Giles parked his car in the Summers' driveway and sat in the driver's seat for a minute. He wasn't sure what to do next but he knew he couldn't sit at his place and do nothing anymore.
It had been two days since the spell had been lifted and he hadn't seen or spoken to Buffy since he had dropped her off at her house right after they got their original memories back. After one day of silence he called the house but Joyce Summers had simply told him that Buffy wasn't up for talking to anyone at the moment.
That comment concerned him because he didn't know how bad the side effects of reversing the spell were. It was obvious that Buffy was the target so from what little Giles could find about the type of spell that the Mayor had used her fake memories wouldn't fade in the same way everyone else's were. He could still remember everything from the spell but now it was more like a dream than anything else. There wasn't any doubt which memories were real.
He didn't know how Buffy's would work and that frightened him more than he wanted to let on. There wasn't much information about the people who were targets of the spell but the two accounts he could find did not prove helpful. Both individuals went mad due to the dual sets of memories and eventually committed suicide.
The only hope Giles had was that Buffy was stronger than either of those individuals. As far as he knew, nothing like what happened had ever been used on a slayer before.
Giles sighed and got out of his car, walking up to the front door and knocking lightly. After a couple seconds, Joyce opened the door.
"Mr. Giles? Was Buffy expecting you to come over today?"
"Ah, no," he said, suddenly not knowing what to say. "I realize you had said yesterday that Buffy didn't wish to speak to anyone but I was hoping to talk to her today."
Joyce frowned but stepped aside to let him in. "I'm afraid not much has changed since yesterday," she said as she shut the door.
"I see." Giles couldn't hide the worry on his face. "Have you talked to her much about what happened? I think that might be helpful for her."
Joyce crossed her arms and looked down for a moment. She was relieved she wasn't the only one who was concerned for her daughter but she didn't think he could help her any more than she could. "Only enough to explain why I have some extra memories and then she said she was tired and went to sleep."
Giles nodded. "And how are your memories from the spell? Have they faded?"
"Mostly," Joyce answered. "I can still remember these family dinners and Buffy going to prom with Faith . . . when she told me she was going to move in with Faith and not into the dorms. I remember I didn't like that much right away."
"Yes, I have some similar memories." Giles smiled sadly. "What did she tell you about the spell itself?"
"Not much," Joyce said as she walked into the living room. "The main part was that it started when Faith woke up for her coma. I can't believe she would go this far to hurt Buffy."
"It wasn't Faith." Giles followed her and sat down on the couch next to her. He figured Buffy would be vague on the creation of the spell and that Joyce would only have Faith to blame for what happened. "It was the Mayor. He only used Faith as a tool. She was actually the one who told me it was a spell."
That confused Joyce but it did make some sense to her. In her real memories, she had never noticed that Faith was interested in magic. "Why would the Mayor do something like that and how? He was killed."
"I believe he had it set up prior to his attempted ascension and when Faith woke he sold it to her as a spell he created to benefit her. She had said she was shown a tape that told her everything."
"Why didn't she say something right away?" Joyce asked. "Why didn't she go to you if she couldn't say anything to Buffy?"
"I think the only one who could answer that is Faith," Giles said. "I haven't spoken to her since we reversed the spell."
"Why not?" Joyce figured that even though there were plenty of bad feelings toward Faith and she saw them as valid, she thought Giles would have at least checked in. If Faith was as evil as Buffy thought then in her opinion, she should be watched.
"I thought it was best that everyone take a step back and let the effects of the spell go away as much as it's going to," Giles answered.
"How do you know she's still in town?" Joyce asked.
Giles thought about that for a moment. "I guess I hadn't thought of that but Faith, if nothing else, is a slayer. I have a feeling that she will stay here because of the hellmouth."
Joyce nodded, trying to grasp what the watcher was telling her. Her daughter had not been very specific on what happened but she wasn't happy someone could hurt Buffy even after they had been destroyed. It made her fear for her safety even more than it had before. "What will happen now?"
"I'm not clear on that," Giles answered and stood. "I should go. Please tell Buffy that I would like to speak with her once she feels up to it."
"I will." Joyce stood as well. "Please let me know if there's anything I can do."
Giles only nodded as he walked out of the house and back to his car, thinking that maybe he needed to give Buffy a little more time.
Buffy walked back to her room from her position at the top of the stairs. She had been listening to the conversation between Giles and her mother with some interest but not enough that she actually walked downstairs to talk to him herself.
The last couple days had been a blur and all Buffy wanted to do was remain in her room in an attempt to sleep away the day. She couldn't find the energy for anything else and hadn't gone out to patrol the last two nights either. Her mind just couldn't take it.
She kept trying to sort through her memories in an attempt to tell herself what was real and what wasn't but the activity was incredibly exhausting. Buffy found that she got confused as she tried and the constant headache she had since the spell was reversed only got worse. If she chose to ignore it and continue she would break out in a sweat and she'd nearly pass out.
Her mom had tried to talk to her about what happened and Buffy told her as much as she was comfortable with. She told her that the fake memories involved her being Faith's girlfriend and that while they weren't exactly terrible memories they were very confusing. Unlike her mother's, hers were not going away.
That's what she wanted more than anything at the moment, to have them at least fade to the point where it would be easier for her to tell what was real and what wasn't. Of course, she knew the real ones from the fake. The problem was her brain kept working against her and she found herself confused most of the time.
There was a soft knock on her door and a moment later her mother opened it and stepped inside, a soft smile on her face. "Did you hear that Mr. Giles was here?"
Buffy nodded as she sat on her bed. "Wasn't quite up for visitors."
"That's what I thought," her mother said as she sat down next to her. "Have you slept at all?"
"I think I passed out twice."
Joyce frowned, the concern for her daughter turning to a sort of helpless fear. "Honey, you should eat something. It will give you some strength that you seem to need right now."
"I'm not hungry," Buffy said, looking away. "My head hurts."
"I'm sorry," Joyce said as she put an arm around Buffy. "Mr. Giles said that the Mayor is responsible for what happened and not Faith. Why did you make it sound like Faith was the one behind on the spell and all this confusion?"
"I still think she had something to do with it," Buffy said as she moved to place her head on her mother's shoulder. "This was so . . . personal."
"You think that Faith is capable of doing something so terrible?"
Buffy thought about that for a moment. She wanted to say yes but every time she tried she kept thinking about how the Faith in her memories acted and then even how she acted with her before everything went bad. Faith was capable of doing bad things but she wasn't sure that she was capable of the spell. She both did and didn't want to think that.
"I don't know, Mom," Buffy said. "I don't know what to think about anything right now."
Buffy started to cry as the pain in her head reached a new level and all her mother could do was to hold her as she did. It was some comfort but it didn't help the pain. She felt her mother kiss the top of her head before she stood up.
"Come on," Joyce said as she reached out to take Buffy's hand. She knew her daughter hadn't eaten much since Giles had dropped her off after leaving Faith's. "I know you're not hungry but you need to eat. I don't want you wasting away and maybe you'll feel better once you have some food in your stomach."
"I don't know, Mom."
"I won't take no for an answer and you can have anything you want. Pizza, burgers, anything that's bad for you. Maybe just ice cream?"
Buffy looked up at her smiling mother and knew she was trying. She knew what Giles had told her about everything and was a little shocked that he hadn't checked on Faith, just like her mother. It was something she figured he would have done.
She smiled. "I guess I could go for some ice cream."
"Good." Her mother took her hand and led her out of the room. "We are going to have some quality mother-daughter time."
Faith looked up at the ceiling as she lay on her bed and wondered why she was still in Sunnydale.
She didn't have any friends or family in the town and there was no way to know if she had any allies left. The only time she ventured out of the apartment was to go to one of the rundown demon bars she used to frequent when she was working for the Mayor and scored some bottles of Jack before retreating back to her apartment.
No one had come to attempt to arrest her which made Faith wonder if there was a warrant for her at all for all the bad things she'd done. She wouldn't have doubted that one of the gang would have called the cops to let them know where she was but that hadn't happened. It was a little confusing.
Faith found that the best way to stop being confused was to stay at least slightly drunk all hours that she was awake. It stopped her from thinking about everything that happened during the spell and how all of it made her feel. Any feelings were of the bad at the moment and drinking dulled them enough so she could ignore them.
What was going to happen next was something Faith didn't know and she didn't like it. She had never felt so alone in all her life and that was saying something. Ever since she was a little girl she had been on her own in a sense but she was never completely alone. There was always someone around whether she liked it or not but not anymore.
Her mind kept going back to her time with Buffy during the spell. Even though they were fake and Buffy really didn't love her, those few days were probably the best she'd had in the sense that she wasn't alone. She had someone who thought she was everything. It hurt that it was gone.
There was a knock at the door and Faith ignored it. She was sure she didn't want to see whoever was on the other side. It was probably someone who wanted to yell at her for trying to ruin Buffy's life even though she had no idea how the spell worked, only what had been in it for her. Only Riley had been there to do that since the spell was reversed but she knew it was only a matter of time before someone else showed up.
Faith did forget that she had left the door unlocked though so it shouldn't have surprised her that after a few more seconds the door opened. She looked up at the door and saw Giles standing there. He looked a little nervous and she didn't like the look on him. The look hadn't been there during the spell and she'd gotten used to its absence.
"What's up, Giles?" Faith asked as she moved to sit up on her elbows. "Come to finally tell me how horrible I am?"
Giles looked over Faith's demeanor then to the bottle near the bed. The whole scene made him sadder than he thought it would. "Have you been drinking?"
"Well, aren't you the detective," Faith commented sarcastically. "What are you doing here anyway?"
He closed the front door and cautiously took a couple steps into the apartment. "I came to check on you."
Faith let out a laugh and shook her head as she sat up and ran a hand through her hair. She couldn't believe what he just said. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I came to see how you are."
"Shouldn't you have done that a couple days ago?" Faith resisted the urge to take a drink. "Some way to care."
Giles didn't know exactly what to do with the comment. He couldn't argue the point with her since he didn't have a good excuse. He was so concerned about Buffy and his own fading fake memories that he hadn't been a good watcher to Faith. Even though he wasn't official anymore, he still felt like he failed her in some way.
He took a chance and sat down at the edge of the bed, keeping his distance from Faith since he wasn't sure how she'd react. "We've all been dealing with two sets of memories, Faith. That is a lot of get over."
"Yeah, and I don't have that problem."
Faith knew what he was getting at but didn't want to feel what his comments made her feel. The guilt that she let it go on as long as it did, the guilt of letting Buffy get as close as she did, of actually having sex with her . . . all of it was roaming around in her head. It was one of the reasons she tried to stay consistently drunk. The guilt was getting to her.
Neither of them said anything for a minute. Giles was trying to figure out what was going through Faith's head but she wasn't giving him much to go on. All he could tell for certain was that she was hurting as well but most likely for different reasons. He wanted to ask what those were but he wasn't sure she would even give him an honest answer.
"What are you planning to do?"
Faith didn't know what Giles meant and she didn't trust his intentions. He had always been Buffy's watcher, not hers. "What do you mean? Do I plan to stick around?"
Giles nodded. "I have noticed that you still have your apartment. Do you still have the same accounts?"
"Yeah," Faith answered. "It's a kick, right? Still got the apartment and the money but not a whole lot else."
"Does that mean you will or won't be staying in Sunnydale?"
Faith sighed. "I don't know what I'm doing five minutes from now. How the hell will I know what my plans are any longer than that?"
"I see." Giles looked down for a minute, trying to think of the correct thing to say. Even though Buffy had always been his priority, he had been concerned for Faith from the moment she showed up in Sunnydale. He'd just been terrible at showing it.
"Are you saying that I should leave?" Faith asked, suddenly feeling like the only reason he was there was to tell her to get out of town. "Not enough room for both of us?"
"No, that is not what I'm saying at all," Giles protested quickly. "What I'm saying is that you are free to come and go as you please but I would like you to stay. Buffy is, uh, somewhat incapacitated so no one is patrolling."
Faith frowned at the mention of Buffy. Part of her wanted to ask how Buffy was but she was afraid of what the answer would be. She didn't want her to be hurting. "I've been patrolling. Just trying to keep away from any cops since I still haven't figured out if anyone's looking for me."
"Willow looked into that yesterday and there isn't a warrant out for you," Giles said quietly. "We were all a little curious about that."
"Yeah, curious," Faith mumbled. "Look, if that's all you came to say you can go. That bottle isn't going to drink itself and I like to drink alone."
Giles frowned and stood, knowing he wouldn't be able to have a conversation with Faith when she was drunk and likely depressed. He knew he should have visited earlier even though he kept telling himself that it wouldn't have made a difference.
"Faith," Giles started as he reached the door, "if you need anything, you can see me. I know you didn't have anything to do with the spell. I wish you would have come to me earlier but I don't fault you for it."
He walked out without saying anything further and Faith simply watched him go. She didn't have any sort of comeback for him and wasn't sure if that was because of the booze or if she was taken off guard by what he said. She had expected a lecture about how messed up it was that she waited.
The visit really just left her confused and with more guilt than she had prior to Giles showing up. She didn't like hearing that Buffy was hurting. Even though it wasn't real, Faith had spent days with Buffy living with her in the apartment. Even though it wasn't real, she had grown close to her and liked having her around even when it messed with everything she previously thought about Buffy.
Even though it wasn't real, the feelings Faith had now were.
Day three was a little better than the second but not by much.
Buffy's constant headache was slowly going away but only to the point where she was okay with moving around the house. Her appetite was slowly coming back as the pain decreased as well but she only ate when her mother insisted.
Her mother had left earlier to go to the gallery which left her alone in the house, something she hadn't had much since the end of the spell. Buffy appreciated that she left since even though she loved having her mother around she also enjoyed the quiet of the house. Her brain was crowded enough at the moment without having any additional outside noise.
She was dozing on the couch when a knock on the door woke her up. Buffy winced at the sudden pain in her head and let the surge pass before slowly getting up and walking to the door. She still didn't want to talk to anyone about what happened but also knew she couldn't avoid it forever. As much as she wanted to she couldn't stay in her room or the house indefinitely.
When she opened the door Willow was on the other side, trying her best to smile. "Hey, Buffy."
Buffy attempted a smile in return. "Hey."
They looked at each other for a few seconds before Willow threw her arms around her, giving her a strong hug. "I've been so worried. I saw Giles this morning and he said he hadn't seen you since the spell was reversed. I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"I don't think 'okay' is quite the word I would use," Buffy said as Willow released her. "I think in pain is a better way to describe it."
Willow frowned as she moved away. "Is it the memories?"
Buffy moved aside to let her best friend in and shut the door behind her. She knew Willow would want to talk about what happened, about what went on with Faith. There were so many things that needed to be discussed and she knew that if anyone would sit and listen to her it would be Willow.
It was another thing to say everything out loud.
They sat on the couch and Willow tried her best to keep a smile on her face. She could tell Buffy wasn't herself and that worried her. "My memories are pretty vague right now. They're like a fuzzy dream but Giles said that yours wouldn't be the same. It's not, is it?"
All Buffy could respond with at first was a sad nod since she couldn't find the right thing to say at first. "Two sets of memories . . . fun."
"They haven't faded at all?"
Buffy shook her head. "The pain in my head isn't as bad as it was at first but all the memories are still there. It's like my mind is playing tricks on me constantly."
"So all those memories with you and Faith . . ."
"Front and center," Buffy said quietly as she tapped her forehead with her finger. "Just as clear as the memory of our last fight and seeing her fall off the roof."
Willow looked down for a moment before looking at her friend again. "I'm sorry."
"For not realizing that it was a spell," Willow said quickly. "I'm the one who's all about magic and I couldn't even tell that we were all under a spell."
This time it was Buffy giving her a hug. She didn't want anyone to blame themselves for happened. "None of this is your fault, Will."
"Yeah, I guess," Willow responded as Buffy let go of her. "So what was it? The Mayor and Faith working together to hurt us all over again?"
"Giles doesn't think Faith had anything to do with the spell." Buffy looked down and tried to think clearly for a moment. Every time Faith was brought up a memory was triggered and she was taken off guard for a few seconds. "He thinks the only thing we can blame her for is for not saying anything right away." She paused, keeping her eyes cast downward. "I can blame her for that."
Willow furrowed her brow as she tried her best to read Buffy. "What happened?"
Tears appeared in Buffy's eyes as she allowed herself to remember the fake memories and she looked up at her best friend sadly. "I loved her, Will. I loved her more than I ever thought I could love someone. She was everything to me . . . and I think I was everything to her."
"In the spell though, right?" Willow asked. "I mean, Faith doesn't actually feel that."
"I don't know anymore," Buffy said as the tears started to fall. "All I know is that I can't feel that anymore but the memories keep telling me I used to. I think . . . I think it's killing me."
"Buffy," Willow started out with but then couldn't think of anything to say. Instead, she could only put an arm around her best friend and let her rest her head on her shoulder as she cried. "It'll be okay, Buffy. It will."
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