Faith lay in bed and tried to think about what she was doing.
It was not supposed to turn out the way it did, that much Faith was sure of. When she woke up from her coma everything was supposed to be better. It had to be better than her life was before when she had nothing. The Mayor was supposed to make sure of it or at least, that's what she got from the video she watched.
In some ways it was. With the amount of money he gave her she wouldn't have to worry about going hungry ever again. That alone was a huge plus since when she lived with her mother in Boston there were days where that was all she thought about. Now that wouldn't happen again and she wouldn't even have to work.
She also had a nice place, not like the disgusting slums that she had lived in the past. Then there was that she was essentially a superhero, something that was a huge power trip. Nothing was a bigger rush than slaying and she was happy the spell had kept her a slayer.
Buffy and everyone else was the confusing part and Faith knew she had messed up in her dealings with them. She had tried her best to act she was one of them, like she was the Faith they were friends with. She needed to act like the Faith Buffy was in love with.
If she had been smarter she would've acted the part only enough to get out of the hospital without suspicion. After that, she should have taken her newly given riches and taken the first bus, train or plane away from Sunnydale. She shouldn't have stuck around and played up with everyone that had cut her out of their lives months ago.
She certainly should not have slept with Buffy.
In her moment of weakness and an incredible episode of a lack of better judgment, she had let Buffy strip her piece by piece. After she was naked and it was time to rid Buffy of her clothing she almost backed away and ran. Faith knew in the end that would have been the smart thing to do even if it hurt.
That wasn't what she did though. The pleading look on Buffy's face was enough to get her to stay even though Buffy didn't know what she was really pleading for. Faith knew the spell was making Buffy think that they were having sex in order to reconnect but Faith knew better and that meant she should know what the right thing to do was.
In her mind, she knew she didn't do the right thing. She didn't stop before they ended up on the bed. They had sex and Faith knew it was wrong. It felt like she'd done something she shouldn't have.
Buffy had been asleep for a couple hours and Faith could only look at her as she used Faith as a pillow. They seemed to fit perfectly together and that should have shown Faith that what happened was good but it didn't. Instead, it only made her more disgusted with herself.
Faith suddenly felt like she was suffocating and she started to panic. Buffy's arms around her felt like a vise and she needed to get out of it fast. She didn't want to wake her up though because then she would have to make up some excuse at why she needed to leave and she didn't think she would be able to think of one.
Getting out of Buffy's hold was a challenge but after a few minutes Faith was able to do so. She got out of bed and looked at the other woman for a minute. Buffy looked so beautiful and peaceful as she slept and that only made Faith feel worse about what happened.
She got dressed quickly and left the apartment as quietly as she could. Once she was outside she walked to her car and sat down in the driver's seat. She simply stared out the window for a few minutes, wondering what she was supposed to do now. There was always the option to flee, to leave Sunnydale and never come back, but she knew she couldn't. She couldn't leave with the spell intact.
Finally, she started the car and drove out of the parking lot. Nothing was open save from maybe an all night diner and Faith wasn't in the mood for food. That was how she knew something was wrong: she had no appetite whatsoever, even after some great sex.
Faith drove around the town for awhile before ending up outside of Giles' condo. The lights were off but that didn't stop her from getting out of the car and walking up to the front door, knocking on it loudly. Some things could wait until morning but this wasn't one of them, not when Faith finally had the nerve to say something.
After a minute the door opened to reveal a disheveled Giles. "Faith? What is so important that you feel the need to wake me up at three in the morning?"
She looked at him for a few seconds, debating what to do. Faith knew what she came to him for. He was the only one that would possibly believe her if she told him about the spell and what was going on. Now that she was there she didn't know if she could do it.
"Faith?" Giles leaned in, not liking the look on her face. Something was wrong. "What's going on?"
Letting out a sigh, Faith knew what she needed to do. "We need to talk."
Buffy woke up alone in bed and it confused her.
The last thing she remembered was snuggling with Faith after amazing sex. They hadn't had it in so long that Buffy figured anything they did would be amazing but it felt that way nonetheless. There was something different about it, too, but it was a good different so she didn't dwell on it.
She sat up in bed and looked around the apartment. Faith wasn't exactly the quietest of people in the morning and the apartment was eerily silent. Unless her girlfriend was trying to surprise her in some way she was not in the apartment.
Faith wasn't exactly the greatest at surprises so she was most definitely alone.
Looking at the alarm clock on the nightstand by the bed Buffy saw that it was only a few minutes after six in the morning. Faith was never an early riser. In fact, most of the time when the alarm went off it was Faith who complained that it was too early and tried her hardest to get her to stay in bed with her.
Buffy sighed and got out of bed, not really wanting to get up but wanting to know where Faith had gone. She looked around and noticed Faith's favorite pair of boots along with her jacket and car keys were missing. For some reason Faith had left.
There wasn't a note and that troubled Buffy. Faith normally always left a note if she had to leave without her knowing and it didn't make sense that she wouldn't. It was one more thing that was different about her girlfriend since she'd landed in the hospital. She kept doing things that were out of character and it troubled Buffy.
Shaking her head, trying to get the doubting thoughts out of her mind, Buffy walked into the kitchen to make some coffee and then took a shower. She let the water glide over her body and kept her head down, trying not to think about what Faith was doing. Her mind threatened to wander every time she did that and it never went to a good place. There was always a worst case scenario when it came to what Faith was doing and Buffy thought of it every time.
She thought after last night things would be different. Once Faith relented and let Buffy take off her clothes, revealing her amazing body to her, she thought that was a sign that things would be back to normal. The sex they had certainly felt that way. The way Faith moved against her, inside her, was just like she always had.
The biggest sign had been after they had exhausted each other. They had collapsed against each other and when Buffy had said that she loved her Faith had said what she always did in response: 'love you more than ever'. That made it feel as though her accident had never happened and everything was back to way it had been before.
Now she was having some doubts about that. As she stood in the shower she had the feeling all of her happiness from the previous night was going to come crashing down around her.
Buffy stayed in the shower until the water ran cold and only then did she step out. She got dressed then sat down on the bed, trying desperately to keep her good mood going but it wasn't working. Faith hadn't come back from wherever she was and even as she sipped a cup of coffee, Buffy was worried about her.
As she was thinking about what she was going to do, the phone rang. It was so unexpected, especially given how early it was, but Buffy reached for it quickly. Her fear was that Faith was hurt again and that was why she hadn't come back yet.
"Good, Buffy, you're awake."
Buffy was almost relieved to hear Giles on the other end. "Yeah, Giles, I am. Faith's not here and I'm getting worried."
"Faith is here with me."
Buffy breathed out a big sigh of relief. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear that, Giles, though I'm going to have to talk to her about leaving notes."
She heard Giles sigh on the other end and it wasn't a good one. "I think it's best that you come here as soon as you can. There's been a . . . development."
"Is Faith okay?" Buffy asked quickly, wondering why Faith had gone there in the first place.
"Yes, she's fine but I feel it would be best if everything is explained in person."
"Oh, okay," Buffy said, a little confused at the request. She also didn't like that it felt Giles was speaking for Faith but she didn't call him on it. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
She hung up the phone and looked around the apartment for a minute before taking her jacket and walking out the door. There was a feeling of dread that threatened to rise up but Buffy pushed it away as she started to walk toward her watcher's condo.
Faith looked at Giles and tried to gage how much of her story he actually believed. He had asked her to repeat it multiple times over the last few hours, maybe to see if her story changed at all each time she told it. It hadn't and she wasn't sure if that frustrated him or not since he had to believe she was telling the truth.
He certainly looked frustrated.
"I simply don't know how all this could be true," he said. Giles had been trying to wrap his head around what Faith had been saying but couldn't. It would mean everything was a lie.
"It is," Faith insisted as she watched Giles pace from her spot on the couch. "That night I woke up I was told it was a spell."
Giles sat down in a chair and looked at Faith. "Why didn't you say anything the next morning? We could've started looking into it then."
"I didn't know what to think," Faith said, looking away from him and at the floor. "I'd just woken up after months in a coma and then everyone's telling me I've only been out for three days. Then I got some demon having me watch a tape that says this world was made for me. What was I supposed to do?"
Faith sighed. "I just . . . I just thought I could do it, you know? I thought I could start over and finally be one of the gang. Problem is I couldn't do it. I can't be the person you all think I am."
Giles simply observed Faith for a moment. She looked almost tortured at the thought that she wasn't able to be the person they thought she was. He wondered if she really wasn't the person they thought she was and what that would mean for them. Maybe his own life was drastically different without the spell Faith said they were experiencing.
"So you and Buffy aren't together without the spell?"
Faith sighed again, wondering how many times she would have to tell him before he believed it. "No, we're definitely not. Like I said, she's the one who put me in a coma."
Neither of them said anything for a minute. Faith had known it would be hard to convince Giles that everything he thought about her wasn't true but the repeated questioning was getting a little old. She wanted him to accept what she had told him was true so he could start looking for a way to reverse it.
For his part, Giles didn't know what was going on. He knew part of that was emotional and if he could get over that reaction he would be able to think about what Faith had told him in a logical manner. That's what Faith wanted of him. She wouldn't have told him what was going on if she thought he wouldn't be able to help in some way.
"Giles, you have to figure out what this spell is and how to reverse it," Faith said. "I don't think I can do this anymore."
Her face looked pained and Giles shook away all the other thoughts in his head. "It would have to be something powerful in order to change the details of our lives like it has. Are you sure your version of the Mayor would have to ability to do something like that?"
"He was very powerful," Faith answered. "If he couldn't do it himself he would've known someone who could. He was, you know, connected."
"And you worked for him? Against us?"
Faith nodded and looked down again as the front door opened and Buffy walked in hurriedly. Faith stood up as she walked toward her and Buffy wrapped her arms around her tightly. She could feel how worried the other slayer was and she felt terrible for causing it. It just added to how terrible she felt about the whole situation.
"I was worried when I woke up and you were gone," Buffy said. "Why didn't you say you would be at Giles'? Hell, why did you have to go to Giles' so early in the morning?"
There was so much she could say but Faith couldn't say anything, only looked toward the ground so Giles spoke up instead. "Faith has shared with me something that is rather distressing."
Buffy furrowed her brow and looked to Faith, the sinking feeling she had earlier returning. "What is it, baby? What's wrong?"
Faith found her voice even though she didn't want to say what she needed to. "None of this is real, B."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked then looked to Giles. "Giles, what's going on?"
"Perhaps we should sit," Giles said and waited for both of them to do so before sitting down as well. "Faith has been talking to me about a spell that seems to be affecting all of us."
"There's a spell affecting us?" Buffy looked at Faith but the other slayer wouldn't look at her. "Who would do that and why? The Initiative didn't really experiment with magic."
"The Mayor," Faith said as she finally looked at Buffy. "Richard Wilkins."
"Faith, your dead uncle wasn't the Mayor," Buffy said. "None of us even met him."
"That's not how Faith remembers it, Buffy," Giles said, hoping to get Buffy up to speed on what was happening. He was also trying to think of a spell that could do what Faith was describing. The more he thought of it, the more familiar it sounded. "Faith has been telling me that this all started when she woke up in the hospital. She was in a coma for months, not unconscious for three days."
"But that doesn't make any sense!"
"It might make perfect sense Buffy," Giles said quietly. "You need to listen to this."
Buffy leaned back on the couch and crossed her arms. "Fine."
Giles sighed. "Apparently, Faith was working with the Mayor against us. The two of you fought, you stabbed Faith and she jumped off the ledge of your apartment. That was the last thing Faith remembered. When she woke up she was given a video of the Mayor telling her that he had changed Sunnydale."
"Where is the video?"
"I had the demon who showed it to me get rid of it."
"Then maybe it wasn't real," Buffy said as she looked at Faith. "Maybe something else is wrong, Faith. Maybe you shouldn't have left the hospital right away."
"That's not it, B," Faith said. "Before the spell we weren't together. You hated me and I was on my own. Hell, the only reason I had a decent place to live was 'cause of the Mayor. He's the only one who seemed to look out for me."
Tears began to form in Buffy's eyes, not wanting to hear what Faith was saying. It seemed too unbelievable that someone she loved so fiercely would be someone she actually hated. She didn't think was capable of hating her. "That's not true. I love you and you love me. I have from the moment you first asked me out."
"That didn't happen, B. There might have been something that could've caused us to be friends at the start but then Angel came back and that complicated things." Faith looked away. "That's probably why he's not here right now."
"Angel came back from hell?" Buffy asked. "I just . . . I don't know what to say, Faith. None of this can be true."
Giles stood up suddenly and walked to a bookshelf, looking at the books before taking one and paging through it. Listening to the two slayers had made him think of something, a story about a type of spell a powerful coven used to perform. If he remembered right, what they had done had a lot of the similarities Faith had described.
"You're wrong, Faith," Buffy said as Faith tried to continue to explain what was happening. "There's another explanation. Someone or something is messing with your head but we can find out what's going on, right, Giles?"
Giles looked up from the book in his hands and at both of them, a sad expression on his face. "I think Faith may be right."
The morning went by quickly but the dread in the pit of Faith's stomach didn't go away. It only grew as they found out about the spell and Giles began to work on how to reverse it.
The book told of a spell a coven in the eighteen century who would use in order to torture people who wronged them in some way. It would give them something they wanted, create a false reality, and then take it away. After a time, they even sold their ability to create the spell to the highest bidder, letting people use it for their own dark purposes.
It created quite a stir at the time until a group found and slaughtered all the witches, thinking all their spells would die with them. The book went on to say that most of their spells were written down and still used from time to time but it was rare to find one.
Faith knew the Mayor had the kind of power and influence that was needed in order to get one of those spells and she wished Buffy would believe that. The other slayer was quiet after Giles shared what he had found in the book and Faith didn't know how to talk to her. Maybe she was beginning to figure things out for herself but Faith didn't know how to ask.
Now that they knew what kind of spell was likely used Giles went about trying to come up with a way to reverse what was happening. He figured it should actually be fairly easy since according to what they had read, the spell was never made to last forever. It was made to give someone something and then take it away.
That was all Faith needed to know about what the Mayor had planned. He knew that Faith would never be able to live in the world that was created. He knew she would end up failing and Faith didn't know what that meant. Part of her didn't want to know.
Buffy was just in a daze. Everything felt so real that she didn't want to believe what Faith had been telling her. If everything was made up then she didn't love Faith more than anything and she couldn't imagine her life without that love. She couldn't imagine a life where she hated Faith.
It took a couple of calls and reading a couple more books but Giles found the spell that was reverse what was happening. He was right and all he needed to do so was some common elements that he had on hand. The only catch was they needed to perform the spell in the same location as where the original spell was performed.
At first Faith thought that meant that they would have to go to his old office to do it but knew that was wrong as soon as she thought it. That would make reversing the spell more complicated and if the Mayor wanted the spell to eventually be broken then he wouldn't have performed the original spell there. He would have needed to do it somewhere easily accessible which was why Faith knew he had performed it in her apartment.
That was where they stood now, in Faith's apartment. Buffy had called both Willow and Xander to tell them what was going on and they had shown up to the apartment as well. They believed what Faith had said about as much as Buffy did. They felt that there was something wrong with Faith and not that what they believed was a lie.
"Is there someplace we should stand, Giles?" Willow asked as she stood by Buffy near the door.
"I don't believe that matters," he answered. "I only need to mix these ingredients together and sprinkle them over the apartment while saying the chant I found. That should reverse the affects of the spell."
"What if it makes things worse?" Buffy asked, keeping her eyes on Faith. "Faith, this might hurt all of us. Are you willing to take that risk? To hurt me?"
"That's not what's going on here, B," Faith said, daring to look at her. The pleading look she had mixed with the love in her eyes was hard to look at but she refused to doubt what she was doing. "I have to make things right."
"You don't know if that's what you're doing," Xander put in. "Whatever Giles is going to perform could be bad. I mean, that's what this old coven wanted, right? To make things worse."
"No," Giles corrected. "They wanted to give something and then take it away. I imagine that if how Faith described the Mayor is true then something was given in this spell and then taken away. It must have targeted one of us specifically and I don't think it was Faith."
Faith looked at him. "Why not?"
"Because you remember what the world was like without the spell."
That wasn't the answer Faith had expected but she knew right away that the intended target was Buffy. There wasn't another option.
"Okay, we should start."
Faith looked at Buffy as Giles started to sprinkle the mix around her apartment. "Buffy, I don't know what you'll remember or anything but I'm sorry."
Buffy only gave her a confused stare, not sure what Faith would ever need to apologize for. The only thing she was thinking was that they were going to have a hard time cleaning up everything Giles was sprinkling all over the floor.
Giles started chanting out of the book in his hand and suddenly what he had been sprinkling on the ground was now in the air and swirling around. The other four covered her eyes as they tried to watch what Giles was doing. Everything was spinning around a small circle toward the center of the room, likely where the Mayor or someone connected to him would have performed the original spell.
As Giles neared the end of the chanting everything turned a bright white and Faith covered her eyes as best she could. Then the chanting was over and everything in the room was back to normal. In fact, when she uncovered her eyes she could tell things in the apartment were already changing.
She looked at Buffy then and saw the change immediately. As their eyes met she no longer saw the love she had a few minutes ago. Now there was only hurt and anger and it was clear she remembered everything. Faith started to say something but Buffy struck before she could, punching her with enough force to knock her out.
Buffy looked angrily down at Faith then at her friends. "Let's leave. Now."
"Buffy, what about Faith?" Giles asked.
"I don't care," Buffy answered coldly, her mind now processing two sets of memories and the confusion was enough to make her start to tear up. "I'm going home."
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