A Short Distance Between Love And Hate


Chapter One

Eight months in a coma can certainly fuck with a person’s head. Hell, being stabbed in the gut by the one and only person you’d ever loved can do just the same. If I wasn’t fucked up before, I certainly am now. That’s what betrayal does to you. It sends you over the edge. Well, it certainly did me.

If she had just stood by me when I made that first mistake. No, instead she had to turn her back, act like I was the devil incarnate. Fuck, had she never messed up before? Miss goody two fucking shoes. All sweetness and light, and “fuck you, it’s your problem not mine” attitude.

I would’ve done anything for her. I’d have laid down my worthless, sorry little life for her. Anything. She couldn’t see it, though. Too busy with Angel, too busy with the scoobs, too fucking busy with everything but me. I was invisible; just there to back her up now and again, then back she’d go to her friends and family, and back I’d go to the hovel I lived in.

Thanks a big one, B. Knew I could count on ya.

Why the fuck I helped her against the Mayor I have no idea. Yeah right, old habits die hard. I'd do anything remember? For her. For love. Why the hell had I fallen for her? Jesus, I would’ve had better luck with Willow, she’s got a girlfriend now. And B? Well, lets just say it was a great night when I’d discovered Angel had disappeared and now she's dating some G.I joke.

She had been willing to kill me for Angel, for what? Fuck that bastard, Angel. He had had it all. He had had Buffy; and the little bitch just couldn’t wait to twist the knife into me for that deadbeat. I could’ve been the one for her. I would have changed, tried my best to get on with her lame friends. I could’ve made her so happy, so why the fuck did I screw up?

No, gotta stop thinking like that. I hadn’t screwed up, she had. It was her that’d missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. She was the one who’d ran away from it - from us - because she was too scared to take a chance, or just too blind to see it staring her in the face.

And look at her now, she’s so sad. In the two weeks I’ve been free of that hospital bed, I’ve never seen her smile. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be stalking her or whatever, but I’m just waiting for my chance. . .for revenge. I can’t just jump out at her, I’m too weak. But she’ll get what’s coming to her. If it’s the last thing I do.

I’m waiting now - in the shadows - just far enough away from her so she can’t sense me. The dumb bitch is out patrolling on her own. I wish she wouldn’t do that, she could get hurt. What the fuck do I care though, right? She looks sad again; wandering around the graveyard all on her own. I’m so not gonna feel sorry for her, man. It’s her own fault.

I know she enjoyed it when we slayed together. Even just the sparring had been a rush. She couldn’t hide that from me, it was in her eyes. Her eyes told me she got off on it, even if she denied it. None fat Yoghurt my ass; she got just as hungry and horny as I did. Well, maybe not quite as much.

Why the fuck she didn’t take the hint with my flirting I’ll never know. Even if she’d just told me to get the fuck away from her, at least I would’ve known where I stood. To just ignore it though - or actually worse than that was when she positively encouraged it. Fuck, that riled me, 'cause I knew it was a case of “tough luck, she won’t fuck.”

She’s wandering round the graveyard like some lost little girlie. Yeah right, a lost little girl twirling a stake. I told her she shouldn’t do that, the vamps see her and stay away. I hated it when they ran and wouldn’t fight. I hate her. I. . .Fuck. Why is she so depressed? She’s got everything she wanted; me out of her life, and a perfect boy toy - who can at least screw her, unlike Angel.

She’s crying now. Why the hell is she crying?

Don’t you dare, you have no fucking reason to do that, B.

Unless, maybe she misses Angel. She sure as I know what hell looks like can’t be missing me.

Fuck, B. . .please don’t cry. I. . .

Fuck it, she’s a bitch. A bitch that tried to kill me, that betrayed me, messed up my head, and did it all with a self-satisfied smile curling her perfect pouty lips.

Ok, I’m losing it now, and I’ve got to keep focused. I’m here to exact revenge right? When the time is right I’m gonna stab her in the gut just like she did me. I’m gonna show her just how much I love her. . .so much so that I hate her. What was I saying about being fucked up? Yeah, I’m there all right.

I’m gonna have to go, 'cause I can’t stand seeing her like this. I might want to kill her, but my weakness doesn’t just exist in my body, it’s in my mind too. I don’t trust myself when she’s like this; I just want to run out and hold her. I want to kiss the pain away and tell her I forgive her. I’m feeble, I’m lost, and all I want to do is be with her.

But I tried that before and she pushed me away. I had no choice to do what I did back then. I had no one to turn to. I was coping with being so in love with someone that only really saw me when it was convenient to them. I’d never been in love before, hell. . .I’d never felt anything as strong as what I felt for her. Not even the hate I had for my parents came close, that’s how deep it went.

Why am I crying? I'm an asshole. Gotta pull myself together. She hates me and I have to remember that. My only choice is to hate her right back. To hate her more.

I have to get away from her.

* * *

God, I hate this apartment. It’s so cold in here, and so empty. I can feel the pain in the walls - my pain. At least I got the window repaired, if you can call sticking up a couple of planks of wood repairing something. Shit, maybe I could go into business, call it Psycho Slayers R Us. . .or R Me at least.

I’m glad I’ve still got this place. It’s obvious the cops have been through it, though. My clothes and shit are gone, and there was police tape everywhere too. Bastards.

The fucking draft is pissing me off now. Everything is pissing me off, including me. I’ve been waiting around for two weeks. Two weeks deciding what the hell I’m gonna do. I can only fool myself with the whole “I'm waiting 'till I’m stronger” shit for so long.

Wish I could afford some new clothes. Stealing gets you some things, but it’s not the best way to go, especially with the police still sniffing around. Lucky for me they’re all thick as pig shit or I’d be in jail right about now. I’m pushing my luck robbing stuff though, but hey a girls gotta eat, and look as good as she can. Of course, leather pants are hard to come by and these black jeans are beginning to look a little worn if you know what I mean. This tee shirt could do with a wash too. May as well fill the bath. Just gotta love the freezing cold water.

Naked, freezing and starving, and you think you’ve got problems to cry about, B.

Hell, what is all that about anyway? She has the perfect life now; everything just fucking perfect. Friends that would die for her, a hunk of a boyfriend, college, all that shit. It can’t be Angel that’s making her depressed, not after hearing what she said to Red about it all being for the best. And anyway she has that Riley guy; ok he looks a little dumb, but she’s been with him a while now as far as I can tell.

I just wish I. . .nah, can't go there; there’s nothing I can do but make things worse. She doesn’t want me - never did, never will. If I turned up at her door she’d stake me soon as look at me. There’s no going back after the shit I put her through.

Ha, gotta laugh at that; the shit I put her through? Jesus, I have to stop doing that. Do I have to chant it to myself over and over? “She screwed up, not you. She screwed up, not you.”

Fuck this water’s cold. Who the hell have I got to be clean for anyway? Great, now I’m turning into my dad. Useless, lazy bastard he was. The only good thing he ever did was disappear and die; “Awww, poor little, Faithy. Did you hurt yourself? Come here so daddy can do you 'till you bleed, you little whore.”

Just gotta love my life.

No excuses though right? I’m fucked up cos I wanna be. I’m the one in control. At least that’s what B seemed to think. I know that’s what Willow thinks; she said as much to my fucking face. Bitch. Ok, so they didn’t quite know all the ins and outs – literally - of my early years, but who was I to argue? Anyway, Buffy’s the self-righteous one, the girl we all look up to - the scoobies and me both. I was taken with her from the minute I first laid eyes on her.

She wasn’t just beautiful on the outside to me, it went all the way through her. Or so I thought. After being stabbed in the gut by someone it kinda takes the shine off their halo a little. But I still think she’s beautiful. Sure, now I can see the flaws that are on the inside, but the package is all good. I can’t help being attracted to her. Even when she was kicking my ass, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how sexy she looked while she did it. I’m crazy I know, but I couldn’t help it. Still can’t.

I had eight months of dreaming about her. Sometimes it was just a replay of the fight, and other times I’d be taking my revenge. But most of my dreams were just her. Or to be more exact, me and her. . .together. How fucked up is that? She put me to sleep and all I can do is dream about her.

I really wish I could just shut the hell up. I don’t need her, or anyone. I’m fine as I am right? Five by five. I don’t want someone screwing with my head, telling me how to live my life. It’s always been get some, get gone with me. It’s the best way; no one can screw with you then. Not if you do it to them first.

Shit, got to wander round the apartment now 'till I dry off. Clothes are gonna take forever to dry too.

Yeah, you cry, Blondie. Pretty soon it’s all gonna be over, one way or another. If it can’t be you and me, it may as well be you or me.

It’s not like I have a lot to live for.

* * *

So now I’m following her again. I stayed away for a couple of days, trying to get my head together. Attempting to focus on my gaol to get revenge, and not just fucking fall for her all over again. I’m such a loser. Who am I trying to kid? I know I still love her. I know I want her just as much as I ever did. It’s just the way my life goes, right?

She looks all cute tonight, her silky hair tied up in a ponytail. Pastel shades making her eyes shine. Shit, she’s so pretty.

She’s out with Willow and Tara. It shocked the hell out of me when I found out Red was no longer driving stick. She’s got a nice looking girl there, though; quiet, but nice. Buffy doesn’t seem to mind about it either - so why the hell had she been so freaked out when she found out I’d slept with a woman before? Just another one of those questions floating around in my head.

Got to stay out of her ‘sensor’ range. Lucky I got extra good slayer hearing.

“I don’t know what to do, Will. I feel so. . .lost,” Buffy says, looking mighty pissed off again, and sounding it too.

“Buffy, you need to put it all behind you. It wasn’t your fault,” Willow tells her, trying to be reassuring.

“I can’t help think that I had a lot to do with it. I could have. . .done something,” Buffy sighs, and I’m wondering what the fuck she’s talking about.

“There was nothing you could do. And right now we have to concentrate on this new demon. He seems pretty serious.”

“W-Will’s right. Unless Faith tries to contact you, you have t-to forget about it, for now,” Tara says, and I wanna thank her for telling me what Buffy was whining about.

So, Buffy’s feeling a little guilty for fucking me over. What a damn shame. Don’t know what she feels so lost for though, it’s not like she lost eight months of her life.

They’re talking about some new demon or something now. Some wicked big guy with a taste for the young.

Where the hell does the little bitch get off feeling sorry for herself? I’ll show her sorry, when the time comes. Shit, got a little too close there, Buffy is looking right my way.

She can’t see me. She can sense something, though I don’t think I’m close enough for her to know it’s me. Maybe she thinks I’m some freaked out vamp or something. Time to motervate before she gets a clue.

Distance is good, and at least now I can’t be put off by that cute face of hers. Still, the rear view is almost as good. Jesus, what a backside. Cute little Buffy with her cute little bod.

Damn, B, what I could do to you would make you weak at the knees.

I’m so not supposed to be thinking like this. It really doesn’t tie in with the whole “hate her guts n wanna kill her” philosophy I'm trying to get down with. Weak, weak, weak; I always was, but fuck that. . .ain’t gonna be any more. She might get my juices flowing but I gotta ignore it. I can’t let her get me all horny for her again, just for her to act like I don’t exist.

But I still do exist for her, don’t I? She’s feeling pretty shitty about what happened between us. In fact she’s been looking real depressed about it. But maybe it’s just an act. An act for her scooby friends so they don’t think she’s as messed up as I am for enjoying putting me in a coma. Yeah, that’s probably it. Blondie doesn’t want to come off looking like psycho slayer the sequel.

You nearly had me fooled there, B. Not gonna make that mistake again though, bitch.

Why the fuck do I let her get to me like this? I’m going round in circles. I love her, I hate her. Wanna kill her, wanna screw her brains out. I’m really not dealing with this. Maybe that coma did fuck with my head. Maybe I’m brain damaged or something. I sure as hell feel it. Why can’t I stick to one thing? Revenge.

Jesus, it’s cold out tonight. I should have stolen a jacket, but no, I had to go with the tight as possible tee shirt. What a nut. Finally got myself some leather pants, though. I always did look good in leather, even B noticed that one. Sure she never actually said anything, but I could tell the way she looked at me, checkin' out my ass. Why the fuck she had to make out like she was the straightest chick to walk the earth, I don’t know.

Stop looking so damn sad, B. The scoobies bought it already.

Hey, where they going?

Shit, Buffy, you’re alone again. Why do you want to be alone so much? You’ve got a boyfriend, you should be with him.

And why would I encourage that? He’s not good enough for her. Yeah, like she needs a sick bitch like me huh.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. I wish I could shut the fuck up.

I’ll follow her home, just to make sure she’s safe. I mean, I don’t want something getting to her before I do. That’s hilarious. Hey, if I say it enough though, maybe I might actually mean it. I’m gonna kill her, slaughter her, fuck her over. Still sounds funny. I’m kidding myself and I know I am. I may not have done the whole high school thing, but I’m not stupid.

I’m following her cos it’s the only way I’m ever gonna get close to her again. I’m a fucking stalker for Christ sakes, but I miss her so much, and I hate myself for it. I hate her for it, I do. Thing is I love her more, and I need her more. What do I do? Guess I just wait, like I have been doing. Wait for me to shake myself up and get out of town, end it all and kill myself, jump her and have her kill me, or. . .or what? I really have no clue.

Shit, did I get too close again? Why isn’t she going inside? She’s just stood there with her hand wrapped round the doorknob. She didn’t see me, I’m sure, so why the hell is she looking around like that? Those puzzled looking, beautiful green eyes are searching for something. Time to creep away and stop standing here by the damn tree like a fucking peeping Tom, she’s gonna catch you dumbass.

A quick shake of her head and she’s inside, and I’m still standing here like an idiot. I am an idiot. . .'cause I’m standing here wanting so much to walk up her path, to knock on her door and ask for us to start again. To go back to when it was fun, flirty, and definitely not fucked up. Hell, I can just be friends if that’s all she wants. Shit, I laughed a little too loud there. Friends. Right.

I know, and she knows, it should be so much more than that. But the screwed up little ‘straight’ girl was just never willing to let go. She was too busy fighting it, and ended up pushing me away when I needed her most. Come to think of it, she must have been scared to death that showing me some understanding, some compassion, might lead to her stepping over the line.

That’s it. Why didn’t I see it back then?

She was fucking terrified.

Still, I doubt she would have guessed exactly what all her pushing would result in. I was always on the edge - she just helped me over it.

* * *

I just love vampires that carry money. What the fuck they’d need it for, I don’t know. Oh well, he sure wont be needing it now. I think I’m much more worthy than a pile of dust. Stupid ass, shouldn’t have tried creeping up on me. I’m a slayer for Christ sakes, wasn’t like I was gonna give him a break. Even if I don’t give a shit if this hellhole of a town gets overrun with undead scum I still love to kill.

I love the rush a good slaying gives me. It’s like a shit load of adrenaline goes screaming through your veins. I get hot and horny from the kick, and then I get hungry. Lucky I have the money now for a burger. The whole horny thing will have to wait till I get back to the apartment. I hate taking matters into my own hands but I really don’t want anyone else around me right now. Nobody else but her of course. I can’t have her though - 'cept in my fantasies.

I’ve been thinking about her a lot when I’m horny. Fuck, it’s normally her that gets me horny. I’ve been watching her slay for a couple more days now, and this new demon has got her spooked. She’s really been going for it, and just watching her gets my adrenaline flowing, not to mention anything else. I love the wild look in her eyes, like she lets go of all her fears and shit.

I can almost feel the heat coming of her when she lets rip. It’s such a fucking turn on. I lie in bed at night trying my best not to think about it - about her - but I always fail. I get so wet just imagining how great she’d smell after I fucked her. Sex and sweat, and just pure Buffy. I bet she tastes amazing. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done myself wishing it were her. Yup, I’m losing my grip.

She’s seeing less and less of her boy toy Riley. She’s even spending less time with the scoobs; only really getting together with them when she needs to, to talk about the big evil and shit like that. They’re worried about her. I heard Xander and Will talking about how strange she’s acting, and how down she is. I listened to them for a while and it seems like it started after she tried to off me, and it was a big reason for Angel up and leaving her. They also think my disappearance from hospital has shaken her up, and made her even more depressed.

Well, what a fucking shame for her 'cause things are only set to get worse, when I finally sort my head out and kick her all the way to hell; if I can stop myself wanting to fuck her long enough to do it. Thing is, I don’t just want to fuck her, never did. I want it all. I want her time, her kisses, soft hands. I want her heart. I need to see a shrink, yo. It can’t be right to still want somebody so much after they tried to kill you.

I’m really beginning to hate this apartment now. I feel so alone. I am alone. I pace around the room all day, waiting for the time to come when I can search her out and follow her. It makes me feel less alone, which is just too weird. She doesn’t have a clue I watch her - watch out for her even. Yeah, I can admit it. Between the periods of wanting her out of my life, I’ll admit that it’s pretty worthless without her.

I almost showed myself last night. She had a run in with a pack of hungry vamps, on her own again. B just didn’t seem with it, like she didn’t really care. It was touch and go for a while, but she dusted them eventually. She got badly roughed up, though. I was so close to helping her out. I can’t even imagine what she would have said, or done. Probably would’ve staked me right along with 'em.

Man, these sheets need changing; what with the nightmares and my fantasies about B they’re pretty fucked now. Shit, I’m a mess. My life is a mess. I’m living like a bum. I should probably stop spending what money I can steal on booze and try eating properly. My mom always said I was a lot like her; a drunken whore with no hope. I’m less of a whore now at least, not that I ever screwed guys for their sake. It was always for me and my needs. What a joke, 'cause I never got what I needed.

Buffy.

It keeps coming back to her. Sex was never the same again after I first met her. I was always left wanting and unfulfilled, though I didn’t want to admit it. I wanted her to scratch my itch, not some convenient guy who just happened to be cute enough - or available.

I have really got to stop wanting what’s never gonna happen. Even if deep down somewhere inside her she wants it just the same, she’s never going to deal with it. And it’s just too late now anyway. Want, take, have. It worked with everything but her.

Time to leave my shit hole of an apartment and go find her.

* * *

Fuck, how long have I been looking? Seems like hours. She’s nowhere to be found. I’ve been round graveyards and alleys, even risked a look in the Bronze. Riley is on his own. . .again. She isn’t at her mom’s, or the dorm room she shares with Red either. Nowhere. And I’m getting worried.

It’s just not like her to miss a patrol, unless something’s wrong. I saw the scoobs and Giles and they aren’t acting out of the ordinary. Hell, I even scoped out their resident bleach blonde vamp Spike. Still no sign.

Fuck, B, where the hell are ya?

So now I’m in a graveyard again, not completely sticking to the shadows. If she sees me now I’ll just have to make a run for it.

Come on, Twinkie. I want to see that cute little ass of yours.

Shit. . .now is not the time for some vamp to jump out at me.

“How ya doin', dead guy? I’m gonna make this short and sweet,” I tell him.

Yeah, a quick punch to the head, followed by a lethal kick, wooden stake - even deader dead guy.

“Ok, so maybe it wasn’t so sweet,” I chuckle.

“Very impressive, Slayer. Or at least, I presume that’s what you are?”

“Who the fuck are you?” I turn round to find a huge freaky looking demon clapping me.

He looks like a cross between the incredible hulk and some other big green guy. I’m guessing this must be the new demon the scoobies have been trailing.

“Who I am is not important, little girl. Who I’ve got is,” he says.

“Little girl? Oh, now you’re hurting my feelings. Jesus, get an act already,” I say with a smirk.

“So you don’t care about the cute little slayer I have?” he asks.

I swear if he had a moustache he’d be twirling it right about now. Fucking ball of slime.

“What the hell you on about?”

Ok, so I really shouldn’t bite and should just kill the guy already, but this sounds kinda worrying.

“Like I said, I have the slayer. The real one that is. And your friends have something I want,” he says roughly. “A book that belongs to me.”

“They’re not my. . .” I snarl. “All right big guy, I’ll play ball.”

If he has got B, I’m gonna kill him so dead he won’t remember what being alive was ever like. Great, now I’m not making sense. I so do not want to be panicking right now.

“Deliver my book and you shall have the slayer,” he continues. “I can’t promise she won’t be harmed. After all, she is a little on the feisty side.”

He’s laughing and it sounds like shit gurgling down a drain.

Crap, where’d he go? He's fast for a fucking mountain of slime. There’s no hole in the ground. No fresh graves, tombs, or supernatural portholes. I’m screwed; I have no clue where the hell he’s got her. I swear if he’s so much as snapped one of her nails I’m gonna. . .again with the caring, what is all that about? Got to get over her.

Get. . .over. . .it.

Who am I fooling here? Certainly not me. Right, so now what? I put it all behind me? Move on and hope she can do the same? Enough with the questions. I know what my heart wants to do even if my head is about to fucking implode at the very idea.

I’ve got to find her.

* * *

Well, I never thought I’d be knocking on Giles’ door again, but I need help with this and he’s probably my best bet. I just hope he’s alone 'cause I can’t cope with the rest of them just yet.

“Who is it?” he shouts, wary as per usual - not that I blame him.

“I need your help. Buffy’s in trouble,” I say through the door.

“Faith?”

At least he’s opening the door, if a little cautiously.

“Look, I’m not here to cause trouble, G-man. Some big green guy has got B. I could stand here all night telling you how sorry I am for all the fucked up things I did, and that I’m not gonna hurt anyone. Hell, I won’t ask you to trust me, but no slime ball is gonna get his hands on the girl I love,” I blurt.

Oops, went a little too far there, but I’m just too pissed off to really care at the minute.

“Slow down, Faith. Come in and sit down,” he says.

Shit, that was easy. If I did want to hurt him, he’d be dog meat right about now.

“Thanks, Giles.”

He looks scared to death of me. I need to just sit down and try to look. . .friendly I guess.

“What is going on, Faith? And why are you still in Sunnydale? You’re not planning anything stupid are you? How have you managed to evade the police? And what exactly did you mean ‘the girl you love’?”

“Whoa there, Giles. Enough with the questions I’m losing track,” I tell him. “For a start the police are stupid fucks. And like I said, Buffy is in the hands of a big, green demon. . .and I’m still in SunnyD 'cause I couldn’t leave her.”

No need to freak him out by telling him I’d been planning on a little revenge for the past three weeks. Things have changed now anyway; I can’t keep trying to fool myself into believing I could hurt her again. I’ve been there and done it, and I hate myself for it.

“So, you are telling me that you love her? After all that you did to her, and her friends? I’m sorry if I sound a little sceptical,” he mumbles, rubbing at his glasses.

“I know I fucked up, but shit. . .I was fucked up. I couldn’t deal with it all, but right now that doesn’t matter 'cause she needs our help,” I say firmly. “He said something about you having a book of his, and that he’d let her go if you gave it back to him.”

I really haven’t got time for the whole Jerry Springer thing right now and I’m sure as hell not going to spill my guts to some stuck up English dude.

“Ok, presuming that I go along with what you are saying. . .tell me everything. When did you see him for instance?”

I tell him how I bumped into the demon and what he said, leaving out the fact I was doing a little stalking of course. He’s frowning now, cleaning his glasses like they’ve just come back from a mud wrestling championship. I think he believes me though, or at least partly.

“Right,” he says. “It’s all becoming clear now. I’ve got an idea of who he is and what he wants with his book, but I need to be sure.”

I dunno if he's talking to himself or me, but whatever.

“I don’t trust you, Faith,” he says, definitely at me this time. “For all I know you could be working for this demon - it wouldn’t be the first time - but right now Buffy’s safety is paramount. I’m going to call in the rest of the gang. You can stay if you want, or go; we probably won’t need you at this point.”

“Won’t need me? Are you crazy?” I say loudly, starting to laugh.

Ok, the maniacal laughing isn’t doing me any favours, but seriously.

“Trust me, you’re going to need me. This guy is huge, quick, and. . .I’m not going to let Buffy down again. You got that, G man? I’ll do this alone if I have to.”

And I’m not sticking around here to be looked down on again. I had enough of that the first time around.

“Wait, Faith. You are aware that Buffy might not be exactly appreciative of your help? You hurt her very much. I don’t think you know quite how much. She trusted you; we all did and you let us down.”

“I let you down? Fuck. . .I haven’t got time for this. Whether she likes it or not, I’m gonna sort this out. So you do your research thing while I go do my thing and find the demon.”

With that said, I leave.

Got to make my way back to the graveyard. He couldn’t have just disappeared; gotta be there somewhere, and my guess. . .so is Buffy.

So now I’m looking around again, kicking tombstones in defeat, and generally feeling pissed off and useless. I ran all the way back here but I didn’t burn off all the frustration seeing Giles caused. I never expected to be welcomed with open arms, but to just dismiss me - that was cruel. They have no chance against this demon without me. What the fuck am I supposed to do? I need their help, and they need me. I’m the fucking slayer; it’s not my fault the old one is still around, but I’m supposed to count.

I’m gonna have to do what I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks; follow and watch. They’ll lead me to him, then I can do my job. I'll slay the demon and save the girl. Jesus, where’s my fucking white horse huh?

I doubt I’ll get many thanks, and she’ll still hate me, but it’ll be a start. At least it’ll go some way to atone for my mistakes with her. Buffy and the scoobs might not accept any responsibility for what happened but I can accept my part in the whole fucking catastrophe. I just want a chance to talk to her, that’s all I really wanted. Revenge was just a word I used to cover up that fact. It’s all starting to make sense now, and I hope I’m not too late.

I’ve been wandering round for hours now. I watched Giles let the Buffy brigade into his house and they’ve been there all night. No doubt he told them I was around, and I can just imagine Willow making plans for my destruction. Can’t blame her though, I scared the living shit out of her. I suppose that was something to do with the fact I was jealous of her friendship with Buffy. I would have done anything to have been as close to her as Willow was. No chance of that now; I always manage to destroy everything. What a skill.

Out they come, just before sunrise. He’s told them I'm around all right; Red is looking round her like I’m gonna jump out at her any minute. Riley looks like he’s about ready to snap, the fucking dick. Xander looks mighty pissed off too. I can’t deal with this, it just reminds me of how fucking crazy I got, and how sorry I am. Have I actually admitted that to myself yet? Just did I guess. I am sorry. I never meant to get so lost.

Got to stop feeling sorry for myself though, I need to focus on getting B back safe and sound.

* * *

So I’ve only had a couple of hours sleep, but I’m itching to get things moving. The longer Buffy is with that demon the more likely it is she won’t be coming back alive. I know without a doubt she won’t just be sitting tight and waiting for help. She’ll be trying every trick in the book to get away, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be pissing off the green guy as she does so. I’ve been on the wrong end of her sharp tongue and cutting remarks enough to know how angry she can get you.

Looks like the gang have had the same idea as me. There all at Giles’ magic shop; preparing to do something I hope. They mustn’t have found out much last night 'cause they’ve been in there for hours. I’ve had to leave now and again to eat and go to the toilet, and just plain stretch my legs. I’m a girl of action and I hate this waiting around, but that’s all they ever seem to do.

We need to be doing stuff now, like hunting the fucker down and sticking his thumbs up his ass. All right, so I’m not down with the whole anger management thing yet, but he’s got my cute little blonde. Fuck, I mean Riley’s cute little blonde; though the dumbass wouldn’t know the first thing about showing her a good time. You only have to see them together to figure out how bored by him she is. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t hang around with him much.

Maybe I should concentrate on what’s going on right now, and not let my mind wander off into fucking daydream land. Red and her girl are leaving the shop. She still looks freaked out and jumpy but Tara seems pretty calm - probably cos she’s never been unfortunate enough to meet me. They're headed to Buffy’s house, presumably to let her mom know what’s going on, and to let her know that they’ve got everything under control. Yeah right, without me they don’t have a hope, and I’m not just biggin' myself up here; I’m a fucking slayer - a good one at that - even if I am a little weak still.

Shit, why are they taking a short cut through a fucking alley? I thought Willow was supposed to be smart. It’s dark enough for vamps already. I’ll have to keep pretty close. Protecting them is not something I’m that keen on doing at the minute, but Buffy needs them too. And look at that, just as I thought. . .a vampire. I’ll give the girls a chance to deal with this themselves first; no point in rushing in if I’m not needed. Great, there are two of them now and the witches are panicking. Never a good thing to do around hungry bloodsuckers.

Will is throwing holy water around but the vamps are just dodging it and getting a few swipes in. Her girl is chanting something, but not quick enough to avoid the ugly fucker that’s pushed her down.

Tara is hurt.

Don’t get distracted, Willow.

Fuck, no choice now.

“Yo, dead dude, pick on someone your own size,” I say, coming out of the shadows.

It was a pretty impressive back flip onto the scene I did there. I’m just too cool. I hit one of the vamps hard; that felt good. Love the feel of dead flesh on my knuckles. No time to play, though. I stake him quick.

“Hey, where ya going? Get the fuck back here so I can dust you,” I yell as the other one runs.

“Fuck you,” the vamp screams.

Oh, he’s getting me angry now. Oops, did I just break his back as I flung him against the wall? He won’t have time to dwell on it.

“Bye, bye,” I say with a smirk just as he turns to dust. “You guys ok?” I turn to ask Willow and Tara.

They’re cowering in a corner and they think they can take this demon without me? Tara doesn’t look too beat on but she’s not going to be getting up and running around any time soon. Willow’s coming back to her senses now, and her eyes are filling full of hate now instead of fear.

“Faith, stay the hell away from us. I’m warning you, we’ll turn you into something nasty,” she tells me.

“I’m already something nasty, Red.”

Ok, that wasn’t the best thing to say, but my mouth had never been one to wait around for my brain.

“Yeah, well. . .just stay back. I don’t trust you,” she continues.

“Ok, Red. Just cool it, I’m not here to fuck with ya. Like I told Giles, we need to work something out if were gonna get Buffy back,” I say calmly.

I should probably stop moving towards them; Willow looks about ready to turn me into a chicken or some shit like that.

“Willow, listen t-to her at least,” Tara says.

Hey, I like this Tara chick.

“She’s got nothing I want to hear. And we can save Buffy without your help, Faith. You’d probably just turn psycho on us again and kill us all.”

Do I really have to deal with this now? We so haven’t got time, and I so don’t want to be explaining about all the shit that happened.

“Look, Willow. I’m gonna say this once - at least until Buffy’s safe. I’m sorry about all the shit that went down, and I’m sorry for what I did to you. We don’t have a whole lot of time for kissing and making up. You do need my help, whether you like it or not. . .and for the record, if I’d wanted you dead you would be,” I say.

I just had to add that last part didn’t I? When will I ever learn to just shut the fuck up?

“Why you skanky. . .” Willow starts to say.

“W-Willow, can I speak to you a second?” Tara asks her, cutting her off.

I guess they must want a little “lets discuss the merits of having a bad ass slayer around” talk. I walk far enough for them to think I won’t hear them, but of course with my slayer hearing they have no hope.

“Look, Tara, you don’t know what she’s like. I mean, she’s. . .a killer,” Willow explains.

“I know she’s done some terrible things, and I know you’re not just g-going to be able to forgive her straight away, but. . .she’s t-telling the truth about being sorry,” Tara says.

“You don’t know that. Faith is. . .”

“Don’t ask me how I know because I’m not quite sure, b-but I do. It’s like I can just sense it. And she did just save our lives.”

Did I mention that I like the new witch in town?

“Hey, guys, we don’t have all night remember? We need to bag ourselves a demon,” I point out.

I’m seriously getting sick of waiting around now. Got to take some fucking action.

Tara’s trying her best to walk over to me, stumbling a little as she does so. Looks like she twisted her ankle or something when she fell, and as much as willow doesn’t want to get too close to me, she kind of has no choice if she wants to keep her girl upright. Tara is pretty clever, and she’s holding out her fucking hand for me to shake. Either Red didn’t tell her about everything I did, or she’s got some balls.

“I’m Tara, by the way. I can see that you’re sorry, Faith. It’s n-not just a sense I get, I can see it in your eyes. D-don’t expect everyone to just forgive you right away though, you’re going to have to work for it. Oh, and by the way. . .if you do anything to hurt Willow, or Buffy, or anybody for that matter, I’ll personally make your life hell,” she warns.

Shit, this girl has got some fucking balls. I can’t help but smile at that.

“I have no fucking doubt that you would. Jesus, Red, you’ve got one gutsy chick there,” I say with a chuckle, just smiling at 'em.

I’m hoping the smile is putting them at ease; I’m trying my best for it not turn into a grin. I’m supposed to be friendly-Faith they can trust, not look-at-me-and-want-to-eat-me-Faith. I think it’s working too, at least a little.

“For Buffy’s sake, I’ll call a temporary truce 'cause we don’t really have much choice right now. Giles is pretty spooked about this demon, and even though he’s tried to convince us that we don’t need you, I think that’s just a bluff to make us feel better. I’ll talk to him, and the others. But after this is over. . .well, I guess Buffy will know what to do,” Willow says, a serious look on her face.

Gee, Red, thanks a big one.

I offer to walk them to Buffy’s house and after a little persuasion from Tara, Willow agrees. She’s so pussy-whipped, but it's working in my favour, and on the way there they let me into some of what they know about this green dude. Willow won’t tell me everything, just in case. She’s not going to be totally trusting me any time soon, but I’ll just have to go with it. I know I’ll get the chance to show them that I’ve changed. To show them that what I want - more than anything else - is to help Buffy and not hurt her.

Have I really changed? Probably not totally, but I’m on my way. There are still heaps of issues that I need to deal with - that B and I need to deal with. I suppose I’ll just have to hope I get my chance with her when this is all through. From what I’ve been told about this demon guy called Delerius, he’s one mean fucker.

He’s after this wicked old book so he can perform some kind of enchanting spell to lure kids to him no less. Seems that’s how he gets his power; feeding off the young. Why the fuck can’t things be simple? Like. . .see vampire, kill vampire, go home and eat, have sex and then go to sleep. At least that’s the way I like things to go. I’d like it all the more if it was Buffy I got to have the sex with, but that goes without saying at this point really doesn’t it?

Gotta get my mind outta the gutter and concentrate on keeping watch while the witches do their best to keep Mrs S from freaking out. I kinda figured that Giles hadn’t said anything to the gang about me being in love with Buffy as they haven’t mentioned it. I’m grateful for that at least. I can just imagine the shit I’d get from Willow, not to mention Xander or the soldier boy.

I’m going with them back to see Giles. They’re gonna try to make him see that they need my help with the killing and shit. Well, if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s killing monsters, and the odd human, though there's no need to bring that up. . .I've changed, remember? God I hope I don’t screw this up. If I do then not only have I lost the opportunity to make it up to the scoobs, but I would have lost Buffy. Shit, we all would lose her.

We’re on our way now. I haven’t said a great deal to either one of them, but then I don’t suppose they really want to listen to me make polite conversation anyhow. I miss talking to the gang, though. I may have acted like I didn't give a fuck about them before, but I’d never had real friends like that. Not that they were ever really my friends; they only tolerated me cos of B.

At least she had tried in the beginning, I just couldn’t let my guard down. Always striving to be cool and aloof when all I wanted was for her to fucking like me. That’s just it though isn’t it? She did like me; too much it seems now that I look back. She got so scared of it all, which just made me act like even more of a bad ass.

Funny thing is I think she was kind of attracted to that side of me, before I went too far of course. Maybe if I get another chance at things I should keep a little of the attitude, just to stir her up. Hell, who am I kidding? I could no more drop the attitude than I could be a fucking nun. It’s just who I am.

* * *

Red and Tara are in the magic shop attempting to make a case for me to help them out with their little problem. I just hope Tara can be as persuasive with them as she is with her girlfriend. I know Xander’s probably gonna take the most convincing, and Riley. Fuck it, none of them should be trusting me if they had any sense. I wouldn’t give me second chance. No way.

Great, I’m not even on my side. Just as screwed up as ever, and it makes me want to laugh my fucking head off. I’m gonna have to behave myself though and not act like a total lunatic. I can do this; go along with whatever they say, and not rush in before I know what the hell I’m doing. I have to give them control on this one, or at the very least make them believe they have control.

Red’s calling me over. I can do this, I can do this. Not gonna run from what happened. I can do it for Buffy.

Why the fuck didn’t I just leave town when I got out of that fucking hospital? Ok, I’ve been through this already; it’s all about that cute fucking slayer, and always was.

I feel a little stupid, like I’m walking into a lion’s den or something. Can’t let them see I’m nervous as hell. They’re all staring at me as if they’re waiting for me to suddenly pounce on them. Like I thought, Xander looks like he wants to rush out and kill me. Giles looks like he always did with me – apprehensive. And Riley. . .he looks like he’s gonna puke. Fuck.

“Hey,” I mumble.

Yeah, I didn't sound too smart. I must be retarded.

“I understand that Willow has told you a little of what we know,” Giles says after clearing his that. I'm glad he said something 'cause I was about to wig out and leave. “And you will have to thank Tara for us even considering to allow you to help,” he continues.

Allow me to help? They still don’t fucking get it do they? There is absolutely no way they can do this without me. I don’t think I’m gonna be able to make them see that though, so I just gotta go along with it. No use in stirring it up, not now I’ve got my foot in the door.

“So, what’s the plan? I take it you have one after all the book work you’ve been doing?” I ask, trying to keep it civil and to the point. I’m less likely to stick my foot in my mouth then, or even my whole damn leg.

Oh fuck, the soldier boy has puffed himself up to say something to me. Does he really think I’m gonna be intimidated by him? Ok, so he looks pretty tall now he’s standing, but I could snap him in half with my little toe and I would so love to do it too. He has got B after all, and I’m the jealous type.

“I don’t think we’ve heard an apology yet, have we people?” he says, spitting his words out like venom.

I’m thinking he’s stupider than he looks.

“Ok, I thought we could save this until Buffy was safe and there was no threat to the local population of brats and all. . .but if you wanna waste everyone’s time, fine,” I say, throwing my hands up in the air. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for fucking up. I’m sorry for what I did to you Xan, and Willow. I’m sorry for letting you all down and helping some guy who was trying to end the world and all that. Now can we please save the rest of this kiss and make up session for after I get to sort things out with Buffy? 'Cause - and forgive me for caring - I think we should be concentrating on actually getting her back.”

So maybe I was a little abrupt there, but I’m really not in the mood.

“You? Care?,” Riley says with a laugh. “From what Buffy told me, you didn’t give a damn back then so why should you now?”

This Riley guy has so got it coming to him. What a shame I decided to leave my evil, shit kicking self behind earlier. He needs to shut up though, before I do it for him. I mean, he wasn’t even fucking there for Christ sakes.

Willow speaks up. “Ok, Riley, I think we can save this for another time. Like Faith said, Buffy is in trouble. In fact the whole of Sunnydale is if we don’t come up with a plan.”

Did I just have a stroke or something? Red is actually sticking up for me.

“Thanks, Red,” I say quietly.

They all finally relax a little - I say a little and that’s exactly what I mean. We got past the whole “why aren’t you in jail?” shit, and Tara helped me out explaining that it was going to be bad enough for me to live with what I did without being incarcerated. It’s true; I’m gonna carry around this guilt for the rest of my short life. I think Riley actually grinned at that.

Things aren’t too bad now the air has been cleared a little. Xander still hasn’t spoken to me, and Riley has been trying to out evil-glare me for the past half-hour. I feel so out of place. Like a fucking defective Action Man sitting in a Barbie factory. . .and what the fuck am I talking about? All this sitting around is seriously stewing my brain cells.

“So now we know what’s going to happen and when, and we have an idea of where he might be, we need to prepare ourselves for the raising of Delerius,” Giles says suddenly.

He completely lost me.

“Do you mind sharing with me what the hell you’re talking about?” I ask, really itching to get out there.

“Haven’t you been listening, Faith?” Giles asks.

Oops.

I hate it when he glares at me like that; it’s not my fault I’ve got the attention span of. . . well, me.

Thankfully, Red has decided there are definitely things I need to know if I’m gonna be of any help.

“Like I told you, he gets his power from feeding off of kids,” she says. “The book he wants has got the incantation to lure everyone under the age of fourteen - within a ten mile radius - to him. He’ll render them unconscious and have his way with them - in a strictly energy sucking way that is. The thing is, he can only do the incantation on a new moon, which is in two nights time.”

“Ok, so you’re gonna give him the book right, so we get B back?” I ask.

“No.” Giles says without blinking.

“What was that, Giles? No?” I repeat, a little shocked.

“Let me finish, Faith,” he says. “We can’t afford to give him the Danena book. It’s far too powerful, and if anything happens and he does actually go through with his plan then. . .”

“Major catastrophe and blah, blah, blah. What about Buffy?” I say through gritted teeth.

I’m getting a little strung out now. She’s the only thing on my mind, and I don’t just mean in a sexual way. I don’t just want her back so I get the chance to ogle her again. I’m sincere in the fact that I want her to know how sorry I am, and that I want to put things right. Fuck, I’ve really done a 180 haven’t I?

“Well, we do have a plan, Faith. It’s going to take a little time to set up, but thankfully with the new moon being two nights away we’re not rushed. We need to stall him first and foremost; trick him into thinking he’s going to get the book,” Giles explains a little.

I sat with them for an hour going over their plan. It was pretty fucking ludicrous if you ask me; mainly because it all pivoted on the fact that we had to trust him not to harm B while we stalled him. That means she’s gonna be stuck with him until he shows himself at the new moon.

My first job is to let him know that we’ll give him the book then – the night of the new moon - and not a minute before. Apparently, not only is the new moon the only time he can do his spell stuff, but it’s also when he’s gonna be at his weakest. So when he shows it’s gonna lights out for him. Giles seems to think that because he spoke to me once before he’s likely to talk to me again, and hopefully believe me.

Tomorrow we’re gonna be busy setting the trap for when he shows. Riley - through his contacts with some dodgy military force called the Initiative - has found out that this Delerius guy is holed up in some cave system somewhere. Giles has a plan to flush him out so we can kill the bastard and get Buffy back in the process. It’s not going to be easy though; something to do with timing and shit like that. The two witches are gonna be busy with their containment spells and stuff. Riley, Xander and Giles are gonna be the fire power. And listen to this one. . .I get to save the girl.

It took some doing to convince them I was the only one who could get in and out of there without him catching me, but they saw sense in the end. And again I have to thank Tara for that one. She may be quiet and shy, but hell. . .when she speaks people fucking listen. Maybe it has something to do with the power she has. I just know I’m grateful.

And hopefully, this will all work out how we want, 'cause if it doesn’t. . .well, I don’t want to think about that.

* * *

It's dark out now and I’m prowling the cemeteries, waiting for this demon guy to show and ask for his book again. Since when could fucking mountain shaped monsters read anyway? The place is eerily devoid of vamps, like they know something is brewing. Jesus, the undead can be such fucking pussies sometimes. For immortals they get pretty scared of dying; it’s fucked up if you ask me.

The scoobies are getting weapons together and sorting out the spells they need to do to get this guy off guard. Even though he’s gonna be weaker, he’s still gonna pack a punch. It’ll take me time to get into the action once I’ve got B safe too. I swear if he’s killed her. . .shit, can't think like that.

I couldn’t live with myself if I don’t get to tell her how sorry I am, and that I love her. But can I really tell her I love her? Should I? It’d probably screw my chances of getting her friendship back once and for all.

Giles hasn’t said anything else on the subject. Guess he’s thinking that it’s nothing to do with anyone but Buffy and me, and I’m glad 'cause I don’t want her hearing it from anyone but me.

It’s pretty cold out tonight, and I still don’t have a jacket. I could do with a vamp or two to warm me up. I’ll do some stretches, unwind my muscles after all that sitting around and avoiding being glared at by Riley and Xander.

Buffy’s fucking 'action man' isn’t too pleased that it’s going to be me rescuing his honey. He was all up for doing it himself, fucking clueless ape. Like he could sneak into a demon’s lair and not get caught. God I’m so fucking tense. . .

“Oh, very nice, Slayer. You are supple aren’t you? I’m thinking that maybe I’ve got the wrong girl tied up. Looks like I could have much more fun with you.”

“You fucking slime. . .” I start to say to the big green demon now standing in front of me.

Gotta keep my cool.

“As much as I’d like to stand around chatting with you all night, I’m afraid I don’t have time. Preparations and all that. So where’s my book?” he snarls.

I’ve so got to fight the urge to just take him down now, but all I can think about is the fact he’s got my B tied up in a fucking cave.

“You’re full of the witty remarks aren’t ya? But have you got anything to back it up with snot man?” I say.

Shit! Didn’t see his fist coming. He just lunged forward quicker than I could move, and now I’m on my ass with a bloody nose. Not to mention the fact that I’m at least twenty feet away from where I started. Ok, he’s fucking quick and strong to boot.

“Don’t mess with me weakling, or next time I won’t be holding back. My book. Now!” he demands.

I get to my feet feeling a little shaky. I seriously have to keep my cool now. It’s my job to fool him. Got to do it for Buffy.

“You’ll get your book tomorrow night; stroke of midnight, on the full moon,” I tell him.

“That’s not good enough. It doesn’t give me enough time to prepare. Do you not care about the little slayer I have? How about if I tell you she can no longer scream because her throat is so sore with all the screaming she has already done? Or that her blood is making a lovely floor colouring for my little hide out?”

“You fucking. . .” I rush forward aiming a kick at his torso, but again he’s too quick and just brushes me aside. I slam into a particularly hard tree, getting winded in the process. “Look, idiot, we can’t give you the book ‘till tomorrow night. Something to do with using its energy up or something.”

He’s looking perplexed now.

“If we give you it now all kinds of other shit’ll happen, and when you come to use it. . .it won’t work,” I try to explain.

He’s buying it, I can tell. Dumb fucker. That was a completely lame lie by my standards.

“Ok, as I’m aware of the great power the book has, I’m inclined to believe you. You will have somebody give it to me tomorrow night.”

“Where?” I ask, and gotta hope he says the right place.

“The old quarry to the east of here. You will know it when you see it.”

Fuck yeah! That’s exactly what Giles had wanted him to say.

Giving him the book so late means he hasn’t got time to pick it up elsewhere and take it back to his lair. He has to do the incantation as soon as he gets it. It means we can trap him. It means he’s fucked.

I blink and he’s gone. How the fuck does he do that? I really hope he’s a lot weaker 'cause of the whole new moon thing when it comes to it. I’m obviously not up to full strength, and even if I was I’d be having serious problems with this guy.

I make my way back to Giles’ to report on what just happened. I’m feeling a little woozy and my nose is bleeding all over my fucking tee shirt. It’s the only clean one I’ve got too. I hate demons. Vampires I can handle - especially after the whole Kakistos thing - but demons, they just make me so fucking pissed.

I stumble up to Giles’ door, attempting to knock. The blood loss is really taking it out of me; I guess even a slayer can’t just bounce back after eight months stuck in a coma. Willow opens the door and I practically fall into her arms. She wasn’t expecting that I bet.

Tara gets up from the couch to help her girlfriend manoeuvre me to a chair.

“Faith, a-are you ok?” she asks.

Shit, if I didn’t love B so much I could really start to dig this Tara chick.

“Five by Five, just a little nose bleed.”

I say little, but there looks to be more than a pint of blood down the front of my tee shirt. A fucking white one too, would you believe it?

“Giles, I think she’s hit her head. There’s blood there too, at the back,” Red points out.

Giles furrows his brow. “Ok, Willow, get the first aid kit. You know where it is,” he says.

My head? Well, it could only knock some sense into me I guess.

Riley and Xander aren’t around, and I’m glad 'cause I know they’d both relish me being hurt like this. In fact, I’m surprised at how bothered Red’s being. She’s certainly never been my biggest fan at the best of times.

“What happened, Faith? Did you manage to relay the message to Delerius?”

“Don’t sweat it, G-man. He bought it. But I don’t think he’s gonna let her go,” I say kinda woozily.

I feel pretty spaced here. Must have given my head a good whack against that tree.

Willow’s back with the first aid kit. What is it with all the giving a shit if I’m injured or not? Tara’s offering to take care of me I think. It’s getting a little hazy. It’s probably not a good idea to go around smacking your head into hard wooden things so soon after coming out of profound unconsciousness.

* * *

Ok, so I’m upstairs now, lying down. What the fuck?

“B, I got to. . .get. . .”

“Shh, it’s ok, Faith. Y-you can’t do anything more tonight.”

I’m in what looks like a spare bedroom with Tara holding a damp cloth to my forehead. There’s nobody else in the room, and again I’m surprised at just how brave this seemingly timid girl is.

“Where’s Red?” I ask hoarsely.

“She’s downstairs w-with Giles, working through the last of the spells. Are you feeling any better? Back to normal?” she asks.

Am I? Fucked if I know, what does normal feel like for me anyway?

“Don’t remember coming up here,” I tell her.

“Y-you were pretty out of it. I’m glad it was Giles that helped me get you up here and n-not Willow,” she says with a small smile.

“Why?”

I’m lost now. I know I’ve never been the brightest of buttons, but I have no clue what she’s going on about, and my head is fucking killing me. Too bad slayer metabolism and painkillers don’t mix.

“Well, y-you. . .” she starts to say, blushing – which can’t be good. “You said I was pretty, and that if it wasn’t for B-Buffy you’d. . .” I close my eyes, expecting the worst 'cause I'm a fucking idiot after all. “. . .you'd really like to get to know me better.”

Well, that wasn’t too bad. I mean, it could have been a darn sight worse. I can’t quite stifle the faint laugh that escapes.

“What’s so funny?” she asks.

Oh man, it hurts my head to smile.

“It’s just. . .here I am trying to get in with the good guys again - make things right and everything - and I end up practically hitting on the girlfriend of one of them. It’s just so fucked up, just like me,” I say, letting my smile drop at the thought.

Yeah, the girl I love is tied up in a fucking stinking cave and I’m trying it on with another pretty blonde. What the fuck makes me think I’d ever be good enough for B? I’m a fucking loser.

“You were kind of o-out of it Faith. I don’t think you knew what you were saying.”

What a cute little stutter. Fuck, I’m seriously fucked up. I gotta stop being a horn dog.

“What you said about Buffy though, i-is it true?”

She’s giving me that look. Ya know, the one that means she already knows.

“Is what true?” I ask.

I really don’t want to share this right now. Not before I get a chance to talk to B.

“You said if it wasn’t for Buffy. . .y-you know?” she says, pegging me. “I didn’t know you liked Buffy like that. I mean, W-Willow never said anything.”

“That’s 'cause Willow doesn’t know. Nobody does, Tara. Well apart from you now, and Giles - kind of - though I don’t think he quite understood. Buffy doesn’t know. She never did, or at least I don’t think she did. I love her, always have. It’s all pretty fucked up.” I blurt.

Why the fuck am I telling her this? Why the fuck are tears rolling down my cheeks? Oh, she’s good; got some kind of fucking powerful mojo there. She’s holding my hand now and I can’t stop crying. This isn’t me. I’ve been possessed by some kind of wuss demon.

“I can feel your pain, Faith. I know you’re sorry for w-what happened, and I know how much it’s tearing you apart. It must have been so hard for you to keep all that emotion inside,” she says.

She’s crying too now, and I’m speechless.

I don’t even know this girl and she’s got me pegged. Yeah it was hard, so hard it screwed me up. I couldn’t deal with keeping it all in, but I knew I couldn’t let it out either 'cause B didn’t wanna know. All that love I felt for her just imploded in on itself; consuming me because there was no outlet. I can see in Tara’s eyes that she knows. . .she knows my weakness. Emotion. My love for Buffy - it was just too raw.

“Fuck, you’re good. You should be a therapist or something,” I sniffle, trying to dry my eyes and not look like a total sap. “Look, Tara, I don’t want anyone else knowing about this. I know I shouldn’t ask you to keep secrets from Willow but. . .I don’t want B to find out from anyone but me. You understand that right?”

“I understand, but I think if Willow knew w-why you did all those things - what it was that drove you to it - I think you’d find her to be a lot more forgiving.”

“Maybe you’re right, Tara. I just can’t take that risk. I can’t risk screwing up any hope of a second chance with Buffy. I couldn’t bear that.”

I start crying again. Must have done some fucking damage against that tree.

“Ok, F-Faith. Come on, stop crying, you’ll start me off again,” she chuckles a little.

“I’m trying, I’m trying, but I’m beginning to think I might be stuck like this. Can you imagine? I go out to slay some vamps and all I can do is cry on them?”

We both fight back the tears and smile at that.

She checks my wounds over, then takes my bloodied tee shirt to wash for me.

“Thanks, Tara. For listening, you know, and stuff.”

I’m so not used to all this opening up shit. I’m so glad it’s not her I fell in love with, I wouldn’t have a hope, or a single secret left in me.

“It’s ok. N-now get some sleep, it's a busy day tomorrow,” she says.

She flicks the light off and I’m lying in the dark feeling just that little bit lighter.

* * *

Everyone is rushing about when I finally make my way downstairs. They’re preparing to booby trap the demon’s hideout.

“Anything I can do?” I ask, 'cause I gotta show willing I guess.

“Ah, Faith, I though it was best to allow you to rest a little longer. You lost quite a bit of blood last night. How are you feeling?” Giles questions over his glasses.

Again with the giving a fuck. Have I slipped into another dimension?

“I’m five by five, G-man. Ready to kick some demon butt and get Buffy the hell out of there.”

“Good to hear it, Faith.”

“There’s just one thing I gotta ask ya though, Giles,” I say, 'cause it’s getting a little strange now. “What’s with all the 'how are yous?' And the trusting me and shit?”

“Are you telling me that we shouldn’t trust you?” he asks, rubbing furiously at his glasses.

“You can trust me, but it’s just that. . .when I first came to you about this you didn’t seem all that forgiving or trusting, or like. . .giving a shit.”

“All right, If you must know. . .” He says, leading me into the kitchen and away from the others. “I believe that you love Buffy, and I believe that you want to do what is right this time around. It took a lot of contemplating on my part and reassurance from Tara to accept that you have indeed come here to help us - to help Buffy.”

Tara again. That chick is a fucking revelation. Shame she wasn't around way back when everything got fucked up.

“Look, about that. I don’t want the rest of the scoobies to know how I feel about B. It would just complicate things, especially as far as Riley’s concerned,” I say.

I can’t believe I’m talking about this with Giles. My life has gone from fucking strange to fucking. . .strangerer. . .shit, I know what I mean.

“Don’t worry, Faith. You just concentrate on your part in this plan, and know that I’m not just trusting you to help us out here, I’m trusting you with Buffy’s life.”

Well that sure hit home.

He turns on his heal and continues rushing around with the rest of them as they panic in as professional a way as possible. Jesus, should he really be trusting me with her life? I don’t ever want to hurt her again, and I don’t want no stinking demon anywhere near her, but this is so big. Can I do this? I have to believe I can, for her and for me.

Guess I should fix myself some breakfast. It’s gonna be good to actually eat something decent for a change. Three weeks of scraps and cheap burgers isn’t exactly the best way to recuperate from my eight months hiatus in a bed.

I return to the living room with my stomach full and feeling a lot better for it. Willow is packing something away into her rucksack and looking all stressed. I give her my best ‘friendly’ smile just to try and put her at ease. I really hope I’m not grinning lewdly or something. She smiles back so I guess I got it right.

I’m kind of feeling like a spare part now. There isn’t really much I can do to prepare to enter a demon’s lair and rescue somebody. I know, I’ll practice with this big slashy thing here. Fuck, I love a good heavy sword. It feels good to be twirling it around my head like it was made of nothing but plastic or something. I can feel my muscles flexing into order; stretching out and finding their limits. I may not be on top of my game right now but I can still do a hell of a lot of damage. And I’m feeling good.

I look good too in my now clean, white sleeveless tee shirt and black leather pants. I can see Riley watching me out of the corner of my eye. I know that look. He’s watching my body, wondering what it would feel like under him as he fucked me. Well, he can look all he fucking wants but he doesn’t have a hope in hell. Not now anyway. There’s only one for me, whether she wants me or not.

I bring the sword down in a final arc and turn to look directly at him.

Yeah, turn away with a fucking guilty look on your face, Riley.

What the fuck does she see in him? I’ve just got to keep asking 'cause I just don’t see her getting along with him. It’s not like she got along with me either I guess. At least there was passion between me and B though. Fair enough it was the wrong kind of passion - on the surface at least - but it was there.

We’ve made our way out to the quarry now. Giles, Xander and Riley are setting up their arsenal of weapons at the main entrance to the cave. We know the big guy isn’t around right now 'cause bleach-boy Spike has been tracking him. We don’t have long to set up and get out of sight, though.

The two witches are doing their thing in the nearby bushes. And by that I don’t mean they’re doing the nasty - or at least I hope not - they’re doing the set up for the spell casting stuff they need to do. Whatever, I don’t really get it anyhow, all I know is that one of the spells is supposed to throw him off our scent so to speak, so he doesn’t get suss.

My job is to scope the back entrance. . .not that kinda back entrance, got to keep my mind on the job. I’ve got to set some charges as I go; it’s not too technical, just sticking some stuff to the walls. Hell, if in-need-of-a-personality-Riley can do it, so can I. It’s all got be set right for the fireworks later.

I’m making my way into the cave system now; it’s fucking dark and stinks like centuries old shit, and I don’t even get perks with this job. I’d crawl through centuries old shit and God knows what else for B, though.

The low light from my torch is just about showing me the way; if I make a wrong turn I’m fucked, well and truly. I’m pretty sure I’m going down the right tunnel now, though. Fuck, the walls are slimy. . .not nice but I have to keep grabbing onto them. I’ve got to remember the way 'cause when I get her and we have to make a run for it there won’t be any margin for errors.

Right, time to start sticking these babies up. What was it Riley said? Every three meters, as far as I can. No problem.

* * *

I’ve been moving down the tunnel, sticking up the explosives for about ten minutes now. It sure is a long way down. If he comes back this way the only place I can run is straight into his lair. I hope B's ok. I’m trying not to think too much about it 'cause I don’t wanna get sidetracked; got to stick to the plan 'cause if the slime ball comes back and she’s missing we’re up shit creek without a fucking boat never mind the paddle. And if I don’t stick to it Giles will fucking fry me. But she’s down there somewhere, alone and afraid. Fuck, this is so hard.

Shit. . .what was that? I swear I just heard something down there deep in the cave. Gotta concentrate and listen. Definitely no mistaking it this time - it's crying. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

No, I can’t go down there. Giles said I can't go. . .screw Giles, Buffy's fucking crying.

I’m coming, baby.

Ok, can't rush in all hysterical, that’s a sure way to get us both killed. I can feel her now, like somebody’s running their fingernails down my spine. It’s different from the feeling I get when I sense a vamp - that’s more like someone running their fingernails down a blackboard. I always loved the way it felt around her, though; the sensation becomes less intense after half an hour or so, but it’s always there.

“Faith?” Buffy says somewhere down the tunnel.

She must be able to sense me too.

Jesus, B, please try to be quite. Stop crying, I’m almost there, princess.

There’s a big open space ahead, so this must be the place. I can’t sense Delerius anywhere near and I’m fucking praying to anybody that will listen not to let him turn up.

“Fai-Faith.”

Her voice is so low and hoarse.

I finally reach the. . .

Fuck. Oh my God, Buffy!

She’s chained to the wall by her wrists, just hanging there all limply. If I hadn’t heard her I would swear she was already dead. She’s obviously been battered around, and her own stake has been rammed through her left shoulder, pinning her to the wall. There’s so much blood, all over her, all over the wall and floor. I’m in front of her now and the light I’m holding is hurting her eyes.

“I’m sorry, baby,” I say quietly, unable not to call her what I've always wanted to.

I put the torch down on the floor and feel for the pulse at her throat; it’s so weak.

She’s looking at me now, the pain so obvious in her eyes. It’s breaking my heart and I don’t know what to do. What the fuck do I do?

“Faith? I don’t want to fight,” she says and I can barely hear her she’s so faint.

“Shh, don’t try to talk, B. I’m not gonna hurt you, I’ve come to get you. Well, not just yet, that's not the plan. . .but soon,” I tell her.

Tears are striving to fall from her eyes but I can see that she’s cried herself out.

Fuck, how could I have ever thought I could hurt this girl again? She’s everything to me. I’d take her place right now if I could and tears are flowing down my cheeks now, making up for what she can’t do.

“I need you to be strong, baby. Please,” I tell her.

“I. . .can’t hold on,” she says, so weak.

I gently lift her head up so she can see me, see the truth in my eyes.

“I’m not gonna lose this chance, B. I’m not gonna lose you again.”

I barely hear her reply over the sound of my own crying, but it shoots straight to my heart.

“You never lost me, Faith,” she says.

She’s drifting off now, exhaustion getting the better of her. I keep my fingers to her pulse just to reassure myself.

“I’ll be back. I promise,” I tell her. “Please hold on. A lot of people need you, Buffy. I need you.”

I lean in and gently kiss her on the forehead, trying not to aggravate her already bruised skin.

It’s true; I need her more than anyone. More than I ever wanted to admit to myself before. I force myself to move away from her, to go back up the tunnel. It’s so fucking hard; I don’t want to leave her like this. I’m so gonna kill that bastard demon.

I take one last look at her, making sure her chest is still rising and falling; it is, but it’s so shallow.

I’m running out of the dank tunnel now, knowing if I don’t get out now neither of us will. My eyes won’t focus for the tears and my heart is pounding. I finally get outside into the fresh night air, and promptly vomit my breakfast back up. Willow is running towards me, a look of worry ingrained on her face.

“Faith, what happened?” she asks.

“I saw her, Will. She looked so beat down and lost.”

I can’t stop these fucking tears. Gotta pull myself together. I can’t let Red see me like this. What is with all this crying?

Willow’s pulling me away from the tunnel opening, trying her best to get me to the others - to safety.

“No. . .Willow, I don’t want them to see me like this,” I say shakily.

The tears are still flowing and I can feel my heart breaking from the pain of seeing Buffy in so much distress. I really don’t want that fucking asshole Riley looking down on me now. I swear I’d beat the fuck out of him.

“Ok, Faith. Over here.”

She helps me towards a clump of trees, just to the left of the rest of the gang.

I need to compose myself. I’m gonna be no good for the scoobies, or for me, but most of all I’m gonna be no good for B if I can’t get focused.

“Faith?” Willow says softly.

Shit, how do I explain to Red why I’m so upset?

She’s looking at me intently, trying to figure out what’s going on - with me, and with Buffy.

“Faith, is Buffy. . ?” Willow mumbles, fear in her voice.

Her eyes are filling up now and I can’t deal with her being upset too. God, why do I have to be in love with a fucking slayer.

“She’s alive, Will. But barely. I wanted to get her out of there so bad. It hurt so fucking much to leave her,” I tell her. The whole stopping crying plan just isn’t working here.

“Faith, I didn’t realise you. . .you. . .”

“Gave a shit? Cared? I love her, Will. This is breaking my fucking heart.”

Shit, I can’t keep my stupid mouth shut.

“God, I’m sorry,” she gasps.

She’s holding me now and pulling me into her as I break down at the memory of not only what the demon has done to Buffy, but also at what I did to her in the past.

I’m rocking back and forth in Red’s embrace, shutting my eyes tight against all the hurtful memories. All the pain and chaos. Why the fuck had it gone so wrong? All I wanted was her love.

“Tara, thank God,” Willow says as Tara approaches. “Faith saw Buffy and she's in a bad way. And. . .and Faith is. . . well, you can see. You were right all along, she doesn’t want to hurt Buffy. She loves her.”

“I know, sweetheart,” Tara says.

Tara sits next to me and gently rubs her hand on my back until I eventually stop crying.

It had all just been too much; waking out of the coma, thinking I could act out some sort of revenge. I'd tried to believe I'd been consumed by hate for her, just as much as I'd been consumed by love. . .but it wasn’t true. I never hated her, I hated the fact that I could never have her love. I hated what we became. I couldn’t deal with all this emotion. I’d never had to before; nobody ever loved Faith the whore. Not my fucking parents, nobody. I can’t believe I’m letting them see me like this. I’m a tough girl right? I’m not supposed to give a shit about anyone.

I’m calming down now; stopped balling my eyes out. Shit, we’ve got a fucking demon to kill and a slayer to save. I can do this. I can be strong if Buffy can. She’s hanging on so the least I can do is fight for her.

“I’m ok,” I say, catching my breath. “I’m sorry guys. I just didn’t expect her to be that bad.”

I’m looking everywhere but in their eyes. I really don’t want to get into the whole “if you loved her, why did you do all that bad shit to her?” conversation. I can’t explain it to Willow, not right now.

I think Tara can tell I just want to get on with the rescue and the slay now. That I just want to focus on what I need to do. What we need to do.

“Come on, Giles w-wants us to check in with him over there,” Tara says.

I give her a grateful smile, mostly with my eyes.

I’m thankful right now that Willow isn’t throwing questions at me too. Maybe she can sense the need to leave it for now.

We rush over to the rest of the group, nestled deep in the undergrowth at the edge of the surrounding wood. Nobody comments on my obviously red eyes. I’m so glad they don't; I’m just not in the mood for any of their bullshit.

I tell Giles I’ve done my part in putting the explosives in the tunnel. I don’t tell him that I’ve seen Buffy. I know he would be pissed at me for going against his wishes and risking the plan by going to her. Willow and Tara don’t say a word to him about it either. The only thing to do now is to watch the time tick down to midnight. Yep, I have to do the one thing I really hate doing in situations like this. . .sit back and wait. I’m a slayer, I need action, and it’s chewing me up inside knowing that Buffy will be going though so much pain right now.

* * *

We’ve been waiting here for a couple of hours, but it seems like forever for me. I hope Buffy's ok; I’d give anything for her to still be ok. I hate that I had to leave her there, but Giles is right. . .if Delerius goes back in and finds her gone the whole plan goes to shit.

The two witches started up their protection spells a few minutes ago. Midnight is getting closer. I don’t have to look at my cheap watch, it’s like I can feel it 'cause I know I’m gonna be going in there, for Buffy. I’m gonna be able to hold her in my arms, and take her away from the pain. I just hope she lets me, and doesn’t fight me. Even after hearing what she said earlier I’m still fucking worried about the way she’s going to react to me when we’re out of this, when she’s out of there. I don’t have a damn clue what she meant when she told me I never lost her. I hope I get the chance to ask her about it. I hope I get the chance just to see her face again. See her smile.

It’s getting closer now. He’s getting close. In fact he’s making his way down into his cave.

He better not touch her.

Ten minutes ‘till midnight now and time to motervate.

“Ok, Giles, I’m gonna head round the back and start making my way back in. Try to leave me a piece of him when you start to take him down. . .I’ve got a bone to pick with him, hell, it’s a whole fucking skeleton.”

“Right,” Giles nods. “Excuse my lack of saying something original here, but let’s synchronise watches. Listen out for our signal, Faith. Oh. . .and, Faith. . .be careful.”

Giles pats me on the shoulder, but I can see in his eyes that if I fuck up he’ll be more likely to want to tear me a new ass.

I leave them to prepare themselves as I slip into the shadows.

I’m at the tunnel I’ve wired now, waiting again. This time for the signal that the big guy has come back out of his hole, expecting someone to arrive with the book. Giles is gonna stall him while I get B out of there. When he knows she’s safe they’re gonna unload a shit load of weaponry on his green fucking ass. And if he tries to run back into the cave and out the other side he’s fucked, 'cause when I throw the switch all the little explosives I stuck down there are gonna blow, blocking his escape. He’ll be trapped, and then it'll be bye bye big fucking slime ball.

There’s the signal. Can't fuck this up.

I’m running down into the darkness, down to Buffy. I hope it’s going to plan up there, or we’re both fucked. It feels like I’ve been running for hours, trying to be as quiet as I can. Is the tunnel longer, or am I just losing my mind? I’m not gonna answer that, got to focus.

There she is; still chained, still got the stake in her. He had no fucking intention of letting her go, not that I really believed he would. No time to think about that, got to get her free.

“B?”

I feel for her pulse. It’s even weaker now and I knew that before I even felt it; I could sense it. The feeling I usually get when she’s around is weaker than normal.

She’s trying to lift her head to speak to me. God, her eyes have still got that sparkle in them, even now.

“F-Faith. . .I’m cold,” she says weakly.

“It’s ok, baby. I’m gonna get you out of here now.”

She’s tearing me apart with those eyes. They’re pleading with me to help her.

I pull at the chains, trying to yank them from the wall. She must have loosened them when she was no doubt struggling to get out. It doesn’t take too much to pull them from the wall eventually. Buffy must be so weak right now. Jesus, just look at all the blood.

The only thing keeping her from falling into my arms now is the stake he’s rammed through her shoulder. I’m gonna have to pull that out of her, and it’s gonna hurt her so much. I don’t want to do it, but I have to.

“Buffy? I need you to brace yourself, and try not cry out or anything. This is gonna hurt,” I tell her.

I lock my eyes on hers, and with two hands wrapped round the bloody stake I pull. She yelps, and I’ve hardly budged it. Shit.

“Please, Faith. Don’t,” she say, trembling.

She’s trying not to cry but I can feel her shaking as if she were.

“I’m sorry, B. I have to.”

She’s gonna scream the place down and the slime ball will hear. . .then it’ll be over for us both. Only one thing for it I guess as both my hands are occupied.

I place my mouth over hers, trying my best for it not to be a kiss, but fuck that’s hard when it’s all you’ve been thinking about for so long. She isn’t trying to pull away or anything, not that she really could I guess. I gently move my lips on hers - trying to distract her - and I’m sure she’s making an effort to kiss me back. Her lips are so fucking soft.

I yank with all my strength, trying to get the stake out in one go. Her scream is muffled by my mouth and she tumbles into my arms. I can't seem to stop kissing her but I pull away from her eventually – reluctantly - and see that her eyes are closed. Did she actually enjoy that? Or is she just in a shit load of pain?

“Wasn’t so bad huh,” I say and smile down at her, just thankful that we can get the fuck out.

She’s bleeding a little from her shoulder now. It’s not too bad, but it's worrying considering how much blood she’s already lost. She passes out and I throw her over my shoulders in kind of a fireman’s lift, making a run for the tunnel. Giles better have everything under control up there.

We make it out ok, and pretty quickly considering I had to run with her all the way. But then she’s only small. Small and perfect. I put her down on the ground in a little clearing.

She didn’t wake up the whole way but the cold air must have been a shock 'cause she’s coming round.

“Faith,” she says quietly. “Faith?”

“It’s ok. I’m right here. Give me two seconds and I’ll be right back.”

I kiss her on the forehead before I make my way to the fight, knowing that Xander will tend to her.

The scoobs are really doing a number on the demon; throwing everything they've got at the ugly fucker. Riley’s got his blaster thing and Giles is wielding a big fucking crossbow. The two witches are doing some magical missile kinda thing that's sending sparks flying everywhere. Oh man, is he ever done for.

Giles looks over to me and gives me a nod.

“Throw the switch, Faith,” he yells.

I rush out to the little box that’s hidden in the bushes and push the red button. Why are they always red? Why the fuck am I thinking about that now?

Delerius looks up, startled as a loud boom echoes out across the quarry and the ground shakes under our feet. That’s my opportunity; he’s off guard. I run at him with rage in my eyes and he actually looks afraid. Makes me wanna laugh.

I fly at him with a well aimed kick to the head and he stumbles back a bit. Payback is such a bitch. I follow it up with a round of quick punches; I’m worked up and letting him know about it and it feels good.

I get a little cocky and he catches me with an uppercut. I didn’t fly quite as far as last time, but he’s on me now, landing blow after blow. Shit, gotta get out of this. I kick up at him and give him a repayment flying lesson.

“Here, Faith,” Xander calls.

He throws me the sword I was playing with earlier. Good thinking.

“Thanks, Xand. Time for a little fun,” I yell.

I’m really getting into the swing of this now. The demon's shitting his none existent pants, and seems to have lost his script 'cause he ain’t got a come back to anything I say to him.

I twirl the sword in front of me and he’s trying to back up into his cave. It’s wicked funny though, 'cause those explosives did so much damage most of the front entrance has collapsed too. I dart toward him before he realises what’s going on. I slash at his torso and green ook flies everywhere. Why the fuck do these things have to be so messy?

My next slash is gunning right for his head. He looks at me like he knows what’s coming. I cut the fucker’s head off in one clean slice. God, I love the sound of that.

“That’s for Buffy, bastard,” I snarl.

I drop the sword and fall to my knees. Where the fuck is all this blood coming from?

 

 

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