for practice. Anybody wanna come?" Oz asked.

"Sure!" Buffy and Willow said together.

They left with Oz, leaving a stuttering Xander who had come to a sitting position on the kitchen floor.

14
BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION

Willow watched Buffy from her lounging position in the Bronze. Buffy was in line to get drinks. Four days after the Council’s "test" her strength returned. Thanks to the minor accident she had had one day, she found out. The door to her house had been stuck, and she kept turning the knob. Out of frustration, she broke the knob clean off the door.

If the knob hadn’t broken, she wouldn’t have realized her ability had come back to her. Willow knew what her distraction was, because she had the same problem. They were both on Cloud Nine since their intimate night together. The whole world seemed to disappear before their eyes.

They had become closer, and they had thought that impossible, but it happened. Willow didn’t know if it had something to do with Buffy’s slayerness or something else, but she seemed to know what Buffy was thinking, and vice versa. It was more an emotional connection that just seemed to keep growing. The more it did, the more words were unnecessary. Looking into each other’s eyes had suddenly become a whole conversation.

And that was the difference between love and sex. Sex stopped at the physical end, but making love encompassed everything. Mind, body, and soul. Willow wouldn’t have believed people who told her that. Not if she hadn’t experienced it herself. And now it was like everything else didn’t matter.

‘School matters.’ She reminded herself.

What didn’t seem to matter was the Hellmouth, Vampires, all the problems went away. She knew she’d have to face the warped reality that was her life eventually, but right now she was avoiding it at all costs.

As Buffy started to come over with the drinks, Willow saw her freeze up. Wondering what was wrong, Willow tried to find the source of the problem. The problem was in front of her. Towering over her it seemed.

"Hiya, Red."

Willow drew in a breath. Faith was one problem she wished she hadn’t forgotten about.

***

Buffy immediately dropped the two cups of scalding hot mocha on the floor, and ran up behind Faith. The other slayer sensed her this time, and crouched. Buffy’s punch missed, and the strength that was behind it knocked her off balance. Surprisingly enough, Faith was the one who stopped her fall.

"I was already knocked out by you once, B. I’d like to avoid it this time. Look, I know I was somewhat…rude before, and I’m sorry. We five-by-five?"

‘What’s with the act?’ Buffy and Willow thought at the same time.

"Back away from Willow."

"You think I was gonna hurt my buddy over here?"

"I’m not your buddy," Willow said adamantly.

"Even after all the quality time we spent together? I’m hurt, really."

Buffy kept her anger under control.

"What do you want, Faith?"

"Patrol, remember? I mean now that you’re back to full power, we’ve got a job to do."

"I…already did my sweep tonight."

Both Buffy and Willow were a little scared now. Faith had known Buffy had lost her strength?

"Well, I’m sure there’s some more roaming around somewhere. Someone once told me, something about vamps. They said, ‘They'll hit a street even after you've been there.’ Who could it be? You don’t know, do you?"

‘Damn you.’ Buffy thought.

"Let’s go."

Willow looked at Buffy. She knew what Buffy wanted, it was written all over her face. It said, ‘Go get everyone, and hurry.’ As soon Faith and Buffy left the Bronze, Willow walked out, heading in the opposite direction that she saw them go.

***

Faith and Buffy walked through the graveyard. There had been no sign of any vampires at all. But Faith seemed hyped on acting, so Buffy went along with it. She wanted to see where it led.

After about ten more minutes, Buffy had had enough. She stopped walking.

"Okay, Faith. Drop it."

Faith faced her. "Drop what?"

"The dutiful slayer act."

"Dutiful?"

"We know, Faith, so just spare me, okay?"

"Oh, you don’t know the half of it, B."

"Then why don’t you tell me?"

"Now if I wanted to tell you, I could’ve done that awhile ago. But seeing as how I haven’t, do you really think I’m gonna spill?"

"Then what’re we doing out here? Look, if you wanna kill me, let’s get started. Otherwise, I’m leaving."

Faith walked up to Buffy and whispered to her.

"If I wanted to kill you, I would’ve done it when you were throwing girlie punches." Faith backed away. "Actually, I wanted to kill you, but the boss had another idea."

"And what’s that?"

"Come join the winning team."

"Don’t think so."

"Then kill me."

"What?"

"You heard me. You know that from now on I’ll come after you, so the only way you’ll get rid of me is to kill me. Come on." Buffy looked at the ground. "You can’t, can you? You can’t kill a person."

"Of course not."

"Then that’s why you’ll lose. You think humans are any better than demons? Am I better than a demon?"

"Yes."

Faith was shocked for a moment.

"You know I’m not on your side, so why are you still…"

Buffy finally realized something that should have occurred to her long ago.

"Because you haven’t done anything wrong. Yet."

"Excuse me?"

"I’m sure you’ve killed tons of demons, right? Whoever this boss is, he must have tons of enemies that need to be taken out. But not once has he asked you to kill a human. Has he Faith?"

"Sure he has." Faith said with some uncertainty in her eyes. "You."

"Oh, right. Me. You could’ve killed me. You knew I lost my strength, right? You could’ve killed me easily then. Not to mention Willow, or Giles, or Xander. But you didn’t. And you know why?"

Buffy stepped up to her.

"Because you can’t. Even as rebellious as you may think you are, somebody must have done something right, because you’ve never killed a human being. You know killing a person is murder, and you can’t do that. It’s built into Slayers."

"What about my Watcher?"

"Oh, you never killed her. In fact, I’m sure you were close. You can’t help but bond with your Watcher. Kakistos killed her like you said. Out of a need to survive you joined up with him, because you knew you’d never beat him. Over time, you became so cold and distant that you convinced yourself that dealing with vampires was the way to go. You probably even blocked out the real truth of what happened.

"When you came here and told us your story, I knew it was true, but I could tell you were trying to hide the truth of your words from yourself. You’ve been surrounded by an evil influence for so long that you can’t even trust yourself or your own memories anymore. You knew we cared about you, and it scared you. That’s why you didn’t kill us. Nobody has cared about you for a long time, have they?"

Faith shrugged the question off, and tried to make her face as expressionless as possible.

"How do you know you’re right?"

"I’ve seen killers eyes. I looked into them every time I looked into Angel’s. There was so much pain, anguish, and rage he focused on himself. There were things going on in his head that I couldn’t even begin to understand. When he became all demon again, the rage multiplied, and the joy of killing came back to him. It was all in his eyes. You don’t have the look.

"You have the eyes of someone lost, someone confused. Let us help you."

Faith was holding together, but in another second Buffy knew she was going to break.

"I have everything straight. The boss takes care of me, and that’s all that matters."

"Faith…"

Suddenly, several vampires jumped seemingly, from out of nowhere.

"You’re right, B. I can’t kill you. But they have no problems giving it a shot. If you’re still alive afterwards, the offer’s still on the table." Faith said, and ran off.

***

‘Damn. How does she know me so well?’ Faith thought to herself as she ran off to her "apartment".

Buffy laid out her entire life in a matter of a few minutes. And it shocked her. Nobody had ever tried to figure her out. Well, the boss did. She liked him. He gave her free reign, gave her everything she asked for, and in his own way, cared for her. But she wasn’t close to him. She wouldn’t allow herself to get close to anyone. All they ended up doing was turning on you.

‘Buffy just thinks I’m a pity case. Screw her. She thinks she can tell me all about myself, and save me? She doesn’t care about me, she just thinks it’s her duty to rescue everyone from themselves.’

Faith quickened her pace, trying to block out all her emotions. They just confused things more. She didn’t see a person run her direction, and they ran into one another. They both fell to the ground, landing on their backsides.

Faith looked at the person. Willow.

‘Figures.’

Faith got up slowly, and Willow shot up. Faith could see everyone else running up towards them. Willow was shaking visibly. If it were any other time, she might have taken joy in Willow’s fear. She just stared at her.

"Don’t you have a friend to save?" She ran off.

***

"Let’s see," Buffy said aloud in the middle of a circle of ten vampires, "how do I get out of this one?"

The vampires weren’t moving.

‘Gee, I love it when they let me make the first move.’

She saw a broken tree limb five feet in front of her. As she took a cautious step towards it, the vampires took two steps towards her.

"Ring around the Slayer. Great," Buffy muttered.

Just then, Xander barreled through two vampires, knocking them down, joining Buffy in the center. The vampires got up, and started to growl.

"Nice of you to make it," Buffy said as the vampires advanced.

"Glad to be here."

"You bring a weapon?"

"Weapon?" Buffy sighed. "At least I knocked them down."

"They got back up, Xander."

"Then I guess it’s a good thing vampires don’t play football. We’d have no chance in hell at the Superbowl."

Buffy got closer to Xander, as the vampires got continually closer as well.

"The guys with you?" He nodded. "What are they packing?"

"Crossbow, Super Soaker with holywater, stakes…"

She saw the branch again, and saw the tree, which it had fallen from.

‘Looks pretty sturdy.’

"I never thought I’d say this, but I need to get on top of you." Xander leered at her. "On your shoulders. I want you to pick up that tree branch. I’m going to jump from you to the tree up there to get higher. Take the branch, stake a guy, and get out. Got it?"

Xander grabbed the tree branch as the vampires rushed at them. Buffy kicked the closest one, sending him flying back into one of his buddies. Xander bent down, and Buffy quickly and expertly, planted her feet on his shoulders.

He stood up. With one hand he tried to balance her, while in the other hold the branch.

"Lots of pain." He grunted. "Could you hurry up and jump?"

"Sorry. Just be glad I don’t wear heels."

She seemed to rocket herself off, of Xander, and grabbed a particularly thick branch. She was above the circle and saw Xander fighting his way through the crowd. She flung herself up onto the limb, and into a standing position.

She saw Willow, Cordelia, Oz and Giles. Willow had the gun. Trying to get Willow’s attention she whistled. Willow looked up, and nodded. She started to fire the gun, and burned several vampires fighting her way to get to Xander.

He was doing okay, but the branch had long since vanished, dusted along with a vampire. Giles had the crossbow, and with more strength then Buffy thought he had, tossed the crossbow up to her.

She loaded the crossbow with a stake she had tied in her hair, and was trying to look for a good place to fire. Willow was nearly running out of ammunition, and Cordelia and Oz were trying to get Xander out of harm’s way.

She knew she was taking a risk, but she fired at a vampire that had Xander by the shirt. The vampire’s back was to her, and she fired. With accurate aim, the stake entered the vampire, and stayed lodged there, while it turned to ash.

The vampires were now turning their attention to the tree she was in. It was good for the gang, but bad for her. They all got around the tree, and started to shake it. Buffy was trying to keep her balance, but between her weight and the crossbow, the branch broke underneath her, and she and the branch landed on top of two vampires.

She groaned in pain at the fall, as the other vampires started to come over to her. The gang came over, and Willow held up the gun.

"You want this?" she asked.

The vampires looked at Buffy and then at the gun, and decided to run off. Willow helped Buffy up.

"You weren’t falling for me just now, were you?" Willow asked.

"It’s customary when someone falls from an extremely high height to be concerned for that person’s well being."

"Are you okay, Buffy?"

"I’ll probably have a bad back when I hit thirty, but yes I am, thank you. And in case you haven’t noticed, I fell for you a long time ago."

Willow grinned.

"How much water did you have left in that thing?" Cordelia asked.

"None. I was bluffing."

"Nice bluff," Buffy said walking towards Xander. "You okay?"

"For now. Pain comes later."

"Who let him barrel in like that?"

"No one," Oz said.

"We tried to –" Giles started.

"Stop him." Cordelia finished.

"But I’m the Xandinator. I cannot be stopped."

"Maybe not. But next time, a little suggestion?" Buffy said.

"What?"

"Use a better joke." Buffy and Willow said together.

They looked at one another, and then at the stares of the rest of the gang.

"One word – Eerie," Oz said.

***

Back at the library, Buffy had a heating pack pressed up against her back by Willow. Giles was reading, Cordelia was pressing a wet cloth on Xander’s forehead, and Oz was checking the lock on the book cage.

"Downside to being a wolf is definitely cages," Oz said. Tomorrow was the first night.

"Well, look at it this way. At least you’re not neutered." Xander said, as Oz just looked at him. "You’re not, are you?"

"Last time I checked, no."

"So you two know each other pretty well," Cordelia said, looking at Willow and Buffy.

"You could say that." Willow stuttered.

"And I was the last to know."

"Know what?" Giles asked without looking up from his book.

"Guess I’m not the last." Cordelia grinned, sensing a prime opportunity.

"Hey did any of you guys happen to see Faith as you were coming to get me?" Buffy asked, quickly redirecting the conversation.

"Yep," Willow responded eager to change topics as well. "We ran into each other."

"Like you just happened to –"

"She really ran, as in colliding, into her." Cordelia clarified.

"She just looked at me, then walked away. She looked sad," Willow said.

"I think we can help her."

"She’s a lost cause, Buffy." Xander said.

"She’s a confused cause. Giles what’s up with the Council and the Watcher?"

Giles looked up from the book he was reading.

"The Watcher is supposed to arrive very soon. Beyond that, the Council has told me nothing. Whatever they plan to do about Faith, or not do, I am not aware of," Giles said with a sad look.

Buffy gave him a reassuring smile. "You’ll always be my Watcher. I don’t want another one."

Giles smiled back in return. "Nevertheless, you must follow his rules. The Council has been very lenient with you Buffy. Mostly because I spoke on your behalf, but now that I am no longer influential, the slightest mistake on your part…"

"Will get me in trouble. I’m not so much worried about me as I am Faith. If they catch her, they’ll probably really punish her, right?"

"Most likely."

***

At the airport, a young British man stepped out of the terminal. He went over to baggage claim. The first piece of luggage was a suitcase, which he got easily. He couldn’t find the second piece, which was a hardbound case.

He turned around, and saw a brown haired girl holding it in front of his face.

"Looking for this?"

"Yes, thank you."

She handed it over.

"Hey. You’re a Watcher, right?"

He was startled. "Who are you?"

"I think we’re in the same business. You got a name?"

"Wesley…Wesley Wyndam Pryce."

"A three name guy. You know I’ve heard rumors about guys with three names…I’d like to test them out."

He was flustered. "And you are?"

"Faith. We need to talk."

"About?"

"Buffy."

They walked out of the airport, Wesley hanging on her every word.

15
SWITCHING – PT. 1

In City Hall, Trick walked into the Mayor’s office carrying two, very old-looking swords. Allan is in the room as well, watching nervously as the Mayor read the paper.

"Check these out." Trick said, laying the swords on the Mayor’s desk.

"I just love the Family Circus! That P.J., he's getting to be quite a handful." He said chuckling, and turning his attention to the swords. "Well...I haven't seen anything like this in… well, a good long while. Where's the owner of these fine implements?"

"The common term is 'slain'. Faith thought you might find these interesting. I've been seeing this breed around. Are we expecting any trouble?"

"Do you like Family Circus?"

"I like Marmaduke."

The Mayor was disgusted. "He's always on the furniture. Unsanitary."

"Nobody can tell Marmaduke what to do. That's my kinda dog."

"I like to read Cathy." Allan said, smiling. They gave him a look. "So…what about these swords? What should we do about that?"

"Well, let's just keep an eye out. We've got the dedication coming up in a few days. We certainly can't have anything interfering with that." The Mayor said.

"Well, maybe we should postpone the...dedication."

"I believe the Honorable Mayor hates that idea." Trick said.

"The dedication...is the final step before my Ascension. I have waited longer than you can imagine for this. After the Hundred Days, I'll be on a higher plane. And I'll have no more need for…well, let's just say I won't be concerned... with the little things.

"Mr. Trick, watch these people. Anything you find out about them, well, lets just see that that information reaches our resident spunky do-gooder. Who knows? With any luck, they'll kill each other. Then everyone's a winner. Everyone, of course, meaning me." He chuckled.

***

The gang was sitting in the lounge at school. Willow had several large envelopes around her. Buffy sat next to her, looking at them.

"Willow, what are these?" Xander asked.

"They're early admission packets."

"Harvard... Yale... Wesleyan... Some German Polytechnical Institute whose name…I can't pronounce. Is anyone else intimidated? 'Cause I'm just expecting thin slips of paper with the words 'No Way' written in crayon."

"They're typing those now," Oz said.

Xander nodded his understanding.

"I'm so overwhelmed! I got in! To actual colleges! And, and they're wooing me! They're pitching woo!" Willow said excitedly.

"The wooing stage is always fun." Buffy smiled; some sadness was clearly in her eyes.

"But it's weird. Now, rejection I can handle 'cause of the years of training, but this..."

"I feel your pain, Will. Like right now, I'm torn between the fast-growing fields of appliance repair and motel management. Of course, I'm still waiting to hear back from the Corndog Emporium, so..." Xander said.

"Well, I think it's great. Early admission. Now there's nothing standing between you and a brilliant future," Buffy said.

Willow looked at Buffy and squeezed her hand. The conversation occurring between them was quick, but a lot was said.

‘You can’t stay here because of me.’

‘I am. I’m just excited, but I’m not going anywhere.’

‘You have –’

The gang was watching them. Cordelia spoke up.

"Hello? You guys coming back from the Twilight Zone anytime soon?"

"Sorry." They both said.

"Well, if I may suggest, graduate. Gettin' left back, not the thrill ride you'd expect," Oz said.

"So, life beyond high school. Anyone, please... chime in." Xander said.

"I hear it's nice. And a place I'll never go if I don't pass Mrs. Taggart's chemistry test tomorrow," Buffy said.

"Oh! I can help. Chemistry's easy. It's a lot like witchcraft, only less newt. So whadaya say? Study jam, my house, tonight?" Willow asked.

"I'm there." The bell rang, and they all got ready to go to class. "Oh. I have to go see Giles, report on last night's patrol."

"Oh, yeah. He said he wanted to talk to you."

"What about? Is he okay?"

"He's looked better."

***

In the library, Wesley was speaking with Giles. Giles wasn’t having very much fun, and was watching the new man get books out of boxes he had shipped with him on the plane.

"Of course, training procedures have been updated quite a bit since your day. Much greater emphasis on field work." Wesley said.

"Really?"

"Oh, yes. Not all books and theory nowadays. I have, in fact, faced two vampires myself. Under controlled circumstances, of course."

"Well, no danger of finding those here."

"Vampires?"

"Controlled circumstances." Buffy came in. "Hello, Buffy."

"Well...Hello." Wesley said, cautiously.

"New Watcher?" Buffy asked, looking Wesley up and down.

Giles was about to respond, but Wesley interrupted him.

"Yes, I am. Normally, I would introduce myself, however, that is rather pointless."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked.

Wesley whistled, and two well-built men came into the library.

"I would advise you not to fight. This will go easier for everyone, if you just go along with us."

"What is the meaning of this?" Giles asked, walking over to Buffy.

"It is my belief that Miss Summers is too far gone to respond to any kind of authority, and therefore must be removed from her duties as soon as possible. She will be taken to England, and the Council will past judgement."

"I will not stand for this!" Giles said, clearly enraged.

"You no longer have any say, Mr. Giles. The Council informed me of the way you have been corrupted. Sad, really."

"You don’t even know me. What about Faith?" Buffy said.

"I know enough. Faith will be dealt with, but you are priority. Gentlemen, we may have to restrain her."

The two men came over to her. One tried to cuff her, but of course, she fought him, elbowing him in the stomach. The man fell; however, the other man quickly stuck a needle in the only place he could reach.

Buffy immediately collapsed, unconscious.

"I have to escort her back to London. Can I trust, Mr. Giles, that you will keep an eye on my belongings?"

"I’ll keep an eye on them all right." Giles grabbed Wesley’s shirt and slammed him into the table. "Tell them to back off."

"Now…Mr. Giles you know I cannot do that. You know the Council’s decisions are final, and they trust my assessments. They have been rather kind to allow you to stay here, however, if you attack me, or interfere, they will not hesitate to deal with you."

Giles let him go.

"Pick her up. We must not waste any time."

***

In an armored truck, Buffy was sitting on a wooden bench in the back. Her arms were chained to it. Wesley and one of the men were sitting back there with her.

"You don’t know what you’re doing," Buffy said.

"Don’t I?"

"In case you haven’t noticed, I have done my job. You know, saved the world?"

"True, but if I’m correct that would not have been necessary if you had not gotten involved with Angelus. Mr. Giles should have forbade it from the start."

"Don’t bring Giles or Angel into this. I fixed my mistake."

"At the expense of a Slayer." Buffy looked down at her feet. "Surely you can see how the Council cannot accept this kind of recklessness."

"You wanna talk recklessness? Look up, Faith. The bad one, who joined up with the baddies in town."

Wesley’s face was expressionless.

"As I said before, Faith will be dealt with. If necessary."

"If necessary?"

The truck stopped. A few minutes later, the back door opened. The driver was standing there.

"Cop."

"Ah, I see. I’ll handle it. Watch her."

Wesley exited the truck, and the driver came inside.

***

Up ahead of the truck some fifty feet, was a cop standing out in front of his car. Faith waited until Wesley’s attention was diverted completely to the cop, and ran over to the back of the truck. She rushed inside, and quickly kicked the two men directly in their heads, with enough force that they slumped, unconscious to the floor.

She looked at Buffy on the bench.

"Getting kinky with two guys and chains, B? Never knew you had it in you."

"What are you doing here?"

"Don’t worry. The cops will keep the Brit busy."

"You did this?"

"I can do a lot more. Frankly, I thought that since I was coming to rescue you, you’d be more grateful."

"And why would you do that?"

"Open your eyes, B. The company you work for is about to ship you three thousand miles away because you didn’t save the world the right way. You bust your ass, and instead of getting thanks, you get chained."

"I’ll go, the Council will let me go when they find out I haven’t done anything wrong…"

"Really? I talked to this guy. He came here to do this to you, and I’m next. They aren’t gonna give you a fair trial, they’re going to get rid of you."

"Why didn’t he take you when you talked to him?"

"I…convinced him to hold off on me."

"Convinced being?"

"You really wanna know?"

"Forget it."

"We have to stick together on this. He doesn’t give a damn about you, and definitely doesn’t give a damn about me. Screw him and the rules. We were built to search and destroy, and if I had my way, I’d off the guy myself."

"But…"

"When are you gonna learn? Slayers are just on one huge assembly line. We’re just things. You don’t get any rights. Once you realize that you enjoy fighting and slaying, and that you don’t have to treat it like a job that holds you back, it’ll be a whole lot more fun. Live a little, B. Worry about yourself for once. Coming?"

Buffy, easily broke the restraints on the bench, and stood up. Faith looked out.

"Damn! He’s coming back."

"Go. I’ll be fine."

They looked at each other, jumped out of the truck, and ran in opposite directions.

***

The gang was sitting in the library. All their faces were sunken. Buffy was gone, on her way to England. Giles was pacing and cursing quietly to himself. Willow was standing by the double doors, praying for Buffy to come walking through them.

"Giles why didn’t you –" Willow started to say.

"He would have been taken away too, if he had attacked this new guy," Oz said.

"Then we’d be stuck here, and wait to die," Cordelia said.

"As much as I think the guy who took her should be beaten senseless, they’re right, Will." Xander said.

Willow sighed.

"I’m sorry. I just…"

"I understand, Willow. I wish I could have done more," Giles said.

Buffy came through the library doors, smiling.

"What’s with the gloom?" she asked.

Willow went wide-eyed for a minute, and crushed Buffy in hug.

"We…I…you’re…" Willow couldn’t find words.

She, without even realizing what she was doing, kissed Buffy long, and softly. Buffy was somewhat dazed when they broke apart.

"Did I just…"

"Yeah. You did." Buffy had a happy grin on her face.

The gang was slack-jawed, and Giles just watched calmly from the counter. If he surprised, he didn’t show it.

"Wow," Cordelia said. "I’ve never seen anybody –"

"Somebody rate that." Xander said.

"10," Oz said.

"Uh, guys? I think…" Buffy started, looking at Willow’s beet red face. They had never kissed in front of their friends before.

"Sorry, Will. Um, so anyway, we all thought you were on the plane to the mother country by now." Xander said, obviously still blown away by the sheer love that was behind the kiss.

"Do you really think I’d let my friends," She looked Willow directly in the eye, "be defenseless, and alone?"

"How did you –" Giles started.

"His measures of security weren’t that tight."

"You just escaped?" Willow asked.

"Buffy, that was not –"

"Oh, come on, Giles. You know they’re wrong. Forget them. You are the only one I ever listened to, and it’s gonna stay that way. He tries to take me to England to kill me, and I’m supposed to stand for that?"

There were shocked looks all around.

"Where did you learn this?" Giles asked.

Just then, Wesley came through the doors. Buffy whirled around, and grabbed him by the neck.

"Oh look, I caught a murderer. Oz can you open the cage, please?"

Oz quickly swung open the book cage, and Buffy tossed Wesley inside. She shut and locked the door. Wesley was choking.

"How…did you…"

"Giles what’s his name?" Buffy asked.

"Wesley."

"Well, Wesley, your Council seems to underestimate their employees. You’re going to stay in there for awhile."

"You’re in more trouble then you realize."

"Me? I could have you arrested. You were bringing me to your bosses to kill me, right? How were you gonna do it, cause I’d like to see how you’d react. Was it going to be slow or fast? Just be glad I’m feeling a bit more chipper right now."

Wesley was silent. Giles walked up to the cage, shades of ‘Ripper’ in his eyes.

"Be glad there’s a cage between us. I wouldn’t be as merciful, believe me."

Even though every one agreed with Buffy’s course of action and thought that Wesley deserved a lot more then he was receiving; they couldn’t help but notice a change in Buffy. This was unlike her.

"Now, should we be doing something?" Buffy asked.

Willow looked at Buffy, wanting to talk. Buffy told her ‘not now’ and looked up like she remembered something.

"I wanted to tell you about patrol last night. I found some swords on the ground. They weren’t the same size, and they had jewels and stuff."

"Hmm…El Eliminati. Fifteenth Century..." Giles said, remembering.

"Fifteenth Century duelist cult, deadly in their day. Their numbers dwindled in later centuries due to an increase in anti-vampire activity and a lot of pointless dueling." Wesley said from inside the cage.

"For someone caged, you sure do have a lot to say," Buffy said.

"He may be of help, Buffy."

Buffy huffed, and threw up her arms. "Fine. Speak."

"They eventually became the acolytes of a demon called Balthazar, who brought them to the New World, specifically here."

"So why have we not seen them before this?"

"They were driven out a hundred years ago. Happily, Balthazar was killed. I don't know by whom."

"So is this their five-hundred year reunion party?" Xander asked.

"Balthazar had an amulet purported to give him strength. It was buried with him, and I believe the few remaining Eliminati are probably looking for it. For sentimental value."

"Sentimental value?" Willow asked.

"Since when are vampires sentimental?" Cordelia asked.

"I hear they get all teared up on Anne Rice’s birthday," Oz said.

"I should go look for it," Buffy said, getting up.

Willow got up too, and followed her outside the library. Giles opened the cage, and walked inside.

"What are you going to do?" Wesley asked, frightened.

Giles started gathering up all the weapons hanging up inside.

"I can’t very well let you have access to deadly weaponry, now can I?"

***

"Buffy, are you okay?" Willow asked out in the hall.

"Fine. Why wouldn’t I be?"

"I don’t know…you just…it’s nothing."

"Then I’ll see you tomorrow okay?"

"Tonight, Buffy."

"Huh?"

"Chemistry test? Study jam?"

"Oh yeah, I’ll be there."

Buffy walked away, leaving Willow worried.

***

Later that night, Buffy was searching a crypt in the graveyard. The large room was dark and dusty. In the center were two stone coffins. There were several drawers on one wall and a few urns on shelves. Buffy took the steps down into the room and went to the first coffin. She pushed the heavy lid aside and looked into it with the flashlight she was carrying. All that was left of the body was the skeleton and a pile of hair and fibers.

"Strike one. No amulet there."

She went to the next coffin and pushed its lid aside. The body inside was dried out, but the amulet hung around its neck.

"Game over."

She reached in for it, but jerked back up when she heard noises coming from outside. Through the door she saw torches coming closer and voices. She quickly jumped up onto the first coffin, rolled into it and twisted off her flashlight just as Vincent, the leader of the Eliminati, pushed the door open. He looked around, but didn’t notice when Buffy pulled the lid of the coffin back into place. Vincent walked down the stairs and went over to the open coffin. His men followed him.

Vincent looked into the open coffin, saw the amulet and took it out. The Eliminati started to make their way out. When Buffy heard the door close she pushed the lid back open and climbed out, only to be startled by Faith's hand on her shoulder.

"Faith!"

"What are you doing, hiding in there?"

"Looking for something. Wasn't counting on the Special Guest Stars. Six against one. Hence the hiding."

"Well, it's six against two now, so come on."

She rushed out of the crypt. Buffy climbed out of the coffin and followed her out. They came out in time to see the last two Eliminati jump down through a manhole into the sewers. Faith made her way toward it.

"Wait. Stop." Faith stopped reluctantly. "What’s going on here?"

"You’re looking for the amulet, right?"

"How’d you know?"

"Boss is looking for it too. He wants those guys floating in the wind."

"Aren’t you supposed to be friends with vampires?"

"Not these."

They started toward the manhole again.

"Why am I not attacking you? You’re…"

"Living life on my own terms. Like you should. Besides, you have to slay, it’s your job, and I saved your life, remember? So let’s go."

"It's a manhole. Tight space, no escape, six against two, not unlike three against one."

"And there might be more," She grabbed Buffy’s arm, "so come on."

"You're just gonna go down there? That's your plan?"

"Who said I had a plan? I don't know how many’s down there, but I wanna find out. And I'll know when I land. If you don't come in after me, I might die! You wouldn’t want that on your perfect ‘do the right thing’ conscious, would you?"

Faith jumped in, and Buffy soon followed.

***

Buffy and Faith ended up having their hands full fighting the Eliminati. Buffy did a low front snap kick to one of them on the ground. Faith backhand punched another, and his head snapped hard to the side. Buffy grabbed yet another and shoved him aside.

"We're surrounded!" she yelled.

"You noticed that, too?"

Faith backhand punched another one. Buffy ducked a vampire's swing and did a roundhouse kick to the back of his knee, making him collapse to the floor. Faith sidestepped her attacker, grabbed his arm, swung him around and threw him toward a wall. Buffy did a full spinning hook kick to an incoming vampire and followed up with a roundhouse kick to his head.

Another one came at her from the side and tried to bring his sword down on her from above, but she stepped back in time, and it clanged on the floor. Faith threw her vampire up against a wall, and he collapsed. She did a half-spinning hook kick to another one behind her, and he fell dazed onto a raised area. Another vampire jumped up onto it and leaped at Faith. She sidestepped him and pulled him down over the other one.

Buffy did a back elbow jab at a vampire's face, causing him to step backwards and trip over a fallen vampire. Another one jumped in and tried to punch her, but she blocked him, grabbed onto his arm and threw him up against the rock wall. He tried to come at her again, but she side kicked him in the gut, forcing him back up against the wall.

The Eliminatus who was down got up again, and she front kicked him, knocking him hard onto his back. Faith turned around just in time to get punched in the face by Vincent. He tried to punch her again, but she ducked it and rose back up to roundhouse kick him in the side of the head. Buffy blocked two punches from the vampire against the wall and punched him in the face and again in the gut. He went down.

Faith did a half spinning, jumping kick to the head of one of them. Then she high blocked a punch from one behind her. Buffy got a roundhouse kick in the head and fell to the ground by a pool of water. Her attacker advanced on her, and she roundhouse kicked him in the back of the knee, making him lose his balance.

Faith punched one in the head, but he came back with a punch to Faith's gut and grabbed her.

"Lemme go!"

He shoved her hard against a concrete wall. Buffy saw Faith and threw her stake into the vampire's back as she got up from the floor. He burst into ashes. Faith gave Buffy a smile. However, with her attention on Faith, Buffy didn't notice the one behind her, and he grabbed her and held her still for Vincent. He held out his long sword, pointing it at her chest.

"Let's settle this honorably." Vincent said.

Buffy jumped up against the one holding her and did a kick, knocking the sword out of Vincent's hand. It went flying into the pool of water. Then she shrugged off the one holding her, and he fell to the floor.

Vincent grabbed hold of her, though, and tried to thrust at her with his short sword. She jerked out of the way in time and grabbed hold of his arm, but he used this to his advantage and grabbed her around the back with his other arm, pinning her against the edge of the pool.

"Well, then, let's just settle it."

He dunked her head into the water. She struggled to get back up, but couldn’t get a grip on anything. In the meantime, another vampire got Faith in a full Nelson hold. She saw Buffy struggling in the water.

"Buffy!" she yelled over to Vincent. "You son of a bitch!"

Faith knew she could let Buffy die, and that would solve a lot of problems. The boss would be happy, and he wouldn’t have anything to worry about. She would eventually get out of here, anyway. But she didn’t want that.

Buffy had gotten to her. She wanted Buffy on her side. She wanted to fight along side her. Two Chosen Ones on their own. Buffy understood her, and if she was completely honest with herself, she knew she had no one to lean on. She knew she’d never be able to go back to the "good side" so she had to bring Buffy over. She didn’t want her to die.

Vincent kept holding Buffy's head under water. She struggled valiantly to get up, but couldn't. She started to get weak from lack of oxygen and stopped struggling, apparently passing out. He held her under for another few seconds, then let go and turned his attention to Faith. Buffy remained motionless in the water. Vincent grinned at Faith, who kept struggling.

Suddenly Buffy leapt up, Vincent's long sword in hand, and swung it around at his head. He was too quick, though, and ducked it, but was left off balance in a crouch.

"I hate it when they drown me."

She swung at him again, but he reacted instantly, somersaulting out of the way and back to his feet. He faced her wielding his short sword. She made quick work of it, knocking it out of his hand with her first swing. She swung at him again widely, but he managed to dodge her.

Faith broke out of the hold, spun around and punched the vampire in the face. He staggered against the wall. She grabbed him and pulled him around, and he flew up and over the small raised area. She smiled at Buffy in admiration.

"B! Gotta go!"

Buffy missed another swing, but had a determined look on her face.

"We came for the amulet."

She jabbed the sword straight at Vincent, getting the tip right between the chain holding the amulet at his waist. She lifted the sword, drawing the chain out from under his belt, and it slid down the length of the blade to the hilt. Vincent left immediately. Buffy pulled the amulet from the sword and held it in her hand. Faith came up next to her.

"Tell me you don't get off on this!" Faith said.

"It didn't suck."

***

It was late night at the library. Everyone had left, and Wesley was still locked in the book cage. Faith came strolling in.

"She locked you up, Wes?"

"Apparently."

"My girl’s really coming around."

"What are you talking about?"

"Newsflash, you’re a fool. How’d they ever let you pass? I’m the bad seed."

Wesley looked horrified.

"I was the first one to use you? You don’t know how happy that makes me."

"Why?"

"Congratulations. You helped me to start to swing Buffy over to my side. Thanks. Oh, and enjoy imprisonment, asshole."

Faith left the library, smiling.

Continue to Chapters 16

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