The walk from my apartment to the campus isn’t very long. Especially now since I’m in Slayer-mode. My steps are long and graceful, each stride taken with confidence as I carry myself towards my destination. Eat your heart out, Terminator. I make this look right.
You may be wondering why I’m not just driving there to save on time.
Well, did you know that Sunnydale has the sixth highest number of incidences of car theft in the State of California? Yeah, neither did I. Fuckin’ thieves. Xander is so gonna have a meltdown. But I’ve got bigger things to worry about. Such as . . . how do you beat an invincible vamp with a stake, an axe, and a knife?
Talk about failure to plan. I don’t need a stake, I need a fucking cannon.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m gonna find a way to win because I can’t let a second-rate vamp with an ego problem top me. Plus, there’s that whole “he hurt B so now I have to kill him hard” thing going on. It’s just . . . fuck, I’ve gotta learn to prepare better. Remind me to take a seminar or something.
I get to the edge of campus and I know that something’s gotta be up. There’s not a single person around. Even in the middle of the night, you can find a few drunk frat guys or some chick on her nightly jog with her big bottle of pepper-spray clenched tightly in her hand. B and I always tried to make sure that things were extra safe around here. Cos after all . . . if you can’t be safe in your own backyard, where else can you turn to?
Seeing as that there’s a lack of people walking around, I pull the hand-axe out from under my jacket and hold it in my hand, readying myself to lash out at any small movement. I hear a small rustle in the branches above me and I turn and take a long swipe with the axe, slicing a falling leaf in half.
Great. Get your shit together, Faithy. You’re supposed to be slicing and dicing vamps, not making a salad.
I loosen up my shoulders a bit and take a deep breath, trying to relax myself when I hear some faint thudding in the patch of woods not too far behind me. Footsteps. Steel-toed boots. Size 12. Slight swagger in the step.
My head spins towards the direction of the noise, my breath held in my chest as I wait to see some kind of movement. My body is tense again, my hand gripping tightly onto the axe-handle.
The first thing I see before I can even tell that it’s a human-form is a flash of platinum blonde hair. Just a moment later, I see the full figure emerge out of the brush, long black duster to complete the dark ensemble. Steel-toed boots. Size 12.
God, I’m fucking good at this.
“Lovely night for a walk, in’it?” His voice breaks out lowly into the silence of the night. The smell of his cigarettes is wrapped around him, as stale and putrid as the scent of his faux-leather duster. “Kinda late for a pretty lil’ thing like yourself to be just walkin’ around out ‘ere with your . . .” he glances down and sees the axe in my hand, “. . . very large axe.”
Ooh. I don’t like this fucker already. The time for pleasantries is done. In one flowing motion, I rear my arm back and fling the axe at him. It slides through the cool air quickly, impaling in his thigh before he had even realized that it had left my hand.
Hey, bonus. At least it didn’t bounce off him like he was made of stone or something. Then I woulda really been shittin’ my pants.
“Owwww. That bloody well hurt!” He yells as he grabs the handle and yanks the axe out, tossing it aside. I see the emerald ring on his hand flicker in the moonlight. Jackpot.
“You shoulda kept that.” I mumble as start to take long strides in his direction. “Coulda been your last hope.”
He shakes his head, smirking and chuckling to himself as he takes one last drag of his cigarette and tosses it to the side. “Everyone’s a whitehat these days. What’s a bloke gotta do to get some minions?” He mumbles under his breath. At that moment he looks up, his eyes flashing yellow. “Don’t need an axe to beat you, luv. Got all the weapon I need right here,” he boasts, then morphs into game face.
He’s only able to take about two steps before I lunge forward that last step and start pummeling him with my fists. He blocks a few of my punches, but I’m able to disorient him a bit with the few that I was able to sneak through his defenses. He manages to pull back in his arm and give me a nice upper-cut to the jaw, tossing me off of him long enough to catch a breath.
“Baaaad manners. You never even told me your name, kitten.” He stalks over to me where I landed, smirking down at me. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Spike.” And he kicks me hard in the ribs, sending me flying into the nearest tree.
“I know who you are, William the Bloody.” I say with contempt, spitting out the blood that worked its way up into my mouth. “Now, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Faith.” I jump up into a standing position and take my fighting stance. “The vampire slayer.”
He stops and looks at me, then chuckles as he lowers his arms.
“Try a new story, luv. I’ve heard that one before. Unless . . .” he gets a thoughtful look on his face, “. . . did she die? Is she dead? Did I finally manage to beat Buffy-bloody-Summers?”
I’m pretty sure that he’s misjudging the situation. He’s taking steps closer to me, his defenses lowered as he rests against the tree he just bounced me off of. He continues his little boast.
“That brings the count up to three. Ol’ Angelus would be so envious. But . . . I thought I’d at least get a bit more time than that before a new Slayer was called.”
I lower my shoulders a bit, hoping to distract him from thinking I’m gonna attack.
“Three things.” I say lowly. “One . . . get an update on the info when you’ve been away for so long. You make yourself look like an asshole when you say this shit out loud. Two, never let your guard down.” I watch as he visibly tenses, realizing that I’m probably about to make my move. I continue quickly.
“And three, old slayer . . .” I spin around and pull the knife from my jacket, impaling him in his shoulder and pinning him to the tree, “. . . new tricks. You may be invincible, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hurt you.”
I start to pummel him again, swinging my arms wildly and knocking him in the head every time. He’d probably fall to the ground unconscious if that knife wasn’t holding him up to the tree. I kinda wince as I hear his flesh tear as his body goes limp and he hangs from the blade, his own weight working against him.
After a few minute of beating him senseless, I finally take a step back and rest my hands on my knees, catching my breath and trying to figure out my next move.
And then it hits me. Get the fucking ring.
He whimpers a bit as I approach him, trying hard to stand on his wobbly legs. I just shake my head at him as I grab his hand and try to pry the ring off. He closes his fist tight, trying to hold onto it with all of his might. It’s like trying to get a piece of candy out of a kids’ hand . . . he ain’t budging. I sigh loudly.
“Listen up, living dead. I’ve got better things to do than sit here and play ‘mother’ with you. Open your hand and give it to me nicely, or I’m gonna drive a stake through your limp wrist and chop your hand off with that axe over there.”
It only takes him a moment to unclench his hand and let me pull the ring off.
“Thank you” I say as I pocket the ring, smacking him across the head just for fun. I know I have to finish the bastard off . . . and luckily, I have that stake I was promising him tucked away in my jacket still. I pull it out and get ready to get it done when he mumbles a few words to himself.
“Faith . . . I know that name. Where do I . . . ahh, yeah . . . I know now. That’s the name your precious Buffy gasped out when I slid my fangs into her sweet neck.” He looks up at me, his eyes weary and wild at the same time. “Does that drive you mad? That I got to taste her, to claim her?”
“You almost done yet?” I interrupt, thoroughly annoyed that he thinks he can get to me with that crap.
He looks up at me, studying my face. He’s trying to find a weak point . . . something he can exploit in hopes of possibly saving himself. Or maybe he just wants to go out thinking that he was able to affect me. Both you and I know that I’m not gonna give him that.
“I could smell you all over her, through the salt from her tears. Were you the one to make her cry?” I visibly flinch. He perks up a bit. “Ahh, that’s it. You caused those tears. Then you weren’t there for her when her throat was getting torn out. And still . . . your name was the last word on her lips after she pleaded for her life. Interesting.”
Oh great. Another vampire with a degree in psychology. Just what I fucking need. Tell me . . . why does everyone want to piss me off? Am I wearing a “kick me” sign on the back of my shirt or something? And here all I wanted to do was kill the vamp and protect the girl.
“Listen up, blondie. I love Buffy, and she loves me. Things got confusing there for awhile, but I know we have the real deal now. And you better bet your pale-ass that I’m gonna defend her from bleach-blond pieces of undead shit like you.” I keep my eyes fixed on his as I step forward and start flipping the stake around in my hand.
“That slayer is battin’ for the same team now? Pardon me; slayers. Can’t say that’s an entirely unhappy image for me. Did you ever think that maybe it hurts so bad because now you know she loves you . . . but you’re not sure if you really love her? Any vamp with half his senses can smell the hurt coming off of you like cheap perfume. Maybe you didn’t show up to play hero earlier because you just . . . didn’t want to. Maybe . . . you want her to be hurt, because you’re hurting too. Ever think of that, luv?”
I know I shouldn’t let him get to me, but . . . I’ll be fucked if he’s not making me step back and consider his words. Maybe somewhere in my fucked up little mind, I started to associate hot sex with love. But Buffy and I have so much more than that. We have . . . TV watching days……that lead to hot sex. We have cuddle time . . . which leads to hot sex. We have play-chases after slaying . . . that lead to hot sex.
Shit, is it possible that what he said is true? Did Buffy start to love me more and more as time went by? Did I love her the most when I didn’t have her, and then just start to accept the sex as love as we started having other issues? I mean . . . looking back on it, I’m fairly certain . . . no, I mean I’m completely fucking certain that I remember feeling nothin’ but love for her the entire time.
But dead-boy here has me pretty much questioning it all now. There’s only one way to fix this.
I turn and face him.
“Hey Freud? Die. Now.”
I close the distance that I had walked away while I had been doing my little doubt-fest and spin the stake in my hand. My hand clutches around the handle and I draw it back, using all of my strength to plunge it forward again. I just about have it down to his chest when I feel myself getting tackled to the ground and a burst of commotion going on around me.
“Move! Move! Move! Subdue the girl and secure the hostile!”
There are about a half-dozen guys in army fatigues around me with these weird fucking guns pointed at Spike. They’re not even worried about me, or about the one poor guy who thinks he’s strong enough to hold me down. He’s already stood up with his foot on my back to hold me down to the ground.
I fling him off of me like he’s made of air, slamming him into another soldier. Three other soldiers turn their weird-ass guns on me, snapping orders like I’m actually gonna listen. I stay in fighting stance, daring any one of them to step up.
That’s right. It’s a battle of balls, and I got the biggest pair of them all.
After only a few moments pass, I see the last soldier step forward and issue an order for the others to stand down and to secure the vamp. They lower their guns straight away and turn their attention back to Spike, who is now looking like a scared puppy. The last soldier steps forward from out of the shadows, revealing his face to me.
“Meathead?” I ask, instantly recognizing the face of B’s boy-toy as of late.
“Actually, it’s Riley. Agent Riley Finn. And you’re . . . Buffy’s friend, right?” He says casually, kinda like we’re old friends. And . . . I could be wrong but, I think the fucker just tried to shake my hand.
Seriously. Do I give off the kinda vibe as someone that shakes hands and plays nicely after I’ve just been tackled to the ground and had my kill stolen? If he’s expecting ‘nice’ he has another thing coming.
“Friend? Nah. I just stalk her and she kindly puts up with it.” I reply sarcastically. “So, tell me this, Agent Finn: What’s with the soldier get-up? And why are you stealing my kill? You seem to have a serious problem of taking what’s mine.”
He has this confused look on his face. I sigh and roll my eyes before continuing.
“Slayer, comma, The. That’s me. And Buffy. She’s a slayer too. The original, actually. Betcha didn’t know that, did ya Beefy?”
Part of me is thinking, ‘okay, why are you giving up your secret identity, genius?’ Then again . . . I’m not Clark Kent, and this dude has gotta know about this shit if he’s wrangling a vamp with a bunch of high-tech gizmos.
“Buffy’s the Slayer?” He asks aloud, more to himself than to me. “I can’t believe she didn’t say anything. That must be why she’d never let me hold her hand or touch her . . . it’s the Slayer life-style. She’s used to harsh training and lots of solitary time, at least according to the textbooks. Maybe she . . .”
“Whoa whoa whoa.” I interrupt, holding my hands out for him to stop. “She didn’t want you touching her cos she happens to like pussy. Mine, in fact. So maybe you should take the multitude of hints and BACK OFF.”
I’m up in his face, giving him the most dangerous glare that I can manage. I’m pretty sure that he’s gettin’ the hint now, cos he’s taking a step back and holding up his hands.
“Hey, I’m not the one to get involved in lovers quarrels. I wouldn’t have ever went out with her had I known. Rest assured . . . I won’t be going there again. You have my word as a soldier.”
Good. The meathead knows what’s good for him. I wasn’t really in the mood to be torturing him anyhow. I have other people to torture and ki . . . fuck, where the hell did Spike go? And what’s with the whole soldier thing anyways?
“Okay . . . I have your word as a soldier. So, what exactly is happening to my friend Spike over there?” I ask and nod over towards the direction of the now unconscious vamp. The question kicks him right into soldier-mode. He stiffens up.
“The hostile will be contained and handled in a manner that is in accordance with the Initiative. By authority of the US government, I remove him from your custody and will transport him into a specialized containment unit. The situation is hereby controlled.”
Umm . . . what?
Wait, that’s a good thing, right? They’re gonna take Spike off of my hands, and I don’t have to get dust in my hair? Sounds like an even payout to me. But I can’t let him get away with just taking my kill away from me like that. I have to show some kinda resistance.
“Well, I was gonna kill him real good, yunno.” I say, grabbing my stake from the ground and twirling it again, showing off my skills. “He brought the hurt to Buffy? I bring the hurt to him.”
His face gets even more serious.
“He hurt Buffy?” He asks solemnly. I nod, looking just as serious. “He’ll be put in a new program. He’ll never hurt another person again. You have my word.”
I nod at him again and we hold gazes for just a moment before we both walk off quietly in different directions. Do I believe him? Yeah. Something in me is telling me that he means business right now. He looked truly pissed when I told him that Spike had hurt B. As much as I wanna make him out to be the bad guy cos of all the shit that happened between me and Buffy . . . it’s not his fault. He was pretty clueless about . . . well, damn near everything, I guess.
And I’m pretty sure that he’s gonna take care of Spike reeeeal good.
I take a slow walk back towards the apartment, not sure if I’m ready to face everything yet. Xander and Anya are probably back by now, and he’s gonna be looking for his car right away. I’m thinking I might try to blame that on Spike somehow . . . there’s no reason to make everyone upset with me when I have a perfectly good scapegoat to utilize. Red is gonna want a full report on everything, but really? I’m just too exhausted to go over things right now. I can use a nice warm bed and lotsa sleep, but . . . B happens to be in my bed right now. I’m not sure that we’re to the point that we’re ready for all that again.
Goddamned Spike. Here I was, ready to make things better and hop back on the horse. But now he has my mind filled with all kindsa doubts. Is what Buffy and I have really love? Or is it more of a dependency kinda thing? We kinda jumped head-first into things after graduation without really talking about any of it. After our first night together . . . we just both just assumed that we were ‘together’ together. There was no dating, and there was no asking her if she wanted to be my girlfriend . . . . everything just was.
Maybe we have to take two steps back before we can take one step forward. Cos really . . . what comes first, the chicken or the sex? Okay, that made more sense in my head, but yunno what I mean. If B and I really wanna be together . . . maybe we need to start out with the simple stuff first. Dating. Telling the friends. Taking it slow.
It sounds like a viable plan to me. But exactly how am I gonna explain that to her?
The whole thing is weighing heavy on my mind as I make my way back into the apartment building and up the stairs. My boots are heavy on the stairs, clunking loudly on the old mahogany steps. The Scoobs know that I’m there long before they see me walk in the door.
A barrage of questions hit me before I even have the door closed behind me. ‘Where’s Spike? Are you okay? What happened? Where’s my car? Is everything taken care of? Where’s Xander’s car? Is that a footprint on your back?’
I shake my head a little and decide to answer their questions all at once.
“Blondie is taken care of, but not quite dust. We can all rest easy tonight. Except for maybe Xander, who needs to go report his stolen car. The footprint is from a commando, but I’m all good. I’ll tell you more about it in the morning. But in the meantime . . . bed. How . . . how is Buffy?”
Everyone quiets down, except for Xander of course, who is having a mini-meltdown on the sofa. Anya is doing her best to comfort him, but it looks like she’s secretly excited. I think she’s already thinking about what kind of new car she’d like.
“She’s doing better . . . the Slayer healing is really picking up now. She’s just . . . tired, I think. And she’s worried about you, so . . . maybe you can go in and see her?” Willow says, looking over at me timidly. Like she’s afraid that I’ll not want to be near B.
“Of course I will. Later, guys. I’m gonna crash. I’ll take care if B, so . . . you guys can go home for the night. Meet back here in the morning. Bring food and coffee or I ain’t letting you in.”
I stalk off towards the bedroom after giving them all a small smile, letting them know that everything’s gonna be okay. I wait until I hear the door close behind them before kicking off my boots and turning off the lights, finally making my way into the bedroom.
B is laying there with a sheet draped over her, looking kinda pale and tired. She smiles as soon as she sees me and lifts up the sheet for me to slide under. I give her a small smile before taking off my pants and shirt and climbing onto the opposite side of the bed.
“All taken care of?” She asks softly, her eyes searching over my face.
“Yep.” I nod as I check her bandages.
I grin and shrug my shoulders like it was nothing. “Five by five.”
She pauses for a second and then grabs my hand that’s fiddling with the gauze on her neck. A scared little look creeps up on her face.
“And . . . us?”
It makes me smile a little softer, a little sadder perhaps, and I open my palm to cup the side of her face.
“Strong enough to get past anything.”
A small smile appears on her face and she opens her mouth to speak, but I put my finger over her lips to shush her.
“B . . . we’re gonna have to talk, and we’re gonna have to figure some stuff out, but . . . not tonight. Let’s just . . . be. And we can sort it all out in the morning, ‘kay?”
She nods her head a little and kisses my finger before guiding my hand down to her stomach, wrapping it over her and tugging me closer in the process. I chuckle a little because that was such a move that she woulda tried weeks ago to pull me closer and get snuggles outta me.
And yunno what? I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work every single time.
I scoot closer to her on my side and nestle myself along her body, my arm draped loosely over her and keeping her close to me.
This is the way things are supposed to be. Me and B, soft and close and in each other’s arms. We can deal with all the technical stuff another time. Right now is about feeling, and this feels more right than I can say.
We’re gonna make it past this . . . because we have to. Doubts or not . . . this is where I belong.
For the first time in ages, I fall asleep peaceful and easily.
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