SPOILER WARNING: Hmmm... major spoiler for "Who Are You", "Five By Five" (Angel) and the episodes from there on out (it doesn't follow the eps - call it a deviation if you will. Or won't).  Also, this is some sort of mixture of Seasons 4&5 of Buffy, and 1&2 of Angel.  Told you that it wasn't straight.  By the way, Dawn doesn't exist - I'm still trying to figure out how to write for her.  If a character isn't there, chances are I can't write for them, and I don't want to drag their good name through the muck.  Sorry.  Spike and Joyce will me making appearances in the plotline soon.  Just a spoiler for my own fic.
RATING: PG-13 (language, and the subtext if you read into it)
FEEDBACK: Aw, what the hell,  e-mail me.  But be warned, I don't usually like to write fanfic (haven't written one for like 2 years or so, but Buffy-n-Such needed one, dammit), so this one won't be the best one ever.  Just so y'all know. This is always being updated & revised.
SUMMARY: Another slayer (yeah, I know you've heard that concept a gazillion times before, but hear me out on this one) bumps into Buffy around campus.  Unlike Kendra, she doesn't have an accent; unlike Faith, she doesn't wig out; and unlike Buffy, she doesn't have a pulse. And, to top things all off, she heralds the immortal slayer. It's a work in progress... or might just be a big-honkin' series (BTW, it's crossover fic to Angel), with Cordy/Doyle (more to come, don't fret) and possible Buffy/Faith (subtext only, you smutmongers).
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Buffy et. al. - Joss Does. The idea (and I use that phrase loosely) is mine, as are any original characters who happen to mosey on through.  Try not to reprint this puppy if ya don't ask me first, ok?


Chapter 1:

    "Geez, can't you guys ever pick a place to fight that's away from people?  And why aren't there any campus police out here?"  Buffy wondered aloud to a vampire who just didn't seem to care. "I mean, cave men on a rampage, frat boys die, Professor Walsh gets attacked by werewolfs, and nothing.  Not a single rent-a-cop.  We're at UC Sunnydale, for pete's sake.  Anyone out there ever heard of the Hellmouth?"  The slayer blocked a few poor attempts by the vamp to knock her over, and reached into her coat pocket to grab a stake.  The vampire, as they are want to do whenever they see a stake in the hand of a slayer, charged Buffy, whom promptly staked him straight through the heart.
    "Well, gee, with you around, who needs the campus police," a feminine voice said from behind Buffy.

    "Ummm... can I help you?  Or do you just always wander around spying on people?"

    "When those people happen to be slayers slaying vampires, I can't help but catch a passing glance or two."

    Buffy stared in disbelief.  Did she just hear right?  How did this person that she had never seen before know she was the Slayer?  It was obvious how she knew that guy was a vampire - the stake and dust gave that away pretty easily.  "Excuse me, but how did - "

    "We slayers have got to stick together, you know.  We vampires, too.  But I honestly don't like to socialize with them much.  Icky, soulless lot, they are.  Meandering around, sucking out blood of people, treating the world as one giant salad bar.  I suppose we're the sneeze guard, aren't we?"  The other slayer smiled tiredly.

    "Hold up - did you just say 'we slayers?'  And 'we vampires?'  In the same sentence?  That just doesn't..." Buffy tightened her grip on her stake a bit more.  "That just doesn't sound right."

    "Thank you, Captain Obvious.  It sure as heck doesn't feel right, either.  At least not to me.  Sometimes I get so confused, I even want to slay myself.  Oh dear, how rude of me," she said, a light bulb clicking on in her head.  "I've been around four hundred or so years, and I've forgotten my manners.  I'm Eliza."  She extended her hand, which Buffy wearily accepted. "Of course, you're Buffy.  I know we just bumped into each other, but is there a more comfortable place where we can sit down for a bit and talk?  I have quite a few things to tell you."

    "How much do you have to tell me?"

    "How much time do you have?  I've all the time in the world."


Chapter 2:
    Eliza and Buffy found an open table at one of the all night cafes in town.  A waitress came over to ask to take their order.

    "Just water, thanks," Buffy ordered.

    "And how about you, ma'am?"

    "Oh, gee... how about a Mr. Pibb... and do you have any pie?"

    "Cherry and peach."

    "I'll have one of each.  They're, um... for friends."

    The waitress went off to get their orders.  Buffy stared at Eliza in disbelief.  "Cherry and peach?  How many friends do you have?"

    "Not many.  If you'd like some, be my guest.  The one great thing about being immortal is that you really don't have to worry about just how much fat and stuff you eat.  I happen to enjoy food," She saw Buffy raise an eyebrow at this.  "Solid food," she continued, "and I use this whole 'living forever' thing to my utmost advantage."

    "So anyway," Buffy started up the conversation as the waitress brought their order over, "you said you had a story to tell me?"

    "Thanks," Eliza acknowledged the waitress, who left after placing the pies down.  "Want a piece?" she asked Buffy, who gladly accepted.  "Anyway, story.  Right.  Golly, I suppose we could have picked a better place to talk, since this is gonna sound weird.  Couldn't've picked a better place for pie, though," she mused.

    "Story," Buffy reminded her.

    "Oh, yeah.  As you probably well know, this whole slayer/watcher/vampire/demon thing has been going on for quite some time.  I am, obviously, a slayer.  I was activated in 1568 or around then in London, when the slayer before me was killed by a very nasty vampire.  I was expendable to the Council - more so than most slayers are - because I was an orphan.  No parents and family to answer to, so they just shipped me off to my watcher for training.  Luckily for me, my watcher was a bit of a rebel, and she decided to not just train me, but raise me as well.  She... um..."  Eliza scratched her nose as she searched for something to say.  "She trained me well.  Not just in slaying, but in witchcraft, translating the necessary Latin and other ancient languages that the demons seem to favor oh so very much, and most importantly she trained me morally.  She was so much more than a watcher."

    "That sounds familiar," Buffy mused.  "My watcher's a bit of a rebel, though you couldn't tell it by all that tweed.  I think his couch is even upholstered in it.  Very itchy."

    "I'm sure that if they had tweed much back when we were alive, she would have worn it," Eliza smiled.  "She was a bit of a stodgy rebel herself.  She was always fussing and fighting with the council over me.  What to train me in, how to train me, how to act with me... everything.  I tend to think that she was right on most all she wanted to do."

    "They usually are. Like it or not, I have to admit that Giles knows what he's talking about most of the time."

    "One night, about a year or so after I was activated, the two of us were on duty together..."

    "Both of you?"  Buffy asked in disbelief. "Wow.  Giles doesn't come with me.  He's slayed, though, and he helps out, but never with patrolling."

    "That's another way that Havvie was different."  Eliza smiled as she remembered.  "Ms. Havisham always helped me out in everything.  I really don't think she wanted me to end up as another 'gone at 18' statistic.  One night she'd gone with me out on the streets, which was dangerous not just because of the vamps, but because of all the regular people as well.  Some guy leaped out of the shadows and hit her over the head with something and grabbed her before I could react well.  We scuffled, and he whapped me a gold ol' one too.  When I awoke, he had us in some basement somewhere, me chained to the wall, her chained to some slab on the middle of the floor.  I still can't figure out how he overpowered me.  I know he was a vampire, but it's like he made both of us frozen in time somehow..."  The slayer rubbed her eyes.   "Anyway, I awoke to find him draining her.  Right in front of my eyes.  And the whole time he had this look on his 'face' of total gloating.  He knew I couldn't do anything.  I knew I couldn't do anything.  And so did she.  She looked at me with this expression of hurt.  Not of anger, or of even disappointment, but of just pain.  Pain at being drained, pain at failing me.  Pain of knowing I was going to become a statistic.  There is nothing as horrible as watching your watcher die, Buffy.  I pray that you'll never have to see it."

    The waitress came over.  "You girls haven't touched your pie.  Is something wrong?"

    "No!  The pie's great," Eliza said.  "I've always been partial to peach.  We're just talking a bit - but I promise these two things'll be gone in no time flat."

    "Ok... can I get you anything else?"

    "No, thanks.  We're fine," Buffy said.  The waitress left.

    Eliza coughed.  "So, anyway, the vampire - his name was Lucius, I think.  Damn Roman names... for all I know he was Roman.  Anywho, he laughed at me.  He came over to me hanging helpless on the wall and grabbed me by the throat.  'I'm gonna turn you into me, pet,' he said.  He drained me... and cut his arm open.  He forced me to drink from him - held my mouth open.  When I woke up a few days later... I was what I am today."

    "But how do you have a soul?" Buffy asked, very confused.

    "That's what I've been wondering for the past four hundred years.  I think that since I drank very unwillingly from him, that something along the lines must've screwed up and I died, but I didn't, ya know?"

    "So no curses, no anything like that?"

    "No.  Why?"

    "Oh, my, um... I knew a vampire with a soul once.  He was cursed by a gypsy tribe.  He was very, very unhappy.  He had to live with everything his vampire self did to people.  All the murders - everything.  I suppose you don't have to, do you?"

    "Hmm... since I began with a soul, I really don't have anything like that to feel guilty for.  I've never fed on a human before.  But... living for four hundred years with the guilt of not being able to save your watcher can lead to some serious issues.  I'm the master brooder sometimes."

    "Oh, I wouldn't say that.  Oh, damn!" Buffy fussed as she glanced at her watch.  "Do you have a house or somewhere?  It's almost 5, and you should probably get home before sunrise."

    "Yeah - don't want to get baked like those pies.  Which reminds me - you want the cherry one?"

    "Sure, my watcher'd love to have it with some tea.  How about tomorrow night, around 8?"

    "Well, I'm not sure when your watcher likes to eat dessert..."

    "No," Buffy smiled, surprised by the other slayer's sense of humor.  "I didn't think vampires with souls could smile..." she thought to herself as she glanced at Eliza's thin, angular, British face.  "What I mean was, I'd like you to meet my watcher and my friends tomorrow night.  I think they'd love to hear all this."

    "Sure - they need to hear this.  You know Buffy, I didn't appear out of the shadows to ask if you wanted baked goods.  I do have a point to everything."

    "Good - you better tell us that tomorrow night. For right now, it might be a swell idea for you to get back to your place. Let me give you directions to Giles's place really fast..."

Chapter 3:

    *knock knock*

    Buffy got up to answer Giles' door.  "You know, Giles," she said as she looked back over her shoulder, "you should really invest in something called a 'doorbell.'  I've heard they're really great."  She didn't hear his muttered "So I've heard" as she opened the door to reveal Eliza.

    "Hi, Buffy," Eliza greeted.  "Ummm... you wouldn't mind if I came in, would you?"

    "Oh!  Yeah - come right on in.  Giles, Willow, Xander - this is Eliza."  She introduced the other slayer to her friends, who all responded with a polite nod.  Giles had a quizzical look on his face, but his question was not one that anyone expected.

    "Are you the one who brought the.. um... pie?"

    "Sure am - is it all right?  I kinda have a problem tasting it too well, but I figured it'd be a nice 'hey-I-don't-wanna-eat-you' gesture on my part."

    Giles smiled.  "It's great.  I suppose you have a sneaking suspicion what we'd like to know about you - is it all right?"

    "Sure, it's why I brought it up with Buffy.  I'm used to twenty questions - fire away."

    "Well-" Giles began, but was cut off by Xander.

    "So... you don't eat people, huh?  Are you one of those 'good yet constantly brooding' vamps that Buffy seems to attract?"

    "I am," Eliza said, "but what do you mean by Buffy attracting them?"

    "Umm... Buffy's last boyfriend was kinda a vampire - but a really good one!" Willow supplied.  "He regained his soul when a band of gypsies cursed him.  He's been trying to redeem himself ever since.  He lives in LA now - helping people."

    "That sounds vaguely familiar - is his name Angel?"  Eliza asked Buffy, who gave a start.

    "You know him?  How?"

    "I've seen him a few times.  But mostly I've heard of him.  In vampire circles he's legendary - not just for the amount of killing he's done, but for the amount of vampires he's staked.  I can't match his atonement level," she looked at Giles, "since I've never killed.  But I think I can match his misery level in a different way."

    "Ummhmm... so, what sorts of evil have *you* done?" Xander asked, promptly getting a thwack on the leg from Willow.  "OW!"

    "Excuse him," Willow explained.  "He's kinda leery of things like... um..."


    "That's kinda what I was aiming for."  Willow smiled.  "Sorry."

    "It's understandable - I'm leery of things like me, too.  It's not so much what I've done, it's what I haven't done..."

    And with that, Eliza launched into the story that she had told Buffy the previous night.


Chapter 4:

    It was all that Xander could say for once.  Willow looked sympathetically aghast at Eliza, and Giles took off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose.

    "So," he began, "after five hundred years, you've never bitten anyone because you have a soul.  Extraordinary.  I'm assuming you've lived off of animal blood?"  Eliza nodded.  "Ah... well... I'll be right back.  Need to grab a book."

    "Ooo - that'll win her right over to us - an occult book!  He's really fun at parties, you know," Xander quipped as Giles got off the sofa and went to his bookshelf.

    "I bet," Eliza smiled.  "The whole book scene *is* his free time, isn't it?"  Everyone nodded in agreement.  "Wow.  Of course, like I should talk.  I was around when that's all we had to do was read.  I ought to invite him over sometime to see my library - he'd be like a kid in a candy store.  I wonder-"

    "What book I was getting?" Giles walked back into the room.  "Just some old watcher's guide.  I remember reading somewhere about some sort of 'immortal slayer' but we all thought it was rubbish."

    "The watchers thought something was rubbish?"  Willow was shocked.  "You people?  The ones who see a demon and say 'Oh, seen it' like you were flipping around on TV?  That is, if you people watched TV..."

    "We just thought something like this was a bit far-fetched, that's all.  Anyway, it mentions very few specifics.  Just that she'd be from the British Isles and that she'd be-"

    "Immortal?" Xander asked.

    "Yes, and she'd herald the immortal watcher."

    "Hold it - that doesn't make a bit of sense," Eliza commented.  "I've been around for five hundred or so years.  I could have heralded that immortal watcher thing any time.  Doesn't it mention *how* exactly I'd do it?  I left my trumpet at home."

    "It says here that she would get a vision of the watcher, and this would lead her to them.  What exactly made you finally talk to Buffy the other night?"

    Eliza thought for a moment.  "Just a gut feeling, I suppose.  I've always watched the newest slayer for a brief amount of time out of curiosity.  Usually I got bored with them - after a while they all ran together. But Buffy has a certain successful style and flair for the job.  For once, I wasn't bored.  Never have been.  Finally I just got up enough strength to talk to her.  I haven't had any sort of visions of anyone or anything.  It was more or less like someone whispered in my ear that I needed to actually talk to Buffy... and I guess all of you.  If I do happen to have a vision of something, I'll let you - AUGH!"

    Eliza was cut-off by a blinding, sudden headache.  "Dear God... what the... AUGH!"

    "Is she OK?" Xander asked.

    "It appears she's having that vision you were wondering about, Giles," Buffy chimed in.

    "I'll get some water," Willow offered.

    "Scotch," Eliza corrected. "Or something strong - I need something to dull this pain.  I... I saw someone."

    "The watcher!"  Giles exclaimed.

    "Ow!  Volume, please!"

    "Oh, sorry.  Well, what exactly did you see?"

    "She was tall, brunette... obsessing about clothes..."

    "You heard sound in your vision?"

    "Yeah - and I dream in color, too.  And she was talking about money... invoices..."
    "That sounds like Cordelia?"  Buffy asked herself, not believing what she was saying.  "Oh, no way in hell that could be.  The Watchers would have more sense than that, wouldn't they?"

    "They did send Wesley," Willow said.  "Obviously they aren't that perfect."

Chapter 5:

    "So what you're telling me is that the immortal watcher is Cordelia Chase?" Eliza asked, shocked.  "I mean, I should have guessed from what she was saying in my vision, but the visuals weren't crystal clear, so I couldn't be totally sure.   Have the watchers met her?  Or is this one of those 'destined to be' things?"

    "If they'd met her, do you think that she would have been chosen?" Xander asked,

    "Good point.  She always kinda, um..."

    "Annoyed you?" Buffy chimed in.

    "Rubbed you the wrong way?" Willow offered.

    "I was going for amused me, actually.  I guess there has to be someone like her in every high school, huh?" Everyone nodded.  "But even though she was so superficial, she seemed to kinda like you all in her own very unique way.  She was pretty awkward with you guys.  Mostly with Xander, but I can understand that."

    "You just have that effect on women," Willow said, patting him on the shoulder.

    "I do drive 'em crazy, don't I?"

    "No, I think Will was going for the whole 'awkward with fear' thing, right?" Buffy asked.  Willow nodded.


    "She also had a pretty good wit about her," Eliza continued,  "but she never seemed to like the aspects of slaying.  And she made fun of your books, Giles... fate acts in weird ways, eh?"

    "I suppose you could say that," Giles said. "So, I suppose a plan of action should be written up.  Teaching her what to do, letting the watchers know that the immortal watcher has been found..."

    "How about telling her what she is?"  Buffy offered.  "It would be kinda odd if one day a girl came up to her and said 'Hi, I'm your slayer - and you're my watcher!  By the way, you're immortal.'  Even though I don't think that she'd mind the whole 'immortal' thing.  She probably'd love not aging.  Who should go to LA?"

    "Well not you," Willow began, "since you and Angel had that thing...  and - and not Xander, since you hate him."

    "I do not either hate Dead Boy."

    "So, is that just an affectionate nickname, then?"  Eliza asked.

    "I - well, how about you go," Xander replied.  "You're the messenger in this situation.  It'd make sense."

    "Scary - I think you just did," Buffy commented.

    "Did what?"

    "Make sense.  I'll give you directions to Angel's office.  She works there.  Or does the 'Work According to Cordelia' plan.  I'm not sure how much she'll listen to you, though..."


Chapter 6:
    "Doyle, what did you see?" a very concerned Angel asked his messenger friend.

    "It... ugh.  It looked like demons, and they were killing other demons."

    "So it was a demon war?"

    "The more they wipe out, the better," Cordelia chimed in as she walked into the office.

    "Doyle, are you OK?"  Angel asked.

    "Am I ever OK after my visions?"

    "'Are you ever OK?' should be the question.  Here, have a drink."  Cordelia gave him a small glass of brandy.

    "Thanks.  These demons they were killing were like - they were half-breeds."  Doyle swallowed nervously.

    "Like the Cher song?"

    "Not exactly.  They're normal people, for the most part.  Seems that this SS troop doesn't like them much, and are coming to LA to kill any ones they can find."

    Angel glanced at Doyle, then to the pen in his hand.  "Did the vision tell you any names, or anything like that?"

    "No, but I did see-"

    *knock knock*

    "Oh!  Customer!" Cordelia jumped up with excitement.  "Angel?  Why don't you get that?"

    "Why?  I pay you to do those sort of things."

    "But it's *your* business.  You should greet the customers."

    "Oh fine."  Angel opened the door.  "Can I help you? Wait.  You're not - "

    "Neither are you, Angel," Eliza said.  "I'm Eliza."  She extended her hand, which Angel awkwardly took.

    "You have a soul," he said, " and you... you knew my name?"

    "I'm on a mission from Giles," she said gesturing to the stack of books she held under her arm.  "I really need to talk to you and Cordelia.  It's pretty important."

    "Sure, come on in."

    Eliza walked into the office, where she saw Cordelia trying to coax Doyle into telling her the rest of his vision.  "So, what else did you see?"

    "I saw them with guns.  Really big ones... and they were trying to kill an entire family - in here... and you..."

    "Me?  What happened?"

    "Don't know - that's where it stopped."  He saw the credulous look she gave him.  "Honest!  If I knew any more, I'd tell you, I promise."

    Angel had to interrupt the two.  "Um, Cordelia?  Doyle?  This is Eliza."  They both nodded politely, which Eliza returned.  "She needs to talk to you about something important."

Chapter 7:

    Eliza shifted nervously in her chair.  "To tell you the truth, I don't know where to begin."

   "How about with you," Angel began.  "You're a vampire with a soul.  Were you cursed?"

   "No, just when I was turned, something got messed up, seriously.  Maybe it's because I'm a slayer, maybe it's because I didn't want to be turned, I don't know."

    "You're a slayer?"  Cordelia asked.  "Did you tell Buffy?  'Cause bad things happen to slayers that hang out with her..."

    "So I've seen.  Yeah, I told her everything.  Giles got a bit too happy about me, and decided to look me up in one of his watchers' books.  Seems that I'm the Immortal Slayer of slayer lore.  It's my job to herald the Immortal Watcher."

    "How do you herald this watcher?" Angel asked.

    "Oh, I have these head splitting headaches accompanied by visions."

    "God, I can relate," Doyle said, still nursing his drink.

    "You have visions too?"

    "Yeah - it's my job to tell Angel here of people in need.  He wants to redeem himself, and I've been ordered by the powers that be to help out.  Not that I mind - you get to save people's lives, and there are some nice fringe benefits."  He said that last part with a look at Cordelia, who didn't seem to notice.

    "Why are you here?" Cordelia asked.  "I mean, so you get visions of immortal watchers.  Do you need our help in finding him?"

    "No, I think I've found her," Eliza said, looking straight at Cordelia.  Angel caught Eliza's look and followed it.

    "Huh?  What?"

    "I think she means you," Angel told her.

    "What?  Oh, no no no!  Hahaha - whew.  You had your funny. Now seriously, where is she?"
    "Sitting right in front of me.  I know it's hard to believe.  We didn't want to believe it either.  No offense meant, of course."

    "None taken, maybe."

    "It's just one of those things.  No audition required or anything - chalk it up to bad birth timing and karma.  But there are perks, I suppose..."

    "Like what?"

    "Well, the never growing old and wrinkly bit sounds swell to me," Doyle chimed in.

    "But there's the part where you watch everyone you care about die around you," she replied.  "Angel, is that why you never got too attached to people?"

    "Basically - I already had pain.  I didn't need any more."

    Cordelia sighed.  "I guess I don't really have a choice, though, do I?"

    "No," Eliza replied.

    "Tell me what I have to do."


Chapter 8:
    "I have to read *these?*" Cordelia exclaimed in agony.  "They're all big and dusty and supernatural-like.  No way.  Uh uh."

    Cordelia and Eliza were sitting on the couch in Cordy's appartment, surrounded by stacks of musty, leather bound books.  It looked as though someone had ransacked the Library of Congress.  Cordelia was less than enthused at the prospect of reading any of the tomes, and neither was Eliza, though she was much more reluctant to show it than Cordelia.

    "You have to," Eliza tried to explain. "If you don't, you'll screw up generations of slayers, and possibly the world."  Eliza re-buried her head back into the book that she was trying to understand.

    "But it's work."  Cordy slammed the book that she was skimming shut defiantly.

    "It could be fun... somehow... think of all the swell people you'll meet, and people you'll save?  Isn't that incentive enough?"  Eliza looked at her pleadingly.

    "Oh, fine."  Cordelia re-opened her book.  "Did you spend the last five hundred years on your manipulating techniques?"

    "It's not like I had much else to do.  Seems like I've gotten pretty good at it."  Eliza glanced around Cordelia's apartment, her gaze stopping on the endtable.  "Umm... did you know that glass over there's floating?"

    "Huh?  Oh, yeah - it's Dennis."


    "He's my ghost.  Long story."

    "Oh... anyway, thanks for putting me up here.  It makes the whole training thing a little easier."

    "Don't mention it - so, what do I have to learn?"

    "It'd be a good thing if you started by reading this." Eliza handed her a large leather bound volume with the words "Watchers' Guide" stitched on the top.

    "But it's so... large!  Where am I gonna find the time - oh.  I guess that excuse doesn't work well anymore, does it?"  Eliza shook her head.  "So, let's dig right in, shall we?"

Chapter 9:

    "Can't we stop now?"  Cordelia asked, rubbing her eyes with her thumb and forefinger.  They had been reading manuals and books for three hours straight.  "I mean, I *do* have all the time in the world, after all. We really don't have to cram it all in in one night, do we?"

    "Huh?  Oh, sure - I was just trying to figure out this slayer's handbook.  Damn thing reads like stereo instructions."  Eliza shut the book and set it on the end table.  "What time is it?"

    "About one... it's weird, though.  I'm not a bit tired.  I know I should be, because that book was absolutely boring.  I felt like I was reading a textbook.  So anyway... so I take it you met everyone in Sunnydale... how are they?"

    "They're fine as always... Buffy's still a bit down about Angel, and Willow's upset about Oz - "

    "Oz?  What happened to him?"

    "He wolfed out and almost killed her... he thought it'd be best if he left somewhere and worked everything out."

    Cordelia sat for a moment, thinking about the person sitting next to her.

    "How do you know so much about all of us - like who I was, and who Angel was, and everything?  Do you have visions all the time?"

    "No," Eliza shook her head.  "The one I had the other day was my first one.  I had been following Buffy around for a while - followed her to Sunnydale.  I watched you guys as I watched her.  I was basically taking notes on her - she is amazing as a slayer."  Eliza noticed as Cordelia rolled her eyes.  "I take it you and Buffy still aren't the best of friends, huh?  Why do you dislike her so much?"

    "It's because she's so... so... *her*.  Everyone loves her.  Ms. Perfect Buffy.  It's like she's the only one who matters, and I -"

    "And you don't?" Eliza finished, sensing Cordelia's insecurities.  "Everyone matters - at least to someone.  If you matter to one person, and if they matter to you, then that's really all that counts.  Mass popularity is way overrated."

    "Oh, please.  Who do I matter to?"

    "Angel, in his own awkward way... and Doyle seems to like you a lot."

    "Doyle?  *phhft*  He's sweet, and brave, and pretty substantial - I mean he did save my live.  But..."

    "It shocks you that someone could care about you for real who's only known you a few months when people you knew for years still put up a front?"

    Cordelia looked down at her hands and fiddled with them.  "I... I don't know.  I guess..."  Cordelia became fidigity.  "I'm really tired now - how about you?"

    Eliza wanly smiled at Cordelia.  "Sure - I'll see you in the morning."


Chapter 10:
    Cordelia and Eliza walked into the office the next morning to find Angel talking to a large family.  Cordelia's eyes lit up at the prospect of that many customers, and she was about to say something to them when Doyle took her aside.
    "Cordelia?  Do you remember that vision I had yesterday?"

    "About the demon KKK?  Yeah, why?"

    "These are the people that they're after."  Doyle glanced at the family and then back at Cordelia. "Oh, bloody hell," he thought.  "I ought to tell her what I am before they come lookin' for me too."

    "Doyle, you OK?"  Cordelia said, noticing the strained look on Doyle's face.

    "Huh?  Yeah - 'Delia?  There's something you need to know about me."

    "What - are you a rich heir to a billion dollar fortune and that whole dork act is just a disguise?"  Cordelia saw that Doyle was serious, and pulled him down on the couch next to her.  "What's wrong?"

    "I... um... you're probably never gonna want to talk to me after this because I know how you feel about demons and the like, but... uh... I'm..." Doyle swallowed hard.  "I'm half demon.  On my father's side.  But Mum was a full-blooded Irishwoman."  He added the last part as an afterthought, as though it would help him.

    Cordelia sat there in shock.  "And just *why* did you not tell me before?" she shouted at him.  "I mean, I'm from Sunnydale.  I've seen a lot of things weirder than you.  No... I haven't... but you know what I mean!"

    "I thought that since I was half demon you'd hate me..."

    "Oh, but you're never a demon around here.  I mean, as long as you don't sprout horns and wander around the office I don't care.  How often are you demon-ish?"

    "Really, only when I sneeze.  Or like when I was in the fight at the bachelor party."

    "Well... that's not so bad I suppose.  It can be overcome, right?"

    "Not really... but I can control it to a degree."

    "I think I can cope with you being this th - you.  At least this part of you.  But the shirt's gotta go," she said, pointing to the leopard wide collar shirt he was wearing.  Doyle raised an eyebrow.  "But not in *that* way, of course," Cordelia recovered, while at the same time turning bright red.

    "Hey Doyle,"  Angel stuck his head in the room.  "They need to talk to you about something.  Cordelia?  Are you OK?  You look kinda red."

    "Huh, yeah - I'm fine,"  she said as she got up to follow Doyle out of the room.  "Angel - did you know that Doyle was half demon?"

    "Yeah - did he just tell you?"


    "You don't hate him, do you?"

    "No more than I did before," Cordelia said with a smile as she left the room.

    "Good," Angel said after she'd gone, "because you mean the world to him..."

Chapter 11:

    Doyle looked at the other demon, unbelieving.  "What did you just say?"

   "They want to kill us all."

    "Bloody 'ell... well we'll think of somethin'..."

- - - - - - - - - - -

    "Just get down below.  Oh, damn," Doyle said as he saw the demons rushing down below where he and Cordelia stood.  "Just when I finally get to almost ask Cordy out for dinner..."

    "What is that thing?" Doyle asked of the large glowing ball in the center of the hull.

    "The light... it'll kill everything of human blood.  We've got to deactivate it, now.  If I could reach that switch..."

    "Angel, no!" Cordelia said.  "You can't risk that..."

    "Well, how about - "  Eliza was cut off by Cordelia as well.  "Not you, either.  Not any of us."

    "I guess that leaves me... need to be a hero when you face your calling... I realize that now..."

    "Doyle, what part of 'not any of us' didn't you understand?"  Cordelia questioned him.

    "And what part of 'you'll die' don't you?  Cordy..." Doyle leaned in and kissed her.  "I guess it's too late to find out - " he turned into his demon form.  "if this was a face you could learn to love."

    Doyle jumped onto the platform where the device was located and after a few seconds, he pulled the plug - and he was gone.  Angel, Cordelia, and Eliza stood in horror looking where Doyle should have been.  "Oh, God... Doyle... why..."

    Angel spun and hit the pole next to him violently.  "Shit!  Why the hell did he have to do that.  I could have..."

    "Angel, no."  Eliza laid her hand on Angel's arm.  "He felt he had to make up for what happened before... I think he's happy now.  I mean..."  Eliza looked at Cordelia who was still standing there in horror, crying, her hand over her mouth.  "I mean, he saved the day, and got the girl of his dreams.  You can't ask for more from a hero."

    "I... I called him a weasel."  It was Cordelia, her voice small.

    "What?"  Eliza asked, confused.

    "When... when we were filming the commercial... I said too much weasel was coming through.  I didn't mean it.  I don't want that to have been the last thing he thought of before he...went."

    "Cordelia,"  Angel stepped closer.  "I'm sure it was you he was thinking of, but certainly not of what you said before."  Angel looked around.  "Come on, let's go home.  These people need to get to where they need to go."  Angel nodded, and they nodded back.  He led the way off of the ship, with Eliza supporting Cordelia.

    "I called him a..."


    Chapter 12:
    "Am I done?"  Doyle asked on the television.  Cordelia reached over to turn it off, and her hand lingered on the screen for a moment before she did.  She leaned back on the couch next to Eliza and sighed.

    "I never would have ever guessed that he'd do something like that.  I never knew that I'd underestimated him so much.  Why the didn't he ever ask me out to dinner?"

    "He was scared, Cordelia," Angel began.  "He thought that you were too good for him.  He didn't think that he could make you happy."

    "Too good for me?  Me?  Poor, superficial, can't see a great guy when he's two feet from her?  He..." She choked on her words: "He was too good for me.  He wasn't a fixer-upper.  He was damn perfect how he was, half demon or not.  Why do bad things always happen to people like him?"

    "Cordelia... I know this is hard to understand.  It took me a few hundred years to realize this, but... what he did wasn't really a bad thing.  He did something that only the greatest people can do... he gave his life for others.  I mean, that wasn't some sort of punishment that God had in mind.  Doyle'll be remembered from now on as this hero, which he was.  Maybe it was something like this that needed to drive the point home."  Eliza got off the couch.  "Not that I'm saying that you didn't realize this before, or anything.  But..."

    "I understand... but why the hell did it take me so damn long to finally admit that I cared about him... *to* him.  You know?  I mean, I always knew.  But he didn't... and I feel terrible."

    "He knew,"  Angel said from behind Cordelia.  "I could tell... just something about him.  He knew, don't worry."  He placed his hand awkwardly on her shoulder.  "Umm... you two just go on home.  We all need a little rest.  Cordelia,"  he said as she grabbed her purse, "you don't have to come in tomorrow if you don't want to you know."

    "No, Angel - I'll be here, bright and early.  There are some things I need to go through.  And anyway," she put on a fake bravado that Angel and Eliza saw right through, "I have a watcher's guide to read."

    Cordelia walked out.  Angel and Eliza locked glances, and Angel looked down at the ground.

    "Hey Eliza?"


    "Keep an eye on her, will you?"

    "That's my job.  'Night, Angel.  I'm really sorry, you know that, right?"

    "Yeah... 'night."

    Eliza followed Cordelia to her car.  In the office, Angel hit rewind on the tape and watched it again.  "Yeah, there was a hero here, Doyle.  Still is."

Chapter 13:

    It was months later.  Doyle was still gone, Wesley took his post - at least in duty only, and Buffy and the Scooby Gang had just put up with the Initiative, Adam, and Faith all at once.  Eliza was still trying to manage her time between Sunnydale and LA, helping Cordy continue her work as the Immortal Watcher-in-Training.

    The phone on Angel's desk rang.  Eliza grabbed it before Cordelia could.  "Angel Investigations - how can we help you?"

    "Hey."  It was Buffy, her voice strained with worry and tiredness.

    "Hi, Buffy - I saw about the church thing on the news - are you OK?  Or is it Adam?  I know something's wrong."

    "It's Faith."

    "Huh?"  Eliza was shocked.  "She woke up?"

    "Yeah, and we switched bodies, and wackiness ensued.  We met up in the church, kicked some vampire ass, and then she started beating the crap out of me, of course."

    "Of course."

    "Thank God we switched back - she bolted, though.  We don't have any idea where she went... though for some reason I feel that she's heading your way.  Eliza, don't say a word of this to anyone, but... I'm worried about her."

    "Huh?  After she tried to kill you?"

    "Well, I think being in a coma made her hate me more, but get a little conscience, too.  She went to the church to slay the vamps, and then told Riley that she couldn't use him in there with her - as in couldn't let him get hurt kinda use.  I thought it was kinda weird... but what if she's turning back to normal?"

    "Buffy, she was never normal, remember?"

    "Yeah, but she used to be kinda cool.  Listen, I've got to go, but if anything turns up, call me, and I'll come down here stat, OK?"

    "Will do, Buffy - bye."

    Eliza hung up the phone, to a questioning look from Cordelia and Angel.  "She's awake?"  Cordy exclaimed.

    "Well, yes.  And Buffy's slayer sense tells her that she's coming our way."

    "Oh, great.  can I plan the welcome party?  I can - OW"  Cordy doubled over in pain on the sofa.
    Wesley ran into the room at Cordelia's cry, armed with a notepad.  "What is it?  What do you see?" he said, itching for a case.

    "Oh, great - my dork knight.  Thanks," she said, grabbing the pad away from him, as Angel offered her water.  "Angel, you are so not gonna like this.  I saw a big office building - like a law office or something?  And inside was, um... well... Kate and a buncha vamps.  And Faith, and a stake.  Got any idea what that's all about?"

    "Law firm... vampires..." Angel mused.  "Wolfram and Hart.  We've got to get down there now before they do something to Kate..."

    "Looks like something turned up - time to call Buffy."  Eliza said as she reached for the phone.


Chapter 14:
    Faith walked down the damp L.A. street.  "What is up with this city?"  she thought to herself.  "It doesn't even rain, and it's wet out here.  God, I could use a place to stay, or at least someplace *dry*."  Just then. as if on cue, a black limo pulled up and rolled its window down.  Faith turned to look at the man in the car, and said "No, sorry - I'm not what you're looking for."

    "No, Faith, you're exactly what we're looking for.  Hop in."

    Faith, surprised that the man knew her name, went against her better judgment and did.  "How do you know who I am?"

    "Well, when you represent vampires, news about slayers spreads around pretty fast." He saw Faith shrink back as he mentioned vampires.  "Oh, no - I'm not one of them.  They just hire us to help out."  He slipped Faith a business card.

    "Wolfram and Hart," she read aloud.  "You're a law firm?  Weird... what do you want with me?"

    "Well, you're a slayer, and you obviously are well trained and with immeasurable powers.  There's a guy we really need taken care of.  Getting in our way constantly.  You might know him... remember someone named Angel?"

    "Oh, God, do I.  You want me to take him out?  Me?  But he's wicked strong - hard to take."

    "We'll pay you well."

    Faith's face lit up at the mention of money.  "I do need a place to stay," she thought to herself, "and this would really get to Buffy, if she still loves him."

    "What do ya say, Faith?"

    "Fine - I'll do it.  Just tell me what to do."

    With that, the limo sped off to the law offices.

- - - - - - - - - - -

    "Ok, so we're gonna lure Angel here," Faith questioned Lindsey MacDonald, the attorney for W&H.  "How're we gonna do that?"

    "I was thinking the usual - kidnap a friend, hold her hostage, give him a call.  We can't get a hold of that girl he works with, because she's there with him now... and same with that guy... oh!  There's that cop friend of his who gets in the way of us too.  We can use her.  Boys,"  He waved over to brutish looking vamps, "Go find Ms. Kate and bring here here - don't hurt her, Ok?  We want Angel to see her in her full glory before we break her neck."

   "Hold up a minute," Faith said.  "You said I would take out Angel - you didn't say anything about me killing any person..."

    "Oh, it wouldn't be you killing her, it'd be one of the guys - you know just to really get him going.  You're not getting reservations, are you?"

    "Huh?  Oh, naah.  Just setting my parameters."  Faith looked down at her feet.  "What if I am getting cold ones about this?  I mean, I felt something when I went into that church, or at least before Buffy came.  I felt like I was doing something good and I liked it... no.  No getting wishy-washy.  No going weak."  She looked up at Lindsey.  "When's he gonna be here?"

   "Soon - and it'll probably be a party.  He'll bring those two people he works with - regular blast."

    "Great.  Got any cake?"

Chapter 15:

    A half-hour later, everything was set for Angel's arrival.  Kate was properly tied up in a chair, flanked by vampires.  Lindsey sat at his desk, looking over papers.  Faith was not as calm - she was pacing back and forth across the floor.  "God, when will he get here?  I'm getting tired of waiting."

    "He should be here - "

    "Right about now," Angel said as he walked through the doors, flanked by Cordy, Wesley, and Eliza.  "Hi, Faith.  Long time, to see."

    "Hey, Angel.  Still vamp much?  Woah - hey Cordy and Wes!  Lookin' good!"

    Cordelia recoiled from that comment.  "God, don't let that be a come on... please not a come on..."

    "Fellas," Lindsey motioned to Kate, "take care of her."

    "Wait!" Faith shouted.  She stumbled to think of a good excuse to call the halt.  "Umm... I think she should see Angel taken out, don't you?"

    Lindsey was a bit taken aback.  "Um... ok.  Go for it, Faith."

    Faith got a fighting stance going.  "So, Angel, how've you been?  Eat anyone new?" Faith barbed at Angel before she got set to do a roundhouse.

    Just as she was about to do the kick, someone grabbed her from behind and threw her to the floor.  "No, but he did meet me, Faith."

    Even in the dimly lit office, Faith could tell that something was off about Eliza.  "You're very pale..."

    "Umm...I'm, uh... English.  We Brits don't tan well."

    "I've heard you can get a tan by standing in the English rain," Faith quipped back as she stood facing Eliza. She didn't notice as Angel slunk away and took out the vamps flanking Kate.  He motioned to Cordy and Wesley to take her out of the office.

    "Ooh, well goo goo ga choob to you too.  There's someone back at Angel's who wants to talk to you."

    "Don't care - getting paid to get rid of Angel.  And you're a friend... and obviously a vampire.  And lookie - you've got a soul.  How much more..."

    "Complicated?"  Eliza asked.

    "No, fun."  Faith took the roundhouse that she didn't get to use on Angel and tried it on Eliza.  It didn't work on her either - she blocked it quickly and returned the favor.

    "Woah," Faith commented.  "Wicked cool moves - you been studying kickboxing while you've been around?"

    "Naah - comes with the Slayer territory.  You should know."

    "Wha?  You're a Slayer too?  How - "

    Faith's question was cut short by a quick kick to the back of the head by Angel.  She collapsed to the floor.  "Let's get her back to the office and secure her, huh?"

    "Funny how you always have rope around that place."

    "Hush.  Hey, Lindsey,"  Angel said to the by-now out cold lawyer, "thanks for the exercise."


Chapter 16:
    Angel carried Faith to his desk chair, while Cordy got the rope.  He set her down and Cordelia began tying her arms and feet to the chair.   A knock came at the door, and Eliza went over to answer it.

    "Well, shoot - did I miss out on the fun of kicking Faith's ass?" Buffy said as she walked into the room.  "Hey Cordy, Wesley," she smiled at the two.  Her smile faded when she looked at Angel. "Hi."

    "Um... hi," Angel figited.  Dull silence filled the room.  "Cordy?  Could you and Wesley go into the kitchen?  I need to talk to you about something."  He ushered them out of the office, leaving the three slayers alone.

    "That was awkward.  So, she still not awake yet?"  Buffy asked of the still out cold Faith.

    "Nope - Angel whopped her pretty hard," Eliza said with a shrug.  "I really wish she wasn't so insane.  She does fight pretty well."

    "Yeah... she wailed on me pretty good.  Went after Mom, too."

    "Oh no - she OK?"

    "Yeah... aren't you gonna ask me something?"

    "About what?"

    "The switch."

    "Oh, yeah - how was it being in her body?"

    "Bizzare - especially when I had to tell everyone I wasn't really her.  And the fighting was different, too.  I don't get it."

    "Well, you're not used to not being you, and - "

    Buffy cut Eliza off.  "Not about that.  How'd I know she was coming here?"

    "I guess it's that whole Slayer bond we kinda have."

    "Oh, no way do I have any sort of bond with *her,*"  Buffy said, guesturing to Faith.

    "Think about it - you two hit it off really well when she first came.  Heck, you even accepted her date for homecoming."

    "How'd you know?  Oh, yeah.  Good ears, right?"

    "That and a well placed closet.  Come on, Buffy - you used to really like her before she went nuts and started working with the mayor."

    "You know, I'll never understand why she did that - it was all so sudden, you know?  Why'd she go wacko?"

    "Don't know - maybe she really needed someone to love her, you know, and the mayor was the only one to give it to her?  Sometimes people do really stupid things for support - and she did have a hard life. First watcher being killed, second one being evil..."

    "But I lo - we liked her a lot.  And you had your watcher killed, and you didn't go bezerk.  You stayed normal-ish."

    "That's probably because she had friends around her - ones who didn't stab her in the stomach at the least sign of trouble."  Faith shifted in her chair.

    "Oh, look.  Sleeping Beauty - like the ropes?  Not new for you, though, right?"

    "Naah, but I haven't had them on for a while.  You missed the party, B.  You're friend here was the life - um, death - of it.  Oh, Eliza?"  She looked at the titian haired slayer.

    "What."  It was more of a statement than a question.

    "Could you pardon us for a moment?  B and I have some catching up to do."

    "Sure thing.  Buffy, if you need me, I'll be in the kitchen."  Eliza left, leaving the other two slayers alone.

Chapter 17:

    "So, Faith," Buffy began, circling the bound slayer like prey.  "I heard that you were coming into town - thought I'd pop by to say hello. Didn't think I'd be meeting you like *this*.  Don't you know that you're supposed to dress up for company?  Oh - wait."  Buffy looked Faith down.  "This is dressing up for you."  Buffy and Faith stared at each other for a few minutes before Faith replied.

    "So, hi, B.  Great to see you too.  How's Riley doin'?  He was great last time I left him."

    Buffy tensed.  "Uh huh.  Did you sleep with Angel, too?  I know that you haven't been here long, but you don't waste time when it comes to screwing up my life, do you?  Hell, I'll give you the number of every guy I've ever dated.  That way you can screw them while screwing me over even more?  Wouldn't'cha like that, Faith?"  Buffy was a few inches from the younger slayer, and was yelling at her loudly.

    Faith looked down at her lap and shifted.  "Damn, these ropes are uncomfortable.  Could you cut me loose with that ax on the wall?"

    "Fat chance - I want to talk, and you are gonna sit there and listen.  Do you have any idea how many lives you've ruined?  Do you keep a running tally in a notebook?  Or do you even care?  You're so self-absorbed that you probably don't even know how much pain you've caused me."

    "Tit-for-tat, B," Faith said under her breath, and shifted again.  She looked up. "Ummm, Buffy?"


    "You might either want to cut me loose or call them in from the kitchen, because there's a big-ass blue thing standing behind you, and he looks pissed."

    Buffy turned around just in time to catch a punch to the face, knocking her down.  She sprung up, however, and grabbed an ax from the wall.  Against her better judgment, she cut Faith free, knowing that she was stronger than anyone else there, and that she could help take this thing.

    Faith grabbed a knife from the opposite wall.  "Hey - just like old times, huh, B?"  Faith said as the demon ran towards her.  The demon picked her up and slammed her against the floor.  She landed with an "oomph."

    "Yeah, pretty much, Faith,"  Buffy shot back as the others ran into the room, alerted by the commotion.  They came, but only could watch as Buffy and Faith attempted to tag team the demon.  It ran full throttle at Buffy, claws outstretched.

    "B!  Watch out!"  Faith yelled.  Buffy spun around and dodged the creature.  It turned, dazed, directly into Faith's knife blade.  It held its stomach and fell to the ground dead, leaving Faith holding the bloody knife.

    Faith looked at her hands, which were covered in blood.  All of a sudden, she flashed back to the first time she killed a person - she heard Buffy's voice saying "You killed a man, Faith," in her mind, over and over.  Faith blinked back tears and swayed.  "Oh, God, I can't... I don't..."

    "Faith?"  Angel moved forward towards her.  "Are you all right?"

    "I... I don't..." She looked at Buffy.  "Oh, God, B, just please kill me."  Faith passed out into Buffy's arms.


Chapter 18:
    Buffy sat in the chair, looking down on the still unconscious Faith.  Wesley and Cordy had thought it best to leave the three slayers and Angel alone to work things out, or at least attempt to.  The apartment was in total darkness.  Eliza came up from the kitchen with some tea.  She handed a cup to Buffy, and one to Angel, who refused.  Eliza sat down in the one free chair, sipped her tea, and said "Well, this is going well so far.  Anyone else have conflicting emotions?"

    "She needs help," Angel taciturnly said.

    "Yeah, but I don't know of a good shrink,"  Buffy said.  "Oh - you mean soul saving kind of help.  Well, you're the expert here, Angel.  You and Eliza have centuries worth of experience doing this kind of stuff.  I'll just sit here and watch and learn.  You two knock yourselves out."

    "Buffy, I think you need to be the one to help her,"  Eliza said.  "I've been hanging around all of you for quite a while - I know how all of you work.  I'm a pretty good judge of people.  You two are more alike than you think."

    "Umm, no!"  Buffy exclaimed.

    "But you're both rebellious, and damn good slayers.  She's just insane with occasional pangs of conscience, and you're freaking Jiminy Cricket with an insane streak.  Buffy, you're both slayers - you understand each other in a way that two normal people don't.  I know you hate her for the things she's done to you, but remember how things were before she went bonkers, and strive towards that, and not towards kicking her ass."

    "Fine.  When she wakes up, we'll all join hands and sing "Give Peace a Chance."  Maybe Giles can bring his guitar."

    "He has a guitar?"  Angel shot a glance at Eliza, who turned red.  "Sorry - not the point here.  Buffy - just talk to her when she wakes up. And remember what she said to you."

    "What?  The million times that she said that she wanted to kill me?"

    "No - the one time that she said she wanted you to kill her."  With that, Angel and Eliza got up and went downstairs, leaving the two slayers alone.

Chapter 19:

    "Unngh..."  Faith moaned as she woke up.  She saw Buffy sitting in the chair next to her.  "I've gotta stop waking up like this."  She put her hand to the bridge of her nose, pressing down, hoping to alleviate her headache.  It only made it worse.   "So, still hate me?  Want to follow through on my request there, B?  God knows I need an easy way out.  I'm so sick of running..."

    "No, Faith - that'd just be another way of running away without having to face up to anything.  You don't like facing up to things.  And now your soul's telling you to, you're hurting inside, and you have to face up to all the stuff you've pulled.  You can't but you have to.  You won't run away this time, Faith, to leave us with the mess you've left.  You get a mop and clean it up yourself."

    "And what makes you the authority on what I feel?"

    Buffy looked at Faith, debating what to say.  She wanted to tell her how much she'd missed her, how she regretted everything that had happened, how Eliza was right and they were more alike than Buffy thought.  Instead, all that came out was a curt, sarcastic comment.

    "Just a lucky guess, Faith.  Start cleanin'."

    Buffy could have kicked herself for what she'd said.  "Ugh, why do I have to be so bitchy to her?"  she wondered to herself.  "I guess we just bring out the best in each other."

    Faith rolled over on the couch, facing away from Buffy.  "C'mon, B.  It'd be quick, and it doesn't hurt that much, really.  It hurts a hell of a lot less than what I feel right now.  Remorse isn't something I've felt for a while.  I was too busy trying to screw up your life."

    "Uh huh.  Nice to hear you admit to that finally... and just why pick me?"

    "Because you had everything I didn't - friends, a watcher who gave a rat's ass, everything.  And I looked at my past, and I looked at the future, and when I realized that no matter how much we got along, people would still make what we had a competition.  I just decided to do it first, that's all."

    "What did we have?"  Buffy asked, curious as to what Faith would come up with.

   "A slayership, a sisterhood - something that no one else'd have in the history of the world.  I just figured I'd screw it up sooner or later whether I meant to or not, so why not sooner and on purpose."  Faith snuggled into the back of the couch, trying to hide the tears and sobbing.

    Buffy didn't expect to actually ever see Faith cry.  She couldn't deal with her at that moment - she needed some thinking time.  Buffy sighed.  "Faith, even if people around up were trying to make this into a competition, it wasn't with me - we could have kicked some major ass had you not wigged out.  But you wigged, and now I've gotta walk.  See you around, Faith."  Buffy got up and left the room, going downstairs to Eliza and Angel.


Chapter 20:
    "So, how is she?"  Angel asked, as he saw Buffy coming down the stairs.

    "Nuts.  I think she might be feeling pangs of something.  What, I don't know.  I just don't like the way she's making me feel.  The only other person who can make me feel this uncomfortable's you."

    Angel ignored Buffy's last comment and handed her a piece of paper.  "This is about that demon who attacked you.  He's not from around this part - seems that he was brought here.  They don't travel much.  My guess is that it was an attempted hit to make up for something gone bad."

    "Uh huh... well, is that the only one?"

    "Don't know,"  Eliza chimed in.  "But it might be a good idea to keep someone upstairs with Faith just in case it's Wolfram & Hart trying to get rid of a mistake."

    "I'm sensing a mistake upstairs right now,"  Angel said, looking up.  The three of them ran to the elevator and went upsatairs.

  "Hey, guys,"  Faith called.  "Looks like the blue meanie has a brother.  And he's kicking my ass.  Could you lend me a hand?"  The creature glanced at Buffy as she approached him.

    "Hey, you.  Could you leave her alone, huh?  Kicking her ass is reserved for me."  Buffy braced herself for the charge - the demon was thinking about coming her way, and was staring her down.

    He didn't look the other way, though, to see Eliza with a large ax in her hand.  One swift whack and it was all over.

    "Well, now who's gonna clean this up?"  Eliza asked.  "Angel, your office always looks like a slaughterhouse. Where's your Pine Sol?"

    Buffy looked towards Faith, who she saw was sitting on the ground.  She gave her a quick once over, and saw that there was a great deal of blood on her shirt, and it wasn't the demon's.  She knelt down next to her fellow slayer.

    "Ummmm, Eliza?"  Buffy asked.  "I think we need more than Pine Sol."  Buffy held out her hand, which was coated in Faith's blood.  "You hang in there Faith," Buffy said as she placed her hand back over the gaping wound on Faith's chest.  "Wouldn't want you to get your wish..."

    "Ow, B.  You really want that apology, don't you?   Well, I'm sorry for all the crap I've caused you. Figrued I'd get that out before I croaked.  Now I can die and spend eternity in hell, but be only slightly less tortured."  Faith coughed and closed her eyes, her breathing labored.

    "No, Faith.  I wouldn't want you to get your wish because I want you back.  I want to fight with you, but not with you, you know?  We work much better together than apart."  Buffy scooted closer to Faith and pulled her tight to her, trying to keep her warm.

Chapter 21:

     "Oh, God!"  Cordelia snapped into action as she ran up the stairs, alerted by the noise. Wesley prefered to stay put.  "We've got to call 911."

    Angel looked her way.  "But they'll arrest her," he said, pointing at Faith, "and how can we explain how she got wounded?"

    "Umm, we can start with *that*,"  Cordelia pointed at the dead blueish thing on the floor.  "And anyway - what does it matter?  They can help her - she'll die here if we don't call them."

    What Cordelia said dawned on Angel.  "Fine, then - go ahead and call."

    "Don't bother," they heard Faith whisper.

    "Now, don't say that,"  Buffy said as she kept pressing her hand on Faith's wound.

    "Ow?  A towel'd be nice.  Your bare hand's kinda hurting me."  Faith smiled despite the obvious pain that she was in.

    "Oh!  Right!  Could someone..."  Eliza handed one to her and Buffy placed it over Faith's chest.  "Faith, I'm so-"

    "No.  You don't have anything to be sorry for - you were just doing what you're supposed to do, that's all.  I'm the one who screwed it up, chose the Dark Side.  Just call me Darth Slayer.  Hey, B - I realized something."


    "That day in your shoes?  I always wanted to be you, but when I was you... it just made me hate myself more.  I realize why you hate me so much now... but I really don't want to be you either."

    Buffy shifted uncomfortably when Faith mentioned why Buffy hated her, but she dodged the subject.  "Why?"

    Faith could tell that she was making Buffy uncomfortable, and decided to make her last look at Buffy's face a pleasant one.  She made her last attempt at a joke.  "You don't look as good in leather pants as I do."

    The blonde slayer smiled.  "I don't hate you... anymore."

    Faith never heard her.

    Eliza glanced their way, then back at Cordelia.  "It's your turn now," she said.


    "A slayer just died - a new one's been called... and I'm suspecting that she'll be in your watch."

    "Oh, swell."

    Angel was moving toward Buffy, who was still rocking the younger slayer in her arms.  "Buffy, I..."

    "Dammit, all I wanted was some closure!  Every time something happens with us - she wigs out, leaves, whatever, I'm always left hanging in the air.  We never know how we feel - this is almost as bad as us, Angel.  We don't have closure either."  Buffy set Faith down on the floor and stood, falling into Angel's arms.  "Just some closure..."

    Cordelia approached Buffy.  "I know how you feel, Buffy.  I - "

    "No!  How can you know how it feels?  You and Xander?  Broom closet?"  Buffy was yelling through her tears, and through her hurt.

    "Excuse me?"  Cordelia snapped.  "I could give a rat's ass about whatever Xander and I had.  Do you remember that Irish guy who was here last time you came?  Doyle?"


    "Well, notice that he's not here anymore.  He's dead, Buffy.  He died saving an entire boatload of demons, including Angel and myself.  We didn't have closure - he just asked me out on a date like five minutes before he melted before our very eyes.  I never got to tell him I love him.  I wouldn't call that closure."

    "Oh."  Buffy looked away from the crying Cordelia as the paramedics rushed through the door.


Chapter 22:

    Buffy awoke the next morning on Angel's bed.  She rolled over to look at the clock.  "Oh, God - eleven o'clock," she thought to herself.  She got up and got a shower, dressing herself in some of Cordelia's clothes that were accompanied by a note from their owner:  "Here - we had to toss yours.  Hope mine fit.  C".  "God, they fit," Buffy said as she climbed into the elevator to go upstairs.

    She arrived in the offices, amazed - the were as clean as when she arrived. Wesley shuffled papers.  "Ah, good morning, Buffy.  I trust you slept well?"

    "As well as I could have, thanks."  She left out the details of the nightmares she had all night, of blue creatures and blood.  "You clean up fast - do you have Rosie the Robot stored in a closet?"  It was a lame joke, and Wesley could tell.

    "Uh, no - we have Cordelia stored in the closet."  He gestured to his co-worker, who was putting away a mop.

    "Umm, Cordy?  I'm sorry - I was hurt, and upset last night.  I didn't mean to snap like that.  I never realized..."

    "That's ok - I understand."  Cordelia acted very aloof from everyone.

    Eliza sat at the chair facing the desk.  "In case you were wondering, Buffy, the next slayer's been called."  Eliza spun the seat around.  "She'll be 'shipped' to Cordelia within the week, and I might be expected to help out.  This kinda throws the tag-team slaying concept out the window."

    "That's ok,"  Buffy said, looking at the floor where everything happened last night.  "I really only have one thing planned - I've got to find Adam and take him down."

    Angel heard Buffy say this from his office, where he was hiding.  He came into the room.  "That cyborg thing that Eliza told me about?  You're not taking this alone."

    "I have to - no one else is strong enough to fight it."

    "Well, I am.  I'll go with you."

    "Angel - no.  This isn't your fight.  You've said it before - you belong here in LA.  This is your town.  I've got to go it-"

    "Oh no you're not going it alone.  I'm coming with you."  Eliza spoke from behind Buffy.  "In case you've forgotten, I'm a slayer too.  He won't be expecting two of us - I don't even think he knows that I exist.  Two slayers are better than one."

    "Not as good as three, though."  Buffy thought for a moment.  "Fine - we shove out tonight."

    "I want to come.  Maybe Giles and I could work together..."  Cordelia looked pleadingly at Buffy and Eliza.  "I could be an asset... I'm immortal, remember?"

    "But you're needed - "

    Angel cut Wesley off.  "I'm sure we can handle it fine by ourselves here, Wesley.  Cordy can go."

Chapter 23:

    Buffy flew down the highway at 90 MPH.  Eliza stared out the window, and Cordelia grasped the "panic handle" over her head for dear life.  "Umm, Buffy?  You can't drive well, remember?  And you're not clear headed."

    Buffy honked at an old man going 55 and yelled "Move it, you old fart!"

    "God help the cop who pulls you over."  Cordelia sighed, and went back to staring out the window as well.

    "So, what's the plan of attack?"  Eliza asked Buffy.  She wondered to herself if talking to the slayer right now was a good idea, but the silence was driving her nuts.

    "Everyone at Giles house but you, me, and Riley.  They can figure out a binding spell or something, and we'll kick this thing's ass."

    "Wait - you told Angel that no one was strong enough to take it on but us - you just didn't want him and Riley to meet up, huh?  Social awkwardness aside, Angel could really come in handy."

    "He could get hurt.  LA needs him more than I do."  Buffy's red eyes were focused on the road.

    Eliza knew that Buffy didn't want to talk about it.  Personally, she didn't think that Riley was up to the challenge - she liked him, but he was in way over his head.  What he'd experienced before would be nothing like this.  Eliza sat in the darkness of the car for a bit longer.  "It's gonna be late when we get home.  Do you two just want to crash at my place?"

    "Sure," Buffy replied.  "Got to get rested.  Don't want to wait too long, though.  Tomorrow night'd be the best time to spring an attack."

    "Cordy?  You OK with staying at my place?"  Eliza asked her.  All she got was a loud snore from the backseat.  "I'm taking that as a yes.  Oh, look,"  Eliza saw the "Welcome to Sunnydale!" sign.  "We're home.  Let me tell you how to get to my house from here..."


    "Woah!  House my foot - this is a freaking mansion!"  Buffy pulled up to a rather large home situated rather close to the UC Sunnydale campus.  "How come I never noticed it before?"

    "Sometimes you just don't see things 'till they're pointed out to you.  And anyway, it's off the road."

    Buffy parked in Eliza's driveway, the sudden stop jarring Cordelia awake.  "Wha?  Did we just hit something?"

    "No, we're home - grab your stuff out of the back."

    The three women took their bags into the house.  Eliza showed them to their rooms, wished them good night, and settled down to take a brief nap before the sun came up.  She hoped that she could handle Adam, since she knew how horribly Buffy fought when she was upset.  "She's not gonna get over this for a while..." she said aloud before she fell asleep.


Chapter 24:

    "Is that it?  Am I done?"

    Cordelia awoke with a start.  It was that dream again.  She hadn't watched the video with Doyle in it for months, because she dreamed it every night.  But tonight seemed different - he seemed closer, realer to her.  She shook it off, chalking it up to nervousness.  She wasn't prepared to do much of anything - she was worried that she would so something wrong, and what about the Scooby Gang?  They wouldn't accept her open armed back into the fold.  Cordelia rolled over, snuggling the thick comforter around her.  She felt the unmistakeable feeling of someone tucking her into the covers, and she rolled over with a start.  She could have sworn that she saw the outline of a man get up and walk away towards the doorway.  She squinted, and saw that it wasn't just her tired eyes playing tricks on her - there really was a man leaving the room... one with a leather jacket and a horrible wide collar shirt sticking up...

     "Doyle!  Wait!"  Cordelia sprung up and chased after the apparition.  It stopped, and turned. Cordelia braced herself for something horrible, but it wasn't.  It was just Doyle, looking like he always did right down to the annoying, teasing gleam in his eye.

    "'Ello, luv."

    Cordelia looked him right in the eye and said, "You've got some explaining to do, Mister."  With that, she fell into his warm embrace.


    Eliza could feel something in the air that woke her.  It felt like someone was messing with something that shouldn't be messed with, but that was all that she could put her finger on.  She stretched and got out of bed, stepping into her house slippers and slipping her robe around her shoulders.  "I can feel something..."  she sid aloud.  "Something's been opened, and it isn't the fridge.  It's like - "

    She was cut off by a voice behind her.

    "Someone's letting people get what they always wanted - closure.  You can thank the Powers that Be for finally getting off their duffs and doing something - Buffy actually got to them.  Well, her, actually..."

    Eliza recognized the English lilt of that voice, and whirled around.  She was not expecting to see her watcher standing behind her with a warm smile on her face.

    "Oh... my... God."  Eliza stared at her watcher in disbelief.  She didn't look out of place in her 16th century garb at all, but then again, Eliza didn't care.  She was too busy letting it sink in.  "Havvie?  What... how you been?"  It was a clumsy attempt to get a conversation started.

    "I've been... well.  I'm feeling much better now."  She took a step towards her slayer.  "You look good - kept up with the times, haven't you?"

    Eliza smiled at her watcher's equally awkward small talk.  "I *would* look out of place if I were dressed like you are.  I've... I'm sorry.  I really wasn't expecting you to show up. I mean, it's not like I haven't dreamt of this.  I did have something witty to say in case this ever came up, but it seems that all I could come up with was a sharp 'How've you been?'"  Eliza embraced her watcher tightly.  "There are so many things to say.  I'm sorry I didn't save you."

    Ms. Havisham held her tightly.  "It wasn't your fault, I should have known that there was a vampire there.  I never should have let you get turned."

    Eliza looked up at Ms. Havisham.  "It really isn't that bad.  I was always a night person anyway.  And living for so long's given me the chance to meet some of the best people.  I'm a history buff - do you know that I actually was there when the Declaration of Independence was signed?"

    "Really?"  Ms. Havisham looked surprised at her slayer's light attitude, and at her revelation.

    "Well, I was outside... but I was there!  Everything worked out ok, Havvie.  The only thing that didn't was that I failed you - you haven't seen what you wanted to see me do."

    "I've seen plenty - I've seen you help countless people.  Fate's smart, Eliza.  This happened because it was supposed to.  I'm just glad that I got to talk to you again."

    Eliza broke away gently from her watcher's grasp.  "So, all of Buffy's whining about closure got her and us what we wanted?  It's always funny - her way always works out for everyone."

    "I suppose it does - Cordelia is getting to see Doyle one last time, and you get to see me."  Ms. Havisham smiled wanly.  "But Buffy doesn't get her closure quite yet.  Part of hers will come shortly, and the other part she can never have."


    "Yes... I'm really sorry she has to go through this, but I think she knows that they'll never have closure..."  Ms. Havisham looked at the wall clock.  "You should get some rest.  You have a big day tomorrow.  Be careful, won't you?  I don't want you to get staked.  I want to see you again, but not quite this soon, all right?"

    Eliza hugged her watcher one last time.  "All right... I'll try to stay out of trouble."  Ms. Havisham disappeared in her grasp.


    Cordelia couldn't take her eyes off Doyle.  "I - I can't believe this.  You're back."  She stepped away from him, still grasping his arms, not wanting to let go, lest he disappear.

    "I can't stay, though.  I'm here just long enough to tell you everything I didn't get the chance to say while I was alive.  But, you can thank Buffy for this.  Her want for closure struck a nerve with one of tha' Powers.  Just don't tell her - her closure'll come a tad later."

    "Ok, I won't tell her.  Doyle?"

    "Yeah, luv?"

    "I wanted to tell you that I miss you.  I mean, really miss you.  Wesley's sweet and nice to have around, but he's not nearly as annoying as you are. I mean - "

    Doyle smiled at Cordy's slip up.  "I know what you mean.  In a cute half-demon way, right?"

    "No - in a boyfriend-y sweet guy kinda way.  Angel misses you too."

    Doyle blushed.  "Tell him I'm doin' ok, and to stop blaming himself, even though that's what he's best at.  He's doin' a great job savin' people.  That's what he was put here for.  That's what you were put here for.  I'm proud of you, 'Delia.  You're gonna make a great watcher.  And I'll always be here, you know that?"  He blinked back tears.  "I know it's cliché to say, but I'll always be a part of you."  He placed her hand over his heart.

    "Duh.  I've got your visions,"  Cordelia said, not totally missing the point.  She hoped her joke would mahe him smile, and she wasn't disappointed.  "I want you always to be here with me.  It gets lonely sometimes without you.  Maybe you and Dennis could become drinking buddies?"  She smiled, hoping that she could strike a deal, but she realized that Doyle wasn't the one that she should be bargaining with.  Her face fell.

    "Don't think the Powers'd like that much.  Cordy, Princess, I've got to go.  I love you, you know that?"

    Cordelia nodded.  "I love you too."

    Doyle gave her a wink and a smile and walked out of the room, fading as he went.

Chapter 25:

    The next night, the entire Scooby Gang were assembled in Giles' living room. Xander and Cordelia weren't thrilled to see each other, Anya wasn't thrilled to see Cordelia, and Buffy was still noticeably shocked at Willow and Tara's relationship.  The atmosphere was awkward at best.  Everyone was tense, Riley, Buffy, and Eliza most of all.

    "I really don't want you guys to go, ok?"  Buffy was beginning to get impatient with Willow and Xander.  "You don't need to get hurt - you're not equipped to handle this. You can't fight like we can."

    "Buffy, we're not gonna let you get killed,"  Xander almost shouted.

    "Yeah, well, I could do without two dead best friends right now, ok?  Just stay here and figure out some sort of binding something to help us.  It'd be safer. Tara's pretty good, right?"  Buffy winced at her phrasing.  "I mean, with the spells and stuff?"
    Tara nodded in the background.  "Yeah, I guess so."

    Willow chimed in,  "She's really powerful.  I'm sure that with Giles we can think of something.  Cordy can help, right?"

    "Umm, yeah,"  Cordelia looked up from a book written entirely in Latin.  Giles rubbed his head and took another drink of brandy.  Buffy saw this, and smiled.

    "Could someone think of a way to find this thing?"  Eliza said.

    Almost on cue a radio of Riley's went off.  "Oh my God..." a fuzzy voice said.  "Adam's here - watch out!  That arm of his'll... dammit!"

    "He's at HQ."  Riley got up and grabbed his taser thing.  "We've got to infiltrate.  I'm sure my clearance still works."

    "Buffy!" Willow called out to her friend.


    "Be careful."

    "I will.  You guys do good!  Giles - keep your cool, OK?"

    "Mmm hmm... I'll try to help her as much as I can.  I do believe I'm running out of brandy..."


    Riley and the two watchers came out of the elevator and right into the thick of things.  Adam stopped fighting a soldier by breaking his neck, and began walking towards the slayer.  He looked at Riley.  "I knew this would grab your attention, coming home and all.  Just wanted to see Mother and my new brother."

    Riley cocked his head in confusion.  "Professor Walsh is dead."

    "Not if they have their way.  Come."

    For some reason, and much to Buffy and Eliza's trepidation, they followed Adam into a rather large room.  Professor Walsh was in a casing filled with liquid, tubes and wires coming out of her.

    "Ugh.  I guess I'll never joke about the anatomy teacher being pickled in formaldehyde again."  Buffy shivered, and then caught something out of the corner of her eye.  "Forrest?"

    Riley snapped around.  "Forrest?  But you're dead, aren't you?"

    "Yes.  But I'm better than ever."  He picked up Buffy and flung her across the room.

    "You're just like him,"  Riley said, gesturing towards Adam.  He saw the demon parts stitched to what was once his best friend.  He winced.  "I'm gonna have to take you down, soldier."

    Riley charged Forrest, who punched him in the side of the head, knocking him down.  Riley sprung to his feet, sweaping Forrest off his as he did so.  Adam looked on at the battle in amusement, Eliza in concern.  Riley was losing horribly, with Forrest landing most of the hits.  When Riley did connect, it didn't seem like it phased him at all.

    "Dammit!"  Riley shouted as yet another punch connected but failed to work.

    Eliza thought for a second.  "What about that big-ass bag that Xander gave me?  What's in here, anyway?"  She opened it and went through it quickly, looking for something big and sharp.  "Oooo, a mini-ax!  How cute.  Seems I've been using a lot of these recently."  She grabbed it tightly, and when Forrest was distracted by Riley, she gave the former-Marine a swift chop to the circuits in the back of the neck.  Forrest turned slowly, and Eliza slammed the ax into the panel on his chest as hard as possible, then following through with a strong chop to the neck again, completely severing his head.

    "Woah."  Riley stood there staring at the panting slayer. "That was impressive."

    "See?  Fancy stuff isn't always the best.  Sometimes it's the old weapons that work better."

    Buffy stood shakily.  "Riley!  Look out!"

    Riley jumped out of the way of Adam's powerful stake-arm in the nick of time.  "Woah!  Someone's cranky.  Got another ax, Eliza?"

    She opened the bag and dumped it out.  "Looks like Xander has ESP.  Got two more."  She gave the axes to Buffy and Riley.  "Just be careful and don't get too close to him."

    The three of them circled Adam.  "You don't think that you can outmaneuver me, do you?"  Adam seemed as amused as he could possibly be by the possibility of these three humans getting the best of him.

    "Domo oregato, Mr. Roboto,"  Buffy said, swinging the ax at the power cord that ran to Professor Walsh's tank.  The chink of the ax against the metal distracted Adam long enough for Riley to take a chop at the back of Adam, while Eliza nailed the front of him.  It shocked Adam, but didn't slow him enough to get the final blow in.  He knocked Riley aside, and stabbed Eliza through the stomach with his spike.  "Shit!"  Buffy yelled, not knowing who to go to first.

    Eliza motioned to Adam's neck with her eyes.  "Go for it, will you?"  Buffy hit Adam several times in the head with her bare fists, and kicked him a few times to confuse him.  He was expecting one last punch, but instead Buffy whopped his head off.

    "Woah.  All that fussing and carnage, and stuff for *that*?  That was easier than the last vamp I staked."

    "Tell me about it,"  Eliza stood up, holding her stomach.  Riley rushed towards her, holding her up.

    "Come on, let's get you back to Giles' place."

    Buffy looked at the room one last time.  "This place needs to be shut down."  A large ringing alarm interrupted her thoughts.  "What the?"

    "Someone must have done something to the power or something,"  Riley explained.  "We better get out of here fast - this place is rigged to shut down if someone tampers with something."

    "Willow!"  Buffy exclaimed.  "She must've found a way to get right into this place's power instead of shutting down the whole city's power."

    "She can do that?"  Riley asked, entering the code on an elevator.

    "Yeah - she's a pretty powerful hacker."

    "Witch, hacker, she can do it all,"  Riley said, as the elevator opened and they stepped out.

    "She sure can,"  Buffy agreed.

    "Ow."  It was all Eliza could say.


Chapter 26:
    It was several hours later.  Willow had explained how she and Tara had binded Adam to make him less powerful.  Buffy was growing more and more impressed with Tara every day.  Eliza'd been mended the best that Willow and Cordelia could and was back at her house with Cordy.  Willow was asleep in Tara's dorm room, and Xander and Anya had gone back to his basement.  Buffy and Riley were in her room, talking.

    "I just still can't understand any of what's happened in the past five months - it's all such a blur."

    "Well,"  Buffy tried to explain.  "You hooked up with me, weird stuff happened, and you dealt.  No biggie."

    "No biggie?  I committed treason by leaving the Initiative, not to mention lost my mentor and my best friend.  This is too much to handle."  Riley held his head in his hands, too confused to look at Buffy.

    "You're saying this *now*?"  Buffy looked at her boyfriend in disbelief.  "Wasn't it too much to handle a long time ago?  I'm used to weird stuff, and I was getting strained.  You're commando guy."

    "You're stronger than I am, Buffy.  You're used to this.  I didn't enjoy having a friend die."

    "You?  I've had more than one die.  Hello?  Graduation, anyone?  Riley, it happens.  It hurts - it tears you up inside, but it happens."

    "It doesn't happen where I'm from - not like this."

    "Then why don't you just go back to Iowa.  Go eat some corn, and look at some covered bridges.  Have a blast.  Leave reality for a cow."  Buffy regretted what she said the second the words came out of her mouth.  "God, Buffy - two for two. Who else are you gonna drive away next?" she thought, mentally kicking herself.

    "You know, maybe I will, Buffy.  Go and sort some stuff out.  I'll see you in the fall.  Have a good summer."  Riley got up and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him, leaving Buffy staring at it in shock.

    "That went well,"  Buffy sighed to herself.  "I just don't mix with the men that I love."  Buffy grabbed onto her pillow and snuggled into it, looking at Willow's empty bed.

Chapter 27:

    Buffy was dreaming.

    She was back in Angel's apartment, fighting the demon that she had a week previously.  She could feel herself losing to this thing again.  In a flash she could see Faith running for it with a knife, and then she could see that thing take a swipe at her fellow slayer.  In a scenario that could only happen in a dream, she could see blood totally caked over her, and she could not get it off.  She felt guilt and pain, and looked to see Faith white on the ground, with a large gaping hole in her chest.  Buffy moved towards her, picking her up.  "I've gotta fix this,"  she said, pressing down on the wound.  "Gotta make you better, gotta-"

    Buffy awoke with a start.  "Dammit!"  She could feel the sweat on her forehead, and she wiped it away.  She took a quick look at her hands.  "Oh, good, the Lady Macbeth complex didn't carry over," she thought to herself, though she never really expected to see blood on her hands.  She'd dreamed this dream many times in the week that had passed between Faith's death.  She was upset - despite how well she and her friends worked together defeating Adam, they'd continued to grow apart.  Riley was still in Iowa, and with the new slayer being called, Eliza was back in LA with Cordelia.  Buffy snuggled up to Mr. Gordo and stared at Willow's empty bed.  She was off with Tara practicing magik, or something to that effect.  Willow, her best friend, was too busy to even stay in her dorm room.  "It's just a... thing..." Buffy thought before she closed her eyes for the sleep that she was half-dreading.  She was tired of having the same dream about Faith. "Why can't we just have some quiet time,"  Buffy wondered aloud before she drifted off again.

    Fifteen minutes or so later, Buffy awoke again.  Instead of the usual feeling of trepidation that she felt upon awaking with a start, she felt a sense of calm around the room.  "Something is so not right," Buffy said, knowing that peace and calm just didn't mingle well with the Hellmouth.  "Maybe if I close my eyes, it'll go away."

    "Why'd you want it to, B?"

    Buffy jumped straight up in bed. "Who's there?"

    She saw a shape step out of the shadows, walking towards her bed.  Buffy assumed a fighting stance instinctively.

    "Um, B?  You do realize that's a stuffed pig and not a weapon, right?"

    Buffy looked at the pig in her hand.  "Umm, right.  Who are..."  She saw the figure step into the light that Buffy had just turned on.  "Faith?"

    "In the, uh, flesh."  A wide smile spread across the younger slayer's face.  "Cordy and Eliza got some sort of closure, so the Powers decided that it was your turn now.  Seems like you need some sort of cheering up here.  Now you know how I always felt."  Faith sat down on the bed next to Buffy, looking her right in the eye.

    "What?  Now I know how you felt...?"

    "Alone."  Faith looked at her swinging feet.  "I know that most of that was my fault... I brought it upon myself.  But I always felt lonely, ever since I was a little kid.  Mom was a drunk, Dad was, uh... he was.  Even when I found the Scooby gang I felt alone - I knew that none of them really liked me, they liked my bad-ass stories.  I knew that I was always just gonna be second best.  The only person that I never felt lonely around was you, B.  You were the only one who accepted me for me, and not for my wild stuff."  Faith looked at Buffy, who glanced away uncomfortably.  "I know that you don't want to hear how you pushed me to go bonkers, and I won't tell you that, because that isn't the truth.  Well, maybe a little, but it was always in me.  Some people just trip over that fine line.  I just have a bad habit of tripping back and forth.  Tripping the line fantastic..."  Faith smiled at her own pun.  "I just want you to realize that I'm sorry... but if you don't want to forgive me, that's all right.  The Powers warned me that you probably wouldn't."

    Buffy looked at her fellow slayer.  She looked exactly the same as she did the day that she had died, right down to the wound on her chest.  "Faith, you're bleeding..."  Buffy reached for Faith who pulled away.

    "Yeah, that old thing.  It's supposed to be there until I redeem myself. Powers never told me how to do that, though.  It's just a constant reminder of how badly I screwed up."

    "Does it still hurt?"  Buffy was concerned.  "Oh, great.  Now I'm making her afterlife hard, too," she thought.

    "Like hell."

    "Faith... you tried really hard to ruin my life.  Damn hard.  And I hated you for it, and I still do.  But I just hate that one part of you.  I - I've been thinking.  I remember in the church when you were royally kicking my ass that you kept calling me disgusting every time you hit me.  I always thought that was you blitzing out again, but I realized that we were still in each other's bodies, and that you were calling yourself disguising.  I was just so mad that I never realized it.  It took you actually getting that apology out, and then dying, for me to realize something.  I told you this, but you never heard me, because I have horrible timing.  Faith, I don't hate you anymore.   That whole time you were working for the Mayor, I did, but I still missed you like you were before."  Buffy blinked back tears.  "We had fun together.  I mean, yeah, we're really different, but opposites attract, right?"  She smiled.

    "Right,"  Faith smiled back, then stood as though to go.

    "Wait, Faith,"  Buffy said, standing as well.  She walked over to the younger slayer and hugged her unexpectedly.

    "Owww, Oh God..."

    Buffy pulled away.  "Faith?  I didn't know that... I forgot about the wound.  I didn't mean to hug you so hard."  Buffy then glanced down to Faith's chest and noticed that the wound had closed a little.  "Woah - on the self healing plan?"

    "I guess I kinda redeemed myself a little,"  Faith followed Buffy's eyes.  She smiled.  "Now if you're done feeling me up, I - "

    Buffy hugged her again, tighter this time.  Faith winced in pain.  "Ow, B!  I was into a lot of things, but never S&M."  She looked down at her chest again, noticing that the wound was closing more.  "Ohhh, I understand,"  Faith said as reality dawned on her.  Buffy hugged her once more, and Faith grew weaker.  "B, you're starting to hurt not help..."  Her voice drained and Faith sank into Buffy's arms.

    "Oh no!  I killed her again!"  Buffy cried as she realized what had happened.  She drug Faith over to her bed and laid her down, looking at her worriedly.  She heaved a sigh of relief when Faith opened her eyes.

    "Woah, looks like I'm all nice and redeemed.  Weird that both my corruption and redemption were based in you, huh?"  Faith saw Buffy's raised eyebrow at her fellow slayer's words.  "Sorry... hanging out with the Powers can do that to a gal."

    "Naah, not weird at all.  Not weird considering all the stuff that's went down here recently."  Buffy sat on the bed next to Faith.  "Body switching, demon-human hybrids, Spike being a tame puppy, Willow going all... you know.  Not that there's a problem with that, or anything."  Buffy tried to cover up her last comment.

    "Watching Seinfeld again, B?" Faith sat up and smiled at Buffy.

    "Naah... it's just taking me a while to get used to it, that's all.  It just seems so random, you know?"

    "Yeah.  Myself, I go for purely platonic relationships with gals.  Guys, well... you know how I am with them."

    "Uh huh.  Slaying still make you hungry and horny?"  Buffy asked.

    "You betcha.  Got something in mind?"  Faith asked with a wink and a click of the tongue.

    "Ummm... yeah.  I've got some fat-free yogurt in the fridge.  Let me get dressed - we've got some patrolling to do."

    "Ooooh, haven't done that in a while,"  Faith said as she watched Buffy grab a pair of tight red pants out of a drawer.  "Still not wearing normal clothes, huh?"

    "Hey, watch it,"  Buffy called as she went to the other room of the dorm room.  "We're going to the Bronze afterwards.  Got to get your horniness worked out of you somehow.  I'm satisfied with the yogurt myself."

    "Are they still open?"

    Buffy stepped out fully dressed and running a brush through her hair.  "It's only eleven,"  she said, gesturing towards the clock.  "They'll be open for a while.  It's Friday night."  Buffy pulled out her weapons, and handed Faith a few stakes and a crossbow.

    "I've missed this," Faith said, fingering the crossbow.

    "Not from what I've heard from Angel you haven't,"  Buffy quipped back.

    "Not the crossbow.  You."

    Buffy looked surprised.  "Me?"

    "Yeah - the slaying, and the other stuff.  I'm glad I'm back."  Faith smiled at Buffy, and stood next to her.

    "So am I."  Faith and Buffy grabbed their weapons, and headed out the door.


Chapter 28:
    The two slayers had a rather productive night of slaying.  When they returned to the dorm after their visit to the Bronze, they recounted that night's tally.

    "Well,  I got three.  How many did you get, Faith?" she puffed.   Buffy was out of breath from dancing at the Bronze - it was the first time in a while that she'd danced that hard, not even with Riley.

    "I got a number.  Funny how not starting a fight actually attracts guys."

    "I didn't mean guys, Faith," Buffy said, rolling her eyes at her fellow slayer's old habits.  "I meant vamps."

    "Oh, four.  You know, I really enjoyed myself tonight."

    "You do realize that slaying isn't supposed to be fun, right?"  Buffy questioned Faith, knowing that she was asking something that'd been asked a hundred times before.

    "Well, I've never really realized that, B.  But what I mean was, it was fun working with you.  Tag team's back again."  Faith opened the fridge.  "Where's that yogurt?"

    "On the door,"  Buffy said, putting her weapons away.  "How long do you think that the Powers'll let you stay?"

    "What?  Oh, I don't know... never thought about it.  Forever, I hope.  Where's your spoons?"

    "Second drawer on the right.  Faith, for once in your life, or whatever, be serious."

    "I am.  I really hope they let me stay forever."  She handed Buffy a yogurt and a spoon.  "I know you don't really need me here or anything, being the 'chosen one' and all, but I like slaying with you."

    "Don't need you here?  Umm, Faith, as of right now, you're the only person that I think I can count on. Believe me, I need you here."  Buffy sat on her bed with a thud.  Faith sat beside her.

    She looked shocked that Buffy would admit to needing her.  She never thought that slayers needed anyone before...  "Really?"

    "You don't learn fast, do you?  We've got that slayer bond, you know?  No one can touch what we can to together, or apart.  Two slayers are better than one."

    "Yeah, but now we've got four of them."

    "Well, we're still the two that the baddie's are gonna fear the most.  And you've got the added bonus of having normal people fear you too."

    Faith smiled at Buffy's joke.  "You don't fear me anymore, do you?"

    "Never did.  Well, maybe a little, but... nothing big."   Buffy tossed her yogurt container at the garbage can, missing totally.  Faith did the same, but hit her mark.  Buffy leaned over to her fellow slayer and rested her head on her shoulder.  Faith was taken aback, but relaxed.  "We're in this for the long haul,"  Buffy said, closing her eyes.  "Let's make the most of it, huh?"

    Faith glanced at Buffy.  "Huh?"

    "We've got to keep our minds clear - no more fighting between each other, ok?"

    "No prob,"  Faith said, closing her eyes as well.  "I'll be a Casper."

    "Casper?"  Buffy asked from behind a yawn.

    "A friendly ghost."  Faith smiled, and the two of them settled down to watch late-night re-runs of the Tonight Show.

Chapter 29:

    A few days later, Angel and Eliza were taking a patrolling walk along the streets outside his building.  Angel was brooding a bit more than normal.

    "What's wrong?"  Eliza asked the vampire, then she felt it too.  "Someone's here."

    Angel looked around the two of them.  "Someone is here... get ready for the usual slayer's welcome, Eliza."

    The two vampires braced themselves for the attack.  Suddenly a girl came out of the alley - she had to have been no more than sixteen, with long brown hair.  "Oooh, what's this?  You two hooked up or something?"  She beckoned the pair closer.  "Let's see what you're made of."

    "Seems that the Council didn't bother to de-brief her,"  Angel noted.

    "Of course not.  She's gonna be very mad when she realized that her colleagues kicked the crap out of her."  Angel and Eliza approached the girl.

    "Hey, I know who you are,"  Angel said, approaching her and holding out his hand.  "You're the new slayer, right?  Here to see Cordelia Chase?  I'm Angel - I'm her boss.  Calm down and drop the stake, OK?"

    Instead of dropping it, she ran full throttle at Eliza, who was forced to kick it out of her hand.  "I'm a friend of your new watcher's, too,"  Eliza offered, blocking more punches from the girl.  "Good God, stop!"  Eliza hit her in the throat, causing her to drop to the ground.  "I know who you are.  You're Mary Elizabeth Stuart, age sixteen, from Spokane."  The girl looked up in shock, still trying to catch her breath.  "You're a slayer, called upon the death of Faith..."  Eliza's thoughts stuck trying to remember Faith's last name.  "...Of Faith,"  she continued.  "Your watcher is Cordelia Chase, and right next to you is the office building where we all work.  Oh, silly me,"  Eliza offered her hand, helping the slayer up, "I'm Eliza, the immortal slayer.  This is Angel.  Yes, we're vampires, but we both have souls.  I never use my 'game face,' and he only uses his when really necessary, so there's nothing to be afraid of."

    "Nothing... to be... afraid... of?"  the girl asked in short gasps.  "You... just pun...ched me in the throat."

    "Self defense.  I apologize.  Come on upstairs, I'll get you something to drink."  Eliza and Angel led Mary to Angel's office.


    Cordelia sat at her desk, engrossed in the website she was looking at. "Ewwwww, they keep saints out in the open?  Gross!  Oh, hey, you two... three."  She motioned Angel over.  "Who's the girl?"

    Angel looked over Cordelia's shoulder at the website she was at.  "Find-a-grave.com?  Doing research still?  Oh, she's yours."

    "Mine?  Uhh, Angel, I've just graduated high school, so she is *not* mine. Unless I was a two year old hooker."

    Angel rolled his eyes and watched Eliza get the young slayer a cup of water.  "No, not like that.  She's the slayer."

    Cordelia bounded up out of her chair.  "What?  Here?  Now?   I'm not prepared to..."

    Angel looked her straight in the eyes.  "I know, but you'll get better over time, and she does know some stuff already.  I'll watch out for both of you and so will Eliza while you get your bearings.  Wesley might be able to help too.  Don't worry."

    "'Wesley helping' and 'don't worry' in one breath?  Impossible."  Cordelia flipped back an errant hair back behind her ear.  She walked over to where Eliza was standing and raised an eyebrow.

    "She might be having speaking problems,"  Eliza explained.  "Angel and I got the god ol' fashioned slayer's welcome of stake and ask questions later. She's all yours."  Eliza walked away from the two.



Chapter 30:
    Cordelia yawned after her conversation with her new ward.  Mary was so... rebellious and young.  Cordelia looked at her, then at Angel, Wesley, and Eliza.  She stood up, and said, "Eliza?  Could I talk to you for a second?"

    "Sure thing," the vampire stood.  "Excuse us for a moment."

    The two women walked out of Angel's office and into the hallway.  Eliza rummaged through the doughnut box, hoping to find a leftover maple.  All that was there were glazed.

    "Umm, hello?"  Cordelia looked at Eliza, annoyed.  Eliza looked at Cordelia, peeved.

    "No maple?"

    "No.  Listen, I am *so* not ready for this.  Help me."

    "Sure thing?  Need help with the training?"

    "No, the controlling.  This kid'll never read that damn slayer's handbook unless we strap her to a chair and force-feed her ritalin.  I have never heard so many four letter words in my life.  I think that after Buffy, everything went downhill for the Counsel's common sense.   This is like Faith all over again.  You know, they know there are two slayers out there. When Faith died, they should have just not called one up again."

    "Common sense isn't really their strong point.  But don't worry - you'll grow to love and protect her."

    "How can you be so sure?"  an incredulous Cordelia asked.

    "It's your job, you know."


    "Oh, now, come on.  I'll give you a hand when you need it, and all it'll take is for Angel to get mad and wig out a few times, and she'll fall in line."

    Cordelia raised her eyebrows.  "But she's a slayer.  She could do some damage to both of you guys.  I don't think I like this arrangement much."

    Eliza was shocked at Cordelia's statement.  "You mean you'd be upset if anything happened to Angel or myself?"

    "Well, as annoying as you both are, you make life a little more interesting.  That, and Angel signs my checks."

    Eliza chuckled at Cordelia, and the two women walked back into Angel's office for round two with the young slayer.

Chapter 31:

    Buffy and Faith sat on the bed in Faith's apartment in total silence, watching Animaniacs on Cartoon Network.  "Ever noticed how that one sounds like Ringo?"  Faith asked, finally ending the verbal truce.

    "Huh?  Oh, yeah.  You seen the episode where they rag on A Hard Day's Night? Classic.  I really don't think this show was written for kids."  Buffy never took her eyes off the tv set.

    Neither did Faith.  Neither one of them wanted to address the question that had been bothering them for the past few days.  Finally, when the show ended, Faith reached over to the remote control and flipped the TV off.  "Isn't it amazing that I still have the apartment?  It's almost like the mayor knew that I was gonna wake up one day."

    "Well, he was a demon... he probably had some psychic power or something.  I have to admit I'm impressed at his foresight, and taking care of you, and everything."

    "Yeah."  Faith shifted on the bed, obviously uncomfortable at talking about the mayor.  "So, when you gonna tell your friends that I'm back?"  Faith asked, looking at Buffy.  "I don't think they'll take it too well.  You know, I almost killed most of them, and they probably won't accept the idea of a 'new and improved' Faith."  She flipped her hair back behind her ears.

    "Well we haven't talked about what went on in LA.  I never really wanted to, and we've been so busy with other stuff that we haven't really talked much.  I still love them, but, well, you know.  It's been hard, and it's partly been my fault.  I've been so into Riley that I haven't noticed anything but him."  Buffy looked at her shoes.

    "Maybe you should work things out with them first.  So they don't think you've just replaced Riley with me and that you're still shutting them out.  Commando-beefstick for Psycho-slayer isn't a great trade off."  Faith realized a little too late what her words sounded like, and looked nervously at Buffy's shoes as well.  "Pink's a nice color for you, you know?"

    "Huh?  Yeah, I do wear it a bit much, don't I?"  Buffy smiled the first non cartoon related smile of the evening.  "Hey, you want to go patrol?"

    "Maybe later, B.  It's still early."  Faith looked at her alarm clock that read eight o'clock.  "You call a Scooby Meeting and talk to your friends.  They need to hear it.  I'll be here for a while,"  she said, reaching for the remote again.

    Buffy got up off the bed.  She grabbed her purse and opened the door, with a backwards look at Faith.  "You sure you don't wanna come with?"

    "Naah, B.  This is between you and your friends.  I'll be here when you want to go patrol.  I really don't think they need a group hug and me all in one sitting.  Too much sweetness and light."

    Buffy smiled, opened the door, and said, "I'll be back in a bit, Faith.  And tonight?  Wear some comfortable slaying shoes, k?  I don't want to hear you complain about them being too tight."  With that, Buffy left to head off to Giles'.

    Faith flipped back on the TV to see that the Powerpuff Girls were on.  She watched for five minutes, and decided to turn off the TV.  It was a repeat anyway, and Faith had things to think about.


Chapter 32:
    A half-hour later, the complete Scooby gang (with new addition Tara) were seated in Giles' living room.  They were curious as to why they were there, and as usual, Xander stated his curiosity plainly.

    "Buffy, what's up?  Anythin' goin' down?  You didn't need our help with Adam, why would you need it now?"

    Buffy turned away from Giles' books to look at her friend.  "You'll be the one going down, if you keep up that attitude."

    "Oh, he already does that," Anya said, being usually oblivious to the fact that the bedroom was a private space.  Xander buried his head in his hands and sighed.

    Buffy didn't notice Anya's comment, or if she did, she didn't care.  "*That's* what needs to be fixed around here - everyone's attitudes.  Mine too.  What's wrong with us?"  Buffy asked her friends, getting no answer, not that one was expected.  "Why are we growing apart?"

    "Natural progression?"  Willow offered, not really satisfied with her response.  "I mean, people grow apart after high school.. oh, no.  We're not growing apart, are we?  This is fixable, right?"  Willow began babbling.  "We've been through so much - Master, demons, Adam, Amy-rat, school blowing-uppings..."

    Xander stopped her babble-fest before it could get too bad.  "We can't just go our separate ways, can we?"

    Buffy looked at the group that was assembled.  "We're doing that now.  You have Anya, Willow has... Tara, I have, well had, Riley."

    "So all this is just relationship stuff?"  Xander asked.  "Then it's fixable."

    "You're not dumping me,"  Anya said.  It was a statement of fact.

    "No dumpings," Buffy said, doing her best to put her foot down.  "We've all had relationships before.  We've just got to learn to have relationships and us, ok?  We can do this.  I don't want college stuff bringing down four years of kicking demon ass together."  Buffy sat down on the arm of the couch next to Willow.  "All for one and one for all?"  she asked, a hopeful smile on her face.

    "Buffy, one little pow-wow can't fix everything,"  Willow said, looking up at Buffy, "but it's a start.  I promise to be more sensitive of everyone if everyone promises to be more sensitive of everyone.  Got it?"

    Xander looked at Willow and raised his eyebrows.  "There has to be a better way of saying that, but ok.  I'm in.  You feel better Buffy?  Buffy?"  Xander nudged his friend, trying to get her attention.  She was staring out the window, not paying much attention to the conversation at hand.  Xander reached over from the chair he was sitting in and punched her in the thigh.  "Ground control to Major Buffy?"

    "Huh?"  Buffy snapped her head at Xander.

    "You ok?  You seem further out in left field than usual."

    "Yeah, I was just thinking, that's all."  Buffy flipped her hair back out of her eyes.  "So, who's up for pizza?"

    "Oh, no you don't,"  Willow said, wagging a finger at Buffy.

    "No I don't what?  You'd rather order in Chinese?"

    Willow sighed.  "No changing subjects from thinking to food.  Something's bothering you, I can tell.  We're supposed to be growing closer, so spill."  Willow was trying her best to be authoritative, but it wasn't working.  "If you really want to," she added as an afterthought.

    "No, you're right."  Buffy went back to staring out the window.  "I was thinking about what happened in LA, that's all."

    The people in the room stared at each other in silence, no one wanting to press the issue unless Buffy did first.

    "Thank goodness Giles was out shopping for rare books, or else he would have pushed me," Buffy thought as she kept staring.  She breathed in a deep breath, debating if she should tell her friends about Faith.  "Heck, we just had a huge conversation about being truthful and being closer... I have to tell them."  Buffy shifted her weight on the arm of the couch.  "You know what happened to Faith in LA, right?" she asked her friends.  They nodded, not wanting to say anything that could expose their feelings for what happened.  They knew how Buffy felt, and that was enough for them, for now.  Buffy looked at the ceiling, and went on.  "Well, the other night, I had a dream again about her dying, and guilt, and stuff like that.  Well, when I woke up, something was seriously different."
    "What?"  Willow asked, curious.

    "She was there."

    That simple sentence fell like a bar of lead into the room.  Buffy was glad to have it off her chest, but she could see the look of confusion over Willow and Xander's faces, and the impartial look of Anya and Tara's.

    "She was there?  As in there there?"  Xander asked?  "Great, peachy.  One nutcase down," he said, referring to Adam, "another to go.  I swear, if she tried anything on you, I'm gonna... try really hard not to get the crap beaten out of me by her."  Xander stood and began to pace.

    "Xander, calm down,"  Buffy said, standing and guiding her friend back to his place in the chair.  "I didn't tell you guys this, but while I was in LA, right before she died, she... apologized.  Faith changed, guys."

    "Deathbed repentance?"  Xander asked.  "Not the most sincere kind."

    "No, she did it earlier, before that thing attacked her.  Something clicked in her... she's one of us now - again."

    Willow scrunched her nose as she took in what Buffy just said.  "Buffy, you know I trust you.  Are you sure that she isn't going to go all "atomic slut bomb" on us again?"

    Buffy looked at her hands.  "Yeah, something in me's telling me this time, she's staying good.  The Powers that Be'll take care of her, and I'll take care of her.  I'm not gonna make the same mistakes I did last time."  Buffy looked at the clock on the wall.  "Speaking of which, it's time for patrol.  Guys, I need to talk to Faith... you all want to go out for lunch tomorrow or something?"

    "Sure thing, Buff!"  Xander said as Buffy opened the door.  "Food makes Xander happy."

    "Especially whipped cream," Anya noted as Buffy left.

    "Well, not anymore," Xander said, turning a deep shade of red.
Chapter 33:

    Buffy knocked on the door of Faith's apartment.  At Faith's hollered "Come in," Buffy entered.

    "So, how'd the meeting go?"  Faith asked, looking up at Buffy.  "Did you get everything five by five with them?"

    Buffy popped her neck.  "About what?"  She wasn't sure if Faith meant about the communication breakdown or herself.

    "Whatever you talked about," Faith said.  She held herself back a bit, though, adding "if you want to tell me."  Faith thought to herself "God, Faith - she hasn't been talking to her friends hardly at all.  Why the hell would she want to open up to you?"

    Buffy sat on the bed next to Faith.  "Yeah, I think we got things ok.  Like Will said, one little meeting can't make everything perfect, but I think it's a start.  Just gotta focus on ourselves for a while, and not on extracurricular things."

    Faith's face fell when she heard the phrase "extracurricular."  "See, Faith?" she thought again.  "No room for you in the inn - time to stay in the barn."

    Buffy caught Faith's expression.  Laying her hand on Faith's arm, she said "I think I've got them settled with you, too."  Faith looked up, and Buffy continued before she could say anything.  "I told them that you're back, and that I trust you... Willow's fine with everything - I think, Xander's, well, Xander's himself, and everyone else just kinda gave me no reaction whatsoever.  I think that they'll be cool with it, not that they have a choice, or anything."  Buffy took a breath.  "I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, Faith.  I know that you won't do anything.  I trust you."

    The other slayer looked at Buffy, somehow keeping her emotions in check.  "She trusts me... gives me the benefit of the doubt..."  Faith looked at her friend and just said a simple "Thanks, Buffy."

    "Woah - used the whole name, Faith,"  Buffy said, a bit in shock.  Buffy knew that what Faith was thinking was heavy by the fact that Faith only used her full name when she was serious.   "God, if she holds whatever she's feeling in any more, she's gonna implode,"  Buffy thought to herself, embracing the younger slayer.  "Why don't you just say what you feel?"  she asked Faith.

    "Since you're here, B," Faith said, the light coming back into her eyes, "you do more than enough for both of us."  Faith broke off the embrace.  "You wanna go out, now?  Time to do some stakin'."

    "Yeah," Buffy said with a smile back at Faith.  "Let's go."  Both women gathered their weapons and headed out.


     The slaying was going slowly.  Buffy and Faith wandered aimlessly through the cemetery, winding their way through headstones and crosses.  Neither slayer made a sound other than clicking stakes and shuffling feet.

    Buffy glanced around the area.  "God, what's up with this?" she thought to herself. "No vamps - maybe it's a sign to get on with that heart-to-heart I've been meaning to have with Faith for the past year."  Buffy shivered as a strong gust of wind blew, making the summer night surprisingly cold.

    Faith glanced over, finally breaking the silence.  "You cold, B?" she asked.  "Here," she said, offering Buffy her jacket.

    "Naah, thanks.  You'll get cold," Buffy said, turning down Faith's offer.  Faith shrugged and put the jacket back on.  They walked on in silence again for another minute or two.  Buffy finally looked at Faith.

    "Hey, um, Faith?"

    "Yeah, um, B?"  Faith asked, gently mocking Buffy's nervousness.  "What's up?"

    "If you don't wanna talk about what I'm gonna ask you, that's fine... but, well, I - "


    "I like to get to know the people I care about, Faith, and I don't know a thing about you."

    "There's not much to know, B.  Just that I had a drunk mom and an abusive dad.  Nothing unusual.  I hauled ass away from them when I was ten or so, and that's when I met up with my watcher.  That's basically that."

    Buffy was taken aback by Faith's casual recounting of her childhood.  They walked onward for a few more minutes, Buffy not wanting to broach any more sensitive subjects.  "God, she shuts herself off from everyone,"  Buffy thought while she and Faith walked.  "Of course, I guess I would too... it'd help me deal, but..."

    "Faith, you've gotta stop with the emotion holding in thing you've got going," Buffy commented to her friend.  "Dammit, thinking out loud again," she thought.

    "Huh?  Oh, yeah, because it'll cause a breakdown?  That I won't be able to handle reality if I shut it out?  Too late, B.  Already happened.  Movin' on."

    The older slayer was taken aback at Faith's curtness, but decided to press further.  "See?  Anger.  What do you think it's from, huh?  It's from that damn barricade of yours.  You shut everything - everyone - out and crawl into some little hole in the ground.  Whenever anyone tries to get close, you push them away."  Buffy thought about Faith's breakdown.  "I got too close, didn't I, Faith?"

     Faith stopped in her tracks, turned, and started walking away from Buffy.  "Yeah, and you're doin' it again."

     Buffy let Faith walk for a little, hoping that she'd turn back.  When it became apparent that she wasn't going to, Buffy walked after her.  She caught up to Faith, and spun her around.

     "What is your deal?"

     "I don't need anyone feeling sorry for me, B, and I can see your patented pity-look."  Faith was kicking herself for talking to Buffy like this, but her auto-pilot was on, and wouldn't be stopped.  "Shit, here I go again," Faith thought.  "Time to further screw over Buffy... shit!  Why can't I just stop?"

     "It's not a pity look, Faith,"  Buffy was saying to her, snapping Faith out of her thought.  "It's that look of concern I give my friends when something's wrong.  You can't keep shutting me out, because I'm just gonna keep coming back knocking until - "

    "I crack?"

    "No, 'till you let me in."  Buffy sighed, not sure where to take the conversation, or the whole evening, for that matter.

    The two stared at each other in silence, until Faith muttered "You're right."  "I can't believe I said that," she thought to herself.  "God, no one can get to me like B can, huh?"

    Buffy scrambled for something to say, since Faith's words weren't the expected ones.  All she could manage was a choked out "Thank you."

    "Don't mention, it, B.  Least I could do for all the shit you've taken from me.  I'm wicked hungry," Faith said, breaking the solemn mood.  "Wanna go grab a burger?"

    "Sure," Buffy replied, eager for the awkwardness to be over.  "My treat, k?"

    "How could I say no?"


Chapter 34:
    Buffy and Faith were on their way back to Faith's apartment.  Not wanting another walk in silence, Buffy again tried to have a conversation with the younger slayer.  "God, I hope she's more rational on a full stomach," Buffy thought.

    "Faith, I... I know that you don't wanna hear this again, but - "

    "Then don't say it again, B," Faith softly said.  "I'm not in a dealing sort of mood right now, all right?  I know that you want to make amends with me, but I thought we already did that."

    "We did, Faith."

    "Then why the hell do you keep pressing the issues, here?"

    "Because you don't press them enough."  Buffy stepped in front of Faith, blocking her path.

    "What - you not gonna let me go until I tell you my life story again?"

    "No, Faith - I'm not gonna let you go until you tell me how you feel about... us."  Buffy took a deep breath.  "I bet she's gonna take that the wrong way," Buffy thought to herself.  "You should have learned by now that phrasing's everything around Faith."

    Faith just stared for a second at Buffy, unsure at just what she meant.  "Uh, we're five by five, B.  Wait - us?  As in...?"

    "Partners."  Buffy mentally slapped herself.  "Dammit - oh for two, Buffy."  Buffy tried to think of a way to rectify her last statement.  "Slaying partners - the Chosen Two.  Faith, can you - "

    "Handle it?  Yeah, B, I did pretty well last time, until that whole killing the dep mayor thing went down, and you, well, you were you, and I... I can't blame you anymore B.  I can deal with the Chosen Two thing.  It's just that slayer bond thing that we have that throws me off.  I'm not used to being in tune with anyone, and it scared me, B.  Still does.  But now that we don't hate each other... I think I'll be ok."

    "We never hated each other, really, did we?"  Buffy and Faith began walking the final block to Faith's apartment.

    "I don't think so,"  Faith replied after a few minutes.  Faith fumbled for her keys.  She dropped them, and Buffy picked them up.  "It's not every day I so subtly give the keys to my apartment to such a beautiful girl,"  Faith said with a grin on her face.  "Wanna come in?"

    Buffy smiled at Faith.  "Hmm... nothing better to do," she teased as she stepped in after Faith, shutting the door behind her.  Before it could shut all the way, however, a large hand stuck itself in.  Buffy jumped back, and both slayers struck a fighting stance.

    A vampire just stood there, looking at the two.  'I have a message for the slayers."

    "Well, get it out before we get it out for you," Faith said, edging towards the fangy brute.

    "You and the Counsel's days are numbered - be careful, and warn your friends in Los Angeles.  The new slayer will be the first to go."  With that, the creature turned to leave.

    Buffy and Faith stood in the doorway, looking after the departing vamp, who for some reason they couldn't bring themselves to stake.  "What the hell was that?"  Faith asked.

    "Wish I knew,"  Buffy replied.  "Come on - let's go find out."  Buffy grabbed Faith by the wrist and led her out.

    "Being drug *out* of my apartment?  I've been drug into it, but..."
Chapter 35:

    In Los Angeles, the mystery of what the vampire said was unraveling.  Through a dangerous ritual, Wolfram and Hart decided to resurrect Darla, Angel's sire, as a means of tempting him back into the darkness.  Unfortunately for them, Darla got tempted instead, albeit unwillingly to return to the vampire that sired Angelus.  With Darla, her sire and grandchilde Drusilla, and a very unruly slayer on their hands, the group in Los Angeles was painfully aware of the possible dangers that Buffy and Faith were just made privy to.  The situation with Mary had grown out of control, with her being more of a wild child than Faith could ever have dreamt of being, she had disappeared from Cordelia's apartment one night, and they had not heard from her in over two weeks.

    Cordelia tapped a pen on the desk in Angel's office, still waiting for a phone call from her charge, one that she knew would be slow in coming, if it came at all.  Wesley blamed her for letting Mary escape, while Eliza knew better - she had seen slayers like Mary come and go, and wild ones such as her needed to be set free.  She had tried to console Cordelia the best that she could on the loss of her ward, but to no avail.  Cordelia just sat by the phone, day in and day out, waiting.

    "Hey, Cordelia,"  Eliza said from behind a copy of Time, "she's not going to call.  She hasn't called yet, and now wouldn't be any better of a time to do it.  She'll come around sooner or later.  Maybe she heard that there's already a slayer, and she just bolted.  Or else she just wants to do things on her own.  I've seen that before."

    "How long did they last?"  Cordelia asked, eyebrows raised.  "Did they last a few months?  Or how about even a year?  This is my responsibility, and I blew it."

    "No, you didn't - it happens.  Do you know how many slayers have done this - just ran away?  Countless.  I know you feel a personal obligation because you were appointed to do this, but you don't have any personal connection to her, do you?  Be thankful that she didn't give you the chance to start to care."

    Eliza's callous words struck Cordelia.  "What?  What are you trying to say?  I-"

    "Hey - I've been around for a while.  I suppose I've been exposed to this for a while, but... I'm just a realist.  You should be too."

    "So, what, and I going to find her in a ditch somewhere?"

    Eliza hung her head.  She raised her eyes to speak, but her voice was cut off by the telephone.

    "See - I told you!"  Cordelia shouted.  "Angel Investigations... we help the hopeless... oh, hi, Buffy."  Her face fell.

    "Hey, Cordelia.  Is Angel there?  I... I really need to tell him something important."

    "Sure, hold on a sec, ok?"  Cordelia set the phone down and got up.  A minute later, Angel walked into the room and picked up the receiver.


    "Hey, Angel... I've got some news...  Faith's come back, and she and I have a problem.  I think it involves you and the new slayer."

    "Faith's back?  How?...  Is everything all right?"  Angel asked, though he was used to circumstances as this.  That was the Hellmouth, after all.  Weirder things have happened.

    "Yeah... you could say that we fixed some bridges.  But... that's not what I called to tell you about."

    "What's wrong?"  Angel asked, perplexed.

    "A vampire came to her apartment tonight and surprised us.  He said that the Counsel and the slayers were done for, and that the new one was to be the first to go.  He knew that you all were out here - he told us to tell you."

    Angel rubbed his hand across his forehead. "The new slayer's missing.  Whoever, or whatever this thing is that the vampire was talking about could have gotten to her."

    "Well, keep up your guard out there.  Faith and I will take care of things here - you be on the lookout in your neck of the woods, all right?"

    "Sure - you two be careful, all right?  I'm sure that the Counsel's been a target before, but... you never can tell.  I'll let you know if I find anything out."

    "Ok - bye Angel."

    "Good-bye."  Angel hung up the phone to Eliza's confused stare.

    "The Counsel's been a target?  Wait - is something trying to get to them via the new slayer?"

    "Well... yes.  You've cut a long story short, you know that?"

    "I can figure stuff out pretty well, you know.  We really need to find Mary quickly, before something serious happens."

    "I think it's too late for that."


Chapter 36:
    "Little Miss Muffett..."  Drusilla said, leaning over the newest slayer, who was hunched in the corner of Darla and Dru's "apartment."  "What, do you not want your curds and whey?"

    "Dru, dear, maybe the spider is scaring her,"  Darla said, walking up behind her granddaughter turned sire.  "Why don't you just let her be for a little while... we have plenty of time to do to her what we need to, and what we want to."  Darla wrapped her arms around Dru's waist, drawing her close.  "We really should be more concerned about the message that we sent to the Slayer."

    "Oh, I'm not concerned... she had to've gotten it.  She'll come a-runnin' as fast as she can."

    There was a knock on the door, and Darla released Drusilla to go and answer it.  She opened it slowly, and sighed when she saw the vampire that they had sent to tell Buffy and Faith about their plans.

    "The Slayers know," he said, with a cocky demonic smile.  "It was a piece of cake - not a singe stake.  Now, where's my mon-"

    His question was cut off by Darla, and her stake.  "They may not have staked you, but... oh well.  Sometimes, you just shouldn't get out of bed.  Dru, where's the dustpan?  Wait... slayers?"  Darla looked over to the small slayer, and back to the pile of dust on the floor.  "He certainly couldn'tve been talking about you.  I suppose that there must be another one out there somewhere.  God, three slayers to turn... we have our work cut out for us, don't we, Granddaughter?"

    "Yes, Grandmum... many pages to turn.  Can we turn our first one now?"

    "I don't see why not," Darla responded.  "I'm a bit hungry."  Darla's human face morphed into her vampyric visage.  She walked over to the huddled mass and turned her small face up to meet Darla's eyes.  "Shh, dear... this doesn't hurt a bit.  Just a little prick, and it's all done."  The Slayer was quiet.  "Don't you even care?"

    "No."  The response shocked Darla.  "No, I don't care - after I die, there's just another one... just a huge mess.  I'm replaceable.  It's fantastic going through life knowing that, just great.  Come on, turn me, kill me, hell - cook me over an open flame with an apple in my mouth for all that I care!"

    Dru stepped up.  "I quite like that last one... shame we're going to make you just like us, pretty thing."

    Darla grabbed the teenager by her neck and sunk her fangs into it, drawing blood.  She reached over to the knife that Drusilla offered in her outstretched hand, and sliced her forearm.  She held it up to the Slayer's mouth, forcing her to drink.  "Go... on..." she gasped, in pain.  "Drink, and rest... come tomorrow evening, you'll be as good as new.  I'll be your watcher now... I'll watch over you."  Darla let the girl's body fall limp and lifeless away.  She and Dru picked her up and set her on the table.

    "She'll rise soon, won't she Grandmum?"

    "Yes, dear she will.  We'll give Angel and that bitch he killed me for something to play with."