New Beginnings, Old Enemies

Chapter Five

Buffy forcibly pushed the door to Giles’s apartment open. It wasn’t locked, which worried her. The whole situation worried her. She couldn’t quite get to grips with it all, or what little she knew. And there was the fact that she didn’t trust Faith. She would never trust Faith.

Grabbing hold of Faith’s jacket sleeve by the wrist, Buffy rushed into the small living room “Giles!” she shouted, not believing that Faith hadn’t done something to her watcher.

She had listened impatiently to Faith’s explanation of what was going on, but the details were sketchy, and Buffy wasn’t about to be fooled by Faith again.

“Giles!” Buffy screeched once more, as she pulled Faith along behind her.

“B, there are no puppies to save, slow down,” Faith said as she pulled her arm free from Buffy’s grasp.

“Indeed there aren’t. Now, what’s going on?” Giles asked coolly, his eyebrow slightly raised as he watched the pair stumble to a stop in the middle of his living room.

He thought keeping his cool would diffuse some of the fuss and anxiety away from Buffy. She looked on the verge of exploding, and her current high-pitched tone clearly indicated that finding Faith back in Sunnydale was not a fun thing to stumble upon.

“You’re ok!” exclaimed Buffy, looking Giles over for signs of injury, kidnapped-ness, or drug use, as surely he wasn’t just going along with Faith being there. . .in her town.

“Yes, Buffy, I’m quite ok, apart from the fact my door is now broken,” Giles said with a frown, moving toward his rather forlorn looking door as it hung limply from the frame.

Leaning down to pick up the broken lock, he suggested that they all sit down calmly, and talk about why Faith was back in Sunnydale with them.

Buffy huffed, strutting into the room as she looked for signs of struggle. She couldn’t see any, but kept her wits about her, as she leaned on the desk behind her that was littered with books and papers. She wasn’t about to sit next to Faith. Her enemy. It was bad enough that Faith was anywhere near her, and her watcher, she didn’t want to sit down and have tea and biscuits.

“I’ll stand, thanks,” Buffy said snarkily.

As she took a seat on the small sofa, Faith glanced over at Buffy. She could see just how desperate Buffy was to figure out what was happening. Buffy had listened to Faith’s brief explanation, but her face had been a mask of stubborn scepticism.

Through Faith’s account of what had happened with the cops, with Angel, and about how Giles had stepped up and offered her hope when she had none…Buffy was quiet, her eyes narrow and jaw set. The words had bounced off her, but at least she wasn’t mashing Faith’s face into the ground.

Just before Buffy had been about ready for them to fight. To step into comfortable shoes and trade blows like so many times before, Faith had said a word that made Buffy’s haze clear. That stopped the oncoming freight train of punishment and retribution.

Faith had told Buffy to call Angel if she wanted to hear, and know for sure, what the truth was.

Buffy’s fists had instantly fallen to her side, her green eyes looking greener in the shadowy alley as they’d stood in a face off. A few more words from Faith and Buffy had clicked down a gear, just enough to actually listen, though not understand or believe.

Having wiped Faith’s blood from her fingers on her jeans, Buffy had taken the responsible and mature route, and ordered Faith to come with her as she checked out that Giles was ok. She’d made sure that Faith was right beside her, arms length away. Close enough to take down if she had to.

Their trip back to Giles’ had been mostly quiet and awkward. Every movement that Faith had made caused Buffy to whip her head round, expecting an attack. Faith couldn’t exactly blame Buffy for feeling that way. For assuming that she would turn on her. It was who she had been. Probably who she still was under the desire to change, and to be different.

Giles cleared his throat as he looked at both slayers. The tension in the room was solid and hard. Jagged edges of mistrust, anger and hurt jutted out from the girls as they settled into uncomfortable silence.

He ventured forward with his explanations and reasons. He watched Buffy’s face twist and turn. Her eyes roll. Her head shake. Her arms folded firmly across her chest. She wasn’t going to be easily swayed. She wasn’t going to give Faith an easy time of it, or a chance to apologize so she could start fixing some of the damage.

Rubbing his temple as he felt a headache beginning to impede his patience, Giles sighed. “You can either work with us, Buffy, or. . .you can stay out of this and give Faith a chance to heal, and to make right some of the wrongs she did.”

Buffy looked away from her watcher, her teeth clenched tight together as she suppressed her anger. There was no way Faith could make anything right again. She had destroyed any chance of that. She had used Buffy, her friends, her mother, her boyfriends. Faith had tainted everything with evil, and there was no way she could just put that behind her. There was no way she could help Giles in his little mission.

“I’ll stay away, thank you. I don’t plan on her screwing up my life. . .again,” Buffy stated, keeping her gaze away from the dark figure on the sofa.

Faith’s shoulders hunched even more forward than they had been, as she tried to fold in on herself. As she felt the need, the real, palpable and overwhelming need. . .to just disappear.

“Buffy!” Giles snapped, causing both girls to look up sharply at him. “Faith’s actions were born out of our mistakes as much as her own. You should keep that in mind whilst you’re judging.”

Buffy opened her mouth to defend herself, and exonerate herself from any blame, but no words came as she glanced over at Faith as she sat frowning in confusion and turmoil.

Faith wanted to stand tall and tell Giles that he was wrong. It was her fault. All of it. She had killed. She had lied. She had turned towards evil and all it stood for, against Buffy, against Giles and everything she should have stood for. Faith didn’t want to pass the blame.

“Giles, I. . .” Faith stuttered, “you can’t blame anyone but me. It was me. I did it. I did it all. I shouldn’t even be here.” Tears began to well in her eyes, so she turned away from Buffy even further, her head down as she fought back her pain.

“No, Faith. . .we’re all responsible, and I for one have promised to put that right, so you’re staying,” Giles said softly, as he stepped forwards a little and laid his hand on Faith’s shoulder.

The gesture surprised Buffy. It made her insides squirm.

Giles was her watcher. He was meant to stand by her, not Faith. Faith who had killed. Who had caused pain to all her friends, to everybody she could, to her. It wasn’t right, and she was fuming inside. Her mind racing with ways to get Faith out. To get her to run. To mess up again. To just. . .leave Buffy and her life alone.

“This is crazy,” Buffy said under her breath.

“It may seem crazy to you, Buffy, but to Faith. . .it’s her last chance,” Giles pointed out. “I was hoping you would at least try to understand. I don’t expect you to just forgive Faith, or trust her right away, or even pretend to be her friend. I just ask that you give her some space to mend.”

Taking deep and slow breaths in order to suppress her emotions, Faith gave Giles a small smile. Her eyes brightened instantly and Giles wished that the young girl had more to smile about. He wished the dark shade of pain and self-loathing would lift from her.

She deserved another run at it. She deserved their help this time. Their understanding, encouragement and guidance. She deserved to be freed from the dark and lonely place she was hidden within.

There was a little sparkle of optimism inside him that suspected it was possible. That somewhere down the line, some of Faiths carefree exuberance would come back, without the heavy weight of rebellion that lead her before. Without the threat of falling into the wrong hands again.

“Whatever,” Buffy huffed, her displeasure clearly visible.

Shaking his head, Giles tempered his desire to request that Buffy stop being so uncompromising. She was stubborn by nature, however, which worked well in her favour when it came to slaying, but not when it came to matters that required her to step from the spotlight.

Not seeing any likely-hood of understanding and acceptance, Giles put his faith in time healing some of the gaping wounds that both girls had sustained.

“I think a nice cup of tea is in order. Faith, would you bring in the dirty cups, please?” He asked, making his way into the kitchen, trusting Buffy not to harm Faith, or the rest of his flat, in any way.

“Sure,” Faith answered quietly, lifting herself from the small sofa and looking around for dirty cups.

She picked up the one on the coffee table in front of her, then glimpsed over to the desk Buffy was currently perched on the edge of. There was a cup amongst the piles of paper and assorted magic books Giles kept for research.

Faith looked from the cup to Buffy, and back. Buffy seemed oblivious. Too caught up in looking haughty as she inspected her nails, doing her best to completely ignore Faith.

She approached the desk slowly, her heart thudding as she got closer to Buffy. As the tingles from their slayer connection prickled her spine and made her twitch.

Faith had always felt strange around Buffy, but now. . .there was so much more to it. There was so much to fix and overcome.

Buffy noticed Faith’s advance and wanted to back away as much as stand her ground. The cup was right by her and Faith was getting unnervingly close. She had an urge to rush Faith. To press her up against the wall again and intimidate her. To do something that screamed at Faith that she wasn’t going to be a victim again.

Instead, Buffy chose to turn around and show her back to the other girl in defiance. She wasn’t about to make nice with Faith. She wasn’t about to let the girl crawl back into her life, her head, her. . .

“I just need to. . .the cup,” Faith murmured as she reached out towards it, her arm almost brushing Buffy’s side as she did so.

Holding her breath, and refusing to acknowledge Faith, Buffy distracted herself by shuffling the books around on the desk. Faith’s scent swept over her, filling her nostrils and wrapping its way around her. It was too much, too Faith, and she wanted to shove her away, but Giles was her watcher, her mentor, and Buffy wanted to do her best for him. Or at least try to.

Glancing over the titles as Faith picked up the cup and began to move away, giving Buffy her breathing space back, Buffy noticed a grimy book entitled ‘The Book of Jawbreakers’. She wondered what it could mean, and supposed. . .if it was a book with supernatural ‘jawbreakers’ as its subject, that slayers, and her in particular might be in it. She was strong, and had done deeds that should be written about after all.

Opening the musty old book, Buffy began to flick through the pages. The writing was foreign to her, and there were very few pictures, though one right in the centre caught her eye.

She became instantly enthralled by it. The colours were vivid, despite the apparent age of the book. Surrounded by a haze of golden light that seemed to transcend the paper, there was a circle. It looked like a deep pool, with something in its depths that Buffy couldn’t quite see.

She wanted to know what it was. She wanted to feel what it was.

Reaching her hand out, her fingers needing to touch the very fabric of the page, Buffy heard a faint voice behind her.

“Giles told me to be careful with that one, B. You’re not meant to touch it or something,” Faith warned.

Her warning came too late. It fell on deaf ears as Buffy’s finger tips slipped over a sumptuous silky texture. She wasn’t going to do what Faith told her. Faith was nobody. She didn’t have the right.

As her senses melted to the soft and alluring surface, Buffy felt herself being tugged. It didn’t feel violent or threatening. It felt nice. Reassuring and right.

She let it happen.

From the kitchen, Giles heard a crackling sound, saw a flash of light that dazed him, then heard a smash. Dropping the tea bags to the floor he rushed back into the living room.

It was empty.

Frantically looking around, Giles scanned the room. The dirty cups lay broken on the floor. His paperwork floated about as it made its way from the air to find a surface to settle on. A book, its pages open to the dull light of the room, stood proud of all the others.

He rushed over towards his desk and looked down at the book. “Oh shit! Buffy, what have you done?” he asked the empty space around him, knowing that Faith knew not to touch the powerful tome.

Clutching the book in his hand, Giles spun around, giving a puzzled look to the shattered cups on the floor.

“Now that’s not right. It takes one, not two,” he muttered to himself, trying to work out where both of his slayers had gone.

After searching the small apartment for Faith, he had to conclude that both girls had been taken by the commanding magic of the ancient book. But it didn’t work that way. From what he knew. . .only the person touching the page should be effected.

Rubbing his brow and lifting the telephone to his ear, Giles dialled and waited for an answer, and with any luck, some help. “Ahh, Willow, I’m hoping you can be of some assistance,” he said, clearly sounding a little shaken up.

He was shaken up.

Just as progress was being made with Faith. Just as things seemed to be getting to the point where both her and Buffy could move forward. . .they had been taken. And Giles couldn’t be sure where, or why.



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