The Lost Slayers

Buffy and Faith are sent to Santa Carla on a mission. Things quickly go from bad to worse to beyond.
Category: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys
Rating: Mature
Characters: Alan Frog, Buffy Summers, David, Dwayne, Edgar Frog, Faith Lehane, Laddie, Marko, Max, Michael Emerson, Paul, Star
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alt Universe Fic, Crossover, Romance ? Het, Supernatural
Pairing(s): Buffy/Faith
Warning: Mild Violence
Series: The Lost Series (Story 1)
Notes: Lost Boys/BtVS cross-over. Couple of things, this is post Season 5, Faith is totally rehabbed, and back on slaying duty. Each chapter will have a part from both Buffy and Faith’s point of view, it will be marked at the top. Anything else… well, the fic will explain itself.
Status: Complete


One

Notes: Lyrics are from “People Are Strange”, written by Jim Morrison of The Doors. “Dum da doo-doo”s are courtesy of Faith and my friend Bex who I went to school with.


Faith’s POV

“When you’re strange, dum da doo-doo, no-one remembers your name. When you’re strange, dum da doo-doo, faces come out of the rain.”

B glares at me for like the ninth time since the song started thirty seconds ago. Nine glares in thirty seconds, it’s not bad. Not good enough to break her record of eleven, but I figure by the end of this vacation she’ll have broken the record several times over.

“Faith.” She makes one word mean a thousand things. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them bad. “Your singing is bad enough, but do you have to hum the instrumental? You’re dum-do-da-da’s are driving me mad!”

“It’s actually dum da doo-doo,” I correct. She glares again. I sink down in my seat, shut up, and wonder for the thousandth time in an hour what the fuck I’m doing here.

God bless the Watchers Council is all I can say. Bless ‘em, cos it’s thanks to them that B and I are on an all-expenses paid trip to the murder capital of the world. Or at least that’s what the welcome sign reads on the back, I note as we pass it. Obviously these guys haven’t been to Sunnydale, that has to be the Murder Capital of the World, but this is a close second.

According to the Brits, this is not a Hellmouth, but it does have a rather (rather—their word, not mine) overgrown population of nasties. By my logic, while not a Hellmouth, it’s more of a HellEar, or maybe a HellNostril. Some sort of orifice that’s not quite as potent as a mouth, but has potential to flare up. Like an ear infection.

Ok, I’m weirding out myself right now. I must have cabin fever. Too much time with B in the van.

Yeah, right. Time with B was the only reason I’m here. The Watchers Council put their heads together and decided that us Slayers shouldn’t be based in just one place. So now we’re doing our first tour. I’m hoping to meet groupies, sign pictures of myself and have people applauding for more.

What we’ll probably do is kill the nasty, and haul ass to the next demon-central. At least we’re getting paid. Yep, me, B, and Giles dragged the Watchers Council into the twenty-first century kicking and screaming. Giles used that I’m too British to lose my temper, but for you I might make an exception face, and used phrases like ‘life and death situations’, and when that didn’t work, asked what would become of the world if the Slayers retired? We avoid evil and live to the grand old age of ninety. No new slayers for quite awhile.

The Brit Brigade put their heads together, checked on the net for minimum wage, and offered an extra two cents an hour above it.

We took it, it’s not like we could get a better offer, I mean, there isn’t a Slayers Union.

“Faith!” B snaps at me again.

“What?”

“You’re humming. Complete with instrumentals. Again.”

“It’s cos I’m bored, girlfriend. I need some action.” I put just enough stress on the last word to make B’s eyes bug a little. And I know she hates me referring to her as ‘girlfriend’. It gives her a case of hettyness. A hetty is a majorly uptight heterosexual. Hettyness is what majorly uptight heterosexuals get when faced with someone a little more open to suggestion.

B glares at me, and I roll my eyes. “Are we there yet? My ass has gone numb.”

Another flinch at my vulgarity. “A couple more minutes. Think you can last that long without any more singing?”

“You need to get laid,” I mutter.

“Screw you.”

I meet her eyes and smile. She’s already regretting the way she phrased that. “Wish you would. Unfortunately, I have a pulse. I’m not your type.”

“Bite me, Faith.”

Man, she’s just asking for it. “Again B, what’s with the identity confusion? I’m Faith, your sister slayer. Not Angel. A good way to remember that is to check out the differences. I don’t think Angel would look this good in a push-up bra, and wouldn’t he be bursting into flames right about now?”

“Faith, go back to your singing.” She gives me a glare that could have reduced Angelus to dust. I give her my big silly grin and hunt for a new tune to sing.


Buffy’s POV

Go get arrested. I think, but don’t actually say it aloud. We’ve just checked into our room and thanks to a screw up in the booking we’re sharing, not just a room, but a bed. And there’s no other room available for another two days.

Faith’s walking around grinning like this is the biggest and best laugh of her life. I’m tempted to slap that silly smile off her face, but I keep that idea in check for the moment. Last time Faith and I went head to head we trashed a church, before that, it was her apartment, and before that it was Angel’s mansion and countless other times and places, not to mention the damage we did to each other.

“‘Misses Summers’,” she laughs, quoting the register. “It’s fate, B.”

“Yeah, fate that wherever I go with you, it’s a nightmare.”

She’s not walking now, she’s dancing to a tune only she can here. “C’mon B, find the fun a little. Pretend it’s a slumber party, bet you’ve shared a bed with Red, haven’t you, then again… isn’t she gay now?”

“No, she’s not ‘gay now’. You don’t become gay,” I snap at her.

“Oh, yeah. Forgot you were the big lesbo expert.” She tips me a wink and keeps on dancing. “So,” she says conversationally. “Do you think Red was into you before she found Tara, or even before Oz?”

“Faith! Willow is my best friend…” I tail off as I see her grin, and wonder why I rise to the bait every single time.

“Ok, B. I can see this is hard on you, so I’ll let you have the first shower.”

“Thanks—Hey! We agreed if I drove I could shower first.” I really hate her at times.

“So what? We agreed. Didn’t mean I was gonna stick to it. Go, before I change my mind.”

I head quickly to the tiny bathroom, glad to put a wall between myself and my ‘sister Slayer’ as she calls herself. I can think of other names to call her. I don’t know how much longer I can take her company. At this rate I could be the first Slayer to kill another Slayer.

I wish at least there were some more Scoobies around, they would dilute the Faithness around me. But no, Tara and Willow, and Anya and Xander had a joint wedding a month ago, and are still on their respective honeymoons.

My little Dawnie met Oz at the weddings, and is being a roadie for him and his new band, before going to England for Watcher Training. I guess that’s the Slayer version of a year out before uni. I think she’s got the hots for him, and I would worry, but she’s sixteen now, and who am I to give out love advice? At least he’s not a vampire with a curse on his soul.

Giles finally got an invite to one of those retreats that he’s been jonesing for, and disappeared roughly at the speed of light.

Spike is officially AWOL. Haven’t seen nor heard from him for two months, although there was a rumour in a watcher chat-room—did you know they’ve got a website?—that he was cutting a bloody swath through Texas. Or a dusty swath. What I mean is, he’s on our side, he just needed some alone time to do it.

God, you know life has kicked you in the… shins when you miss Spike.

THUD. THUD. “How long are you gonna be in there, B?”

“A couple more minutes, F!” I respond.

“Ok, but don’t be leaving your short and curlies in the tub!”

At times I could cheerfully throttle that girl.


Notes: Lyrics are from “Sky” by Sonique


Two

Faith’s POV

I’m positively bouncing. I’m all showered and waiting for B to finish her make up so we can hit the town.

Our little road trip is beginning to drive her nuts. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s not beginning to drive her nuts, it is driving her nuts. My singing, the bed sharing, and my company in a small space is going to have her in touch with her inner psycho in only moments.

Not that I want her crazy, well, not my brand of crazy, but hers. I remember how good it was moments before we all went to hell. The connection we had for those hours, slaying and dancing and more slaying. She really cut lose and gave in to what she is.

Then I accidentally staked a human and there was this great divide between us that I made bigger and bigger with every choice I made. Now I’m not gonna get all smushy on you, but I love that girl. And I want it back the way it was when it was good. And I want her to love me.

That’s what this trip is about for me. And if I get to kill a nasty in the meantime, all the better.

B comes out of the bathroom, dressed to kill—literally. One of those slinky halter tops and tight trousers, and I notice a tattoo on her back, a couple of Japanese symbols, I wonder what it means, probably Angel.

She ain’t seeing mine… Unless she asks real nice. Even then, it’s kinda embarrassing. I got smashed on my last birthday, and staggered to a tattoo artist, where I told the guy that I loved B, and I wanted something that said that tattooed on me.

Unfortunately, I was so smashed I wasn’t making too much sense, and the guy thought I was saying I loved bees… you get the picture.

… Still, it’s a rather cute Bee.

“Are we ready?” I ask, slipping on a jacket. It’s too hot for it, but the clothes B and I are wearing and really aren’t designed for concealing stakes.


Buffy’s POV

“Ready,” I agree, grabbing my jacket. I’m determined to enjoy myself tonight, no matter what Faith gets up to. I’m also determined not to go along with any of her hair-brained schemes.

“Let’s move then.” She grabs the key and holds the door open for me. “I’ve made up my mind, B. Tonight you’re sinking at least five tequila shots.”

“Yeah, then I can puke and pass out on the vamps instead of staking them. Could be the new way to kill ‘em. Staking’s getting so old,” I reply.

“Ok, so you’re not a tequila girl, how about JD?” She loops an arm over my shoulder as we walk through the lobby. Knowing Faith, she’s done that to raise eyebrows, eyebrows that were already raised when two girls booked into a single room with a double bed.

“JD?”

“Jack Daniels.” She rolls her eyes at me, that’s like the eighty-seventh time this trip.

“Not to rain on your parade—” Damn it! She just rolled her eyes again! “But this isn’t a holiday, it’s work,” I say.

“Jeez, B. When you gonna learn? Just ‘cos we’re working, doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun.”

A little fun is what got us into trouble last time. I manag not to say it. Faith’s funny about it, we can’t mention it. She tenses up and it takes weeks to break the walls down again. And I know she’s sorry and she’s done her penance for it, but I just worry about going off the rails again… and taking me with her.

“One drink,” I concede.


Faith’s POV

One drink, hah! I think. B’s been knocking ‘em back like a trooper. She can’t keep up with me, but I’d be worried if she could.

We’re at this cheesy whacked-out eighties club. Or at least, I think it’s an eighties club, they keep playing Blondie and Wham, but occasionally they play tunes that have been released in the last five years. Oh, god. I hope I’m not in a nineties revival bar, it’s too soon.

I look for a flyer, now I’ve had that thought it’s gonna bug me all night. All of a sudden I hear a burst of Cher’s Believe.

“God, I hope Cathy’s not the DJ. She’s the nicest nasty I’ve met.” B mutters into my ear. I don’t get it at first, then I remember her telling me about her psychotic roommate from her first few days at Sunnydale University.

I glance at the DJ, and note that, while not Cathy, he’s about a million years old, which explains the bizarre music and he’s got a crusty ex-hippy look to him.

“Not unless Cathy’s a forty year old male with really crappy taste in clothes,” I reply. I finally catch the glance of the bartender, I give him a big smile and puff my chest up. Guess what? I’m served next.

“Four shots of tequila,” I yell and fling some money at him.

A couple of minutes, and two shots each later, we’re feeling a bit wobbly, and B’s looking kinda green. She’s determined not to throw up though.

“C’mon girlfriend, let’s dance.” I grab her hand before she can make an excuse and drag her to the centre of the dance floor. It’s crowded, and we have to dance kinda close… or at least, that’s my excuse.

Ooh I wanna touch the sky
I wanna fly so high
Ooh I wanna hold you
I wanna love you tonight
Ooh I wanna touch the sky
I wanna fly so high
Ooh I wanna satisfy
I wanna make you cry
Sky—Sonique

This could be my song that we’re dancing to. My song to her. I want to take her away and love her. I can’t help but pull her close to me as we dance, and I’m shocked when she doesn’t resist.

I know what I need
And I know that I need it right now
Gonna take you on a journey
To a far away place now
Sky—Sonique

We’re the hottest girls in here, and everyone here wants a piece of us. B dances up my leg with a dazed expression in her face.

We’re gonna fly like a bird in the sky
Just you and I
I wanna love you now
I wanna take you high
I wanna give you everything you desire
Sky—Sonique

I’m completely thrown by what’s happening. I didn’t expect this, and then I remember she’s drunk. She’s had far too much tequila and I could be anyone. I pull away from her stalk to the bar.

Much as I want her, I want her to want me. Maybe I could have her tonight, but what’s the point if she blanks me tomorrow? See, a one night stand is all fine and well, but when you want more, and they don’t it’s a kick in the groin. No, a knife, a red hot knife.

And I love her. I’d rather not have her for the rest of my life, than have her for one night and wonder where our friendship went.

Oh God, she’s coming over to ask what the hell that was all about. And I’m gonna say…


Buffy’s POV

“Jeez, B. Now what? Some hottie was checking me out and I didn’t want him to think I was taken. What’s your problem?”

I flinch at her hard words, not exactly sure why though. I know I’ve had way too much tequila and I’m having a hard time standing up. “But you were dancing with me,” I finally say, feeling convinced that this must be the winning argument. I’m always right when Faith’s around. I’ve been slaying longer than her, so I’m more… I know stuff. Damn I feel… well, hot, fluffy and my head is doing the lambada.

“Yeah, and in two seconds, I’ll be dancing with him.” She makes eyes at someone over my head, I consider looking, but can’t remember how to turn my head. She begins to walk away.

The dance floor suddenly lurches to the right, everyone but me must have seen this coming because I’m the only one who falls.

“Jesus, B.” Her arms are around me, and she’s dragging me outside. I don’t want to go outside damn it! I want to stay here and dance with… who was I dancing with? Faith. I want to dance with Faith. But she doesn’t want to dance with me.

“Get off!” I shout, fighting her away. Why isn’t she letting go? I should have… oh god!

“Nice going, B. You nearly puked all over my boots.” She says.

I realise we’re outside and an extremely fat man is shouting at someone. Me. He’s definitely shouting at me. Faith is shouting back. He’s not fat. He’s got a muscle. Muscles. Aren’t they those things you eat at the seaside? We are at the seaside. I giggle.

Damn it. Why can’t I get control? Everything’s happening in shutterclicks. Click. In the club. Click. I fall. Click. Faith. Click. Bouncer. Click. We’re somewhere else entirely.

“Where are we?” I ask.

“Oh, not hurling abuse now?” She snaps. “We’re halfway home. You’ve had way too much to drink.”

“Let me go.” I shrug off her arms.

“You’ll fall,” she warns.

“Bollocks!” I say, Spike’d be real proud of me for using his word.

She lets go and all of a sudden my ass hits the asphalt.

“Told ya.”

“Bollocks!” I say again. I really miss Spike. He’s my Spike-shaped friend. Except he’s not Spike shaped, he’s Spike the Vampire shaped. Again I giggle. Did I just say Spike was my friend? He’d be so impressed with me.

“Yeah, Spike would be sorry to miss this,” she agrees.

Bollocks, did I say that out loud?

“Yeah, you did,” she confirms.

I try not to think or speak, and she laughs at me. “Let’s get you home.”

“Leave me alone!” I tell her and try to stand up. And succeed. Yipee! I giggle again. She reaches out her hands to steady me. “I don’t need you or your hands.” I use my most stern voice. I wish I had a resolve face like Willow.

“Fine.” She raises her hands and backs away. Her tone is irritatingly unflustered. “I’ll just stay here in case you need me.”

Why won’t she just go away? I’d be fine by myself. “I just told you I didn’t. Never did. Was doing fine ‘fore you got to Sunnydale.”

“I’m gonna ignore that ‘cos your toasted.”

“More fool you!” I say spitefully. “None of us need you. Go away.”

“Us?”

“Yeah, us. Scooby Gang are mine, not yours. Giles is my watcher. Dawn is my sister. You’re nobody and you’ve got no-one.”

“Do you really mean that, B?” She won’t look at me.

“Yeah. Go ‘way.” I tell her. She leaves and I sit back down on the kerb.

I’m finally alone.

Guess what? Turns out I don’t like it much.


Three

Faith’s POV

She’s drunk. I repeat this mentally as I walk along The Boardwalk. If I was feeling myself I’d love this place, rides, shops, and loads of freaky looking people making me feel right at home. But, believe it or not, I’m crying.

I don’t cry. The last time I cried was when Angel made that trip to the prison and told me B had died saving the world.

I’d known that, even before I got the call saying Angel was coming for a visit. I felt her leave, and I felt her come back.

The last time I cried before that? That night in the cells after I made my confession. I wasn’t crying for me, I was crying for her and all the pain I’d caused her.

Before that? After I killed that man. Again, no tears for him, yeah, I’m a heartless bitch. I was crying for the wedge between me and B. The position I’d put her in, and the fact I’d tried to blame her.

I only cry for her. Or because of her.

I’m not taking much notice of where I’m going, and I bump into someone, and knock her to the ground.

I offer my hand to her and she gets up and meets my eyes. She looks how I feel.

She’s beautiful, not in B’s league—who is?—but striking nonetheless. She’s got wild curly brown hair, brown eyes marred only by a lost empty look in them, and it’s that quality which draws me to her, making me ask her name.

“Star,” she tells me.

“I’m Faith. Sorry for knocking you down. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“Oh it’s ok. I wasn’t either.” She looks at me again, this time with concern. “Did I do that?”

“What?”

“Your eye, did I do that when I bumped into you?”

I touch my eye gingerly. There’s gonna be a real shiner on there for a couple of hours until my Slayer powers kick in. I remember B getting physical when I was hauling her out of the club, I guess she must have got a lucky hit.

“No, don’t worry. I got caught in a skirmish in a club. It’s fine. Five by five.”

She looks unconvinced, and reaches a hand up to my face and presses her cool fingertips to my brow. And for a few minutes, I forget about B.


Buffy’s POV

I’m completely lost. I don’t know where I am. I don’t have a clue where my hotel is. And I don’t have a single idea where Faith might be. Although that might be a good thing. If I see her I might just make this situation worse. I don’t know where all those hateful things came from earlier. I didn’t mean them.

Also, I’m still drunk.

“Hey.” A pair of blue eyes meet mine. The eyes are attached to a very cute face, framed with curly blonde hair.

“Hey,” I reply, wondering if he knows where my hotel is.

“Are you lost?” He asks.

“No, I’m not lost!” I reply indignantly. “Somebody just moved my hotel.”

“Ah, the phantom hotel movers. I’ve heard of such things.” He smiles at me, and I can’t help but return it. “I’m Marko.”

“Buffy,” I tell him.

“Well, Buffy.” He flashes that charming smile again. “Since you’re at a loose end until someone returns your hotel, would you like to go get a drink?”

I’m sorely tempted, I have to say, but… “I really have to find—”

“Your hotel.” He finishes for me.

“No.” I was gonna say Faith.

“So you can come for a drink?”

“Yes. No. I mean—” I haven’t felt this flustered since I thought Angel had read my diary. “I’d love to.” I was sure I was gonna add a ‘but’ there, though.

I should really find Faith. Then again, she is a Slayer, it’s not like she can’t handle herself. And she did tell me I needed to find the fun a little. She also said I need to get laid. I meet Marko’s eyes, and blush at that thought.

“Have you ever been on a motorbike?” he asks as we walk.

“No.” Bet Faith has, though. I don’t think there’s anything that girl hasn’t done. God damn it! What is this new found obsession with Faith? She’s a pain in the ass. She walks into my life, turns it upside down, sleeps with my boyfriend in an attempt to take him to the dark side, tries to kill me, tries to kill Angel, switches bodies with me. Bloody hell! Again, Spike’d be proud of my use of his words. Faith rubs me up the wrong way, and for once I’m gonna take her advice.

I’m gonna find the fun. What could possibly go wrong? I’m the Slayer. “I’ve always wanted to go on a motorbike,” I tell him flirtily. “Do you drive fast?”

“I’ve been known to.” He flashes me his impish grin again, and shrugs out of his jacket. “You’d better put this on, or you’ll get cold.”

I take the jacket and wonder where mine went. Oh, the club, I checked my jacket into the cloakroom. Faith kept the ticket. So, I don’t have a stake on me, but that’s ok. I don’t think I’m gonna meet any vampires tonight.

Marko’s jacket is pretty. It’s kinda weird, you could stare at it for days and still not really see all the detail, but you’d probably have a headache. There’s velvet, and beading and patterns and tassels. It’s nice to touch.

I realise Marko is staring at me, I’m stroking his jacket instead of putting it on. “It’s nice,” I tell him lamely.

“I think so,” he agrees. “Are you going to wear it, or just look at it? Like I said, it’s awfully cold on the back of a bike if you’re going fast.”

I slip into the jacket and follow him to his bike, where I climbed on behind him. I’m kinda wobbly, damn the tequila. Never again.

“You might wanna hold on,” he suggests. “I go kinda fast.”

I put my arms around his waist and wonder how Faith’s doing.


Faith’s POV

I walk with Star along the Boardwalk. She’s quiet, but I like that. Anything she has to say is worth waiting for. She doesn’t like talking about herself, but I’m cool with that, I’m not in over-share mode either.

“You wanna get something to eat?” I suggest. I realise I’m starving, and I need to soak up all that tequila or I’m gonna wake up with a doozy of a hangover tomorrow.

“Ok. There’s a place further along the Boardwalk. It’s not great, but it’s cheap.”

“Sounds like my kind of place.” I laugh, she gives me a faint smile.

So we walk to this greasy spoon all night café, called The Boardwalk All Niter, and for some reason the spelling of night bugs me, dear gods, I’m turning into B.

She looks hungry, but only picks at her food, and I wonder if she’s got some kind of eating disorder. Me? I’m as ravenous as if I’d spent the night slaying, so I’m eating like there’s no tomorrow. Slaying makes me hungry and horny. Right now I’m both and I’ve not even slayed yet.

She talks a little, but when you don’t seem able to talk about any aspect of your life, it’s kinda hard to talk at all. Finally I’m forced to use the ‘do you come here often?’ line, I phrase it a bit better than that, but not much.

She’s not phased at all by me using a line on her. “Yeah, I’m here most nights. They—I mean, we all… I’m here a lot. It’s pretty much all I’m allowed to do.”

“Allowed?” I ask, and wonder if chicky here is married.

“My pack—my friends,” she corrects herself quickly, “we do what the majority wants to do.”

Pack? An interesting word to use. “Cool. You got the whole swinging democracy thing going, but what do you want to do?”

She flinches at the question, but not from the slight leer I’d put on the question. I think she was shocked at the idea of being allowed to do what she wants. “Leave,” she says softly. At first I think it’s directed at me, then I realise, she wants out of the gang.

I reach across the table and take her hand. “What’s stopping you?”

Suddenly, there’s a commotion outside, the noise of a group of motorcycles circling the building.

She jumps away from my touch as if scalded by acid. “I have to go,” she whispers. She looks terrified. “Don’t follow me, if they find out…” She runs out of the shop.

I pause a few seconds, just long enough to dump some cash on the table before following her out. The motorbikes have gone, Star is gone, and the Boardwalk is strangely quiet.

I take the scenic route home, looking for vamps to dust and demons to pummel.


Buffy’s POV

Riding behind Marko was fun. I felt so alive and free. I wished Faith could see me now. She wanted me to find the fun, well, it found me.

We met up with the rest of Marko’s gang, there’s three other guys, Dwayne, David and Paul and a kid, he must be Dwayne’s brother, ‘cos he rides behind him. David appears to be their leader.

We then paused to collect another girl. I think she’s David’s girlfriend, I heard him call her Star. And then we headed back to this amazing sunken cave. David said it was once a grand hotel, one that would put Angel’s to shame, unfortunately it was built on a fault. A huge shaker hit the town and it dropped inside the cliffs. Now they all live here. David, Dwayne, Paul, Marko, Star, even Laddie, that’s the kid’s name.

I’m having a rethink about him. I think he might be Star’s little brother, because after we got off the bikes, he ran to her and clung to her legs. She gave me this rotten glare. She must like being the only girl in this gang. Well move over sister, for tonight at least, I’m here too. Damn, I’m turning into Faith.

Paul lights a joint and begins passing it around, when it gets to me, I pass it on without taking any.

Paul feels obligated to comment on it. “What? Smokes great.”

“I don’t want to.” Somehow, I’ve come a million miles away from my Scooby gang. If Faith were here, she’d know how to deal with this, but she isn’t. And somehow I’m ashamed that I’ve never smoked weed before. Then I remember overhearing a conversation in the girls’ room at school. Some girl smoked and drank and made a real mess of herself. “I’ve had a bit to drink tonight,” I tell him. “I don’t mix, it does bad things to me.”

“Ah, fair enough then.” Paul approves of my responsible attitude, and Marko’s fingers twine around mine.

“How come Star’s not partaking?” I ask, nodding to the other side of the cave where Star stands, arm around Laddie. It appears she’s trying to be as far away from us as is humanly possible.

“Star’s not a party girl,” Paul tells me.

“Star,” David says. “Has not been eating properly, and it makes her very unsociable.” A small laugh runs through the group, I don’t get it, but I smile too.

David hands me a wine bottle covered in metal and jewels. Fancy. “Drink?”

“I’ve had tequila,” I warn him.

“Just a couple of sips, or I’ll be offended. This stuff is vintage, you’ll love it,” he assures me.

And I figure why not? The boys are watching me with interest, Marko especially. And who am I to disappoint? I’m finding the fun. I lift the bottle to my mouth and chug a huge mouthful. I wipe my mouth inelegantly, and the guys cheer.

Star looks positively horrified. I take another swig, who wants to be a stick in the mud like her? God, no wonder Faith gets so pissed off at me if I’m as boring as her.

I don’t usually like red wine, I’m more of a sweet white kinda gal, but this stuff is gorgeous. David’s right, it’s rich and smooth and I could drink the bottle. I take another swig, then reluctantly offer the bottle to the rest of the group. “Anyone want?”

“No, you drink it,” David answers for all of them. “You seem to be enjoying it. We’ll stick to this.” He holds the joint up and I see Paul is hard at work rolling another.

Dwayne puts some music on, and I realise that I’m on the way to getting rip-roaringly drunk for the second time in one night. Faith’d be proud.

David and Dwayne argue about which CD to listen to first, Dwayne’s argument is that they’re his batteries powering the stereo, he should get first pick. David’s argument is far more simple. He is leader.

Paul is engrossed in his one-man joint assembly line.

Marko takes this opportunity to kiss me. I break away only for more wine. Then more kissing.


Four

Faith’s POV

Damn I’m bored. I’ve been in the cemetery for almost half an hour and not even a hint of a vamp. I wonder how B’s doing. Maybe I should go look for her. Then again, maybe I should just let her sober up first.

Ooh, looky. A vampire. Thank god, I was just about to steal Angel’s trick and start brooding. He walks over to me, in human face, but my skin’s itching like it always does when a nasty is near.

He comes up to me, and says, “You lost?”

I play dumb. “Yeah, I’m new to this town, and all alone. I don’t know where I am, and no-one’s gonna look for me, ‘cos I’m not here with anyone.” Jeez, I think I laid it on too thick, but no, he’s falling for it. Moron.

He edges closer, then vamps out. He’s shocked when I don’t scream and run like hell. It’s best to be on the offence, so a wallop him one with my fist, and while he’s still processing what just happened, I come in with a roundhouse kick.

I’m just reaching for my stake when something cold and hard connects solidly with my skull. A rock? This bastard’s got friends. I’m falling on the floor before I can get my balance.

Vamp boy towers over me, despite the pain I manage to bring my leg up sharply and get him a good one in the groin. He groans, and joins me on the floor.

I’m halfway to my feet when I’m grabbed by two guys, one to each arm. They haul me up and lean me against a crypt.

“Quick, Alan, let’s stake her!” a gruff voice shouts.

Stake me? That’s just insulting, for vamps to use my own stake on me! Besides… ain’t gonna happen. I use a trick I learnt of B, putting my weight on my captors, I bring my legs up quickly, my knees connecting with their faces. It’s more of a shocker than an actual bruise inducer, but they’re shocked enough to let me go. I knock the closest one into the wall and he’s out cold.

Now for the other one, I grab my stake—for a second I wonder about this, weren’t they gonna stake me? But I still have my stake—grab him by the throat and pin him against the crypt.

“Ok, vampire,” says the guy. “I’ll die like a man, but I ask that you don’t turn me or my brother.”

“Vampire?” I ask, relaxing my hold on his neck. “I’m not a vamp.”

“You aren’t?” He looks baffled.

“No! What the hell made you think I was?”

“You were with that girl earlier, and you had a black eye, now it’s gone. You’ve been hanging around the cemetery for half an hour and then you jumped that guy.”

“Yeah, ‘cos he was a vampire!” Man, this is too much. I may just hit him anyway. “I’m one of the good guys. I’m a Slayer.” If he knows about vamps, he’s gotta know about the Slayer. I wait for that look of enlightenment.

It doesn’t come. Instead I get, “You’re a what?”

I release him completely and take a seat on a nearby gravestone. “Let’s take it from the top, your version first please.”


Buffy’s POV

So much wine, it’s amazing. I never knew being drunk could enhance my Slayer powers so much, but everything’s intensified. I’m disoriented, but I know my boys will take care of me. I don’t know how I know it, but I do.

Kissing Marko, so much. It’s so sweet. And it’s been so long. He takes me out of the cave after I finish the wine, where we sit on the cliff and just look at the sea, moon and stars. He kisses me again, and pushes me down so I’m lying horizontal. I wonder briefly at the wisdom in this, but decide I don’t care.

I’m intoxicated as much by him as I am by the wine. So I go along with it. He’s unlike anyone I’ve been with before, and at that perfect moment, he kisses my neck. I feel a slight tug as he gives me a hickey. I murmur his name.

All too soon we join the others. We’re going for another bike ride, and I wonder if this night will ever end. Part of me hopes it doesn’t. That same part of me is worried what tomorrow will bring.

Again, the ride on the bike makes me feel as if I’m flying.

… I am flying.


Faith’s POV

“Jesus B.” I rush towards my room, where B is passed out in the doorway. She looks awful. I touch her face, she doesn’t react, her face is cool and clammy, but she’s alive, which allayed my greatest concern.

God, that first glimpse of her, lying there, pale and unmoving. I thought I’d lost her again.

I unlock our door and pick her up, carry her to the bed, where I put her down gently. She looks awful.

“B. You ok?” I ask. She’s so pale… and cold. What the fuck happened to her?

“Mmm-hmm…” she murmurs.

I take this as a good sign. “B, what happened to you last night?” I demand.

“Mmm, nice.”

I figure I’m not gonna get much out of her like this, she’s zonked. To be honest, I’m not feeling to chipper myself, it’s been a long and bizarre night, and the sun’s almost up. I pull the shades down, get changed and hop into bed beside B. She’s snoring slightly, it’s not the stuff of fantasies, but in this life, you take what you can get.

But I can’t sleep. Too much weird stuff happened last night. Star, now there’s an odd chick. More than odd if the comments from the stakers from the cemetery are anything to go by. Edgar and Alan Frog.

I get up again, leaving sleeping beauty hogging the covers. I sit on the window sill and open the window. Naturally we’re stuck in a non smoking room. I didn’t always smoke, it’s a habit I picked up in prison. There was this girl who got picked on a lot, and every time I saved her sorry ass from queen bitch, she would give me a pack of cigarettes as a thank you.

She’d get upset if I didn’t smoke at least one in front of her, like I was rejecting her thanks. My first thought was, so what? But, then I realised my hard bitch attitude was what got me started on this slippery slope, so I smoked.

Imagine, I got peer pressured by the weakest girl in there. Kinda funny, don’t you think? But what the hell, I’m a Slayer, I’ve got a very short shelf-life, smoking is hardly gonna ruin my plan to live to ninety, is it?

I open the window and light up. Ok, I might have gone soft, but I’m still not a rule abiding girl.

My thoughts turn from prison back to last night, or technically this morning. Edgar and Alan are vampire slayers of the most unprofessional kind. But they’re the only ones in this town making an effort. Like Sunnydale, the good folks of Santa Carla have a see no evil, hear no evil mentality when it comes to… well, evil.

There’s plenty of undead walking around here at night and, just like Sunnydale, there’s plenty of ghouls and monsters in political places.

They assumed I was a vampire, when they saw me with Star. I don’t know why, but they feel very strongly that she’s a vamp. I didn’t get any warning bells from being around her, but they’ve seen her hanging around a gang of bikers that seem to cause a lot of trouble.

Any time they get into a fight their enemies mysteriously vanish. Occasionally their bodies turn up, with mysterious neck wounds on them. Freaky, huh?

They also noted that when they saw me on the Boardwalk I had a black eye, and later in the cemetery it was gone. I gotta give ‘em points for observation. My super powers were also somewhat unexplainable for two guys who’d never heard of the Slayer.

And by the time I told them about the ‘one girl chosen in all the world’, except I was part of a pair, they thought I was running bullshit central. In the end they took my pulse, just to make sure I was alive.

I think they’ll be a useful connection to have, for information I mean. The final showdown is mine and B’s territory. The Frog brothers are kinda clueless, but their hearts are in the right place. And, more importantly, they’re beating.

I wince in disgust when I realise I’ve chained three cigarettes. I brush my teeth then climb back into bed next to B. As I gently budge her over to her side of the bed her head rolls to the side, and her hair falls away from her neck. There’s two small puncture wounds on her neck about an inch apart.

No wonder she’s so pale. Some vamp bit my girl. If we were back in Sunnydale I’d load up with stakes, petrol and matches and torch the nearest vamp nest, and the next and the next, until the whole town was ablaze.

But we’re in Santa Carla, and I’ve only met one vamp so far, and he could barely outwit the Frogs, let alone bite the oldest known Slayer.

I make myself think instead of pounding out of bed and beating the shit out of the first shifty looking person I see. This vamp’s gotta be tough. B’s got bit before, but that was Angel, and she offered herself to him to save his life. Angelus never got close, Spike didn’t either.

Dracula bit her. But no other vamps have done it in an attempt to kill her and she was under his thrall. Drac’s dead, but something else as powerful as him must have taken a chunk out of B.

I’m gonna have to wake her up. I shake her. “B. Wake up, it’s Faith. Wake up, you’re ok, you’re safe with me.” I wonder why I’m saying all this. She’s been in the room for almost an hour, even unconscious, she must know she’s safe.

“B!” I shout. “Wake up!”

“What?” she asks dozily.

“B, what happened to your neck?”

“Mmm. Marko gave me a hickey,” she says dreamily.

She got lucky last night?—I’m gonna kill the son of a bitch that…—Focus, Faith. “No, B. The bite. Which vamp bit you? I’m gonna kill him.”

“Didn’t see no vamps.” She’s half asleep, her eyes are closed and she’s barely paying attention to me.

Maybe she doesn’t remember. Could that happen?

“Too bright, Fai. Pull the curtains.” She says.

Fai, I like that. She gave me a nickname… or maybe she’s too tired to say my whole name.

“B, if you wake up I’ll show you my new tattoo.” I wince, what a dumb thing to say. Like she cares about seeing my tattoo, and even if she did, I’d have to explain why I’ve got a bee tattooed on my ass. Well, hip anyway.

I’m kinda relieved when she doesn’t wake up.


Buffy’s POV

It’s dark when my eyes open. “Is it still night?” I ask.

I don’t get any response, Faith’s snoring away, god she’s noisy. Why on earth did I sign up for this rotten trip? Sharing a bed with a girl who hogs the covers and snores like a stuck pig. I swear the walls are trembling.

I poke her viciously in the ribs. “Shut up.”

“Frogs in the cemetery…” she mumbles.

Don’t tell me she’s picked up Willow’s frog fear. I poke her again.

“Love you B,” she mutters.

I’m sure she’s being ironic or something. I get up and head for the shower, I feel like I slept in pond scum last night. And ick! My morning—evening—breath is making me feel queasy. I don’t look in the mirror before I get in the shower, why upset myself?

By the time I climb out of the shower I’m beginning to feel a bit more human. Not much, but a bit. I think I still might be drunk ‘cos I’m kinda confused. Why is it still dark? How did I get home? Did I get so drunk that Faith had to carry me home, and then I dreamt about…

Marko. There’s a thought that puts a smile on my face. I reach for my toothpaste and start scrubbing away the scum attached to my teeth. I check my reflection in the mirror.

That can’t be right. I’m kinda see-through. I wipe away the condensation made by my exceptionally hot shower. Um…

Right. I spit out my toothpaste and give my mouth a good rinse. I down a few handfuls of water, and when I check my reflection again…

… Oh fuck.

Why am I transparent? I wipe the mirror with a towel as it begins to cloud up again. I’m still see-through. I can see me reflected, but I can also see the shower cubicle behind me. Look, there’s my pink spangly razor. And Faith’s men’s razor, that’s so typical of her…

Hang on, I was panicking then. I’m not going to abandon panic for another rant against Faith. Then again, panic or rant… which sounds more appealing?

Focus, damn it! Why would I be transparent? Think. Vampires don’t have a reflection at all, no soul or something like that. What else doesn’t reflect?

I need Giles and his books. Except Giles is the last person I want to tell about this. I’m getting the sinking sensation that this might be my fault. I don’t remember how I got back to the hotel.

I remember Marko. I met him while looking for my hotel, then we went back to that cave and got drunk. I scrunch my face up trying to recall what happened next.

Ooh! Oops. I had a one night stand with Marko. Then what?

Things get decidedly hazy after that. I suppose it’s possible I decided it would be a fabulous idea to patrol while drunk and some kind of demon… did what? Something that broke my reflection?

“B, you in there?” There’s pounding on the door, and my sister Slayer sounds rather distraught. Oh shit. She’s gonna knock me unconscious for all the nasty things I said last night.

“B!”

“I’m here!” I shout. “Where else did you expect me to be?”

The pounding goes away. Right, I’m gonna go out there act normal.

Note to self: stay away from windows and mirrors and other shiney-reflecty things.


Five

Faith’s POV

She walks out of the bathroom and gives me this sickly grin.

Jesus, B. Don’t do that to me, I think. When I woke up and she wasn’t here, panic. Absolute panic. Damn I getting soft, it’s pathetic.

“So what’s the commotion about?” she asks, her voice sounds a little off to me.

“Nothing,” I squeak. Squeak? Who am I, Tara? I’m Faith, nothing fazes me. “Why should there be a commotion, when I come home and find you passed out in the doorway, deathly pale with two tiny holes in your neck?”

She flinches. That’s more like it.

“What?”

“You got bit, B. Hence the paleness.”

“I…” She reaches a hand up to her neck and winces when her fingers find the wound.

“So who bit you?” I ask, impatient to get some vengeance going.

Her face scrunches up as she thinks, her fingers are still moving over the bite. I’m trying not to stare at her, but it’s hard. She’s so beautiful, even pale and hungover.

“C’mon B. Think. It’s not every day you get bit, then again, it is a regular occurrence for you.” Shut up, Faith, you’re not helping, I mentally chastise myself.

She glares at me. Again, if looks could kill… “I don’t remember getting bit, are you sure it’s not just a hickey?”

“B, how long you been in the slaying business?” Without waiting for a reply, I continue, “Seven or so years? Surely you can tell the difference between a hickey and a bite.”

Again, she wings a really hairy eyeball in my direction. “Yes, Faith. I can tell the difference, how about you, rookie?”

I hide a smile, that’s the B I like. “There’s a mirror in the bathroom.”

She shoots me the finger and I hide another grin. She slams the bathroom door and locks it.

“Temper, temper.”

“Fuck off!” she snaps through the door.

She told me to fuck off? I’m definitely having an effect on her.


Buffy’s POV

Oh god. Oh god. Oh hell! I’m semi-transparent, I’m pale as a ghost, and I’ve got two little-little holes in my neck. All the same, why? How?

I appear to be a vampire. No, no, I’ll change that, I could be a vampire. I don’t remember drinking blood last night, though. How could I be a vamp if I didn’t?

Where’s Spike when I need him? He’d know about this, then again, as if I’d want him knowing what’s going on now. He’d gloat for at least six months.

I check out my reflection again. Yep, it’s still Buffy in new transparent format, soon to be updated to Invisible Reflection Buffy, then Pointy Teeth Buffy, and finally: Evil Buffy.

I don’t have a love bite, all I have is two small punctures in my neck.

Think, B, think. I tell myself. The use of Faith’s nickname for me is kinda calming.

Whatever is wrong with me happened last night. Now, I know Faith didn’t do this to me. Don’t ask how I know that she didn’t, given her track record it’s not improbable that Faith handed me over to a vampire or demon last night for kicks, but I don’t think she did.

Which only leaves the rest of Santa Carla on my list of suspects. Let’s start with the gang from last night, The Lost Boys.

Marko wouldn’t have… my thoughts come to a shuddering halt.

Marko very well might have… whatever it was.

He gave me a hickey—or so I thought—last night, instead of an ugly pinky-purple bruise I’ve got two holes in my neck.

Oh hell. I’ve slept with a vampire.

Again.


Faith’s POV

She struts out of the bathroom with that look on her face. She was wearing the same look when she came to my place baying for blood to save her moody, broody honey a couple of years ago.

“You ok, B?” I ask, the glare I get in response makes me take a step back. Literally. I’m pathetic.

“So, what’s the plan? Load up with wicked-sharp stakes and kick some undead ass?”

She shakes her head. “I’ll take care of it.”

“We’re the chosen two, girlfriend. I’ll be right there with you.”

“No.” Winces at the thought. “I’ll do it.”

I bit my lip, and curb my childish impulses, it was the wince when I said I’d be right there with her. “Fine. I’ll go find some other vamps to dust.” I grab my jacket and head towards the door.

“Fai, wait!” She grabs my arm. “I just need to do this by myself, ok?”

“Fine, whatever. As always, B, you know best,” I say, but my thermostat was considerably cooled down by her calling me Fai again. “Give me a shout if you need me.” I shake off her arm and leave.

I decide to check in with the Frog brothers before getting stake happy, they probably know where most of the vamp activity is in this town…

… ok, you got me. I’ll be honest. I’m going to the Boardwalk to see if Star’s around. But you could call it work, the Frogs think she’s a vamp, I’m just gonna check her out.

Read into that what you want.


Buffy’s POV

As I walk my brain is churning out curses at Marko and all of his damn gang. No wonder Star looked so horrified when I drank that wine.

Yeah, a couple of minutes after Faith left I remembered about that. Star looked beyond horrified, she looked terrified. I get the feeling that she might be the best person to ask about all this. She lives with them, and she’s scared of them.

I’ve gotta find her.

How hard can it be to find a raven-tressed lass in a super-sparkly hippie skirt?


Faith’s POV

I find Star, she’s hovering near where we first met. She has a frantic look on her face, and I’m warmed by the way her face brightens when she sees me.

She walks swiftly over to me, takes my hand without a word and drags me into an alley where we are hidden by the shadows. I suddenly think I’m maybe gonna get lucky.

“I need your help,” she whispers, looking over her shoulder as if someone might be listening.

I reach out and touch her arm and realize she’s shaking. “How—”

She cuts off my question. “They’ve initiated a new girl in my gang.”

I frown. “I don’t get it.”

“They don’t usually initiate new members, they just…” She trails off looking slightly sick.

“Star.” I stroke her arm, trying to remember how to be gentle, this is B’s territory, being nice and saving the day. “You’ve gotta tell me the whole story or I can’t help.”

“You’ll think I’m crazy.” She’s still shaking.

I pull her into my arms and stroke her hair. “Star, the things I’ve seen would make the average person fall down dead of shock. Trust me, I won’t think you’re crazy.”

She stays in my arms awhile longer, and just as I’m about to give up on her, she pulls away slightly and looks me in the eyes. “Do you believe in vampires?” She asks solemnly.

I snort. This chick’s asking if I believe in vamps? This is the funniest thing I’ve heard for quite awhile.

Her eyes fill with tears and she begins to make her exit.

Dumb, Faith. Very dumb. “Star.” I grab her arm. “Wait.”

She shakes my arm off. “Leave me alone.”

I grab her arm again and pull her deeper into the alley. “Star, I do believe in vampires.”

“Very funny.” She embarrassedly wipes away her tears. “It’s just a joke to you, it’s my life.”

“Star,” I reach up and wipe her tears away for her. “I’m sorry I laughed, it’s just, your question caught me off guard.”

She sniffs. “I bet it’s not every day you have conversations in alleys about vampires.”

“Sometimes it’s demons,” I say.

She gives me that look, like she’s just about to bail.

“Star, you ever hear of the Slayer?”

“Yeah, some thrashy metal band, Paul likes them, I don’t. So what?”

“No, not Slayer, The Slayer.” No spark. “The Vampire Slayer.”

Just like last night with the Frog brothers, there’s no spark of recognition.

Here we go again.


Buffy’s POV

Where is she? I’ve been up and down this Boardwalk about ninety times, I’ve seen the boys, but no Star. I made sure they didn’t see me though. It wasn’t too difficult, they were busy making trouble on the carousel with the guys they call the “Surf-Nazis”.

I’m shaking with a combination of anger and fear. They’re vampires, I know that now. Just not Sunnydale-type vampires. They’re definitely more sophisticated with their recruitment plan.

The reason I know? I can hear the heartbeats of the people surrounding me. I can feel the rush of blood in the bodies around me.

It’s overwhelming, and the urge to take a drink is…

I’m beginning to feel really horrible, I’m sweating horribly. I lean against the nearest wall and a vicious pain clamps around my stomach. I bite down hard on my lip to stifle the scream of pain. Hard enough to draw blood. I taste my own blood hungrily.

I don’t want to be a vampire. Tears course down my cheeks and I sink to the floor. I close my eyes and pray it’s over soon.

“Jesus, B. All I seem to do lately is scoop your sorry ass off the asphalt.”

Faith, I’d know that cocky voice anywhere. Through my tears she’s just about the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.

She sinks down next to me and puts her arm around me. “Do you need a hospital?” she asks.

I shake my head, no.

“It’ll be over soon.” A new voice adds.

As she says it, the pain ends as suddenly as it began.

“Star?” I ask.

“You two know each other?” Faith looks horrified.


Six

Faith’s POV

I’m locked in the bathroom. Star and B are in the hotel room waiting for me. I can’t go out there yet. My face is puffy and my eyes are bloodshot.

My B’s a vampire. Or a half vampire. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. If I don’t save her, I’m gonna have to stake her.

And it’s that thought that makes the tears come.

I don’t know what happens to Slayers when they become vampires, it’s never happened before, but I should imagine it would be pretty nasty. To be as powerful as we are, give us more power, rip away our soul and make us immortal…

I always thought if B got vamped, I’d gladly follow, she’s the only thing that keeps me going, even when she’s not around. But she wouldn’t want that. She wouldn’t want two Slayers-turned-Vamps stalking the earth.

If I don’t save her, I have to kill her.

Damn these tears.

I wipe my face, clean myself up, take a deep breath and rejoin the others.

“You ok?” B smiles weakly at me.

“Five by five, B.” I grab my cigarettes and light up.

“Can I have one of those?” B asks. I raise my eyebrows at her. “I’m stressed,” she adds.

I hand her the pack. She lights up, inhales and coughs. That’s my B. I finally give her a genuine smile.

“All vamps smoke anyway.” I wince and hide my face with my hair. She runs an index finger down my arm.

B hands the pack to Star, who looks at it for awhile and then decides she’s got nothing to lose by smoking too. “You’re not a full vampire yet,” Star says. “Not until you make your first kill. You’re like Laddie and me.”

“Laddie’s your brother?” B questions.

“No, they brought Laddie into the group to get me to stay. I’ve been a half vampire for about two months, and I’m almost ready to cave. You were going to be my first.” She flashes a look of shame at me. “But I couldn’t. That’s why I ran. I tried to get away from them once before, but then they killed Laddie’s entire family, and now I’m all he has.”

“Bastards!” I hiss. “I guess this is what we were sent here to destroy.”

“Faith.” B takes my hand and looks me in the eyes. “If we can’t reverse this, I need you to—”

“I know B.” I cut her off before she says the words that will have the tears flowing.

“Me too. I don’t want to be one of them, but I don’t know how much longer I can resist.” Star takes my other hand.

I won’t cry. “No problem,” I say sarcastically. “I’ll quite happily kill my new friend and my…” everything. That’s what B is, my everything.

“I should go.” Star breaks the mood. “They’re gonna be mad as hell that I’m missing.” She gives B a long look. “They’re going to be even more pissed at you. They were expecting you to come back.”

“Screw ‘em,” B mutters.

“If you don’t come back, they’ll cause problems. A hotel is a public place, no invite needed.” She says pointedly.

“It’s ok,” I say. “I’ll figure out a plan before tomorrow night.”

Star hugs me and whispers a quiet thank you in my ear, then flies out of the open window.

B and I stare at each other.

“Well,” she says finally. “There’s something I didn’t know about.”


Buffy’s POV

Poor Faith. I never knew. I didn’t realize there was anything more to what she felt for me than a challenge. She’s locked in the bathroom again, trying to cry quietly, I can hear her though, Slayer and vampire powers mingled. She’s crying for me.

I knock on the door. “Fai?” I realize I don’t have anything to follow that.

“What?”

“Can I… I mean… Are you ok?”

“Five by fricking five.”

“Faith, let me in.”

“I’m fine, B.”

I cheat and use slayer powers to break the lock.

She wipes her face quickly and stands up, trying to put on her usual cocky Faith-face. “Great, B. There goes half our wages on replacing that rotten lock!”

I open my arms to her, and she gladly accepts the comfort. I rock her gently, stroking her back. “I’m sorry,” I whisper. “I’m sorry about all of this. I didn’t know.”

“Why, B?” she asks, her voice muffled by my hair. “Why go against all of your sensibilities and get involved?”

“I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t your spider sense tingle? You’ve been doing this so long, why turn into me now?” She’s not goading me, for once.

“I don’t know. I was finding the fun.” I roll my eyes, but it’s lost on her as her head is still on my shoulder. “I was drinking the ‘wine’ David gave me, and saw Star standing there looking horrified by me having a good time, and I just thought, ‘god, is that what I’m like? No wonder Faith gets so pissed at me’.”

“So it’s my fault.” She’s not starting a fight, she’s accepting responsibility.

“I didn’t say that!”

“But you took my advice, I’d blame me, if I was you.”

I draw back from her so I can look her in the eyes. “I’ve been blaming you far too long. You gave me some advice, it’s not your fault I took it to the extreme.” I wipe her tears away.

Faith gives me a weak smile. “Jesus, B. When are you gonna learn? Never listen to a word I say.”

“Is that more advice?” I tease.

She grins at me, far more feeling in it this time. “God, I need a cigarette.”

“Me too.”

The smoke makes my head swimmy, and Faith tells me that’s the last cigarette I’m ever going to smoke.

Despite my new found vampirism and the fact it’s night, I’m zonked. I lay down on the bed while Faith makes a few calls, one to the Watcher’s Council to let them know we’ve found a new breed of vampire, and one to some guys she calls the Frogs.

At first I can hear her voice, but as I fall deeper into sleep, it becomes Spike’s voice.

I’m standing in the magic shop, supporting Angel who’s injured. Spike’s ranting in his usual way. “You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love ‘til it kills you both. You’ll fight and you’ll shag and you’ll hate each other ‘til it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends. Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood, blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.”

I look round, and it’s no longer Angel I’m holding up. It’s Faith, Faith with that knife in her gut.

“He’s right, B.”

“Love makes you do the wacky,” Willow agrees.


Faith’s POV

B’s sleeping like a baby. I feel kinda funky about crying so openly in front of her, but I’m ignoring the feeling and throwing myself into the Slayer groove.

I’ve called England, they were stunned about the new breed of vampire, but other than that, not much help. They wanted to speak to B, her being the older Slayer, and also the one that hasn’t killed a few humans. I said she was resting.

Well, since the Brit Brigade was such a washout, I called Edgar and Alan. It really sucked. They were highly skeptical of my slaying abilities, if I didn’t know about half vampires, what kind of a Slayer was I? I’m ashamed to say they make a fair point.

They’re on their way over now. They wanted me to go over to them, but I didn’t want to leave B alone, she’s spark out, even if she does wake up, she’s too zonked to get to the Boardwalk and back. Besides, I don’t want those Lost Boys seeing her.

I hope she wakes up soon though, I need her brain power. I need all the information she has about them too.

“B.” I sit down on the bed and brush some stray hair out of her eyes. “B, wake up, precious.” Precious? I’m pitiful.

Her eyes flutter, and her hand reaches up to stroke mine.

“You awake?”

“Mmm. Love makes you do the wacky,” she mutters.

“B?”

Her eyes open fully this time. “Hey.” She gives me a lazy smile.

“Hey yourself.”

“I wasn’t talking in my sleep was I?” She blushes attractively, and I wonder what type of dream she was having.

“You didn’t even snore.” There’s no harm in stretching the truth to make her feel better.

“I bet I have bed hair.”

“To be honest, not your best hair.” I grin and she playfully swats my arm. I can’t remember ever feeling so relaxed with B.

I think she’s feeling the same, because she opens her mouth. “Faith?”

“Yeah?”

She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out. Shuts mouth. Opens it. “I just… You’re… I mean… Thanks.”

“No probs, B.” I squeeze her hand. “We’re gonna fix this. Now, get up. There’s some people coming over to help.”

“The Watchers Council?” she asks, horrified.

“No, just a couple of people who know what’s going on in this town.”

“Okay.” She gets up and heads to the bathroom. Stops. Turns towards me and does something odd. She blows me a kiss.


Buffy’s POV

Two kids in army garb, that’s Faith’s connections. God help us.

Jeez, B, shut up. I mentally tell myself. I’m finding that having Faith’s voice telling me off works better than my own. I don’t know why I’m being such a bitch, I got turned into a half vampire last night, Faith didn’t. I’m on no moral high ground this time round.

And it was me on my ridiculously high horse that sent Faith crazy last time. If I’d have just made a bit more of an effort instead of being glad she had fallen from grace and thinking that at least my friends would like me best again things would have gone a lot different.

I look at her, she’s getting very emphatic whilst talking to two kids so stoic they make Oz look like a talk show host on speed. She’s waving her arms around and flipping her hair out of her eyes agitatedly. For the first time I notice how beautiful Faith is.

I’ve always known she was attractive, but this time I’m really taking it in.

“Right, B?” She turns to me, and gives me this reassuring smile that has a totally weird effect on me. My only thought is ‘I want to kiss you’.

“Right?” she asks again.

“Sure.” I haven’t got a clue what she just said, but right now, this girl is the only thing standing between me and immortal evil. She’s gonna save my sorry ass, as she has put it so eloquently in the past, so anything she says it perfect.

Faith gets to take the lead this time.

“So, where’s their hideout?” I think it’s Edgar who asks, the older looking one with lighter hair than his brother.

“They’ve got a place in the cliffs somewhere.” I tell him.

“Where?”

“I’m sorry, I was really drunk and they were driving so fast. It was all I could do to hang on.”

Faith strokes my arm.

Edgar and Alan: not so affable. “Think. Your life depends on it. If we can’t kill the head vampire Alan and I will stake you without thinking twice about it… In fact, you’re a half vampire, why shouldn’t we kill you right now?”

I open my mouth to respond, but Faith gets there first. “Because you have to go through me to get to her. I bested you in the cemetery, I could do it again easily.” She’s using that low throaty tone that conveys intimidation and danger. It has other effects on me, but probably not on the Frog brothers.

“So, now we’ve got the testosterone leak out of our system, can we discuss this like adults?” Without waiting for a response she continues. “Good. B, think, were there any landmarks that would narrow it down.”

“Ooh! I’m so mentally challenged!” I hit my head for emphasis. “Their hideout used to be a big fancy hotel, there was a big quake that knocked it inside the cliffs. You can see the lighthouse from outside their cave.”

The Frogs exchange a look. “We know the place.” Alan speaks for the first time since he got here.

“Ok, so we hit it tomorrow morning while they’re asleep, kill ‘em, and B, Star and Laddie are back to normal.” Faith surmises.

I raise my eyebrows at this over-simplification of events, but am impressed at her ability to take charge when need be.

“It’s gonna be ok, B,” she adds.

“I trust you.”


Seven

Faith’s POV

“So you’re sure that David’s the head vampire?” I ask, I don’t know why, I’ve asked her like nine times in the past few minutes.

“As far as I can tell. They all follow his lead.” Each time I’ve asked, she’s found a different way to word it.

“Ok.” I want to say more, but can’t think of anything to say. “Ok. Ok.”

“So, it’s ok?”

I catch her eyes and manage to grin. Until I take a good look at her. She looks awful, her face is deathly pale there’s a light sheen of sweat across her face and every so often she shudders. “You ok, B?”

She smiles at me, a totally beautiful smile I’ve never seen before, something in it seems lost and at the same time young and innocent. I realize that it’s the same expression Star was wearing when I met her. “I’m five by five, Fai.”

“Ok, let’s address this, you’ve shortened my name, you’ve just said ‘five by five’ and I’m being sensible at the moment—have we traded places?”

She laughs and looks a little better. She gets up and struts around the room cockily, puffing away on an unlit cigarette. “I dunno, girlfriend, but I’m feeling wicked-cool and five by five!”

B laughs and I join her. Then she starts shaking.

“Cold?” I’m up like a shot to hold her and offer warmth.

“Not cold.” She mutters through clenched teeth, backing away from me.

“Then what?”

“I’m fine.”

I realize she hasn’t opened her mouth the whole time. “You vamping on me?” I ask.

She looks at me, tears in her eyes. Shakes her head, no. Then nods.

“Hungry?”

She nods again.

I offer her my neck. “Only if you’re in control. Are you in control?”

“I won’t do that, Faith.”

“Why not? You’re weak.”

“I won’t feed.”

“B, you’re gonna need all the strength you can get for tomorrow. You’re meant to sleep through the day but you’re gonna be awake.”

“I can’t, Fai.”

“You can.” I urge. “Star says they make her drink from the bottle to keep her strength up until…” I trail off, not wanting our conversation to go there. “They hold her down and force blood down her throat.”

“I can’t do it.”

“You can, B,” I say softly. “You’re the best slayer that ever was, you can control the urge, got it? And if you can’t, I can. Now feed!”

Slowly she approaches. I can feel her anguish just by meeting her eyes. This goes against every single Buffy Summers principle in existence, but she needs it. I’m not having her die during the fight because she was too proud to drink, and became too tired and weak to fight.

She’s trembling in my arms now. “S’ok, B,” I whisper. “Just take it easy.”

Her teeth pierce the skin of my neck and I wince. B draws away, but my hand pulls her mouth back to my throat.

Damn it! My knees are shaking, but it’s not from fear. What she’s doing to me right now is just about the most intimate thing I can imagine, it’s far more intimate that sex. And I’m sharing it with B.

I realize I’ve been holding my breath and let it out in a ragged gasp.

My fingers aren’t quite steady as they find their way to her back, stroking her from the top of her neck right down to the bottom of her spine, and I find that I’m not the only one who’s shaking. One hand finds her face and caresses it as she drinks from me.

I could die right now and not care. I mean that literally. I’m hers now, even if she never kisses me I’ll always belong to her in a way that no-one else in the world does, not even Angel.

She begins to drink deeper and I realize the bloodlust is taking over. I gently ease her away, for a second she fights it, then gets a hold of herself. Her teeth leave my neck and she lets out a deep breath.

“Wow.”

I don’t know how to take that wow, but I can’t help agree.


Buffy’s POV

There’s a strangeness in the air as we get ready for bed. I could write it off as being just an exceptionally weird day, but it’s more than that.

It’s what happened when I drank Faith’s blood. Not the drinking part, the effect she had on me. Her hands on my back and face.

I’ve not stopped staring at her since. She comes out of the bathroom wearing only a tiny vest and a pair of panties. I have to stop staring at her now, it’s rude.

“Ciggie before bedtime.” She says and climbs up onto the windowsill. She lights up and stares out of the window. “Why is it the most beautiful towns always have the biggest amount of nasties?” She muses.

I don’t answer, I’m staring at a tattoo I’ve never seen before. There’s a bee on her hip. “New tat?” I ask, wondering why a bee.

She turns to me, notices I’m pointing at her tattoo and blushes. “Yeah. Last birthday, Angel gave me a hundred bucks and told me to buy something I really wanted. I spent half of it on tequila and the other half on the tattoo. I just wish I’d got drunk after.”

“It’s a bee,” I say, then I get it, or think I do. Bee. B. Buffy. Or maybe it’s I hope I get it.

“Yeah. See you’ve got a tattoo, when did that happen?”

“Also birthday, not long after I came back. Wanted to do something non-Buffy like. I was also smashed.”

“What’s it mean?”

Now here’s a funny story. I went to a tattoo artist while drunk, Spike came along, and he’s been sworn to secrecy about this. I remember asking to have the Japanese symbol for Angel tattooed on my shoulder. What I actually got what the symbol for Faith. Both Spike and the tattoo guy distinctly remember me asking for Faith. The word Angel never passed anyone’s lips.

I asked Spike the next day why he didn’t correct me, he said he was quite happy that I wasn’t going to have ‘a sodding symbol of that bleeding nancy boy’ permanently engraved on my body.

“B? What’s it mean?”

Lie or truth?

Faith quirks an eyebrow at me.

“It means Faith,” I tell her.

For the first time in the history of mankind, Faith is dumbstruck. Finally, “Like religion or destiny or whatever?”

“Or whatever,” I agree. I’m neither lying or telling the truth.

Again, the weirdness. Faith climbs into bed next to me, the wound in her neck calls to me. It’s open and uncovered, no point in band-aids, Slayer healing will take care of it in a couple of hours.

It calls to me, I lean over, and drop a kiss on her neck.

She looks at me, with that quizzical Faith look that I’m beginning to love.

“Forgot to do that earlier,” I explain.

She grins from ear to ear. “Night, B.”

“Night, F.”


Faith’s POV

Lyrics are from “Lose Your Way” by Sophie B. Hawkins.

I think she’s still asleep. Her eyes are closed, but she’s not snoring like a pig, so who knows.

There’s a hell of a lot whizzing round my head right now. I climb out of bed and light a cigarette, climbing up on the windowsill.

The sun will be up in a few minutes, I think I’ve had about three hours sleep since we arrived in Santa Carla, I tell you, the minute we’ve finished with this gig, I’m taking a vacation, and screw what the Watchers Council think of that. Maybe B will come too.

B. The source of my late night and early morning thoughts. I look at her and wonder what she’ll be like when the vampire leaves her. Right now I’m having the best and worst week of my life simultaneously. B’s a half vamp, Star—my possible holiday romance—is one too. B and I are getting on amazingly.

More than amazingly. She blew me a kiss, she kissed my neck better and we’re acting like we’ve been friends all our lives. And while this is the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me, I’m terrified that it’s all come from the vampyness in her. Why would she want to be my friend, or anything else unless something brought her down a peg or two. Something like bloodlust, for instance.

I take a deep drag on my cigarette, and wave to some kid on the street. A song floats up from his stereo, and I find it oddly fitting.

I have no confidence
And I can’t see why I should
But I could do most anything for you
And you know I would
I try too hard then I give up way too easily
I’m the runner-up inside of you
And you’re the winner inside of me

Lose your way
And I will follow
Here today
And here tomorrow
Let my freedom, I know
I’ll never let you go

I still wish on the evening star
And I s’pose I always will
Every child loses something
A whole life can’t fulfil
And when you cry
I feel the sky
Bust open in my veins
Lovin’ you makes a slave of me
And I’ll spend my whole life in chains

Lose your way
And I will follow
Here today
And here tomorrow
Let my freedom, I know
I’ll never let you go
Walk the line
I’ll walk inside you
Change your mind
Let your love decide you
It’s the reason I know
I’ll never let me go

Never let me go… oh no no no no baby
Never let me go… oh no, ain’t that right now baby

Lose your way
And I will follow
Here today
And here tomorrow
Let my freedom, I know
I’ll never let you go
Walk the line
I’ll walk inside you
Change your mind
Let your love decide you
It’s the reason I know
I’ll never let me go


Buffy’s POV

I open my eyes and the first thing I see is Faith. She’s sitting on the windowsill in her ‘smoking seat’, the early morning light filtering in around her makes her look like an angel. I don’t know if it’s the beauty of Faith or the light that make my eyes water.

“Morning, sunshine.” She grins, flips her cigarette out the window and wanders over to me. “How are you feeling?”

“Awful, could you pull the shade down?”

“Sure.” Faith hands me a pair of sunglasses off the nightstand. “I’m gonna go downstairs, see if I can get us some coffee and food, you get ready, ok?”

“Ok.” She drops a kiss on my forehead.

I remember the last time she did that, it was right after she’d tried to drag Angel over to the dark side. What a difference time can make. She did that then to remind me what I could have had, a way to humiliate me, I guess. She knew I was kinda… ok, a bit of a homophobe and that was a mini payback.

Again, time makes all the difference. I’ve finally processed all my thoughts about that time in my life, every act of hatred towards Faith was because I didn’t want to admit how much I admired her, how much I wanted to be her, and the final revelation came just before I fell asleep: I’ve finally realized how much I wanted her. Then and now.

I just hope I come out of this as a human so I can tell her.


Eight

Faith’s POV

The Frogs meet us outside the hotel. They arrive on push bikes, it’s not the best entrance ever, but I’m glad to see them. B’s leaning heavily on my arm. She’s coated liberally in factor 25 sun lotion and is wearing sunglasses even though it’s a little overcast today.

As promised, they’re loaded up with petrol and stakes. Inside the mine and B’s van are more of the same, several bottles of holy water and about twenty crosses.

“Ready?” they ask in unison.

“Five by five,” I reply, tossing the keys to Edgar so I can help B into the van, she’s barely awake. “You’ll be ok, B.”

“Because of you.” Her eyes are glazed over, but she reaches up and strokes my hair.

“Because of us,” I say.

She runs a thumb over my cheekbone, then turns to settle in the back of the van in a space free from anti-vamp arsenal.

“You look like death,” I hear Edgar comment.

I shoot him the finger without even turning. Half-vamp or not, nobody insults B.

“Here drink this.”

I turn this time, just in time to see Edgar hand her a bottle of holy water.

“Fucker!” I shout as he snatches it back.

“I was just kidding.”

Does he really expect me to see the funny side of this? I hop in the back of the van, grab him by the throat and pin him to the inside of the van. He’s making strangled gasping noises, I think he’s learnt his lesson. Better safe than sorry though. “Nobody insults my girl, let alone tries to kill her as a prank!” I stress the last word by squeezing his neck a little. “Got it?”

He nods emphatically. I let him go and he sinks gratefully to the floor. I turn to clamber into the front to take the driver’s seat and come face to face with Alan.

“Nobody does that to my brother.”

“Then you know how I feel about B,” I tell him, knocking him gently out of the way.

I take a seat and check in the rear-view mirror. Where’s B while I’m being her knight in shining armour? Spark out on the floor.


Buffy’s POV

I come to, someone’s gently shaking me, which means it’s neither of the Frogs. I think I missed something earlier, but I know they don’t like me.

“We’re here, B. Can you wake up?”

“Anything for you,” I mutter, not quite awake enough to keep my mouth in check.

“I loved that song.” She loops an arm under me and drags me out of the van.

I wince in the sunlight. It’s so bright. “Sunglasses?” I hold one hand over my eyes.

“Wearing ‘em, B.”

“Oh.” My eyes begin to adjust to the light, and I see the Frogs making their way down the wooden steps. I’m alone with Faith. I slide my arms around her neck, she looks surprised for a moment, then wraps her arms around me.

“We’ll get through this, B. A couple of days’ time you and I are gonna be hanging at The Bronze laughing about it.”

“You think?”

“Well… maybe a month’s time. I’m thinking a big non-vampy vacation after this.”

“Sounds nice,” I murmur.

“You’d come with me?”

“I’d even put up with your snoring.”

She laughs softly, and it occurs to me that, despite the situation, Faith has laughed more in the past few days than she ever did in all the years I’ve known her.

We share a few moments silence in our hug.

“Love you,” I whisper, so quietly I’m not even sure I said it at all.


Faith’s POV

Love you whispers itself in my ears as I help B down the steps. I’m pretty sure I imagined it, but all the same there’s a tingle of anticipation in my stomach that has nothing to do with the upcoming fight.

I keep saying fight, but if all goes well there will be no interaction with the bastards that corrupted my B. If I’m honest, I hope it doesn’t go to plan and I personally get to stake the bastard that made her.

We get into the cave and the boys are standing over the sleeping form of Star.

“Let’s stake her,” Edgar suggests.

“Leave her alone!” I shout. “She’s like B.”

“It’s a half though.” Alan turns to his brother and draws a stake.

“Stay the fuck away from her!” I’m surprised that those words didn’t come from my mouth. B’s glaring at the Frogs, sweating, pale and positively magnificent.

“Vampires have such rotten tempers,” Edgar says.

“Let’s find the rest.” Alan backs away from Star.

“B, can you help Star and Laddie out?” I ask.

“No probs.” She gives me a grin that reminds me a bit of me. She makes her way over to Star.

Edgar spots an opening in the wall of rock. “Down there. It reeks of vampires.”

I turn to the Frogs, “C’mon boys, let’s end this.” I notice it really does stink down this tunnel. In my dealings with vamps, they’ve never had this stench of decay about them. Angel’s probably not a great example—I’ve never met a straight guy who takes such good care of himself, especially his hair. But Spike was a real vamp and he didn’t smell. I guess it’s the different breed of vamp.

I take the lead as planned. The tunnel seems to go on forever, and soon we’re crawling, not walking. I begin to think Edgar is even more clueless than he sounds. Suddenly the crawl space opens out and drops sharply. I stop just in time before I fall. Alan head-butts my ass, I consider making a comment, but can’t be bothered.

It’s a dead end. I turn to tell Edgar exactly what I think of him and his vamp tracking skills, when Alan yells.

Edgar and I follow his gaze upwards. There’re three vamps hanging from the roof of the cave. Even I’m wigged. I’m not used to this kind of vamp.

“Let’s go boys,” I say with more confidence than I’m feeling. Edgar hands me and Alan a can of petrol each. Alan douses the floor while I look for a way to climb up to them. These guys are getting Reservoir Dog-ed.

I see a metal trellis that would serve perfectly as a ladder leading up, and start to climb.

“What’s she doing?” I hear Alan ask.

“These guys don’t vamp my girl and just get a flamey death, they get an agonising one.” I reply over my shoulder. “Go. And pile up the crosses on your way out.”

“This wasn’t the plan, Faith.”

“Fuck the plan!” I say. “Go.”

“Faith…”

“Look, it’s hard enough to climb up this thing, let alone with a petrol can. Do you really want me to come down there and forcibly remove you? These guys could wake up any second…”

They leave, and now it’s just me and the vamps.


Buffy’s POV

Carrying Laddie to the van exhausts me, but I have to go back for Star. I’m breathing heavily and about ready to pass out. The damn sun isn’t helping. The thing that keeps me going is Faith. She’s in there, trying to kill David, Marko and the others for me. I’m sure as hell not going to let her down.

I stand above Star, trying to wake her. I’ve tried being kind and gentle, but now I’m losing my temper. I’m in the same state as her and I’ve just carried a seven year old out to the van.

I slap her hard on the face. She bolts awake, sometimes I forget the Slayer strength and I’m ashamed by that red mark on her face. You can see my fingers and everything.

“Wake up and get your ass out of this cave!” I demand, hauling her to her feet.

“I’m tired…” she murmurs.

“Me too, and I just carried Laddie up those fucking steps! Now move!”

I half drag, half carry Star out of the cave and ditch her in the back. She curls up next to Laddie and falls asleep immediately.

Me? I’m about ready to drop, but I’m waiting for Faith. It’s the very least I can do.

I wait for what seems like hours, wishing I had a cigarette or something to pass the time.

Suddenly I hear yells, and the Frog brothers come into view.

Only the Frog brothers.

Running like the Devil himself was after them.

I can’t breathe, can’t speak. I run to meet them.

“Where’s Faith?” I ask desperately.


Nine

Faith’s POV

I slosh petrol liberally all over the walls of the cave, then turn my attention to the vamps. I know they’re gonna wake up. Three against one. Not great odds, but I’ve managed before.

I make sure the white-blonde with the spikey hair gets it full in the face, from B’s description he has to be David, the leader. It will be much easier to take out the pack if the leader’s dead.

David opens his eyes and lets out a yell that chills me to the core. I let go of the makeshift ladder and drop to the floor of the cave, hoping to get an edge on them speed-wise. Mid-fall I remember they can fly.

I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. I was too scared to cushion my fall. I hear something pop in my knee but don’t have the time to care. I scramble to my feet and lunge at the tunnel leading out.

I almost make it, but David catches my ankle, I graze my chin on the rocks but don’t turn round. I kick out and manage to get him in the face through luck rather than skill. I use my foot on his face as leverage and swing myself into the tunnel.

The crosses the Frogs piled up are slowing them down, but not much. My panicked exit scattered most of them.

My heart is pounding so hard I know they can hear. This isn’t adrenalin, this is fear. I’ve never cared before, but now I have B to live for, these fuckers are not going to screw things up for us now.

I’m crawling as fast as I can, but I hear the gang close at my heels. I stop and smash my foot into David’s face again. I hear him yell in rage rather than pain. Wonderful, I gave up a few valuable seconds lead to anger an already irate vampire.

The stink of vampires and gasoline is overpowering, made worse by the trail of petrol-soaked paper left by the Frogs.

Suddenly the crawl space opens out and I’m able to stand. David grabs me by the throat and I have a single beautiful thought: I died for you, B.

Milliseconds later my Slayer instinct kicks in. I can’t breathe, but I reach in my pocket and bring out my lighter.

Flip.

Whoomph.


Buffy’s POV

I get to the cave just as a fireball sweeps through the tunnel.

My Faith is nowhere to be seen.

I let out a scream and it mingles with the sounds coming from the dying Lost Boys, my tears are flowing swiftly. I’m heading towards the cave, ignoring the restraints of the Frogs. Even if Faith’s dead, she’s not staying here. She’s a hero. She’s my hero.

I have a water pistol loaded with holy water in one hand and a stake in the other, just in case. Suddenly there’s a movement from the opening.

Faith.

She’s on fire.

There’s more movement in the cave, the Frogs reach Faith first, smothering the flames with their jackets.

David stumbles into the main cave. All my rage is unleashed on him. “Ooh, you’re on fire. Want me to put you out?” I aim the water pistol and fire. I’m disgusted by the site of his flesh peeling away from his long-dead skull.

“You monster!” I scream, stalking towards him with my stake. “You tried to kill my Faith. You good for nothing rotten blood-sucking son of a bitch!” I ram the stake through his heart and enjoy the site of his immolated spasming corpse.

I rush to Faith’s side, and take her hand. “Faith?”

“Right here, B.”

“Are you ok?” What a stupid question. She’s been on fire.

“Five by five,” she replies.

“Hospital. Now.”

The Frogs carry Faith to the van, and I drive at breakneck speed towards the nearest hospital. No-one comments on my awful driving.


Faith’s POV

“You’re very lucky you were wearing so many layers, the burns are only superficial.” The doc grins at me. I don’t feel very lucky, I’ve lost a load of hair, my hands are a charred mess and my body’s got that too hot, itchy feeling about it.

Then again, the way that B’s looking at me, maybe I am lucky.

She strokes my face with a cool hand. “I was so scared.”

“Me too.” I want to stroke her hand, but I can’t because mine hurt too much, so instead I lean into her hand more.

She turns to the doc. “Can I take her home?”

“I’d prefer it if she stayed overnight for observation.”

“You’d prefer? Meaning you can’t make her stay?”

“I strongly advise…”

“So Faith can come home?” She cuts him off.

The doc gives up and nods, muttering something about prescriptions.

“Good. I’m not letting you out of my sight again.”

“I don’t even get to pee in private?” I ask, it’s not my funniest moment, but B cracks up. I love to hear her laugh.

B winces in the sunlight as she helps me into the van. I take a look at her, and to be honest, she looks worse than I do.

“You ok, B?”

“Home, then talk,” she replies. I’ll take that as a no then.

Star and Laddie are still zonked in the back. Edgar and Alan are still here, I’m kinda touched. I can tell they don’t really like either B or myself that much, but they’re still her.

“Hey,” I say.

They regard me for a long time, then Alan finally speaks for the both of them. “Your bravery is unsurpassed. No wonder you’re a Slayer.”

“She’s the best,” B agrees.

I manage a grin. It’s nice to be a hero.


Buffy’s POV

“I’m still…” I can’t quite finish the sentence.

Faith looks at Star. “Me too, and Laddie.” She confirms.

We’re all slumped in the room at our hotel. When you fit six people in a double room you realize how small the room is.

Faith eases herself back on the bed and I quickly try to arrange pillows around her, I get trapped between Faith and the wall and don’t even consider moving myself. Faith leans back against me and I stroke her face.

“There must still be one more,” the Frogs decide.

“At least.” Faith says.

“Well,” I say, “At least you bumped off the four of them, it’s a good start.”

“Four?” Edgar, Alan and Faith respond in unison.

“Nuh-uh, girlfriend. There were three.”

“So who didn’t get dead?” I ask.

Star finally contributes to the conversation. “David, you killed.” She nods at me. “The others, Paul has long blonde hair, Dwayne has long dark hair and Marko has blonde curls. Which one was missing?”

“Curly,” Faith replies instantly. “I got a good look at all of them while I was swimming in petrol. Not a hint of a curl on any of them.”

“Marko was the head vampire?” Star looks confused.

“Unlikely.” I dismiss the thought instantly. “They followed David’s lead on everything, he had to be answering to a higher power.”

“So how do we find this higher power?” Alan asks.

“We find Marko and ask him nicely.” I reply. “In a way, it’s a good thing he wasn’t there.”

“Which begs the question, where was he?” Faith asks.

“They don’t always come back to the cave,” Laddie pipes up. “Dwayne told me that they have places they can go if they’re too far from the cave before sunrise.”

“So, we find him, we torture him, we get answers, we kill him, we kill the higher power. Sounds easy enough.” Faith is clearly a fan of over-simplified plans.

I trace the contours of her face, barely noticing anyone else in the room. “Cool, except I’ve never felt less like Slaying in my life.”

She looks up at me, partially upside down, and kisses one of my fingers that strays close to her mouth. “Sooner we do it the sooner we can get back to normal.”

“Normal would be good.”

“Let’s get some rest and we’ll meet up just before sundown.” Faith suggests. “I think our halves are about to spark out. We’ll meet you outside your shop.”

The Frogs nod and leave.

Star and Laddie curl up on the floor, already half asleep. Faith and I arrange ourselves on the bed spoon-like.

Faith, strangely, falls asleep before I do. I listen to her even breathing, see her smile and her eyelids flutter and I’m glad she’s having a good dream. I stroke her face some more, I can’t seem to stop myself, she’s just so beautiful. She smiles at my touch. I rest my head on her back and wish I could stay like this forever.

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you’re far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don’t wanna close my eyes
I don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

‘Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I’d still miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I’m wondering what you’re dreaming
Wondering if it’s me you’re seeing
Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we’re together
And I just wanna stay with you
In this moment forever, forever and ever

I don’t wanna close my eyes
I don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

‘Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I’d still miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

I don’t wanna miss one smile
I don’t wanna miss one kiss
Well, I just wanna be with you
Right here with you, just like this

I just wanna hold you close
I feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time, yeah, yeah, yeah

Don’t wanna close my eyes
Don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

‘Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I’d still miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

I don’t wanna close my eyes
I don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

‘Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
And I’d still miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

Don’t wanna close my eyes
I don’t wanna fall asleep, yeah
I don’t wanna miss a thing


Ten

Faith’s POV

I wake up, unused to having arms around me as I sleep. B’s curled up against my back, a small smile on her face. I take a look round, Star and Laddie are still zonked, but there’s a few more moments of sunlight. They should be coming to any minute.

Even as I think this B stirs behind me.

I wriggle round to face her fully, trying to neither use my hands or squash hers, which are still looped around me.

“Hey,” she says in a lazy voice that just oozes sexiness.

“Hey yourself. How are you feeling?”

“Good, for once. It’s nice not to be bothered by the light. I’m feeling quite strong. But forget that, how are you?”

“Itchy,” I respond. “Don’t get burned, it sucks.”

“We’ve probably got time if you want to take a cool shower.”

I probably need one after being so close to B for so long. “It might help.”

“Faith?” She strokes my face again, and I immediately abandon thoughts of moving.

“Yeah?” My voice wobbles embarrassingly.

“I… uh…” She bites her lip as if trying to work out how to say something.

I lightly run a finger over her cheekbone. “Yeah?”

She leans closer to me, our faces are only an inch apart, her fingers restlessly roam across my face.

“I…” her voice is nothing more than a throaty whisper.

I move a fraction closer.

“What time is it?” Star’s voice breaks the moment, and B and I leap apart.

I shoot her a mildly hairy eyeball and head for the shower, my head and heart pounding from the closeness of B.


Buffy’s POV

I glare at Star and she, understandably, looks confused. She doesn’t realize she burst in and destroyed possibly the most exciting moment in my life. I was definitely about to kiss Faith.

I’ve never felt so intensely excited, scared and exhilarated in my life. Sex with Angel never made me feel this intense. I’m not saying that moment was better than sex with Angel, then again, I’m not saying it’s not, I’m just saying the intensity of the feeling was far greater.

How on earth did I manage to ignore how much I love her? And for so long?

Even now I’m smiling. I hear the rush of the shower, and faintly I can hear Faith humming that song from Armageddon.

The shower stops. “B!” She calls through the door.

“Yeah?”

“Can I borrow you for a second?”

For a lifetime, Faith. “Sure.”

I enter the bathroom and Faith is wearing nothing but a towel. The thought makes me blush. “What can I do for you?” I ask.

She then blushes and hides her face in her hair. “Um, bandages. Can you put them back on for me?”

“Sure.” I’m feeling very warm, and it has nothing to do with the cloudy condensation in here.

Faith takes a seat on the edge of the tub and I kneel in front of her. Will you marry me? Pops into my head.

“Gonna propose?” Faith asks.

I giggle, wondering if she could read my mind. She joins in, and again I think how good it sounds, she should definitely do it more often.

“Did you put that antiseptic cream on?”

Faith rolls her eyes at me.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot. You’re too badass to need cream and painkillers,” I say, as I reach into the cabinet for the cream. It kinda looks like Vaseline with pink flecks. “Pretty cream.” I tell her with exaggerated enthusiasm.

She rolls her eyes and holds her hands out to me. “Fine. Cream me.”

I flash her a look and we both crack up again.

I start on her hands, rubbing the cream in gently, making sure that I miss nothing and that I don’t put too much pressure on the scars and blisters that are marring the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen. More so because these scars are because of me. She injured herself for me.

Faith lets out a slow shaky breath.

“Did I hurt you?” I quickly question.

“No… feels nice, cold.” Her voice sounds hazy, like she’s not quite here.

I look at her hands again, they’re shaking. But so are mine. I’m finding it hard to breathe, my heart is pounding so hard. I reach for the bandages, trying to stop my hands shaking.

I start at her wrist and begin to loop the bandage around, one finger holding the padding between the blisters and the bandage in place. She was so lucky, she had so much petrol that had rubbed off onto her, and she’s alive. Being a Slayer must have helped, I can see that some of her is already healing, but knowing Faith it’s pure determination that’s making her heal so fast.

“All done.” I trail a finger down her arm, it’s still slightly damp from the shower. I’m reluctant to leave. “Anything else I can do? Dry your hair?” Dry your hair?

“I’m fine, B.” She gives me a lovely smile. “But thanks.”

I exit the bathroom and find Laddie and Star staring at me. “Bandages,” I explain.

“I didn’t know you two were involved,” Star says.

I consider telling her that we’re not. But don’t want to. I’m quite happy having people think that Faith’s my lover.

“I mean, I saw you with Marko, and Faith was… I mean, I thought Faith…” She tails off and bows her head so she’s hidden by her brown curls.

Faith hit on Star? I didn’t think Star was her type, I didn’t even think Star was. My gaydar sucks. I mean, I missed Willow despite all the obvious signs and the way she used to go all blushy when she talked about Tara.

No, actually, I deliberately ignored it. I saw it coming, I just didn’t want to. If my best friend could be gay and it be ok, then so could I, and like the coward I was, I didn’t want to be. I was already strange enough with the Slayer thing, I didn’t want anything else to make me different.

God, I was such a baby. I’ll never regret coming to Santa Carla, no matter what. At least I finally know, and not only accept, but embrace the fact that I love Faith.

Besides, I’m not the only Slayer.

I’m not even the only Slayer who likes girls.


Faith’s POV

I’m still shaking as I get dressed. I’m scared to think it, but I might actually get what I want. B was shaking too as she bandaged my hands, there’s something in the air between us. I’m not just imagining it this time. I hope anyway.

No, I can’t be. There’s too many signs, the hugs, the touching, the small kisses that just aren’t necessary between people who are just friends and that moment before Star woke up. I’m beginning to think that I didn’t imagine that ‘love you’ earlier today.

And I’m shaking like a girl on her first date. I’m scared. I’m terrified. I was in lust with her when my Watcher first told me about her, I fell in love with her a couple of moments after meeting her. Because for so long I’ve wanted her, and that was my only plan, now I might get her my life plans are destroyed.

I never thought I might actually get her. I’m scared of the darkness inside of me, I’m scared of hurting her, physically, emotionally, whatever. I’ve nearly wrecked her life so many times, just think of the damage I could do if she loves me. Before I merely pissed her off, this time I could kill her.

Ok, deep breath. One thing at a time. We get B back to a fully-fledged human, then I sort out my love life.

I strut out of the bathroom, tip B a wink and send a vague grin in the direction of Star and Laddie. “C’mon ladies, and gent. Let’s go find Marko.”

We park the van and head down to the Boardwalk. Star and Laddie are bouncing with excitement. “What?” I ask.

“It’s the first time we’ve come down here without the Boys,” she replies happily. “We’re getting our first taste of freedom.” Star squeezes my arm. “Thank you.”

B possessively takes my hand. I flash her a look. She crinkles her eyebrows at me, the smiles. Jealous, B? I wonder. I squeeze her hand, then remember the burns. I let out a strangled squeak, and decide it would be less painful to put my arm around her shoulders.

“I’m sorry!” She looks horrified. “I forgot.”

“It’s ok. I forgot too.”

She loops her arm around my waist and we continue walking.


Buffy’s POV

The Frog brothers are deeply unimpressed with our timekeeping skills. We promised to be here just before sundown, and we’re over an hour late. Faith’s making apologies and Star and Laddie are looking round excitedly, like kids at Christmas. They’ve probably been on this Boardwalk every night of their lives for the last two months or so, but they’re acting as if everything is brand new to them.

I’m just standing here, enjoying the sensation of Faith’s arm around me, deeply proud of the fact people are mistaking us for a couple.

I move my hand a little and let my fingers tickle her hip, I remember that’s she’s got a bee tattooed on that hip and smile some more. She flashes me a quick grin and turns back to the Frogs.

“So, does anyone have any idea where we might find Marko?” she asks. “Star, you’ve been in the gang the longest, any thoughts?”

She shakes her head regretfully. “They never told me anything, because I wasn’t one of them.”

“Oh well, it’s dark, I’m guessing he’ll be out feeding to build up his strength.”

“He might be at the cave,” I say suddenly. “We’re dim. We should have waited at the cave for him to come back.”

“Urgh!” Faith smacks the side of her head, then moans as her hand reminds her it’s been burnt very recently. “I’ll go. I’ll drive up there and see if he’s lurking.”

“I’m going with you,” I pipe up instantly.

“There’s no need, B.”

“Remember in the hospital, I said I wasn’t going to let you out of my sight. I’m not going back on it.”

“We’re coming too,” Star agrees. “We know the cave better than you.”

“It’s not necessary, we’re Slayers.” Faith points out, then turns on the Frogs. “Please don’t say you’re coming too.”

“We’ll keep an eye on the Boardwalk.” Alan replies, eyeing her warily. I’m guessing he’s learnt not to disagree with Faith when she makes her mind up.

“You should stay with us.” Edgar tells Star and Laddie. I guess both Frogs got a lesson from Faith.

Star looks imploringly at Faith but she shakes her head. “Me and B have been doing this for years. Why don’t you and Laddie go enjoy yourselves?”

The look on Star’s face is half dismay, half relief.

“Looks like it’s just you and me girlfriend,” I say, using my new favourite Faith-ism.

“That’s just the way I like it,” she tells me as we start back to the van.


Eleven

Faith’s POV

We find Marko with no trouble at all. He’s standing over David’s charred remains, with a stunned look on his face.

“Hey vamp,” I cordially greet him.

He turns to face me in fang. “You did this?” He’s shaking with anger.

I smile, and he lunges at me, I’m ready for him, but he doesn’t make it because B sloshes holy water in his face. He reaches up to cover his face, I’m impressed to see that his skin is simply dissolving at the touch of holy water.

I knock out his legs from under him and he hits the ground like a ton of bricks.

B approaches with a length of rope.

We tie Marko to a chair, all the while he’s cursing us all for destroying his pack.

So this is the one that nailed B. I don’t get it. I’ve seen her exes, they all have a tall, dark, broodiness to them. The guy is short, blonde and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone less pouty, except for maybe Xander.

Not that Marko’s at his most perky right now.

“Marko, let’s cut to the chase,” B says. “Who’s the head vampire?”

“I don’t know.”

“Think he’s lying?” she asks me.

“Dunno, I thought vamps were known for their trustworthiness.” I tip her another wink.

“What are you going to do? Kill me?” He attempts a contemptuous laugh, and nearly makes it.

“Eventually,” I say. “But the question is, what shall we do in the mean time? B?”

“How about this?” She tosses me a cross, and I press it into Marko’s cheek. He yells and curses a little.

I see B wince, and worry, I’m only getting warmed up, and she’s already getting guilt about it.

“B, wanna take a step back?” I ask, giving her a look so she knows what I’m asking.

“You’re so much better at this than me.” She reaches in my pocket for a cigarette. “Think I’ll just smoke this and watch and learn.” She comes across as a total hard bitch, but I see her hands shake.

Poor B, she’s not cut out for torture. It’s not her style. She’s got too much of a conscience to deal with it, even against evil. She kills ‘em quick and moves on. After this I’m definitely taking a leaf out of her book.


Buffy’s POV

I take a seat on the couch where I first drank the ‘wine’ they gave me. Where Marko first kissed me. Where I became a half vampire. I’m half-vamp, half-Slayer, and I’m beginning to understand how Angel feels. It’s all too easy to give into your darker side.

I could have really got off on torturing Marko, but I didn’t want that feeling. I’m just going to watch Faith. Not what she’s doing, but just her, the lines of her body, the way her hair falls in her face unevenly, the little changes in her expressions, everything about her has so much grace and beauty.

In a few moments I’m back to myself. Faith has saved me so many times recently, and she only knows about half of them.

Faith’s got a determined look on her face. Marko still claims he doesn’t know who the head vamp is. Now, either Marko is part of an honorable (snort) pack, who won’t give each other up, even if death is the price, or he genuinely doesn’t know.

Either way, he isn’t going to live much longer. Me, I’d have lied by now, anything to stop the pain. Faith’s having fun with the holy water and crosses now. Marko’s not having fun.

Faith steps away from him, lets him catch his breath, metaphorically speaking, of course. She digs in her bag of tricks and brings out a knife, a can of petrol and a box of matches.

“You ever see Reservoir Dogs?” she asks him in a throaty voice that drives me wild.

“Except in the film,” she continues. “It was a good guy strapped to the chair, and a bad guy torturing him, with no motive. But me, I’m one of the good guys, so’s she.” She points in my direction. “And you’re just a pathetic vampire with a really outdated hairstyle.

“My motive for torturing you is because you turned B. Right now, I really believe that you genuinely don’t know who the head vampire is, but I really don’t care.”

She leaps forward and the knife flashes, blood pours down Marko’s cheek. It’s not a deep cut, but enough for the blood to really flow.

I bite back my urge to feed by focusing on Faith. I light another cigarette.

“You still with me, girlfriend?” she asks me.

“Always,” I reply.

“You’re dykes?” Marko momentarily forgets his pain by this new development.

“Yes,” I reply before Faith can. “She’s the jealous type, what can I say?”

Faith gives me this look that pretty much makes me fly, it’s a mixture of happiness, pride and disbelief.

She turns back to Marko.

“Faith, not the ear thing,” I say. “That gave me a wiggins for weeks.”

“You just got lucky,” she tells Marko. “Well, luckier.” She empties the petrol all over him.


Faith’s POV

“Don’t,” he pleads.

“Why not?” I ask.

“I don’t wanna burn, man.”

“The head vampire,” I remind him impatiently. “Tell us who he is and you get a stake through the heart instead of being immolated.”

“I don’t know anything about him. I swear. David didn’t tell us anything.” Marko is trying to chair-walk away from me. He’s not making much progress. “C’mon. Let me go. If I knew, I’d tell you.”

“And even if you did tell me, I’d still kill you,” I reply with a laugh. “What do you think, B?”

She inhales deeply on her cigarette and breathes it out slowly as she walks over to me. “This is boring the hell out of me,” she tells me. “The way I see it is we could either stay here and do more of the torture, or we could admit defeat and have a wicked-hot bonfire.”

“Your call, B.” I loop an arm around her waist. I can’t believe my voice is coming out so smoothly. B’s admitted she’s having feelings for me, told Marko that I’m hers, and I’m still standing, I feel like I’m about to collapse. She’s even using my sayings.

B turns her attention to Marko. “I’ve got a couple of things to say. First of all, you’re not my type, I like brunettes, female ones. Second, she—” a quick nod in my direction, “—makes me quiver just by saying my name, you couldn’t ever have that effect on me no matter what you did.”

She takes my arm, and leads me out of the cave.

“B?” I gesture at Marko.

“Oh yeah.” She takes another lug on the cigarette, then flicks it at him. It ain’t pretty.

I’m glad to get out of the cave, the stench of burning vampire was an assault on my senses. I definitely need a new tactic, fire, petrol and matches have lost their charm.

I lean against the van, unable to stand anymore. This week has been way too intense for even me.

“You ok?” B asks, full of concern.

“Five by five,” I reply on auto-pilot.

“Really?” She kneels in front of me and strokes my face.

“This week…” I tail off and take a deep breath. “Jeez, I know it’s important, but this is one hell of a way for me to finally become your friend.”

“Friend?” She laughs. “Yeah right.”

“What?” I flinch. I can’t take this. Rejection from B, I should be used to it by now, but not this week. Not after so much has happened. Not when I’ve had my hopes built up so far.

“Faith, we’re not friends.”

I bite my lip hard, too shattered by the revelation to even move, but I can feel the tears building up.

“We’ll never be friends,” she continues. “We’ll be in love until it kills us.”

I look at her to see if she’s joking, but instead I see her face crumple, my silence wasn’t the right answer to her statement.

“I mean, I will be, if you…” She tails off, and moves to get up.

I grab her arm. “B?” My voice is unbelievably shaky. “I love you too.”

“Really?”

“Really,” I confirm.

“I love you so much,” she tells me.

My tears are flowing now, but they’re happy tears. I’m so pathetic. I think I’m gonna die of happiness when her lips touch mine, hesitant at first, then growing more confident.


Buffy’s POV

I’m still shaking. I was shaking so much that Faith had to help me get dressed. I keep looking at her and reminding myself that she’s my girlfriend. I want to scream it from the rooftops.

“C’mon, beautiful, we’d better get back to the Boardwalk. They’ll think we’ve been abducted by aliens.”

I take her hand and she leads me to the van. “My tattoo!” I say suddenly. “There are two symbols for Faith, one’s religious, the other isn’t. I’ve got the one that isn’t.”

Her face lights up and I’m glad that I told her.

“This day gets better and better.”

“It’s night actually,” I tell her as we climb into the van.

“Whatever.”

I put my hand on her leg as she drives, enjoying the fact that we’re now official. She’s mine, and I’m never letting her go. She turns to smile at me so often I’m convinced we’re gonna have an accident before we get back.

“You should definitely do that more often.”

“What?” She quirks an eyebrow at me. “That? I was planning on it.”

I giggle. “Good. Me too, but what I actually meant was smile. You’ve got a beautiful smile. I want to see it more often.”

She smiles shyly at me. Faith always amazes me, I always think I’ve seen all of her expressions, but there’s always one more. This one’s absolutely amazing. She looks totally innocent. Well, as innocent as an ex-rogue Slayer who just tortured a vampire then ravished the other Slayer for a couple of hours in one night can get.

The Frog’s comic book store is trashed. One cop is there taking details, I wonder where the rest are. In Sunnydale, the cops at least show up and feign interest.

Edgar is looking pretty trashed himself. He’s covered in ugly bruises and there’s a long cut down the right side of his face. He pulls us to the side, out of hearing distance of the cop and his parents.

“What happened?” Faith finds her voice first.

“Head vampire, he brought friends.”

“Where are the others?” I ask, knowing it’s a redundant question.

“Took ‘em. Star, Laddie and Alan. We’ve gotta find them. He’s my younger brother.”

I’ve never seen Edgar so animated. He’s keeping a lid on it, but he’s panicking. I know how he feels, I’d feel exactly the same if someone took Dawn.

“We’ll get them back.” I tell him reassuringly, putting a hand on his arm.

He shakes it off. “Where the hell were you? You went to find a vampire, you were gone for hours! Did you even find out where his lair is?”

Faith and I look at each other wordlessly. We spent excess time torturing a vampire, even though he didn’t know a thing, then we spend several hours making love, and now three of our friends had been kidnapped, and we could have stopped it.


Twelve

Faith’s POV

“Did you recognize him?” B asks Edgar. “I mean, this is your town.” Her voice has a slightly petulant edge.

I know how she feels. We put our friends in danger because our hormones kicked in. I mean, I’ve been dealing with my feelings for B as long as I’ve known her, and she’s been dealing at least as long as we’ve been in Santa Carla, but god! Why should we wait? I’ve loved her forever, why couldn’t I just have her?

“Yeah, I think he was the old guy who ran the video store,” Edgar replies.

This is possibly the best news I’ve had all day. Ok, scratch that, it doesn’t even come close, but all the same, it’s good.

“I’ve got a plan,” I tell them, and I’m relieved to find out that I’m not lying. I turn to B. “I need money, got any?”

We all turn out our pockets and I find I have precisely two dollars, thirty-seven cents. Luckily B and Edgar hand over some serious money. “Cheers.” I pocket the cash. “Back in a second.”

I have enough to buy a dozen long-stemmed red roses. And coinage, eighty-three cents left over. I don’t think the head Frog is going to be impressed. I think he might go so far as to kill me if this doesn’t work.

I see B’s face light up as I walk back. Damn, I’m gonna have to buy that girl flowers when we’re done.

Edgar’s face does not light up. I’m guessing he’s not happy about handing over his hard earned wages to a chick who’s just bought flowers with it. Especially since his brother’s missing too.

“Do you know the guy’s name? The one from the video store?” I ask him quickly, cutting off any questions.

“Max or Mike or something.” He says.

“Be more specific.” I try to sound stern while B sidles closer to me, eyeing the roses. “Not for you,” I tell her. She pouts for a moment, then decides to distract herself with stroking my back. Damn it, she’s distracting me too.

Edgar heads back into the shop without a word, I hurry after him, assuming that he’s royally pissed at me. I don’t blame him, if I were in his shoes I’d be pissed off with me and B. Why do I get exactly what I want at the wrong time?

Edgar routes around in a drawer behind the counter and finally comes up with a business card. He hands it to me wordlessly. I read it quickly. “You’re sure it was him?” I question.

“Yes!” he shouts. “I wasn’t the one slacking off!”

I guess we deserved that. “We’ll get your brother back,” B assures him.

“You’d better,” he replies, then directs his next comment at me. “Because if I don’t, you’re girlfriend’s the next one to have a stake through her heart.”

I believe him. He really means it. “I won’t let you down,” I tell him.

I enter the video store, B and Edgar stay outside like I told them to. I smile at the girl behind the counter, and internally grimace, this girl’s as straight as they come, flirting ain’t gonna help.

The badge on her left breast reads ‘Maria’, I’m not sure if that’s the name of her left breast or her in total, but wing it.

“You’re Maria?” I ask as if I know what I’m talking about. “Is Max around?”

She looks me up and down. “No.”

“When will he be back?” I brandish the flowers.

“Not tonight.”

“Damn! Some lady is paying me twenty bucks to hand deliver these.”

“Well, you can leave them here.” Maria turns her attention back to the magazine hidden under the counter.

“Nuh-huh,” I say emphatically. “Payment on delivery.”

She rolls her eyes at me. “You’ve delivered them here.” Eyes flick straight back to the mag.

Luckily I planned for this, I’m not even slightly phased. “Lady gave me a note. Wants a reply, good or bad. When she gets a reply I get my money.”

“Just leave them here, and deliver the note tomorrow,” she says, totally uninterested. I don’t think she’s got a single clue that Max is a vamp, she’s just one of those girls who can’t be bothered to do a single thing that’s not listed in her job description. Looking at her, I bet she’s reluctant to even do the things that are.

“And miss out on twenty bucks? No way.” Hell, I’m beginning to believe me. “C’mon, I need the money, I don’t have a job like you do.” Technically I’m not lying, I don’t have a job. I have a calling.

She sighs deeply, but doesn’t move her gaze from the magazine.

“Look at me,” I command. “All I want to do is deliver some flowers and a note and get paid. What do you think I’m gonna do? I’m a pathetic five feet five, and kinda skinny. What am I gonna do? Steal something? Off him? Please.” I issue a contemptuous laugh. All this lying ain’t gonna get me to heaven. “In fact, should I be worried about going to his place all by myself?” Uh-oh, that may have just convinced her not to give me the address… but no, she’s scrawling something down on an old receipt.

“That’s his address, but you didn’t get it from me, right?”

I mime drawing a zip across my lips. “Thanks, I really need this.” That, at least, was not a lie.

She finally smiles back at me.


Buffy’s POV

Faith comes out smiling and motions that we follow her. A safe distance from the shop she turns to us. “Got the address,” she tells us. She breaks off a rose and tucks it behind my ear, Edgar makes a disgusted noise.

Faith hands him the rest of the roses. “Give these to your Mom and tell her that Alan will be back soon.”

“No way, I’m coming with,” he replies.

“We can handle this,” I say.

“C’mon Edgar,” Faith wheedles. “We’re Slayers, we’re used to this.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what you said before my brother and the two half vamps got taken. What were you two doing—no I don’t want to know!”

He makes a valid point, and both Faith and I wince.

Faith’s got that look she used to wear just before she hooked up with the mayor, it’s equal parts guilt, misery and anger.

I speak up quickly. “Ok, we screwed up. I screwed up. If I hadn’t been stupid enough to get vamped this wouldn’t be happening. You can say what you like, but say it to me, Faith’s done nothing wrong.” I strangely feel better. I owe Faith, remember the human-staking? I was there too, but what did I do? Absolutely nothing. I let Faith take the whole blame when I could have admitted part of it. Somehow I’m making it up to her now. “You can come too, but don’t jump straight into the fray. Let me and Faith distract him, you wouldn’t believe the beating we can live through.”

“Fine, but if anything happens to Alan…”

“It won’t,” Faith assures him.

We make a quick weapons stop then walk in silence towards Max’s house. Faith takes my hand and squeezes it. I notice that her burns are almost gone. I could believe it’s the Slayer healing that’s kicked in, but I think it was me. God, that sounds narcissistic. What I mean is, the love I feel for Faith far surpasses the strength of a Slayer.

She glances at her hands and back to me. A small smile from her lets me know she’s thinking the same thing.

We stop a few houses down from Max’s place.

Edgar looks at us. “What’s the plan?”

Don’t die springs to mind as my plan, but I’m hoping Faith has come up with something better.

She turns to us. “I go in, I keep him distracted, B you get Star and Laddie, Edgar, you get Alan.”

“That’s your plan?” Edgar and I ask in unison.

How on earth did this happen? A week ago I was a closeted, non-vamp type human being. Now here I am, half vamp, with a girlfriend and, more than anything, I’m agreeing with Edgar Frog.

“Oh, there was one other part.” She smiles at us. “Don’t get dead.”


Faith’s POV

I know B’s not too pleased with the plan, but none of us could come up with a better one. All these years of practice and still all we have is the element of surprise.

I walk swiftly up to the door and ring the bell. It plays a funky little tune, but it’s off key. I realize it’s the funeral march. Quirky guy, this Max.

A vamp my age opens the door and glares at me suspiciously, he’s not in vamp form, but I can just tell. “Yes?”

“Here to see Max,” I tell him.

“He’s not expecting visitors.”

I whip out a stake and slam it through his heart. “Then I’ll gatecrash,” I mutter, waiting for him to dust.

He doesn’t dust.

Oh fuck, not again, whizzes through my brain before he vamps out, falls to the floor and starts spasming and screaming. So much for the element of surprise.

B ditches her side of the plan and rushes to my side, Edgar remains where he is. I make a point of not looking at him as we enter the building.

I’m mentally berating B for rushing over, but secretly pleased she cares so much. To justify this though, she whispers almost too softly for my Slayer hearing to pick up, “Not letting you get hurt again for me, my love.”

The house is strangely quiet. And seemingly empty. Ok, so it’s a big fat trap. Great. I’m as tense as hell waiting for the ambush and if someone coughed near me I might just launch into outer space.

We find Star and Laddie tied up, gagged and barely conscious in the lounge. It’s too easy. It screams trap.

“Where’s Alan?” B asks as we rush to untie them.

Don’t let him be dead. Or a vamp. I think. Edgar’s sanity and my girlfriend’s life rides on it. And if anyone hurts B there’s no telling what I might do.

Star mumbles something unintelligible around the tape over her mouth and she shakes her hair out of her face, and I notice a bump the size of a basketball on her forehead, a quick check on Laddie shows he’s wearing its identical twin. Poor kid. He’s only little.

I fight with the knots, B’s having trouble too.

“Knife would be good,” she mutters.

“On it.” I reach into my pocket and rummage around for what feels like hours and finally find my tiny pocket knife. A dribble of sweat runs down my back, we’ve been here far too long. Any minute now…

I pass the knife to B, she’s my priority and she’s helping Laddie, who’s only half our age. Star’s eyes widen in horror. “What? It was a judgment call.” I tell her then realize her terrified look has nothing to do with my choice.

This realization is followed quickly with a blow to my head that makes me see not just stars, but planets, constellations, the whole nebulae. Then darkness.


Buffy’s POV

“Faith!” I scream. I’m torn in half. Part of me wants to go to her, the other knows the Slayer handbook. Save the civilians first.

I take a good look around the room, trying to get a look at what knocked Faith out. Star’s anguished moans and a bit of Slayer instinct make me duck and cover Laddie’s body with my own. A rush of air ruffles my clothes, but nothing hits me.

I work with Faith’s knife, freeing Laddie, with one eye on Star knowing she’ll alert me to another attack.

She screams again, I duck but my reflexes have slowed down. Something solidly connects with my back and I slam into a wall. Looks like I’m gonna have a bump on my head just like everyone else.

I get up slowly and rip the gag off Star, I hand Laddie the knife and tell him to free Star.

“Stop playing games. Let’s settle this,” I call out, and duck instantly when I hear a whooshing sound. Nothing hits me, my clothes don’t even ruffle. I realize I wasn’t the target.

I watch in horror as my Faith is lifted from the ground. I finally get a look at this Max guy. He reminds me a bit of the Mayor. His face screams ‘family guy’, but underneath it he’s just as freaky as every other political hag.

“Let her go!” I yell. He’s holding her loosely, one arm around her waist, one hand around her throat. I don’t know what I’ll do if she di… I’m not having that thought.

“Oh, Slayer, play nice. You’ve killed four of my boys, and you rejected the gift of eternal life we gave you, I think it’s time for payback.” He grins down at me, his hand tightening about her neck. “One quick twist…”

I feel sick. “Take me!” I scream. “I’m the cause of this. Take me.”

“Take you?” He laughs and it sickens me. “As you so rightly said, Slayer, you’re the cause of all this. Why should I let you off with death, when I can enjoy your pain as you friend dies?”

“Fly,” Star whispers to me.

“How?”

“Besides,” Max continues. “I will kill you both.”

“Just concentrate.”

I’m about to try that when Max yells, “Boys!” and a flood of angry vampires swarm in.

Jesus, there’s about forty.


Thirteen

Buffy’s POV

I take a good look around, and have only one though, and that is: I’m gonna die.

I may have exaggerated when I thought there were forty vamps, but not much.

I take a look at Star, who grabs Laddie and takes to the air.

“Thanks a lot, Star!” I yell, more than a little pissed off with her, and more that a lot scared for me and Faith.

A vamp lunges for me before any more thoughts can be processed. I go into auto-pilot, staking, ducking, hitting and kicking. I’m kinda disgusted that these vamps don’t dust, they smoosh and spasm. Ick. But no time for that. I’m pummelling and staking, trying to keep one eye on Max, who’s lost interested in Faith, and is watching me kill ‘his boys’ with amusement.

I’ve somehow got cornered. I snap the neck of a nearby vamp wondering how the hell I’m gonna get out of this to save Faith.

“Help me, Star! You god damned fucking waste of space!” I scream in frustration. She looks terrified, right now I couldn’t give a shit.

Star flies out of the window.

Jesus. Holy fucking god. I’m gonna die. Faith is going to die.

I wonder who the next Slayer will be. Will she be good?

All of a sudden I’m back. I’m not going to die and neither is Faith. Somehow, we’re getting out of this. I drank Faith’s blood, I’ve got the strength of two Slayers. Two damn good Slayers. And I’m gonna do the damage of ten.

I hurl myself at the mob of vampires savagely, ripping, staking, maiming and killing.

A vamp steals my stake. “What you gonna do now, blondie?” He asks, gloatingly.

“Improvise,” I reply instantly, thrusting my hand into his chest and grabbing his heart. The vamp gives me a look of amazement that actually makes me laugh before falling to the floor dead. Without spasming.

I reclaim my stake. “Anyone else wanna call me blondie?”


Faith’s POV

I wake up feeling like shit. With a feeling that something’s very wrong. When I open my eyes it all becomes clear. There’s nothing right about being ten feet off the ground in the arms of a Head Vampire while your lover fights several dozen vamps alone.

Where the fuck is Star? Why isn’t she helping? I want to rub my eyes but I don’t want his Royal Vampiness to notice I’m awake. I need to get my bearings before I jump into the fray.

I watch with pride as my girl rips out the heart of a vamp who stole her stake. I see that B has her game face on, I hate to admit it, but she looks hot as a vampire.

She’s doing a great job, but she’s heavily outnumbered. I’m not gonna let my girlfriend get hurt.

Something whizzes through the air and hits the vamp to the side of B, it explodes and both B and the vamp wince as the liquid hits them. Holy water I realize. I note the source, Edgar, Star and Laddie are standing in the doorway with an entire arsenal of vamp weaponry.

Now would be a good time to make a move.

Ok, I’ve got two options. I can either try to kill Max, or just make him drop me.

Well, I’m not sure I can kill him, at least, not before he kills me up here with no leverage and no weapons.

I slam my head back with amazing force so it collides with his face, at the same time reaching my hand around to grab his crotch and start crushing. Then just to be spiteful, I dig my nails in.

Max bellows with rage and pain, and—wa-hay—drops me. A lowly vamp cushions my fall. “Thanks pal,” I tell him, punching him in the face. “You saved my ass.” I snap his neck and move on to the next.

My heart again fills with pride when I see the amount of vampy corpses on the floor. My girl is the best.

We’re still heavily outnumbered and some of these guys can actually fight. And worse of all Max is really pissed off at us right now.

My head aches and there’s a million tiny demons inside my head, clogdancing, no less. I fight my way over to B. This is the way it’s supposed to be, the chosen two, fighting side by side.

Except one of the chosen two really shouldn’t have fangs.

I’m guessing Max is gonna try that swooping thing again as soon as the area clears out around us. Star stars hurling holy water bottles at him while Laddie uses a water pistol to deter vamps from getting too close to him and Star. Edgar’s staking away, quick and military efficient. I’m kinda proud of them.

B turns to me. “Can you take care of yourself from here?”

“What? I guess,” I reply, confused.

She takes to the air.

My girlfriend is flying.

As if she’s being doing it all her life.

God, I love her.


Buffy’s POV

This flying lark sucks. I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. How does Star make it look so natural?

“That’s good, Buffy, just focus!” she calls up encouragingly, as if reading my mind.

I focus on Max and find myself zooming towards him way too fast. I don’t know where the brakes are and I smash into him. He makes an ‘ooofh’ sound which sounds good to me.

Before he gets his bearings I clamp my hands around his neck and slam him into a wall. We leave a dent in the wall.

“Go B!” Faith shouts up to me, staking away with Edgar, Star and Laddie. I think we’re finally winning.

Max’s hands clamp around my throat and he slams me into the opposite wall. I hear bricks crumple as a red hot pain works its way across my back.

I head-butt Max, finding it hard to fight mid-air with nothing to lean on for leverage. My hand reaches for the stake tucked into my waistband, but he anticipates this and knocks it away.

His fingers tighten around my throat and he shakes me like a rag doll, smacking my head against the wall repeatedly. I can feel myself begin to lose consciousness. I bring my knee up between his legs sharply. A cheap shot, but who cares?

Max sinks backwards in pain, his hands loosen around my neck and I take this opportunity to get some punches in, breaking his nose, jaw and cheekbone in quick succession.

Max howls in agony, then raises his hands to his mouth. I’m guessing it hurt to howl.

I focus again, imagining I’m on solid ground, then attack again, with a flurry of punches and well placed kicks. “Stake!” I yell.

Faith finishes with the vamp she’s pummeling and tosses me her stake. Stupid, what if she needs it?

I grab Max by the throat and fling him against the wall. I raise my stake. He catches my hand, the stake not even an inch away from his chest. This piece of crap isn’t stopping me now though. I’m gonna finish this. I head butt him again, and slam the stake in his heart before he can even react.

I suddenly realize with Max dead I can no longer fly.

Shit.


Faith’s POV

I watch my girlfriend plummet and hurl a vamp to the floor to cushion her fall. I hear a crunch and hope it was the vamp’s bones, not B’s. She gets to her feet and shoves a stake in the vamp’s heart tiredly.

The vamps, those that haven’t been staked, realize their leader is dead and begin to scarper. Edgar stakes a couple but mainly we just let them go. Vamps are like fleas, it doesn’t matter how many you kill, you always miss a couple and they breed like hell.

Besides, Santa Carla has the Frogs on vamp patrol long after B and I clear out.

“Where’s my brother?” Edgar asks. I doubt he’s spoken during the entire fight. Jeez, this guy makes Oz look chatty.

“Strangely, didn’t get round to looking, what with being knocked unconscious and then attacked by a swarm of vamps,” I reply tiredly. “Let’s go find him.” I sigh, wondering what’s going to become of me and B now she’s not vampy. As a human she might not want to be with me anymore.

We find Alan tied up in an upstairs bedroom, sleeping the sleep of those knocked unconscious by a vicious killer. I have to hide a grin. This guy has managed to sleep through the most eventful night of his life.

Alan seems to have gotten off the easiest. While we did win, none of us are without war wounds. Edgar and B are the only ones who haven’t got an egg sized bump on their heads, they’re also the only ones who haven’t passed out at some point tonight.

Laddie’s got a scratch down his face, Star has a black eye and a cut on her back, which she’s showing off proudly. War wounds from her first fight. Bless. I grin at her. Edgar also has a black eye and, we think, a broken finger, but no-one, including Edgar, knows quite how that happened.

B and I don’t have many visible wounds, but we both feel kinda funky. B’s hobbling a little, I guess being slammed into a wall wasn’t good for her. I offer my arm and she takes it gratefully.

And Alan is the only one of us not covered in vamp goo. God these vamps are disgusting, why can’t they just dust like Sunny D’s finest?

We’re an odd looking bunch as we walk home in silence.

We all say our goodbyes and agree to meet for lunch tomorrow. “In the daylight,” adds B excitedly. Again, bless.

I sling an arm around her, wondering if it will be the last night I get to call B my girlfriend. Pity, with it being the first night too. I plan to sleep for at least twenty-four hours when we get back to the hotel, then work out where I stand with B.

That plan, like many of mine, doesn’t come off either.

“Miss Summers?” The clerk at the hotel calls us as we walk into the lobby. Why is he even awake now?

“Miss Summers?”

I prod B in the ribs and she turns to face him. “Yeah.”

“Oh, Miss Summers, we’ve finally sorted out your rooms. I know you booked two rooms and there was a mix up, and I know we promised it would only be a day or two that you had to wait and it’s been longer than that…” Wonder if he went to the Rosenberg school of babble.

“Well,” he smiles winningly at us. “We’ve got you another room.”

“Oh yeah?” B says. My heart sinks. Human B is straight. “I think there must have been a mistake. My girlfriend and I don’t want separate rooms.”

“No?”

“No. We’re happy in one room. Besides, how are we supposed to make love if we’re in separate rooms?”

The clerk blushes. I blush. B does not. She places a kiss on my lips and leads me to the elevator.

Guess human B isn’t straight after all.


Epilogue

Faith’s POV

I don’t get my twenty-four hours sleep like I planned, but B more than makes up for it. She woke me up in the best way imaginable.

As usual, we’re late meeting Star, Laddie and the Frogs. It wasn’t my fault, I swear. I got in the shower to get ready, then B jumped in after me… well, you can imagine what happened.

Like I can explain that to Edgar. B’s just grinning like a Cheshire cat. “We, uh, overslept,” I say finally. Edgar snorts, then leads the way to a café. Star and B make a major plea to sit outside in the sun. It’s kinda sweet.

“So what are you going to do now?” I ask Star as we wait for our food. “You can do whatever you want.”

“I’m thinking of getting a tan,” she replies with a grin. “After that, who knows? Maybe we’ll travel around for the rest of the summer, then I’ll enrol Laddie at school. Give ‘em a story, our parents died, very tragic, just me and my brother trying to get along in the world.”

“A word of advice if you’re gonna travel. Avoid Sunnydale, it’s worse than this place for nasties,” B tells her.

“I’ll bear that in mind.” She ruffles Laddie’s hair affectionately. I think they’re gonna be ok.

“What about you two?” I ask the Frogs.

“Business as usual. Comic book store by day, vampire hunters by night.” Edgar replies.

“We should talk to the Watchers Council,” B says suddenly. “Maybe we could get some funding for you, after all, you’re fighting a good fight.”

“B, it took seven years for you to get a pay packet,” I remind her.

“Well, we’ll bully them,” she decides.


Buffy’s POV

After lunch we go our separate ways, the Frogs go back to work and Star and Laddie tactfully leave Faith and me alone, after saying they’ll see us at the open air concert tonight.

Faith and I do couple-things. Things so corny you wouldn’t believe, but we love it. Neither of us have been in a relationship where we can walk in the daylight together. We go on all the rides together, Faith offers to hold my hair while I puke after going on the roller coaster three times in a row, followed by the tilt-a-whirl.

We tried out the amusements, annoying the hell out of the vendor by winning the star prize, a teddy bear the size of me. You know they glue the bottles down so you can’t knock them over? Slayer strength is really handy in that respect.

We’re so adorable it’s kinda sickening.

A guy makes a comment after seeing Faith and I kiss.

“Lezzies!” he spits out.

“Yeah, and?” I reply with pride.

“It’s disgusting!” he tells us.

“You’re just jealous ‘cos someone popped your blow-up girlfriend,” Faith replies, and leads me to another ride. “Hetty,” she mutters.

I give her ass a gentle tap and drag her onto a ride that’s more my style. Tunnel of Love. Tacky. Corny. And I don’t care.

We meet Star at the concert. Laddie’s holding one hand, a brown haired guy is holding the other. She introduces him as Michael. Somehow, I think she’s over that little crush she had on Faith.

“I met him at the video store. I was applying for a job, his Mom is acting as manager. Did you know the owner is missing?” she says innocently.

Faith and I hide a grin.

We end up leaving a little earlier than planned. It wasn’t my fault at all. You see Fai was doing this thing where she was trailing her fingers up and down my spine. Now, it looked innocent, but wasn’t.

She started it.

Honestly.


Faith’s POV

We hug everyone and get into the van. I’m not sorry to be leaving Santa Carla. I mean, it’s always gonna have an odd little place in my heart. It’s where B first said she loved me, but this has been far too weird a week for me.

I can’t believe this place is so fucked up that I’m actually looking forward to the ‘normalcy’ of Sunny D.

B pulls away, I wave for awhile, then I put on the radio. And guess what’s playing, People Are Strange. I can’t help but sing along.

“When you’re strange, dum da doo-doo, no-one remembers your name. When you’re strange, dum da doo-doo, faces come out of the rain.”

B glares at me. “Faith.” She makes one word mean a thousand things. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them have sexy undertones.

I widen my eyes innocently. “Yes, B?”

She glares harder, then grins. “All together now, dum da doo-doo!”

Getting back takes us an extra two hours than planned. It so wasn’t my fault. B was stroking my leg when it was my turn to drive. I’m sure it looked innocent, but you didn’t see the smutty look she gave me.

My libido demanded I pull over and drag B into the back of the van.

But she started it.


Buffy’s POV

We enter the Magic Box. “Honey, we’re home!” I call.

“You’re back!” Giles forgets he’s a Brit and bounds over to hug me. Pauses a moment, and then hugs Faith too. She looks shocked, but pleased.

“How was the retreat?” I ask politely.

“Simply marvelous.” He begins to say more, but remembers I was only being polite when I asked. “How was Santa Carla?”

“Simply not marvelous. But, nasty free now. There’s a couple of freelance slayers there, do you think the Council would help them out?” I ask.

“Buffy, it took seven years for you to get a pay packet. The Council don’t fund anyone.”

“I told her the exact same thing, G,” Faith says, reaching into her pocket and bringing out a receipt. “But is there any chance of them reimbursing me for this? We broke the bathroom lock.”

“I won’t ask,” he says wisely. “Why don’t you go see Tara and Willow, they’re in the back.”

I take Faith’s hand and lead her to the training room, where Willow and Tara are cataloguing magic books.

“Hey!” I say.

Willow jumps up and hugs me tightly. “Oh wow! You’re back! It’s so great. We’ve missed you. Or at least, when we remembered we did. Not that we forgot about you. But, you know, honeymoon. But we never forgot about you. We were busy, and I know that’s a bad excuse…” She pauses, frowns at Tara. “You’re supposed to stop me when I do that.”

“Honey, I like your babble,” Tara responds in her soft voice.

Willow turns back to me. “Can we just pretend I said a simple ‘hi’ just then?”

“Done. Hi yourself,” I reply. “How was the honeymoon?”

“Ooh, wonderful. We went to England, we got to see Watcher HQ. It’s amazing. Kinda like The Initiative, except they’ve got wooden beams and white plaster where the Initiative had tin foil and metal bars. How was Santa Carla?”

“Not exactly a vacation, but it had its good points.” I gaze at Faith significantly.

“Ooh, you had a holiday romance, you vixen!” Willow says excitedly.

“Not exactly a holiday romance. More of a love thing,” I tell her.

“Are you going to stay in contact?”

“Oh there will be plenty of contact.” I wink at Faith, and she grins back at me.

“When are you going to see him again?” Willow has entirely missed what’s going on.

“Right now. She’s standing right next to me.”

Willow looks to my right and sees Faith. “You’re… with… but she’s a she… and you’re a… CONGRATULATIONS!”

“You freaked!” I say joyfully. “Ha ha! You freaked!”

“Not for as long as you freaked when I told you about Tara,” she says. “Yay you!”

We hug again.

“Are you a lesbian?” I turn and see Anya standing with Xander in the doorway.

“Um, yeah.” I reply, wondering what her reaction will be.

“Ok everyone. Pay up.”

Willow, Tara and Xander reluctantly for their wallets.

How come I was the last to know I was gay?