New Beginnings, Old Enemies

Chapter Six

“So, you’re telling me Faith has been hidden away here. Nobody but you and Angel knew. Buffy bumped into her by accident and broke your door, then they went poof and disappeared.”

“In essence, yes, Willow,” Giles confirmed.

“Okay, that. . .still doesn’t make sense, but I can deal with that,” Willow said as she nodded in conclusion. “This is the Hellmouth, and stranger things have happened. Like. . .yunno, parallel universes, girls turning into rats, mix n match demons, crazy candy, Buffy getting engaged to Spike. . .”

“To be fair, Willow, some of those incidents were your doing,” Giles smiled down at the redhead. “But aside from all the mishaps and events that have happened in our time together on the Hellmouth, the fact is that Faith is here for my help, and I intend to give it this time, whether or not Buffy, or the rest of you understand.”

“But Faith isn’t here anymore, and neither is Buffy,” Willow said, pointing out the obvious as she sat on the edge of the sofa cushion, her eyes big and bright despite the dim surroundings.

“Indeed, which is why I called you, Willow. I may know a little about the book I believe has taken them, but there are magics involved that even I am unable to comprehend,” Giles confessed. “You on the other hand. . .have a far better chance at unravelling what has happened, and hopefully you’ll be able to bring them back.”

Willow looked a little caught in the headlights. Giles couldn’t blame the girl for being a tad confused and possibly apprehensive. Willow had great power within her, but the power was still raw and unpractised. She had done great and impressive things before. She had wielded magic from her heart and mind in ways that Giles couldn’t quite understand. . .but Willow hadn’t yet learned to truly control and channel all that was within her.

He hoped she could do her best for him, with him, for the two girls lost somewhere he didn’t know enough about.

“I’ll call Tara, she’ll be able to help. If that’s ok, I mean. . .if you don’t want anybody else knowing about Faith, I can. . .well no, I can’t keep it from Tara ‘cause yunno,” she said, waving her arm in the air, “but I understand if you want it to stay a secret. . .” Willow babbled on, trying to work out what was the right thing to say.

“Willow, call Tara. We need all the help we can get. I don’t know for sure where Buffy and Faith are. I don’t know if they’re in danger. I don’t know if they’re even together,” Giles sighed. “If they are together. . .I’m even less sure about how they will cope.”

Giles picked up the book he believed to be the cause of their disappearance. It was old, it was worn, and it was clearly an important tome due to its size and bold lettering. He had been researching it only recently, having been sent it by an old friend in the council.

There were deep mysteries within it. Powerful forces that bound its yellowing pages. Stories of old telling of its use and might. He had only scratched the surface of its true intent and secrets, but what he did know made him shudder.

If the girls were caught in its web, they might never be freed from it.

“Is that it?” asked Willow from over his shoulder.

“Yes, Willow. This is The Book of Lawbreakers. It holds the souls of those condemned by crimes they have committed. Such a person is encouraged to touch the page within the centre of the book, and they are taken from this world to. . .well, I’m not sure where to. Once a soul is within, however, it is trapped forever,” Giles explained gravely, placing the book next to some other old texts he knew he would have to trawl through for clues and answers.

Willow ran her fingers over the cover of the book, displacing some of the dust that clung to the lettering. She could feel the magic tingling through her hand and up her arm. She closed her eyes and saw lights swirling ahead of her.

“If it’s meant to take only the person touching the page, though. . . what happened to Faith?” Willow asked as her head became fuzzy from the forces surging up her arm.

“I don’t know, Willow,” Giles said as he took a deep breath and rubbed his glasses clean. “As far as I’m aware, there’s no precedent for such an occurrence. We can only hope that we’re able to bring them both back. Safely.”

* * *

Buffy groaned as she felt herself claw her way back from unconsciousness. Her head was swimming and sore. Her eyes refused to open and she could feel blood trickling down her brow into them. It felt like a truck had been parked on her, and her arms wouldn’t move to alleviate the weight from her stomach.

She tried to asses the situation from where she lay. Any sudden moves could put her in more danger, or could alert any hostile nearby to her presence.

Running her tongue over her lips, wetting the dry surface, Buffy forced open one eye, just a little. Just enough to let in the light and orientate herself. She didn’t know what had happened, or where she was.

She remembered a book, a light, falling, Faith. . .then nothing. Nothing until she felt her head pounding like an alarm to wake her. There was hard gravel or dirt beneath her. She could feel it on her fingertips. The air was cold and dry, and the only sound she could detect was wind. A distant howling, like it was whipping around great canyons and crag filled mountains.

Buffy took a deep breath, feeling the weight above her shift, feeling dust fill her lungs. There was only one scent in the air.


It wasn’t her own blood, however. It was Faith’s. She knew the smell. It was different to other people’s blood because she was a slayer, but it was also different to her own. She couldn’t describe the difference, and Buffy didn’t know if it was her heightened senses or just her memory telling her that it was Faith’s.

Buffy would never forget the smell or the feel of Faith’s blood.

She’d had Faith’s blood all over her hands before. She had sat slumped on the floor, watching the redness drip to the glass-strewn roof of Faith’s apartment. Every drip, every splash echoing in her mind. The smell of betrayal. Of strength. Of weakness. Of yearning.

Buffy closed her eye shut again and gathered her thoughts. Whatever had happened, wherever she was, she had fallen. That much she could tell. With the pain in her head and back it was clear. . .it had been a long, hard fall.

As her faculties came together, Buffy felt her pain receding. Her slayer healing had begun to kick in, but she could tell that whatever bruises and breaks she had sustained were pretty bad. She wasn’t going to be leaping up anytime soon, especially not with the weight that seemed to be on her.

Opening both her eyes, wishing that the wet, sticky feel of blood could be swiped from her brow, Buffy reassured herself that she could deal with the situation. With any situation.

She wasn’t expecting dark brown hair to be tangled up with her own. A solid and unmoving body laying over her, not the truck that had first crossed her mind. Buffy knew instantly that it was Faith. A very unconscious Faith, draped over her, her breaths shallow and body limp.

Buffy wanted to propel Faith off her. She didn’t want to be stuck under the girl. She didn’t want to be that close, feeling her warmth and her body. Feeling the soft touch of dark hair against her cheek.

She didn’t seem to have the strength to be so violent as to launch Faith into the air, however. Grimacing, Buffy shifted herself to the side under Faith, then rolled the bigger girl off her and onto her back.

Faith stirred, a slight groan escaping her lips as her back hit the floor. Buffy rolled her eyes and wished for the world, or wherever they were. . .to swallow Faith up so she didn’t have to deal with her. So she didn’t have to deal with them. Buffy didn’t want this. She didn’t want the memories, the hurt, the responsibility. Buffy just wanted to move on.

But she couldn’t. . .Faith was right beside her, and not looking in great shape. There would be no moving on right now.

Sighing, Buffy looked Faith over for injuries. She kept her hands on the dirt ground, deciding not to touch the other girl. Not wanting to. She could see blood making a slow trickle from Faith’s brow. The cut Buffy had caused earlier was now bigger, and was accompanied by a very nasty looking bruise and bump.

Buffy wiped her own brow, clearing it of the blood that had seeped from Faith onto her. She felt a pang of guilt, but buried it inside. “It’s not my fault you decided to bash your head off the floor and made it worse,” Buffy said in Faith’s direction.

Faith didn’t reply, nor move.

“At least you’re keeping quiet for a change,” Buffy mumbled under her breath.

She really didn’t want to be near this girl. The girl who had done so much damage. More than she knew.

More than Buffy could even come to terms with herself. She would never tell Faith how deeply she was hurt by her betrayal. She’d told her how much of a victim she had made her feel, but it went beyond that. It went deep inside her. It tore at her veins and her blood.

Sitting back on her haunches next to Faith, Buffy looked around. She took a second to wonder why she had checked on Faith before her surroundings, but didn’t dwell on any possible answers.

The landscape before her was barren and dry. The wind blew shimmering dust clouds of sand around, swirling it over the few scattered rocks Buffy could see in the distance. She clutched her small jacket around herself, feeling a chill to the breeze and a bite from the sand. As far as she could see, there was nothing but dust and sand, and the odd dark tumble of stone.

The place, wherever it was, was like a desert. Like a vast deserted slither of Arizona or Mexico. It wasn’t either of those places however. Buffy could tell that just from the colour of the sky, and from the shadow it cast on the ground. The thick churning hues of red and black above her head, coupled with an intense light despite the dark sky. . .left Buffy in no doubt that they had landed somewhere unearthly.

“Great, and I’m stuck here with you,” Buffy muttered, looking down at Faith.

A crack of thunder behind her caused Buffy to twist her head round, and she stumbled back from her haunches and onto the floor. Where she thought there was once nothing, a huge cliff now stood, its rock face glinting at her in shades of red.

The thunder rolled on loudly, splitting the sky open overhead. Buffy shivered as she watched, as she felt the air around them crackle into life.

Water began to splash down on her, on Faith laying beside her, quickly pooling around them as a torrent opened from above. Each splash of rain that hit Buffy’s skin stung. It felt like rock shards hitting her. Fragments of ice and glass rushing towards the ground. Towards them.

It was only water, however, and it was soaking both of them.

Buffy looked frantically around for a safe haven. For anywhere she could run to. There was nowhere out on the open plain, and the cliff behind her became her only hope of refuge.

She thought about leaving Faith. She deserved to be left out in the open with the hard rain hitting her and keeping her down, but Buffy knew that would be wrong. No matter who it was, she knew she had to do her best to get them both to safety.

Standing with difficulty due to her pain and the torrential downpour, Buffy moved alongside Faith. She looked from Faith’s head of tangled dark hair, down to the scuffed black boots on her feet. Buffy didn’t want to touch. She didn’t want to help. She didn’t want to be responsible.

She didn’t have a choice though, and she felt that in every twitch of her muscles.

Buffy took a deep breath and hauled Faith over her shoulder, muttering under her breath at the weight, at the rain, at the sodden sand that made her stumble and struggle towards the rock face.

Faith didn’t move. She made no sound. Perched on Buffy’s shoulder, being held awkwardly and without thought, Faith remained unconscious, much to the relief of the blonde girl. Buffy didn’t want to deal with an awake Faith right now. She had enough dealing with Faith being helpless in her grip. She had enough dealing with the feel of her, with the scent of blood overwhelming her.

All she could smell was blood. Despite the heavy rain kicking up the sand and the earth, it’s all there was. It’s the only thing she could sense in all the confusion.

As they reached the cliff bottom, Buffy realised it was much darker there then out in the open. The shadowy rock was wet and cold, and much more ominous than it had seemed two minutes before. There was no other place to look for cover and further along the face Buffy was sure she could see an inlet. A cave maybe, or just a crevice where they could put their backs to the wall and wait.

Wait for what, Buffy wasn’t sure. . .but she had been a slayer long enough to know that all things could be explained, and solved. Sometimes it took brute force, other times it took patience and understanding, and then. . .a little brute force.

This would be no different, even though she had to admit that she had never felt so lost and far from home. Far from everything she understood and was comfortable with. Maybe it was because Faith was there. Her enemy. The girl that screwed her over. That tried to take her friends lives, her boyfriend’s life. Her life.

As she got to what she could now see was a little cave, Buffy tried to shake all the thoughts from her head. She had to deal with the situation. With how to keep safe. The immediate concern was to get out of the stinging rain. To hide out until she was dry and the sky ceased to take its toll on the land beneath.

“I really hate getting wet,” Buffy grumbled.

She stopped at the mouth of the cave, peering inside, waiting for any animals or demons to show themselves. Waiting for Faith to make a quip about Buffy not liking to get wet.

Nothing charged at them from the cave, and Faith made no such vulgar remark.

The rain thankfully wasn’t coming down at an angle to reach inside the little hole in the side of the rock, which Buffy was very grateful for. She wasn’t so thrilled about the fact it was cold and dark, with no comfy spot to curl up on, but there was no option but to use it.

“I’ll take that side and you can have this one, not that it’s far enough away,” Buffy said aloud as she dropped Faith to the floor, trying to be careful, but not overtly so.

Straightening herself out, wincing from the sore points on her body and from the damp feeling of her own clothes against her skin, Buffy moved to make her way the two steps to the other side of the dank cave. She stopped, her eyes fixed on Faith and how uncomfortable a position she had laid the younger girl in. She couldn’t just leave her like that.

Not knowing why, but feeling compelled to do it, Buffy bent to lay Faith on her side. To make sure she would wake up in a comfortable position. In her head Buffy was yelling at herself to leave Faith outside, in the rain, as uncomfortable as possible, but from deeper within herself she felt an obligation to protect.

“I should be kicking your ass, not carrying it around and giving it a nice spot to rest,” she jibed as she moved Faith’s hair out of her face, tucking the dark locks behind Faith’s ear.

Buffy looked down at her hand as she kneeled beside Faith, her fingers lingering in the dark hair. She stared down at Faith’s face, her gaze travelling over the soft features of youth. Faith didn’t look like a ‘hard girl’ now, with her lips parted a little as quiet breaths escaped them. No scowl. No cocky look. No years of living-on-the-edge in her steel like brown eyes.

Faith’s eyes were closed, and Buffy wanted to run her fingertips over the gentle curve of her eyebrow. The eyebrow that would dance and twitch with every excited gesture and mischievous remark. The eyebrow Buffy had always wanted to touch.

Her fingers hovered just above Faith. So close, but not close enough to touch.

Buffy could feel her heart begin to beat like a drum. She took it as a signal. As a warning.

“You’re evil,” she whispered to Faith in the darkness.

She curled her fingers away from Faith, balling them into a tight fist, then she stood, backing away from Faith as she made her way to the other side, keeping her distance. Keeping her eyes fixed on Faith. Waiting for her to wake. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting.

Buffy didn’t feel there was anything more that she could do. So, she would wait. She was used to it. She had been waiting for a long time now.

Or maybe only since that night at the Bronze, when a slayer walked into her life and turned it upside down.



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