Faith wasn't sure how long she'd been unconscious but when she woke up on the floor of her apartment she was alone.
She sat up and pressed her back against the wall as she tried to keep the room from spinning. Buffy had left nothing back when she had hit her and she was sure it showed. Her hand felt her jaw and she winced, feeling that it was swollen but thankfully not broken.
It took a few minutes but once Faith was able to open her eyes without seeing stars or having the room spin she could see that the spell had left its mark on the apartment. Everything was as she had remembered it back when the Mayor had given it to her minus the destruction she and Buffy had caused during their last fight. She wasn't sure why that was but was thankful she didn't have to deal with the mess.
What had changed was that everything that had been Buffy's, all the decorations that the other slayer had added to the apartment, were all gone. So were all the pictures of the two of them together and with it all the happiness that had once been there. Everything was gone.
Faith immediately missed all the little touches Buffy had made to the apartment. When she first returned home from the hospital all the pictures and changes in decoration had made her uncomfortable. It made her nervous because she didn't know how to react to them and how to react to the changes around her. Now even though she only experienced them for a matter of days, she missed them.
They made her apartment feel like a home.
It was a few more minutes before Faith stood up and actually walked around. The first thing she noticed was the clothes. All of Buffy's clothes were gone just like everything else that had been hers during the spell but when she looked Faith realized that her clothes were different, too.
When she had been Buffy's girlfriend her clothes had been more muted. There were still ample amounts of cleavage and plenty of tights clothes but they weren't as tight or as revealing as the clothes she came to Sunnydale with. That version of her in the spell had toned down the look she had and she figured that was the Mayor's doing along with all the other changes to her personality.
She remembered when she was working with the Mayor that he seemed to not like certain aspects of her personality. He didn't approve of the way she dressed or the way she spoke. From what she remembered he wanted her to be a little more proper in the way she acted and she had always thought that was funny. He was okay with sacrificing innocent people and murdering anyone in the way of what he thought was his destiny but he wanted her to act more like a lady.
Now all she could think about as she stared at all the clothes that were in her closet the day she and Buffy had their last big fight was that he didn't care about her at all. If he had he would have never used her as bait in order to try and get to Buffy one last time.
Faith sat down on her bed and kept her eyes moving over the apartment. One she couldn't understand was that she was sure the spell had reversed everything it had changed since everything Buffy-related was now gone but some things remained changed. The biggest of those changes, of course, was that the last thing she remembered was that she and Buffy had practically destroyed her apartment but now it was intact as though the fight had never happened.
"Better than being trashed, I guess," she mumbled as she stood again.
Next she walked over to a table in the corner and grabbed a couple of the papers there. Buffy's college forms were no longer there but her bank statements were. That confused her as well because she remembered in the video the Mayor said it was the spell that had given her all the money she had.
She grabbed the phone and dialed the number on the statement, not wanting to make any assumptions. The man on the other end was polite as could be when he told her that all the money that the statements showed was in her account was still there. It was only when she asked him to check again that he got a little annoyed with her so she simply thanked him and hung up.
It didn't make sense but Faith figured by now she should be used to being a little confused. The spell was almost picking and choosing what should be kept and what should go away but there could also be a secondary spell that she didn't know about. Faith didn't think there was anyone she could ask.
There was a part of her that wanted to find the others and try to tell them that none of this was her idea. All she had done was wake up from a coma but she figured no one would believe that. It was probably simpler just to believe that she was the one to blame. That was the story of her life.
Faith was almost tempted to call and check if there was a warrant out for her arrest. She thought there might have been when before the coma but never thought much about it since her boss was the man in charge. Now she could be arrested if she was wanted but she thought better of checking. It would be better not to draw attention to it if there was.
In the end, Faith just fell back on her bed and looked up at the ceiling. She wished she knew what to do.
Her head hurt and Buffy didn't know how to make it stop. Everything was spinning and it was all she could do to keep her mind focused.
After she had left Faith's apartment with everyone else, she had told them all she wanted to do was to go home. Because it was obvious that she was having trouble concentrating, Giles insisted on driving her back to her house and she was grateful for it. The walk back would have been a long one that she didn't want to deal with.
When she got home she found a note from her mother that said she would be at the gallery but that she wanted to talk with her once she got home. Her mother also seemed to be suffering from vague confusing memories and wanted to know what they were about. It was obvious that they weren't as bad as the ones Buffy was suffering from though and she was grateful for that.
Giles had told her that for most people the memories would fade and practically disappear in a matter of hours. That was because they hadn't been the target of the spell or played a part in the spell's purpose. Most of the town would just go on as normal without any change.
It got a little complicated for everyone in the Scooby gang though and Giles wasn't quite sure what the side effects of the spell would be. The book in which he found the spell didn't have many details on what happened with the people close to the target but it did say that some of the people targeted by the spell descended into madness.
That fact didn't give Buffy much hope at what her chances were and considering the war that was raging in her head, she knew the pain all the previous victims felt. Giles had told her he would look into if there was anything they could do about it but he didn't sound very hopeful.
Once she saw the note from her mother Buffy decided to try to sleep on the couch. She felt more exhausted than she could ever remember but as soon as she thought she might be able to sleep the doorbell rang and her mind started working on overdrive once again.
She groaned and stood, grudgingly walking to the door and opening it to see Riley standing on the other side. For some reason she had forgotten her boyfriend in the aftermath but she figured that had something to do with the jumbled memories in her head. That's what she wanted to blame it on anyway.
"Buffy!" Riley hugged her as soon as he stepped inside, happy and relieved to see she was okay. "It was so strange. One minute I'm sitting in my room and the next I know all of these memories I thought were real were pushed aside and the real ones were brought to the front. I've never experienced anything like it but then again, I've only been in Sunnydale a year."
Buffy moved out of his embrace and walked back to the living room, hearing Riley close the front door and follow her. "There was a spell but we broke it or whatever."
They sat down on the couch and Riley turned toward Buffy. "What happened?"
She let out a breath and wondered where to begin since her head was pounding and she was having trouble determining which one was the true set of memories. "Did anyone ever tell you about the former Mayor of Sunnydale?"
"Yeah, you mentioned it," Riley said, wondering why she didn't remember. "What about him?"
"The other slayer, Faith, used to work with him and we had a fight right before graduation last year," Buffy said, struggling to string the memories together. "She was in a coma until a few days ago. The Mayor had a spell cast that would start when she woke up."
"And it created some spell that would make it so that I didn't remember I had a girlfriend? That I didn't even know who you were?" Riley asked. He didn't understand why any spell would target either of them in that way. "That doesn't make any sense."
"It does when it changed everything about my life." Buffy sighed and rubbed the side of her head as if that would help her raging headache. "Riley, I didn't live at the dorms or at home. I was still enrolled at UC Sunnydale but I was living with . . . Faith."
"Why were you living with her?"
Buffy didn't know how to tell her boyfriend that under the spell she had a girlfriend. She didn't want to have to answer questions about it and maybe have to lie. What she was quickly realizing was that the spell was messing with her head in a strange way. Her brain was telling her that she was far happier with Faith than she ever was with Riley. Her heart was telling her the same thing.
She tried to shake the thoughts and feelings away but she only could to a point. "We were together. She was . . . my girlfriend and the spell made us a very happy couple."
Riley gave her a confused look. "Why would the Mayor want to do that? Did Faith have a thing for you or something?"
"I don't know." Buffy sighed again. "My head is pounding."
Riley put an arm around her. "Is it because of the spell?"
She nodded. "Giles thinks that because I was probably the target that I will feel the worst of whatever the after effects are of the spell. There are two very real sets of memories fighting for control of my brain."
There wasn't anything Riley could think of to say. The increasingly vague memories he had weren't very complicated. He was still a TA at the college and had been working with the Initiative but went AWOL before it went under. To him Buffy had only been a girl in one of his classes, a cute girl but that was all. He hadn't even looked at her twice and never thought of asking her out.
He didn't know who this Faith person was but he sure didn't like her. To him she seemed to be responsible for this whole mess and he didn't like what it was doing to his girlfriend. More than that, he didn't like that the spell had made his girlfriend her girlfriend.
"So . . . you were living with her?"
Buffy looked at him and for a second she didn't know what exactly he was getting at. She blamed that on the massive headache she was experiencing because once she realized what he was getting at she could see it was an obvious question to ask. It caused her to move away from him.
"What are you getting at?"
Riley didn't want to say it but he couldn't stop the words from coming out of his mouth. "Exactly how close were the two of you?"
The question hurt for some reason and Buffy's mind flashed images of her with Faith focusing on the last time, the only real time, they'd been together. "She was my girlfriend, Riley."
"So you . . ." Riley couldn't finish the sentence because the look on Buffy's face told him everything he needed to know. "I see."
There were so many conflicting emotions going through Buffy's she started to become nauseous. Part of her was guilty for having sex with Faith, even if it was under the guise of a spell, but another part was telling her that there was no reason she should feel that way. That she was in love with Faith and not with Riley.
She looked at Riley and could tell he was trying not to get upset. "You should go."
"What? Why?" Riley asked. What Buffy was telling him was a lot to take in but she was under a spell. It hurt but he knew there was a chance he could move past it. He wanted to take that chance. "Buffy, I know this has been a huge deal but . . ."
"It's more than that," Buffy said. She didn't want to have this conversation right now. It was too much and she felt like she was about to be sick. "You don't understand and I need to deal with all these memories alone."
He looked at her face for a long moment and knew that he wouldn't be able to convince her that he could help her deal with what was going on. But he also knew that if he couldn't help his girlfriend by being there for her then he could do something else.
"Where is Faith now?"
Buffy knew exactly what he was thinking. "Riley, don't do anything. Just leave it alone and let me handle this on my own. You're . . . you're no match for Faith."
The comment hurt and Riley couldn't hide it. "So that's what you think of me. Even after everything."
"She's a slayer," Buffy said by way of an explanation. "I can deal with this on my own."
"You mean with you and your friends just not with me?"
Buffy knew he was hurt by what she said but she didn't have time to sugarcoat it. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and try to make sense of what was going on in her head. "We've dealt with Faith in the past."
He shook his head and stood. "I guess there's no use for me then. When you decide you need someone who's usually worthless to you let me know."
Riley walked of room and Buffy heard the front door open and close a couple seconds later. She knew she should feel bad about what she had said but she didn't. There wasn't any time to try and spare Riley's feelings, not when she had too many other things on her mind.
Every time she thought of Riley, her brain kept showing her images of her and Faith together. She kept seeing how sweet Faith was to her, how she was essentially her other half during their time together. She saw memories of her friends calling the two of them the perfect couple and that they were meant to be together.
None of them were real but they felt that way and when she tried to push them aside they came right back. She tried so hard that she suddenly felt ill and ran for the bathroom, vomiting up what felt like everything she had ever eaten in her entire life. She sat down and rested her head against the edge of the bathtub, wondering if the confusion, hurt and pain would ever go away.
One thing that Faith was appreciative of was that some of the old items in her apartment that went missing during the spell had reappeared. That meant the stash of liquor that had disappeared since the Faith in the spell didn't drink was now right where she had left it.
Once she looked around her apartment to really take in all the changes and then out to the parking lot only to realize that her car was also a product of the spell, she grabbed one of the bottles and took a healthy swig. It burned going down but Faith liked the burn. It made her feel like she still existed even though now it felt like her life was worthless.
Just when she was starting to get a good buzz going she heard a knock on her door and wondered who the hell would bother to visit her. It had only been a few hours since the spell had been broken and the sun was going to set soon but it wasn't as though Buffy was on the other side to ask if she wanted to patrol. Faith wasn't sure what was happening to the other slayer since they'd reversed the spell but since Giles thought she had been the actual target it probably wasn't good.
The knocking grew louder and Faith sighed as she got up and walked toward the door. When she opened it there was a man on the other side, someone she didn't recognize but from the look of it he seemed to know her.
"You're Faith, right?"
Faith looked him up and down, wondering why he was even asking. "Who wants to know?"
He furrowed his brow and seemed to be sizing her up. "I'm Buffy's boyfriend."
It hadn't taken as long as Riley thought it would have to taken to track Faith down. He had simply asked around in a couple of the more shadowy bars and someone ended up knowing where she lived. Now that he was looking at her, he didn't know why Buffy had thought he should stay away. She didn't look very tough and she looked a little drunk as well.
"What exactly do you want?" Faith asked as she turned away from him. She hadn't expected a visit like this but figured she should have. That was the kind of luck she had.
"I wanted to see what kind of person would screw with people's lives in such a massive way," Riley said. "Just had to see with my own two eyes."
Faith let out a harsh chuckle. "You came by to defend her, right? Everyone wants to defend Buffy from big, bad Faith."
Riley walked up to Faith and grabbed hold of her arm, not liking that she was dismissing him so easily. "Do you even care what you've done to her? To everyone? Do you even care about the pain you've caused?"
"What the hell did she tell you anyway?" Faith asked angrily as she shook her arm out of his hold. "Listen here, beefstick, your girlfriend put me in a coma and when I woke up the spell had already started. I didn't create it. I wouldn't know how."
"Whatever," Faith said dismissively. "Look, I have a feeling that B told you not to come here. In fact, I bet she was worried you'd try something stupid and get your ass kicked in the process." She smirked as the look on his face told her she was right. "Do yourself a favor and leave before she's proven right."
Riley didn't like how she was looking at him. It felt like she not only didn't consider him a threat but that she also pitied him. Before he realized what he was doing he struck out, attempting to punch Faith in the jaw. The move was telegraphed though and Faith ducked out of the way quickly before delivering a punch to his side, causing him to double over.
Faith knew that one punch with a dose of slayer strength to go along with it would be enough but she wanted to prove a point. As soon as he moved to lift his head up she punched him in the face, enough to give him a black eye but not enough to break anything. She didn't want to cause the type of damage that would have Buffy gunning for her.
"You and I both know I can hurt you much worse than that," Faith said quietly as she moved close to him. "If you ever try that again I will."
Riley stared at her hard, trying to think of what to say but couldn't for a few seconds. "Stay away from Buffy."
"Just face it," Faith started, "you have no say in what B does." She grabbed her bottle from the table where she had left it. "Leave."
They only stared at each other for a minute before Riley turned and walked out of the apartment without another word, not even bothering to close the door.
Everyone except for Buffy sat in the living room of Giles' condo. Even Anya and Tara had shown up and all of them simply looked at each other. No one could think of anything to say for the longest time so the room was silent.
Even though all of their memories had faded somewhat all of them could remember all the fake memories they been given. All of them could remember how happy everyone was, especially Buffy and Faith. The memories of the two of them as a couple were the strongest of all of them.
Giles was the only one actually doing anything. He had a book in front of him and was trying to discover anything he could about the after effects of the spell. All of the things that had revolved around the spells creation, like the pictures of Buffy and Faith together, had faded away within minutes but the memories were still there. Faded but still present.
He was most fearful for Buffy. She had insisted on going home instead of meeting at his place with the rest of them and he didn't think that was wise. None of them knew how to deal with what was happening and he was fearful of what Buffy would do when she was alone with nothing but two sets of memories to keep her company.
As he read more about what the spell's intended purpose, the more Giles worried that there wasn't anything he would be able to do in order to help Buffy. It was possible he would be able to find a counter spell that would relieve Buffy of some of the confusion with having to deal with a false timeline along with a real one but that alone was risky. Whenever anything tried to alter someone's thoughts, feelings or memories too many things could go wrong.
"Well, this is just terrible."
Everyone turned to Anya and Willow raised an eyebrow. "I think that's stating the obvious."
"No, I mean I have extra memories of sex with Xander and it's a little confusing which of them is something we actually did."
Willow, Tara and Giles looked away while Xander tried his hardest not to turn a deep shade of red. "I think we have to think of the big picture here."
"Yeah," Willow agreed as she looked at Giles. "Giles, my extra memories are starting to get fuzzier than when you reversed the spell. I mean, they're still in there but it's easier to know which ones are fake and which are real."
"Yeah, mine are, too," Tara added quietly.
"From what I'm reading I think that is normal for this kind of spell." Giles looked down at the book again then back at the rest of them. "The spell is set up to have a specific target and that's where the strongest magic is. It then trickles downward toward everyone else. The closer the person is to the target, the stronger the memories."
"Why would Faith and the Mayor do something like that?" Willow asked.
"I don't think Faith had anything to do with this." Giles looked at the doubting faces in front of him and knew what he was saying was tough for them to understand. "Something like this would most definitely be beyond her capabilities and something the Mayor could easily arrange. I think the only fault of Faith's is that she didn't say anything right away."
"I don't know if Buffy will believe that, Giles," Xander said. "I don't know if I believe that."
"Well, that is what I believe."
Willow thought of something then. "Our memories are fading more and more but will Buffy's?"
Giles frowned at the question because he was afraid he knew what the correct answer was. "She was the target so I have a feeling that if they fade at all, it won't be much. Buffy may have to deal with both sets of memories for the foreseeable future."
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