**(Suggested Music: Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard)**
"Faith, wait! Shit!" Buffy yelled, doing her best to run after Faith in shoes that weren't quite appropriate for high speed foot chases.
By the time she reached the end of the alley and stood in the open street there was no sign of which way Faith had went. The street was busy with pedestrians and cars and absolutely no one was paying her any attention. She looked left and right hoping to catch a glimpse of Faith and wasn't quite disappointed to see an older woman grumbling while picking up her groceries from the ground. Buffy immediately smiled, knowing what direction Faith had gone in.
She quickly jogged towards the old woman, keeping her eyes peeled for any more signs of Hurricane Faith. Just as she was about to stop and ask the woman which way Faith had continued on to, she caught a glimpse of long dark hair zipping around a corner into another alley. Of course this meant she wasn't going to get her Girl Scout badge for helping the elderly but she had more important things to do.
Doing her best to dodge the other pedestrians, Buffy finally made it to the alley and saw Faith at the other end of it scaling a tall chain link fence. Faith must've heard her approach because she looked back, her eyes widening when she saw Buffy quickly approaching the fence.
"Fuck off B, I don't wanna fight with you!" she yelled as she hopped over the other side of the fence landing squarely on her feet.
Buffy ran up to her then, separated only by the metal fencing. She entwined her fingers through the fence and grasped it tightly as she looked into Faith's cold eyes.
"I don't want to fight either," Buffy said, taking in a few deep breaths. "Just talk. I just want to talk."
Faith regarded her for a few moments before shaking her head and smiling icily. "We don't 'just talk' and you know that better than I do. Fucking or fighting, that's what we do, Buffy, and you sure as shit ain't here to get into my pants. Not when ya got your little slayer commander back waiting for you in your room."
Buffy blushed a dark shade of red but promised herself that she wouldn't let Faith get the best of her. It was exactly what the girl wanted. How the heck had Faith found out about Satsu anyhow?
"You don't know anything about that," Buffy said quietly, her eyes pleading with Faith to just be open with her for even a single moment.
"And I don't wanna know either," Faith said, her eyes locked on Buffy's as she began taking a few steps backwards. "Face it, B. You and me? Never gonna be friends."
"Even if that's true there's still something I need to talk to you about," Buffy said, stepping impossibly closer to the fence.
Faith just smiled sadly, still slowly stepping backwards. "Have your people call my people," she said and winked, then turned around and took off running again.
"Ugh!" Buffy grunted aloud before proceeding to scale the large fence. When she landed on the other side she immediately took off after Faith, moving as fast as her shorter legs would take her. Arriving out in another busy street, she looked around and found Faith walking casually along a sidewalk across the way.
Had she really thought that Buffy wouldn't chase her beyond the fence? Clearly she didn't know that Buffy's persistence rivaled her own stubbornness.
Slowing her pace to a speedwalk as not to draw attention to herself from the passersby, Buffy began to close the distance between her and Faith, internally cheering that Faith hadn't realized yet that she was following. She was, of course, so distracted in her sneakery that she didn't see the bike messenger that narrowly avoided hitting her by swerving out into the traffic-filled street. Faith turned when she heard the loud honking and instantly saw Buffy, her eyes widening in disbelief.
"Jesus Christ!" Faith cursed to herself as she once again picked up her pace, peeking over her shoulder to find Buffy hot on her tail in pursuit. "Shoo fly, don't bother me!"
"There's something I really need to talk to you about!" Buffy yelled as she dodged pedestrians.
"I already told ya I ain't listening!"
"This isn't about us, it's about you. You need to listen Faith, it's important!"
"Giles!" Faith yelled, trying to get his attention through the earpiece once again. "How's that exit looking?"
"Marina's on her way back, Faith. Are you in a bad situation?"
"Worse than you could imagine!" she answered, leaping over a garbage bin on the sidewalk.
Buffy was following too closely behind and didn't see the can until it was too late. She tried to jump over it as Faith had but her shoes caught the top, sending her flying forward. Instinctively she put her hands out and rolled, somersaulting quickly until she was able to leap to her feet again.
"Quit complaining to Giles and just let me talk to you for two minutes, Faith!" she said, quickly beginning to catch up to the girl after her little stumble.
"Quit following me and I won't have to complain to him!"
"Quit . . . being a jerk!" Buffy retorted, unable to come up with anything else.
Faith didn't say anything in response. Instead she grabbed two oranges as she ran past a fruit vendor and spun around, whipping them at Buffy as she jogged backwards. Buffy held up her arms and blocked the flying fruit, giving Faith a look of indignation when the assault was over.
"You're throwing fruit at me?" Buffy asked in disbelief as she continued her pursuit.
"Least it wasn't a weapon!" Faith yelled, quickly turning down another alley.
Buffy followed, instantly noticing that the alley was devoid of any people or conveniently placed fruit stands.
"Whatcha gonna do now, Faithy? All outta things to throw!" Buffy taunted proudly, forgetting that she was supposed to be getting Faith to talk to her.
Faith looked anxiously around and realized that she was right. In a moment of panic, anxious to find something to throw, she unconsciously pulled the earpiece from her ear and tossed it behind her with breaking speed, cheering internally when she heard Buffy grunt as it thwapped her in the forehead. "Ha!" she yelled.
Buffy fumbled around and caught the earpiece as it bounced off of her forehead, smiling widely as she observed it in her hand. "Ha HA!" she exclaimed loudly, attaching the earpiece to her own ear.
Faith looked back to see what Buffy was going on about, instantly seeing the earpiece now attached to her ear. She reached up and felt her own ear, realizing she'd thrown away her connection to Giles. "Shit!"
"Giles!" Buffy yelled, adjusting the earpiece so that she could hear him.
"No, it's Buffy. Giles, you need to tell Faith to stop running and hear me out."
"For what reason?"
"Because I have something I need to say to her."
Meanwhile, Faith was digging into the pocket of her jeans, pulling out the cellphone which she'd turned off earlier that day when Buffy had called her. She hit the power button and waited to get a signal, eager to get Giles back on the phone.
"Buffy, I know you may not like it but Faith is at a point in her life where she can make her own decisions."
"Listen, I get that the two of you are all buddy-buddy now and that's great, but this is important!" she exclaimed, getting out of breath now.
"Perhaps if you gave her some time and space she wouldn't feel so pressured into making a decision . . ."
"Giles!" she interrupted, at her breaking point. "It's just . . . when I went to New York on a mission, I found Faith."
There was a very pregnant pause in the conversation before Giles finally said, "Good Lord, Buffy, I've always know you were an impressionable girl but I never thought . . . was it the dancing chaps, with their tambourines and robes? Erm, hare krishnas?"
"I . . . what?" Buffy asked, confused. "I found Faith, not religion. Thanks for the vote of confidence though. I thought I saw Faith in New York but then Willow said that you had her on a mission somewhere. We investigated, Willow and I . . . Giles, I either met Faith's twin, her less crude clone, or someone wearing a great Faith suit."
She waited for Giles to respond in some way, to let her know that he was on her side and would help her speak to Faith, but instead he put her on hold when he got another call. It was Faith, of course, calling from her cellphone.
"Not to be all demandy but where the hell is my exit, Giles?" Faith said, still running through alleys.
"It's coming very shortly, Faith. Stand by."
"No exits!" Buffy yelled anxiously. "And by the way, when did you learn how to conference call?"
"I didn't. I think I may have hit the wrong button . . . bloody phones."
"Whatever. Giles, I don't need long with her. Five minutes. Just . . . two minutes!" Buffy pleaded, not making any ground on Faith.
"Giles, how long do I have?" Faith asked, ignoring Buffy's please.
"Ten seconds, Faith."
"Why am I fighting so hard to have you listen to me when it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you?" Buffy yelled to Faith, hoping her last hope that the girl would listen.
Faith halted to a stop and spun around, coming face to face with Buffy who barely was able to stop in time and not crash into her.
"Because you're Buffy and you always make it about you," Faith answered, her chest rising and falling rapidly. "Later, B." A swirl of green light surrounded her and just like that, Faith was gone.
Buffy put her hands on her hips and hung her head, trying her best to compose herself. How had things gone from bad to worse since that morning? It was almost unfathomable.
"I'm sorry, Buffy," Giles said quietly, his voice full of regret.
Buffy shrugged as she stood alone in the alley, still unwilling to give in to defeat.
"I get it," she said, taking a deep breath. "Had to stand by your girl."
Pulling the earpiece from her ear, she regarded it for a moment before tossing it aside into a full dumpster. She stood quietly for a moment or two gathering her thoughts when an idea hit her. Quickly reaching into the pocket of her denim jacket, she pulled out her cellphone and dialed a familiar number before placing the phone to her ear.
"Buff?" Xander said from the other line.
"Yeah, it's me. Xan, have Siobhan and the young witches trace Faith. I'm gonna need you to transport me to her."
"Did she jump?" he asked, his fingers busy typing away on the console before him as the room burst into a flurry of activity.
"Yeah, and I need to get to her before she realizes I can follow."
"No problem. Siobhan already has her location locked down and portals are engaged. Fifteen seconds, Buffy."
"Xander, listen, I . . . I don't know how to thank you," Buffy said, her voice quiet.
"You don't need to. You know there's nothing in this world I wouldn't do for my girls. If you need anything else . . ."
"I will," Buffy said with a soft smile, answering before he could finish his sentence.
"Five seconds, Buffster. Go get your girl."
A moment later Buffy was surrounded by a green light and suddenly found herself standing on a long pier. She looked around and found Faith standing with her back towards her, her elbows resting on the wooden railing as she looked out into the clear blue water.
"Fancy meeting you here," Buffy said as she slowly approached Faith, mimicking her position.
"Yeah, right," Faith mumbled under her breath, not bothering to look over at Buffy. "You're really not gonna leave this be, are ya?"
"No," Buffy said quietly. "Some things can be left if that's what you really want, but there's definitely an issue to be dealt with."
"You gonna keep following me?"
"Afraid so," Buffy said casually.
"Thought you'd say that," Faith said. "Giles? Get me to a safe zone." She lifted her hand and showed Buffy the cell phone with the call still connected to Giles.
"I'll just have Xander send me to you."
"Magically enhanced safe room, B. No one in or out for 24 hours. By the time the day is up Marina will have found a way to mask me."
"All you have to do, Faith, is let me tell you about what happened in New York. Something fishy is going on and you're never . . ." she paused, sighing deeply as a green light engulfed Faith and she was suddenly alone, ". . . gonna give me a shot."
She closed her eyes and leaned down, resting her forehead on her hands still grasping the railing. She was frustrated, upset, and now Faith was gonna make sure she'd never be able to find her again. How was she supposed to tell her about Echo? How was she supposed to tell her she was sorry? How was she supposed to tell her that she'd fallen in . . .
The sound of her phone ringing pulled Buffy from her thoughts. She flicked it open and held it to her ear, not saying anything.
"Buffy?" Willow's voice rang out on the other end.
"Hey Wills," Buffy said, sniffling as she fought back her tears.
"What's going on? Are you with Faith?"
"I am emphatically without Faith. I was trying to tell her about New York and she just up and disappeared."
"That's not a problem, Buffy. We can send you to her." Her voice was concerned but cautiously optimistic.
"Not this time, Wills. She had Giles send her to a safe house. No one gets in or out for 24 hours. I think I've lost her, Willow."
And finally the tears began to slowly trickle down her cheeks. There was no more fighting them. She'd fucked up, badly, and now she couldn't fix it. Faith wouldn't let her. Maybe they weren't meant to be fixed. Maybe Faith was right after all.
Willow was quiet for a few moments, unsure of what to say to her friend that could ease her heartache, but then an idea hit her. But could it work? Of course it could work!
"I can get you in, Buffy. Just, umm . . . hold onto your lunch."
Before Buffy could protest she felt a surge of energy blast through her and then all was dark.
The Black Lincoln Town Car finally reached the end of the dirt path, stopping in a discreet opening with a small cottage in the center of it. The cottage was completely surrounded by tall trees and brush, completely hidden from the outside world unless you knew exactly where to look for it.
And of course, Adelle knew exactly where to find it.
After observing the cottage for a few short minutes through the black tinted windows, she finally stepped out of the car, followed closely by Echo and Sierra. She hated leaving the city almost as much as she hated liars but there were matters that needed to be tended to. The three women walked up to the front door of the cabin and Adelle stepped forward, Echo and Sierra on either side of her. They heard some shuffling noises and finally the front door opened, revealing a very much alive and kicking Quentin Travers.
"No . . ." he mumbled, his eyes wide with fear.
"Oh yes, Mr. Travers. You've been a very naughty boy."
"What are they doing here?" he asked, eying Echo and Sierra suspiciously as he took a few steps backwards.
Adelle simply pushed forward until she was well within the cottage and the door was closed behind them.
"They're here to collect, Mr. Travers. It seems as though you've breached our contract. Surely such an indiscretion can't go unpunished."
"There was no breach. I promised you slayer DNA and you got it," he said defensively.
"Yes, I did. Echo is a fine specimen, our best active without a doubt."
"I don't see what the problem is then."
"The problem, Mr. Travers, is that you told me she was the best slayer, that I'd find no better. I believe that I've found better, and now if you'd like to continue in your second shot at life, I'd suggest that you cooperate and help me find her as well." Adelle pulled a chair out from the quaint kitchen table and sat down, looking up at Travers expectantly.
Travers sighed deeply and regarded her for a moment before sitting down opposite her.
"Buffy Summers," he said flatly. He didn't even need her to confirm his suspicion, but she did with a nod of her head. "For all intents and purposes, Echo was cloned from the blood of the actual slayer; the active slayer line. Buffy Summers is . . . an anomaly."
"An anomaly that you deliberately kept from me when we made our deal," Adelle said coldly.
"It seems though, that our deal wasn't all that it was meant to be, Dr. DeWitt. Would you mind explaining her?" he asked, nodding over at Sierra.
Adelle smiled a tight smile, her eyes narrowing as she stared at him. "Our deal has been carried through to completion. You asked us to keep your DNA in our cryobank, which we did. You asked us to do a full read of your memory and personality and store it, and we did. And you asked us to clone you and implant you with said memory and personality in the event of your death, and we did. Your monies have been paid, your instructions followed; I'd say that's a deal kept."
Travers grinned smugly and looked up at Sierra.
"She wasn't part of the deal."
Sierra stepped forward, poised to strike, but Adelle held up her hand and signaled for her to back down.
"Which is one of the only other reasons that you're alive right now, Mr. Travers. I need more samples like Echo and Sierra. Strong girls. You had a plethora of DNA samples stored at our facility - which you rightfully reclaimed, of course. How many more girls are like them?"
Travers shook his head, agitated.
"Satsu Miura should never have been cloned. She was not a slayer; just one of many potential girls in line. The possibility of her being called was one in several thousand. If your claim that she's strong like Echo is true, then something has happened with the slayer line that I'm not aware of."
"You'll need to find out," Adelle said easily.
Travers laughed loudly, sitting back comfortably in his chair now.
"And how would you propose that I do that? I can't very well appear out of thin air; they think that I'm dead!"
"And so you shall be again if you can't get me more samples. This is a very serious breach of contract. We own your life," she said, enunciating the last words slowly, carefully.
"I can't get you slayers, Dr. DeWitt, when I don't know what's happened. I might be able to help you find Buffy Summers though. Find her and all of the other pieces should fall into place."
Adelle regarded him for a moment and then smiled. "I'm all ears, Mr. Travers."
"Rupert Giles. He was her Watcher. He'll know where to find her and what's happened to the slayer line. If he survived the massacre of the potentials and their watchers, he'll have all of the answers that we need."
"And how do you suppose we go about contacting him?" she asked anxiously.
Travers could only smile, amused. This was what he missed about his Council days.
"You say that you know about Buffy Summers? Then Buffy Summers knows about you. We don't need to contact good old Rupert; he'll contact you."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because it's what they do, Dr. DeWitt. They're the good guys; the really, really good guys. If Miss Summers or any of her friends know that the other slayer, Faith, has been cloned, they'll be back before you can miss them."
"And if they think that Echo is a threat?"
"I suppose they'll do to her what they tried to do with Faith when she stepped out of line; they'll try to eliminate her."
Echo's eyes narrowed as she listened to the conversation, a chill running up and down her spine. She wouldn't let herself be eliminated no matter the cost. She didn't remember her last mission, not in detail anyhow. She felt something though, and every time she closed her eyes she saw blonde hair and green eyes.
This Buffy Summers that they were speaking of had something to do with these memories, and though Echo wasn't sure what, she knew that the girl had awakened something inside of her. For the first time in as long as she could recall, she felt alive. She felt that she had a purpose.
And she wouldn't let anyone take that away from her.
She looked over at Sierra and they shared a knowing glance.
The time was coming for them to stand up. She only hoped Adelle didn't catch on before she was programmed to forget.
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