New Beginnings, Old Enemies

Chapter Twenty Three

Faith paced at the back of the shop as she waited for the return of her lover. She had her arms tight around herself, her eyes darting around as the gang lit candles and scattered smelly herbs around a chalk circle. She wondered why magic wasn’t easier if it was so powerful. Why there always seemed to be a need for this herb, or that talisman, or a bunch of candles. She was glad she was a slayer and not a witch. Using her strength right from the source, right from her fists, felt more real than relying on concoctions and words.

She couldn’t deny that Willow and Tara knew what they were doing. She couldn’t deny their particular brand of strength either. It just wasn’t strength that Faith was acquainted with.

She glanced back to the shop door, her heart pumping slow steady streams of blood through her veins; the dull thud filling her ears as she waited for the door chime. Waited for Buffy to let her know how they were going to go forwards. The gang knew now, though she guessed they didn’t understand at all. She was sure there would be questions and worries on their part, and she couldn’t blame them. She’d done a lot to Buffy, a lot to them all to make her words of love a hard thing to trust. She was sure of her love, and though she was pacing - worried that Buffy would come back and tell her she was staying with Riley – Faith was pretty sure of Buffy’s love too.

“I’m gonna stand over here, away from the possibility of sucky portals and slime,” Xander grinned, hugging himself as he backed away from the witches now beginning their chant.

Faith stopped her circuit of the table and stood to watch as crackling light flickered around the stones laid in the center of the chalk circle. Giles placed a map of Sunnydale over them and stood by as Willow sprinkled what looked like fairy dust over it. A soft whizzing noise filled the space and the map began to glow.

They peered at it, trying to work out what it meant. It wasn’t very precise. The glow encompassed at least two cemeteries and the hospital.

“It’s like it’s not sure exactly where it is,” Willow stated.

“Coulda fooled me,” Faith added, ignoring the frowns.

“Maybe you did something wrong. . .again,” Xander called from his spot behind the counter.

Willow scratched her head and looked around. “Nope, we have everything; I just don’t think the energy is strong enough for it to place exactly. Like maybe. . .it’s just a little mini portal or something.”

“Well, at least only very tiny demons can get through then,” Xander chuckled to himself.

Faith couldn’t help but laugh along with him. Whatever it was that was out there, she was sure her and Buffy could deal with it without too much hassle.

“Well, let’s not get our hopes up too high. From little things big things can appear,” Giles said, making them all wonder what he meant.

“Yeah, it’s not the size of the hammer but the size of the nail you’re throwing it at. . .or something,” Xander interjected, his silly grin making his eyes dance.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not how it goes, Xan,” Faith snickered, deciding not to point out that sometimes size did matter. “Maybe we should load up on bug spray though, in case there’s critters crawlin out of it, wherever it is.”

“Critters? Bug spray? Are we infested?” Buffy’s eyes went wide as she breezed into the shop, catching the last of the conversation. She looked around to make sure there were no creepy crawlies about to pounce at her.

“Ah, that’s our Buffy. . .slayer extraordinaire, who’s afraid of little itty bugs,” Willow smiled up at her friend as she helped Tara out of the circle.

“I’m not afraid. . .just cautious. Some bugs burrow, and that is not of the good,” Buffy pointed out, twisting her face to indicate the severity of the squickiness.

Faith smiled at Buffy, her dark eyes instantly softening as Buffy smiled sweetly back. They didn’t speak; no need for words as Buffy moved closer to her. She looked deep into Faith’s eyes and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Just for reassurance. Just to reconnect. Faith sighed almost silently into the soft touch of lips as she kissed back, her hand finding Buffy’s cheek as she prolonged the caress.

They broke apart, gazing into each other; eyes only for one another.

“You ok, B?” Faith asked, her thumb gently brushing over Buffy’s cheek, her tenderness a surprise to them both.

“I am now,” Buffy assured, standing as close to Faith as she could without leaping on top of her.

“Um, I really. . .hate to interrupt,” Giles said, clearing his throat, “but we do rather need to discover if we have a problem yet or not. Though the location spell didn’t pinpoint exactly where to look, I think we ought to cover some of the area on foot.”

“You’re right, G,” Faith affirmed, letting go of Buffy for now. “There’s some nasty shit in that place that we really don’t want hanging around here on vacation.”

Buffy nodded, slipping into her slayer mode as she thought about the task in hand. She was a leader, and not unaccustomed to just getting on with the job, no matter what. So she’d just broken up with her boyfriend and come out as a raving girly loving - or Faith loving at least – type; there was still evil to quash. Still slaying to be done.

“Draw on the map where we need to look and Faith and I will get right on it. No need for you guys to lose the rest of your night, we’ll just stake the place out, no pun intended,” Buffy said, striding over to the concealed weapons chest nearby.

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Giles asked, unsure whether or not Faith was ready to go patrolling, especially with Buffy. “I’m sure nobody here minds tagging along and making the job quicker, and you never know. . .the portal maybe. . .”

The gang nodded in affirmation, looking eager and ready, but stood by for Buffy’s final decision. A decision they knew they would follow without question.

“Giles, we’re slayers. . .we’ll deal,” Buffy gave him her best winning smile, confident that Faith would do fine by her side.

She wasn’t sure how she knew - maybe it was just a feeling - but Buffy had no doubt that Faith was there to fight the good fight now. That she wouldn’t stray, or even litter the path of evil once again. Buffy wouldn’t allow it. Not this time. She could see how much Faith had changed, and had experienced it in the other dimension. Faith was her ally, her lover, and she trusted her. The revelation of trust came as a little shock to Buffy, but she couldn’t refute it. There was just something about Faith now, something untouchable, indefinable. Where there had been troubled darkness, now she only saw strength and a desire to put right her wrongs.

She threw Faith a short handled axe and pulled out a heavy knife for herself. She tucked it into her jacket pocket alongside her stake, and glanced around the room. Her friends were busy clearing away the remnants of the spell, chattering as they went, not paying attention to Faith who was twirling the sharp axe like it had always belonged in her hands.

It appeared like they all had seen a reason to trust Faith, despite how crazy it seemed.

Faith slipped the axe into her belt, the handle dropping in plain view below her jacket but the sharp blade hidden as she tugged it around herself. It was dark now, but she still didn’t think walking through Sunnydale swinging an axe would go down too well. The residents were used to weird, but she didn’t want to risk it. . .not now she was so close to getting everything right. Standing by the doorway, waiting for her fellow slayer, Faith took a second to wonder at how easily she seemed to fit in now. At how little of a struggle it had been.

She’d expected much more hate and hurt from the people bustling around the small magic shop, but it had been quite the opposite. Maybe they’d seen too much of it. Experienced so much evil that they could distinguish between what was truly bad and what were the actions of the lost and afraid. These people she had once hurt now looked at her with smiles. There was still wariness, but it wasn’t as cutting as she thought it should be.

They’d all changed. Willow with her witchcraft, strong and more powerful than she probably even knew. Her love for Tara keeping her grounded and secure, despite the harshness of living in a society that looked down on that kind of love. That despised it and rallied against it still, despite the fact that love was deeply in need in their harsh world.

Xander who was dating an ex-demon; his boyish charm and looks still there, but hardened by the years of knowing what evil looked like. Facing it daily, yet never running. Never wavering from Buffy’s side. Faith had treated him badly, but he’d bounced back. Obviously being able to love a girl that once wrought vengeance on the unknowing had made him look at life a little differently.

And Giles, Faith’s new mentor, her solid anchor in the midst of emotional turmoil. He had come through for her this time. He wasn’t about to handle Faith all wrong like he once had. He was trying, moulding, helping in every way he could and Faith couldn’t be more grateful. She didn’t know where she’d be without him there, steadying her hand and pointing her along the correct path. Angel had started the ball rolling, but it was Giles that stepped by her side now, giving her something to lean on when she grew weary and unsure.

She wouldn’t have accepted his kind of help when she’d first arrived in Sunnydale, too on edge and afraid of what she couldn’t control. They’d all opened their hands to her only to have her slap them away. They hadn’t pushed their friendship, and she hadn’t looked for more. Mistakes on all their consciences. Now was a different time. A new beginning, with old enemies opening their hearts to her without condition.

She hoped they truly believed she wouldn’t lose sight of what was important now, because Faith had no intention of making the same mistakes again.

Faith watched as Buffy folded the map away into her pocket and turned to join her, but Giles caught her arm, his fatherly gaze causing Buffy to halt her advance. Faith chuckled and leaned against the hard wood of the doorframe, closing her eyes as she went to a nice place in her head. One in which Buffy was naked and moaning her name.

“Keep an eye on her, Buffy,” Giles implored quietly as he looked from the reclining figure at the doorway to the girl he still felt the need to protect.

Buffy looked up at him gently, giving his arm a squeeze as she replied, “I will. We can trust her, Giles. I can feel it.” She hoped her eyes conveyed the truth.

“I know, Buffy. She has come a long way already and I can feel it too,” he assured. “I just worry, for you both.”

“She’ll. . .we’ll be ok,” Buffy stated confidently. “I may have gotten things terribly wrong when she first came here, but I plan on putting that right. And that doesn’t start with not being sure she can slay by my side without me worrying if her axe might slip my way.”

He smiled at her then, at both of them. He doubted very much that Faith could ever hurt Buffy now, but Faith was still fragile. Still healing.

“She’s an extraordinary young woman, Buffy. She needs a lot of love,” he said, knowing where his words would hit Buffy the most. Knowing that he should have been aware of that himself the first time around.

“I know,” Buffy agreed, turning to gaze at Faith fondly. “And I can give it to her this time. I’m ready.”

“It seems we’re both ready,” Giles nodded regretfully.

Buffy turned back to the man she still called her watcher, a mischievous glint in her green eyes. “Though hopefully only I have the privilege of sleeping with her,” she pointed out with a grin.

His cheek twitched a little as he sought the words to agree without thinking too much about the deed itself. “Yes, indeed. . .that’s entirely your. . .business with her, Buffy,” he stuttered.

“Oh, I wouldn’t call it business,” Buffy chuckled, her grin becoming a full on smirk as she wiggled her eyebrows; toying with him and his stuffiness.

Giles reached up to his face to remove his glasses, his hands demanding that he set about cleaning them to diffuse the situation. He felt around but it was a fruitless search.

“Looking for these?” Buffy asked, plucking Giles’ glasses from the counter top beside them and handing them to him.

She turned towards Faith, happy with the flustering going on behind her as Giles rooted around for a hanky to wipe the shine from his glasses. She felt good. Perky even. Things were settling into place finally and she couldn’t help but beam at Faith as her dark eyes opened to take in her advancing form.

“Ready to motor?” Faith asked, her eyes sliding over Buffy like melted chocolate.

“I’m ready,” she replied, hinting at everything she truly was ready for.

They made their way to the part of town that had glowed brightly on the map, keeping a look out for anything odd, or at least stranger than usual. Nothing portal-like had caught their eye and they were down to the last area, the last dark corner of a graveyard clouded in the dusky moonlight.

Faith had been itching to slay, craving it almost as much as she craved Buffy. . .but there hadn’t been a single opportunity to plunge her stake into something evil. She needed to, to reassure herself that she could still do it. That it was still her calling. She was antsy, agitated and twirling her stake as they slowed their pace to prolong the night.

“This blows. My first night out here slaying and. . .no vamps. What gives?” Faith whined, her normally sex hazed tone giving way to something bordering on cute and girly.

Buffy chuckled and nudged into Faith with her shoulder, forgetting just how juiced slaying could get her new lover.

She had come to call Faith her lover in her head, sure that the word fit; that they fit it perfectly. There was love, and there was the promise of lots of sex, so her mind wrapped its way around the word and claimed it as theirs.

Her reverie was interrupted as she spotted two mounds of earth not too far to the left. She grinned, sure that Faith would have her fun. Just as she was about to point out the possible hope of vamp action to Faith, her senses began to prickle.

“You feel that, B?” Faith asked, stopping on the path and looking deep into the darkness.

“Yep, I feel it.”

Vampires were most definitely close by. Buffy could feel the heat rising up the back of her neck. The prickle of anticipation. The itch that wouldn’t go until they’d driven the demons from their world.

“I’m guessing two, not counting what might crawl out of those graves over there,” Buffy said, turning so she was back to back with Faith, knowing that they wouldn’t have to go looking for their prey.

A snarl broke the quiet around them as a large vampire stepped onto the path ahead. “Oh look, it’s Goldilocks and her. . .” he paused, the cogs attempting to turn in his rotten skull, “friend.”

“Wow, the standard of vamps in this place has really gone to shit, B. You shoulda told me, I woulda stayed in LA,” Faith laughed, sizing him up and waiting for his partner.

The partner stood out of the shadows and onto the path, even bigger than the mentally challenged vampire. The vamps growled at each other, licking their lips in anticipation of the prize to come.

“Aww, look at that, Faith. I think they’re lovebirds,” Buffy cooed, feeling her own partner reaching for a stake, ready to show them just who owned the town.

“Well I don’t plan on watching them get down n dirty, so let’s party,” Faith said, a delicious grin curling her lips as they moved to stand side by side against their foes.

All four of them paused as the atmosphere held its breath for the fight to come. A groan resounded from the left and Buffy watched as two newly formed vampires crawled from the sodden earth. They shook the dirt from their bodies, yellow eyes piercing the shadows, locking onto the two slayers.

“Now this is more like it,” Faith said excitedly, every inch of her skin alive as she burned to kill the monsters now approaching them.

“You remember the drill?” Buffy asked, recalling past times when they’d slayed together and trained together; attuning themselves to each other.

“Could never forget it, baby,” Faith replied, giving Buffy a stunning smile before launching herself at the closest vampire.

Buffy watched Faith as she flowed. As her tight clothes strained against flexing muscles and heated skin. Fists raining down their birthright and legs spinning and kicking; an exquisite show of force and power. Faith had always looked beautiful when she fought, but now that her power was fully under her control she oozed sex like it was living under her skin.

Buffy looked on in awe. She had felt her heart skip a beat as Faith called her by an apparently entirely new nickname, and it felt good. It felt right. Buffy felt alive in ways she hadn’t done for a long time. In ways only Faith could make her feel.

She gripped the hard wooden stake in her hand and jumped into the fray, instantly pummelling and pounding, beating the smirk from the face of evil.

The slayers were back, and they were better than ever before. More together than ever before.



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