Title: Hate You

Author: Lowdeen

Disclaimer: Faith, Buffy, all characters and the show all belong to Joss Whedon, Fox, and Mutant Enemy. The story contains implied love between two women, so if such things offend you, don't read it and upset yourself.

Spoilers: Up to and including the Fourth Season.

Author's Notes: I wanted to write a story exploring a 'what if' question: What if Faith confronts Buffy right after her coma? This story is not pretty. It doesn't really have a happy ending. In fact, I'd say it's a decidedly crappy ending. Read it if you're not afraid of getting bummed.

Rating: R

Comments: lowdeen@aol.com

Website Link: http://www.wicked-amp.com

It seemed simple enough. Seemed like the perfect plan --- fuck her. That was it. That was the sum total. Now, how the hell can you screw up a plan that has only two words in it? Fuck her mind, fuck her body, fuck her heart, fuck her in every way, shape, and form possible cause that's what she deserves. That's what she deserves for shoving a knife so deep in my gut, it put me out of commission for 8 months. That's what she deserves for thinking she's better than me. That's what she deserves for taking everything away from me just when I had it all.

I knew what I had to do before I even opened my eyes. Can you imagine it? Obsessing over someone so damn much, you wake up from a coma with them as your first thought? Pretty fucked up, I know. But that's me in a nutshell. Ask anyone. They'll tell you.

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh yeah, so I wake up in a hospital bed, decide to ditch the place and find out I've been on the shelf for 8 freaking months and the whole world's forgotten I was ever born --- all in that order. Nothing new and nothing I can't deal with. Just means I'll have to make a big splash to get some attention.

God. Did I mention I felt like crap. I guess 8 fucking months in a coma will do that to a person. But I couldn't just sit there on my ass --- I had too much to do, too many people to screw over to be resting on my laurels, not that I had any laurels to rest on since I got it all taken from me. Wait, I said that already, didn't I? Anyway. So while I'm out looking for them, I started fleshing out my two word plan which was pretty hard considering most of my usual plans consisted of not having one. But this was different --- I needed to royally screw over the people who left me for dead and I needed to leave my scars on them, inside and out.

So the question was: how do I do that? I could just go in and beat 'em up but that's not fun. I could torture them --- maybe I'll save that one for later. But the best way to hurt them ... the best way to hurt any of them is to betray them. And to betray someone, you have to make them trust you first. Worked like a charm last time too and if I'd been smart enough to leave town when the shit hit, I wouldn't have had this nice scar to show off. You live, you learn, I guess. Oh, but it wasn't gonna be easy. These guys were like elephants. They never forget a grudge and damn if I didn't make sure I was their biggest fucking grudge ... ever.

But screw it. Nobody ever said revenge was easy --- nothing worth it ever is. So this is all going around and around in my head while I'm wandering around trying to find these fuckers which wasn't really that hard to do cause of B.

B ... the only reason I called her that when we met was to piss her off. Then it just kinda stuck. Do you know what it's like to have someone out there who can do anything you can do, only they get all the praise? They get all the attention? It makes you wanna drag 'em down from that fucking pedestal so everyone can see she is *not* fucking better. That's basically my relationship to B in a nutshell. I'm her shadow whether I want to be or not. I know that. I don't have to like it though.

I finally found all of 'em sitting in on their little Scooby party in G-man's apartment, talking about me while I was standing right outside their window and I wanted to shout 'Here I am! Come and get me, dipshits!' You don't know how much I wanted to throw it in their faces that I was still alive and kicking so guess what I did? Knocked on their front door, that's what. You didn't really think I had restraint, did you? And you should've seen Red's face when she opened up and saw me standing on the doorstep --- fucking precious.

By the time she picked her eyeballs off the floor, B and the other Slayerettes have formed some kinda united front behind her and if glares could kill ... well, you know the rest.

"Geez, you try and kill a few people and end the world and suddenly you're not welcome anymore?" Oh yeah, starting off with a bang. There was Red, Xander, B, and Giles all looking like they wanted to strangle me. Then, off to the side, there's a big slab of beef --- not literally, but you know, some stud with a blank look on his face who I've never seen in my life.

"Faith, what are you doing here?" B's all cautious and shit as she steps up to me and I swear I just wanted to slap her. But instead, I grit my teeth and grin. This was either going to make it or break it so I had to make what came out of my mouth count.

"I woke up, B. Thought I'd look you up for old time's sake." I was actually kinda proud of myself for keeping the venom out of my voice which is hard when you're staring at the same person who didn't think twice about killing you with your own knife.

Since I still hadn't tried to hit her yet, I guess she felt safe enough to let down her guard a little --- actually smiling at me. And so what if I smiled back. That was only for show.

"How are you?"

I try not to choke on the bile rising in the back of my throat. How the fuck do you think I am Blondie? You try getting stabbed in the gut sometime and then we'll talk. "Better," was all I managed to get out.

She nervously shuffles from foot to foot as if trying to find some other conversational topic to latch onto but Red beats her to it. "Does that mean you're doctor certified to go back on your murdering spree again? Come on Buffy. What are you waiting for? Same person that tried to kill Angel and bring about the end of the world here."

"Keep it up Red and you'll be the first one on a short list."

She points a finger at me --- I hate it when people point at me. Makes me want to break their digits.

"Let's try to calm down a bit," Giles finally says, stepping between the two of us but really just looking at me.

Red makes this noise which is really kinda funny cause she sounded like a dying motor.

"Calm down?!" Wonderboy's turn to weigh in I guess. "Calm down? Our mortal enemy is standing at our doorstep and you're telling us to calm down? What we *need* to do is tie her up and cart her off to the cops."

"Yeah? You wanna come and try that X?" Of course, the little dipshit steps back like I knew he would. But this fucking plan was starting to look more and more impossible by the second --- how the hell was I gonna get close enough to them if they were screaming for my blood as soon as I walked through the door? Course by then, the idea had started nibbling at the back of my brain. If I was gonna hurt them, I had to get close to them again --- so close, they wouldn't even see it coming --- betrayal on the worst level. What could hurt more than getting stabbed by someone you thought was a friend? There was divine justice in there somewhere, I'm sure about that.

"What do you want, Faith?" B asked before anybody else could take another potshot. I couldn't read her --- couldn't tell if she was pissed or mad or anything. And the question bounced around in my brain. Bounced around so long I could see her right eyebrow start to twitch so I figured I'd better start answering before she lands on the side of 'pissed'.

"Didn't really have anywhere else to hang," I said with a shrug. "So you gonna let me in or what?" Standing out there was starting to make me feel nervous, not to mention that standing at all was really gonna be a problem soon. I might be a slayer and all but I wasn't fucking Superman. Color me surprised when B actually steps aside to let me pass by. For a second or two, I wondered if she was setting me up for a trap --- lure me in and slice me up. But by then, I was too tired to care. Jeez, you'd think lying flat on my back for a couple of months would leave me with at least enough energy to walk a couple of blocks.

I brushed past the Scoobs and had to clamp my jaw shut to stop from sniggering at their expressions. Guess I wasn't the only one surprised by B's invite. But them I could deal with. Some total stranger looking at me funny was something else.

"Who the fuck are you?" I asked the Beefstick as I plopped myself down on the couch.

He doesn't answer --- just clenches his jaw some more. I don't know if he thought he was intimidating me standing there like a piece of wood and giving me the evil eye ... well, he doesn't.

"This is Riley," B said, interrupting our little staring contest to stand beside the big dud. And as I looked, he placed his arm around her shoulder and she leaned in.

It felt ...

It felt ...

It felt ... kinda funny. From somewhere deep inside my gut, I could feel the laugh bubbling up. Rising and swelling till it spilled from my mouth, off my lips and into the silent room. This was great. Fucking hilarious. There stood B with her new boy toy, staring back at me like I'd lost my friggin mind. Maybe I had. Maybe seeing her in the arms of someone other than Angel eight months after she'd tried sending me to hell to save the undead son of a bitch just tipped me over the edge.

And suddenly, just like that, it wasn't so funny anymore. Suddenly, the laugh died in my throat and it was all I could do to stop from grabbing my head and screaming. Shout and yell. Anything but having to think too much, think too long on the value of my life. Cause guess what honey, my life ain't worth shit --- not even eight fucking months.

"You want to hold her down while I call the the guys with the straitjackets?" That's Xander shooting his mouth off ... I think, but I can't swear. Everything started to blur, my ears felt numb and I could feel myself starting to keel over.

This ain't good.

You can imagine what happened next. What? You want me to draw you a fucking picture? Fine, I fainted. I fucking passed out. Weak as a goddamn kitten ... you know, now that I think about it, maybe showing up at the Super Friend's wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had. But at least it was fun watching them piss their pants when they first saw me. Damn, that was almost worth waking up to find myself in chains.

Almost ...


At first, I thought they'd all gone retarded while I was gone. Cause I'm the slayer, y'know? Slayer strength versus a couple of steel links --- no contest. Well, normally anyway. I found out the hard way that there was no normally about it. Almost twisted my wrist off trying to get free till I realized I'd have to chew my arm off to get out of the damn things.

Shit this was messed up. And that's when I started screaming. You wouldn't believe how fast they came running. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought they'd been waiting right outside the door or something, just waiting for me to wake up. Giles and Xander. I wondered where the rest of their pussy posse was.

"Okay, whose idea was this?" I tried to look tough. Wasn't happening shackled to the bed. Had to put up the front though --- always with the front. "Whose kinky idea was this, huh? Xander's? If you wanted to do some S&M--"

"Shut up."

Yeah, that'll happen. You hear that? That's me saying HELL NO! . "Give me the fucking keys."

He stood his ground. Not that it's anything to be proud of seeing as he's sticking well outta my reach anyway.

"That's not going to happen, Faith." Giles came over, looked down at me, made me want to wrap my hands around his neck and squeeze. "Not at the moment at least."

I felt like my throat was closing up and I coughed trying to clear it. I wasn't scared. I mean, what were they gonna do to me? What *could* they do? Shit, don't think about it.

Don't think.


Faith, stop!

"I could hear you a block away." B came into the room then, all calm and cool, dressed in one of her little pastel numbers and just looks at me. "Try to keep it down, Faith. Not all the neighbors want to be woken up at six in the morning."

"Fuck them ... So what is this?" I ask, shaking my chains. "You don't trust me? Don't forget B, I helped you save this fuckass town when all of you were booked on a one way ticket to hell." Pulled that trump card sooner than I thought I would but I saw the crack in her expression. Couldn't take the guilt --- not like she ever could.

"And it wouldn't have gotten to that point if it weren't for you." I knew I'd won. She knew I'd won. But still -- gotta get a little dig in there just to save face in front of the troops. Whatever, B. We both know you're gonna let me go. Don't want to look like the bad guy here, now do you? After all, that's my job.

"Give me the keys," she finally blurts out, holding out her hand to Giles. And he just hands 'em over like a good little puppy. A half-hearted 'Is this wise?' and a 'If you're sure about this ...' thrown into the mix but God, they were all so Slayer-whipped. Made me want to gag. But I'll be holding that off till she unlocks the cuffs.

"Try anything and you know I'll kick your ass back into that hospital bed." Tough Buff. Still pretending to be a bad ass.

"Yeah. Gotcha." If she really wanted to scare me, she'd be waving that knife in my face. Yeah, you know the one. The same knife stained with my blood, the same one in every friggin nightmare I'd had since ... shit, no. Not gonna go there yet. Not yet.

She unlocked the cuffs --- looking me in the eye the whole time like she was daring me to make a move. "You got anything to eat. I'm wicked hungry."

"Um ... yes. Follow me." Giles led the way with Xander and B trailing me. He fed me some of that cold cereal -- some granola crap. Didn't give me much of a sugar boost but it filled me up so I didn't feel so hollow anymore.

"So what now?" Xander asked. I was wondering the same thing myself. "I mean, we can't just let her go. Not after everything she's done."

You know what I really hate? People talking about me like I'm not even there, like I don't matter. Fuck, what kinda person wouldn't hate that? But I kept my mouth shut about it cause I'm smart enough to know that if I said anything right then, I'd only dig myself a bigger hole. So I sat there while they talked about who they could hand me off to --- cops, Watchers ... hell, just as long as I'm out of their hair, right? Get rid of the problem, sweep it under the rug and if you don't see it, it's not there.

"Look, we're not going to solve this today," B said after they'd been talking for about 15 minutes. "For now ... let's just keep her here for awhile." She looked around to see if anyone was going to argue and then finally over at me.

"I'm cool with that," I said like I had a choice. "But if I'm gonna stay here, I'm gonna have to get some clothes." Clueless look staring me back in the face. "At my apartment?" I tried again. Come on, B. You can't be that dense.

"Oh ... I guess I can go there and get some of your stuff together."

"Can I come? I'm not gonna run off, B. I just need to stretch my legs out after all that bed rest."

She doesn't say anything for a couple of seconds, standing there looking at me until, finally, she gets her jacket from the back of the couch. "Just remember that I won't hold back if you try anything."

Xander offered to come with --- to watch B's back or something but he got shot down so it was just the two Slayers. Alone at last.


Have you ever met anyone that could come into your life, turn your world upside down and make you see yourself in a whole different light? It sounds more dramatic than it is but at the same time, doesn't seem to cover the half of it. Faith was that person ... she is that person. For so long, I tried putting her out of my mind, tried putting myself back into that little box marked 'normal' and then she waltzed back in and my world shook again.

I wanted to laugh, wanted to hug her but most of all, I wanted to beat her back into that coma. Can you say conflicted? It would have been so much easier if she were evil. I can handle evil ... in fact, my résuméwould probably have 'Handler of Evil' on there somewhere, probably next to 'Apocalypse Averter' or some other snazzy title. But no. She's not evil. And it makes everything so much more complicated.

That first night -- the night she woke up and decided to pay us a visit, I camped out in Giles' living room and stared up at his ceiling 'til the sun came up. I didn't sleep, couldn't. Too many thoughts, too many memories. And all of them revolved around her.

Guilt. Can you feel guilt over someone who tried to kill your boyfriend? Can you feel it for someone who betrayed you? Can you feel guilt for someone who spent a good deal of their spare time trying to kill you?

I do. I do. And I do. Three for three. I think that's called batting a thousand in baseball lingo.

"Why did you come back? You could've skipped town, taken off, so why didn't you?" I asked her on the way to pick up her clothes. I figured, if I could find some kind of reason, some kind of plot she was sitting on to screw me over, then I could hate her and finally bury all this guilt.

"Like I said, I didn't have anywhere else to go," she answered with a shrug. But she wouldn't look me in the eye when she said that. There's got to be a reason she's not looking me in the eye, right? Like, maybe she's lying to me or maybe she's trying to hide something.

"Why didn't you look me in the eye when you said that just now?"

"You've gotta loosen up, girlfriend," she answered, looking up at me with a smirk. "My eyes weren't glued to you cause I was looking where I was going. What'd you think? That I was lying to you or something?" You see? That, right there. Yeah, that smirk is another thing I didn't miss about her --- not like I missed her, y'know but, yeah, the smirk ... didn't miss it. Didn't miss the smart-alecky comments that usually accompanied said smirk either. She stretched her arms in the air as we kept walking, totally ignoring the death stares I was shooting at her. "So catch me up on what's been going on, B. I feel so out of the loop here."

She can't be serious. "Faith, we are not going to pretend everything is OK and discuss things like two acquaintances who didn't try to kill and maim each other just a few months ago."

"How *would* you like to discuss things then?" She asked, wrapping both hands behind her head and staring up at the sky. Why is she so relaxed? "Would a knife in your hand make you feel more comfortable, B? And for the record, I never said things were OK."

"Good ... that you know that." I want to bury my head in my hands. How does she do that -- make me feel awkward? Make me feel all jittery, defensive and so not me? There wasn't much in the way of talking for a couple of minutes after that as we kept walking but of course, like everything else, it was too good to last.

"So what's up with that stud you were throwing yourself all over last night?"

It took a monumental effort to stop myself from grinding my teeth -- in fact, I'd say it took a Slayer effort. Every little thing she said, every little thing she did, every twitch, every tick was like some subtle barb twisting under my skin ... only, Faith doesn't do subtle. "His name is Riley. RI-LEY."

"Right, right ... ." The smirk made its reappearance. "Look B, I can keep on asking questions that make you squirm like a bug with a guy up its ass or you can just give me the bare bones on what's been happening. Your choice."

"Choice?! In what universe is that considered a choice?"

"This one."

I should've just ignored her. But then, I'd have to listen to her talk all the way to the apartment -- *all* the way. I'd rather it be me talking than her anytime. So I leapt right in. She was probably gonna hear about it anyway. "The Ascension was averted - you could probably tell by the whole me being here part. Lots of kids eaten, graduation cut short, Mayor blown to bits, apocalypse averted." I caught the wince when I mentioned the Mayor but continued anyway. After all, she wanted to know. "Summer was pretty quiet, much like every other summer but after school started again, things picked right back up - lots of demon pop-ups. The big thing right now is the Initiative - a bunch of soldierboys who think containing and controlling demons is a better alternative to killing them." I rolled my eyes at that and heard Faith snort out loud in agreement. At least we saw eye to eye on something.

"So did that idea bite them in the ass yet?"

"Took a big chomp. The evil honcho lady, who just so happened to be my Psych professor by the way, got taken out by her own Frankenstein's monster who's now running around who knows where, doing who knows what, with who knows who. Got all that?"

Her eyebrow cocked which was less infuriating than the smirk but not by much. "You know me, B. Five by five." For some reason, I found myself grinning. It was just such a ... a Faithism. A phrase only Faith would say in a normal conversation -- something that so totally caught me by surprise that the grin lasted almost a full two seconds before I remembered who it was I was walking with.

Much to my relief, we finally arrived at the apartment before Faith could call me on it and she promptly opened the door by breaking the lock. Figures she wouldn't have the keys with her. "Come on. Let's get your stuff and go," I said, swiping around a few times for a light switch. When the light came on, I saw she was standing in the middle of the room which looked like nobody had disturbed it since the last time I was here. And Faith ... Faith was standing in the middle. Not moving. Her back to me, taking in really quick breaths. "Faith?" I called over, almost afraid she was going to pass out again.

"Everything looks the same, doesn't it B?" Her voice was low, monotone. Her eyes, staring somewhere past the broken window. In my own head, I relived the night that window got broken and shuddered, feeling suddenly dirty like snow that'd been stepped on a few times. I didn't answer and she didn't ask again as she started towards the closet. "It's all for the best though, right? Saving the world and putting me back in my place at the same time. Damn, B. You sure know how to manage your time, doncha?"

I found my voice, broken as it may have been. "What do you want me to say, Faith? You want me to say I'm sorry?"

She spun around, duffel bag in hand, eyes too bright, grin too wide. "You don't have to say shit. You know why? Cause you're Saint Buffy, can't-do-no-wrong. Me? I'm just some half-ass slayer who went rogue. Nobody cares. Nobody gives a damn. The only one who might've ... oh wait, you killed him too, didn't you?"

"I had to."

"You had to?" She asked, halting after every word as if it pained her to say them. She strode towards me so fast that I almost stepped back when she stopped right in front of me. "You have to eat. You have to breathe. You have to take dumps. You don't fucking have to kill me." We stood staring into each other's eyes. I tried coming up with something to say but my brain was all frazzled. "Can I tell you something?" She asked out of the blue and I nodded before I could stop myself. "All that time in the coma, I had a couple of dreams ... well, more than a couple. And you know what I dreamed about?" I shook my head. Again, I couldn't stop myself. It was like her questions were bypassing my brain. "I dreamed about you, the Mayor, slaying ... but mostly about you. And do you know how it always ended?" This time, I didn't move. Didn't even breathe. "It was always the same - always with you sticking that knife in me. I could feel it, twisting my flesh, tearing a hole in me. It's always so cold afterwards, B. But the worst part ... the worst part was that I could never wake up. So I was trapped in there with my own thoughts, my own memories. You have any fucking clue how scary that is?" Her hands came up to grab the front of my shirt and I let her pull me in until our faces were almost touching.

"Faith ... " That was all I could manage -- the sum of my vocabulary as I tried to take in everything she'd just said, especially the part about her being scared. Faith was never scared. At least, I'd never peg her for admitting to it.

Abruptly, she pushed me back, her eyes wandering aimlessly before she went back to the closet. The rustling of clothes and clinking of hangers was the only sounds in the room and it suddenly felt too oppressive, too hot, and too close. I had to get out before I suffocated from the silence but I couldn't make my legs move to the door.

Too desperately, I latched onto the only thing that had sunken in, tripping over my own tongue, trying to break the mood. "I .. I ... You were scared?" I cleared my throat, hoping ... hoping for something -- some type of reaction.

She froze for a second, her motions stopping completely before her hands started grabbing for clothes again. "You don't think I get scared, B?"

I didn't know what to make of the playfulness in her voice -- much like I didn't know what to make of her actually. She finally turned around. I didn't think she had that many clothes.

"Ready to go? I don't think I can take another heart to heart." She hefted the bag over one shoulder and was about to breeze past me but but stopped as soon as I reached out, touching her arm. Every muscle must have tensed -- at least the ones that I could see. I didn't have a clue what to say but I just opened my mouth, hoping the words would come.

"It's my turn to talk." I licked my lips and wished I'd remembered my lip balm. "Afterwards ... when you were in your coma ... " I tried swallowing but there was no saliva. "I didn't come visit you once. It wasn't because I wasn't thinking of you ... God, I couldn't stop thinking about you. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw you -- the look on your face when I stabbed you ... when you fell. Sometimes, you weren't the one that fell. Sometimes, it was me. And every time I started to go to the hospital to see you, I chickened out. I just couldn't face you. I couldn't face what I'd done to you." She still hadn't turned her head to look at me, her hair hanging to cover her face. "So, you see, Faith. You aren't the only one who's scared."

Her shoulders straightened, her head tilting up, her lips curling up into a grin. "So I guess we're even then?" Her gaze pinned me down as she looked at me from the corner of her eye and I swallowed again. Shaking off my hand which was still on her arm, she slid past, walking out the door, not bothering once to look back.

Something changed at that moment. I'm still not sure exactly what though. And it wasn't a monumental change --- not like a eureka moment. More of an 'oh' moment. A feeling that I wasn't the same me that'd walked in here a couple of minutes before -- not the same and not very different either. Does that make sense? Maybe you just had to be there.

Anyway, after my zen-lite moment, I jogged, catching up with Faith as she was exiting the building. And the questions come to me, sneaking up, slithering and quiet -- what now? What will I do now? What will she do now? What will we do now? What? Too many questions and not a single answer anywhere.


The trip to the apartment?

Not good.

Took me back -- in my mind, I mean. Almost didn't find my way back. I came this close to seriously freaking. You see this distance between my thumb and forefinger -- no fucking space, moron. God, one more word, one more look, one more fucking breath and I would've gone for it ... tried to kill the stupid bitch. But not like this. Not when I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of beating her.

That's the only thing that stopped me. Knowing she could kick my ass up and down this hellhole without breaking a sweat. But when she started in on how she was feeling all guilty and shit ... I thought I could feel the bones in my hand starting to break from clenching my fist so hard.

What did she know? What the fuck did she know about being scared? Has she ever curled up under the bed, afraid to move, afraid to breathe, afraid of the bogey man that's going to come through the door at any minute, wearing her dad's face? Fuck all. And here she was telling me she *understands*?! And I can't say anything. I can't shout it to her face that she's full of shit cause I was trying to get on her good side here. I had to keep saying that to myself over and over -- keep reminding myself.

At least she made it easier by shutting up for the rest of the way back to Giles'. I wouldn't be surprised if she was still thinking about what'd happened back in the apartment -- couldn't read her beyond that though. I kept one eye on her and one eye out for everything else. Even though it's all sunshine and blue clouds, I felt like, any minute something bad was gonna pop up and yell 'surprise!'. Must've been the total lack of darkness. Either I'm really fucked or it's a Slayer thing but I always felt more comfortable when the sun went down -- not so fake and shiny then. And anyway, it's always easier to hide if someone's after you. After all, the expression's 'under cover of night', not under cover of broad daylight.

Even odds the Council wouldn't be too thrilled that I was up and around again. Hell, I'm not even sure why they didn't try to off me when they had the chance -- start the cycle rolling, toss a new Slayer into the mix and pray she wasn't fucked up too bad before being called. That's what I would've done.

Anyway, I must've been really off my game cause I had no idea why I was walking one minute and being shoved backwards the next. "What are you doing?" I asked B who was still pushing me back. She just jerked her head in the direction we'd been going and I finally noticed the cop car cruising around the corner. Fucking fantastic. Trust the cops to show up when I'm not looking.

We ducked into an alley and B was kinda placing herself between me and the opening so if the cops did look in, they wouldn't be able to see me real good. "They want you for questioning," she said, looking the kind of nervous where you knew you did a bad thing but you're hoping nobody'll notice. "About the stuff you did ... before." Nice way of putting it.

"So, B. You realize you just saved my ass right?"

That nervousness melts right away. You can almost see the changes she goes through --- from nervous to confused to surprised to mildly disgusted. It all plays like an open book. "I'll try not to let it happen again," she snapped back. I love getting under this girl's skin. Doesn't take much, that's for damn sure.

"You know, you could hand me over to 'em ... save you a lot of trouble, B."

She smirked. "Like you'd go willingly, right?" Got me there. "Let's head back before we run into anyone else you've pissed off," she said, grabbing my arm.

"Don't sweat it. Between you and me, there ain't nothing we can't handle." She turned around and gave me this really weirded out look but she didn't say anything. I guess she still didn't like the idea of a 'we', even it was just in a stupid sentence. See, the thing is, B likes to think we're different. Like night and day, good and evil, vanilla and chocolate ... you get the idea. She likes pretending there's none of me in her, that even though she's wearing my blood on her hands, she's not dirty.

Not like me.

Must be nice living in that make-believe world. I tried living there once. Got kicked out. But I'm not bitter. No. Just really, really angry. Stick your hand out and you'll burn yourself but what do you do if you're already burned?

Fuck. Check me out. Don't I sound deep?

But, yeah ... we got back to G's place without anymore close calls and the Scoobies weren't even there to boot. No stares, no glares. But the minute I sat down, I couldn't stop fidgeting. It must've been all that stale British air circulating around -- not good for my health.

"Would you stop that? You're making me nervous."

I re-crossed my legs ... again. "What'd you expect, B? I got a lot of energy to burn after all that rest. And anyway. We're just sitting here. Are we gonna do something or what?"

"As soon as Giles gets back."

I picked at a spot on the sofa, wishing she'd quit staring at me while I was doing it. "You miss me, B? I can see you can't keep your eyes off me -- not like I blame you. I'm quite a dish - "

"Faith, can we lay off the sexual innuendoes and ego stroking, at least for now?"

"Sure, I can think of other things I'd rather be stroking anyway." I gave her a leer and added a quick wink. If she wanted me to sit here like a nice little girl, I was gonna take my fun any way I could.

"Eww ... gross. Do you ever think about anything else?"

Yeah, sure. A hundred and one ways to torture and maim you but I don't think sharing that right now will help nurture our relationship. "We gotta have our priorities, B. I have mine and you have yours." Ain't that the truth? "But we had some fun, right?"

She smiled. One of those numbers that started out a pout and then grew and widened. Haven't seen one of those in awhile. And aimed my way too. I should've just stopped right there -- kept my mouth shut before I stepped over some invisible line she'd drawn between us but you know me. I'd rather stomp through something than tiptoe my way around it. So I asked her, straight out, "You think we can be like that again? Just you and me? Sister slayers?"

She opened and shut her mouth a couple of times in a scary imitation of a dying fish but just when I was starting to get irritated by the silent treatment, she starts ... sputtering. I guess you'd call it sputtering -- I don't know, I've never seen anyone actually sputter so it's not like I can compare. Either way, it's not pretty. "I don't ... it's not like I don't want that," she finally said. Her eyes were shooting around and I'm betting she wished Giles would walk through the door already. No such luck. "I'm not going to lie and say I liked it when you first showed up with your 'wicked' this and 'five by five' thats. In fact, you really kind of, sort of, really annoyed me. I kinda pegged you as a bitch from the start. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I found out you weren't so bad. I liked having you around. I liked knowing that you were with me. I liked knowing that I wasn't standing alone. And I liked trusting that you had my back. But those aren't things I can snap my fingers and believe in again. It's going to take time ... for both of us."

Time. Time. Time. Always time. Hope this wasn't going to drag on for too long. "But you're willing to give it a chance, right? Give me a chance?" Goddamn, I sounded so fucking pathetic but this is the kinda shtick she buys into. I mean, just take a look at her ex. The king of the puppy dog eyed, I'm-a-vampire-with-a-soul, second-chance-taking bastard who dumped her and moved to LA. What I did? A blip on the screen compared to his dirty deeds. It worked for him when he killed a couple of people and tried unleashing a hell dimension on earth. And whaddya know? It worked for me too.

The slow smile returned -- tugging, pulling, finally appearing. "Yeah. Okay." Man, I never thought getting my foot in the door would be this damn easy.

I guess that's to make up for the rest of the Scoobs. We met with the rest of them later that night. They were all there like a panel of hardass judges with one hand on the switch and the other hand pointing at me. Willow and Xander -- they were the worst. Couldn't even get out two words without sending death threats at me with their eyes. I got a kick out of Willow's new girl though. Who knew the little redhead bitch wasn't driving stick anymore. Never figured her for eating muff but at least she picked someone that wasn't even more annoying than Cordelia. Trust Xander to attract himself another woman who'd walk all over him though. Anya reminded me of one of those little fufu dogs -- the ones that are always shivering and yipping and generally acting like they'd been given doggy crack. Someone just needed to gag her and make sure she never spoke again.

And of course, let's not forget Rye Bread -- Buffy's new meat was hunky, I'll give him that but he's got the personality of a salamander. It's gotta be pity love. There's no way she'd actually fall for someone like him. No fucking way.

So, I figured, it shouldn't be too hard to break 'em up.


"God, Faith. Don't you ever give up?" I asked, slamming the vamp I'd been fighting with against the side of a crypt before quickly and efficiently staking him.

"Not when it's something important to me," she replied, nonchalantly watching from her makeshift seat on top of a grave. I could feel her eyes on my back as I brushed the dust off the front of my clothes. If I turned fast enough, I knew I would catch her eyes wandering somewhere below my waist.

So I didn't turn at all.

"And this is important to you, how?" I looked down at the pile of dust in front of me. I heard her sliding off the stone.

"Duh, B. Haven't you been listening to what I've been saying? You'd look wicked sexy if you wore more leather."

"And again I ask -- how is that important?" I heard her walking up to me, real slow, taking her time. I should've really turned around then. Maybe even thrown in a glare at her. Make sure she understood my wardrobe was none of her concern.

"Cause with a body like that, it's a crime not to show it off."

Okay, that's a definite come on. How many did that make tonight? Eight, ten, a dozen already? She's standing right behind me now and I know I should turn around and tell her to put a clamp on her libido. Stop making me feel uncomfortable, damn it. But I don't move. And she doesn't move. And we're just standing there, front to back like we're waiting on line.

Buffy, what are you doing? Your back is turned on Faith. FAITH! The girl who tried to kill you. Snap out of it, Slayer!

"Right," I said, turning around and backing up at the same time. Backed right up against a wall. "Looks like we're clear for the night. You wanna head back now?"

She grinned. I don't know what she found so funny. Nothing funny here. Nope. We're in the middle of a cemetery doing a job. It's not supposed to be fun, let alone funny. So what the hell is she grinning about?

"I'd rather hit a club or something but you're the boss, B. Whatever you want to do ... "

We're still standing there. Neither one of us moving or making a move to move. It's been like that now for a week ... with the tension, I mean. We've got tension up the yin yang. But it's got to stop. I'm putting a stop to it.

Someone tell me how though.

"... Let's go, Faith." Okay. I chickened out there. I should've said something but what are you supposed to say to a sexually charged Slayer tossing innuendoes around like cheap plastic beads at Mardi Gras? 'Stop staring at my rack'? God, that sounds so stupid. And anyway, aside from that, her behavior's been almost un-Faithlike in its utter lack of badness.

"Lead the way, B." She didn't actually move out of the way so I had to brush past her. "You know, you're kinda tense," she said, following behind me a little. "Anything wrong?"

"Um ... no. I guess I'm just wired tonight. Might be that mocha I had before we went on patrol." I was probably making too big a deal out of it. This was Faith after all. She's always been like this, what with the grunting and the conversations that always seemed to lead back to sex. Yeah, same old Faith.

Suddenly, I found her arm slung around my shoulder and I tensed some more. "Gotta tone down on the sugar intake then. You don't wanna be hopping around like some deranged bunny rabbit."

"Uh-huh." She grinned at my reply and kept right on talking. Something about hell and furry animals. I'd lost track. This was fine. It was. Really. I didn't mind the fact that I was walking down the street with a girl's arm around me. Slayer camaraderie. It's good that she feels so comfortable around me. Really. We're bonding. That's the important part. That we're getting closer. That she's starting to trust me and I'm starting to trust her again. That we're opening up to each other. Nothing wrong here.

I never thought we'd get back to this point and so soon too. So it's all good. That's what I need to focus on --- not the beating of my heart.

But since we're on that subject anyway, would you please stop beating so fast?! This is Faith ... FAI-TH. What's gotten into you? Maybe it's cause I've been spending so much time with her --- every night plus some daylight hours thrown in too. But it was kind of a necessity since we all agreed that Faith had to be put on probation. We all took turns 'monitoring' her progress -- that's Giles' word. She's spent most of her time either with me or Giles because the rest of the gang are still cool to the idea of her even being here.

"... so I was thinking of converting to Scientology, shaving my head and moving to Montana."


"Oh, sorry. You were actually listening to me?" Her dark eyes sparkled and a grin was on her face. I never noticed before but ... she has nice dimples. "I thought I was just talking to myself for a couple minutes there."

"Guess I zoned out."

"Guess you did." She looked at me for a second. Her grin had dropped and it made her seem so serious. "Where's your boy tonight? I thought he was permanently attached to your hip or something. You got him surgically removed or what?"

I swear sometimes she says things just to tick me off. I pushed away from her but kept walking. "RI-LEY had some papers to grade," I said, emphasizing his name even though I knew she'd never say it right no matter how many times I stressed it.

"I'm sorry to tell you this, B, I really am but somebody's gotta --- your boyfriend's a major bore."

I could feel my temperature starting to rise. "You don't even know him. And for your information, he is not a bore. He's ... nice. He's a very nice person. And for that matter, why do you need to put down every one of my boyfriends?"

She shrugged. "I don't have a problem with him. I wouldn't wanna hang around him too much either unless I needed some sleep. But when the best thing you can say about someone you're shagging is that he's nice, there's something wrong, B. Don't tell me you don't see this."

Okay. First of all, who does she think she is, putting down my boyfriend and giving me dating advice? I don't see her relationships lasting much beyond one night. Riley might not be the most exciting person but he's stable and he loves me. I was all ready to tell her this but she wrapped her arm around my shoulders again .......... And I noticed how warm she was.

What was wrong with me?


Another night, another graveyard. Another chance to wipe the floor with some pathetic vamps. It still got me juiced -- the slaying. I saw it as my God-given right to trim the herd and share my anger. And there's a boatload of anger. Plenty to pass around. Just hold out your hands, close your eyes and I'll give you a big surprise.

But it's a head trip too. If the vamps weren't wearing her face, they had his. I don't know which pissed me off more. I mean, seeing her face I can understand -- doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. But the Mayor's?

Okay, so maybe he was just using me in the beginning. I'll give you that. Keeping me around to do his dirty work. But that changed ... And maybe he knew the antidote to that poison I'd shot and just never bothered to tell me. What, he couldn't even give me a little heads up that B was gonna be gunning for me once she found out? Oh, and can't forget the little gadget he left me. What the fuck was I supposed to do with it? Switch bodies with B --- fucking idea just creeped me out. If he wanted to leave me something, he shoulda made it cash. Plain and simple. Angry? Maybe just a little.

What? You didn't know? The stupid gadget -- some lackey found me one night and handed it over. He was whining over how hard it was to get me alone and away from B -- got me so bored, I staked his ass as soon as he handed it over. I still have it ... somewhere. Maybe I can still pawn it one of these days. But no way was I gonna use it when I had a perfectly good plan already going on.

You remember, right? My two word plan? Well, I was doing pretty good with the fucking her mind part. I never thought it'd be so much fun though. Usually, I just beat the shit out of them and that's that. Clean, simple, and fast. But this psychological stuff ain't bad either. A couple of words here, a few looks there and I've got her tensing up and creaming her pants at the same time whenever and wherever I want.

Fucking sweet.

Even when she's with her meat, it doesn't matter. I just give her my 'so pathetic, I might as well be retarded' look and if that doesn't work, I just take her arm and drag her away. I don't know why she doesn't slug me when I do that but since she didn't, I kept on doing it. And when we were alone ... together ... I gotta admit, it didn't suck. If I just pretended like a couple of things were different, like a couple of things hadn't happened, we were totally on the same wavelength. I guess that whole psychic Slayer connection was still tying us together.

I'd just dragged her away from her boy *again* and you should've seen his face when she decided to take off with me. I could've died laughing. I didn't though cause I'd gotten pretty good at faking sane.

"Hey, let's pass by my apartment. I want to see if the cops are still staking it out." B shrugged. I don't think she was really listening to me. Whatever.

I couldn't even believe it when I saw the cop car parked across the street the last time I was there. The laziest motherfuckers on the planet and they gotta start doing their job now? Because of those bastards, I was stuck living with a Watcher. Do you know how hard it is not to develop a tea habit after living with one of those British guys? Im-fucking-possible. Why couldn't he be from Italy or Sweden or something? I wouldn't mind an endless supply of coffee or chocolate. Anything but tea. It just doesn't go with the image.

Suddenly, I got jerked around so fast, I almost fell on my ass. "Hey, what are we doing here?" B's all confused and taking it out on me.

"Get off the crack, B. I told you. We're swinging by my apartment to check if there're still cops loitering around."

"Oh." Still confused and looking down at the sidewalk now.

"You all right?" I asked as if I cared. "You've been spazzing out lately ... more than usual, I mean."

"It's nothing." And the way she said that -- not even trying to be convincing. But do I push or do I not push?

Hell, you even have to ask?

"Doesn't sound like nothing. Actually, if you ask me, it sounds a lot like something."

"It's ... well ... " You can see her struggling with it -- do I trust the homicidal psycho lunatic or don't I? Seems like an easy question, doesn't it? But when you've spent so much time walking the line between black and white, simple questions get harder and harder to answer. "I've just been noticing that we seem to be getting along better now than when we were in high school," she finally said. "... well, not you because you didn't actually go to school but ... well ... yeah ... you know what I mean?"

"I think I understood that but just so I got it clear, are you saying you like me hanging around all the time?" She was back to looking at the sidewalk again so I decided to get her attention back. "Wow, I am fucking speechless, B. Who'd ever thought you'd cop to liking me?"

Her head shot back up so fast I had to clamp my jaw shut so I wouldn't laugh. "Hey, let's not blow things out of proportion," she said with a grin. Well, why the fuck not? It's not like she hasn't been enjoying the way I look at her, the way I touch her. But, of course, Buffy friggin Summers can't make up her goddamned mind about me. She's playing all coy and innocent when we both know she's anything but.

"Hanging with me. Liking me. What's the difference?" I kinda sounded pissed. I always ended up pissed around her. This time, she actually noticed.

"Hey, I was only joking ... you know that, right?"

"Yeah. Whatever. Let's just get going." But she wouldn't just drop it cause she wanted to talk about it. Of course. What else is new? Doesn't bother her at all that we're doing the whole heart to heart in the middle of the street.

"This isn't coming out right. It sounds so much better in my head but when it makes it past my mouth, the words make a 180 degree turn towards wrongness. So I'll try saying it again with as few words as possible so I have less chance of messing it up." She took a breath almost like she was psyching herself up. "I like you."

Was I supposed to say something now? "O....kay."

She waited for a beat and saw that I wasn't gonna say anything else. "All right. Maybe a couple more words wouldn't hurt -- it's really weird even saying this but I'll say it again because I need you to know this. I like you. I like hanging out with you. I like slaying with you. I can't think of anyone that connects with me on the level that you do. So if I do anything or say anything that makes you think different, just ignore me."

"Man, B. You can be a total mush baby when you feel like it, can't you?" Hey, I'm not saying the speech wouldn't have been good a couple of months ago. Might have even moved me. Who knows? But all I could think about right then was that I'd really like to pick up my PlayStation if the cops weren't still diddling around out front. Couldn't let her know this though. "But thanks for telling me, B. Appreciate it."

She smiled. Not really a wide smile. More of a smile that you get after you've just survived something and now you're really tired from surviving it. She hooked her arm through mine and we started walking, only this time, we were doing it a lot closer together.

When we got to the apartment, the cops had disappeared back to their doughnuts shops so we could walk in without hassle. I went straight for the bed and flopped on my back, spreading my arms and legs out, leaving B to turn the lights on again. After two weeks sleeping on a couch, I was in fucking heaven just laying there, staring at the ceiling.

"Hey, come over here." I'd noticed B still standing near the door, fidgeting with her jacket. She walked slowly over till she was standing by the bed. And when I say slow, I'm talking old person with a walker slow. What'd she think? I was gonna jump up and bite her? So when she finally got beside me, I didn't even think before grabbing her arm and pulling her down on top of me. Ever heard a Slayer squeal? Funny stuff.

But at least it loosened her up. Also funny that she didn't make a move to back up. So basically, you gotta picture it to get the full effect. She was flat out lying on top of me, right? Her breasts were pressed up against mine, her breath was coming out, hitting me on the face, and her knee was right up against my ... get the idea? It was damn hot.

So what do you think B does right when I was about to grab her ass? She leaped off. Fucking leap frogged backwards off the bed. Landed right on that tight little tush too.


"... I'm just saying, we barely see each other anymore. I have to pry you away from her just to get a couple of minutes alone. Buffy, I feel like my whole life's been revolving around you lately and your whole life's been revolving around Faith."

"I know it seems that way ... and maybe it is to a degree but she needs me right now."

"Yeah, I heard. You think you weren't there for her before and now you're overcompensating. Buffy, we're not talking about some little girl here. You can't be there for her every minute of every day. Either you trust that she can deal with standing on her own two feet or you can't. It's as simple as that."

"Stop trying to psych 101 me. I know you don't understand this but I need to be there for her, all right?"

"No. With Faith, you never expect me to understand."

"Riley ... " I wrapped my arm around him and snuggled deeper into his shoulder. "I know I've been bad girlfriend Buffy lately but I'll make it up to you, I promise. Then it'll be just you and me. No Faith. Promise." I really couldn't understand why he was being so ... pouty about it. Why couldn't he even try to understand the position I was in? It wasn't even as if we didn't see each other. I was seeing him right now, as a matter of fact. And anyway, didn't absence make the heart grow fonder?

"Tonight then. We're throwing a party. You'll be here, right?"

"Definitely. Wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Great," he whispered, kissing the top of my head. "It'll be fun ... You know I love you, right Buffy?"

"Love you too."

We then proceeded to have this major snuggle session -- something I think we both kind of needed after that talk. It hadn't been easy getting Riley on board with helping Faith. In fact, I think they shared a mutual hate. It wasn't pretty when you actually got them in a room together. Not a happy mental place.

I left Riley's room a while later to get a shower and to get changed. I didn't expect that Faith would be lying on my bed, thumbing through one of my textbooks when I opened the door.

"Hey," I said, closing the door behind me and leaning against it. "How'd you --"

"Picked the lock." She tossed the book on my bed. Faith likes tight clothes. She likes leather. That day, she was wearing a combination of both. And when she moved towards me, I could hear the creak of her leather pants. I concentrated on that creak because if I didn't, I'd have to stare at her lips or her eyes or somewhere else entirely inappropriate.

Her hands which had been by her side the last time I checked were running lightly up my arms and she was so close I could smell the soap she'd used.

I know what you're thinking. It's not like that. So she'd kissed me a couple of times and after that first time, I hadn't exactly pushed her away but it's not what you're thinking ...

"Faith --" She interrupted me again before I could finish what I was saying.

Faith's kisses ...

She kisses like no one else has ever kissed me before. Long. Slow. Wet. And hard. Pressed up against the door with her tongue invading my mouth, I had to admit it. I'm cheating on my boyfriend with the other Slayer. I am the worst girlfriend in the history of girlfriend-dom.

"Where were ya?" I don't think anyone's voice has ever sent shivers down my spine ... not in a good way anyway. But hers is so throaty, so husky, and I think I kinda closed my eyes for a second because I had to open them to see her brown eyes staring straight into me. Really beautiful big brown eyes.

"Umm ... what?"

"Where." Kiss on my lips. "Were." Kiss on my neck. "You?" Grope of my breast.

"Oh, hmm ... You know, it's kind of hard to concentrate when you're ... doing that." Stalling. Definitely down with the stalling.

"Okay." She stepped back completely. Left me standing alone with her warmth fading from my skin. "That better?"

No, not better. Not better at all. A change in subject might be good at a point like this. "Faith, what are you doing here?"

"Not happy to see me?" I said something wrong again. Her smile faded to nothing as she laid back on my bed. There's a lot of things you can say about Faith. As she laid there, spread out, almost lounging on the rumpled sheets I hadn't bothered to make that morning, the word 'cheap' leapt into my mind. But it's a good cheap, a sexy cheap ... it's a cheap you want to stand behind, in front of, sideways too.

"Faith, you know that's not what I meant. Of course, I'm happy to see you."

"I've seen happier on the faces of the undead just before I stake 'em."

I walked over to the bed, taking a seat on the edge. "Faith," I said. "I am happy to see you. I'm always happy to see you."

"And I'm always hot for you. Guess that makes us even." I love the grin that appears on her face. I'm the one that made it appear. For some reason, that amazes me.

She pulled me on top of her so I was straddling her waist. "Faith--" Again, she interrupted me by pulling me down and capturing my lips. Will she do that every time I say her name. If so, I could definitely get used to it. Hands had started wandering and it was getting way too hot in the room. But dimly, through that haze, I remembered why I'd come back here in the first place. "Wait ... stop ... stop for a second."

"What?" Her lipstick was smudged so I wiped it off with my thumb and I wasn't really surprised when I couldn't stop myself from running it lightly across her lips. She's got really nice lips. Small and pouty and just a little swollen. "B?"


"Why'd we stop?"

"Oh ... right." Bad distracting lips. Bad. "I need to shower. And get dressed. In that order."


"Why in that order?"

"No, B. Jeez, you lose a couple of brain cells while I wasn't looking? Why as in why are you getting dressed? You going out?"

"Yeah. Tonight. There's going to be a party at Lowell House."

"Party. Count me in. Free drinks, right?"

Riley wasn't going to be happy about this development. I think it would be safe to assume, happy and him would be having a split pretty soon. But ... "Yeah, it'll be great."


Know what? I can drink anybody under the table. Neat little trick that has nothing to do with me as a Slayer and everything to do with me being fucked up. Cause if it was only about being the Slayer, B wouldn't be doing the insane laughter of the drunk after only two beers. The girl can't hold her liquor for shit and if she tried, she'd probably end up spending the rest of the night with her head in the toilet.

Hey look at that. Finally found something I can do better than Buffy fucking Summers. Yay fucking me. I'll have to find my parents and thank them for passing on that little talent, y'know, right before I kill 'em.

But before I could get around to the binge drinking, I had to make nice nice with the meat. He knows I hate him. Nothing personal. I just don't like people who eye me like trash. And I know he hates me too. Why wouldn't he? I was trying to steal his girlfriend and doing a damn good job at it. If we're not counting that first time, it's not like I had to hold her down to kiss her either. B was cheating on his ass and I think he knew.

"Buffy .............. Faith." Acid. Pure acid. Wow, I've heard a lot of people spit out my name like poison but he took it to a whole 'nother level.

"Hey meat. Hope you don't mind that I bought B as my date tonight." I slung an arm around B and watched his eyes narrow. He was gonna have a stroke if he didn't start breathing soon. I steered my 'date' away, keeping down the chuckles but only cause I was too busy eyeing all the free alcohol. Hey, I could get used to college.

"Why did you do that?"

"Do what?" Hell, I just wanted her to say it.

"Why did you say that to him?"

"I was saying and doing a hell of a lot more before we came here. Didn't seem to bother you then."

"Yeah, but --"

"Here, have a drink," I said, pushing a bottle into her hand, wanting her to shut up for a few seconds.

"Faith, me and beer don't really mix. We have a sordid and bitter history that I'd rather not relive."

"One or two won't hurt. I just want you to loosen up a little."

"I am loose." Right. If she was wound any tighter, she'd be cracking walnuts with her ass. But she did drink it eventually -- even went back for another. Me? I was throwing back shots left and right and drinking some of the prissy frat boys under the table.

Good times. Good times.

Oh, did I mention the geek patrol was there too? I avoided them, they avoided me. Like I said, good times. I'm glad we were on the same page with that one. Although that Tara chick did come up and say 'hi' before Red dragged her ass away. She's not so bad. Pretty bland but not so bad.

By the time we left, my body was sloshing around more alcohol than a liquor store. B was all concerned just cause I tripped once. Yeah, can you believe that? She was concerned and at the end of the night, she was with me. Bet the meat wasn't too happy about that either.

"Faith, why are you laughing?"

"Cause it's funny."

"Oh ... " And then she started laughing too. Didn't I tell ya she was a lightweight? And you know something else? I coulda fucked her that night -- it would've been so easy ...

And that's the problem. It would've been TOO easy. I didn't want to fuck her while she was half outta her mind. I wanted her to know it was me she was with. I wanted her to be clear about that so when she looked back on it like I knew she would, she'd only have herself to blame.

But it wasn't easy though. The girl practically draped herself all over me when we got back to her room. Did she think I was some kinda weirdly shaped pillow? Finally ended up having to sleep on the floor cause her hands wouldn't stay out of my shirt. Aw, fucking hell. Listen to me, I sound like some fucking nun.

... Yeah well, screw that. I told you why I had to do it and there was no way I was sleeping on Red's bed. She wasn't even there but that's not the point. It was just too weird.

Anyway, the next day, B woke me up with a foot to my stomach. Nice way of waking up. You should try it sometime. Makes you want to smack whoever stepped on you.

"Oh sorry. Didn't see you." I squinted up and saw B sitting on her bed staring down at me. "What are you doing down there anyway?"

"Sleeping till somebody decided I needed to start the morning off with a foot to my gut," I said, draping an arm across my eyes. I wanted to go back to sleep. Just lie there and sleep until the throbbing behind my eyes went away.

"Right. Sorry again. But I didn't mean why are you down 'there' there. I meant why are you down there and not up 'here' there?

Fucking riddles wrapped up in questions. "Cause you kept feeling me up and I didn't feel like getting groped all night." Screw thinking before speaking. I just wanted her to stop asking shit and leave me alone cause her questions were making my head hurt.

"Oh ... sorry." Really long pause that made me wonder if she had gone back to sleep. "So I guess you wouldn't be up for breakfast then?"

I lowered my arm just enough so I could see her still perched on her bed, still looking down at me. "You're paying, right?"

"Yes, I'm paying. Come on Grumpy Bear, let's go."

"B, knock it off with the cutesy wutesy nicknames when I'm feeling like shit, 'k?" I know she's not a morning person. I know that. So why was she acting so goddamn perky?

"'K but when I get back from the bathroom, I expect you to look at least presentable." She walked out the door and missed the middle finger I flipped her. Damn. If it wasn't for the food ...

She walked back in the door fifteen minutes later just when I was trying to stretch out some of the kinks sleeping on the floor tends to give ya. I must've looked really pathetic and wasted cause she came over and wrapped an arm around my waist.

"Poor Faith. Let's go get you something to eat and then you can go back to sleep, okay?"


Faith is everything you don't want to bring home to your mother. She's a badass, a murderer, a liar, and she's been known to go psycho from time to time. Not exactly traits that will endear you to anybody except maybe the penal system. My mom knows these things. I finally told her the abridged version of what had happened. And even though she knew Faith and knew what she'd done, my mom looked past all of that to invite Faith to stay at her house.

After I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, the most intelligent thing I could think of to ask was "W-What?"

It seemed mom thought Faith needed a parental figure in her life. Now that I think about it, she's always tried parenting Faith. Right from the start. And the funny thing is, Faith lets her. Would she let anybody else? I don't know that anybody's ever tried.

Giles was happy about the move though he tried not jumping up and down while we were still there. Living with a teenager had really threatened to crack that cool British veneer. After I helped Faith move her one bag of stuff, I found myself spending more and more time back home. I brushed it off as homesick to anybody who asked. The truth of the matter was that I was Faithsick.

I realized I wanted to spend time with her because I liked the person she was. On the most basic level, I liked her. But try explaining that to your boyfriend when he asks why you're never with him. Doesn't really fly. So me and Riley are officially in that stage of a relationship when we're both giving each other 'space'. One step above a break up. One step below the cold shoulder.

A month ago, this was the same guy I could see myself being with for the longhaul. What changed? If I wanted to be flip, I'd say everything and nothing. If I wanted to be truthful, I'd say me. If I wanted to be blunt, I'd say I'd turned gay.

But you can't really turn gay, can you? Aren't you supposed to be born a certain way and that's who you are for the rest of your life? It makes sense in a predetermined destiny sort of way. But if that's true, how come I wasn't gay before Faith showed up? How come I've never checked out any other girls? I think I should talk about this with Willow. She's going through basically the same thing with Tara. Hopefully, I could casually bring up the subject without mentioning Faith.

Speaking of. "Faith?" I turned my head from where it was pillowed on her stomach to look up at her.

"Hmm?" We were lying on her bed and she was reading a comic book. She looks really cute when she's concentrating. And she always concentrates when she's reading a comic book.

"I'm thinking of telling Willow."

She laid aside the reading material and gave me her full attention. "Telling her about us?"

"You think it's a bad idea?"

"I think she's gonna flip and hire someone to gun me down."

"I'm being serious," I said, smacking her on the arm.

"I'm just sayin'. If you're expecting her to be all happy and shit that her best friend is screwing around with a psycho slut, you shouldn't hold your breath."

"You're not a psycho slut."

She shrugged. "Depends on who you ask."

"Well the question's been put to the panel of Buffy and the results are in -- 100% not a psycho slut. So let's all agree to never bring that up again." Did I tell you I liked that little half smile that comes across her face whenever I say something we both know is goofy? Well, let me amend that to I love it.

I kinda love her.

Wow. When did that happen?

"Faith ... " The word sounds all breathy and soft and she must've known something was coming up because she sat up and cupped my cheek with the palm of her hand.

"Yeah B?" So soft. So warm.

"I love you."

She looked down at me. Didn't say a word. Her eyes were so dark the light would get lost in them and never find its way home. Just like me. I am lost and I don't care. You ever hear how some people say that if they'd died at some particular moment in their life, they'd die happy because that moment had been the happiest they'd ever known?

I don't want to die. Not when I knew my happiness was here. With her.

"Say something," I finally said, wanting to hear her voice, wanting to see those perfect lips wrap themselves around words I was hoping to hear.

"Nobody's ever said that and meant it ..... Do you mean it?"

I think that choked sound I heard came from me. It couldn't have been her because Faith doesn't cry. No it was definitely me. God, just hearing her ask that question. Asking in that little girl voice. It absolutely tore me up inside and I had to wrap myself up around her and whisper over and over again that I loved her because she needed to know that and I needed to say it.

Somewhere along the way, my hands had tangled themselves in her hair and her lips were trailing kisses up and down my neck. It made me burn for her. Her mouth. Her lips. Her tongue. Found me. Again and again, they found me. And in between the hot, wet kisses and the first, urgent touches, the question of 'Is mom coming home?' met with the answer of 'Not tonight'. Tonight. That night. That was our night. The first night we made love.

And when I woke up, sometime before dawn. When it was still dark outside. When all the vampires were scurrying back to their nests, I turned my head and watched Faith sleep. I've never watched anybody sleep before. It's one of the most intimate things you can do. Sort of like catching somebody who's not looking. Catching somebody when they're in their own world. A world you can't hope to see directly -- only reflected on their face.

"I love you," I whisper, wanting her to know that, even in her sleep. And I think she heard because she mumbled something. I couldn't make it out but it warmed me up inside anyway.

Everything that had happened between us nine months ago seems like it had happened to different people. Not Buffy and Faith. A different pair of Slayers maybe. Slayers that hated each other. And that's not us. Not us because we could never feel that way again.

I wrapped my arm around Faith's waist. I needed to be closer. Close enough to smell her scent. Close enough to nuzzle her neck. Close enough to forget the past.


I smell her all over me and I wanted to throw up. Man, I'm not used to people snuggling on me after a fuck. Get some, get gone. Didn't she get the memo on the gone part? I almost scrubbed my skin off trying to get 'her' off me. But hell, the important thing is I finally fucked her. I finally fucked Buffy Summers.

I bought her down to my level. Took her off that pedestal and now she's just another notch on the bed post. She just didn't know it yet. Probably thought it was some kind of epic love. Maybe she even thought she redeemed me. But the truth is I dragged her down. Made her as dirty as me. I did it once by making her angry enough to kill me. I did it again by making her stupid enough to love me. Wicked, huh?

Seriously, I couldn't wait to laugh it up to her face. Tell her she meant nothing to me and she was only good for a quick screw. I think I'd have loved to see the tears. Maybe I could even catch her heart breaking if I looked deep enough. But that would've been too quick. Nah, I wanted to drag it out a little longer. Make her life a living hell before I left. Yeah. I liked the sound of that.

"Come on, Faith. You stay in there any longer and I'll have to call in the search and rescue dogs."

"Yeah, hold up," I yelled back. Can't even spend a couple of minutes alone without her wondering where I was or what I was doing. It was like I was in a prison or something. Soon as I walked out, she was all over me again and I'd just spent fifteen minutes washing her out of me. What is with the damn clinginess?

"I think I'll take one too," she mumbled into my neck. Her tongue flicked out and she rubbed up against me.

"You don't really expect me to let you go when you go and do something like that, do you?" I might hate all the cuddling lovey dovey shit but sex is something different. It wasn't like that for her though. She was probably too far gone to see one clear for the other.

No. Sex was different for me. I can deal with sex. I know all about sex. And B had the perfect body for sex.

Perfect tight little bod. Quivers when I touch her. I can still feel her on my fingers. Wet and sticky. Laid bare for me. For ME. Cause at that moment, I was everything she wanted. I was her fucking world.

No, the sex wasn't so bad. It was just afterwards. Afterwards, I wanted to run. Run as far away as possible. But every time I tried easing away, she'd pull me in tighter like she knew what I was thinking. Well, enough with this shit.

"B. Hey, B?" She mumbled something. Don't know what. Don't really care. "Remember when you said you wanted to tell Red about us?"

" ... Yeah?" Was that fear in her voice. Got me juiced hearing it.

"Let's do it."

She shot straight up. Must've hit a very sensitive nerve. "Why .. um, I mean, right now? You want to tell her right now?"

"Yeah, she's out of class now right? Perfect time." Oh man, I think she actually squirmed. Really sensitive nerve. "You wanna tell her, don't you?" She looked down at me. Fucking hated it when she looked down at me so I sat up too. Now we were on an equal level again. It's just those little things that bug the hell outta me, y'know?

"Yeah." She took my hand. Real gentle-like. "I want everyone to know about us, Faith. I want them to know how happy you make me." She threw that 100-watt smile my way. Fucking golden. That's the word that always popped into my mind whenever I thought about her. What word pops into her mind when she thinks about me?

"So then let's tell her, B. Let's tell her now." Oh yeah. I couldn't wait for this. Everybody thought I was scum. That I was a skanky, slutty whore. Well, guess what idiots on the half shell? This skanky, slutty whore's fucking your precious golden girl. What 'dya think 'bout that?

You should've seen B though. After making up her mind to tell, she was a shitty mess. So nervous, her fingers shook when she went to button her shirt. And she kept looking at me. Guess she was looking to me to make her feel better. Hell, I didn't know how to do that. What did she want? A pat on the head? A friggin cookie? I don't fucking know.

She finally just pulled my arm around her shoulder and we walked out the door. Like a couple. Walked down the street. Like a couple. Walked through campus. Like a couple. Walked in on Red and her girl. And B immediately backed off from me. So anybody can see us together but not her friends, right? Not the people who mattered.

I was mad, yeah. Seething. But just when I was getting all justifiably angry, she had to blurt out "I'm going to say something now. It's really important so I'd like to get it out all in one piece, okay? I know this will probably come as a surprise to you, Willow. Maybe not. Maybe you're more observant than me. Wait, you've definitely got to be more observant than me cause I never even saw the gay thing coming. Hey Tara. So maybe you'll understand when I tell you that I'm in love with Faith. Faith and me are a couple. There, I said it. I'm going to stop now so you can talk." She grabbed me, buried her face in my shoulder and I swear, for a few minutes after she stopped talking, you could hear a pin drop in that room.

"You with-with Faith? What? Faith?? How? When? WHY?!" I should've bought a camera or something. The look on her face. Total Kodak moment. And like someone had dropped a bomb into the middle of the room, everything kinda blew up from there.

A lot of shouting, yelling. You get the picture, right? Just imagine two cats hissing and spitting. One with blonde fur. The other with red. Same shit.

"How could you?"

"What do you mean how could I?" B was angry. Her whole face had turned red. "How can I what? Fall in love, Will? Fall in love with a wonderful person? Well, guess what? It happens okay? I love Faith. I am in love with her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her so if you were really my friend, you'd deal."

"I AM your friend. If I wasn't, I wouldn't care what you did with your life. But God, Buffy. Why Faith?"

"Why Faith? Willow, I can ask you the same thing. Why Tara?"

"It's not the same. My girlfriend's not a psychopathic murderer." What is this? A fucking pissing match? Shit, this wasn't going anywhere and I was getting damn tired of the insults from Red. So I left. Just up and left.

I got about as far as the parking lot before B caught up to me. Wrapped herself around me really tight like she was afraid of letting go. She kept repeating 'I'm sorry' under her breath and her tears were soaking through my shirt.

"Get a room!" Some jerkoff asshole shouted as his car drove past us. B peeled herself away enough to look up at me. Not the prettiest sight. But shit. I actually kinda felt bad for her.

It passed.


Either nothing happens or things happen too fast. That's life on the Hellmouth. Stop and start. Stop and start. It could give a girl motion sickness if she thought about it too much. But just when I thought I was drowning. Just when I thought I was in way over my head, my friends tossed me a life saver. Even after all the angry words we'd exchanged. Even after all that, they found me and helped me get back up.

To say Willow and Xander were mad about my choice in lovers is like saying Liberachi was just a little eccentric. But they still came through for me. When Adam made his move on the Initiative, they were standing with me. When I was squaring off against this Frankenstein's monster, I could feel them backing me up all the way. Giving me their strength so I could stop him.

It was almost like old times. Before college. I think, little by little, we'd drifted apart. And we realized it while it was happening. We knew we weren't as close as we were before. It's not like one day, we all just woke up and there was this distance. No, the distance crept up on us. Kind of like mold. Except mold doesn't really creep. It just kind of grows really, really slow.

Anyway, the point is, we stopped Adam together. We, as in all of us -- Willow, Xander, Giles. We stopped him. So, chalk up another save for the good guys. Notice I didn't include Faith in the group. There's a really good reason for that. Reason being she wasn't there.

Why wasn't she here? And for that matter, where the hell was she?

I have absolutely no idea. The note she left when she disappeared two days ago was an exercise in minimalism and frustration.


Going to get some of my shit together. See you in a couple.


What kind of a note was that? No explanation, no reason, no clue to when she was coming back. And what 'shit' did she have to get together that she couldn't tell me about?

And it's only been two days.

It's ONLY two days? How can it only be two days? I was already missing her so much, I was driving myself crazy. Not to mention everybody around me. I swear I'm going to kill her when she gets back. Right after I hug her. Maybe after a couple of kisses. But definitely after that, I'll kill her.


Stop thinking about her. Stop it brain. Do you like feeling miserable or do you just hate me? And you wouldn't believe how hard it is to put someone out of your mind when your two best friends insist on bringing up that someone as a topic of conversation over and over again. Willow and Xander keep mentioning her absence like it was an indictment of how very bad girlfriend material she is. They didn't actually say that out loud but every look they exchanged said as much.

I couldn't help wondering myself. Why would she leave town when she knew Adam was about to make a move? I'm sure she had a good reason. She must have. She has to.

Thinking too much again. I'm starting to brood and that's never a good sign.

I snapped out of it in time to hear Willow's question. "So anybody know what happened to Riley?"

"What? Oh, Riley? I don't know. I left him with the last of the Initiative guys. He should be okay." We were all seated around my living room, having a post-Slayage, post-dream pig out. The combination of the two really takes a lot out of you.

"I kinda feel sorry for him," Xander said. "I mean, finding out you're some mad scientists' mad scientist experiment. Gotta be hard."

I murmur my agreement but my mind's on other things. I mean, I do care about Riley and what happens to him. It's not like my feelings for him were shut off as soon as I fell in love with Faith. But if it was between thinking about him and thinking about Faith, there's no contest.

"So she hasn't called you?"

"What?" I really should try listening in once in a while just to keep tabs on the changing topics.

"Faith," Willow repeated. "She still hasn't even called you yet?"

"No." One little word coming out of my mouth. How can it sound so defensive? I need to calm down. "She hasn't but I'm sure she will ... soon."

They exchanged another look. Did they think I was blind? That I wouldn't notice. Or maybe, they *wanted* me to notice. Either way, it was getting on my nerves. Giles chose that exact moment to walk back into the room with his fresh pot of tea which he almost dropped when the phone began ringing.

I picked up the receiver before the first ring had even finished. Slayer speed. Sometimes, I even amaze myself. "Hello?"

"B, it's me." The velvety smooth voice sent a warm flutter through my stomach.

"Faith?" I turned around, not wanting to come off sounding too excited even though I think I gave it away long before I said her name. "Where are you? What happened? Are you all right? Are you coming back soon?"

"Whoa, B. You're drowning me with the questions here. Look, I'm sorry I stepped out on you like that. I just had to take care of something. I'll tell you all about it when I get back, ok?"

"Okay. But when are you coming home?"

"Give me a day or two. Still need to wrap up some loose ends, y'know?"

"Okay. But do it fast. I miss you. Love you."

"Love you too. Bye." The phone went dead in my hand and already, I felt myself missing that smoky, husky, sexy voice.

Arrrggh! Stop it!


"Hear that loverboy? She LOVES me! Not you! ME!" I screamed, throwing the phone against the wall. It took a chunk of plaster with it and landed in a cloud of dust. "It feels good to win, y'know? I mean, here you are, about to die and you just heard the girl you love, the girl you've been pining for, saying she loves me. How's it feel, huh? Does it feel like someone sliced you open and ripped out your insides. Well, DOES IT?!" He laid there like a lump. Didn't even move. Pissed me off. "You're so fucking stupid. Do you see how stupid you are? Carrying a torch for a girl who'll gladly dump you on the side of the road. Pathetic.

"But hey, I can be nice too. I'll do you a favor just cause I'm so fucking nice. Your girl. I'll take good care of her for you. After I finish breaking her heart, I'll send her down to hell to keep you company. How's that sound? Sounds nice, doesn't it? DOESN'T IT??!

"God. You're not much fun anymore. And after I was so nice to you too. Telling you my story and everything. You liked my story, didn't you? And the best part of it is, it's all true. Every. Last. Bit.

"And shit. Know what? I kinda feel like this huge weight's been lifted off my chest. It's cool to finally tell someone. About everything. But now, seeing as you know too much ... You gotta die. Nothing personal." I picked up the axe, already covered in blood. "Say hi to the boss for me."

And that was that. Way easier than I imagined. I thought it'd involve a lot more fighting. A lot more blood. What a fucking letdown. And now that I'd done the deed, it kinda felt hollow. So I did what I always did when I felt something I didn't want to feel.

I went to a club. Alcohol numbed the cold ache. Screwing kept my mind off of why it was aching. It was easy to get both when you have a pretty face. And the best part -- at the end of the night, there were no strings attached. No 'I love yous'. No cuddling. None of that shit to get in the way. A nice 'get the fuck out' was enough. They knew the score. I knew the score. Everybody ends up happy.

Somehow, I found myself boarding the bus at 4 AM that morning. What the fuck was I doing there so friggin early? I wasn't really planning on it but there I was, headed back. Home sweet fucking home, here I come. I didn't sleep at all on the way. Just stared at the back of the seat in front of me. My eyes just wouldn't close.

Not like it mattered though. I wasn't tired. Fuck being tired. I still had too much stuff to do for being tired. When the bus stopped, the rising sun was shining in my eyes. Made them water. We were in Sunnydale again. Whoop-de-doo. Break out the fucking booze.

I could've caught another bus back to the house. Could even go for a cab. Hell, why not? Might as well put the money I'd skimmed off Joyce to good use, right?

And when I got back. When I stepped out of the car and up to the front door, I felt the smile slipping across my face again. This was gonna be fun. So much fucking fun. But first, I had to find my partner. We needed to dance a little bit first. My hands almost shook as I turned the key and stepped inside.

I found B upstairs, in her room. She was wrapped up in the sheets but one bare leg was sticking out. I dropped the bag next to the door and kneeled right next to her. She laid there. So peaceful. Like nothing could ever hurt her. She could have her fantasy for a few more hours. I'll give her that.

I bent down, placing a kiss on her shin. Wrapping a hand around her ankle. Laying down more kisses that made her moan and squirm. God, this was hot. Knowing what I was gonna do to her afterwards as I'm getting ready to screw her now? It was sick. But that's what makes it so damn hot.

"Faith?" I heard her mumble but I didn't look up. I felt her hands in my hair and I placed more kisses on the inside of her thigh. "God Faith."

"Don't bring him into this, B. It's just you and me." I crawled up on top of her. Felt her legs wrapping around my waist and pull me in. Closer. Always closer.

"You feel so good, Faith," she said, sliding a hand onto the back of my neck and pulling me down for a long kiss.

"We haven't even gotten started yet, B," I mumbled against her lips, feeling her giggle run into my mouth. "Not even close."

I wanted this.

I needed it.

One last time before it all ended. And when it did end, I could say I took this from her too.


"Faith, what are you doing?"

"What's it look like I'm doing? I'm getting dressed."

I leaned up on my elbows, watching as she zipped up her pants and started putting on her boots. "Are we going somewhere?"


I waited for her to say more. She didn't. Just finished up tying up her laces. "Are you going to tell me what's going on?"

She looked up. There was a smile on her face. A smile I hadn't missed seeing because it sent shivers up and down my spine. Shivers that were definitely in the not good category.

"You wanna know what's going on, B?" Her smile grew as she held up one of those thermos containers that has a screw on lid. She held it up like she was proud of it. "You know what this is?" No. I didn't really want to know. Whatever it was, I didn't want to know. I tried saying it. My mouth wouldn't work. But it was too late anyway. She was already unscrewing the top, Tilting the contents onto the floor. Dust. Grey dust spilled out onto the carpet. "Remember I said I had to get some shit together? Well, truth is, I had to go to LA. Had to finish up something I should've done a long time ago. This here," she said, looking down at the growing pile of dust. "This is your boy, Angel. Was anyway. Do you know how long I dragged it out? Hours. It was so sweet. If you've ever tried torturing a vampire, you'd know. They can take so much pain. Much more--"

"WHY??!!" I felt the tears rushing down my face. Felt my throat closing around a strangled cry. This couldn't be happening. This was a nightmare. It had to be. Faith wouldn't do this.

"Why?" She tossed the thermos to the side as her face closed into a frown. "How fucking stupid are you? Don't you get it yet? I did it cause of you. I HATE you. I wanted to HURT you. Everything I did. Everything I'm doing is to hurt you. Angel's death was cause of you. YOU. Too damn stupid to finish me off when you had the chance and now look what's happened. It's all cause of YOU!"

I flung myself at her. Literally flung my body into hers. No more words. I didn't want to hear anymore. I wanted to beat those words out of her. My fists. Her fists. It all blurred. Nothing was clear anymore. Nothing seemed real except for the pain.

And suddenly, a knife was in my hands. Where did it come from?

Didn't matter.

It was at her neck, drawing a thin line of blood. Just a little pressure and it would be over. Just a little more.

"C'mon, B. Do it. Press down. You know you want it. What the fuck are you waiting for? KILL ME! Kill me like I killed Angel. Come on!"

Something in her voice drew me to her eyes. Still dark. Still beautiful .... But so empty. I can kill her now. I should. The knife slipped from my hand and dropped with a dull thud on the floor. "I can't."

"You can't?" Her voice was breaking. Tears were starting to form in her eyes. Did she notice? "You can't kill me?!" Her hands came up to wrap around my neck. She pushed me onto the floor, straddling my hips. Her fingers dug into the soft flesh of my throat. "What the fuck do I have to do, B? What the fuck do I have to do to make you kill me? Do I have to off every one of your stupid friends? You killed Angel when he was evil. Why can't you kill me? I'm evil B! Evil! You're supposed to kill me! Put me out of my misery! KILL! ME!"

I couldn't push her off. Couldn't budge her. And I was starting to see black spots swimming in front of my eyes. I tried saying her name but all that came out was a quiet wheeze. Just when I thought I was going to die, her fingers loosened. One by one, her fingers dropped away. I gasped for breath. My lungs were burning. It was hard to breathe.

When I looked down, Faith's head was buried in my chest. Her body was shaking with sobs and my arms just seemed to naturally wrap around her. Everything she's done ...

Angel. She killed him.

She'd lied to me from the beginning. Made me fall in love with her so she could hurt me. I should hate her for everything she's done but my arms don't seem to care because they wrapped her up tighter. Just letting her cry. Don't want to let go. She might disappear.

I still love her. I can't believe I still love her. I hate myself for still loving her.

I don't know how long we laid there. Seemed like hours. Faith had stopped crying but she hadn't moved. I felt her breath, coming warm on my breast and I suddenly realized I was still naked. I wanted to chuckle. Maybe even break a laugh but it took too much effort and I gave up before I even started.

"B?" The word sounded louder than a shot after all the silence.

I cleared my throat, trying to get my vocal cords working again. "Yeah?"

There was a long pause. So long I thought she wasn't going to say anything at all. "I didn't kill him."


"Angel. Didn't kill him. Tortured him for awhile. Knocked him out. But he's still undead." I looked down to try to see her face but all I saw was the top of her head. "I was going to kill him but ... I don't know." She got up. Slowly. Painfully. And I saw she was clutching her right side. "I just wanted you to kill me, B. I just ... I wanted it all to end. Everything. I did everything because I wanted to hurt you. You were supposed to be the one holding the bloody knife this time. You were supposed to end it for me." She bowed her head a second and then headed towards the door.

As soon as she stepped away, I jumped up and grabbed her shoulder. "Where are you going?"

She almost growled, "I'm getting the fuck outta here, B. Unless you want another stab at me, I'm getting as far away from here as possible."


She spun around, knocking my hand from her shoulder. "What the fuck do you want from me? I'm letting you have a free crack at me but you won't take it. I'm trying to get the fuck out of your life but you won't let me go. What the fuck do you want from me?"

"I want you." The words left my mouth before I thought about saying them. But I didn't want to take them back because they were the right words.

"You what?"

"I'm going to be incredibly selfish with this. You can't leave, Faith. I can't let you go. Not again. Not after I've just found you. God, I can't believe what you did. You want me to kill you? Why? Because you think you're evil? You're not evil. You never were. Things happened, you made some really bad judgment calls but that in no way makes you evil."

I tried reaching out, touching that bruised and bloodied face but she recoiled. "You still don't get it? B, I never loved you. It was all pretend. A game. My sick little game. Inside, I wanted to scream every time you touched me. I can't fucking love you. I don't know how."

I did something really stupid then .With regards to a pissed off, emotionally unstable Slayer, you really shouldn't make a grab for them. Tends to lead to injuries and internal hemorrhaging. I did though. I grabbed her and hugged her to my body. Hugged her even as she struggled and tried shoving me back. "Do you feel like screaming now?" I asked after she'd calmed down a little. "Because if you want to scream, you can scream. But just so you know, I'm still going to be here. I'm still going to hold you."

It scared me that she'd gone through all this to try and make me kill her. It disgusted me that she tortured Angel and let me believe he'd died. It hurt me that she said she didn't love me. But it was true what I'd said to her earlier - about me being selfish. I wasn't letting her go, not even if it would be better for her and everybody else involved. I won't.

"This can't end good, B." She whispered. Her head lowered down until it was resting on my shoulder.

She was right. It probably won't. But. "I don't care."

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