“Giles, I think there’s something bothering Buffy.”
“So you’ve been telling me for the past three hours,” Giles muttered, as he marked one more number off his list in the Finding Faith campaign. So far, he knew that no one remotely answering to her description had been seen at the bus station, train station, the Bronze, the Fish Tank (probably – he might ask Buffy to go in person and check for sure), and thankfully Joyce hadn’t seen her, either. The last he’d politely asked to make herself scarce for the next few days, in case Faith got the wonderful idea of going after Buffy’s mother.
Which left him with no idea where the deranged Slayer was. Though he was tempted to join her, as Willow was once again obsessing over some little spat she had had with Buffy. While he did agree that she had been a little bit out of sorts earlier, he hadn’t found Buffy’s behavior to be particularly unusual. As much as he loved Buffy as though she was his own daughter, there was no denying that when the mood took her, she could be quite – what was the word? Ah, yes. Bitchy.
“ – It’s just that she was being all avoidy and not in a let’s-talk-later-way but in a get-lost-way. Which wasn’t very nice because I was *so* covering for her last night. And to not – ”
“What were you doing for her?” Giles asked distractedly as he tried yet another possible lead.
“Um, forget about that part. See? I’m doing it again.” Willow jumped up out of her seat, sending papers full of possible Faith plans flying. “All I wanted was a couple details, nothing that juicy and she was all ‘this is lame’ and ‘go back to Tara’, except she was really mean in how she said it and – ”
Willow stopped mid rant to turn to Giles. “You’re agreeing with me now?”
Giles ignored her, as he listened to the description from the man at the campus security center. “Thank you for telling me. Two girls getting in a fight? Terrible, terrible thing. Are both okay? As far as you know? M-hm. And what did they look like? Yes, well thank you for your time. I hope you get that cleared up. Have a nice day.”
He hung up the phone as he got to his feet. “Faith was spotted on campus earlier today – ”
Willow rolled her eyes. “We knew that. How else did Buffy meet up with her? Doesn’t mean she’s there now.”
Giles slumped back into his chair, visibly deflated. “I forgot about that. Well, I guess we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way and send out search parties. It’s not like she’s going to suddenly march in here.”
As Giles leaped to his feet, wary at the sudden appearance of the infamous rogue Slayer, he wondered to himself if there wasn’t some cosmic force of irony at play in his life. But the thought was quickly pushed aside as he tried to figure out what to do. Faith was standing only a few feet away, her face bruised and her eyes burning. There was no telling what she was here to do.
Unsure of how to treat her or what to say, Giles settled on the cautious acknowledgement. “Faith.”
Instead of attacking him, Faith simply stood there and met his eyes. “That’s not me. Look, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’m Buffy.”
Giles and Willow exchanged glances. Actually, yes, that did sound crazy. Willow started to focus her power as quietly as possible for some sort of defense spell.
Faith noticed. “Will, you don’t have to do that. I’m not going to hurt you, because I’m not Faith.”
“That’s very hard to believe at the moment,” Giles said, as he tried to sidle closer to the weapons chest. He was almost there…..
“Giles, if I was Faith, do you think I’d be letting you anywhere near the sharp pointy stuff?” Faith inserted herself between him and his goal, holding her hands out to him. “Don’t get all weapons happy on me. Just listen for a second. I am not Faith. I’m Buffy.” She tried to take a step forward, but found herself stuck. She turned her head to see Willow put the last finishing touches on some sort of paralysis spell. “Was that really necessary?”
Willow tried not to sigh in relief that her spell had worked as she answered. “Yes, I think it was.”
Giles stepped away from the bound Slayer, studying her. Of all the things he had thought Faith might do, coming here and declaring herself to be Buffy had not been one of them. “If you really are Buffy, you’ll understand we have to take certain precautions.”
“Screw precautions,” Buffy said as she struggled against invisible bonds. “If this is Buffy in Faith’s body, then where exactly do you think Faith is right now? My body! Do you see where I’m going with this?”
Willow went to stand next to Giles, arms crossed against her chest. “You mean we should let you go even though you look an awful lot like a psycho killer right now?”
Buffy growled. “Yes! Faith’s out there in *my* body doing who the hell knows what with it. She could be – ”
Whoever was currently speaking didn’t get to finish the sentence.
Spike came barreling in, skidding to a halt just inches away from a shelf of priceless books. Giles winced.
“Something’s happened to Buffy. I don’t know what, but I think she might be possessed. We have to help her!” Spike gasped out. He’d run all the way here from the Bronze, his panic growing with every step. When Giles didn’t jump up with the questions, Spike snapped, “Are you deaf? Buffy might be hurt!” Waiting for a response, Spike took stock of the situation. He recognized Giles and Willow, but the angry looking brunette….. he couldn’t place her, but he was sure she looked familiar.
Giles flicked his eyes over to Faith? Buffy?. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “As I’ve been trying to tell everyone, *I’m* Buffy. Faith did some freaky thing that switched us. I got her body; she got mine. Now that we’re all up to date, could we fix this little problem of FAITH HAVING MY BODY!”
Spike peered at her. “Buffy?”
“See? Spike believes me.”
“Which really isn’t much proof. If you are Faith, you could very well have put Spike up to this,” Giles remarked, ignoring the dirty look Spike shot him as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Faith said she was Buffy, and Spike agreed, though he really didn’t trust Spike that much, but the real key was why would Faith lie about being Buffy? And exactly what did that make of whoever it was that looked like Buffy who was here only a few hours ago? He felt a headache coming on.
Buffy was feeling equally frustrated. Of all people, she would have thought Giles would be able to tell it was her. He was like her father for crying out loud! The same went for Willow, too. Best friend and roomie here! But no, only Spike believed her. Hell, he knew some thing was up with the Buffy currently out there! And she so wanted to know what Faith did that made him figure it out. There was no way Buffy trusted her with anything boyfriend-like after the Angel incident.
“Why can’t you tell it’s me?” she demanded.
“Because you have no real proof,” Giles pointed out. “And Faith is disturbed enough to possibly try this.”
Buffy had to concede a point there. “Okay, so ask me a question only Buffy would know.”
Giles frowned. Hmm, a question that only Buffy could answer…...
Willow, for the first time since this drama began to unfold, piped up. “If you are Buffy, what happened last night?”
Buffy turned red. “Will!”
Willow watched her reaction. It occurred to her that if Spike and Faith were in a big conspiracy, then Faith would know. But then she wouldn’t be all blushy and embarrassed. No, she’d be rude and sneery and – just like Buffy was earlier.
Willow smacked herself on the forehead. “Five by five!”
Everyone stared at her.
“Giles, remember when I said Buffy was acting all weird? See, earlier, when I was talking to her, or actually now I realize that it was Faith in Buffy’s body, and I wanted to know about last night, she was all really vague and obviously lost and now that I think about it, the reason it seemed so weird to me was because that wasn’t Buffy but Faith. Because they switched.”
“Now do you believe me?”
Giles and Willow nodded in unison.
“Sorry about the whole spell thing.” Willow closed her eyes and muttered the correct couplet to remove the spell. “You should be good to go now.”
Buffy rolled her shoulders back, glad to be able to do more than turn her head.
Spike laid a hand on her back before glaring at the witch. “You cast a spell on her?”
“I thought she was Faith! And therefore psychotic and evil!”
Giles blinked. This was confusing. “So, Faith is in Buffy’s body, which is why Buffy acted so oddly earlier, and now Buffy is in Faith’s body, and we have to find out how that happened and return everyone to the correct body. Am I following this so far?”
“Then my only question is, exactly what did happen last night? You are all acting as if it was something important!”
Willow stared at the walls. Buffy opted for the ceiling. Spike suddenly found his shoes to be fascinating.
“It wasn’t anything special.”
“Hey – !” Spike glared at the Slayer, who glared meaningfully back, before mumbling, “I mean, I wouldn’t know.”
Giles studied the three of them intently. They were hiding something from him. But finding out would take attention away from the issue here, which was finding Faith and making sure she was put back in her own body. Not to mention, with Faith loose in Buffy’s body, the chaos she could wreak was a frightening thought, indeed.
“Well then, if that’s settled, Buffy, could you describe exactly how Faith switched your bodies?”
Faith lay on the bed in Riley’s dorm, as he snored beside her. Well, that had been an entertaining five minutes. No wonder Buffy dropped him in favor of Spike. Satisfied that this little incident would screw things up nicely for B, she stood to leave, quietly gathering her clothing. As she slipped her shirt back on, Riley stirred. He opened his eyes to see the girl of his dreams trying to sneak away.
“Yeah?” Faith answered as she finished dressing, sliding her feet into the shoes. Man, those things were uncomfortable.
“Why’re you leaving?” Riley sat up, letting the sweaty sheets spill everywhere.
Faith looked him over, wondering what would be the best thing to say. Should she give him the love’em and leave’em line or something else? On the off chance that she got de-switched, Faith opted for the something else.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, sitting next to him on the bed, “but if I stay out all night my friends might get worried.” Faith rested a hand gently on his thigh. “I’ll make it up to you, okay? I promise.”
Riley sighed. “I understand, but I don’t want to let you go. You run off every time we get close, run off to *him*.” From his tone, it was obvious to whom exactly *him* was referring to.
Faith smiled. “Not this time. Tell you what, next time you see me, I’ll have a nice pile of Spike ashes for you. That good enough?”
Riley seemed slightly mollified. Faith leaned in close to him, putting on her best sweet and girlish face. “I don’t want to lose this, Riley.” She brushed her lips against his cheek. “I think I love you.” She stood, leaving Riley with a stunned and ecstatic expression.
Outside of his room, Faith smirked. Man, that guy was easy to play. The little bomb she’d just dropped will screw things up great should B get her body back. And if not? It’s not like Faith cared. All she wanted now was to see how Mexico was this time of year.
Buffy sat slumped on Giles’ couch, staring at the wall as she tried to process everything that had happened. Off in the kitchen, she could hear Giles, Willow and Tara (who’d been invited over due to magical expertise) discussing how to reverse the body switching spell. They told her this little problem should be figured out by the end of the night, if not sooner.
Buffy sincerely hoped for sooner. It felt wrong, sitting here and seeing Faith’s hands in her lap, Faith’s face in the mirror. Not to mention, the worry that clenched in her gut over what Faith could be doing while wearing her own face. Was she going to get her own body back to find it wanted for murder? Because that would seriously be a Faith-like thing to do.
Spike sat down next to her, his hand reaching out to rest lightly on her back, his expression concerned.
And another thing. Spike actually had met Faith-while-Buffyfied. What had Faith done that had tipped him off? Giles and Willow hadn’t noticed anything was seriously wrong, so how had Spike? Buffy started to panic. What if Faith had tried to have sex with him? What if she had had sex with him? She’s skanky enough to do it and that would explain how Spike figured it out. What was worse, Faith screwing him and he realizing, or Faith screwing him and he not realizing?
Buffy felt sick inside.
“What’s on your mind, pet?” Spike asked, noticing her face change from contemplative to disturbed. “You don’t need to be worried about being stuck like this. The witches will fix this soon enough. Not that this body isn’t without its charms,” he joked, pretending to check her out, eyes lingering on her breasts (Okay, so that part wasn’t pretending. But he was a healthy male and this *was* his wife, after a fashion). When Buffy didn’t even respond with her usual knee-jerk cracks to any of his innuendoes, he started to get worried. “You all right?
Buffy turned to him. “Spike, how did you know it wasn’t me? When everyone else didn’t?”
Oh. So that’s what she’s fussing about. “I am your husband, after all. I’m supposed to know you best.”
“Spike, an honest answer, please.”
“Hey! That was honest. For me, anyway.”
Buffy mock-punched him. “Spike.”
“All right. A serious answer. Love, she didn’t act like you. I mean, at first I thought it was you at the Bronze, but then she started talking to me and I realized that wasn’t true. Didn’t know who was behind the wheel, but knew it wasn’t my Buffy.”
Buffy’s lips quirked up at being called his Buffy before asking, “Did she hit on you? Kiss you?”
He sighed. “Yes to the first, no the second. I figured out the truth right quick before she tried anything.”
“Oh.” Buffy was quiet for a moment. “Were you the only guy she hit on?”
Silence. In the kitchen, the two could hear the brains having a Eureka moment.
He didn’t answer. Inside, he was wondering if Buffy really needed to know about Faith’s bitch in heat act.
“Let me take a guess. Do the words slut, skank, or ho come to mind? I know Faith. You don’t have to lie to me.”
Spike nodded. Buffy sighed. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“She hadn’t done anything serious with them,” Spike offered. “I would have smelled it.”
Buffy wrinkled her nose at the thought of Spike being able to smell *that* sort of thing on anyone. “Ew! That’s disgusting.”
“Hey, I thought knowing that would make you feel better.”
“No.” Buffy reached out to hold his hand. “What makes me feel better is knowing that you knew it wasn’t me. And that you were worried enough to run all the way to Giles to ask for help.”
“I couldn’t let you stay body snatched, could I?” Spike pointed out, while smoothly using her little gesture as an excuse to swing his arm around her and hold her close.
“We’ve got it!”
Hearing the others coming, Spike quickly disengaged from Buffy, who then stood up to receive the news that would hopefully clear up today’s episode of Tuesdays in Sunnydale. “What have you got for me?”
“This.” Willow brandished a device that vaguely resembled the one Buffy had seen in Faith’s hands. “The way we figure it, you use this to put the whammy on Faith and presto! Everybody’s back in the right body.”
Buffy took it gingerly and slipped it onto her hand. “Good. That’s good. So all I have to do now is find Faith.”
Willow grinned. “We even got that covered. While I was working on that, Tara did a tracking spell. Faith should be somewhere on campus right now. If you hurry, you should catch up with her, no problemo.”
“You’re welcome.” As Buffy hurried to leave, Spike at her heels, Willow called after her, “Just promise me details when this is over!”
After they left, Giles turned to her and asked, “Details?”
“Long story. Maybe tell you later.”
It didn’t take long to find her. In fact, it was remarkably easy. With Spike helping her, Buffy found Faith only a few yards away from the spot where they had had Round One of the Switch.
Faith spotted them the instant they saw her. She ran. Without a word exchanged, Spike sprinted after her and tackled her, careful not to hurt. He pulled her up and held her steady for Buffy to come and finish this.
As Buffy approached, Faith arched up against the vampire and smirked. “I’ve got to tell you B, it was quite a shock to me when I learned you were doing a vamp. Not that I blame you. He’s hot.”
Faith tilted her head about. “No problem, Blondie. Of course,” she mock-sighed, “you weren’t exactly accommodating me. Had to look elsewhere for thrills.”
“Elsewhere?” Buffy demanded. “Where elsewhere?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Faith surged forward and grabbed Buffy’s hand. Bright white light engulfed them as the magic was activated. A few seconds later, Faith was back in her own body. With Spike still holding onto Buffy, she blew them a kiss and blasted out of there. Somewhere right now there was a train ticket with her name on it.
Buffy (also back in her own body) and Spike untangled themselves and jumped to their feet, but Faith was gone.
“Should we go after her?”
“Probably. I know I want to. If only to find out exactly what kind of thrills Faith decided to have.”
Spike took a deep breath and growled. “Bitch could teach Angelus a trick or two about mind games.”
“The thrill was Riley. I can smell it.”
Buffy collapsed to the ground, a rush of violation and anger overcoming her. “Damn.”
“ – I’m so happy Buffy’s finally come to her senses,” Riley told his friends over breakfast that morning, for the twentieth time. “I knew a girl like that wouldn’t let herself go for some animal.”
“That so?” Forrest asked, raising an eyebrow at Riley’s proclamation. The way that girl played with him was shameful……
“Yes, that’s so.” Riley nodded firmly, his heart bursting for joy that yes, he finally got the girl. Spike may have had her for the interim, but no matter. With Buffy’s help, Spike would soon be in a cage or dust. And then everything would be perfect.