Strong Enough

Author: Gina

Rating: R

Fandom BtVS

Pairing: Willow/Faith

Copyright 2005

Disclaimer: I own nothing but enjoy trying to play with the characters a bit.

Feedback: yes please

Distribution: just ask

Summary: Is Willow strong enough to help Faith defeat her inner demons and find love? Can they form a bond strong enough to fend off life’s daily issues?

A/N this story begins mid season three, set in the slayer verse though will focus more on life than fighting evil.

Chapter 1

As the snow fell in Sunnydale, Faith meandered through the streets. She knew she should have taken Buffy up on her invitation to join her and Joyce for Christmas Eve but she couldn't. Faith knew, almost from day one, that she and Buffy wouldn't click. She did try to form some sort of bond with the blonde but had no luck thus far. The two slayers had nothing in common outside of their slaying gig. Buffy was a bubbly vibrant girl with a loving family and friends. While Faith was a hardened girl with no love, no family and a street savvy attitude to boot.

The fact that it was snowing in Sunnydale finally clicked in the dark slayer's mind, as she literally ran into Willow. "Red, whatcha doin' out here?"

Willow had been home alone sulking over Oz when the snow started to fall. She had never seen such a spectacle, as she had not traveled outside Sunnydale. She was excited to be out in it though she was freezing having had nothing proper to dress in for such an occasion. "Nothing," Willow said as she looked anywhere but Faith's dark eyes, which had captivated her since she first saw them. Willow had an animosity towards Faith but knew Faith had a spark that drew most everyone in. Willow decided, soon after meeting Faith, that she would not be sucked in the allure that was Faith. On this night, for whatever the reason, her resolve had caved in. She chalked it up to being lonely on what was to be a festive holiday season.

Willow had been a very depressed girl since Oz called things off with her. Granted the blame for said split lie with her and Xander but Oz was unwilling to work on the relationship at this time. His lack of interest in fixing their relationship made her feel down and sad of late. "Are you cold?" Faith questioned in an uncharacteristically nice tone of voice, as she watched Willow shiver.

"Yeah but this is neat," Willow replied as she slipped in the snow but Faith's quick reflexes stopped her fall.

“Yeah it’s real neat,” Faith smiled at the redhead in amusement of her antics.

“I figured you would be with Buffy for Christmas,” Willow said having felt dejected by Buffy ever since Faith came to town. Buffy had paid more attention to the slayer and less to her friends. Willow felt Faith was horning in on a good thing but knew deep down it wasn’t Faith’s fault and Buffy was merely trying to make the girl feel welcome. Willow knew Buffy had failed miserably at being the welcome lady thus far, as Faith’s emotionless features remained plastered on her face most of the time.

“Nah, slaying is about all me and B have in common.” Faith said having noticed for sometime that there was a tension between herself and Willow. She thought it might have something to do with Willow’s fear that Faith was taking her best friend away. Faith wanted to do what she could to assure Willow that wasn’t the case by any means. “It’s a complicated thing Red,” Faith said as she took off her jacket and offered it to Willow.

Willow knew there was a lot of mystery to the dark slayer from the moment she met her. Faith was not a quiet person to say the least but not big on conversation of importance and didn’t bother to tell the gang much about herself. Faith had an almost unreadable look in her eyes. At times, hints of hurt and anguish would appear within the standoffish stare of the slayer. Willow wondered why nobody, including herself, had really tried to get to know Faith. Why had they not tried to see the girl inside the facade of tough attitude and sexuality she exuded so well? “Um, it is really cold out here; would u like to come inside?” Willow pointed in the direction of her house as she spoke.

Faith pondered why Willow was inviting her in her home, the two had never really got along from the get go. “That’s okay Red,” Faith said with a shrug.

“Oh come on Faith,” Willow beamed. “I have hot chocolate and you can smoke.” The truth was, Willow didn’t want to be alone and had enjoyed the brief conversation she’d just had with Faith. She thought that since they both were alone, it would be the sensible thing for Faith to join her. Possibly too, she could get to know the slayer a little better and maybe make a new friend.

Faith looked at the snow, which was piling up fast. “You got to experience something first,” she pointed at Willow with a motion for her to remove the jacket. She then swept the girl up and dumped her in the biggest pile she could find. “Welcome to winter weather Red.” Faith said with laughter in her voice.

Willow got to her feet wet and cold but with a smile on her face. “You’re not so bad Faith,” she said and managed to catch the slayer off guard long enough to trip her in the snow bank.

“Oh this is war Red,” Faith said and dashed after Willow who had sprinted off towards her house.

Faith made a few snowballs as she chased Willow. Just as Willow thought she was free and clear of more snow attacks from the slayer, Faith pelted her with the snowballs. “I win!” She said triumphantly, glad that her clothes didn’t retain too much wetness from her dip in the snow.

- - - - - - -

The sun beamed brightly through Willow’s window the next morning to indicate the snow had melted and the weather was back to normal. She stretched lazily and looked around the room. She recalled Faith coming in the house with her, getting warm and having a cup of hot chocolate. They’d watched a little TV and conducted very little conversation. Yet Willow didn’t know where she’d gone off to, as her bedroom door opened. “Hey Red,” Faith smiled at the sleepy redhead. “I thought I’d fix ya breakfast in way of thanks for your hospitality last night.”

“I hope you can cook better than Buffy,” Willow said as she lazily pulled herself out of bed.

“Yeah I think I just might,” Faith said as she checked Willow's small frame out. ‘Not to bad for a computer geek.’

The two ate breakfast in mere silence but for a few words on how fast the weather had returned to normal. “I guess I better scoot on outta here,” Faith said once the dishes had been finished.

“I don’t have anything to do if you want to hang out and watch those old Christmas movies.” Willow said in hopes Faith would accept her invitation. She felt rather upbeat since last night and knew if she were alone again, the glumness of her life would take over.

In all honesty, Faith didn’t want to be alone either though wasn’t about to admit it. She did wonder where Willow’s parents were at this time of year and wondered if maybe she wasn’t the only one with not such a good home life. “Yeah sure Red, but I need to go back to my room and grab a shower and some clothes.” Faith pulled on her jacket as she spoke. “Want to come with?”

“No that’s all right,” Willow smiled up at the gorgeous brunette having known Faith was trying to assure her she’d be back. “I’ll get things cleaned up around here and lay something out for dinner.”

“Sounds good Red, cya around noon,” Faith said and left the house.

- - - - - - - -

Faith had showered and relaxed a bit before she planned to head back over to Willow’s. Faith never thought she would be spending her holidays with Willow but supposed it was better than being alone. She did enjoy her time spent with Willow, which was a bit of a shock to her. It would appear that she should have more in common with Buffy than Willow, but Faith now questioned that theory.

Faith wondered why the snow fell so hard last night as she stepped back out of her dingy room. She was certain it had something to do with slayer stuff and was not at all surprised that Buffy hadn’t bothered to contact her to help with whatever the slayer stuff was. Faith was certain that Buffy saw her as nothing more than a back up rather than equal slayer. This bothered Faith at first but she was a pro at pushing bothersome thoughts somewhere in the depths of her mind until it all boiled up together and she exploded.

Faith's main reason for not displaying her feelings on how the gang treated her was the major crush she had on Buffy. She imagined anyone with a good set of eyes would be crushing on Buffy but had come to realize it was fruitless to harbor such feelings for the girl. Buffy was too caught up in Angel to see anyone else in that way, let alone another female.

Faith was used to not getting what she wanted in life which went totally against the persona she showed the world. Want, take, have was the persona she portrayed to everyone but that was the furthest from the truth. Faith wanted family, acceptance and to be loved like everyone else. Those things had always eluded her and she figured they always would. This is why she began the long process of building up her walls and vowed never to let anyone inside them completely.

Though she had a crush on Buffy, there was slight envy there also because Buffy did have it all. She had friends, family, love and a normal life; Faith never had those things before being called to slay. These were all things a slayer wasn’t to have but somehow Buffy had them and that angered Faith if she pondered it too much. “That’s the breaks slayer,” Faith said aloud as she turned the corner in the direction of Willow’s house.

“Faith,” Buffy called out and the slayer quickly stopped. “I wanted to talk to you for a minute.”

Buffy always put what she was doing aside when Faith wanted to hang out, to work out or slay and Faith did the same for Buffy. “What’s up?”

“This thing called the first evil did a number on Angel last night and, well we got it all sorted out and everything but I was thinking that,” Buffy smiled as she drifted back in thought of Angel again. “Well, he had a really rough time and tonight I’d like to go spend a couple days with him. After mom and I do the Christmas thingie, I will need someone to cover for me. I figured that maybe since you probably didn’t have plans it’d be cool.”

Faith’s first instinct was to accept and do whatever Buffy needed of her. That had become the norm for the two slayers because, in the back of her mind, Faith hoped somehow that would help Buffy see her in a different light and if Buffy saw her differently, the others would too. “No thanks B, I have plans.”

“Look Faith, this is really important,” Buffy shrugged at her sister slayer. “I know you didn’t come to the house last night because of pride but Angel needs me. He went through a rough time Faith and now is not the time for your pride to get in the way.”

“B, the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Faith said a little disgusted at Buffy’s line of thinking. “I have a life other than that of being your flunky! My job is not to make way for a vampire to be comforted but to kill them, maybe if you had realized that sooner, you wouldn’t be in the mess you are in!” Faith stepped away from Buffy and took in a deep breath trying to calm herself down. “Angel might need you, but Red needs me, apparently I’m being the friend you’ve neglected to be lately.” Having said that, Faith walked off feeling very proud of her actions.

- - - - - - -

It was 1:15 and Faith was late. Willow began to wonder if she was even coming and why she felt so let down. Her and Faith had never been that close but she felt as if she’d been let down by someone very important in her life. She decided to chalk it up to all the let down’s in her life of late. “Oh well Rosenberg, another day alone won’t kill you.” Willow spoke aloud as she heard a knock at the door.

She raced to it certain Faith would be standing there and she was correct in her assumption. “Hey Red,” Faith said with a smile upon her face and a certain air about her that Willow hadn’t noticed that morning. “B held me up for a few,” Faith continued as Willow took her jacket and hung it up on the coat rack.

“That’s ok; did you have something to do?” Willow asked but hoped the answer was no.

“She wanted me to cover for her while she made some new memories with fang.” Faith said as she sat next to Willow on the sofa. “Seems this thing made Angel crazy last night and B wanted to play girlfriend while I cover for her. She figured I had nothing better to do but I told her otherwise.”

Willow didn’t understand why something inside her leapt with joy when Faith informed her that she had chose spending time with her over doing something for Buffy. “Well if you need to patrol or something tonight, I could tag along.” Willow offered in a small voice.

“If I patrol tonight it will be because that’s my job, not because I’m covering for B.” Faith stated to clarify the situation.

The words Faith spoke told Willow volumes about the slayer. She understood now that Faith had to be a little bitter at how things had transpired. After all, Faith was the chosen one now yet everyone acted like Buffy was a saint and Faith nothing more then a second-rate slayer. Willow wondered what else in Faith’s life made her so defensive and down right cold at times.

- - - - - -

After watching a movie and dinner, the girls headed out on patrol. Faith was reluctant about going but Willow urged her that Buffy would probably do her Angel thing anyhow. Faith figured someone should do the job and decided she may as well in the event that Willow was right.

A vampire with two swords dove out and grabbed hold of Willow. Faith quickly did a backwards flip and landed both boots to his chest as she too hit the ground. She got to her feet just a little faster than the vampire and dusted him after a short round of punches. “You all right Red?” Faith said as she felt the adrenaline pulsating through her veins. ‘Damn it, one kill is never enough!’

Willow shook her head and allowed Faith to help her stand. She had been watching the slayer fight with great interest. Willow noticed how different Faith’s fighting technique was from that of Buffy, her toned muscles and raw energy. Then she began to freak at the fact that she noticed Faith’s small but muscular frame as she fought the monster. “I’m all right,” Willow murmured as she leaned against the slayer to regain her balance.

“Faith!” Buffy’s voice interrupted the moment that Willow didn’t really understand but knew it was a moment.

“Can'tcha see we’re a little busy here B?” Faith raised her eyebrows at the blonde slayer who returned the look.

“What the hell are you doing? Willow could have been hurt and,” Willow felt Faith tense up very fast. Something inside her told her that she needed to act quickly, as she moved away from the now angered slayer.

“Buffy stop it! I go on patrol with you all the time, or used to until,” Willow dropped her head having realized she was making things worse. “Buffy I,” Willow looked back over at Faith who, surprisingly, was smirking.

“Don’t give Fang another happy moment B,” Faith turned and walked off.

“Will I’m sorry, I freaked.” Buffy gestured at the redhead who was contemplating going after Faith.

“It’s all right, we need to,” Willow looked down for the swords and found they had disappeared. “Well we need to check in with Giles tomorrow,” with that, she turned and raced after the dark slayer.

Buffy stood replaying the strange scene in her mind. She knew from the vibe Faith had given off, not enough kill meant she was going to find a one nighter. She also saw how Willow reacted towards the slayer then her mouth opened wide. She felt a pang of something go through her at this realization but was uncertain as to what it was.

Chapter 2

Buffy and Faith were on their last sweep of the night. They were looking for more sword carrying vampires as Giles instructed. He had an idea of what the cause of said vampires being in Sunnydale was but needed a bit more information as the demon was supposed to be dead. "So B, get everything squared away with fang?"

"I think so, have you seen Willow?" Buffy asked tentatively.

"Why would I see Red?" Faith asked portraying her nonchalant attitude. She hadn't seen any of the gang in two days and wasn't going to let it bother her.

"She seemed a little miffed that I broke up your, um, whatever it is you were having." Buffy stated in wonderment of what exactly was going on between the two.

"Nothin' going' on there B. She's hung up on Oz same as you are Angel." Faith drawled, not liking the conversation. "I was just giving' her some company y'know?"

"Well it's a bit early yet and I think Xander is back from his family Christmas trip. Oz should be back from his gig so why don't we drop in and see if they're at the Bronze?" Buffy offered in hopes Angel too would be there.

- - - - - - -

Willow wasn’t up for going to the Bronze but Xander insisted so she tagged along. She supposed he needed company also, seeing as Cordy hadn’t yet forgiven him for his part in getting friendly with Willow. “You think it’s a good idea that we go in there together Will?” Xander asked as he pondered the consequences. “I mean should we rub it in their faces and do permanent damage to any chance we have at getting them back?”

“I think our chances are slim to none Xander,” Willow said somberly as she opened the door to the club.

Cordy looked up from the table she sat at with a couple of new friends. The Cordettes wouldn’t take her back but she’d rather see it the opposite way to keep her standing as head of the class if only to herself. Being who she was, she had to keep her socializing skills in tact so mingled a bit until she found a group to sit with. Being Cordelia Chase, meant one must keep their head held high, nose in the air and social standing from crumbling. Cordy didn’t care much at this point about those things though. Her father was getting into financial trouble, she’d lost her boyfriend and her pride was too much to let him back in her life so fast. “Oh look the gang is nearly all here!” Cordy said as she stood and made a disgusted face at Willow and Xander.

“Core, we’re not here to start any trouble. We’re not actually together,” Xander retorted angrily. “Look, I know I screwed up Core but I’m trying to fix things as is Willow if the two of you would just give us a chance.” He finished speaking as he swept his arm towards Oz who stood next to Angel with an emotionless look on his face.

“Just forget it Xander, I knew coming here was a bad idea.” Willow said and spun around towards the door.

“Damn right it was,” Cordy snapped angrily. “What the two of you did was the lowest of the low and I for one am not going to allow Xander to forget what he lost as compared to what he would have had with the likes of you!”

As Cordy was on her rampage, Buffy and Faith entered the club. Buffy looked her friends over sadly. She understood all to well where Cordy and Oz were coming from but Willow and Xander were her best friends. Buffy was undecided as to whom she should lend her support to because a definite wrong was committed.

Faith on the other hand, had no qualms at all on supporting Willow. Faith concluded that Willow had a crush on Xander for years and the chapter needed some form of closure. “Queen C, the only thing Xan-man lost is a preppy wanna-be top of the class snob. I’m sure he can do better than that and as for dog-boy over there. He lost a girl who made one mistake, hell I’ve made many mistakes in my life and am sure to make more.”

“Hence the reason you have no friends Faith,” Cordy snapped back at the brunette slayer.

“Who needs friends,” Faith said and motioned her arm over the crowd of people who all had their eyes on the gorgeous teen. “I have sex appeal, something you will never understand.”

As the two bantered back and forth, Willow slipped out the door unnoticed by all but the two slayers. “Been fun queen C but gotta motor,” Faith raced out the door after Willow as Buffy stood with a droopy look on her face.

- - - - - - -

Faith caught up to Willow rather quickly and put her hand on the redhead’s arm to slow her down. “Red, wanna hang with me?”

Willow had a plethora of emotions in her head and was certain she wouldn’t be good company to anyone. She felt bad most of all because Cordy had spoke the truth. Willow knew she and Xander made a terrible mistake that should have been averted. When Buffy didn't come to her defense, she felt hurt over that also. Right or wrong, she’d always defended the blonde slayer and felt Buffy could have shown a little more comfort. She also felt selfish for thinking these thoughts about Buffy and just over all confused as to why Faith defended her. “I probably should just go home before I screw something else up,” Willow murmured in an effort not to sound as if she pitied herself.

“Nah, I’m the screw up queen,” Faith replied. “You’ll be fine Red. Queen C’s just pissed over what happened. She’ll live.” Faith began to wonder why she was doing this. She was never into the comfort game because that only caused closeness and closeness only caused trouble in her life. She figured to help Willow out this one time then kick Buffy’s behind into sensibility tomorrow. “C’mon Red, let’s go get some burgers and see what’s on TV. It’s only 10:00.”

Willow begrudgingly followed the slayer to pick up some burgers then to her motel room. As they entered the room, Willow thought to herself that she might have a chip on her shoulder too if she had to live alone in this place while Buffy got a nice house and family to go along with it. “They gave you a decent TV at least,” Was all Willow could think of to say.

“Nah the one they gave me was shit,” Faith said as she opened the bag of food and motioned for Willow to get drinks out of the mini-fridge. “I won the TV and fridge at the demon bar. We played poker and drank booze till almost daylight.”

“Oh, so you’re kinda like Buffy and mesh with the demons?” Willow asked as she began to eat her food.

“Not really but I’ll go win a few bucks off them once in awhile. G-man is trying to get me better digs from the council and I have to make my own way till then.” Faith said with a sarcastic look on her face.

“Did the council take you away from your family and stuff?” Willow ventured into a get to know Faith better conversation.

“Technically, no,” Faith said flatly. By the look on Faith’s face, Willow knew she wasn’t going to go into detail about that sort of thing.

“I’m sorry about the other night; I didn’t mean anything bad by what I almost said.” Willow offered as another avenue of discussion.

“It’s not you Red,” Faith said as she flipped through the few TV stations she had available to her. “B is always thinkin’ I’m gonna screw up and get someone hurt if she’s not there to look after me. Fact is, I’m more in touch with slaying then she could ever be.” Willow’s puzzled look prompted Faith to continue. “There are things my watcher taught me that G-man neglected to fill B in on. Stuff like; slayers have a demon inside them; not some evil thing waiting to come out but a force that drives us. That’s why the slayer has to watch the fine line, has to be in tune with her dark side and able to use it for the good side.”

“Wow,” Willow muttered. What Faith was saying was intriguing and Willow understood how it could be possible. “So when Chaos and bad things ruled the earth, someone created the slayer to fight off these bad things and the only thing whoever had to create with was some sort of demonic power?”

“Somethin’ like that,” Faith said as she lit a cigarette. “It’s not some demon that is totally evil but I imagine it could aid in being evil if the slayer went evil and let the darkness overrun her.”

Willow and Faith watched a boring movie in which they talked general conversation most of the way through. Willow noticed several times that when she would attempt to venture into a personal conversation Faith would back off so she kept the talk to lighter subjects. School, guys, Faith’s bisexual tendencies, Willow’s college plans etc. Willow was surprised that she hadn’t thought of Oz one time during the evening spent with Faith. She didn’t think much on why she hadn’t but it felt good not to be so depressed. “So you want me to walk ya home Red?” Faith asked noting the time on the clock.

“Yeah I guess I should go,” Willow said a little surprised that it was 2:00AM.

“Thanks for the company,” Faith said as she walked Willow to her door. “Cya around.”

As Faith walked off, Willow watched her from the door. She smiled outwardly for the first time since Oz had broke up with her. She shook her head in disbelief at who was helping her feel better about herself. “Thanks Faith,” she said in a soft voice that the slayer could not hear as she closed the door.

- - - - - - -

Buffy and Faith traded blows with a few vampires as they began their talk about Willow that next evening. “Wills will tell me if she needs to talk.” Buffy chided in response to a question of Faith’s as she punched her creature.

“Don'tcha think she’d like a little show of interest in her well being?” Faith snapped back as she kicked her creature to the ground.

“Will has always talked to me if it is important! She knows she and Xander screwed up and they have to pay the price.” Buffy shouted as she and her creature wrestled one another to the ground.

“That’s a little self centered B!” Faith shouted back as her creature got in a good hit sending her to the ground. “You want your problems dealt with but expect others to come to you if they need to talk!” Faith continued as she kicked the vampire off her and got up.

“I have asked Willow if she’s all right and she said yes thank you very much!” Buffy shouted as she rolled atop her vampire and angrily staked him. “Wills knows she can come to me!” She continued angrily as she stood and dusted herself off.

“B, sometimes people need a little nudge y’know? You have to show them you care!” Faith said as she punched her vampire in the face several times before she dusted him. “People need to see that someone wants to talk to them, to be their friend and you have sucked at that lately.”

“You’re one to talk Faith; you don’t know the meaning of friendship I don’t think. You would probably try to bed her if you helped her to long because that is your thing to do!” Buffy delivered stinging words purposefully. She didn’t like Faith being the one to get the better of her on how to help a friend because she knew that wasn’t Faith’s bag. She hoped she could back Faith off with her words and then maybe look for Willow after she checked in with Angel.

“She just might like it too B!” Faith shouted in a rage. She was only trying to help the two friends and look what she got in response. She was surprised however, when the redhead stepped out of the shadows.

“Buffy I can not believe you just did that to her! You’re too wrapped up in Angel right now to see what’s going on right in front of you! When Oz and I were together, we put you above us most of the time, as did Xander. Now you’re acting more like Cordelia Chase, putting yourself above everything else but maybe Angel. I’m not being a baby in need of comfort or anything but sometimes, a friend could use a little support! Maybe we would give you our support again if you would start acting like the Buffy we all know again!” Having said her peace, Willow turned to head off but Faith put her hand on the redhead’s shoulder and halted her angered steps.

Buffy stood stunned but could not see that she was doing anything wrong. She was the slayer and gave up a lot every day of her life to go out and save the world. Now her friends were upset that she wanted a little time for herself. “Will it’s not like that and you know it! What you and Xander did was wrong. There is nothing I can do to make it better! You screwed that up, now you have to sit and wait around for Oz to heal so he can take you back!” Buffy shouted trying not to show her anger.

“I don’t have to wait on anyone Buffy!” Willow shouted back as she tried to get free from Faith’s grasp.

“I’ll go with ya Red,” Faith said and spun the teen towards the opposite direction. “Don’t worry B; I’ll take care of your friend.”

Buffy knew Faith and easily read between the lines of her words. As the two walked off, anger boiled up inside her though she wasn’t certain why she was angry. Faith was helping Willow, which should have been a good thing. Buffy couldn’t figure out for the life of her, what made her so perturbed about seeing them together and wondered just what was she hiding from herself.

- - - - - - - - -

Faith walked Willow home as the rain began to fall. “Red you and B will patch things up. She’s just got her panties in a twist y’know?”

“I know we’ll be fine eventually,” Willow said as she fiddled for her keys. “It’s just that I’ve never saw this side of her before and I’m not liking it much. Maybe I’m being a baby and asking for too much attention or something, I dunno.”

“Nah Red, you’re asking for a friend is all.” Faith said as she prepared to leave. “B is your friend and not there so I guess it hurts a little.”

“I thought it was because you were here at first because you’re a slayer too and way cooler than I will ever be. I know now, she’s going through something and just being selfish Buffy but maybe I’m being selfish Willow too. She does have a lot of duties and needs time for herself too.” Willow looked at Faith’s smile and ceased her babbling.

“Some people aren’t meant to be cool Red. They’re meant to warm the hearts of others by their personality and cool personalities don’t fit the bill for warming hearts.” Faith shuffled her feet a bit to indicate she was not comfortable with this type conversation. Willow thought her discomfort was just that she wasn’t used to being complimentary but Faith knew it was because the only time she had always been complimentary was when she was looking for something more than a casual friendship.

“Um, you could stay here if you like, it is raining and,” Willow looked down at her shoes not understanding the mixed feelings that were going through her. She was enjoying Faith’s company a little too much but felt obligated to wait on Oz.

“Nah, I best be goin’ Red.” Faith turned away from the redhead and looked out in the rainy night. “I’m guessing you and Oz will make up at the New Years party Cause, as selfish as she is being, my bet is B will talk to him.” Faith didn’t know why she made that statement but it made her feel more comfortable upon doing it. She felt the need to keep Willow at a greater distance and thought Oz would do the trick. “Cya around Red,” Faith finished speaking and quickly walked off.

Chapter 3

The Bronze was bustling with people who were excited to party in the New Year. “So, you’re really a demon?” Xander asked the pretty girl he had been talking with while he waited on his friends.

“Yes, Anyanka, go look it up.” The vengeance demon replied. She had been a demon for over a thousand years and garnered herself quite the reputation but of late, something just didn’t feel right to her. “Better yet, ask him,” she pointed at Angel who walked in with Buffy. “He’s a vampire with a soul. He used to be quite the evil man and Buffy Summers over there is a slayer who will be sadly mistaken if she thinks she can slay this demon.”

“I was just looking for a dance partner,” Xander shrugged. “I know all about Buffy and Angel. She is a friend of mine. I guess I need to move on and find another dance partner.”

“Why is that, she came in with a demon, aren’t you aloud to have some fun with one?” Anyanka asked as she darted her eyes around the room feeling a torn person within the area. She knew it would soon be time to go to work but she didn’t particularly want to on this night.

“I guess I can but, you aren’t going to go all evil and kill us all are you? Because that so would not be cool.” Xander stated as he waved vigorously at Willow. She had slipped in and sat alone at a table with a soft drink.

“Of course not, senseless killing is so asinine; I am a vengeance demon.” Anyanka clarified as she took Xander’s hand and headed for the dance floor.

Xander looked around the room at his scattered friends. He hoped someone would notice him with this gorgeous lady and not see so fast that she was a demon. He saw Faith had arrived in shortly after Willow and had given several glances Buffy’s way. He thought to himself that everyone must have a crush on Buffy minus the one she secretly wished would have one.

- - - - - - - -

The party was going along well but it was still early. Oz decided it was time to reconcile his relationship with Willow but he noticed she seemed preoccupied. He was about to walk over but saw that Willow was dancing with Faith and some other guys. He shrugged and took a seat with Buffy, Angel and Cordy for a while, while he scoped out the situation with Willow.

“Hey guys,” Oz said as he made himself comfortable at the table that was filled with snacks and pitchers of soft drinks.

“It looks like both Willow and Xander are having a good time.” Angel added as he handed Oz an empty glass.

“Poor Willow has to dance with Faith,” Cordy snickered as she sipped her drink and ate a salad.

“That’s what worries me,” Buffy said as she watched the two teens that were having a nice time.

“It looks like Xander has a um, a nice looking lady also.” Angel chose his words carefully as to not upset Buffy.

“Well I thought I might reconcile things tonight,” was all Oz said as Willow and Faith came to the table.

Faith sat down beside Oz and Willow beside the slayer. “Will, I was thinking we could talk,” Oz said softly.

“Oh I’ll get out of the way then,” Faith said in a mock tone. “Wolfie is ready to fix things so now it must be done huh?”

“No I don’t think so,” Willow said which garnered shocked looks from the rest of the gang as Xander and his lady friend walked up to them.

“We can wait till later then,” Oz said quietly. He was confident he and Willow would have a nice reconciliation tonight but it seemed Willow was not up for that.

“Hi guys,” Xander said as he took a seat next to his friend at the other end of the table. “This is Anya,” he motioned at each Scooby as he introduced them to her.

Both slayers scanned the room for possible trouble as the others chatted. Cordy and Oz seemed a little uncomfortable at the attention their ex partners were paying to Faith and Anyanka. Oz had decided that Willow was afraid they would end up in some sort of confrontation so he would wait until things started to die down then speak with her. Cordy had decided the same thing as she didn’t want to be without a mate and was certain Oz would fix things with Willow.

“Red, why haven’t you talked with dog-boy?” Faith asked as they sat down with drinks.

“I don’t know Faith,” Willow said flatly. “I waited all this time and now I’m not so sure I want to fix things.” Willow hadn’t fully told the truth but knew fast was no way to move on serious topics with the slayer. She, in truth, enjoyed spending time with Faith and wasn’t sure where she wanted to go. She was dealing with liking the slayer and the fact that Faith was a girl all at once and it would take her a little time to be certain. The one thing she was sure she didn’t want to do was get back together with Oz. Her reasoning was, if she had feelings for another person and got back with Oz, they could end up in the same boat they were previously in and Willow did not want to do anything stupid.

“Well you all and your relationships are sure confusing,” Faith said as she returned a smile from a guy at the bar. Willow noticed this and felt as though she was keeping Faith from something more fun.

“Um, you don’t have to sit with me though Faith. I’m fine really,” Willow offered though she felt her tummy tighten up. ‘Get a grip Rosenberg, Faith is to hot to be attracted to the likes of you.’

“Vampire at the bar,” Faith got to her feet. “I’ll be back shortly.”

- - - - - - - -

Midnight was fast approaching and most couples were dancing close awaiting the big kiss tradition. “So, do you think I should go find Wills? I mean they say I’m acting strange and maybe I am.” Buffy offered as she danced with Angel.

“Buffy, for one night, relax and worry about everyone else tomorrow.” Angel smiled at his girlfriend as he spoke.

“Well, she may be outside,” Buffy pointed at the door where Oz was headed to. “Plus I think I have relaxed too much, that is the problem Angel. I’ve neglected my friends far to long.”

Willow was outside alone when a drunken Faith found her. “Red, don’t ya know it’s not safe out here for cute little redhead’s?” Faith asked with a smirk on her face. “Whatcha doin’ out here alone anyhow?”

“I’m not ready to get into things with Oz and I know he’s going to want to get all snuggly and talk to ring in the New Year.” Willow said in a small voice.

“Oh yeah? Seeing as you’re not into the relationship bag right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fun of New Years Eve.” Faith said as the clock atop the bank struck midnight.

Faith then spun Willow around to face her and placed her lips to Willow’s. Willow was surprised that she didn’t resist, as was Faith. The non-resistance and booze enticed the slayer to keep going so she deepened the kiss and pulled Willow closer to her. Faith was never one to make the best judgments all the time but the booze made it worse. Had Faith not been so tanked on liquor she may have thought of the consequences this might entail. All such thoughts were far away however, as she explored Willow’s mouth with her tongue.

It was in the midst of the kissing when Oz rounded the corner and saw the two. He stood motionless for a minute then broke for the Bronze. His face was a mixture of anger and disbelief as he butted in between Buffy and Angel. “Get out there and do something with Faith! She’s all over Willow!” Ozes usually soft voice now held a fury few had ever heard.

“I’ll take care of it,” Buffy said and looked at Angel who fought off a smirk. He secretly had rooted for Willow to move on. He agreed that what she and Xander had done was wrong but thought it selfish of Oz to expect the girl to wait for three months while he figured things out.

Buffy raced out the door after she ordered Oz to stay with Angel. She looked all around the club but there was no sign of either teen. “Faith!” She shouted angrily but knew the brunette and Willow were long gone.

The question was where had they gone in such a hurry? Buffy didn’t want to contemplate that thought at all, as she tried to think of where Faith might take Willow. “Damn you Faith!” She shouted into the night as rage boiled up within her.

- - - - - - - -

Faith kept up her kissing all the way to Willow’s house. She held the redhead firmly in her arms though not tight enough to prevent Willow from moving away if she chose to do so. “You’re not such a bad kisser Red.” Faith said as Willow opened the door for them. She had wanted to say how stupid Oz was for not cashing in on some fun with such a good kisser but thought better of it. Her slayer energy was racing and there was only two ways to get it to settle down. Since Faith was in no mood to go kill anything, she hoped the other way would work.

“Um, do you want something to drink?” Willow offered as Faith took off her jacket. “We don’t have anything alcoholic but we have Pepsi, juice and all that stuff.”

“No thanks,” Faith said as she lifted her gaze to Willows emerald eyes. They were eyes that held so much trust and innocence, loss and pain of non-acceptance. Faith knew right away, drunk or sober, she should not have looked into those eyes. Willow sat next to her and smiled then kissed her. The sexual desire won out once more and Faith began a trail of kisses from Willow’s lips to the back of her neck.

Love and acceptance was once Faith’s goal in life, one that she had long since abandoned. For a brief moment, Faith’s old attitude of caring for others threatened to escape when she looked into Willow’s eyes. She had a plan to stifle the feelings once and for all. Feelings that had threatened to creep in every time Faith was around Buffy and now tried to creep back to life in the presence of Willow. Faith’s plan at first was to have some fun with a friend of Buffy’s. Surely, that would stop her late night thoughts of the blonde slayer. Now the problem was how to stop the late night thoughts of Willow? ‘That’s easy Spenser, get laid then tell her she was being used.’

Faith moved Willow on her lap and rubbed her back gently as she kissed her. She felt how relaxed Willow was in her arms. It was as if Willow had entrusted all she had to the dark-haired beauty. Faith knew she should stop but Faith rarely did what she knew was best. ‘If you stop now Faith, it will show weakness and you will be just like the others then you will get hurt.’

Faith’s mind flashed back to that same look in Willow’s eyes that she used to have, a look of longing and desire to be loved. Faith had replaced that look with a cold one as she had traded in those types of thoughts for numbness a long time ago. Something stirred inside the slayer when she looked into Willow’s eyes, something she felt for a few days but was able to shove aside.

She, through the heavy make out fest, was able to regain her composure enough to hide those old emotions tucked away deep inside her until they went away again. She knew from experience that, once you let the walls down, you got hurt. Faith had been hurt enough in her life to know that she never wanted that feeling again and wondered just why this cute young lady with such a vibrant personality had felt that same hurt she long since tried to get out of her own life.

Willow felt Faith’s strong energy envelop her like a soft wind. She felt as though she were being swept away from the world and all the hell it had to offer as Faith moved on top of her and gently eased her back on the sofa. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this before she even got the chance to know the slayer but her head was in such a spin that there was no turning back.

Faith’s kisses grew more passionate as she fought her inner-self, one side urged her to go on with things as always and the other pleaded for her to stop and not hurt this girl. A soft moan from Willow helped fuel her raging desire to continue on and she moved her mouth to Willow’s breasts.

- - - - - -

Faith awoke the next morning with Willow in her arms. She had screwed up the part of her plan she’d always followed to the letter. Get laid and get gone as soon as she showered, or kick them out, whichever was appropriate. She looked at the redhead who was still sleeping peacefully. ‘Fuck you’ve got to get out of here Faith.’ She then rose and started to dress.

Willow awoke and saw Faith readying to leave. She couldn’t believe the slayer was going to leave without talking to her but thought Faith may have felt bad over what happened last night. Willow planned to assure the slayer that it was a mutual thing and she shouldn’t take the blame for anything. It seemed as though Faith was far off though as Willow tried to speak to her. “Faith,” Willow said for the third time. A look of panic was displayed on her face. “Did I do something?”

“No Red, not at all, it’s me,” Faith quickly stood. Faith decided she had to keep sheltered from hurt at all cost. “I guess I should be on my way.”

“I don’t understand, what happened? I mean, we had a nice time last night or I thought we did and, well,” Willow blushed a little.

“Red, I don’t know what you’re looking for here but I’m not into the closeness deal, y'know? I’m into a little fun then get gone, no strings attached.”

Willow had resigned herself to the notion she was very attracted to the gorgeous slayer but knew Faith had many issues. She also knew she had to think fast to keep Faith around. “Faith, I’m not looking for anything but just someone to hang with and the kissing wasn’t so bad either. If I was looking for something I would have worked things out with Oz. Being around you showed me how nice it could be to have a carefree spirit and I want that. I don’t want to have to worry about who is cheating on who, does he really love me and so on.” Willow surprised herself at the ease in which she lied to the slayer. She wanted to know Faith better but knew she couldn’t appear to be coming on to strong or Faith would be gone. She lied with hopes of gaining Faith’s trust somewhere along the way and maybe then something more could happen.

Faith studied the redhead intently for just a few seconds. “Red, it’s not in you to be non-caring like me. You’re a good person who cares about her friends and all that jazz.”

“You don’t care Faith? I care about you as a friend but love you? That’s not happening because it’s not what I’m looking for and I know you’re not in with that.” Willow tried again but couldn’t look in Faith’s eyes.

“Look, if I’m the reason you didn’t hook back up with dog-boy, you should rethink it cause that’s not cool and I’m not the person to lean on.” Faith thought she saw through what Willow was saying but second-guessed herself. If Willow really was only looking for some fun, that’d be great because Faith wanted to have a little fun with her. The problem was that Faith felt she could want more and that Willow already did want more. She couldn’t allow herself to go there, never.

“Faith, Oz and I had a great thing; do you really think you’re that good, that you could make me forget just like that?” Willow decided that if she riled the slayer up a bit, Faith might take the challenge to show how good she was. This would buy her the time she needed to find a way to reach the slayer.

“I dunno Red,” Faith shuffled her feet. “I am just gonna get out of here while we still have a friendship.”

Faith, I’m not upset. I just thought we could have a laugh and not have to worry about the troubles of life.” Willow tried again having realized this slayer was not stupid by any means.

“Red one thing everyone likes about you is your honesty, never ever give that up for anyone,” Faith opened the door and stepped outside. “We’re not worth it, especially me.”

Faith’s last words echoed in Willow’s head as the slayer walked away. What she couldn’t figure out was how she was going to get through the thick walls life had caused Faith to build around herself. Sadness overtook the shy redhead as she pondered just what was so bad in Faith’s life to cause her to push the thought of having anything good out of her mind.

Chapter 4

After leaving Willow’s house, Faith tried to catch another nap at her motel room. The nap was interrupted too soon, by her aching head as well as someone pounding on her door. "Chill a minute!" Faith shouted as she splashed off her face and put something on.

Faith opened the door and met Buffy's fist to the mouth. Not thinking, she retaliated with a punch of her own, which sent Buffy into the door across the hall. "What the fuck is your problem B?"

"My problem is you Faith!" Buffy hissed as she picked herself up. "What the hell did you do to Wills? You spend the better part of our patrol time flirting with me and now Wills? What the hell did you do to her?"

"Not a damn thing B, why don't you go talk to her." Faith said then wondered if Willow was now doing the blame game and had talked with Buffy.

"Faith if you slept with her and plan to toss her aside like a piece of trash I swear I will kill you!" Buffy shouted as she closed Faith's door in effort to get some privacy.

"I never forced Red to do anything B; I know you think pretty low of me but I didn't think you would think that low." Buffy was surprised at Faith's downcast look. She expected an all out war, not this. "What did or did not happen between Red and I was consensual and Red knows I'm not getting overly involved. So take your self righteous attitude and fuck off!"

“Faith I’m sorry, I just,” Buffy put out her hand in an apologetic gesture.

“Go B, just go! If you’re so worried about Red, why don’t you fix it! Is that the real problem B? Are you upset cause I can admit my sexuality?”

Buffy looked at Faith with shock on her face. It hit her at that moment, she knew she cared for Willow but had always kept it in the back of her mind. She loved Angel though and knew she could never hurt him like that. “Faith, I don’t know what’s got you so angry all the time but if you would relax a little, you would see people care about you!” Buffy turned and stormed out of the room angry that Faith saw through her.

“Go figure, stupid stupid Faith!” The slayer said aloud as she kicked her door. “The one person you think you might be able to open up to shuns you and treats you like a psychological experiment and wants the one who wants you.” Faith pulled a bottle of booze out of her jacket and tipped it to her lips. She had decided that Willow would want Buffy in no time at all and she would be free and clear of them all.

- - - - - - -

Xander and Buffy sat at a run of the mill eatery having burgers for lunch. “I’m concerned about Will too,” Xander added. He and Buffy had been discussing what was up with Willow and Faith. “I think we need to have a pal night, we need to encourage her to get back with Oz and stay away from Faith.”

“I couldn’t agree more but we have to be cautious as to how we go about it. Faith is a good slayer but good relationship material she is not. Now I have a plan but you just need to work with me on it.” Buffy said with confidence in her voice. She knew just how to stop Faith from ruining Willow’s life but hoped it didn’t ruin her own in the process.

“I’m in,” Xander said with a smile as his new friend Anya walked in. “I’m supposed to show her around Sunnydale, she’s a great dancer and a lot of laughs.” Xander smiled at the vengeance demon, who sat down beside him.

“Yes I am and very loyal too,” Anya smiled back at the two long-time friends.

“That’s great,” Buffy said as she shrugged off a slayer vibe. “Xan, as I was saying, just tell Will I’m acting strange and you think I’ve split with Angel. I’ve got to go fill him in.” Buffy excused herself from the table with a smile.

“We’re going to get Will away from Faith, that’s the other slayer.” Xander explained to Anya.

“You mean that’s thee chosen slayer, her energy and slayer vibe is way stronger than that of your friend Buffy.” Anya said in a matter of fact tone.

“No An, you see Faith is only a slayer cause Buff died and I brought her back. Buff is still top dog.” Xander explained with confidence in his voice.

Anya grinned and laughed. “That’s not how it works Xander. Buffy has the slayer powers yes I agree. Faith has the energy, the drive and zeal to slay. This makes her thee chosen one. She has the demon of the slayer, which is a necessity in destroying or at least fighting off the most evil being of them all. The one that was, is and always will be. The first evil.”

“One doesn’t have to have that to be the best slayer,” Xander argued being unwilling to believe Anya was right.

“Is that so? Buffy also has one more minus in her slayer book; she is selfish, Faith may be in some areas but on a different level.” Xander merely hung his head, as he knew deep down that his new lady was correct. “Faith, she would kill Angel in an instant, she wouldn’t regard him as a better demon then myself because she cared and wanted to change the rules.” Anya stood and took Xander’s hand in hers. “Let’s go see some real sites rather than Sunnydale, vengeance demon style.”

 - - - - - - - -

Everyone was gathered at the Bronze that night for a back to school celebration. Willow sat alone and watched Faith dancing with some guy. Her heart ached but she kept trying to tell herself Faith was doing this to push her away. “Hey Will,” Buffy said with a smile. “Did you talk to Xan?”

“Yes he told me that you split with Angel?” Willow asked in wonderment as to why that happened.

“Well, I realized something about myself and I couldn’t hide it any more.” Buffy said as she eyed Faith on the dance floor.

“What’s that?” Willow asked as Faith kissed the guy she was with aggressively. “I’m sorry Buff I have to go.”

“No wait Will,” Buffy put her hand on Willow’s arm. “I realized why seeing Faith flirt with you upset me. I know you enjoy spending time with her and all but I know deep down there could be nothing there so it was wrong of me to get upset.” Buffy had thought it over as to which girl she should play on to split them up forever. Seeing as she really did care for Willow, she chose to play Faith. She just couldn’t trick Willow in such a way and was afraid Willow wasn’t really gay. She loved Angel and knew that once she played Faith, she would go back to him. If he would have her that is as he was very upset.

As Faith and her guy pal headed for the door Buffy spoke again not paying attention that Faith was looking at Willow. “The reason I got so upset is because I like Faith. Now I’m not sure if it is a slayer bond or something more so I had to call it off with Angel to be sure.” Buffy said with confidence in her voice. There was no turning back now; the plan was in full swing.

Willow’s heart broke inside, she knew Faith flirted a lot with Buffy and now it was over for her. She now knew what Faith must have felt like being shoved aside so many times by the gang. Though her heart was breaking, Willow kept a straight look on her face. “Then go after her I guess.” She stood from the table and headed for the bathroom.

- - - - - - -

Buffy stood and turned towards the door as Angel, Xander and Anya sat watching. Anya’s face contorted briefly into Anyanka then back to Anya. Xander was sure his cover was blown but quickly found out that Angel knew. “You can fight it Anya, I have for many years. You seem like a good person underneath,” he touched the demon’s hand. “You feel her pain don’t you?”

“Yes,” was all Anya said as she looked between the two men. “I don’t know what’s happening to me but I don’t want to cause pain any more but feel the need to help Willow with my demonic skills as I have done this for way too long.”

“Xander, go check on Will,” Angel said as he stood. “I’ll take your friend with me and you drop over later to fill us in. Anya, I will help you fight it if you like and will be glad to help Xander understand how to help you.” Angel offered with sincerity in his voice as the others stood.

“It will be a huge task as D has control of my soul.” Anya added as the two walked out leaving Xander to search for his friend.

“Will,” he called as he entered the hall that housed the bathrooms and a storage area. “Don’t make me come in the women’s room looking for you because you know I’ll do it.” Xander said as he pushed open the door to the ladies room. “Will?” He queried softly as he listened for any sort of noise.

“Go away Xander,” Willow said in between sobs.

Xander’s heart broke for his friend. He knew that he had made a huge mistake going along with Buffy’s plan but couldn’t back out now. “Look, I saw Faith with that Guy Will. You have Oz, he loves you and…” Willow burst out of the stall with tears and anger in her eyes.

“It’s not Oz, I don’t want Oz Xander. I know where my heart is and I’m so angry that I stupidly allowed it to go there. Buffy wants the one I want and I know, before the night is over, Buffy will have her.”

Xander put his arms around his sobbing friend and wiped the tears from her eyes. He felt so guilty at what he had agreed to with Buffy but knew telling Willow wouldn’t be a good thing. He knew she would turn on him as well, more so than she might Buffy because he was her best friend. He mentally kicked himself time and time again as he held his heartbroken friend. “I’m here for you Will and who knows, in time you might see that Oz is good for you.”

- - - - - - -

Buffy stood in the bushes and watched Faith in a heavy make out session with some guy. She tried to form in her mind, how she was going to be able to let Faith do some of the things too her that she was doing to the guy. Truthfully, she had no interest at all in Faith in that way but was determined to go through with it.

The guy’s pants had a noticeable bulge in them as Faith kissed him all over. He began to moan in pleasure as Faith rubbed the bulging area from outside his pants. She felt someone watching them and hoped to god that it wasn’t Willow. She wanted Willow to see how she didn’t care but didn’t want her to torment herself. The fling she was planning too have with this guy was partly to release her own stress and make herself forget what she was really feeling. “Hang tight for a sec,” she said and moved away from the guy who could barely stand due to the pulsing in his veins.

She turned and walked a small distance to see Buffy moving down the street. “B?” Faith called and was certain she was here to fight over Willow.

“I came to talk to you for a minute but see you’re busy.” Buffy replied.

“Is this about Red?” Faith asked wanting to know how Willow was doing.

“No, it’s about me Faith.” Buffy turned towards the slayer. “Can we go somewhere else?”

“Kinda busy here B,” Faith motioned towards the guy who was still panting.

“Faith, I split up with Angel,” Buffy said in hopes that would get the slayer’s attention.

“Why is that a concern of mine?” Faith asked nonchalantly.

“I split up with him because I realized that I liked you Faith.” Buffy said relieved to have the big part of her plan out of the way. “This morning when we argued, you thought it was because I wanted Willow. That’s not the case at all Faith. I thought about it for quite awhile and realized you are the one I want.”

Faith stood motionless for a couple of minutes. Night after night, she would dream of this event. Now that it was here, she didn’t know what to do. She had made plans to put space between her and both women. She wanted to protect her emotions but now she had the opportunity to have one of them, the one she wanted from day one. She looked at Buffy who was moving closer to her then Willow crossed her mind. Faith was shocked that she wasn’t jumping at the chance to kiss, touch and be with Buffy but knew now that Willow was the one she wanted. She didn’t know when things changed but they had. She realized that what she felt for Buffy was the slayer bond. ‘Here’s your shot slayer, be with Buffy and you will push Willow away. That was part of your plan to begin with in order to push them both away.’

Chapter 5

Willow rounded the corner that lead to the alley by the Bronze as Buffy pressed her lips to Faith’s. She spun around quickly and darted into the street. “Will!” Xander shouted as the car tried to swerve.

Faith jerked away from Buffy just as Willow spun and ran in the street. “No!” She shouted and sprinted for the street but she was too late.

Willow lay motionless in the street when Faith and Xander got to her. “Look what you two did two Willow!” Xander hissed angrily.

“Get an ambulance,” Faith said in a hallowed voice. Every time she got involved to deep in someone’s life, it caused pain and hurt. She knew this was all her fault and she should just go away but couldn’t.

“Xander I think we both know who caused this,” Buffy said in a hushed voice as they ran inside the Bronze to call an ambulance, which was already on the way due to Angel’s quick thinking.

“Yeah, I should have never gone along with your stupid plan!” Xander’s anger and guilt permeated throughout the unusually quiet club.

“If Faith cared for Will she would have never allowed me to kiss her!” Buffy shouted back, her moment of self-blame gone. She now wanted to lay the blame on the real bad girl, Faith. In her mind, this was how it had to be. Faith would have hurt Willow no matter what and Buffy had no idea Willow would have taken the action she did.

Angel stepped up beside them and grabbed Buffy by the arm. “It’s time you take responsibility for what you have done Buffy.” With anger on his face, he released the blonde slayer from his grip. He then looked at Buffy and Xander in a disgusted manner and walked out of the club.

- - - - - - - -

The hospital room hummed with machines as Faith sat silently by Willow’s bedside. Xander had tried to make her leave earlier but she refused. A few slayer punches later, and the slayer won the battle with the angered man. “Red, c’mon you just gotta wake up.” Faith spoke in a low frantic voice.

She replayed the evening over and over in her mind but something was off. She just couldn’t get a handle on what felt wrong to her but knew it was something. “Damn it why did I have to be so stupid.” Faith said aloud as the door to Willow’s room opened and Oz stepped in.

“Willow’s life was calm until you got involved Faith.” He spoke softly but his eyes told a different story. They blazed with a rage the slayer recalled having seen in her own eyes when she looked in the mirror. “As I told Xander and Buffy, you need to get out now before I have her parents stop you legally from coming here.”

Faith stood and matched the young man’s stare with one of her own that told him she would sooner kill him right there then leave Willow’s side. “Don’t threaten me boy.” Faith said quietly. “Why are you ordering Xan and B away? I know B kissed me and all but I backed off from her.”

Oz felt his wolf features overtake him and fought them off as best he could. “Just go Faith!” He hissed in a more violent tone.

“You wolf out dog-boy and I’ll kill you!” Faith raised her voice as Cordy poked her head in the door.

“Faith why don’t you just leave with the rest of us and let the ones who really care for the geek handle things.” Cordy said in a snide tone.

Faith saw nothing but red at that moment, she knew her temper had won. She backhanded Oz to the floor and his head hit the table hard then slapped Cordy across the face and sent her sprawling across the hall. She stepped outside the room and looked at the gathered gang. “I don’t know what the hell is going on here with all of you but you better get your half-wolfed friend and leave!”

Buffy looked into the eyes of the dark-haired slayer and flinched outwardly. She saw pure rage in those eyes and didn’t feel comfortable with it at all. She had the gut feeling that, if Faith blew a gasket, someone could be hurt badly and the human factor was of no importance. “Angel I think you should try to calm her down.” Buffy pointed at the enraged slayer.

“No I don’t think I will,” Angel said as he dragged an unconscious Oz out of the room. “Faith, what is going on is Buffy didn’t think you were good enough for Willow so arrogantly thought she could take you away from Willow. She and Xander came up with the entire plan and now everyone is trying to find a way to blame it on you. I for one don’t like it and think they all need to leave!” Angel spoke in a harsh tone, as he looked at the gang he once called his friends. He noticed that Cordelia’s look of disgust at the Scoobies matched his own.

Faith gave Buffy a death stare as she went back inside the room and closed the door. She knew she had to get a handle on her anger before it got the better of her as it had so many times back in South Boston. “Red, wake up,” Faith said as she touched Willow’s face gently.

- - - - - - - - -

The next day wound down into night with Willow having not woke up. The Doctors said she had a severe concussion due to hitting her head on the paved street. There was also nerve damage that they wouldn’t be able to assess until she awoke, if she awoke. In all honesty, Willow Rosenberg had a 50-50 chance of coming out of this and Faith was laying the blame totally on herself. What Buffy had done was wrong but Faith surmised that if she had not pushed Willow away, none of this would have happened.

Faith’s face contorted in anger, as she looked the redhead over. She had spent the day mentally chastising herself for trying to get rid of Willow and for being attracted to such a selfish human being as Buffy. “No change,” she said softly as Angel walked in the room just after sunset.

“Faith, don’t beat yourself up over this,” the vampire said quietly. “You didn’t know what Buffy was planning.”

“Yeah I know that but Fang, I pushed her away before B even pulled the stunt of the year.” Faith said as she kept her eyes glued on Willow. “I got scared y’know? Me and good relationships, they don’t mesh well. Therefore, I acted like nothing mattered and planned a scheme to get something that was beginning to matter to me out of my life. I’m all screwed up inside and I didn’t want her to be part of my screwed up life so that makes me more at fault then B. B is right, I would have hurt her if I let her in Fang. The deal is, I was gonna scheme to get her not to care for me and now that she is on her way out of my life, I don’t know if I want that.”

Angel studied the dark-haired beauty as she spoke. Such raw emotion was placated on her face that he knew Faith definitely had some baggage. He didn’t know what happened in her life, but knew that if anyone could help her mend, it was Willow. He knew Willow just had to wake up or the slayer might go over the edge permanently. This would possibly be the last blow in a life that was riddled with bad breaks.

Angel looked at Willow for a moment then shuffled towards the door. “Faith, why don’t you come on patrol with me for a bit? It’d be good for you to blow off some steam.”

“Yeah maybe it would.” Faith stood and looked down at Willow sadly. “I’ll be back Red, hang in there.” She followed Angel out the door with a mixture of emotions running through her head. She felt, on one hand, that she should leave because she caused all the hurt as Oz told her. On the other hand, she felt she couldn’t leave because she had to make things right with Willow; she needed to tell her how she felt and see if something could be salvaged.

- - - - - - -

Buffy sat in Willow’s room with tears in her eyes. She felt as though she would literally come apart at the seams any moment. She couldn’t bear the notion that she had a part in Willow’s physical predicament not to mention her mental state. She wanted to grab the girl up in her arms and tell her how she felt about her. She wanted to hold her and make it all go away and was certain she could do just that once Willow regained consciousness. ‘This is the way you should have handled things to begin with Summers. You could have told Willow how you felt and been with her, but no, you were too scared of your own sexuality so you had to make a mess of things. It wasn’t all your fault, Faith backed you in a corner and forced you to act before thinking.’

“Will I’m so very sorry about all this. Please wake up so I can make it right with you.” Buffy spoke as the tears fell down her cheeks. “I don’t want Faith Will, I never did. I love Angel and you know that. Faith is bad news Will and I only wanted to protect you from being hurt by her. More importantly Will, I love you and want to tell you how much. I want to show you how much and share my life with you if you will just wake up.”

“It seems everyone loves Willow,” a soft voice said from just inside the door. “Everyone but maybe the one she loves, the one you all want to push away.” Anya’s eyes sparkled with interest as she spoke. “Let me ask you this slayer, who put you in charge of the match making department?”

“Willow doesn’t love Faith!” Buffy spat angrily at Anya. “She is infatuated with Faith because Faith paid her attention. Willow is like that you know, a little too clingy at times. Besides, you don’t know her so don’t you dare come in here and pretend to know what she needs, I am what she needs!”

“You self righteous bitch!” The newly turned vengeance demon shouted back at Buffy.

“Oh that would figure,” Buffy said as she withdrew a small sword. “Xander moves from Core to some demon that is about to be killed!”

“You really think you can kill me? Who said you were the only one who could bed a demon you stupid fool!” Anya hissed back at Buffy who looked as if she were about to snap into a million pieces from all the stress.

“You have no right coming in here and telling me about Will! I know what Willow likes and dislikes, what makes her laugh and cry, what she needs and does not need!” Buffy shouted as she tried to calm herself. She was so angry her face was squinted up and hands were trembling.

“Buffy,” the soft yet stern voice of Giles broke the tension in the room. “Do calm yourself, you can be heard outside.”

Anya made a quick exit from the room while Giles was speaking with Buffy. She did not care for this slayer’s attitude at all. She figured however, that Buffy must have been a good person at some point because Xander befriended her. Granted Xander had gone along with Buffy’s plan but Anya decided that was because she normally could be trusted. Somehow, somewhere along the way, Buffy had just gotten a clouded judgment. “Humans,” Anya said in an exasperated tone. “To think, I was considering finding a way to become one for Xander.”

“You’d do that for me?” Xander said as his two-day long frown turned into a smile at the thought of someone making such a huge life-altering change for him.

“I’m not so sure now,” Anya said and kissed her boyfriend.

“An, how am I gonna get my friend back if she lives?” Xander asked in a frightened tone.

Anya studied Xander’s face; the pain and sadness was evident in his eyes as well as lack of food and sleep. “That I don’t know but you still have me.” She smiled at Xander and pulled him into a tight embrace. “What say we go back to your place, get something to eat and see how you make out in the orgasm department. We can come see Willow tomorrow when things have settled. She’s peaceful right now anyhow.”

“That sounds good,” Xander said and kissed his girlfriend. He knew he’d made some terrible mistakes of late and was glad he had someone who, though wasn’t big on the tact, was there for him.

- - - - - - - -

It was just after midnight when Faith made her way back to Willow’s room, against the nurses wishes. She stared aimlessly out the window for quite awhile. She had tried to calm her mind by killing a few vampires earlier in the evening but nothing worked. All Faith could think of was Willow and how, if given the chance, she planned to mend fences with her.

She moved over to the bed and Held Willow’s hand then kissed her forehead. “Red, I dunno if you can hear me but I need you to wake up. Y’know, all my life I’ve either screwed things up or been screwed over. I did a bad thing when I tried to push you away Red, but I wanna make it up to you. I wanna learn how to not screw up so bad and know someone who won’t screw me over.” Faith shuffled her feet in discomfort. She never was one for sharing her emotions nor let a tear escape but it was happening.

Faith looked at the peaceful, motionless girl who, just a couple nights ago, was vibrant and full of life in her arms. She cursed her mother for causing her such a pained childhood, her watcher for leaving her thus causing her to shut up tight and most of all, herself for what she’d done to Willow. She blamed herself for Willow’s condition as well as her own condition. Faith realized that she didn’t have to turn into a cold bitch that cared for nothing but herself to begin with. In reality, that was only a mask because if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t be in the state she was in over Willow.

‘You are who you are slayer; best thing for everyone now is for you to bail while the bailing is good. Do it before you cause more hurt to those you care about and never allow yourself to care again.’ “Fuck, why do I let myself do this!” Faith shouted in exasperation as she turned from the bed. As Faith stepped towards the door, Willow’s hand moved slightly.

Chapter 6

“Faith,” a hoarse whispered voice called as the slayer opened the door to leave Willow’s room.

“Red,” Faith said softly and moved back to the bed. “Let me get the nurse so they can check you out.”

Before Faith could move back away, Willow caught hold of her elbow. The slayer turned back to look at Willow who had tears streaming down her cheeks. “I don’t think I can feel my legs,” Willow managed to choke out in trembling words.

Faith’s face held a mask of non-emotion on it so Willow could not see the emotions that raged through her. She felt instant guilt and self-blame added with the strong desire to kill Buffy. Faith knew that if she had allowed herself to be honest and be with Willow, none of this would have happened. She also knew that if Buffy had not gone to such lengths to get her away from Willow, none of this would have happened. As she revisited the entire situation in her mind, she decided that Buffy was more at fault because her little game was planned out and done on purpose. Faith’s game, though planned, was never followed through with and only done out of fear of being hurt. This did not give Faith an easy excused out, but Buffy did what she did out of blatant jealousy for the slayer.

“You’re alive Red,” Faith said as she knelt down closer to the sobbing redhead. “That’s all that matters and this is probably some temporary fluke.”

Willow’s tears quickly turned to anger; she didn’t want pity from the woman who had obviously chose Buffy over her. “Just go Faith, go have your little fling with Buffy and leave me alone.” She said as loud as she could as a nurse came rushing in.

“We are going to need to run some tests,” the nurse said in a dismissive tone to the slayer who glared at her coldly. There was no way Faith was going to leave this room with Willow thinking she had chose Buffy.

“Red it was all a sham, B wanted me out of the picture so she could have you.” Faith said as the nurse made an urgent motion for her to get out.

- - - - - - - -

Buffy had raced to the hospital after breakfast that next morning. She was told Willow was awake and had to see her, explain herself before Faith got to Willow. When she entered the room, Willow was fast asleep so she looked over her charts. From what she could make out, Willow was paralyzed from the waste down due to a bunched up bundle of nerves. The doctor said this was probably temporary and would heal with lots of therapy. “I’ll be here to help you Will, every step of the way.” Buffy said and kissed Willow’s hand.

“Faith,” Willow said in a whisper as she began to stir to the land of being awake.

Anger welled up in Buffy and was visible on her face. After all that had happened, Willow still wanted Faith. She knew she had to think quickly on how to approach the situation so that Willow would understand her side. “Get out now!” Cordelia Chases voice boomed from behind Buffy as she clipped her cell phone shut. “You and Xander have done enough and Faith is on her way back here.”

Buffy looked at the brunette in astonishment. “What the hell are you doing defending Willow!” She snapped as Willow tried to keep focus of her surroundings.

“Since I grew up and decided there is a difference between high school badgering and putting someone’s life in danger.” Cordy said in a lowered voice having realized Willow was alert. “You kissed Faith to make Willow run away then you planned to pick up the pieces. That is sick,” Cordy smiled at the blonde slayer knowing she had said it all in a nutshell.

Buffy recovered quickly though, “I did what I had to do to protect Willow from her. She was being suckered! When I went outside Faith was getting it on with some guy and that is when I made my plans to get Will away.” Buffy knew she just told a blatant lie but was desperate to save situation.

Cordy didn’t flinch however as she spoke again. “That’s not true either Buffy. Xander told me how the two of you plotted this entire mess. It is about time you take some responsibility for your actions!”

Buffy looked over at Willow who had a confused look on her face. The hurt was evident in her eyes as she looked back at Buffy. “Will, everything I’ve done has been for you because I love you and want to keep you safe. Faith would have gone on treating you like a dog if you hadn’t got hurt. She is trying to make up for her own actions because she feels sorry for you. I am not, I am speaking from the heart in all that I say and my actions are all out of love.””

“You’re so full of yourself B,” Faith said quietly. “Get out now before you upset her more.”

“Buffy, I think we need to leave, you have done enough.” Cordy said in a disgusted tone as Buffy turned to leave the room.

“I won’t let you hurt her Faith.” She said coldly then walked out the door.

Faith looked at Willow then slowly approached her. She took her hand in hers and placed it to her lips. “Red, I’m so sorry. I never meant to cause so much damage.”

Willow looked up into the deep brown pools that held her attention for quite some time now. “Faith, is Cordy telling the truth? Did Buffy and Xander plan all this to keep you away from me?”

“Red, you have to concentrate on getting better. Don’t worry about B and Xan.” Faith stroked her hand with her thumb. “I only hope you can forgive me for my part in all this and let me help you.”

“I don’t want help or pity Faith!” Willow shouted in anger. “I wanted you, someone who could be with me and care for me as a person, not some geek who could help any given situation! I wanted to care for you as a person, not pity you for whatever traumatic events happened in your life that made you so closed off! You wouldn’t let me Faith and now you want to pity me?” Tears streamed down Willow’s face as her voice lowered. “You’re just like the rest of them; you can’t even give me a straight answer.”

Faith held her poker face firm but inwardly flinched at Willow’s outburst. She had caused the girl so much anguish in such a short time. Part of her wanted to leave and let Willow’s friends help her heal but another part of her just couldn’t do that. “Red, I ran from you because I didn’t want to feel anything. That is the truth, I made a huge mistake and now I want to fix it if you will let me. Yes, B and Xander planned the kiss mess so you would run from me because they didn’t want me to hurt you. Maybe they were right, look what I’ve done to you.”

Willow looked into Faith’s eyes and wished she could see something, anything to indicate it was all right to let her guard back down for this woman. She saw nothing however and knew that if she took another chance, it might be a gamble she’d lose. “Faith, I can’t walk, I may never walk, that is the only reason you’re changing your mind.” Willow spat out harshly. She had to know where the slayer stood and this was the only way to find out.

“Red, if that is how you feel, let me be there as a friend till you get your physical problems taken care of. No kissing, no holding you, no nothing that I would want to do. Just don’t shut me out completely, please.” For a fleeting moment, Faith’s face showed hurt and her body language indicated she was trying hard to hide the hurt as she spoke.

Willow got the answer she was looking for and touched Faith’s hand. She thought she felt it tremble at her touch but then decided she was reading far too much into Faith’s emotional state. “Faith, do you think we’re strong enough? Strong enough to fight off our personal demons, to not allow the Buffy’s of the world to stop us, to make me walk again?” Tears spilled down Willow’s cheeks again as Faith leaned down and hugged her tight.

“I don’t think I’m strong enough as one Red, but maybe if two come together to become one, we can make it.” She placed a light kiss on Willow’s lips. “I wanna try Red. I’ll give it my best because I owe you that after what I’ve done.”

Willow returned the kiss then relaxed in Faith’s embrace and closed her eyes. “B, as God as my witness, you will pay for this.” Faith said in a hushed tone as she slipped out of the room to let Willow rest.

Chapter 7

"Anya, you don't have to misuse your powers to help us. I understand the risk you are taking." Angel said as the vengeance demon blinked her eyes and a set up for Willow's needs appeared in the room.

"Cordelia wished we could have everything ready for Willow who is in mental anguish due to another human being. So all I had to do was justify my actions as sucking up to Willow to get her to make the grand wish against her friends, Buffy and Xander." Anya smiled at the vampire who returned her smile.

For the last several days, Anya had resided at Angel's mansion. She had taken him up on his offer to help with her demonic problems. Xander had given her a desire to stop the torture, killing and other acts of evil. The problem was, D'Hoffryn was the owner of her soul and could destroy it if she did not obey. Obedience was something she never had a problem with until she met Xander. Ironically, Xander was now on the outs with the demon who felt compelled to help Willow through her pain in a different way then he had wanted.

Angel had opened his home up to the demon, a gesture she was grateful for. He understood the struggles she would go through while trying to break free of the vengeance world while keeping her soul. There would be regret, hurt and shock over the things she had done as she worked on getting out of the demonic ventures she once loved. He would help her all he could and she, in turn, would help him in any ventures he might need assistance in. Her decision to help Willow was one of her own however, she simply wanted to begin her road to redemption and found this a good place to start. "Anya, we have to be careful. Willow needs help but so do you." Angel said with a smile. He had grown rather fond of having the quick-tongued woman around his home. She was a breath of fresh air and the opposite of Buffy who had left a permanent wound etched in his already pained soul.

"Willow will help me in return for my helping her." Anya said briskly. "I have forgotten so much about being human but that much I do remember. At least that is how decent people act and Willow seems to be a decent person."

"She's one of a kind," Angel said as a nice dinner appeared. "I think you've got it all set up nicely."

Anya turned back to Angel after looking the meal over. "You know, I feel her pain, she is devastated over what those two did to her but the worst hurt coming from her is she will not be able to walk and Faith won't love her after all."

Angel looked thoughtfully at the demon. “Can you get a read on Faith’s feelings?” He asked in a low tone as he creased his forehead in worry.

“She’s not the one emanating help from her soul and those are the only people I can read easily.” Anya said somberly.

“I think in some ways, she needs more help than the three of us put together. She’s drowning in her own emotions and I’m afraid Willow is the only one who can save her. I just hope they’re both strong enough to overcome the demons they harbor.” Angel shook the melancholy feeling away as the demon touched his hand.

As the two demons looked at each other Buffy strode into the mansion. She stood for a moment and watched them before Angel, sensing her presence, turned his gaze to her.

The already fragile slayer snapped. “How could you do this!” She barked in anger throwing a punch at Anya who quickly dodged it. “You are supposed to be with Xander and now you are here trying to make a move on my man!”

Buffy dove in the air and kicked the demon square in the chest. Anya quickly retaliated by kicking Buffy’s legs out from under her once she landed. Anya then got to her feet and looked down at the fallen slayer. “First of all, I am not making a move on Angel! Secondly, you gave up the right for him to be your man when you split with him in order to split Willow and Faith up. Thirdly, I do not belong to Xander Harris or anyone else!”

“You manipulative stupid bitch, the gig is up demon!” Buffy hissed as she jumped to her feet and sent Anya backwards with a barrage of strong punches. “This all is probably your fault! You probably messed with all of our heads to make all of this tragedy happen so you could get a good wish or two!”

Anya caught much of Buffy’s fury but managed to step aside long enough to get in a few punches of her own. Her demonic features were shown clearly now and she was angry, very angry. She sent Buffy flying across the room into the wall. “You will not blame such sloppy work on me!” The demon hissed seething with anger. “If I had done this, I would have succeeded you childish brat!”

Buffy jumped quickly to her feet again and hurled a knife at Anya. The knife embedded itself in her stomach and the demon fell to the ground. “I’ll kill you, you crazed animal!” Buffy shouted moving steadily towards the demon.

The demon smirked and pulled the knife out of her stomach as Angel headed for the fir staid kit. “You can’t kill me slayer!” Anya said as a blinding light flashed from her hands and knocked Buffy back on her bum.

Angel handed Anya the ointment and gauze then grabbed Buffy up by the arms. “Buffy, I don’t want to fight with you but you have got to get hold of yourself. You have to take responsibility for what you have done and apparently are still doing! You need to leave now and don’t come back here or I will not be responsible for my actions or Anya’s! My only goal right now is to help take care of Willow and that includes you being gone unless she wishes to see you! I have nothing more for you for what you have done Buffy!”

Her face flinched at his words, flashes of anger and pain flared across her features but he paid them no mind. “Angel, don’t do this. She has you blinded.” Buffy said in a low voice as he pushed her out the door.

He knelt down beside Anya who was expertly treating her wound. “Are you all right?” He asked as he calmed himself.

“The question is, are you all right?” Anya said thoughtfully as she looked into his pained eyes, which displayed a trail of blood tears.

“You know, I loved her, part of me still does but I can’t go back now.” Angel said shocked at his display of honesty.

“Just as I care for Xander but I refuse to go back as well.” Anya said softly as their eyes met once again.

“You know, we have a hard road Anya.” Angel spoke softly as he looked into her eyes and felt warmth and comfort there. “You have a good soul. We just have to uncover it from the demon side that has kept it hid far too long.”

“You have a kind soul that is good as well Angel. So long as we keep your demon buried.” She smiled as she brushed the tears off his cheek.

“So long as I don’t achieve that one true moment of happiness, he’ll remain buried.” Angel said somberly recalling what happened when he and Buffy made love.

“There is a clause to every curse Angel,” Anya said with a sheepish grin. “Now, Faith will be along with Willow soon so we should make sure everything she needs is here.”

Anya turned and left Angel standing with his thoughts. Was it possible to find someone he cared for again? Could he find comfort in the arms of a demon, dare he hope there was a way for him to express himself freely without Angelus coming out? He shook his head free of any thoughts of his own happiness. Putting Willow back together was his priority right now but a shimmer of hope remained in the back of his mind to be dealt with another day.

Chapter 8

Cordy helped Willow back to her chair after assisting her in washing up. She had gone through a rigorous therapy session earlier in the day and was in a great deal of discomfort. "Core, what if I can't get better?" Willow asked in a timid voice.

"I wouldn't ponder such things till you come to that road Willow. Angel said that won't help your morale at all." Cordy pushed the chair into the large living room and turned on a lamp. "Do you need anything else before I go?"

"No I'm fine, um, thanks a lot Cordy. I never imagined you would be so helpful. I always thought Buffy would be there if such a thing ever happened where I needed help." Willow hung her head as she spoke. She missed her friends tremendously but knew there was no going back now.

"It would appear that the dynamics have changed a bit," Cordy said thoughtfully wondering what Oz, Buffy and Xander were doing. "Willow, I know Xander is really regretting what he's done."

Willow shook her head sharply at the brunette and looked at her sternly. "If I forgive Xander, I have to forgive Buffy. I can't do that with how she's behaving just now."

Cordy shrugged her shoulders knowing the redhead was right as Faith walked in. "Hey queen C, thanks for the help. I got it now so you can go study for that test."

Faith knelt down beside Willow and gave her a light kiss. "We got a little tied up; there were a few more vamps with those funky swords out tonight."

"Did the swords disappear like the others did?" Willow asked with a hint of excitement in her voice. She knew she may never be able to help patrol again but the idea of having something to research made her feel useful.

"Yeah, same as when we had a run in with them. G-man's not sure of the meaning of it. He thinks the swords are mystical but I dunno." Faith showed Willow a healing cut on her arm to indicate that she wasn't so sure about Giles' theory.

"Are you okay?" Willow asked as she examined the cut, which looked cleaned up.

"Anya fixed me up before we got here. She's out with fang seeing what they can dig up." Faith stood up with a half smile on her face and lifted Willow from the chair. "Whatcha say we go in your room and watch a movie."

Willow gave a nod and Faith headed to Willow's room with the redhead in her arms. She eased her on the bed then headed back to the kitchen for drinks. "Faith, don't you ever think of what will happen if I don't get better?"

Faith turned back to the redhead. "Red, you're fine as far as I can tell." She leant down and kissed her several times. "You're alive and that's all that's important. The rest, we can adjust to if we have to." She gave Willow another kiss and walked out of the room.

As Willow lie on the bed waiting for Faith, she wondered if things would really work out in a good way. She knew Faith was trying her best to help her and to lower her walls so that they could have a real shot at this relationship. She feared she would let Faith down by not being able to help her through whatever emotional baggage she might need help with because she was to busy worrying about her own problems. She also was feeling that it was unfair for Faith to be tied down with half a person. The free spirited slayer enjoyed walking, jogging, dancing and other things that required the use of ones legs. Willow was afraid she would never have that luxury again and would be holding Faith back from the things she enjoyed in life.

Faith stood and watched Willow knowing she was deep in thought. She quietly sat the drinks down on the small stands that were on either side of the bed. After a few minutes, she gently got on the bed next to Willow and kissed her out of her thoughts. “Red, I want you to relax tonight. I’m working hard to keep bad shit out of my head and want you to do the same. We can discuss it all later.” She pulled the redhead close to her and kissed her again.

“It’s not easy Faith but I’ll try.” Willow smiled and took a sip of her tea.

“Nothin’ is ever easy red.” Faith said softly in light reflection of her pained life before the hellmouth. She found it laughable to think that there were people who thought life would be easy off the hellmouth.

Willow looked at the brief change on Faith’s face. She guessed Faith was remembering something from days long gone and didn’t press the issue. She wanted to get her issues sorted through so she could better help Faith. She shook her head and placed her hand on the dark slayer’s. “I guess we have a lot of stuff to muddle through huh.”

“Yeah, maybe you should get one of those white boards and we can make a list.” Faith said smiling at the redhead. “There’s not much I can do about my past right now, we have enough to worry about in the present. My suggestion is forget it all and find something fun to do.”

“There’s not much fun I can do in a chair.” Willow said not meaning to damper the light mood between the two but being unable to help it.

“I’m the pro at fun here Red.” Faith kissed her several times and pulled her close. “Now let’s get some sleep and we’ll see what we can get into tomorrow.”

- - - - - - - -

The next evening, several of the group were seated at the Magic box researching the disappearing swords. “It’s not going well.” Xander said as he slammed his book down on the table. “We need Will.”

“You both should have thought about that before you got yourselves caught up in this utterly disgusting plan.” Giles said with an angry tone in his voice. He was shocked to learn that his slayer had gone to such lengths to stop Faith from being near Willow. He knew she wasn’t but hoped she would claim total responsibility and begin efforts to repair the damage she caused.

“I could have done a better job at fixing the problem.” Oz stated quietly as he shut his book.

“Is that the case?” Buffy asked as she rose from the table. “You refused to fix your own problems with her before Faith even entered the picture! Give it up Oz,” she finished speaking and stormed out of the shop.

“I’m going with Buffy,” Giles said as he wiped his glasses and stood. “If Cordelia happens by, tell her I want to drop around to see Willow.” Giles said with a shrug of his shoulders as he left the place.

As Giles raced after Buffy, he heard several loud noises a short distance away. As he picked up speed, he caught sight of the two slayers engaged in a fierce battle with each other. “Giles,” Cordelia’s voice rang out in the night. “They’re fighting with those disappearing swords, Angel had one too but he disappeared with it! I tried to get them to put them down before they too disappeared but they’re being stupid idiots!”

“Good Lord,” Giles shouted as he ran towards the two slayers. He kicked Buffy’s sword as it went flying at Faith who vanished in thin air with her sword. “What is the meaning of this?” Giles turned towards the blonde slayer with a reddening face.

“Well, there is one way to get rid of Faith. Now I will have time to help Willow!” Buffy shouted back. “I came up on them as Angel disappeared and got the idea. That was quick thinking on my part huh.”

Giles stood stunned. He now believed Buffy had gone off the deep end. This was irrational thinking even for her. “Cordelia, I want you to get to the mansion and have Anya see if she can stop Buffy from entering there. We have some things to discuss such as the misuse of her calling.”

“Giles I am trying to protect Willow! Can’t you see that?” Buffy asked with a look of rage on her face.

“Buffy, we do not know what we’re dealing with here. You could have just ended the lives of Faith and Angel. I can not stomach the thought that you have not only nearly got Willow killed but now,” he looked away from her and tried to calm down before continuing to speak. “You have taken the life of another human being into your hands, not to mention a vampire that you once claimed to love. You have totally gone mad!”

-- - - - - - -

Willow’s face looked grief stricken and panicked as Cordelia finished her tale. Angel and Faith were trying to get the jump on the three vampires that had the swords; Faith had succeeded in staking both Vampires and Angel grabbed up one of the swords. He disappeared as Buffy rounded the corner and staked the other vampire. She grabbed his sword and swung at Faith who then grabbed the remaining sword and swung back. Buffy was able to rid herself of the sword before it disappeared with her but Faith was not.

“That bitch!” Anya shouted wishing Willow would make a wish to enable her to seek revenge on the slayer. “We’ve got to find out where they are and how much danger they are in.”

“Good going Anya,” Cordy snipped at the demon noticing how Willow’s face contorted at her saying those last words.

“I need to get to the magic box so I can research.” Willow said in a surprisingly calm tone that worried both the demon and brunette.

-- - - - - - -

Faith lost total control of her body as she flew through the air with a sword in her hand. She saw what looked like a black hole that was awaiting her. She then felt pressure on her chest as she was sucked through the hole by what felt like a strong swirling wind. She felt herself slam against a grassy ground so hard that it knocked the wind out of her. “Faith,” Angel said softly. “What the hell is going on?”

“B decided to be a smart ass and attacked me with one of these,” Faith held out her sword, which was now gold. “What the hell!” She exclaimed as she got to her feet.

“We will deal with Buffy later,” Angel interjected as he pointed at a group of vampires that were marching towards the two of them. “I don’t know where we are or what those can do but we’ve got to find a way out of here fast.”

Chapter 9

Willow was fully relaxed in the mansion. She had her eyes closed and lie flat on her back with a soft pillow for her head. She, Giles and Anya had decided that the best method to find the missing parties was to connect to one or both of their minds. She was instructed what to do as Giles and Anya performed an ancient ritual to connect the redhead. This was both dangerous and took a great deal of power, hence the droplets of blood that occasionally trickled from Willow's nose. Said blood was quickly wiped away by a concerned Xander who was glad he didn't have to be on Buffy watch. Cordelia volunteered to watch the temporarily incapacitated slayer while the others got down to business.

What Willow saw was Faith and Angel fighting some cave looking vampires and not fairing so well. Faith's sword was golden while Angel's was silver. She saw the two get beat down badly before they were finally able to gain the upper hand. The golden sword began slicing and dicing its way through the ancient looking vampires as little people cheered. Then out came some hideous looking creatures that Willow quickly decided were another form of vampires, which had claw looking hands. She saw the duo battle these creatures with slightly less success and heard Angel say, "Turok-hans."

Her body jerked violently as Faith was knocked to the ground and she regained consciousness. With a shaky breath, she gave as many details as she could and stated the urgency of the matter to the gang. "The plane of Danzathar," Anya stated dryly. "Faith is the true slayer because her sword is golden. The first slayer had a golden sword and fought those types of creatures, which mutated into today's vampires. Giles knows a bit about this."

"Nix with the history lesson and tell us how we get there to save them." Xander added with haste in his voice. He was willing to do anything to help Willow now, in hopes of rebuilding some of what they once had.

"There is a seal at the hellmouth, the down side of this is; the Turok-hans will come out." Anya said with no emotion in her voice. “Buffy will have a hard time killing these things, more so than Faith because she doesn’t have the blood line of the first slayer any more. That doesn’t mean she can’t kill them though.” Anya finished triumphantly. She knew she stung Xander with that last statement; he is the one who brought Buffy back after the new slayer was activated. Buffy had the powers of the slayer but was no longer in the slayer line.

"We're going to have to trust Anyanka on this one," Giles stated with emphasis on the demon's given name. He knew about the vampires but was clueless beyond that point. He also knew about the slayer lineage but hoped he would never have to address such matters, a huge miscalculation on his part.

“Blood and tears mixed are required to open the Seal of Danzathar just as they are required to close it.” The demon stated urgently.

“We will need Buffy and Oz to fight off these Turok-hans while we retrieve Angel and Faith,” Giles said as he rose to inform the others as to the plan.

“I’ll give the blood and find a way to make myself cry,” Xander said sheepishly.

“We may need Willow’s magical abilities.” Anya morphed into demon form and scooped up the redhead. “Let’s go!”

- - - - - - - - - -

Everyone was assembled near the hellmouth, at the spot where a faint cross was drawn in a freshly dug out spot in the basement. “Who dug this out?” Buffy asked incredulously.

“That doesn’t matter,” Giles said not wanting to admit he hadn’t the knowledge to answer the question.

“You did when you sent Faith to that plane of existence,” Anya informed as she cut a small slit in Xander’s stomach.

As Willow’s tears dropped over the seal at the same time as Xander’s blood, Giles quoted the words he had located in a book. “Now pull Willow back so that she can concentrate on speaking to Faith’s mind.” He instructed and the demon complied.

“They’re coming,” Cordy shouted from her look out point as she bandaged Xander’s cut.

As everyone got into place to complete their tasks, Willow concentrated on Faith. She could tell that the slayer was in a heated battle with these Turok-hans but broke through nonetheless. “Faith, follow the vampires that are running, it is the only way to get out of there!” Willow said with urgency in her voice.

“Cordy,” get Willow out of here now!” Anya shouted as she jumped in the battle with the large number of Turok-hans that had escaped the Seal of Danzathar thus far.

- - - - - - - -

“Will, they’re gonna be all right.” Xander said in a faint effort to comfort his once best friend. “If I could take all of this back, I would do it. I just want you to know that I had nothing to do with Buffy’s last stunt, I swear I didn’t.”

“Begging isn’t becoming of you,” Cordy sniped as she sat nervously next to Willow. She wanted to loathe Xander for his part in this mess but she still loved the boy. She doubted she would never admit it because she had chosen her side of the fence. What she had or did not have with Xander, was entirely up to what Willow did in regards to their friendship was the decision Cordy had made when this all started.

“Xander, what you were involved in has really messed up my life.” Willow stated not really in the mood for this conversation. “It helped lead to Buffy’s latest actions, actions that could get any number of us killed. I don’t know if I can ever forgive you and am certain that I can never forgive her.”

“I understand Will and I am so sorry. I never knew it would go this far. I thought that what you had with Faith was just some infatuation and that it would pass. I swear to you that if I had known,” he hung his head letting the meaning of his words speak for themselves beyond that point. He could only hope that, in time, Willow would forgive him. He could only hope now that there was some way of salvaging even a small portion of the bond they once shared. He didn’t blame Willow if she could never forgive him because he doubted he could ever forgive himself for sinking to such levels.

“We’ll discuss this if everyone comes back safe,” Willow said flatly with fear in her voice. She was terrified that Faith would die trying to fight those creatures back into the seal, that anyone would die to be exact.

- - - - - - -

As Faith and Angel dove through the seal, Giles dumped the remaining blood mixed with Tears over it. The seal began to close upon the words he spoke and potion he dropped. “Thank the heaven’s,” he shouted as Faith beheaded a creature that was dangerously close to him.

“Get out of here G-Man!” She shouted as those with any form of extra-human strength began fighting the vampires who were now trapped on the earth plane.

Giles did as ordered and stayed as far back as he could. He saw a long bloody battle with Faith saving Buffy a few times. He was glad to see that Buffy got the hang of driving the stake in harder and was more easily able to dust the creatures than before. She was no match for Faith who sliced and diced the creatures with ease. Though bruised and bloody, Faith truly was the slayer and that notion saddened the watcher as he watched Angel and Anya fairing almost as good as Buffy in the fight.

Once the battle was over, everyone stood gazing at each other. “We’d better all go get ourselves cleaned up.” Giles said in an attempt to break the ice that filled the basement.

“B, this ain’t over, you stupid bitch! You could have got us killed,” Faith hissed in anger as she limped off with Angel and Anya.

“She’s right you know Buffy.” Giles said dryly as Oz changed back to human form. He had decided he could better assist the gang in wolf form and it worked, which indicated he was gaining better control of his wolfie side so long as Willow wasn’t in the mix.

Buffy looked down at her cuts and bruises and walked off. “I’ll go with her,” Oz offered quietly.

- - - - - -

Faith cleaned herself up a bit and went into Willow’s room. She didn’t stop to speak to Xander or Cordy, figuring Angel would clue them in on the happenings at the seal. “Hey Red,” Faith said softly as she encircled her arms around the tired Wiccan.

“Faith I was so scared,” Willow said in a shaky voice as Faith placed gentle kisses on her lips.

“To be honest, so was I red. There are some idiots attempting to merge the two planes with those swords is what this miniature man told us on the plane. Therefore, we have to find and stop them. We'll deal with that tomorrow,” Faith said and lie down next to Willow.

“I missed you so much.” Willow said as she returned Faith’s kisses.

“I missed you two Red,” Faith pulled the redhead as close as she could and began kissing her neck and fondling her chest. “We’re gonna make it, you’ll see.”

Chapter 10

Willow awoke the next morning with Faith snuggled close to her. She smiled and relaxed in the slayer’s firm embrace and tried to fight back the worries she still had. The therapy on her legs wasn’t going so fast, which caused her to fear that she would never fully heal from the accident that Buffy had caused. It seemed everything that went wrong of late was due to the actions of her once best friend. She didn’t even know if she had a best friend anymore considering both of them had deceived her in the worst way. She also knew that both parties would never be able to forget the cost of deception because it was around them daily, wheelchair bound and nearly helpless. When Willow’s mind drifted back to the present, she found Faith staring at her inquisitively. “Red, what’s up?” Faith asked as she gently kissed her lover.

“I guess I was just on a pity mode again.” Willow said quietly, she didn’t want Faith to know how much everything was getting to her. Faith was trying hard to change herself and help Willow and Willow didn’t want her to think she was failing. When a person who is in a big struggle to change their life around believes they are failing at most aspects, they tend to give up and Willow didn’t want this to happen to Faith.

“Red, talk to me. How can we get through all of this if you shut yourself off? I tried that for years and still have a long way to go but you gotta teach me this open up deal or I won’t learn.” Faith knew she had made sense; she had a lot of demons to fend off but wanted Willow to get over hers first. She was willing for the redhead to help her be a more trusting and decent person but needed full disclosure from the redhead in order to allow her guard down enough for this to happen.

“I just don’t know what to do about all of this Faith. Buffy, Xander, my legs,” Willow rubbed her head with her palms in frustration. “I just want everything to be normal and stuff.” Willow tried hard to keep the emotions from showing but found out quickly that she was not as good at doing that as Faith. “It’s just not fair,” she concluded as a tear escaped down her cheek.

“I know it’s not fair and normalcy is something that we can’t expect here Red.” Faith pulled the redhead close and kissed her a few times. “B has gone totally nuts and I think Xan will be all right. He really is sorry, I can tell it when I look in his eyes. Y’know, he’s like a puppy, feed him, give him a bone to run with and he’s gone. That’s what she did to him.”

Willow seemed to relax instantly as Faith kissed her gently and wiped the few tears from her face. “You’re right Faith.” Willow said and returned the kisses of her girlfriend, if that’s what she was. “I just need to stop worrying over it and do something about it.”

“Now you sound more like Red,” Faith said and helped Willow to her chair.

- - - - - - - -

Angel and Anya awoke to a banging on his door. They had talked most of the night in preparations of leaving Sunnydale for a time. He was willing to help Anya fight off the bad vengeance desires and, in turn, she was willing to help him free himself of Buffy. The vampire was saddened for what Buffy had become but knew he could no longer help her. She would not listen to any rational advice and it hurt him too much to sit and watch her split apart at the seams.

“I’ll get the door,” Anya said in an unhappy to be awakened tone. She and Angel had done a little more than talk that night and it really felt good. She felt in her heart that she had finally found a decent man, over a thousand years of searching, but she did it. She knew for certain that Angel would not betray her and, most importantly, not cheat on her. The smile on his face, after they made love, warmed Anya’s heart. That was enough to give him hope that he could find some form of happiness. Thus defeating the curse and it gave her hope that she could find a way to beat the vengeance demon organization while staying a demon.

Anya opened the door to an anxious Cordelia. “Sorry to um,” she looked at the demon and smiled. “I hope you both are happy, this is great!”

“Fine, now what do you want at this hour?” Anya gestured impatiently at the smiling brunette.

“It’s almost noon but there is a man here looking for Faith. We didn’t want to disturb she and Willow so thought we’d see what Angel thought we should do. He claims that he is her fiancé and she left him back in Boston.”

Anya’s mouth dropped and she stood as still as a statue. “What are you even talking about? Faith is not old enough to get married so I’m certain there is nothing to this.” Anya managed to blurt out as Angel came in the room.

“Whatever the facts are, there could be a potential problem with Willow over this!” Cordy barked back clearly showing her frustration in her voice. “Willow has been through enough and something needs done about this.”

“Yeah, Buffy needs harnessed and chained up.” Angel hissed angrily as he rested his chin on his hands. He hoped that Buffy didn’t have anything to do with this, but feared she did. She seemingly was the cause of everything wrong in Willow’s life of late. “Well, we need to go warn Faith before he miraculously finds the mansion.” Angel said sarcastically.

As he turned to head towards Willow’s room, Faith appeared in the big living room pushing Willow’s chair. “We need to talk,” Cordy said urgently. “Do you know a Brian Kirtz from Boston?”

Everyone in the room, minus Willow, watched Faith’s face carefully for some kind of reaction but found none. Faith’s poker face was still one of the best and hard to read by most everyone. “Yeah I know him, why?”

“He’s here, is that going to create a problem?” Anya enquired wanting to get this matter over with so she and Angel could retire back to their planning and smooching.

“Na,” Faith said coolly. “He was some kid in the neighborhood. His brother used to get my mom her fix.”

“Well he claims he is your husband to be,” Cordy added. She was unwilling to be defeated in the snarky tactless department by Anya, this was seemingly an ongoing battle between the two.

Faith’s face didn’t change expression at all, as she looked at the Scoobies. “That’s stupid, anyone who knows me, knows that I wouldn’t allow someone to get that close in the past.”

“There’s got to be something more to this,” Willow said confidently. She was undaunted by this new revelation as she knew how hard it was to get through Faith’s walls.

“Maybe you let one through and something went wrong. Maybe he is the one who caused you not to want anyone else in your life!” Cordy snapped angrily at the dark-haired beauty.

“Give it a rest queen C, the only thing Brian ever did for me was phone his brother for my mom!” Faith’s anger was beginning to surface towards Cordelia. She had never planned to give out this much information about herself to the gang but was feeling backed into a corner and forced to do so. This was a feeling that Faith didn’t like much and Willow knew it.

“Core, stop it! Faith and I will deal with this from here and thanks for letting her know!” Willow said in a dismissive yet harsh tone. She wanted Faith to know that she was on her side plus would help keep her secrets if that is what she wanted her to do.

“Why don’t I help Will with her therapy, An can maybe get something to eat rounded up and Faith can go check the situation out.” Angel offered in an effort to stop a possible outburst from the slayer.

“Then I will go tell Xander that you’ve been informed,” Cordy turned on her heel and sauntered out of the mansion.

“Sounds like a plan,” Faith said, then leant down and kissed Willow. “You all right with this Red?”

“You said he was nothing like that to you and I believe you.” Willow returned the kiss and smiled at her lover. Though she was wondering what brought all this on, she did believe Faith and trusted her fully.

Faith gazed down at Willow as if there was something more she wanted to say but chose not to. There were a few things she had not yet discussed with Willow but wanted to do it in private. The time for full disclosure from the slayer was at hand and she felt good inside upon realizing that she was both ready to tell it all and comfortable with doing so. “I’ll be back real soon Red.” Faith said and kissed Willow again before leaving the mansion.

- - - - - -

Faith walked around Sunnydale trying to find the guy claiming to be her fiancé. She couldn’t figure out why he would make such a claim unless Buffy somehow found him then got him in on her scheme of the day. Brian was always a good kid unlike his brother Billy, who gave her nothing but bad memories. He was a real piece of work, getting her mom crack from the streets in return for money and sexual favors.

Faith recalled the night that her mom tried to make her give Billy one of the so-called sexual favors at the young age of twelve-years-old. She had refused and it got her knocked around by the young man. She then left the house and all went downhill from there. She knew that if she could only contact her real father, much of the crap in her life would have been avoided but that could never be done. Her mother and father shared custody of her until she was eight, then tragedy happened which lead to her mother changing their names and going into hiding. The problem was, her mother had all the freedom to do as she wished and trying to pimp her child out because the Lehane money was gone, was one of said things she chose to do.

As Faith entered a small diner, her worst nightmare came true. In fact, it was not Brian Kirtz who sat at a corner table but rather, his brother Billy. “Well hello there Faith,” the young man smiled evilly. “Your cover has been blown,” he tipped his drink to his mouth and finished it off.

Faith stared at the man coldly. “You don’t scare me Billy. You never did but especially don’t now.” She sported a smug look on her face as she spoke. Inwardly, fears ran rampant, not for what Billy could do to her but for what he could cause to happen to her. “What’s your game Billy?”

“Straight up, you leave Willow Rosenberg and become my wife or I let the wrong people in Boston know where Faith Lehane, not Faith Spenser is.”

Chapter 11

The day dragged onward with no sign of Faith. Willow had completed her therapy, bookwork, and took a nice long hot bath to relax her muscles before undergoing another therapy session. She went to a quieter area of the house to think. What had transpired with this Kirtz guy was bothering her. She believed Faith when she said it wasn’t true but another part of her wondered why the lies? Why would someone make up such a lie? Then Faith being missing for most of the day wasn’t helping matters. “Willow,” Angel said quietly. “Give her a chance to sort this out. Don’t jump to conclusions. I’m going to go find Buffy and see if she had anything to do with this.”

“No Angel, let it go. This is for Faith and I to deal with.” Willow said emphatically. “We will talk with Buffy as soon as Faith gets back here and lets me know what’s going on.”

“Willow, I understand that you want to handle this but we’re here to help you in any way we can. You’ve got enough going on with your therapy and I’d like to ease some of the load if I can.” Angel replied firmly.

“We’ll handle it,” Willow said tersely.

“Willow, is this all about Faith or is your current walking problem playing a factor in this? Are you afraid Faith is going to pick this guy over you because you can’t walk?” Angel said, unable to come up with another solution as to why the moodiness over this event.

“I don’t know what to think Angel.” Willow said honestly. “I believe Faith but something has to be going on.”

“You’re right, something has to be going on.” Buffy said from the doorway to the room. “Look, I had nothing to do with this and I heard that Angel is trying to blame it on me. Surprise once lover of mine but this one is not my doing.” Willow and Angel both stared at the blonde slayer as she spoke. “I will help you find out what’s going on though.”

“After what you’ve done to us?” Willow questioned in an angered tone. “Buffy, out of all these people, you hurt me more than anyone else. I would have expected you to state your opinion, maybe even try to fight with Faith to keep us apart but not this.”

“Who let you in here?” Angel questioned as he stared a death look at Buffy.

“Angel, I got it.” Willow said, in a not so pleasant tone. She was growing tired of being sheltered and having everyone fight her battles. She needed to have this conversation with her once best friend. She needed to find out what was going on in Buffy’s head and hopefully understand why she went to such great lengths to cause the mess that she caused.

As Angel shuffled out of the room, Buffy looked at Willow. “Look Will, at first I really was concerned that Faith would get you into trouble. None of us knew what she was about and the persona that she portrayed was not that of a decent human being. Then I started getting these weird knots in my stomach and outbursts of anger without knowing why. I finally realized that the biggest part of my problem was that I cared deeply for you and was jealous of Faith. I wasn’t jealous because she had you but because she admitted her sexuality first. My problem with her having you was because of your safety and it sort of melted in with my realization that I cared deeply for you.” As Willow looked into Buffy’s eyes, she knew this was the true Buffy speaking, not the enraged slayer. “I never meant to cause you this pain and I certainly never meant for you to be hurt. I will admit that I went way off the deep end with my last stunt but love is blind sometimes Willow and you will do anything to have it. It made me crazy and for that, I cannot apologize but I can truly apologize for causing you hurt and only pray that someday you will forgive me. I have done a few things that I am not proud of Willow but I’m owning up to my mistakes and trying to make amends. Now it’s up to you as to where we go from here.”

“Buffy there was a time when I would have given anything to be with you but I knew you loved Angel. Now I love Faith and though I may forgive you in time, I don’t know if things can ever be the same between us. Far to much has happened.” Willow said honestly. “I don’t see you in the relationship sort of way and don’t see how I ever could. Especially after what’s happened because it showed a side of you that is scary. A side that is probably close to Faith’s vengeful side and I want no part of it.” Willow saw the hurt in Buffy’s eyes but felt no sadness for her one time friend. Buffy could have tried to get a handle on her actions and stop the madness but did not. Plus, in the back of her mind, Willow wondered if this too wasn’t a plot to regain Willow’s trust and them move forward on whatever plan was next in line. “The fact is Buffy, I don’t trust you at all. I don’t know if I can ever get that trust back. The best thing you can do is leave us alone and not cause any further problems. Then maybe I can believe in your word again. At one time, I would have moved hell or high water to stay by your side, to fight the good fight but now if Faith wants to leave this town, I’m prepared to change my college choice and go with her. It’s not because I love her, but because of how my so-called friends have treated me. I loved you and Xander unconditionally. My love for you guys and our friendship is one of the reasons that I wanted to stay here, not just for the fight, the two of you have taken that reason away from me by not showing me unconditional friendship.”

Neither Buffy nor Willow saw that Faith stood in the shadows listening and watching. She was in the middle of deciding whether or not she should go along with Billy’s plan but Willow’s speech to Buffy decided for her. As Buffy’s tears fell, Faith also decided that the punishment Willow was dealing out to her was greater then any physical beating she could give. She decided that if Buffy stayed out of their lives from this day forward, she would not resort to pounding her head in. If she continued her medalling ways, the war would be on.

Buffy stood to leave and looked at her one time best friend. Her heart felt as if it was going to burst out of her chest but at least she had been fully honest. “Will, I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you and will never forgive myself. I just wish you knew how close I came to splitting apart at the seams. I almost let my love for you destroy me and that’s entirely my fault. I only wish I would have admitted my feelings to myself sooner, maybe things would be different.” Having finished speaking, Buffy walked dejectedly out the door.

“Hey Red,” Faith said in a soft voice, not wanting to disturb her lover’s moment of sadness.

The tears that were falling from Willow’s eyes, slowed a bit at hearing Faith’s voice. “Faith, I was getting worried about you. How long were you here?”

“Long enough to hear that you did a great job handling the situation,” Faith moved over to Willow and kissed her. “I couldn’t have done it better myself.” She continued the kissing, as she scooped the redhead up in her arms. “Fact is Red, I might have to leave this place and the things I need to tell you could put you in more danger then Buffy ever thought of doing. I was going to take the easy way out to keep you safe but, after I heard the things you said, I’m willing to risk it because I love you.”

The two girl’s engaged in an aggressive make out fest that lasted nearly half an hour before Faith pulled back. “Red, I have some things that I need to tell you and some important calls to make.”

“Can it wait till morning?” Willow asked in a tired voice. She realized just how tired she was once they had stopped the fondling and kissing.

“Telling you can but my calls can’t.” Faith said in the most serious tone Willow had ever heard the dark slayer use.

“Will you hold me for a minute first? I’ve missed you today and, what I had to do with Buffy wasn’t easy. I feel emotionally and physically drained.” Willow said in a tired voice.

“Sure thing Red,” Faith carried Willow to the bed and held her close in her arms. “We’ll get through this Red. Truthfully, it’s been a rough day for me too but knowing you’re here for me keeps me sane y’know?” Faith said, as she placed gentle kisses on Willow’s tired face.

Once Faith knew Willow was sound asleep, she picked up the phone and made a worried face when someone picked up the other end. “Hey uncle Marty, it’s me. The cover is blown and I’m coming home.”

- - - - -

Buffy sat in her living room pondering the evening’s events. She had told Willow everything and took responsibility for her actions. Though she knew it was the right thing to do, part of her still blamed Faith for her flipping out as badly as she had. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. “Hey Oz,” she said stiffly and moved to let him in.

“Hey, how’d it go with Willow?” The werewolf asked in his usual monotone voice.

“I confessed my feelings and everything. She didn’t seem very moved by it but maybe at least we can be friends someday and you can try to hook back up with her once she finds Faith out.” Buffy added with a forced upbeat attitude.

“Well, that may be soon,” Oz smiled. “I dug around and found this guy who knew Faith in her past. If he leans on her a little, she will leave with him and we can help Will through it. He promised me Willow’s safety so I agreed to a plan of his and gave him the way into the mansion.”

Buffy thought back to the conversation she had with Willow. She was smart enough to figure out what the plan was and feared the outcome. Willow’s physical person had been hurt enough and how could Oz listen to a promise made by a total stranger. Her options were clear, stop the plan before it took shape or allow it to go through and risk Willow being hurt again. The choice was a clear one also but it had to be done correctly.

Chapter 12

Buffy made a mad dash for the mansion. She had caused so much pain and anguish and now was the time to end the mess before someone was hurt more than Willow had previously been. As she banged on the front door, a man slinked around the side of the mansion carrying a limp form. “Willow!” She shouted and ran at the man full force.

Angel opened the door about that time and saw Buffy knocking a man to the ground. He saw that the man Buffy was wrestling with pulled a gun. “Don’t move another muscle bitch or she dies!”

Buffy stood still as a statue as the man was not close enough for her to make a move before he pulled the trigger. “Oz did this!” She shouted to Angel, as Faith came down the stairs with blood oozing from her forehead. “Oh my god!” Buffy shouted and turned towards the dark slayer.

Angel raced inside the house for the first-aid kit as Faith moved out into the yard. “You stupid bastard, did you think that was gonna stop me? You’re not gonna win, my family has been notified all ready so you don’t have a leg to stand on!” Faith hissed with rage showing on her face.

“Then she’s no good to me alive.” The man said coldly and lifted the gun. As he put his finger on the trigger, Faith pulled a knife and threw it in the air. Her swift movement caught his hand just before it squeezed the trigger and blood trickled down his hand. Buffy took that opportunity and pounced on him like a rabid dog until he released Willow.

Angel came out with the kit as Willow opened her eyes and looked at the two slayers. The man jumped up and swiftly kicked Faith in the stomach. She grabbed hold of his gun and held it to his throat. “Kiss your sorry ass good-bye!” She shouted in a maddening tone.

“No Faith!” Angel shouted and managed to wrestle the gun away from her. “I’ll take care of him,” he picked up the man and carried him into the house.

Buffy stood silently as Faith cleaned up her forehead and Willow sobbed uncontrollably. She didn’t know whether to go to her one time best friend or not so just stood there and wished she could take everything bad that she had done away. “Thanks B,” was Faith’s only reply as she carried Willow inside the house.

“Redemption is a hard road Buffy.” Angel said dryly. “I had a friend take care of this guy so Willow is safe.”

“You can’t go around killing humans Angel!” Buffy hissed more out of frustration that they wouldn’t allow her to fix the problem than anger over what she thought happened to the man.

“He’s not dead,” Angel said and walked inside the house.

- - - - - - - - -

Faith and Willow were in their room and it appeared that Faith was packing. “Red it’s like this. When I was a little girl, I saw my father and baby sister be murdered by some idiot who worked for an opposing business of my family. The problem was that this family was not so clean cut as mine and they started threatening my life if I testified against them. I was the only one who could identify the shooter so they placed my crazed mom and I in the witness protection program. Then I had to go through hell with her and her free government money and couldn’t tell anyone, or so I thought. Therefore, this clown, Billy Kirtz, somehow found me out and B says Oz did it. Anyway, I called up my uncle and told him I’m coming home and he said we’ll face that family together should there be any problems. The thing is, I don’t want to risk putting you in any danger Red.” Faith said as Willow began to cry.

“After all we’ve just gone through you want to leave me?” Willow said in a hurt and angered tone. “Faith we agreed to go through our problems together! You can’t just run off like this.”

“It’s not like that Red,” Faith said with a sad look on her face. “I care for you more then I’ve ever allowed myself to care about anyone. I am just afraid that if the Simon family comes after me, they will get you to get to me like Billy tried to do. Red please don’t think bad stuff,” Faith leaned down and kissed the teary-eyed Wiccan. “I just need to go check things out and I will come back for you, I promise. I don’t want to leave you for one day Red but I want to keep you safe.”

“Faith we agreed to help each other through the baggage that life brought us. We agreed to beat it all and heal together and if you leave me, you’re breaking the agreement. You’re taking the easy way out and that isn’t right.” Willow countered with determination in her voice.

Faith looked at the redhead who sported her famous resolve face. She knew Willow was right but feared what would happen to the woman if she took her with her. Then a light bulb went off in Faith’s head, she never ran scared of anything and shouldn’t start now. “All right Red,” she kissed the redhead fervently. “I’ll have to find another way of transportation though because I can’t take you on the bike.”

“I don’t care how we get there Faith, so long as we go together. Is there a reason that you really have to go though?” Willow asked, as Faith helped her into the bed.

“Yeah, this is B’s town and I never quite fit in here. Plus, I’m tired of running and want to see my family.” Faith said and placed a few gentle kisses on the redhead before they drifted off to sleep.

- - - - - - - - -

As Faith finished loading the truck that Angel had managed to trade in for her bike and a couple thousand bucks that he had stored away, Willow sat in the front room of the mansion with everyone. Not only were she and Faith leaving but Angel and Anya as well as Cordelia. “I’ll be waiting to see your name up in lights somewhere Core,” Willow said, as the two women hugged each other good-bye. Willow always knew this town was to small for Cordelia Chase but would never admit it before. “I wish you both luck Angel and Anya.” She smiled and hugged her two friends.

“Who knows Willow, you may be the head of the firm who represents me someday,” Cordy smiled and hugged the rest of the group who was readying to leave Sunnydale.

As the group chattered until they climbed into their respective vehicles or teleported, in the case of Anya and Angel, Buffy and Xander stood outside sadly. “Buffy, I’m sorry it all ended this way. I forgive you but I can’t forget.” Willow said and tentatively hugged both of her one time best friends.

“I’m sorry Will, for everything,” Buffy added sadly. She figured this was the last time she would see her friends while she was alive and it hurt her deeply. She also knew it was mostly her fault that all of this was transpiring.

“I’m sorry too Will,” Xander said and pulled away from his friend with tears in his eyes. “Faith, you better take care of your girl or we will come after you.”

Faith however was not so forgiving and found his joke not funny in the least. “Whatever X,” she said and hoisted Willow into the truck and drove off.

“I guess it’s just me and you Buff,” Xander said somberly.

“Thanks for staying Xander,” she said and hugged the young man.

- - - - - - -

Seven days later, Faith and Willow entered the posh side of Boston. They had trekked the nearly 3,000 mile trip, slept, ate and had a few heart to heart conversations on their long trip. Faith knew she could have made the trip faster without Willow but didn’t want to stress her back and legs to much so tried to keep it at no more than 425 miles a day, give or take a few.

Both women were tired but glad for the lengthy alone time they were able to share together during the drive. Willow learned that the Lehane family was loaded and ran an international industrial company along with holdings in other fields such as movie studios, banks and more. She learned that Faith’s IQ was 138 which was contrary to the rough street-smart attitude that she exuded so well. She was pleased that she not only had a streetwise slayer, but a book smart slayer. Faith would no longer have to hide the side of herself that was Lehane and Willow was excited at learning more about her lover and her family.

Faith had already known that both of Willow’s parents were psychiatrists and that they tended to choose their work over the redhead. She learned however that Willow had a grandmother who lived in Maine and that her family rather than just parents, was a wealthy Jewish family. She had never got to leave the state of California but her grandmother used to visit often when she was a child. A rift of sorts occurred at some point and Willow had not got the chance to see her grandmother, who was nearing 70, in a few years.

“Should you go in first?” Willow offered nervously as they pulled up to the gate of a large estate. She couldn’t picture Faith from a family so well to do but her picture was about to be colored in for her.

A burly man opened up the gate and allowed Faith to drive through. He then opened the back of the truck and pulled the chair out of it. “That’s Max,” Faith motioned to the man that she was speaking of. “I told them you would be coming with me and to have everything ready for you.”

As Faith shut the truck off, the man opened the passenger door and lifted Willow out of the truck and into the chair. Faith got out and came around the truck and smiled her thanks to the man. He looked her over and saw straight away that her attitude, way of carrying herself and attire no longer fit the ways of the Lehane family. He was saddened to know that the stories he’d heard on Faith’s upbringing since she was forced to leave her family could be true. “It’s good to see you all grown up Miss Faith.” He smiled and stepped back to allow Faith to take Willow inside the house, as he got their bags.

As the two women entered the sitting room of the old English style home, a tall man who looked a lot like Faith greeted them. “Hey there uncle Marty,” Faith said with a smile at her dad’s youngest brother. “This is Willow Rosenberg.”

The man hugged Faith who was uncomfortable by the showing of affection but allowed him to do so. “It’s nice to meet you Willow. This is my wife Anna, our son Braydon, my sister Cathy, her um friend Dinah and her daughter Amanda. Faith, mom and dad are flying in from Paris and won’t be in till late tonight so you can get to visit with them tomorrow. Rob is involved in a political campaign and can’t get in for a few days.”

Faith felt out of place in the palatial estate but Willow seemed to be all smiles as they all introduced themselves. “Rob is my dad’s oldest sibling,” Faith said and pointed at a photo of Rob and her father. “Dad’s name was Dennis and that there,” she pointed at another photo, “is my baby sister Dawn’s picture.”

Chapter 13

Faith and Willow had settled into life with the Lehane family at a slow but unforced pace. Faith was glad to get the chance to spend time with her grandparents again as well as the other members of her family. The main drawback was that the government had forfeited all responsibility for the slayer when she breached the witness protection contract. As luck would have it however, younger members of the Simon family were taking over and seemed less eager to hunt down and destroy Faith for fingering a member of their family for murder. This was not a certainty so the Lehane family watched their backs as they embarked on the task of getting to know Faith and her girlfriend, whom they adored, Willow Rosenberg.

Willow was making preparations to enter college soon and Faith’s uncle Marty had pressed her to do the same. Faith was adamant that whatever job they had for her outside of her duties as a slayer, would be self-taught in the same manner that her father and grandfather had learned it. Though both men had an education that could match any ivy leaguer’s, they got their education from hands on knowledge and Faith refused to do it any other way also. Once her grandfather had got the business going, he then took classes of interest during his free time and Faith had agreed to that much though she didn’t have any classes of interest at this point in her life.

As Willow rolled over in the plush bed that she shared with Faith, she mused on the changes in the woman that she had grown to love. Faith wasn’t so edgy nor rough spoken anymore but Willow knew the shields that the slayer had lived with for many years, were still there just beneath the surface should she ever need them. Though Faith was relaxed with her family, the only time that she allowed herself to be totally unguarded emotionally was when she and Willow were alone. Willow supposed that it would take some time for Faith to relax enough to let her family totally inside her inner walls but she was making progress.

Willow glanced at the clock on the nightstand, which looked like it cost more than the furnishings in her entire room back in Sunnydale and smiled. She decided that she could let Faith sleep a few minutes longer as she thought of home. She missed the daily life as a Scooby, her friends and just the town in general. While she would always miss those things however, she was finding herself relaxed in her new surroundings. This felt like home to Willow and she knew that it was only because she was with Faith. As long as Faith was by her side, she knew that she would be happy wherever the slayer wanted to be and doing whatever work the slayer wanted to do. “Faith,” Willow said softly and kissed her girlfriend awake. A task that she loved doing each morning because if it were up to Faith, she would sleep the day away and be awake all night.

The slayer opened and closed her eyes repeatedly until she finally rubbed them awake. “Good morning Red,” Faith said in her husky, I’m not awake yet, morning voice that Willow found irresistibly attractive.

“I have therapy early this morning and so we can’t stay in here to long.” Willow reminded the slayer, as she pulled the redhead closer and kissed her gingerly.

Faith grumbled a mumble of disapproval as she continued her task of kissing her lover. “You still getting some pain in your back?” The slayer asked as picked up the now warm water from the nightstand and drank it.

“Yeah but you shouldn’t be worrying about that Faith. The doctor says that’s a good sign that I’m healing. NO pain, no gain.” Willow explained for the umpteenth time. Faith didn’t like seeing her in pain when she’d come back from a rigorous therapy session with doctor Edwards but Willow kept assuring her that it was normal routine.

Faith frowned at the redhead, got up from the bed and scooped Willow up in her arms. “Well then I guess I have to perform my routine morning duties of assisting you in the shower.” Faith blinked her deep-brown eyes at Willow who smiled broadly.

“I love you so much Faith.” She leaned up and kissed her girlfriend tenderly.

“I love you too Red,” Faith responded and headed for the shower.

- - - - - - - -

Faith sat down next to her grandmother in the dining room. The dining room was decorated modestly by the Lehane taste with bay windows, paintings of the English countryside and an antique grand piano for occasional entertainment during dinner parties. “Faith, are you adjusting well dear?” Mrs. Samantha Davis-Lehane asked in a concerned tone. The woman’s features were aging slowly and her health was still good for her age and she had the added bonus of getting to be with her granddaughter. Everything was right in the former ballroom queen’s life.

“Sure, it’s a little strange to me cause of the life I had to live but I’m doin’ well. Red has helped me a lot.” Faith mused with a smile on her face. Mrs. Lehane took note of the smile that increased on Faith’s face when she mentioned Willow’s name. The bright young girl truly was the center of her granddaughter’s world and Mrs. Lehane was fine with that.

“She received a letter this morning,” the woman pulled it from her handbag and handed it to Faith. “I have to get ready for my afternoon at the beauty parlor dear so I will expect to see you for Dinner.” The elderly woman smiled and Faith returned the smile with a half one of her own.

Faith looked at the sender of the letter and her curiosity got the better of her. It was from Buffy and still being uneasy of that entire situation, Faith decided to open the letter and hoped that Willow wouldn’t be angry. “Fuck!” The slayer exclaimed with both an enraged and pained look on her face, as she slammed the letter with a photo on the table. “She gets everything that’s mine!”

The slayer jumped to her feet and kicked the hand-carved antique table hard. It splintered promptly as nothing of that nature could withstand the strength of a slayer. “Faith,” her uncle Rob came into the room with a disgusted look on his face. She had re-bonded with most of her family members but Rob was another story. He had taken the proper uppity lifestyle of the Leanne’s to its fullest sense and acted as if he were of a higher mold then his niece. “What in God’s name do you thing you’re doing? These streetwise patterns must come to an abrupt halt if you are going to get back into the good graces of this family! We will not have you tarnishing our good name as your slut of a mother once did!”

“Robert Mathew Lehane,” Faith’s grandfather, Lawrence Lehane, exclaimed. “You will not speak to her in that tone! She is just as much a part of this family as you are and don’t you ever forget it!” The elderly man raced to his granddaughter’s side and put a comforting arm around the shaken woman. “She is the single heir from Dennis’s side and that is not up for discussion!”

“I may not be the single heir,” Faith handed her grandfather the picture and letter which detailed fully the account of how Buffy received Dawn.

As the man read the letter, Marty came in the room with Willow. “We’ve got great news!” Marty exclaimed with joy on his face. He had taken up with Willow quickly as the two shared many interests. “She’s had a few pains in her legs today which means we’re on the road to recovery! This is call for a celebration!” Marty stopped his excited speech and hand-motions when he saw the look on his father’s face.

“Red you got mail from B and I know that I shouldn’t have but I opened it.” Faith said with a hint of anguish in her voice.

“Is something wrong with someone in Sunnydale?” Willow asked in a frightened voice. She didn’t mind that Faith opened the mail and understood that Buffy’s prior actions would probably always keep Faith suspicious of her.

Lawrence handed Willow the letter and sank back in his chair with a stern look on his face. “If that is the incarnation of little Dawnie, she will not keep her!” The elderly man barked in a frustrated manner. He had always had knowledge of things that weren’t so normal and this helped Faith explain things to him when she returned to the family. He accepted her job and the fact that evil creatures were out there that were ready to both end the human race and have a little snack on it as well.

Willow’s eyes scanned the pages of the detailed letter several times without any expression. She then looked at the photo in her hands and the one on the wall repeatedly before dropping the picture and letter down on the table. She looked at the various expressions of the Lehane family and couldn’t seem to find the words to still their anger and pain. “In that letter, B says that she resents having this sister thrown at her. Well tell her to send her here and I’ll take care of her! It was my destiny anyhow and she stole it!” Faith’s rage boomed through the otherwise quiet room as she shouted. “She tried to take everything from me and never followed the damn slayer rules to begin with!” Not one family member made an attempt to stifle the enraged tirade of the slayer, as Rob picked up the letter to read it.

“Faith,” Willow said softly and wished that Faith would come within her reach so that she could make an attempt to comfort her. She felt her pain and wanted nothing more than to ease it with words of love and tender kisses.

“We will send someone to investigate this and deal with it accordingly,” Rob said and put the letter back on the busted table. “Then Faith will see into getting us a new table!”

“Shut up Robert!” Marty barked and stepped over to his niece. “We will let Faith and her girlfriend handle this matter and I will get a new table. If the two of you will need assistance with this matter, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Faith tried to calm her emotions down as she looked at willow. “Red you got some great news,” she walked over and kissed Willow passionately. “I’m sorry that things are a little messed up around here and Marty is right, we should celebrate.” Faith kissed her again but Willow could feel the underlying tension that emanated from the brunette.

“We can celebrate later Faith. Right now, we need to see what’s going on with Buffy and Dawn. This is the most important thing for you right now.” Willow said in a loving tone that spoke volumes to the slayer.

She knew that Willow was willing to put her own problems above those that Faith might be having at any given time. She also knew how unfair that was and made a decision. “We can deal with this tomorrow. D isn’t gonna be going anywhere. Right now, we’re going to relax for awhile and then celebrate your good news.” With that, Faith scooped Willow up out of the chair and headed off up the stairs.

“She’s turning into a real Lehane,” Lawrence said proudly. “I just hope and pray that little Dawnie is a real Lehane still.”

“It doesn’t matter to me if she doesn’t know us. The only thing that matters is getting the precious little girl home and helping with the healing of Faith. I think between Willow and Dawnie, Faith could fully be healed of all her demons.” Marty spoke frankly and confidently. He knew that his niece was trying to conform to a life that she no longer knew nor was familiar with. She was doing a decent job but he saw the dark edges around Faith and knew that they would always threaten to come out unless the girl finally caught a break in life.

Chapter 14

During the formal dinner celebrating Willow’s progress in her therapy, Faith’s mind was elsewhere. She tried hard but couldn’t help the fact that she could not take her mind off of Dawn. She had heard Willow saying something about resentment towards the girl from Buffy but was certain that all would change. She could understand that Buffy wouldn’t want more responsibilities then those that she already had plus having a sister thrown into your family would take some adjusting to. The main reason that she was certain things would change is because Buffy really didn’t like Faith. Faith felt that the slayer would do anything to keep her from having a good break in life. “Faith,” her aunt motioned towards everyone waiting to dance. “We’re waiting for you to play that piano.”

Faith looked at her family and then Willow who sat beside her with a worried look on her face. “Yeah sure,” she mumbled and walked over to the piano. As she began to play, the smile on Willow’s face was enough to take her out of the thoughts of Buffy and Dawn for the time being.

“We can’t have you sitting here all alone.” Marty Lehane said to Willow and picked her up in his arms. “Faith learned to play that when she was a small child and you can’t miss out on the dance.” The man gave Willow a friendly kiss on the cheek and began to dance with her in his arms. “We are so happy that Faith brought you with her Miss Rosenberg because you breathe a spray of fresh air into the family.”

Willow was touched both at the man’s kind gesture and for him calling her family. She truly liked these people and felt that she could call this place home forever. She only hoped Faith felt the same and began to worry about Dawn. “I just hope we can fix the other problem.” Willow said softly, as she gazed at her lover.

“We will fix it Miss Rosenberg.” Marty said with a smile as he dipped Willow downward to allow her to enjoy the full dance that he was doing.

As Faith finished playing the piano, forty-five minutes later, Willow smiled at the applause she garnered from her family and some of their staff. She saw that even Rob was more relaxed and smiling slightly. “Hey Red,” Faith said and kissed her girlfriend gingerly. “Are you having a nice time?”

Willow had sat and talked with some of the younger members of the family as Faith played the piano. She was enjoying getting to know Faith’s family and seeing Faith’s talents other than those of the slaying kind. “Yes Faith, I’ve had a great time. These few drinks have helped me talk more too.” Willow grinned, as another drink was placed in front of her and one for Faith also.

“I’m sure they have,” Faith said with a smile. “Let’s have this one and then we can go up to our room. At the Lehane parties, whomever is the last two gets to help clean up. They give the staff a little freedom for these things too.” Faith leaned in for another kiss after she finished speaking.

“Let’s go then,” Willow said as she finished off her drink. “This was nice Faith and you really do have a great family.” Willow continued speaking as Faith wheeled her chair out of the dining room.

“Yeah,” was all Faith said as she lifted Willow from the chair and headed up the stairs. “I’m sorta glad to be home and not have to hide anymore. I get to be a slayer and have a family just like B. I got something on B though Red and that’s you.” Faith stopped on the stairs and looked into Willow’s eyes as she said the last few words. She then leaned down and kissed the tip of Willow’s nose and headed off towards their room.

“I wish I’d known all of this before. I could have helped you deal with it better.” Willow said as they made it to their bedroom.

“It was to dangerous Red,” Faith said and began to help Willow get ready for bed. “I just wanna know how am I gonna get D back. It’s been on my mind all evening.”

“Well,” Willow said as Faith undressed herself. “You shouldn’t do that in front of me Faith. It clouds my brain.” She spent a few moments looking at Faith’s gorgeous body and then smiled. “I don’t know how I got so lucky as to have someone so beautiful as you Faith.”

“I like when your brain is clouded baby.” Faith said in a low husky voice that always turned Willow on, as she leaned down and kissed the redhead. “I’m the lucky one and don’t let that booze make you think otherwise.”

“Before you start doing things to make me forget everything that I wanted to tell you,” Willow said with a sheepish grin, “I’m going to email Buffy tomorrow and then we will go from there. I think she may be receptive to the idea of you at least meeting Dawn.”

As Faith began a trail of kisses over Willow’s body, she decided that an initial meeting was fine. She also decided that if Buffy tried to keep Dawn from her, there would be hell to pay no matter the cost. “I love you Red,” the slayer said and turned all of her attentions to her lover for the remainder of the night.

- - - - - -

Buffy read Willow’s email over several times. She wouldn’t have believed it but for the picture attached to it. Though Dawn’s looks were altered somewhat, the resemblance to she and Faith’s diseased mother was there. She didn’t quite know how to respond, Dawn was sent to her to take care of and they went so far as to implant all of these memories inside her. Her options were limited and Buffy never was really good at being quick to decide important matters.

After spending a great deal of time explaining to Joyce how the Monks implanted memories into Dawn and everyone else, Buffy then laid the rest on her. She showed her mother. She showed her the email that Willow had sent and hoped that she would be able to help her with the decision. “This will be hard on Dawnie if we allow Faith to come into her life.” Joyce stated with a hint of hesitancy in her voice.

“Exactly,” Buffy said and hung her head. “They asked me to protect her at all costs and what better way to protect her than to get her away from the hellmouth, where she could be used to do all sorts of hellish things.”

“Well Dawn was very unhappy for some reason this morning and I’m guessing that is because she found out the truth about herself?” Joyce asked in a concerned tone.

“Not all of it,” Buffy hung her head. “She sort of pissed me off and so I stupidly told her she wasn’t really a Summers. Technically now, she was re-created with Summers blood and so she is not really this Lehane kid any more.”

“From what you told me,” Joyce interjected sadly. “They used Summers blood, the key and some unknown things to create Dawn. What if these things they told you were unknown, were the things that made her Lehane. In which case, she could be both Summers and Lehane.”

“Maybe the bratty side of her comes from Lehane traits.” Buffy said dramatically. “I know what we have to do.” She put on her best resolve face and headed up to Dawn’s room leaving Joyce with a sad yet proud look on her face.

- - - - - - -

Willow arrived home from therapy to a very quiet house. “Willow,” Robert Lehane said, as he stepped towards the door with a briefcase in his hand. “A Buffy phoned for you. She said something about arriving tonight and so Faith took off with mom to get ready for something.”

Willow’s heart felt as if it were going to jump into her throat. “Dawn, those are the people with Dawn. Maybe they’re bringing her here.” She exclaimed excitedly, as Robert smiled then rushed out for his appointment.

“Hey Red,” Faith called, having just came in from the kitchen door. “Rob tell ya the news?”

“Yes, are you excited?” Willow asked as her girlfriend leaned down to kiss her. “No wait let me do this.” Willow, slowly and very timidly stood from the chair and kissed Faith on the lips. She quickly sat back down though, as the Slayer hugged her tightly. “I’m getting their Faith. Soon I will be able to dance with you again and maybe we will even have your sister with us.”

Faith’s emotions threatened to escape her, as she looked into the eyes of the woman that had stolen her very soul. “Red, this is all getting overwhelming. I just am so scared that B won’t let me have my sister back and I am so happy for you.” Faith pulled the redhead up in her arms and began to kiss her gently yet firmly.

“We’ll deal with it all together Faith. No matter what life throws at us, we will get through it together.” Willow said and returned the kisses.

“Red, this is all crazy y’know? I’m not good with this emotional stuff but it sure seems that it’s trying to make me be.” Faith smiled down at the woman in her arms and kissed her again.

“I’ll do the emotional side and you do the strong silent type.” Willow said with a playful grin on her face. Though Faith was not big on letting her emotions out, she was far from the silent type either.

“Dunno bout that Red,” Faith said and returned Willow’s mischievous grin. “Does that mean that, without a word, I just take you in my arms and carry you off to our bedroom. Then we make passionate love for the rest of the afternoon?”

“Mmmm,” Willow said and returned Faith’s kisses, which were more passionate with each kiss. “I think you can do the strong type better than emotional for sure.”

- - - - - -

It was nearly 9:30 pm when the Lehane’s doorbell rang. The entire family had wanted to be there but the matriarch decided that it was best only she and the two girls be at the initial meeting. “I’ll get it,” Faith said and moved nervously to the door.

Upon opening the door, everything went fuzzy as soon as she saw Dawn’s smile. “Faith,” Joyce called with alarm in her voice, as the brunette struggled to compose herself.

In turn, Dawn’s features looked mixed up and clouded. It was as though something was trying to force its way through her mind but something else was blocking it. “Dawnie?” Buffy took hold of her sister and lead her inside with worry creasing her face.

Dawn could remember being a little girl and playing in the snow but it wasn’t Buffy who played with her. It was Faith and they were right here at this house. “Faith,” she said in a shaky voice, as the tears began to fall. “I can see it Faith. They’re going to kill us all!” Dawn shrieked, as Buffy pulled her in a tight embrace.

“She remembers,” Mrs. Lehane said with tears in her own eyes.

Faith moved to Dawn and Buffy stepped aside. “It’s all right D,” the slayer said and hugged her sister. “They brought you back to us and you never have to leave again. This is the real you, Dawn Lehane with a little mystical kick added in now is all.”

“Dawn will you be all right?” Joyce Summers asked as she fought the tears in her eyes. The memories may have been implanted but they were hers and she loved Dawn like a daughter. “We could stay awhile if you want or you could even come back with us.”

One of the servants brought out a large tray with drinks and snacks on it. He promptly left the highly emotional scene, as Faith and Dawn embraced and their tears mingled together as one. “No, this is my real family. In Sunnydale, something always felt off and I acted out. Now I feel like I’m at home. I’m sorry, mrs. Summers but this is my home. I have a real identity here and not just some ball of energy.”

“D, it’s ok if you call her mom.” Faith stated, having seen the questioning look on Dawn’s face. “They love you too and I would never try and keep you from them fully.”

The Summers women had a drink and talked for an hour or so with the Lehane family. “Well this is it,” Buffy said and hugged both Willow and Dawn tightly. “I will miss both of you so much and if you ever need me…” she trailed off and turned for the door.

“The same goes for me Dawnie. I still want you in college.” Joyce said, as the tears flowed down her face like a faucet that sprang a big leak.

“I love you guys too,” Dawn said and finally allowed the tears to fall.

“B,” Faith looked at her sister-slayer and without words, spoke volumes. Their had been so much bad blood between the two women in their fight over Willow but that was healing now. Buffy was making a huge sacrifice by not putting up a fight for Dawn and Faith knew this. She also knew it was Buffy’s way of extending the olive branch and Faith was going to accept it. “I’ll take care of your sis, I promise.”

“Thanks,” Buffy said and smiled at her former nemesis.

As the Summers women left, Faith and Willow both felt sad for them and at peace for themselves. After such a long road of sadness and trials, their lives were slowly coming together in a positive way. Both women were secure in the notion that they were now strong enough to face any demon, whether it be real or man-made. They felt confident that, with each other’s help, they would overcome whatever obstacles life threw at them. They also felt strongly that they could help their new family member, Dawn, get through the turmoil that she had to be enduring over the sudden changes in her life. Love, and a little stubbornness had got them to this place together. A place of comfort and peace and they hoped to always stay in that place.



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